How I Turned a Crisis in Florida to Lazy Days in Brazil

I awoke this morning to the sound of birdsong and breakers. Usually I like to begin the day with a brisk walk along Leme beach—only one block from my home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But I overslept a bit today (a result of celebrating Brazil’s win over  Uruguay in the Confederation Cup games), and must get ready for work.

Getting “ready for work” consists simply of showering… and then opening Skype on my Mac.

That’s because these days I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) by Skype. The truth is that a few years ago I never would have imagined myself as an English teacher.

But life is full of surprises.

A few years ago I was living in South Florida. Life was pretty good. I had a “good” if stressful job, and a nice portfolio heavy with real estate.

Then the crisis hit. Overnight the market simply shut down. The stock market then tumbled. My net worth took a beating. Suddenly I was no longer looking at a very early retirement.

I did a lot of soul searching and decided to start over in Brazil. I’d visited many times before and loved the country. I’d planned one day to relocate to Brazil anyway. Maybe this was a sign to do it now.

But I couldn’t simply retire. I needed an income. Doing what?

In Brazil, English classes are in high demand. So I attended a certification course not long after arriving in Rio de Janeiro. The next week, I was giving my first classes.

English classes are big business around the world. And in some places—such as Rio and Sao Paulo, Brazil—you can earn quite a decent hourly wage teaching English.

You might teach in a classroom. You might travel to students’ homes or offices to give private lessons. Or, like me, you might dive into the relatively new field of teaching via the Internet—which allows me to teach from anywhere in the world.

Whatever the method of delivery, it’s not difficult to get started.

Sure, teaching ESL is a job and requires that you develop some skills. But it’s probably easier than you imagine.

Even if you weren’t a stellar student in English back in high school, this career is open to you. After all, you speak the language every day, and have done so virtually your entire life. With a bit of grammar review, you can be ready to teach in a matter of weeks.

The cost to start is very low. In many locations, you don’t even need certification. The locals are simply hungry for native speakers to help them.

If you choose your location and your clientele judiciously, you can have a decent standard of living—without having to slave for long hours. Like me, you should find plenty of gaps in your schedule in which to immerse yourself in the local culture or chase other pursuits; I actively maintain a blog and do photography.

My classes are generally quite enjoyable. My students are intelligent, eager, and appreciative. If you are a teacher now, does that sound like your students? No? Perhaps you just need a new environment in which to teach.

Teaching English overseas is just about the easiest way to begin quickly making money abroad that I can think of.

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