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5 sure-fire ways for trailing spouses to earn money abroad

5 sure-fire ways for trailing spouses to earn money abroad

The experience of an expat often starts positively; a fresh start, a new culture and a brand-new set of challenges that await. For a trailing spouse, however, the expectations of expat life can quickly fall short and many report feeling bored and frustrated at the lack of opportunity.

Thankfully, an internet connection is all one needs these days to both pass the time and earn at least a small income. Here are five sure-fire ways for trailing spouses to earn money abroad.


Expats are some of the most influential bloggers on the internet, and despite what you may have heard, earning money through a blog is easier than it sounds. Take a browse through Expat Blogs to get a feel for what managing a blog may entail. You don’t have to be a web developer these days either! Just sign up to a blogging platform such as WordPressBlogspot or Weebly where you will be able to create your blog for free.

Once your blog is established and is bringing in traffic as well as readers from around the world, you can start earning money through things such as:

  • Brand collaborations with relevant companies
  • Sponsored content
  • Advertising revenue
  • Affiliate marketing for expat-friendly products

Not only will a blog stand as a platform for bringing in extra revenue, it can also help with a variety of expat-specific problems including providing relief from isolation, connecting with like-minded people and overcoming futility.


Freelance writing isn’t usually considered lucrative, however there are ample opportunities online for those with a bit of free time and knowledge to share – as long as you know where to look. It also takes many forms and isn’t always guest posting or article creation. Writers can freelance online by:

  • Writing blog posts and articles
  • Compiling website copy for businesses
  • Composing how-to and informational guides
  • Ghost-writing for companies and blogs

Earning money for your writing can sometimes be a bit more difficult than earning money through blogging, but with the right resources and some determination, it can be done. Lots of websites like to pay their guest posters, you just need to find a decent list of guest posting opportunities. Or you could opt for sites that buy content (though these usually pay decidedly less).

Teaching a language

TEFL, or teaching English as a foreign language, is massively popular all over the world, due to the global demand of English in business and thus, many people expatriate to teach overseas. Being a trailing spouse means that teaching English is an accessible opportunity in your new country – even more so if you have a university degree and/or a TEFL qualification.

You might, however, have moved to a place where there are very few teaching opportunities locally. In such a case, marketing yourself as a private tutor could be the best route to earning some money. You don’t have to be an English tutor either, feel free to tutor in any topic in which you have significant skills.

It is important when selling a service online that you adhere to your country’s tax laws and self-employment guidelines. You may also be required to undergo a DBS check (or your country’s equivalent).

Selling physical products

If you’re thinking of earning money as an expat, then setting up an online business is definitely a good way to go. Depending on what products you are planning to buy/make and sell, there are a few considerations when setting up an ecommerce business as an expat:

  • Your desired stock/materials are readily available to order in your country
  • You have read and can adhere to all online commerce/tax laws in your country
  • Your location has a postal/courier service available so you can send out your goods

If making or sending your own products is not quite practical enough for the expat lifestyle, you might wish to consider drop-shipping. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, drop-shipping is a method of fulfilment where you don’t actually keep the products you sell, they are all dispatched to the customer from a remote location.

This is ideal for an expat business as it doesn’t matter where in the world you or your products are, you can still earn money without having to have the required physical services available.

Selling digital products

For those expats that have set up shop well outside the reach of modern services, or who are relocating regularly and don’t have the means to set up a more static business, you may find that selling digital or downloadable products may be a more practical solution to earning an extra piece of income.

The term ‘digital product’ itself can sound a bit vague, and rightly so as it covers a wide number of things that can be sold but are not physical in nature. These can include selling:

  • Songs and music
  • Ebooks and publications
  • Photography and stock images
  • Video series (e.g. tutorials)
  • Custom graphics
  • Code, WP themes and plugins

The beauty of digital products is that no matter where you are located or whether you’re able to get online, your digital products are always able to earn you money, without needing to rely on location-specific things such as a bank or postal service and if you need to relocate again, your business doesn’t need any downtime!


It may seem like a daunting prospect, but there are untold possibilities for a trailing spouse if they are prepared to take a risk and try something new. The internet has opened new realms of possibility for making an income and life abroad doesn’t have to be a joyless experience whilst you wait for your spouse to come home. So, take the leap, stay positive and you never know, you might soon be making a pretty penny.  

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