Everybody has some marketable skills. Not all of them translate into money, but a lot of them can. As our retirement plan hits our 6 month mark, we are making plans to ensure we can use our marketable skills to make some side money no matter where we live. Since many countries we are examining moving to, such as Belize and Costa Rica, don’t allow people to work unless they have unique skills that locals don’t, we are brushing up on our unique skill sets now. It never hurts to plan ahead.

Why do we even want Side Jobs?

After a while, like most people, I get bored sitting at home. Side jobs are a good way to meet people with similar interests and cultivate friendships. It also provides some spare change that can be used for a nice surprise for the old ball and chain (like the mountain bike he’s been eyeing!). Or it can be used to donate towards charity. We just made our first big donation to a charity (Best Friends, check them out!) and I would love to continue to do that, even in retirement. Giving back is a great feeling!


Playing with Pit Puppies at Best Friends in Kanab, Utah

So what are our Skills?

My husband works in IT, so he has instant marketable skills. He can easily fix computers, wire houses for electronics, set up virtual desk tops, etc. People in America pay good money for his skill set, so I imagine that will be no different in Costa Rica, Panama, etc. He can also play guitar quite well. So well in fact, he played guitar and sang our wedding vows. So he will easily be able to take a side job working in IT or play guitar at a bar. He likes IT and playing the guitar too, so that’s a huge plus. He is lucky that he won’t have to worry about looking at other areas outside of his expertise for work.


So What are my Skills?

I’ve always been good at picking up foreign languages, even though I didn’t have any exposure to them growing up. One skill I have is that my Spanish is pretty good. I have only learned from phone apps, like DuoLingo, and just started taking my first formal class at our local community center. However, I can already understand a great deal and feeling more and more comfortable responding. (Thank you Narcos for teaching me dirty slang too!).

For instance, today, we went with our realtor and her contractor husband to check out some properties, (none of which we want to buy). Her husband speaks fluent Spanish and I understand a good 70% of what he said to the owners of the house. What a proud moment!

I also love teaching. I never chose to do it as a profession because it pays close to nothing, but I used to teach CPR and First Aid on the side and I loved it. So what can I teach that others can’t?

My Three Options to Teach…

1. Using What I Already Have

Being a native English speaker is one of the things I have working for me. English has become the language of the world. It’s possible to get by many places in this world by simply speaking English. For instance, Scandinavian schools teach English and the residents of the countries speak better English than I do. However, Central America and South America don’t always have the luxury of learning English in school, often times due to a lack of educators. Hence, the need for English teachers.

My friend worked as a teacher in both Taiwan and Peru. I picked his brain on what were some of the necessary skills needed to teach. Turns out the TEFL Certificate is the way to go. TEFL certifies you as an English instructor in a foreign country. There’s even a yearly recruiting fair for overseas English teaching positions. The recruiting fair happens over a long weekend and takes place in Iowa. On Friday and Saturday, potential teachers interview with hiring schools. Recruits are hired and placed by Sunday afternoon. I’m sure if I targeted a country of two during this weekend long recruiting fair, I’d be in good shape.  I plan to get my TEFL within the next two years to get this on my resume.

Yep, I messed up plenty of conversations here.
Yep, English skills will help me find jobs here!

2. Using Skills I’ve Learned

Prior to working in an office, I was a registered nurse. I spent seven years working at the bedside and also as a trauma in nurse in some ridiculously busy Emergency Rooms. It was great experience. I learned a ton, but the favorite part of my job was always teaching patients how to help take care of themselves and manage their health.

I taught CPR and First Aid on the side.  If I continue to polish up on my Spanish (which I will!), I could teach CPR and First Aide anywhere we go. How fun would that be to teach people something that can save lives? This is especially true if we live near water, where I really want to live! Drownings are a real issue (I’ve seen them even in the US first hand) and hospitals are not nearby in a lot of areas we are looking at living. CPR can easily save a life.


Yep, normal day in the ER!

3. Using Skills I Love

Scuba diving has become my passion. It’s funny because I bought scuba diving courses as a gift for my husband before we went to Australia. I didn’t really want to take the course. I thought scuba diving seemed dangerous and scary. Don’t get me wrong, it can be, but it can also be very safe if you pay attention and practice good skills.

In scuba class, when we first had to put our heads underwater and breathe through the regulator, I was so nervous I thought I’d cry, but didn’t. However, I was the last student to put my head in the water. I passed the course withe ease, but I still understand the appeal of it until my first dive in the Great Barrier Reef. The first time I saw a Maori Fish swim up to me, I was hooked. The things you see at the bottom of the ocean, are amazing. You don’t know what you are missing until you get down there. The Reef in Belize was no different. I touched a shark there and it was just amazing. You see how important coral and sea life is and you get to teach people how they can protect it.

Examining some coral in the Great Barrier Reef!
Examining some coral in the Great Barrier Reef!

So I’m working on my master diver certification so that I can be an instructor. I’m halfway there. I’ll be taking my rescue diver in spring and then there’s only two more courses until master diver/instructor. We will be diving in Costa Rica when we go in  few weeks so I’ll get to practice my skills again. If I could truly do what I love each day, this would be a part of it.

Does it really pay to plan this far out?

Yes, yes it does. Maybe we make some smart investments and retire sooner than planned. Maybe we win some money on a lucky spin of the roulette wheel and can retire next year. The above are still things I plan to do. They make me happy when I think about retirement. And that’s what my husband and I want our retirement to be: Happy!

Tags : hobbiesmake money early retirementmake money from hobbiesRetirementscuba divingskills

The author Jodine

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