Author Topic: Marketable skills in Central/South America?  (Read 2288 times)

pigpen

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Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« on: September 23, 2016, 05:09:39 AM »
My wife and I are considering leaving our jobs in the U.S. around three years from now and moving to Central or South America -- specifically Costa Rica, Panama, or Ecuador, although we're not totally decided on that yet. I've also heard good things about Nicaragua.

Our financial situation will be such that we're pretty much at FI but would like to work relatively easy/low stress jobs for a few more years after we move making just enough to cover our bills, in order to shave a few years off the period that our stash would need to cover and to mitigate sequence of returns risk. I will be around 48 and my wife 44. She is an art teacher in an elementary school, and I currently work in a job that focuses on business process improvement, but I also have experience teaching English in the U.S. (to American students -- not as a foreign/second language) and as a writer/editor. I'm going to try very hard to learn to speak Spanish decently before we go, but I'm not sure whether I'll be able to achieve complete fluency.

My question -- I'm sure it varies by country, but does anyone have any knowledge of what kinds of work are available to foreigners in this area? I'm trying to figure out how feasible our plan is and whether I should be working on developing a particular skill over the next couple of years. I'd be happy doing anything from teaching English to editing an organization's publications to bartending. The goal will just be to earn enough to support a simple lifestyle and hopefully to contribute something to the society that we're living in. Thanks for your help.

arebelspy

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2016, 06:01:34 AM »
If there isn't a reason you want in-person work (and there might be--physical exercise, social interaction, etc.), I'd say you should instead look at making money online.

When you can earn in a much stronger currency than you spend (geographic arbitrage), it's pretty powerful.

Working there means you'll be earning not only in local currency, which isn't bad, but at local rates, which likely is.  For example, picking the first country you list, Costa Rica, and Googling the average hourly wage (converted to USD, as of July 12, 2016):
Non-Qualified Worker      $2.24
Semi-Qualified Worker      $2.42
Qualified Worker      $2.54
High School Level Technician   $2.73
Specialized Worker      $2.93
College Graduate Technicians   $3.37
"Diplomado" Degree Holder   $3.64
Bachelor Degree Holder      $4.13
"Licenciatura" Degree holder   $4.95

Source: http://costarica.com/business/salary/

Why earn the equivalent of maybe $3 USD/hour working there, rather than just work online and earn $10, maybe $20 per hour?

Unless, like I started the post with, you have other reasons than money, so you're taking the job for social interaction or something, and a little bit of money is just a small side benefit of the job itself.

That's my thoughts--don't bother with working on skills for the type of work available there, work on building an online income, and then spend just a little bit of time while there earning, and most your time enjoying.

:)
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pigpen

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2016, 10:19:02 AM »
That's good advice. Thanks. Part of the desire to work is to interact with people in the community, but I guess that could be accomplished by volunteering or joining a club or something. No need to pursue paid work just for that purpose.

Lake161

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2016, 11:04:33 AM »
+1 the suggestion to work online

The type of countries you list can be very protectionist regarding local jobs. In Panama, you can get a visa for the purpose of starting a business, but you still have to employ locals. Professional jobs are highly protected.

Volunteering to meet locals, and working online for a company based elsewhere are a better approach. You can definitely get work online teaching English. Usually it is conversation practice with students who are doing online lessons.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2016, 11:30:23 AM »
ESL instructors are ALWAYS in demand.  A teacher friend (not arebelspy ;-) in Ecuador teaches english as a second language, and lives on her pension earned after teaching for 20 years.  Her former firefighter DH sits around drinking coffee in cafes all day, writing songs, and living like a king (of the road) - all on $5/day - until she comes home from school in the evening.

pigpen

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 11:57:30 AM »
I wouldn't have thought of teaching English online. Thanks. I'll look into that. As for traditional ESL teaching, do they typically ask for any certifications? I've taught ESL before, but it was over 20 years ago, and I've taught English composition at the university and high school levels to American students, but I don't have any formal training in ESL.

bestname

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 12:23:35 PM »
You might find out which among the places you are interested in has an American school. They would likely accept your credentials and you could get to know some of the expat families. (My plan is to retire to Medellin, where there is such a school.)

pigpen

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2016, 04:19:43 PM »
Thanks, everyone. That's all helpful

BlueMR2

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 03:32:19 PM »
Talking to a few North Americans that have been in the "Lower Americas" recently, they're really hurting for pilots down there...  There's apparently way more need for short cargo and scenic hops than can be covered currently.  Sounds like learn to fly a small airplane and you've got it made in those parts.

mm1970

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2016, 05:24:33 PM »
I have a friend who is planning to move to Costa Rica for a year with the family.  They are starting their investigation.

From what she's read, they are not ALLOWED to work in Costa Rica, because they would be taking a job away from the locals. 

You can work remotely for a company in another country though.

arebelspy

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Re: Marketable skills in Central/South America?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 05:59:16 PM »
I have a friend who is planning to move to Costa Rica for a year with the family.  They are starting their investigation.

From what she's read, they are not ALLOWED to work in Costa Rica, because they would be taking a job away from the locals. 

You can work remotely for a company in another country though.

Right, wherever you went you'd have to get a visa that allowed you to work, which can be much harder to get (without an employer sponsoring it) than a normal (tourist or otherwise) visa, so that is an extra snag to think of ahead of time.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.