Working Abroad: The Digital Nomad

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Living a nomadic life for over two years has been an evolutionary process. We started our journey fascinated by the places we had only read about. Back then, our time was primarily divided between touring and volunteering. It was fueled by the newness of it all and for the first year, we loved being more tourists than expats.

We eventually discovered that simply touring wasn’t enough. Every new city had fantastic historic sites, all with an interesting story to tell. What surprised us was how there became a sameness going from place to place. That became the motivation to expand our experience and begin to work online.

The Digital Nomad

There is a growing community pursuing location-independent work, commonly known as Digital Nomads. There are great online resources for people pursuing this lifestyle. NomadList is the largest online community with an informative ranking of cities based on the cost of living, quality of life and average internet speed. Nomadic Notes is a great directory of nomadic resources also useful for expat planning.

There are a number of technology platforms that allow you to work from anywhere. The basic requirement is that you need access to a decent internet connection which, fortunately, is possible almost anywhere.

There’s Amazon Mechanical Turk which pays for work that requires human intelligence. ( I found the tasks either too long or too tedious and the pay painfully low.)

Fiverr has grown into the largest marketplace for freelancers who charge $5 (hence the name) or more for a wide variety of tasks that can be completed remotely.

Teaching English online

Teaching English online has become our primary focus. There are a number of ways to connect to students and grow it into something meaningful. We love how it connects us to people all over the world.

The first step is to earn your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. There are a number of excellent online TEFL classes. My wife used ITTO which offers an excellent blend of independent and online class formats. They assign a tutor to review your work and provide guidance.

They also have an on-site practicum at their Guadalajara, Mexico location. I used i-to-i Love TEFL, a UK-based learning organization recommended by one of our favorite global bloggers, Nomadic Matt. They are OFQUAL accredited (the UK agency that sets education standards) which helps add global credibility to your certificate.

Connecting with students

Once you have your TEFL certificate in hand, it’s time to connect with students. There’s a long list of online schools and teaching platforms to choose from.

Cambly is becoming a strong player in this space. It’s a video chat tutoring application where students from all over the world can connect with English native speakers. You don’t need to be TEFL certified, but it certainly helps draw more serious students.

Another is italki which is closer to an online language learning marketplace. This takes a bit more work to market yourself to draw regularly scheduled students. Compensation is not much, typically $10/hr, but, then again, your expenses will be very low in many of the places you’ll be living. We can see the possibility of covering our day-to-day living expenses doing this part-time.

For those who have completed their working career, this is a great way to stay engaged on your own terms. For us, it’s a great way to further expand our reach and continue to live a purpose-driven life.

Let me know what you’ve done to transform your expat life through online tools. There are so many possibilities!