Figuring out how to make some extra money doing something you love is a wonderful thing. And many of my fellow expats are doing exactly that.
If you’re looking for inspiration, I’d like to share some of those stories with you.
In fact, we know of so many such stories that my husband Dan and I devoted an entire chapter of a new book we’ve written to this exact topic. (More about that in a moment.)
But in thinking about this topic of making money, I’ve realized that the “place” doesn’t matter as much as the “passion.” In fact, there’s really no contest.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Belize or Costa Rica, Ecuador or Thailand (or even if you live in the same house you’ve lived in for the last 30 years)…if you have a passion, you can figure out a way to profit from that.
Granted, not all of the expats I know needed the extra income. Some just felt a compelling urge (a passion, yes) to fill a niche. They seized an opportunity and steamed full ahead. They seem to have boundless energy, but much of it is fueled by the project they’ve mounted. They love what they’re doing. That it happens to make money is a welcome benefit.
Some decided that they absolutely needed a little extra spending money and made it happen by pulling from their inner resources and talents. Some are good at crafts or storytelling or music, and others…well…they don’t have a particular talent as much as (again) a passion. And that could be as simple as being fond of pets or kids or being crazy about food.
Some have gone the traditional route with B&Bs, small hotels, and restaurants, although usually these are unique-to-the-area endeavors: a B&B that specializes in art retreats, an authentic Texas barbecue in a town in Ecuador, or a vegetarian café in the beef-eating city of Buenos Aires. I know more than a few expats in Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and as far away as Luang Prabang, Laos, who bake artisan breads and pastries to sell in shops, markets, and to local restaurants.
A friend who opened a good old hamburger restaurant in Mexico once told me, “Practically any trend from the U.S. will go over well here.” And that’s true of just about everywhere in the world, it seems. Most everyone loves the U.S. culture and its consumer items. Go figure.
Some of the more offbeat things I’ve seen expats do to make money: give walking tours, offer cooking lessons or art classes, pet-sitting, cutting and coloring hair, running consignment shops, hosting a writer’s salon. One (not a writer but with a gift for gab) even started a “liar’s club.”
While you may not get rich doing these things, you may be able to make more money than you think. And the beauty of it is that none of these activities cost anything at all to get started (except for maybe some paper and a pen to create some ads to post about town).
A friend of mine who is a house sitter is rarely without a free place to live. He’s been around the world and back with this “job.” And another, who pet sits, is now turning down jobs. “I just don’t want to work that much,” she told me last month. And of the three women I know who started consignment shops (in Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador) all have thriving businesses. Two now have employees who run the shops for them, so they put in very few hours themselves.
My point is: if you have passion, the place doesn’t matter. In fact, you can live just about anywhere you like.
And that’s where our new book comes in. We’d like to save you lots of time and money by dishing up the information you need to find your perfect place in the world to live happily and maybe even put some money in your pockets.
The topic is something my husband and I are both passionate about: living better for less overseas. Since 2001, we’ve been doing just that. We’ve lived in seven locations in four countries. About a year ago, the huge Wiley Publishing Company approached us and asked us to reflect on our real-world experiences and compile all our research and knowledge into a quintessential blueprint for others looking to do what we’ve done. If that describes you, take a look here to learn more.
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