So How Does One Support Oneself Abroad? Pt 1

It seems like one of the common concerns when someone is thinking about moving abroad is “How do I earn an income?”.

Fair question. Here’s what’s worked for us:

Initially the plan was for me to work my former job from Canada remotely. The hope was that there would be enough demand that I could turn down work that I didn’t want and live comfortably working part-time to support the family.

That sort of works. Officially I have a casual position with a manufacturing company in Canada. So when we first moved it was great, there was a huge demand because the company was booming and they couldn’t keep up with orders. Generally, however, all companies experience ups and downs. Recently the company had a slow period in which I had virtually no work from them for about 2 months. Seeing as we had spent pretty well all our liquid savings on the move, it was a little stressful because it was unknown when my manufacturing job would pick back up again. At this point we started looking for alternatives to help stabilize us a bit.

My wife was certified for teaching English years ago when she was pregnant with our first daughter in Canada. She wanted to try working from home there, but once Ellie was born we realized just how challenging it was to maintain a quiet atmosphere for online teaching with a new human in the house. So that was benched for about 4 years.

It was a good thing that she got that certification, though. We’ve recently put it to use. She just recently got hired on as an English teacher for the online company VIPkid teaching little Chinese kids. Even though she’s only been doing it about a week at this point, it’s so far so good. She really enjoys teaching and miming, dramatically and enthusiastically responding when the little kids learn their first few words in English.  I personally find it hilarious to hear her shouting “GOOD JOB!!!! HIGH FIVE!!!!” in the most superhumanly encouraging way possible.

It worked out really well with her getting the job. This is one of the more demanding companies to work for in terms of qualifications. For example, they require that all teachers have at least a 4-year degree, even though it doesn’t really matter what the degree is. For example, you could have a major in Auctioneering or Poultry Science and that would count. Totally unrelated to teaching English, but they would count it. And yes, as you’re obviously wondering, there are universities that offer those majors.

The hours might be unappealing to some people, they seem to be working well for us. Remember, this is teaching kids in China, which is 13 hours different from where we are, so typically the available classes are either really early or really late in the day. Dez focuses on the early morning availabilities, which she handles well. So far she’s been getting up to teach classes at 6 AM but we’re hoping that once we’re a little more set up she can work only from 7-9. For anyone interested in investigating VIPkid as a potential source of income regardless of where you’re currently living, check it out HERE

Also, if you use this code, we get a sweet bonus for the referral: 06K3LK

For myself, I’m currently in the process of getting my TEFL certificate to teach English. In the meantime, I’m working for an online English tutoring company called Cambly. They only require that you be a native speaker of English to teach, and signing on is extremely easy. I’m going to write my full experience with this company in an upcoming post, as it is a really interesting job. The pay is not that great, they currently pay $10.20 USD per hour, but there are a few asterisks associated with that value. For example, you’re truly only getting paid per minute of talk time, and on this platform it’s not very realistic to expect to have a steady stream of sessions without any waiting in between. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s more common to expect somewhere between 6 and 8 per hour depending on a few different variables. It’s not much compared to most North American jobs, but here in Ecuador, that can go a long way. To put it in perspective, most qualified schoolteachers in my area make $5/hour, and housework like cooking and cleaning commonly is between $2 and $2.50/hour. Engineers usually make around $11/hour. Everything is relative.

If you want to check out Cambly yourself as a possible primary/secondary source of income, you can find the link HERE. Again, if you follow that link, sign up, and teach 10 “Priority Hours” (which are basically just 1-hour shifts) I can get a little bonus for helping them find new tutors.

I’ve had some interesting experiences on this teaching platform and I’ll get into more detail in another post. The bottom line is it works for me. I want to get some experience teaching English while I get my certificate, so that if I decide to apply for another position once I’m qualified my resume will look a little sweeter. I’d definitely recommend this for anyone that wants to get experience teaching ESL, it definitely beats the free volunteering that a few places expect you to do before qualifying for an actual paying job. And it is likely to be the easiest money you will ever make. 90% of the time the student just wants a simple conversation in English so that they can practice speaking.

At any rate, it seems like things have sorted out for us. The biggest challenge in all this was trying to get stable internet to support video calls. In Ecuador it’s pretty hit or miss in terms of what’s offered for internet services. Until recently the internet in Banos would never exceed 2 MBPS on a good day, with frequent outages any time after 8 AM. In October they installed fiber optic lines so that dramatically changed the ISP availability here. Even still though, we were (and still are) having some issues with our internet. The bandwidth drops based on how many people in the city are online, and sometimes it will cut out for a minute or two or fifteen. Not good when you’re on a video call with a student. Initially we were with a company called CNT and the service was ridiculous. Just recently we switched to a new one called Netlife and it is significantly better, although still not perfect. It will occasionally stutter for a few minutes but then start working again. Apparently this is only a problem in our area, we have friends in other areas of Ecuador and they say that their internet with Netlife is flawless.

Anyway, right now we’re in a death struggle with CNT to cancel our useless contract seeing as their internet service is rarely all that great and really overpriced. Unfortunately they have a ridiculous cancellation fee that we’re trying to get out of since they haven’t been providing anything close to what they’ve offered. With CNT they offer 10 MBPS download and 5 MBPS upload for what comes out to $80/month. Netlife offers 20 MBPS upload and download and only costs $40 a month. The real advantage with Netlife is that it actually mostly works. We’re really hoping to have this debacle sorted out soon.

Well that’s what’s worked for us so far for earning a living here in Ecuador. Really even with just teaching English it works out pretty good, my wife and I each work about 16 hours a week at jobs that really aren’t all that hard and we’re getting on just fine. There are lots of other ways to make this work but so far we don’t have any major complaints.

Jonathan out.


Want to keep reading? Here’s the next blog in this category:
So How Does One Support Oneself Abroad? Pt 2 – Cambly

4 Replies to “So How Does One Support Oneself Abroad? Pt 1”

    1. Yeah I’ve been seeing everyone posting weather pics for a while on Instagram. I’m kinda tempted to post a few of our sunny blue skies just to rub it in 🙂

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