A TEFL certificate makes it possible to earn an income as an English teacher while traveling the world. Many TEFL graduates decide to teach English abroad on a 6-12 month contract. But another option is to teach English online and experience life as a digital nomad. Because digital nomads aren’t required to stay in one location for work, they’re free to live wherever they please, and often move around frequently.
If you're curious about how and where to teach English online as a digital nomad, this guide shares helpful information to get you started.
Please note: While this guide shares helpful visa information for aspiring digital nomads, it's essential to do your due diligence and check what the legal entry, visa, and tax requirements are for each country based on your citizenship and duration of stay.
Benefits of Teaching English Online as a Digital Nomad
Teaching English online is a fantastic digital nomad job for beginners and offers many benefits like:
- Plenty of job opportunities thanks to the global demand for online English instruction.
- Ability to work from anywhere you can use your laptop wherever you can find a strong WiFi connection.
- Relaxed job requirements make it possible to teach English online without a degree or previous experience as long as you have a TEFL certificate.
- Freedom to set your own schedule and work when you want.
- Make a difference in language learners' lives and connect with people from all over the world.
How to Become a Digital Nomad by Teaching English Online
Becoming an online English teacher and moving abroad can take a bit of planning. Here's a summary of how it's done:
- Get TEFL certified with a reputable provider.
- Apply to teach English online and get established with students.
- Research your options for the best places to be a digital nomad and the visa process to live abroad.
- Save money for travel and pack the essentials.
- Begin your adventure as a TEFL digital nomad!
Read more: How to Teach English Online & Earn Money From Home or Abroad
Visa Options for Digital Nomads
Navigating the visa process as a digital nomad can be a daunting task, and every country has different rules that depend on your citizenship. But in general, digital nomads have two options: enter a country on a tourist visa or a digital nomad visa.
Apply for a digital nomad visa (if available) for a long-term stay
Sometimes known as "freelancer visas” or “short term residence permits,” many countries have begun offering programs to entice digital nomads to visit and contribute to the local economy. Digital nomad visas typically have a minimum income requirement. These visas can vary in duration but often allow someone to stay for up to a year.
Arrive on a tourist visa for a short-term stay
Another option is to teach English online while visiting a country on a tourist visa. Most tourist visas allow shorter stays, between 60-90 days, and some countries allow extensions to stay longer. Additionally, many countries allow certain citizens to enter "visa-free" or to get a tourist visa "on arrival," making entry affordable and hassle-free. However, not all countries allow remote work on a tourist visa.
8 Best Places For Digital Nomad Online English Teachers
Ready to start a new adventure traveling and teaching English online? Here are some of the best places for digital nomads.
Georgia is a popular destination for digital nomads and allows 98 nationals from different countries to visit and work there visa-free for an entire year! Besides the incredibly relaxed visa requirements, Georgia is known to be highly affordable.
The nation is uniquely located between Western Asia and Eastern Europe and boasts a vibrant blend of cultures. Georgia is also known for its ancient roots in producing wine and the very expat-friendly capital city of Tbilisi.
Portugal is a sunny country on Europe's Iberian Peninsula. The country offers a Temporary Stay for Independent Workers for 12 months and is one of the best ways for American digital nomads to move to Europe.
The visa requires formal documentation that includes proof of financial means of at least €705 per month, plus a legal contract showing employment. Visa acceptance is known to be strict, and not all who apply will be accepted, so having substantial proof of income can help significantly.
Colombia offers visa-free entry for up to 90 days for people from 102 countries, including U.S. citizens. Visitors hoping to stay longer can extend their tourist visa for another 90 days online or in person at local immigration offices.
This beautiful nation allows online English teachers to experience life in South America at a reasonable cost of living. Digital nomads are particularly fond of Medellín, a charming city near the Andes Mountains.
Mexico is not only a popular place to teach English abroad, but it's also a beloved destination for remote workers. Some of the most popular places for expats include Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City.
Mexico allows citizens of the U.S., U.K., Canada, etc., to enter the country and stay up to 180 days without a visa. It's also possible for Americans to apply for a temporary resident visa known as the "No Lucrativo." The "No Lucrativo" visa requires digital nomads to make more than $2,500 per month and allows a tax-free stay of up to four years.
In Croatia, it's possible to apply for a Temporary Stay of Digital Nomads visa that allows non-EU citizens to stay in the country for up to a year. Applicants must provide proof of financial means of at least HRK 7,822.50 earned per month ($1,100) or HRK 213,870.00 ($29,200) for the year.
The application must be submitted online and cannot be extended. This southeastern European country sits on the Adriatic Sea and is home to many breathtaking and well-preserved medieval cities.
Digital nomads with their eyes set on teaching English in Hungary should consider applying for the White Card. This unique visa is for digital nomads who earn an income with a company outside of Hungary.
You must show proof of earnings of at least €2,000 or more per month to be eligible. Those who move to Hungary often settle in Budapest, the country's largest city. It's known for its fairytale architecture and modern convenience, such as fast WiFi. Hungary is also a popular place to teach English abroad, and CIEE TEFL students and alumni enjoy free job placement in Budapest.
7. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known as one of the happiest countries in the world, and it's no doubt thanks to its incredible natural surroundings and tropical climate. In the past, many digital nomads came to Costa Rica to work on a 90-day tourist visa.
But as of 2021, the country has announced a digital nomad visa that allows visitors to stay up to 12 months with tax exemption. However, the minimum income requirement for Costa Rica is relatively high, and digital nomads must make at least $3,000 a month.
Brazil has seen an increase in remote workers excited to experience the country’s natural wonder and culture. It's become so popular that a Nomad Village has recently opened its doors in the coastal town of Pipa.
Brazil's visa for digital nomads allows for stays up to one year, provided you can prove sufficient financial means that’s earned outside of the country. Digital nomads in Brazil must earn at least $1,500 per month or have $18,000 in the bank for the year. Those interested in a short-term stay can also work remotely on a Brazilian tourist visa if eligible for a visa waiver.
Other Popular Countries for Digital Nomads
Since the onset of the pandemic and the increasing rise of remote work opportunities, many countries have begun offering digital nomad visas. However, digital nomads have been living and working abroad for years, often doing so in places that don’t legally allow remote work on tourist visas.
For example, places like Bali, Thailand, and Vietnam continue to be hubs for remote workers and backpackers. However, aspiring digital nomads should take care and follow all travel laws and regulations.
Learn more: CIEE Teach English Abroad in Thailand
Teach English Online with CIEE TEFL’s 150-Hour TEFL Certification
CIEE TEFL is an internationally trusted brand recognized for being one of the best TEFL providers in the industry. CIEE has a proven track record of helping graduates secure teaching jobs online and equips teachers with the confidence to succeed.
CIEE TEFL's 150-hour TEFL certification makes it easy to complete your TEFL training online in just three months. This comprehensive course includes:
- 130 hours of ACCET-accredited coursework
- A 20-hour TEFL practicum
- Instruction by highly qualified TEFL tutors
- Lifetime job placement assistance.