11 Top Ways To Generate Income As An Expat
When I made my move overseas two years ago, I knew that I would need to supplement the funds I’d set aside to support myself.
I didn’t want to wait any longer to begin living the life I really wanted to live… so I decided to make the leap even though I didn’t have as much cushion in my budget as I might have liked.
I’m resourceful, I told myself. I’m capable. I can figure this out…
So my research into ways to make money to augment the money I’d saved has been focused on opportunities in this part of the world specifically. However, some of these ideas are geographically adaptable…
#1: Teach English
The Spanish, I discovered, are eager to improve their English. They study English in school, but they don’t always have the opportunity to practice later in life.
In Spain, if you’d like to tap into the opportunity this interest creates, consider the International House Madrid or Hyland Language Centre, two of the biggest language schools in this country. They can help you get your CELTA certificate, which allows you to teach English anywhere in the world without a four-year teaching degree. TEFL is another option but not as widely accepted.
It’s also possible to find a job teaching English part-time for international businesses like BBVA, a major bank in Spain. Or you could become a teaching assistant in a school, public or private.
Teaching English is less of an opportunity in Portugal, where most people, especially in the tourist areas like the Algarve, speak good English already.
#2: Start A Tourist-Related Business
Many who move to another country have a dream of opening their own café or restaurant. In Spain and Portugal, the competition is fierce, so niche players fare best.
Research your market. In the Algarve, one beach town has several Irish-named restaurants that cater to Irish tourists, but some are owned and run by Portuguese with no Irish ties other than economics. The places run by Irish do best with Irish tourists… etc.
#3: Consider Import/Export
Top products could be cork purses, handmade linens, and Vinho Verde wine.
#4: If You’ve Got A Car…
You could provide transportation services through Uber or BlaBlaCar (like Uber for long distances). In Portugal, though, keep in mind the expensive toll roads.
#5: Storage Units Are A Universal Need
A local company that does well in Portugal charges monthly, provides indoor and outdoor storage, and has various size units, down to 1 square meter!
#6: The Food Industry Is Good For Quick Cash
If you need cash quickly, restaurants are always hiring chefs, cooks, and service help. If you don’t mind returning to what might have been your first job, you’ll find work available.
#7: Drop Ship Online
An opportunity getting lots of play lately is a “drop-ship” business online, selling items that ship directly to the consumer. Using Amazon or Etsy as your selling platform seems the simplest ways to begin, and you can research the necessary steps online.
#8: Partner With An Established Business
Starting your own business, especially if you don’t speak the local language, takes time… and eats away at your savings. Partnering with a local or U.S. company can be the difference between costly struggle and profitable success.
Do photography for a realty service… or work with a small Portuguese real estate agency to help them compete better in the English-language marketplace.
Populations are aging here, as everywhere, and caregiving companies are looking for help from independent contractors. A lady I know from Florida is an in-home aid in southern Portugal. For this, you need to know at least a little of the local language.
You could contract with a local hotel or fitness center to provide yoga, hiking, or meditation classes.
A U.S. expat I know in Spain has been providing hiking tours in the lower Pyrenees for years, most recently in partnership with a U.S. travel business, Adventures In Good Company.
#9: Work For Your Supper
This isn’t a way to earn cash but to cut your living costs, especially during the scouting phase of your go-overseas adventure. If you want to check out an area or are willing to move with only a suitcase or two, this can be a great way to see different places at almost no cost.
You help a local family or small organization by providing some service (handyman, painter, garden harvest, hostel manager, etc.), and, in return, you are provided free room and board.
While this may sound perfect for a 20-something backpacking his or her way around Europe (and it is), experience has value in the global marketplace.
Workaway is one of the biggest players offering this matchup service. Often, the gigs are in small, rural areas, but some are city-based. Many opportunities are ongoing and both single- and couple-friendly.
If I had known about this idea before my move, I would definitely have used an agency like Workaway to see more of the world before deciding where to settle.
#10: Translate This!
I’m not talking about official translations of immigration or legal documents.
I’m talking about day-to-day translation needs—for example, menus, marketing flyers, and documents catering to tourists.
Many businesses translate their marketing materials themselves… and don’t realize that they could be getting customers in spite of their translations, because the English is so bad. Better-translated marketing or promotional copy could have a big positive impact on their bottom line.
#11: Or How About…
Becoming a dog walker, a tutor, or IT support. I know expats making money doing all those things… all very part-time.
Going overseas is, more than anything, about reinventing your life.
No, you don’t want to move to a new country and take a job working 40-plus hours a week in a cubicle.
But what you’ll find once you’re on the ground, is that there are opportunities for making money on the side—a little or even a lot—working as much as you want… doing something you enjoy.
Me? I decided to become a freelance writer…