12 Ways to Earn Money as an Expat

Updated on June 18, 2020
Blond Logic profile image

I meet with business owners both locally and internationally and share what I learn to help readers generate more income.

Working and Living Abroad

Working overseas
Working overseas | Source

Jobs for Expats

Have you thought of moving to another country but wondered if you would be able to earn an income there? Perhaps you have been on vacation and fell in love with the slower pace of life and culture and decided that life as an expat was for you. Before making such a move there are many things to consider, one of which is how will you earn an income. If you are retired and have a pension coming in each month, this may not be a problem for you or maybe you'd like to work part-time to stay active and supplement your income.

I have compiled some ideas for you to consider as a way to earn money as an expat. Some of these will be more suited to your circumstance than others. Some ideas may work in one country and not in another, take a look and decide for yourself which could assist you in building a new life in abroad.

Before you begin earning an income, even if it is only a part-time, speak to an accountant to determine the best way to declare this, you don't want problems to arise later. You may also need to check if your visa allows to to work in a foreign country.

Online Business Consultancy

Business consultancy
Business consultancy | Source

The most obvious choice is to continue your current occupation by becoming an online consultant. I know many people who now conduct the majority of their business via the internet.

Conference calls and meetings with staff are handled easily. The nature of the internet means you don't have to be in an office with your colleagues, in fact, you don't even need to be in the same country. You can also become a consultant to businesses in your new country, however, unless the people are fluent in English, or you speak their language, a translator will needed.

Own a Bed and Breakfast

This too is a popular choice for people returning from a vacation who see this as a way to enjoy the area but earn money. Some will buy an existing guesthouse as a turnkey business and others may buy a large building and convert it into a bed and breakfast. Often there is much competition as other foreigners have also had this idea and there will be many people chasing only a handful of customers.

Ask yourself if the market is saturated in your chosen area. How will you market your guesthouse? Write it down on paper, to see if the numbers work out.

Teach English as a Foreign Language

This can be to professional business groups or to people wanting to improve their conversational skills. If you wish to become qualified, this often requires that you have a BA or BS degree first, then there are online TEFL and TEFOL courses. Some will give you accreditation to teach only in certain countries. If this is the road you wish to pursue check that the course you sign up for will give you accreditation in the country you are in. Also note, that if you travel to teach English, often your salary will only cover your living expenses. Those that teach do it for the love of teaching and not for the money.

This can also be done online with people in countries such as Korea, Taiwan, and Japan who wish to improve their English. Often many already speak English but don't have the opportunity to practice with native English speakers. To do this online you need to have a fast and consistent internet connection.

Bars and Restaurants

Many people go on vacation and return home and believe they could open a bar in the vacation location. This is one of the most popular choices, and for some, it is successful. Experience in this field is crucial as I have seen many people underestimate the amount of work it takes to run a bar or restaurant. If you are planning on having this business in a tourist destination, what will you do in the low season? Can you afford to keep it open year-round or will you close for several months?

Earn Money Writing Online

Start a blog or write articles online. This requires no money, only the ideas and time. This is a popular choice as many people want a relaxed lifestyle and this fits in nicely. You can write about your new area and give advice to people about moving. Possible topics to discuss could be, how to avoid pitfalls when moving abroad or recommending the best property agents.

Any topics of interest or hobbies you have can be written about. By placing ads on your blog or website you can earn money from the advice you are giving people. I write here on Hubpages, it is free to join and you can earn a passive income from your articles. The advantage of earning money online is you can become a digital nomad if you want and not necessarily settle in one place.

Make Specialty Foods

Croissants | Source

Make foods targeted for foreigners. When many foreigners first arrive they are keen to try the local foods and fully immerse themselves into the new culture which drew them to their new life abroad.

However after awhile, they will begin to miss certain things about their home country. Very possibly it will be a particular type of food. This is your new niche market.

The internet is a great place to find recipes that are copycats of some of your favorite foods. Don't just limit yourself to your nationality though, experiment with other cuisines from around the world. Things such as breads, cakes, sausages, all have a different taste from different regions. The next time you are speaking to a foreigner, ask them which foods they miss and see if you can locate a recipe for it.

Au Pair jobs
Au Pair jobs | Source

Au pair jobs

Normally an au pair is a young unmarried man or woman. They will live with a host family and take care of their children and some may be required to do light housework. An au pair won't receive a salary just room and board, although some families opt to give them small amounts as pocket money. It is a great way to learn a new language, and experience other cultures.

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Holiday home management
Holiday home management | Source

Manage Vacation Homes

Manage property for other foreigners in the area. Often people will visit for only a short time, and rent their homes out for additional income. If you are living in an area full time, you can act as their agent. You could let the property out for them and charge a percentage. Normally this is around 15%.

You then would be in charge of greeting the guests and answering questions and dealing with any problems that may arise. It may also be working with staff such as housekeepers and gardeners on your clients behalf. Although 15% doesn't sound like much, if you have a few properties, it can soon add up to a tidy sum. Depending on your location, you may need official certification to do this.

Sell Handicrafts Online

Handicrafts for sale
Handicrafts for sale | Source

Sell items online. What can you sell from your new location? Are there handicrafts made that could be sold over the internet? Often with a bit of research, you can find outlets where you can buy products from the wholesalers and sell them much cheaper than they would normally be in other countries.

What is your new country known for? Here in Brazil, it's Havaianas flip flops, leather goods and crafts made by artisans. Always check the restrictions on items that can be sent abroad.

Sites such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon are a great place to start. You may also decide to create your own website, featuring the products you're selling.

Become a Tour Guide in your Area

There are two areas in which you can act as a guide. The first is for people visiting from your home country or one where you can speak the same language. Some people prefer to be escorted around to different venues and perhaps see things that they wouldn't normally see. If you are familiar with an area, market yourself as, "English speaking tour guide".

The other option is as a helper with the bureaucracy for new residents. Moving somewhere new can be a minefield and people will pay for assistance to get things done in the most efficient way possible. If you have mastered the local language and the bureaucratic side of your area, hire yourself out as a 'helper or a guide' to new expats.

Organize cycling trips
Organize cycling trips | Source

Organize Trips

What is special about your area? Could you organize trips for people to come and experience it? Below are some ideas. You wouldn't need to run these trips, unless you wanted to and were qualified, merely organize them and take a commission.

  • Boat trips
  • Diving
  • Ski Lessons
  • Horseback riding
  • Climbing
  • Mountain biking
  • Photography courses
  • Beach weddings
  • Surfing lessons

Begin a Taxi Service

If there are many foreigners in your area or visiting, consider starting a taxi service. There are many people who prefer to use a service with someone who speaks the same language. Familiarize yourself with various stores, clinics, and resorts.

Airport runs in a tourist town are always an option but you will need a vehicle that is suitable. If people are coming as a group, you will need ample space for baggage. Your vehicle will need to be in good mechanical order and clean. Keep in mind gas mileage as well.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Mary Wickison


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    • Marion Barnett profile image

      Jeff Reed 

      2 years ago from Alabama

      Thanks so much. Your article and comments have been very inspiring.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Marion,

      I think the key is to be adaptable. I would suggest renting in whichever country you're thinking about and then, if it isn't for you, it is easier to return.

      There is nothing worse than having regrets. If you can have an online business, you can be location independent as long as you have an internet signal.

      Meeting other nationalities makes you realize people are the same all over the world, and it helps you see your own country from a different perspective.

      Living in a place is much different than traveling somewhere on vacation you become part of a community.

      It also makes you realize, how little you need to be happy. Some first world countries, are overly commercialized and people aren't happy unless they are buying something new. In my opinion, they are some of the most unhappy people. Learning to live with less, is the key to a happy life.

      I hope you have the opportunity to live abroad, even if it is only for a short time.

    • Marion Barnett profile image

      Jeff Reed 

      2 years ago from Alabama

      Thank you so much for the tips. This is something that I have always wanted to do but just never had the guts to make the move. I have friends who teach in India and they truly love what they do. Your suggestions really make me want to try it.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      3 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      These are great suggestions. Thanks for all the ideas. I'm looking forward to moving in the near future. The world awaits!


    • Stephen C Barnes profile image

      Stephen Barnes 

      4 years ago from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

      That is something I had certainly never considered but sounds very intriguing. I will have to give it some thought, and discuss it with my wife.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      4 years ago from Brazil

      You're very welcome. If you are interested, we have an 8 acre coconut farm for sale with private fishing lakes. 4 bedroom house, 10 minutes to the beach. You can contact me through my email on Hubpages if you want to know more.

    • profile image

      Stephen C Barnes 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for the tip. We have been considering purchasing a vacation property that we could rent out but never really looked at other passive income possibilities. We will have to look further into other possible options.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      4 years ago from Brazil

      I would also suggest trying to build up a passive income stream so you have money coming in.

      We have a small coconut plantation which will be providing an income beginning next year. Remember, your money goes a lot further in other countries.

    • Stephen C Barnes profile image

      Stephen Barnes 

      4 years ago from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

      Great article, very informative. My wife and I are planning to live the expat life in the next five to seven years, and how we are going to earn a living in our chosen new country has been our biggest concern. I found some of your suggestions interesting and appealing. You gave me some things to think about. Thank you.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      5 years ago from Brazil

      Hello Aesta,

      I think it is always best to stay open minded to various opportunities. We live in Brazil and flexibility is the key.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband works as an international consultant and even if I used to do the same, I have decided to be with him so I write online but these other suggestions would be useful.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      6 years ago from Brazil

      There are many options to earning abroad. I am originally from CA, moved to Britain and now I live in Brazil. It is a big world out there and as a writer, you can do that from anywhere.

      Thanks for reading and commenting and have a great week.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      6 years ago from California

      I'm glad to see that there are plenty of options. I've never considered vacation rental management, but that would be an excellent job abroad. I probably won't ever do it forever, but it's fun to dream.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Joe,

      A man who enjoys household and yard chores? Where have you been all my life. LOL

      Good luck on your 30 day challenge, I tried it and unfortunately didn't make it. But I had a good reason!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub, I'll be checking in with you to see how your challenge is progressing.

      Tchau from Brazil

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      7 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, Blond Logic!

      You've written a very appealing and informative hub. Thank you so much for writing this article, authentically presented and respectfully received because you are such an expat. I enjoy your writing, and I'll be back for more. In the midst of a 30-Day Challenge, I have a reduced amount of time to enjoy the writing of others, but whenever I have a spare moment between what I love to do, the household and yard chores, my long walks, eBay work, etc., I'll be by. Aloha, my friend!


    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Never was a truer word said! I have seen this happen so many times, people go on vacation and assume life will be the same if they live there. Of course it isn't. Thanks for reading.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      These are fantastic tips for anyone considering a move abroad. I think it sounds romantic, but I guess it's important to remember that practicality must come into play - we all have to make a living!

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      It sounds like the travel bug has bitten you. It is a big world waiting for you but better to share it with someone you care about. When the times comes, I am sure you will enjoy it.

    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I now several people who do or have taught English abroad. When I was backpacking in NZ, it was so easy for all the Brits to get temporary work because they were already citizens of the Empire! Not so much for us poor Americans. I'm trying to convince my man to take a year off from 'normal life' some time to travel around, but it will have to wait until he's out of the Navy! We can't even head to a neighboring Hawaiian island for the weekend without filing paperwork.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Hello Gags,

      I know people here in Brazil who do business conferences via the internet whilst wearing a bikini. Of course the bikini doesn't show and the others on the video conference have no idea that she isn't somewhere in Europe. You're correct, it pays the best.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Hello MT,

      Often these ideas can be changed and used even if you wish to stay at home. Foreigners in your own community would benefit from English lessons, and national foods. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • gags3480 profile image


      7 years ago from Kanpur, India

      I think Business consultancy is one of the best job. It requires expertise but gives lot's of dollars. Nice hub.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Very good ideas and tips if living abroad. I too am a home-body but If I were to travel, this would be a very helpful article.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Living in Korea must be a wonderful experience for your cousin. Thank you for the comment and the votes. Have a great weekend.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      7 years ago from East Coast

      I have a expat cousin in South Korea who teaches English and is a good photographer. These are useful and legitimate income options for expats. Voted up and useful.

    • Blond Logic profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Wickison 

      7 years ago from Brazil

      Hello Bill,

      Yes, the States are vast and there are many places there I've yet to visit as well. Thank you for your kind words.

      Enjoy your weekend.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions my friend. I have never seriously considered living outside the U.S.....too much of a home body I guess...and there is so much of this country I haven't seen yet. Anyway, for those considering it, this is a wonderful resource of ideas.

      Have a great weekend!


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