If you’re living abroad as an English teacher or military spouse and currently making little or no money, there’s a good chance you fall into one of two categories: You’re teaching English or you’re affiliated with your country’s military.
As an expat English teacher, you have a job. You also have pretty good job security, at least for the length of your contract. For many people, that’s enough.
They’re not making a lot of money, but they’re making enough – enough to send home and make payments on their student loans, pay down credit card debt, or maybe even save some.
If you’re affiliated with the military in some way, maybe you’re the spouse of a service member and are here for a temporary stay. You may have looked for jobs on post which are already few and far between – which also makes even the most entry-level, mundane jobs highly competitive.
If you’re like me, maybe you make enough money (or your spouse does), technically, to live on or pay down debt, but you’re wishing there was a way you could bring in more cash.
Maybe you also have expensive tastes…
Or you like to travel a lot and traveling can get expensive…
Or you’d like to pay down your debts even faster…
Or you’d simply like to be able to make more money.
The secret is that you can!
Just because you’re working on a restrictive teaching visa or living within the confines of a strict life-work government agreement abroad doesn’t mean you can’t bring in money other ways. You can absolutely pull income from other sources without breaking your teaching or work visa agreements.
How is this possible?
Here’s what you probably do know: If you’re an English teacher, your contract and visa agreement states (most likely) that you cannot hold a job in the country where you’re residing outside of the job provided by your visa sponsor (your current employer). In some countries, you may be able to get a second job with explicit written permission from your boss, but those permission slips are often hard to come by.
If you’re a military spouse, you can’t get a job making money “on the local economy,” or anywhere off post where you’d be liable for paying local taxes on earnings and get paid in local currency.
Based on that knowledge alone, you’ve probably been thinking you’re stuck with your one job or, like many teachers and military spouses do across the globe – tutoring or teaching secretly and getting paid “under the table” in cash to avoid being caught by immigration or the education officials.
(While teaching or tutoring “under the table” is certainly an option for you, I don’t recommend it in most countries. South Korea, in particular, tends to be pretty lax on private tutoring as of the time of this writing, but technically it’s against the law. I’m not sure of how seriously other countries treat these rules.)
Here’s the big “secret”: No matter where you live and work – South Korea (where I have worked for over 5 years!), China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Hungary, Costa Rica… Teachers and military dependent spouses like us with specialized visas are scattered all across the globe – you can make money in your home country.
Your contract and subsequent visa agreement stipulate that you cannot make more money than what your visa sponsor is paying you that is taxable in that country. It says nothing (and legally can’t) about your taxable income in your home country.
In plain English, this means you can have a remote, internet-based job or work for yourself and funnel your earnings through your home country without ever overstepping or endangering your work or visa.
Pretty exciting, isn’t it?!
If you’re interested in finding ways to make money while keeping your day job abroad, this list is for you. While it isn’t completely exhaustive, it’s a good place to start.
Here are 5 ways you can find work and legally bring in more money every month without jeopardizing your visa.
1. Teach (more) English online.
As native English speakers, we have a lot of doors open to us that simply aren’t available to much of the rest of the world. Not only can you teach at your day job, but you may be able to also juggle teaching online.
There are some well-respected companies including VIPKid and DadaABC that hire English teachers (at the time of this writing, only from the U.S. and Canada – sorry everyone else!) to teach one-on-one classes online with Chinese children.
Depending on where you are in the world, this could work really well with your schedule or it could be tough. But if you can hack the hours, it’s a great option because you’re paid through your home country bank account.
As an English teacher outside of China, you’re not competing directly with your current employer which is the key point here. Yes, you’re teaching English BUT you’re teaching English to children your employer would never be able to market to or attract anyway. There’s no real conflict of interest.
However, if you’re currently teaching in China, this would be a major conflict of interest for rather obvious reasons. I wouldn’t advise going this route… But, if you dare, it’s an option.
BONUS: If you’re interested in teaching for VIPKid, send me an email and I’ll put you in touch with my friend, Gwendolyn, who’s been teaching for VIPKid for more than 2 years. She will gladly coach you through the hiring process and help you get a job with the company. 🙂
2. Find a remote job.
I got my start as a content marketer in 2015 by working 15 hours a week as a paid intern for a completely remote boutique content marketing company. In the two years I ultimately held that position (and moved from intern to actual employee), I never once met with any of my co-workers in person. It was awesome and so much fun.
There are plenty of businesses that follow this kind of model and have no interest in hiring and forcing their team to work in a physical building together. You might be shocked at how available some of these jobs are.
If you’re not keen to teach more English (which I totally don’t blame you for) or if you’re not really interested in being your own boss and starting a business, finding a job is your next best option.
Dynamite Jobs is a place for location independent biz owners to post open positions at their company. Some are full-time but many are part-time. If you’re just getting your feet wet, there are also occasional positions for internships like the opportunity I had. Keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to reach out to the hiring team if you’re interested.
We Work Remotely touts itself as being the “largest remote work community in the world.”
3. Start your own business.
There are so many ways you can go about starting your own gig online. You can:
- Start an online store and dropship products.
- Get crafty and create things, then turn around and sell them online via your own store or via sites like Etsy.
- Become a virtual assistant and help other business owners manage their email inbox, WordPress sites, and so much more.
- Start a freelance writing business and write articles, blog posts, newsletters, white papers, and beyond for clients across the globe.
- Learn to become a web designer and create amazing websites for other entrepreneurs or companies.
- Become a coach of some kind. There are tons of things that people are willing to pay money for to be coached. (Depending on what area you decide to coach in, you could do it locally or do it online via Skype or other digital phone call.)
- Create an online course and teach people how to do something you know how to do.
- Become an expert in Facebook ads, Pinterest management, or Instagram everything and charge a boatload of money to do it for other businesses.
I mean, it’s the internet. The possibilities are practically endless.
4. Monetize your thoughts.
You probably know some stuff and/or you have some opinions about things. Thanks to outlets like YouTube, podcasts, and blogs, you can monetize your own thoughts and words by simply putting your ideas out into the world.
If you're interested in getting into blogging, you can add some affiliate marketing and make money by helping direct buyers to other brands you trust and approve of. Ever heard of “passive income”? Affiliate marketing is a great way to achieve passive income.
There is someone out there who needs and/or wants to hear what you have to say. Let your voice and your perspective be heard.
5. Create something new.
This goes hand-in-hand, in some ways, with starting your own business. Depending on what you’re creating, you could potentially sell your brainchild to someone else someday or market and sell it yourself.
I’m talking legit inventions, new business ideas based on existing business models, apps… you name it.
We all have great ideas – maybe even those million-dollar ideas just like Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, had. It’s all in how you think about things. Have a problem? You’re probably not the only one. Find a way to fix it and it could be your best idea ever.
No matter your current situation, there are loopholes and there are ways for you to create your own work opportunities. Whether you’re looking to temporarily make money on your own terms or you want to transition out of a traditional job and do your own thing, I want to give you the tools that will help you get there.
With a little self-study, elbow grease, and consistency, you can create the job of your dreams and bring in as little or as much money as your heart desires. Believe it.
This is something I’m incredibly passionate about – helping other expats realize their potential to make more money and forge their own “work destinies.” My story may have started very much like yours, but in just a few short years, I’ve managed to grow an incredible business to supplement my teaching income.
If you’re ready to start learning more about what you can do to change your own life and work on your terms – build your “work destiny” – subscribe to my newsletter! I’m working on new courses and so excited to connect with you and learn more about your story.
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