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The DARK side of Digital Nomads | Startup Planet Ep. 1 – Nosara, Costa Rica

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So what do you think about digital nomads?  – This is being recorded? – Yeah! – Then…  So this is Erok, and meeting him last week  was, it was eye-opening to say at least.  Erok is one of many thousands maybe more  foreigners, many Americans that have moved   to Costa Rica to retire. The pandemic has brought   a new kind of tourist to Costa Rica, and I don't think that the country was ready. We heard rumors about what was going on in Nosara,  we saw a little about it, but honestly for us   here in San Jose in the city, what goes on  in the rest of Costa Rica is unknown to us.  Is kinda like a different  world, but what we do know is  we know what happens when  tourism goes wrong in Costa Rica. And for those who see what happens when  beaches are stripped away from us when   hotels or developments just coming, conquer a  beach and make it unaffordable to anyone local.

And the last time I visited Nosara it  was this remote kinda untarnished beach,   so I had to see it for myself, I  have to check if the rumors are true.  I need to understand WHY. Why Nosara  is now so special to digital nomads. I need it to understand if it's true that  the very essence of Nosara is in danger. Costa Rica is special. It's tinny but it's the stable  economy in Central America   that pride itself in being peaceful  because actually has no army.

The largest population centers in the central  valley, but the country sits in between   two oceans The Pacific and The Caribbean, and the coasts are well… they are beautiful. The Pacific coast particularly has seen  tremendous development over the past few decades. Beach towns close to the airports see thousands  of local and foreign tourists flok all year. And it's on those beaches where you find  the most developed towns and resorts. But, some towns are different,   there's so remote enough so that only a  hand full of people dare venture there. And Nosara is one of them. We are sweating and we didn't bring any beers. This is the stereotypical  perfect Costa Rican beach. It's remote enough you have to  drive a dirt road to get here.  it's remote enough there is just the right amount  of people on the beach so that you're not alone   but also within a long distance of everybody.

And Nosara is more strict about it. The whole beachfront is a Protected National Area. As remote became possible people  just figured out that they could   stay and work out of Nosara and move here. We decided to stay at Selina which is  one of the so many co-working spaces   that have pop-up in Nosara in the last few months. The audience that Nosara  attracts it's also different. It's younger tourists, many millennials  with high-income remote jobs but also   more appreciative of this  remote, peaceful way of life. Escaping bit cities but still involved in tech. That means entrepreneurs and also investors. The government also understood this, so  they pass a law allowing that any foreigners   that can prove a least $3,000  a month in income…do stay. Little paperwork, no income taxes. There's  even another visa if you invest in land. And these ideas are great, development,  investment, foreign capital  usually comes hand in hand with new  jobs and new benefits to the economy.  but, beach towns like Nosara weren't ready  for how popular they were about to become. -Why do so many people want to move to Nosara?  -Nosara it's a paradise.

When people  start loving Nosara they want to buy land,   they want to build their houses. Their summer  houses or they want to start living here. This newfound popularity may   just destroy the very esccence of what  brought people here in the first place. So there's is this legend  in Nosara that said if you   swim in the Nosara river you become  a local, you become a Nosarean.

But the river it's also where problems begin. Nosara it's essentially divided in two. There are two worlds in here. This side is Guiones upper  in the hills you can find   multimillion-dollar houses and boutique hotels  down by the beach you have delicious  restaurants and bars and yoga studios. Guiones is the source and  everyone wants to be close to it  but the actually Nosara town it's  a couple of miles downs the road. And this is where local lives, we can find  the true nosareans. The public schools,   the public plaza which you can  find in any true Costa Rican town but this area it's next to the river  and in the rainy season, it floods. Buying land is not hard, it's expensive  but there are a lot of plots available,   the problem is ironically…

Water. Both the municipality and the state water  supply companies had to block new constructions  because there's just isn't enough fresh  water to supply all these new developments. For foreigners, this means buying land and having  to wait for years to finally be able to build  but for locals, it means that  there's just no place to live. -In my opinion, there's like a renting crisis  in Nosara because there are no places to   rent. -Do you know a place to rent because  I've been sleeping in my car for 3 days? They can't start new families because there's just  no chance to move out of their parent's house. This is the core of the  supplier and demand problem. Too many people want to live here  but there's nowhere to put them. While we didn't feel eating out was  particularly expensive, groceries are. So much that locals often take monthly  trips to San Jose to buy their food. – I get why the price of everything sort  of inflates. You have locals who are   literally driving to San Jose  to do their grocery shopping   because things here are more expensive, 40%  to 30% more than normal will cost in San Jose.

Digital nomads have created  noise. It's a bubble for themself. And it's just disconnecting from what is  happening outside but that's the point. When you have people coming in whiling  to pay $1,500 for a studio apartment   or $2,000 for a co-working space office living will get more expensive for everyone. Other problems have a reason  for excessive development.  During the rainy season floods overflow septic  tanks which of course end up in the ocean.  Many locals choose not to swim  or surf during the rainy months.  We heard from a local doctor that ear  infections cases became a massive spike.  Costa Rican knows where this could be heading. This is not the first beach town that gets   discovered by tourist and where this happens   pollution is really the smallest of their problems But not all is lost. There's a local committee fighting to  block high-rise buildings definitely,   to force landowners to build around trees  in their properties instead of cutting them. Thanks to the National Park area Guiones  will never see a beachfront hotel.  Neighbors have all happily agreed to avoid  oceans facing lighting in their houses   which is known to scare nesting turtles away.  There's hope that this wave  of settlers will be different.  There's hope that they will cherish  and protect Nosara to keep it like this  green, remote, wild.

There's no stopping this wave by now but can Nosara maintain its essence? Well guys I hope you enjoy that video. We have been working on the idea to make   it more blog and travel format for a while I think that Youtube deserves a change   and evolution in our format I would really appreciate it if you   let us know. Give us your honest   opinion about how this video look. Not only because we want to know   but because we're producing another one. I think this is our bigger video project yet.  My team and I are flying to India,  to Bangalore to shoot another video   on this startup ecosystem in Bangalore and how this has been transformed the city. We are really excited about  this Slidebean planet series.  We think that is going to allow us to  connect with a lot of entrepreneurs  lot of companies.

We are doing  a meet-up in India and we expect  to fly to a bunch of different places as the world re-open from Covid.  Really thanks all for watching. If you enjoy the content then share it. We're betting everything on this new  series so appreciate all the help. So see you next week in India.

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