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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.

Work Abroad in Central America

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.

Teach English

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.

Give Massages

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.

Work Abroad in Central America

Teach Yoga

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.

Work Online

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.

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21 thoughts on “Work Abroad in Central and South America: Here’s How

  1. Kobus Van Niekerk

    this is where i want to be man!!!

  2. 2

    No money , only get about 1200 a month SSD . Can I live on that ?

    • 3

      Wayne: Take a look at our cost of living articles here …just to help you get a feel for cost of living in Costa Rica and Panana. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. 4

    I’m looking to start over in a country friendly to American ex-pats with regard to employment and long-term residency. I am a certified personal trainer, former restaurant owner, bartender/bar manager and have a degree in history. Any recommendations?

  4. padma inngle

    Hi I m yoga teacher in mumbai…I have interes ed in this add

    • 7

      Hi I am indian. Have degree in Bsc Hotel and catering Management. I have completed diploma in spa therapy. Are there any jobs in Costa Rica? Pls help.


    I would like to work in Panama , before making my decision to retire there. Do I need a visa to work. How do I go about finding a nursing job there?

    • 9

      Hi Joy, You must apply for the Work Permit through the Ministry of Labor and apply for a resident Visa through the Immigration office. There are 11 types of work visas. Thanks for asking!

  6. 10

    We have a hostel located on the beautiful Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras, Roatan Backpackers’ Hostel. We take on one hostel helper at a time, 1 month commitment, exchanging a dorm bed for about 2 hours of helping a day. If you’re interested in coming to be our helper, contact us through our website.

    • Monique Jones

      Hello I am looking to work at a hostel in September or October 2015. Would you mind letting me know if you have availabiltiy? I look forward to hearing from you!

  7. 12

    Hi, I have multiple questions. First thank you for this information. 1. My husband and I are planning on moving to south America for the experience. We plan to be there for years though I’m not sure exactly how long. We was wondering if there is anyway we could work there? We have no licenses or certificates for anything. Could we possibly still need a work visa? We was thinking on the east site of south America somewhere along the beach or near the coast. I’ve tried looking up more information but I thought what better information to get from people who have experience such as yourself. One more question, how can we find out how to determine a good housing area or a cost of living? I’m so sorry for the many questions but thank you for your time in giving this information and reading this comment. Thank you!

  8. 13

    Dear Viva Tropical,
    I would actually Like to apply for a Job in Panama.Are there any jobs there,If any please provide me with any info on vacancies surround that matter.

  9. 14

    Hello to you….I have a good one for you….would you have any information on taking my horse with me in a latin country????
    Panama, Belize or costa rica or other, its all good with me , I am looking into working in a hotel or resort or as a french teacher….. he is like a child to me and still have a good 10 to 15 years still left of life, so I can not leave him here….

    • 15

      Hi Nancy, sometimes bringing pets is a challenge. Maybe reach out to others on boquete.ning who have brought pets to Panama. Thanks for aksing!

  10. 16

    Hello, my name is Daniel and I’m 37yr old. I’m Australian, and would love to move to South America. I’m physically fit and used to working hard. I have spent many years in the bush, am a genuine young horse educator, and trainer. I work well with all types of animals, I am a good machinery operator, have common sense and learn quickly in almost any field. Ideally I would rather not live in a city there, though wouldn’t mind if it was a place to start, then expand. Are there many opportunities for someone like me? Thankyou for your time. I appreciate it.

  11. 17

    Hi I am Indian and want Apply for Yoga teacher

  12. 20

    Hey I have a degree in Bsc Hotel and catering Management. And completed diploma in spa therapy. Are there any jobs in Costa Rica. Pls help

  13. Steven crawford

    Would love to live and work in honderous.

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