Work Abroad in Central and South America: Here’s How
Living in Central and South America is a dream many Northerners hold but simply do not know how to make a reality. Financially supporting your life and travel abroad in Latin America is surprisingly simple and actually common among many travelers. You do not need a work visa and you do not need a resume. Get savvy and explore these options, which offer valuable work and life experience while funding your time abroad.
Live for Free in a Hostel
Hostels all over provide free food and lodging for volunteers who contribute to the upkeep of hostels. Meet other travelers and get a taste of what it would be like to own and run your own. Consider where you would like to live, then contact hostels with good reviews on sites like TripAdvisor or Hostel World. Better yet, build relationships while backpacking and circle back to the hostels that made you feel at home.
Work in a Local Café
Expat-owned cafes tend to hire foreigners who can speak English fluently with tourists. Wages tend to be low but if you work in places frequented by North Americans you will likely make enough in tips to get by. This is an excellent experience in learning what it takes to run a café in a developing country.
Volunteer on a Farm
Contact permaculture and organic farms which usually operate with the help of local and expat volunteers. Learn how to grow your own food while living for free. Some farms may even pay you based on how much you yield. Research areas near National Parks with farming and expat communities. In Costa Rica many opportunities exist on the Osa Peninsula and in the mountainous region of Panama surrounding Boquete.
Become a Divemaster
Providing dive lessons in tourist towns can be lucrative and it’s a great way to dive for free. It takes some investment to get your certification through PADI, but if you love to dive it is an ideal job.
It may not be as lucrative as teaching in Japan or Korea, but opportunities exist in Latin American cities for foreigners teaching English. Seek out cities looking for native English speakers.
Many spas in beach and tourist towns all over Latin America employ foreigners certified to practice massage. Prices are geared towards tourists which can offer a pretty decent income. It is also possible to avoid the overhead expense of working in a spa by setting up your own shop on the beach. Be aware that this is often illegal but the law is rarely enforced.
Like massage therapists there is a demand for yoga instructors, particularly in Costa Rica which tends to have at least one studio in every town. You can also offer private lessons to tourists in their homes or hotels or teach your own public classes on the beach.
Manage Rental Properties
Many foreigners who own homes abroad choose to live elsewhere for a good part of the year. This is so common that a demand exists for rental agents advertising and managing vacation rentals. If you have a background in real estate or property management this is a great way to make first world wages abroad. It is possible to represent yourself or become part of a local company.
Invest in Your Own Business
This is the most common path expats tend to take when deciding to live abroad. Is there a business you have always dreamed of running? Perhaps a hotel and spa? An organic café? A hip wine bar? A shop selling artisan goods? A tour company showing the best of the country you love? Your options are endless and investment tends to be much less expensive than in Western countries. If your business is geared towards tourists you can charge first world rates and make a good livable income.
You can find incredible freedom to live and work anywhere in the world at any given time when you are able to work online. Depending on your skill set you can create a freelance business online likely makes the same wages you made in your home country. Look on job boards for freelance writing opportunities, develop a client base for web and graphic design, or find a way to make your other skills work online. There are Interior Designers, Nutritionists, Project Managers, Marketers, and others who have shifted their careers to be entirely based online.
Get creative and find a way to finance living abroad if you feel called to do so. It is more than possible.