Insights | Spotlight on Costa Rica: A Nearshoring Star on the Rise

Spotlight on Costa Rica: A Nearshoring Star on the Rise

By Ryan Schauer | September 14, 2021

For the first time since the pandemic closed international borders, the Accelerance team resumed our trademark offshore, on-site research into new partners for our certified global software outsourcing network this summer. Our first trip in 18 months took us to sign on a new software development firm in Central America's hotspot for outsourcing – beautiful Costa Rica, a country of volcanoes, mountains, and beaches. 

Accelerance has been expanding our partner network and deepening our bench skills in Latin American countries. Costa Rica is at the top of our list since it’s a nearshoring star whose popularity has been on the rise even more since the pandemic.

The trip was part of Accelerance’s strategy to build an even greater footprint in Costa Rica for staff augmentation services, which is a higher demand versus a dedicated teams model. Accelerance CEO Andy Hilliard accompanied me on this week-long mission to the capital of San José in order to:

  • Onboard our new partner to increase the number of Accelerance certified software outsourcing firms in the desirable Costa Rican destination to four, for a combined total of 3,200 developers.

  • Support ramp-up of our new partner’s first outsourcing engagements, assembling engineering teams for one client and taking requirements for two more. 

  • Meet with our three existing partners for an operations quality check and for continued relationship building.

 In Costa Rica, all our partners are conveniently located less than a 45-minute drive from the airport. Generally, Uber and Lyft are the easiest ways to get around.  

The great advantage of traveling to spend time on-site is that you get to experience the partner company’s culture firsthand. Our new partner demonstrated a clear passion for their development work. They’re not just punching the clock; the energy they bring to their work is reflected in the innovation and premium quality of their software products.

 

Costa Rica Partner Office

 

As in the US, our Costa Rican software outsourcing partners have adapted to Covid-19 by working remotely. But we were able to spend some quality time in person through socially distanced meetings and team dinners. 

Although I’ve traveled widely in Latin and Central America, this was my first visit to Costa Rica. Andy, on the other hand, has been coming here since the late 1980s. He describes it as having a “work hard and play hard” approach to life that makes for a great work-life balance. 

One of the original nearshore outsourcing destinations for the US, Costa Rica offers top-tier technical talent. In software engineering, Costa Rica rates high in local and global skills competencies, ranked at #2 in Latin America and #27 worldwide for programming expertise, according to Coursera. It also is dominant in global call-center industry solutions.

Want the latest scoop on Costa Rica and other hot Latin American nearshoring destinations?

Download our 2022 Latin America Guide to Software Outsourcing for proprietary trends and regional developer rates direct from our extensive in-person and survey research.

Costa Rica possesses all the benefits of a nearshoring approach. The close time-zone overlap is an attractive attribute for US companies seeking work-day alignment. There’s also ease of travel – San José is just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami, so jet lag isn’t an issue. The workforce is highly educated. Higher education in Costa Rica requires fluency in English, and many locals speak English with a “clean” accent that’s easy to understand. 

However, Costa Rica is facing the growing global challenge of an insufficient technical talent supply. High demand for engineers makes for a sellers’ market. That means clients need to be ready to move fast, interview short-listed partners quickly, and set up operations at speed, because good talent isn’t sitting around waiting for work.

Costa Rica has experienced a deluge of demand for its software services in the past year. As a result, software development outsourcing rates are rising in the region, although you’ll still pay significantly less than on the domestic market in the US. For example, for a US onshore developer rate of $75 to $125 per hour, you can get the same skill proficiency, or better, for $45 to $80 per hour.

A couple of our partners in San José are adapting to these pressures by setting up satellite shops in countries such as El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, and Peru, where the rates for software engineers are lower. This helps control costs, ultimately benefiting our clients who use their services.

 A New Partner Comes on Board


The latest addition to our outsourcing network in Costa Rica has been in business developing custom software for 21 years, specifically for clients in the US. To meet current strong demand, and in response to the rising cost of developers locally, the San José-based company is expanding geographically, with a headquarters in Austin, Texas, and a 500-strong roster of developers across Costa Rica, Peru, and India. This means they’re more nimble in finding the right talent in any vertical and making cost savings that can be passed on to their customers.

Boosting our growing focus on staff augmentation, the company possesses the depth and breadth of expertise that Accelerance requires for our premium certified partners. The new partner made the grade with its:

  • A broad range of frontend, backend, and full-stack development skills

  • Robust end-to-end software lifecycle development, from design through project management, Dev Ops, and quality assurance

  • A strong client-centric operation, with a personalized and consultative approach.

Interested in learning more about Accelerance’s certified developer network in Costa Rica? Reach out to us.

 

Traveling to Costa Rica in the Age of Covid-19

We needed travel insurance to cover possible medical expenses (although that requirement has since been removed for travelers who are fully vaccinated) and to complete a digital Healthpass. Within Costa Rica, people are required to wear masks when they’re out and about and meeting people. Otherwise, life in San José appeared back to normal. Shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes were open, and the city felt vibrant.

Costa Rica is a fascinating country and a safe environment for our clients, who’ll enjoy adding on a few extra days to a business trip there. Known as the Switzerland of Latin America, this democratic nation has had no standing army since 1948 and is a solid anchor in a region at times troubled by instability. It’s one of the world’s highest recipients of aid per capita from the US, and education exchanges between the two countries are common.

Bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Right in the middle is the capital city of San José, a city of some two million people and the country’s commercial center. It houses numerous Fortune 500 companies, including major tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Away from the center, there are pockets of quaint little districts dotted with coffee houses.  

 

Andy Ryan on Mountain

 

After taking care of business, there are plenty of local attractions and Costa Rican culture to enjoy. Here are some top picks from our latest trip:

If you’re a US company searching for a highly skilled talent pool that is conveniently located and culturally aligned, Costa Rica needs to be on your shortlist. It’s a vibrant technology scene both regionally and globally. It’s considered one of the strongest Latin American tech sourcing countries because of the talent quality, education system, business innovation, and English language proficiency. 

And, once you’ve visited your perfect-fit Accelerance partner, you can’t do much better than exploring the country’s beautiful beaches and coastline, all 800 miles of it. 


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