Author Topic: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?  (Read 8941 times)

ohana

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Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« on: March 03, 2016, 02:33:02 AM »
There is much excitement in the Ohana household.  DH has just accepted a new position, and it's a doozy. 

Currently, we live in Maine, which we love.  I am working full time at a local college, and DH has been doing some consulting work and also teaching PT at a local college (a different one).  Combined we are making ~ $70K, which is down significantly from last year.  DH just took a position in a southern state (yes we have lived in the south and also love it), and here's the thing:  we're going to be living on a remote island as part of this job.  There's good and bad things about it. 

Good:  The job pays reasonable well and seems very well suited for DH's skills, we get very nice furnished housing for $100/month, which includes all utilities, we get to live in an amazing place, there is a great marina on the mainland where we can keep our boat and live on it during the weekends, the ferry is free and only a 1/2 hour ride, all of our elderly parents live close to the island, DH gets to travel to the very cool main campus of the college he is working for once per month on a per diem, we could have just one car.  Not to mention our own mostly private beach!  I will also note we have lived on remote islands before for work, but in summer only.

Bad:  It may get lonely on the island (no, we're not the only ones out there, but it's not grand central), I will have to give up my job, I will have a limited pool of jobs I can take.

Here's the advice I'd like:

Jobs:  To some extent I am looking forward to maybe not working for a little while, but I think I would get bored. I've done a little freelance writing, which is a possibility, and I blog but just on blogger. I have a ton of skills that might be marketable to the researchers using the island.  I'm a scientist with broad technical skills, like GIS, R, lab skills (mad lab skills), small boat handling and field sampling, and database management.  So there might be a tech job I can get.  Plus I am a talented, award-winning educator, so that might be in demand on the island for their educational programs.  But I'm not counting on a quick job.  I could get a job off island but that ties me to the ferry 2x a day plus driving.  And I'm unlikely to want to work in a southern rural school district, I've done that and it sucks, sorry south.  So I'm thinking I might be able to get a remote job.  I know a lot of you have online gigs; any advice on skills I could learn within a reasonable time frame that are most likely to result in some interesting online work?  Any good online training I should pursue?  What would be fun?  Anyone teach online, or edit/write?

Our current home:  Last year we sold our clownishly large home and bought a cute tiny condo in an old farmhouse.  We own it outright, and paid exactly 100K for it.  Monthly expenses for insurance, HOA, and taxes are $450.  It has given us a measure of financial freedom.  Do we rent the place out to visiting faculty for ~1k/month, or sell it?  Renting seems like a PITA since we will live 1200 miles away.  A friend is dying to buy it, so we could go without a realtor. I think we could net $105K, a 5% gain in a year.  IF we do that, what do we do with that cash, since we get housing with the job?  I believe we can count our boat as a residence in terms of taxes, but need to figure that out.  Do we park the money somewhere safe so it's not vulnerable to market flux, put it into something like REIT's and get some income from it, or put it into a low fee index fund?  Anyone know about the tax implications of selling a house and not buying another?

Other:  What do you think I need to bring to the island to make me happy.  We're going down to the island next week so I can check things out.  We're actually considering selling our condo furnished, so we'd only have our art and a couple very nice carpets.  Do I invest in a nice computer and monitor, as it might be my window on the world?  A TV?  A firepit and lounge chairs (yes).

As you can imagine, this is a huge change for us.  We both know I need to be happy for him to be happy, and luckily his employer knows that too.  If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  So we're trying to keep it real and make sure I'm rewarded by all this.  I should say our ultimate goal is to "pretire" and go out sailing for a couple years, hence the boat.  We have a nice little nest egg split between retirement accounts and brokerage accounts, which gives us a certain amount of FI but not complete freedom yet (thank you MMM for bumping us into high gear in the past 3 years, it has saved our bacon).  We think we can save about 25k a year in his job, hopefully more.  We are completely debt free.

I know you will all give me thoughtful, mustachian advice.  Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 03:12:05 AM by ohana »

startingsmall

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 05:42:01 AM »
First of all, sounds amazing!!  Is this Morgan Island? I had a friend who spent some time there (can't remember if it was paid work or an internship) and she loved it.

As a fellow science person, I've found plenty of opportunities online for freelance writing/editing. Most of my writing has come through Upwork.com - I had to take a few crap-paying jobs starting out, but it paid off by letting me build up a bit of portfolio/reputation. I haven't actually 'applied' for a job on there in months.... people solicit me and I pretty much set my own price (currently at $60/hr for veterinary/medical writing). Also, there are a number of companies who offer editing services for non-native English speakers - those companies look for native English speakers who can work from home. I currently work for Edanz, but I've heard that Enago and Cactus are pretty similar in terms of their setup. Finally, I signed up for FlexJobs.com a while ago... it's a paid site and so far it hasn't really paid off for me (haven't seen anything too tempting for me personally) but I do see a lot of online teaching gigs advertised on there.

Hope some of that helps. It's great that your husband's future employer understands the importance of your happiness!

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 07:54:45 AM »
Startingsmall upwork has some good possibilities.  Thanks for the advice.

No, not Morgan Island.  :)

Axecleaver

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2016, 10:00:43 AM »
Ohana, sounds like a grand adventure to me. What a great opportunity!

re: jobs. It sounds like you just need to get your networking going on the island to find something worthwhile. I had a guy on my team who lived on an island with his wife, he was one of my best employees. They only went off-island a couple of times a month for groceries and doctors. Recommend expanding your social network there ASAP and taking whatever you can find which may lead to other stuff. That sounds way more fun than restricting to online only work.


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Anyone know about the tax implications of selling a house and not buying another?
Since you haven't lived there for two years, whether you sell today or in the future, you will have to pay capital gains taxes on your house sale. The rule is you must have lived in the house two out of the last five years when you sell it, to exclude up to 250k (500k MFJ) in gains. If you improved the property at all - new appliances, for example - those are expenses that will lower your capital gains. There's no rule about using the housing gains for a new house - you might be thinking of a Starker exchange, but that only applies to business and investment property.

A rental might be worth doing if you think you might come back there. If you don't, probably best to flip it and move on. Keeping realtors out of the equation is great! OTOH, the numbers you shared seem to work to turn it into a revenue-generating rental.

Quote
IF we do that, what do we do with that cash, since we get housing with the job? 
Max out your IRA in February! Sweet! The money you save on taxes will offset the 15% for capital gains taxes. Win/win!

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Other:  What do you think I need to bring to the island to make me happy. 
Your sense of adventure! Seriously though, if that were me, after i got done doing the happy dance, I'd make sure my library card was working to do frequent book checkouts. This is one of my favorite free activities - your local library where you live today will issue you a card you can use to checkout books from overdrive. These can be loaded onto your Kindle or other e-reader for free. For the kindle, they come right from the same Amazon store. You have a limit on number of concurrent book checkouts, my library is three, but big libraries may let you take as many as 20 at a time.

Do you fish? Small islands can have awesome fishing opportunities, and you might be able to augment your diet with some fresh bounty of the sea. Learn to clam, beachcombing for fun and profit, create a business turning driftwood into ebay soul-filters for the poor wretches stuck on the mainland.

I'd open a homebrewing shack. You could run the only microbrewery on the island. I'd trade my beer for fresh caught crabs and clams. Sounds like you can do just about anything.

Quote
We think we can save about 25k a year in his job, hopefully more.  We are completely debt free.
I'm super jelly. Sounds like you've got a great deal in a beautiful place to live, AND you're saving 25k a year. That situation sounds as good as any retirement plan I've heard around here.

patrickza

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2016, 10:19:01 AM »
I'm so jealous! I love sailing but live 400 miles from the coast. Definitely look at upwork, and maybe some fun water based jobs if there are any.

K-ice

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2016, 10:36:41 AM »
Following.
I don't have much advice.

But if you like the condo & may move back one day I would rent it.
A condo should be quite maintance free and easy to rent.
Do you have friends/family in the area to visit?
You should plan to visit the rental once/year.
The numbers should be cash flow positive to keep it. Double check taking into acount increased insurance because you rent it.

Get a plumber you trust on speed dial, get rent paid by e-mail & you can maybe even manage by yourselves.



ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2016, 12:02:42 PM »

I'd open a homebrewing shack. You could run the only microbrewery on the island. I'd trade my beer for fresh caught crabs and clams. Sounds like you can do just about anything.

Quote
Hahahaha.  I love this.  Great advice all around!

sweettea

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2016, 10:05:29 AM »
Tax implications: I believe the part which can be excluded scales to 250k after two years, its not all-or-nothing.

lhamo

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2016, 02:08:24 PM »
The sale of the condo should not be subject to capital gains -- it was their primary residence and they are moving more than 50 miles away due to a change in work, so a pro-rated exclusion is allowed even though they have not lived there the full 24 months that would typically be required for the full exclusion.

See https://www.irs.gov/publications/p523/ar02.html#en_US_2015_publink10008937


ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2016, 10:17:10 AM »
I am finding the same thing about the condo.  Not that taxes would be significant on such an inexpensive place, but hey, as MMM knows, every penny counts.

Thanks!

Axecleaver

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2016, 10:46:31 AM »
Didn't realize there were so many exceptions to the home sale tax rules, learned something new today, thanks lhamo.

begood

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2016, 11:20:01 AM »
This sounds like an incredible adventure! I'll echo Axecleaver's advice about using library cards to get ebooks sent directly to a Kindle. The Free Library of Philadelphia has an excellent selection of both audiobooks and ebooks - I think it's a $50 card fee if you're not a PA resident or military - but I haven't bought a book since signing up!

We made a big move about seven years ago to a place that provided housing as part of the job. It's hard to even explain how amazingly wonderful it is not to own or rent, but to just... live. And your utilities will be covered too? You should be able to sock away a ton of moolah!

I wouldn't sell the condo just yet. You seem to really love it, and you might decide you want to keep it as a pied a terre even after this adventure. Could you leave it unoccupied for six months or so to make sure you really can do the whole island thing before renting it out?

I have questions: Is there a hurricane plan for the island? Is it to evacuate? Or to hunker down and ride it out?
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 11:22:03 AM by begood »

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2016, 07:39:27 AM »
Hi begood

Great insight about the whole "island thing".  I would be more worried about it, except we've spent the past 8 summers on an island that's much, much more remote (and tiny, and cold, and infested with undergraduates).   So I'm not too worried.  But it's on my mind.  If the island is too tough, we can always get a place on the mainland and DH can take the ferry daily, but we'd rather not have him do that everyday.

I'm betting there is a hurricane plan -- it's a huge field station with loads of facilities, and a lot of their work has to do with climate change.  Since it's a barrier island with no bridge, it's essential to get off the island early in the storm process.  Personally, we'll head inland, where there is housing we can use on the main campus.  We spent 6 years in Beaufort NC, where we had over 20 named storms hit near us (including Floyd), so I'm not too worried; we know the drill pretty well.

And yeah, I'm looking forward to not having the responsibility of renting or owning!  DH says the housing is very nice, and we go see it next week!

begood

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2016, 08:14:37 AM »
Please report after you've made your visit! We'll be armchair travelers with you. :)

norabird

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2016, 10:01:52 AM »
how cool!

charis

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2016, 10:42:46 AM »
I would love an opportunity to do something so cool like that.

Kwill

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2016, 07:37:17 AM »
This sounds like an adventure!

If you're an academic in a related field, could you get some sort of unpaid research affiliation with the institution at which your husband will be working? It sounds like you won't be hurting for money without a job, but you may want an academic affiliation for access to research and facilities and professional networks. This could be an opportunity to focus on publishing and conferences, which would keep your name out there for future opportunities.

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2016, 09:56:52 AM »
So I'm reporting back after some time visiting our new home.  It was great; job was great, people were great, everything was very beautiful, etc. 

Here's my favorite part.  After a morning meeting people, getting several tours, etc, we borrowed bikes from the large fleet on the island and headed out to the beach.  There we met 4 ~12yo boys, swimming in the gentle ocean, eating a picnic, and fishing in a tidal creek.  They were having fun, polite to us, and responsible with the golf cart they were driving around in.  At first we thought "where are their parents", then we realized 1) it was spring break week so they were off school 2) they lived on the island and 3) it's just the kind of place where people can send their kids off for the day and tell them to be back for dinner.  Like it used to be when I was a kid. 

I think I'm gonna like it out there!

boarder42

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2016, 10:06:14 AM »
sounds like a great opportunity and a great place congratulations!

begood

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2016, 10:14:59 AM »
That's GREAT, ohana!!!

pbkmaine

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2016, 10:22:50 AM »
It sounds lovely. Have you made a decision about selling your condo?

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2016, 07:24:57 AM »
Not yet -- our realtor is coming by tomorrow to talk about our options.  Our town has 2 major business expansions on the way, with 1200 jobs announced.  Rent is high, so it might be good to keep it and make some dough.  On the other hand, I don't want to be an absentee landlord.  Lots to think about.  Either way I've been staging the place a bit and finishing a few little projects.  Funny how the times my homes have looked their best is when I'm moving out of them!

dantownehall

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2016, 10:59:38 AM »
First of all, sounds amazing!!  Is this Morgan Island? I had a friend who spent some time there (can't remember if it was paid work or an internship) and she loved it.

As a fellow science person, I've found plenty of opportunities online for freelance writing/editing. Most of my writing has come through Upwork.com - I had to take a few crap-paying jobs starting out, but it paid off by letting me build up a bit of portfolio/reputation. I haven't actually 'applied' for a job on there in months.... people solicit me and I pretty much set my own price (currently at $60/hr for veterinary/medical writing). Also, there are a number of companies who offer editing services for non-native English speakers - those companies look for native English speakers who can work from home. I currently work for Edanz, but I've heard that Enago and Cactus are pretty similar in terms of their setup. Finally, I signed up for FlexJobs.com a while ago... it's a paid site and so far it hasn't really paid off for me (haven't seen anything too tempting for me personally) but I do see a lot of online teaching gigs advertised on there.

Hope some of that helps. It's great that your husband's future employer understands the importance of your happiness!

Hey, I don't want to hijack this thread or anything, but this sounds pretty interesting to me.

How do you start?  What is the work like (fixing grammar/spelling, or something more involved)?  Is it something I could do on the side while still working?  I'm pretty good with English language/grammar sorts of things, but also have a technical/engineering background and currently work as a metallurgical engineer, so I'm thinking that something like this could be a good side gig for me.

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2016, 01:59:53 PM »
So we just met with our wonderful realtor, we think the best in the area.  She is completely smitten with the tiny condo, like, drooled over it.  That feels good.  We bought it (cash) for $100K exactly, just a year ago.  Her opinion is we could rent it out in a heartbeat for $1200 a month (expenses are currently $450/month).  OR we could put it on the market at $120K and it would sell quickly.  She thinks either way we are sitting pretty. 

So now we have to decide -- rent it out and make money that way, or sell it for a profit and invest in an index fund.  Or maybe something else.  Very hard decision!  Any words of wisdom are appreciated.

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2016, 02:00:40 PM »
@dantownehall, maybe start a thread on this.  I think it's very interesting too!

Meowmalade

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2016, 02:55:40 PM »
So now we have to decide -- rent it out and make money that way, or sell it for a profit and invest in an index fund.  Or maybe something else.  Very hard decision!  Any words of wisdom are appreciated.

Your future home on the island is so exciting!

Regarding the rental, I had a super-cute little condo in Austin that I rented out when we left town.  You're unlikely to have the same kind of screw-up property manager who got me a tenant who, among other things, might have been selling drugs out of my place (property manager settled with me after I found tons of red flags in the application that should have clued them in not to take this tenant), but I had a huge internal debate on whether to hold onto this place when Austin's property pricing is only going up, or whether to sell it and free myself from the responsibilities.  I had a reliable friend living there at under-market rent, and ended up selling to a different friend.  I felt such lightness and relief after selling the place.

So, do keep in mind that I try to simplify my life in all aspects and am probably not the kind of person who's cut out to be a landlord, but if you don't think you will move back into the condo, my advice is to take your profit (yay!) and move on.

jeromedawg

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2016, 08:26:13 PM »
Wow, this sounds like one of my dreams... I would seriously be fishing all day. And if I got really good at it, I would make it my job to take and guide people around.

*sigh* ... one can continue to dream, I suppose

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2016, 06:25:51 AM »
Selling.  :)

pbkmaine

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2016, 06:53:53 AM »
I'm glad. So much less worry. Now go enjoy the heck out of that island!

Dee18

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2016, 09:09:09 AM »
I love this thread...it's so fun to hear about people loving life and work while on the way to FI.  Sounds like you will be living a life many dream of living after they retire!

RecoveringCarClown

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2016, 12:23:48 AM »
I see you already decided on selling; to me this decision would partly be based on how hard it would be to replace what you already have.  In other words, if you expect to come back to this exact area and have invested your profits from the sale, is that new amount of money going to be able to buy you something similar?  I made a mistake along these lines in the past, when I went to re-buy I was priced out of the area, and will be forever.  Hindsight is always 20-20 but I would love to go back in time and kick myself.

startingsmall

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2016, 08:04:54 PM »
First of all, sounds amazing!!  Is this Morgan Island? I had a friend who spent some time there (can't remember if it was paid work or an internship) and she loved it.

As a fellow science person, I've found plenty of opportunities online for freelance writing/editing. Most of my writing has come through Upwork.com - I had to take a few crap-paying jobs starting out, but it paid off by letting me build up a bit of portfolio/reputation. I haven't actually 'applied' for a job on there in months.... people solicit me and I pretty much set my own price (currently at $60/hr for veterinary/medical writing). Also, there are a number of companies who offer editing services for non-native English speakers - those companies look for native English speakers who can work from home. I currently work for Edanz, but I've heard that Enago and Cactus are pretty similar in terms of their setup. Finally, I signed up for FlexJobs.com a while ago... it's a paid site and so far it hasn't really paid off for me (haven't seen anything too tempting for me personally) but I do see a lot of online teaching gigs advertised on there.

Hope some of that helps. It's great that your husband's future employer understands the importance of your happiness!

Hey, I don't want to hijack this thread or anything, but this sounds pretty interesting to me.

How do you start?  What is the work like (fixing grammar/spelling, or something more involved)?  Is it something I could do on the side while still working?  I'm pretty good with English language/grammar sorts of things, but also have a technical/engineering background and currently work as a metallurgical engineer, so I'm thinking that something like this could be a good side gig for me.

Most of the papers that I edit are academic publications in the medical field, because I'm listed with them as eligible to edit papers in veterinary or human medicijne. These papers are typically written by Asian authors (although I've done a few from European authors as well) with varying levels of English language skills. My job is to make the paper clear and concise, to increase the chances of it being accepted by an American medical journal. This primarily involves fixing grammar and spelling, although there are times that I have to rework large sections of text.

The company that I work for requires their editors to have a PhD or similar degree, I think, but I'm not sure if other companies carry those same requirements. The application process, at least for Edanz, includes an editing test. There also is required, unpaid training when you first start. (I found the training to be very helpful, as I'm looking to transition into a medical writing career. and this was good, general information.)

As far as the actual work/workflow, my company offers a 3-day timeline for all projects (unless it's a rush job, which pays more). They send me an email with a link to download the paper - I then have 24 hours to accept or decline the job. If accepted, the job has to be completed by that 3-day deadline. I set the number of pages that I am willing to edit per week and I can mark myself 'unavailable' any time that I want. (I imagine that doing so too often may mean getting fewer assignments, but I've taken a number of weeks off in the last few months and haven't noticed any negative affects.)

Pay is by the page, but I tend to make anywhere from $35-50/hr depending on how much editing a specific paper needs. If a paper is extremely difficult to edit, I can request an increase in the per-page rate (I've done this twice and had the increase approved once). I'm paid monthly, via wire transfer. The company is very easy to work with, very courteous and respectful in all interactions, and it has been a great experience so far.

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!

ohana

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2016, 08:10:47 AM »
Since I spend much of my semesters editing student work, I'm hoping I have the chops to at least pass the editing test.  No PhD though, but I'm hoping something like this pops up!

elaine amj

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Re: Our own private island: What to do, what to do?
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2016, 08:48:49 AM »
Following. Loving the sound of your new life!!