Costa Rica released, last July, the regulations for Law 10,008 or “Law to Attract Remote Workers and Service Providers of an International Nature“, known as the “Digital Nomads Law“. With this, according to projections by real estate consulting firms, the doors were opened for a robust market. In what ways can different sectors take advantage of the opportunities of this potential impact?
Álvaro Cortés, an expert in the field envisions that the key lies in the formation of workplace ecosystems across the country. “From our point of view, the nomads represent a huge opportunity: a kind of foreign direct investment capsule, but decentralized in people. Instead of talking about possible benefits for hotels, offices, homes and shops as isolated sectors, the digital nomad market will be attracted to Costa Rica to the extent that important linkages are achieved between each sector and that they form, for through its synergies, an ecosystem”, he assured.
In 2020, Cushman & Wakefield’s Future of Workplace Experience per Square Foot™ report described how digitization – accelerated by the pandemic – has blurred the divisions between work, life and play, to the point that 73% of Global remote employees wanted remote work policies expanded to balance office, home, and third-party locations. These estimates materialize today and several countries, including Costa Rica, articulated measures to attract this large market.
The National Chamber of Tourism estimates that each person could generate more than $23,000 per semester for the economy if they come to work in the country with their family under this modality.
“Remote workers are looking for a variety of locations and experiences around the world that provide comfort, functionality and well-being. In this sense, we have observed, on the one hand, how the Digital Nomads Law is already part of the conversation as a strategy for attracting and retaining talent. Companies with vision can think of this regulation as a benefit for remote workers. On the other hand, the pioneering players in the real estate sector not only review their business models, but also prepare themselves with flexible and innovative legal, financial and technological approaches to be able to meet the particular demands of the market that they are going to receive”, added Cortés.
Workplace ecosystems: the role of each real estate sector
Experts point out that the development of workplace ecosystems can happen in any geographical area of Costa Rica that has the right mix of tourist attractions, access to cutting-edge technology and communities around specific leisure interests.
“A fundamental factor for the real estate sector to be articulated under the ecosystem modality is that it forgets the ‘machote’. The business model of each actor must provide flexible contracts, perhaps short-term, for spaces where people can live, work and play. For this, leveraging technology with international payment platforms or solutions like Airbnb will be essential. Each owner must conceive their space as a service, under a non-traditional structure. Thus, we project that the legal and accounting configurations will expand and impact other laws and regulations in the future; and in favor of attracting digital nomads”, said Cortés.
While people will change to balance the office, home and third places, the office will continue to be a fundamental engine of culture, learning and personal life. Plug and play workspaces in interesting locations that have all the tools: screens, ergonomic furniture, high-speed internet, among others, will be more competitive.
For this sector, the strategy of attracting digital nomads can represent an interesting component of post-pandemic recovery. The successful hotels will be those with the capacity to attract this floating population that not only think about pleasure and fun, but also about medium-term housing and a place to work: a hybrid in the style of a corporate hotel, with differentiated amenities for this market.
The housing sector should generate more openness to digital platforms, legal advice for medium-term stay contracts and accounting to prepare for non-traditional payment methods. For example, those owners who have a real estate portfolio can provide different mobility options within the country for digital nomads under a membership system, as an alternative to the typical housing rental contract.
“As always, the recommendation is to look for real estate, legal and financial advisors who accompany you with the knowledge and vision to act quickly and adapt to the new kind of demand that digital nomads will generate,” concluded Cortés.