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.
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?
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!
I LOVE reading about how other people travel and live around the world! Thank you Danielle!
Any questions, experiences and comments – leave them below! 🙂