San Jose - Post Report Question and Answers

What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

A lot of availability, but more expensive than in neighboring countries. Most homes we are assigned to have live-in maid quarters, but most people only have a cleaner and/or live-out nanny. - Sep 2020

Availability is not an issue but cost is an issue. For embassy community folks the people hired have to be on contract and there are extensive rules about social security and related benefits they get when they leave. There are also bonuses at Christmas time. It adds up quickly so you can't base cost on the flat price, but have to factor in another 30% or more for all the hidden benefits. - Jul 2018

Household help is easily available but very expensive. Local labor laws are also complicated and contracts are required for everyone who works more than one day a week. Lots of required benefits, everything needs to be negotiated beforehand and put in writing. - Dec 2016

Widely available. For 40 hours per week (not live-in), US$475 per month plus $160 in payroll tax and a mandatory 13th month equals $690 per month. - Feb 2016

Widely available, mostly Nicaraguan, and inexpensive, but of widely varying quality. Typical wage is US$350-400 per month plus legally required Christmas bonus, insurance, etc. Know the local laws on paying the Caja (Social Security) and follow them. - Apr 2014

Good availablity but it may take awhile to find a keeper who's trustworthy & good. Cost is fairly inexpensive monthly. However, you must pay into their Social Security which runs 25-30% of their monthly salary. Additionally, you must navigate their laws, which include paid holidays, 13th month bonus at Christmas & a severance package which includes payments based on number of months/years worked for you, Christmas bonus, payment of unpaid leave, and an additional payment of any "gifts in kind" such as daily meals eaten at your residence, extra gifts, etc. - Jun 2013

Domestic help is somewhat cheap but complicated due to the labor laws. You have to pay their social security (CAJA) on top of their regular pay. As well as paying 2 weeks paid vacation per year and keep up with the 2 pay increases each year. And whether you fire them or just let them go since you are leaving you still have to pay severance (percentage of their pay). - Aug 2011

Very inexpensive. We pay 300 dollars/month for a full-time nanny who also cleans and cooks. - Feb 2010

widely available - $300 - $400 a month. - Jan 2010

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