WORK ABROAD: FREELANCING ACROSS 8 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

To continue our working abroad series, we interview Danielle about her time working abroad freelancing around the world!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work abroad?

I’m a ginger on the internet, who spent the last decade or so living in different countries, chasing a bit of a mad dream. I love immersing myself in the culture of a new place, watching the seasons and the festivals, so I usually stay 6 to 12 months, and so far I have done that in 8 countries.

In order to make that happen, here are the jobs I have had: private language tutor, nanny, au pair, freelance content writer, school support staff, project writer for the EU, and perhaps the best travel job I’ve found was in disability support for university students.

Why did you decide to work abroad?

To be honest it was 50% FOMO and wanderlust, and 50% the fact that my home country, the UK, was going through a vicious recession so jobs at home were hard to get. Being a native English speaker in England was worth nothin, but I found I could turn it into a real strength by going abroad.

How did you apply/gain work for private tutoring?

I had the same system in every country, having completed a CELTA qualification at age 18 and set up a private website to promote my services. I would always ask locals for their recommendations and locate the sites they preferred to hire people online, then place ads online and in libraries or schools near where I was living.

I had copies of my qualifications and reviews from other students on my site, so that made me stand out. It was honestly not hard to find people looking for classes, and a lot of people found me through word of mouth too. One summer I was asked to look after 2 Catalan teens, take them for fun days out and get them to practice their English and I have really fond memories of that. I often also did teaching online using a web cam and mic.

How did you find work as a freelancer? What type of freelancing do you do?

I’ve tried many platforms, but these are the two that worked out best.

Copify guarantees rates for freelancers and sources the work for you – you just select a job and finish it. On the downside, you can’t message the client directly, so at times the brief will be unclear and you’ll have to do a rewrite, that drives me bananas!

Upwork has a great range of work, but it is a huge struggle to get even minimum wage as you’re competing against people in countries where the dollar is worth a lot more, so they can easily undercut you.

I freelanced as a private English teacher and as a content writer or editor of text, and enjoyed the variety of different assignments you get! I used to train staff at the Rock in Rio fest in English via Skype and for a long time I wrote lesson materials for an international college.

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Tell us about the places you have lived in?

Essentially, I started in Peru because I had studied Spanish in school, and I had a chance at a teaching role there to gain experience. I got the teaching job by emailing language schools in Peru with my CV, and was surprised that it paid off!

I came home to the UK to study my degree, but when it was done, decided to take advantage of being an EU citizen with the right to live and work anywhere in Europe, to do just that.

I worked my way through Paris, Barcelona, the Czech Republic, Lisbon, Iceland and lastly Milan. Then I heard about the working holiday visa available in Australia and couldn’t bear to miss out, so I headed to Melbourne.

Where have been your favourite and least favourite places to live?

It’s so hard to choose, because you really leave a piece of your heart in every country.

Iceland would have to go top of my list, though, as I saw the northern lights, experienced the midnight sun and road tripped around the ring road. I also really admired the tenacity and friendliness of the people. While I was there I was a nanny in a rural village separated from the main road and it was very isolated. I didn’t speak the language but people went out of their way to help me and it was incredibly easy and safe to hitchhike around.

There hasn’t been a single place I’ve regretted living in, but I did struggle at times in Bolivia due to political upheaval, and eventually had to leave as my insurance wouldn’t cover further stay for safety reasons. That’s why, it’s not 1 of my 10 countries. I would love to go back and give that amazing country another chance one day, though.

What are the challenges to being a digital nomad?

It’s really important to actively socialise if you work solo from home and don’t have office colleagues. It’s always better to work in the library or in a cafe, and keep yourself from going stir crazy! Traditionally you will need to fight to have your work recognised as legitimate in a way that people working in a ‘regular” job do not.

Are you able to save much money with your online work?

I’d say that yes it’s been possible for me, but only when living without paying rent – such as when I was a full time volunteer for the EU, or when working for a family in exchange for free rent and food – I did this for example when working as a nanny in Iceland for bed and board or when I was a live-in au pair in Italy.

Other times, I was living frugally and just earning enough to get by, but it was 100% worth it to me for the experience and freedom I felt. In no way would I say that I got materially rich from it, so I for sure want to be transparent about that for anyone considering something similar.

What is the most expensive place you have lived in?

I think Paris was the most expensive, because although food and daily necessities are reasonable, the cost of rent, even in a run down part of the city, is crippling. Renting a tiny one bed studio in Port Saint Cloud was over 1500 euros per month, and I couldn’t afford more than 1 room, so I set up a screen to hide the bed and gave lessons in front of the screen.

Luckily none of my students seemed fazed by it. To make things work, I took the metro everywhere and had no car, and often I would go to Paris’ free museums for entertainment, so there were ways to make it more manageable.

What is the cheapest place you have lived in?

It was definitely living in Lisbon, Portugal. The city is great for budget travellers with affordable rent, delicious restaurants at good prices and you can take Lisbon’s vintage trams straight to the beach. I also had an advantage in Peru as I was hired by an international school who paid in US dollars, which were in demand. I used it to see more of Peru, spending the school holidays in the jungle city of Tarapoto and exploring Machu Picchu with my family.

What are some of your best travel moments?

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What advise would you give to others who want to work abroad?

Ask yourself: when I’m old, will I wish I had done this while I was young? If the answer is yes, I think: do it!

Don’t forget to follow Danielle and her travels on her website Live in 10 Countries. Make sure you follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook too!

I LOVE reading about how other people travel and live around the world! Thank you Danielle!

Any questions, experiences and comments – leave them below! 🙂

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Work Abroad Freelancing
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Showing 14 comments
  • Kevin's Travel Diary
    Reply

    Great article to read, it has givrn me some insights. Loved that your favourite place was Iceland and seeing the northern lights. Im off to hopefully see them in Novemeber.

  • Chad
    Reply

    I’ve lived abroad for 4 years and plan to go nomadic next May. This definitely gave me some added courage as I prepare to start my journey!

  • Hope
    Reply

    This is such a relevant post, especially now! I definitely see socializing being a potential issue for digital nomads – it’s much easier to make friends in the workplace! It’s amazing and inspiring how many different places you’ve lived in too 🙂

  • Shibani
    Reply

    Reading Danielle interview was a major inspiration. Although I would love to work from abroad, but due to various reasons not able to do so right now but knowing that I might have options is nice. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Tom @ Abroad American
    Reply

    Great choice of someone whose story is really worth sharing! Danielle has really run the gamut of living abroad and the freelancer lifestyle. I’m a bit more centered here in Munich due to my studies and the time limit thereof, but I really admire her determination to try all these avenues to keep herself exploring and adventuring around the world. That’s truly inspirational, thanks for sharing it!

  • Stacey
    Reply

    I really wish that I had thought to do this 20 years ago, although I know the digital side of things would not be as available. If I were in my 20s now without a family, I would look into doing these kinds of jobs. Now, I am hoping to get my family travel blog going. Maybe when my kids are older, I can have more of these experiences. I loved your comparisons of the countries and the cost of living. Your pictures are beautiful, too!

  • Ryan
    Reply

    What an inspiring short Q&A article! I am now just starting to look for freelancing opportunities and this is loaded with insights and good info. Thanks for sharing.

  • Followingtherivera
    Reply

    I too freelance, so understand her points completely. It’s so important to get away from the laptop and into the world, as yes, you do get stir crazy alone for most of the day. I’d like to also get to Peru and Bolivia one day…one day soon I hope!

  • Rosie Benton
    Reply

    Found this super interesting – we’ve just returned to the UK after two years teaching english in Korea. Looking forward to finding a new country to settle for a while, Lisbon sounds great. Thanks for the tips!

  • Mae-Gene
    Reply

    I loved reading this, it’s given me a lot to think about! I’m not sure I am cut out for working abroad, but I’m starting to read more and more about people who do it. It sounds like an amazing experience, but also one that pushes you beyond your comfort zone!

  • Tasha
    Reply

    Wow what an amazing life it must be having lived in so many countries. I enjoy hearing about people’s experiences living abroad. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • bee
    Reply

    thanks for haring this and really good info on where to freelance online too. I was a digital nomad for 6 years and me and Daneille have been through the same journey in a way so it;s nice to hear her story. I agree, Paris was my most expensive year abroad too!

  • Aurelia Teslaru
    Reply

    Woooow. I am thinking about freelancing for quite a while now. This has been a really helpful article!

  • Tatum
    Reply

    Well I don’t work abroad but I do freelancing and started my own company! It really gives you that digital nomad feel which is invigorating. You can travel, enjoy life and make money while doing it! Love it.

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WORK ABROAD: BEING AN EXPAT IN QATAR AND CAMBODIATips and tricks for worldwide digital nomads