Over the course of my time living in Latin America, I have never held a real job down here.
Never been employed by anyone formally in this region.
Now, I have done volunteer work from time to time in different countries down here.
Some academic work also.
And some other minor things…
But I have never had a formal job with a contract in this part of the world.
From the moment I started making money down here to support myself, it has always been online work.
So I’ve never tried running a business down here employing the locals and never had a formal Latino employer either.
Just to give you some context of where I am coming from as we begin this topic.
The topic being….
“Is it better to work online or do some physical on-the-ground work to support yourself in Latin America?”
Which of the two would support you better while living abroad in Latin America?
Well, as I said before, I basically have no real world experience doing anything on-the-ground down here.
But I do have some odd years now doing online stuff.
So keep that in mind as we break down just my thoughts on this matter.
Nothing more than my opinion as to how I see it.
If you agree or disagree, throw a comment at the end of this article.
But let’s get to it.
First and foremost, I’m of the opinion that the ROI for online work is likely to not be good at the beginning.
In my first year or two doing this, it was a shit ton of work and not making above the minimum wage of my home country when I was doing it.
Now, to be fair, I was a complete novice at it and still am relatively inexperienced compared to other people.
But I do believe that this experience with making money online while self-employed is not unique.
That most people will end up working for under minimum wage at the beginning as they try to figure out what works or doesn’t.
Having said that, there are some benefits to it.
First, you can work from home obviously and that is nice.
So your commute is simply the walk from the bed to the laptop.
Second, you can travel the world a little more easily while doing this.
If I had based my entire income on doing a real job in Mexico, then it would be a tough question as to how I’m going to support myself if I relocated to another Latin country like the Dominican Republic.
So online work does allow that freedom obviously.
Though if you are constantly on the move without ever spending more significant time anywhere, the quality of your work is likely to deteriorate.
And consequently, the money you can bring in also.
Third, it could be argued you don’t necessarily have a boss.
I don’t entirely agree with this though as some folks do remote work for a specific boss.
And also, even if you aren’t employed remotely by one specific business, you are still performing a service for others who are giving you the money.
Granted, I suppose you can say you don’t have a specific boss and can call it quits with any one of your clients.
But you are still working for others that you need to make happy to give you repeat business.
Still, it is easier to diversify your income in that sense.
Fourth, you can feel more ownership over what you do if you happen to be self-employed online versus working for a specific employer on the ground.
Fifth, you don’t have to deal with a lot of the bullshit that comes with running a business in Latin America.
Be it corruption or inefficiency that is more common in Latin America.
Those are just some of the things I can think of on top of my head.
But what about the other side?
As I said, I have never been formally employed while in Latin America.
And have never run a business down here.
So keep that in mind as I simply think of some of the benefits that I can see with a physical business.
First, you can argue that you are not as vulnerable to big business like Google, Youtube, Twitter and whatever other mediums that you use for your online work.
Second, you might feel more pride in having something physical.
Like a business
I know a friend of mine in Mexico who is American and he works entirely online.
But he is thinking of buying some land back in the US one day so that he can have his own little farm near West Virginia area.
To him, having something physical that you own seems more real than something you do while self-employed online.
Like a website.
Third, it is true that there are some jobs in Latin America for foreigners that pay very well.
When you look at a lot of the jobs that foreigners take up…
Like being a broke English teacher or working at a restaurant in a touristy area…
Usually those jobs pay shit.
And it would make sense to work online.
I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine once asked why don’t I get a local job in Mexico when I was struggling years ago…
I pointed at a job advertisement we passed by to work for some airline for like 6,000 pesos or roughly 300 USD.
The truth is I have never seen a job advertisement offering more than 6,000 pesos in Mexico in the street down here.
I have a Mexican friend named Angie who is a computer programmer making 1,500 USD a month.
Though computer programmers make a lot more than that in the US, I’d imagine…
Either way, while plenty of jobs down here do seem to pay shit…
It can be the case that a local job opportunity presents itself to you that would pay a lot more than working online.
Some folks make good money English teaching if they got solid credentials and work for a nice company.
It’s not as common but those jobs exist also down here.
And many more others do also…
So I wouldn’t discredit a local job necessarily.
Fourth, having a local job or business that you own can also help you get residency down here.
While that doesn’t seem as important in a country like Mexico where you can leave and come back for permission to stay for another 6 months…
There are other Latin countries with stronger restrictions on visa runs.
Making them impossible basically.
And even in a country like Mexico…
Having that legal right to live in the country as a non-tourist would be pretty nice.
But that’s all I can think of anyway for right now on this one.
If you have more experience with physical work down here, let me know what you think.
Or online work also.
For me, I prefer online work strongly.
But I see the pros and cons of both.
At least some of them.
Like I said, drop any comments below if you got any.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.