The Importance of Establishing an Emergency Fund

How lucky are we to be online teachers in this time? Countless people have been reaching out looking for online work. In US, the government is sending Americans stimulus checks and attempting to halt rent/mortgage payments. These are excellent short-term measures to help people avoid economic hardship. While they may have far-reaching and very negative consequences for the same people they are intended to help, they are absolutely necessary. However, the government can only do so much to help. I’ve written extensively on the importance of positioning yourself to invest in the market when it retreats from its historic highs (as it has during this crisis), but one thing that I’ve only touched on is the importance of an emergency fund. This week, I’m going to cover why you should have a minimum of six months of living expenses in reserve. 

Why should you have an emergency fund?

Well… for emergencies. There are all types of emergencies- medical expenses, home repairs, or even helping out a family member. When most people think about the reasons for an emergency fund, they think of losing their jobs- not a global pandemic that grinds the world economy to a sudden halt. When your income is interrupted, your emergency fund should have enough cash to see you through until things improve. If you tap into your emergency fund, be sure to make building it back up your first priority.

Our current situation highlights the need for this sort of fund. In one of the financial groups that I’m in, we’ve had extensive discussion about emergency funds and how important they are today. One of the group’s members is a respiratory therapist in a hospital that is ill-equipped to fight the pandemic. Without the proper safety equipment (masks and gloves), she is putting her life on the line. Having access to a solid emergency fund gives her the option to not go to work if the hospital (or our president) can not take the steps to get them the supplies they need. If someone else in the same situation was reliant on that income to pay the bills, they would likely have to endure the risk. In her case, an emergency fund may literally be the difference between life and death.

 

It seems the government is offering some direct checks to Americans, but let’s be honest- how far is that going to get people? It might help for a few weeks, but people are going to need more. An emergency fund can help cushion the blow. 

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How much should you have in your emergency fund?

This is a matter of preference. Many people suggest six months’ salary. Others suggest six months’ expenses. Others say more. I personally plan to have at least a year’s worth of expenses in an emergency fund. A good rule of thumb is to have six months’ worth of expenses. This buys you time to find new work, undergo training if necessary, or (in our current situation) for the global pandemic and associated market downturn to begin to improve.

Let’s be clear, the larger your emergency fund, the more freedom and flexibility you have. Just twelve years ago we were faced with the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Today, we’re being faced with the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The markets and the economy in the US (and the world economy) are still not on solid footing. Corporations are so levered up and cheap money is driving an inflated stock market. A lot of it isn’t real. Until we retrace our steps and decide that we’re going to endure the pain necessary to get our economy back on solid ground, these violent swings are likely to continue. It’s best to position yourself to absorb any shock that comes from this volatility. That means having cash readily accessible to see you through the hard times.

Geoarbitrage is a great way to cut down on your living expenses, and hence to cut down on the cash needed in an emergency fund. In my book, I outline the benefits of taking advantage of LCOL countries to boost retirement savings and quality of life. Living in these countries also allows you to better absorb interruptions in your income because your daily living costs are lower. If your monthly expenses in an American city are $4,000, then your emergency fund should be $24,000. That’s a lotta dough! If you live in a country where it only costs you $1,000 a month to live, a $6,000 emergency fund can see you through for half the year.

 

As you build your income and your investments, build your emergency fund too. If you already have enough to feel comfortable, then consider adding slowly to it. Situations like the one we’re currently dealing with really show just how important these types of reserves can be when times get tough. 

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Where should my emergency fund be?

When it comes to your emergency fund, liquidity and stability are the two things you want to look for. By liquidity, I mean that you need cash that can easily be accessed. Having cash tied up in an illiquid investment (like a home or even a CD) is not going to help when you need cash quickly. While stocks are liquid assets, they carry incredible risk. The market just lost one-third of its value. If you have six months’ worth of expenses in an index fund and you need to tap it after the market collapses, now you’ve only got two-thirds (or four months’) of the expenses you thought you had. The same goes for metals. There are a lot of good reasons to buy gold or silver right now. Putting your emergency fund into metals is not a good idea. Any one of these investments might skyrocket and leave you with more cash than you thought you had, but that’s not the idea behind an emergency fund. It’s safety and security in hard times.

Look for a money market or a high-yield savings account. Interest rates are incredibly low. You’re not going to earn much on these. That’s the opportunity cost of having this type of savings. What you get in exchange is peace of mind and security knowing that you are covered if there is an unexpected negative occurrence.

What are the costs?

 

Like anything, there are opportunity costs to holding this sort of fund. As I said, the interest rates on demand deposits are incredibly low right now. This is money that you can’t invest. It’s money that could go to the down payment on a home. It’s money you could use to start a business. The important thing is to stay disciplined and don’t touch it. When you need it, it will be there. 

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Final Thoughts

It’s easy now to see the value of having an emergency fund. When times are good, nobody wants to worry about it. Try to remember the risk and uncertainty that surrounds us now and begin building your own emergency fund. As online teachers, we’re lucky to have a stable income in the face of this crisis. Take advantage of that to begin building up your savings. Don’t ignore the opportunity in the market, but be sure to position yourself for the day when we too may be impacted by a crisis of this magnitude. 

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Will it get worse? The Covid-19 Crisis, Economic Collapse, & Planning for Your Future

Here in Europe, many countries are on lockdown. The government in Portugal has declared a state of emergency with many non-essential businesses closed. New York, America’s largest city, has also ordered non-essential businesses closed. The world economy is closed until further notice. The impact this is going to have will be far-reaching and devastating. If it all ended tomorrow, there would still be tremendous economic pain. This is not ending tomorrow. Numbers will rise. Forced quarantines will continue. What’s worse, the economic fallout will be most strongly felt by those least able to handle the pain. No amount of money can buy health and safety, so stay indoors and take care of your family first. 

The Economics of It

The opinions expressed here are my own. Always consult with a financial professional before making any investment decisions.

 

What’s going to happen to the economy? Nobody knows. And jobs? Nobody knows. Global equity and real estate markets have been overvalued for quite some time now. The Fed has played an unnecessary role in inflating a huge bubble that has now burst, and we likely still have not found a bottom. The Dow Jones has shed a third of its value giving away trillions of dollars in market value. With many businesses having lost all cash flows, things are going to get worse before they get better. Everyone will be affected. So, is now the time to buy in?

Think About Your Goals

If you are sitting on a bunch of extra cash, now might be a good time to start investing it. If you have a short-term time horizon, you will likely be gambling on this market. A V-shaped recovery might see you do very well. However, if this pain continues, you might have to wait quite some time to see a healthy return. If you’re investing for the long-term, this may be a good time start putting money into the market. I’ve recently began making larger purchases of companies that I think will still be around in the future and that are being offered at a discount. 

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Timing the Market

If you do have a long-term time horizon, you can worry less about timing the market. Even if you buy before the bottom, you still have a chance for significant upside when the market recovers. Everyone wants to buy the absolute bottom, but none of us is in the crystal ball business. Consider buying lightly and keeping some cash on hand. 

Have a Plan and Go Slow

It’s easy to see the value presented in today’s equity markets and be tempted to throw everything you have into an index fund. Don’t. Go slow. Keep some cash on hand to take advantage of future opportunities. If it’s low today, buy the dip. Just remember, it may be lower tomorrow. Have a plan for how much money you are willing to invest for the long-term. If you have $10k, don’t throw it all in at once. Buy lightly. If you need that $10k for a wedding next year, don’t invest it. Or better yet, invest it and don’t get married. 😊

 

All kidding aside, think about what you want your portfolio to look like AFTER this crisis is over and plan accordingly. If you want to build rental income, then you are going to want to have the cash on hand to pick up a deal in the real estate market. Keep that in mind and plan your investments in the equity market accordingly.

I wish I had a big chunk to invest right now, but I don't...

I remember looking at the Dow at just over 6,500 back in 2009 and thinking, “If only I had $50k…” I didn’t. I was mired in mortgage debt and just barely keeping my head above water. I was also a new teacher and not making very much money. That wasn’t my biggest mistake. My biggest mistake was not making small investments when I could. Even if you don’t have a large lump sum, invest something. If you followed any of our previous posts about starting a Roth or a SEP IRA, then make sure you are maxing out those contributions. Do as much as you can to take advantage of this opportunity. This is an unforeseen and unprecedented crisis. It will have unprecedented opportunity on the other side. 

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Take Advantage of the Opportunity... by WORKING MORE

One of my favorite motivational speakers is Eric Thomas. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “The opportunity of a lifetime means nothing if you don’t take advantage of it in the lifetime of the opportunity.” If you don’t have enough cash to put in, try to pick up some extra classes, write content, do something outside of teaching. What may look like a relatively unattractive salary now can translate into large gains in the future if you invest it properly. 

But will there even be work?

I honestly don’t know, but I think the answer is yes. As online teachers we are so incredibly lucky. The jobless claims report next month in the US is supposed to represent the largest month to month increase in recorded history. To be in a field where we have the luxury to work from home is fantastic. China has done a tremendous job of containing the crisis there, and that is the largest market for our students. This is all good news for those of us who make a living in this industry. I spoke to a friend in Bali this morning who moved his family out of the city and to his village. He said that he worries about how people will get food if this continues. Outside of investment objectives, we should all take a moment and think about how fortunate we are to have this job- particularly at this time.  

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Final Thoughts

Think about your goals and keep some cash on hand for the buying opportunities that will present themselves. Be sure to keep some cash on hand for emergencies too. If nothing else, this crisis should have taught everyone the value of having a good emergency fund. Keep yourself healthy, safe, and take care of your loved ones and the elderly in your community.

This will eventually end, and we will have made it through-

 

Jay

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Market Opportunities Amid Coronavirus Panic

We’re certainly living in scary times. From an economic perspective, to say things were volatile is a bit of an understatement. It’s an absolute rollercoaster right now. This week, I’m going to try to shed some light on this downturn. What makes it different? What options do you have? What is my approach to investing right now? Finally, what’s the future going to look like?

Before we get into any of that, let me begin by saying this is article is viewing things through the lens of finance and investing- which is not the most important lens through which to view the world. I want to make one thing clear. I’m far more concerned with the health and safety of the people I love than I am about any amount of money. Having said that, this article is not going to attack what should have been done, what should not have been done, or what shortcomings are evident with fighting this disease. I have those opinions, but that is not the context of this article. 

What's been happening in the market?

Well, unless you have been living on an island without internet, you have probably realized that the markets are down- way down. The DOW closed yesterday, March 12, 2020 at 21,200- a daily drop of nearly 10%. That is exactly one month after it closed at a record high of 29,551 on February 12, 2020.

 

The coronavirus panic has been fueling a sell-off that began weeks ago. However, this has intensified in recent days as infections have risen and people are forced to engage in social distancing to keep themselves from getting infected. While previous drops were probably based on expectations of investors more than anything else, this drop is different. Previously, the coronavirus was a concern on which people were trading. It wasn’t directly impacting Americans the way it was people in China or Korea. Companies which weren’t exposed to these markets were, well not exposed to these markets. Now, the US market is being directly and strongly impacted with school closures, flight cancellations, work interruptions, and the general belief that it’s safer to stay inside than go outside (and spend money). All of these things impact the economy directly. 

What makes this downturn different?

The panic and frustration are similar to 2007-2008, but that’s about where the similarities end for me. First off, whenever the market dives, I always check other safe-haven assets that I hold. These assets tend to be anticyclical (gold, silver, platinum, and to some extent cryptocurrency). It’s a nice emotional boost to see that while stocks are diving, you’re picking up some gains in other parts of your portfolio. Unfortunately, precious metals and cryptocurrencies have dropped significantly too. It appears that everyone wants out of everything and prefers just to hold cash right now. 

What are the options for investors?

That all depends on your goals and your time horizon. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for some time now. By no means do I think we’ve hit the bottom, but I do think the chance to buy in right now is a good one. I am continuing to add to the market, but gradually. I want to keep some cash in reserve in case asset prices go even lower. For the self-employed digital nomad, think about your age and retirement goals. If you are just day-trading, good luck. Things are so incredibly volatile that you might make out well or you might lose your shirt. Let’s go over some options. 

Almost Ready to Retire

If you have a very short-term time horizon, your options are limited. You have to appreciate the risk in the market right now. You can look to pick up dividend stocks. With prices falling, dividend yields are being pushed up. However, keep in mind that if the economy really tanks over a prolonged period of time, then these same companies may cut dividends. The especially high levels of corporate debt in America make this a more realistic option. GE anyone?   

The rate cuts have brought returns on debt to practically zero (or negative) in real terms. The potential for a near zero fed funds rate, means that short-term government notes or CDs offer little beyond capital preservation.

Long-term Retirement Goals

 

This is where this market presents an opportunity. Invest early and often. If you have a little extra cash, it never hurts to get in when stocks are on sale. Everyone wants to buy the absolute bottom, but no one has a crystal ball. Remember, it’s time in the market- not timin’ the market. Beyond stocks, the low interest rates and widespread panic may lead to very attractive deals on real estate. This may take a little longer to present itself where prices are concerned, but mortgages are very cheap right now. This can give a digital nomad the type of cash flow that makes this type of lifestyle more feasible. There’s also the opportunity to speculate on investments like Bitcoin or trading in the options market. These offer the potential for both quick gains and big losses. 

What am I doing?

I’m buying a lot. I’ve added to positions in dividend stocks that I already had. This includes energy stocks, such as XOM and EPD. I’ve also bought into airlines, as they have experienced a precipitous drop. I’ve looked for investments which follow the broader market, mutual funds, financials, and Berkshire B shares. I’ve speculated on Bitcoin as the price has fallen significantly. I am also keeping my eye on real estate- both at home and in Europe. 

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Final Thoughts

Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. Safe to say people are pretty fearful. I’m working to take advantage of this opportunity but staying focused. Most of all, I’m not depleting my cash with one big purchase. It’s easy to get excited when things look relatively cheap. Just remember, they might get even cheaper tomorrow. Historically, when global market collapse, they don’t do so in a straight line. There are big drops followed by big gains. However, the trend leads sharply downward. Stay focused and disciplined. I am looking at this as a chance to better position myself for my future. I hope that you have good fortune in these turbulent financial times. Most of all, I hope you and your family stay healthy and safe.

Wash your hands!

Jay  

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Are Referral Links Really Killing You?

To say that there are a lot of referral links out there on the internet and in social media groups for online teachers would be a very fair assertion. Some teachers really push their companies. It’s the nature of the industry today, and I really can’t blame the teachers who do it. They are being ambitious and looking for an opportunity to earn a few hundred bucks a month in referrals. This can help pay the bills. It can fund travel. It can shore up a retirement account. Like when anything else gets overdone, there comes opposition to it. Some of that opposition is warranted, and some is without merit. 

Shameless Promotion

People get tired of the aggressive, “Join my company for full bookings!” when in fact the recruiter knows very well that it’s difficult to get bookings at that company. Many people drop referral links and refuse to answer questions or give any guidance. It’s not fair to the people that are counting on you to give them support. I don’t really push referrals because, quite simply- I don’t have time. I also make money in other endeavors that I really enjoy. Devoting a ton of time to referrals isn’t worth my while. When I do post referral links, I’ve always told people, “I’m happy to answer any questions you have, whether you choose to apply with me or with another one of the teachers at our school.” I’ve honored that promise on many occasions. It promotes a spirit of goodwill and trust within the community- from the person who is applying to your school and among your coworkers who know that you have their back.

Unjustified Complaints

My EdS focused on instructional technology. During my studies, AI in education was a hot topic. There were a lot of teachers who were angry about the rise of AI. One teacher quipped, “Some robot is gonna steal my job!” To which the principal responded, “If a robot can steal your job, it probably should.” There is a very good parallel to be drawn here with referral links- particularly people who feel this is going to invite under-qualified, inexperienced teachers who’ll take their jobs. If someone with a $19 online TEFL certificate and no classroom experience can instantly take a person’s job away, that says more about the person whose job is being taken and less about the person taking that job from them. Many teachers feel that they are incredibly well-qualified. If this is the case, then there’s no cause for concern, as an influx of under-qualified teachers will surely make those highly qualified teachers stand out.

 Teachers deserve to be treated with respect. Having said that, teachers need to be honest about their own qualifications and experience. Having a BA in Art History and an MFA in Creative Writing makes someone well suited for a career in the arts- not ESOL. A friend of mine, just in the last few months, began working with a major company. He is on the top of the pay scale. He is also fully booked. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t have the time to open all the slots that the company wants him to open. He also has a PhD in applied linguistics, extensive classroom experience, and a wealth of publications on his resume. A teacher with a Bachelor of Political Science, an online TEFL certificate, and two or three years of experience likely isn’t going to get the same rate of pay or be as in demand- that should be understandable to all reasonable people.

Meeting the Needs of the Company

Keep in mind that companies aren’t tasked with providing us with employment. They have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders- to maximize shareholder wealth. It’s the responsibility of the companies to ensure that they get the best teachers to cover their classes without gaps in the scheduling. The companies need, first and foremost, to consider the demands of the parents. Again, this is an opportunity for well-educated, experienced teachers to separate themselves. China is the largest market, and they place a very high value on education. It only makes sense that they would be more inclined to book better educated, more highly experienced teachers. Again, if you’re exceptionally well-educated, this is your competitive advantage.

You might say, “OK, I’m not like your friend. I don’t have a PhD in applied linguistics. I’m being negatively impacted by the oversupply in the labor market.” Fair point. Make this an opportunity to create your own competitive advantage. You might not have the most diplomas on your wall, but you can set yourself apart in other ways. I know teachers who have no university education whatsoever. They are outstanding teachers. They give back to the profession. They are also booked solid and earning over $20 per hour. How? They are incredibly reliable and dependable. If you are not the person who has outstanding qualifications, you can still be the most ambitious, most dependable person. Don’t take holiday time. Don’t ask for sick leave. This may not align with expectations for workers in your home country, but we’re seeking work in an intercultural environment. Again, China is the largest market and a very strong work ethic is consistent with Chinese culture. Both the parents and the company expect the teachers to be available and to be flexible. It also helps if you are willing to start at the bottom and work your way up.

This doesn’t apply to everyone, but ask yourself if this is your argument, “I have no degree, or my degree is entirely unrelated to TESOL. I don’t have a wealth of experience. I want the flexibility to take holiday time. I need the ability to call in sick when necessary. And I can’t get bookings because the market is flooded with teachers as a result of referral links!” If you think this sounds reasonable to you, then nothing I say will make any sense to you. If you look at this argument rationally, you can see that there is still a lot of opportunity in this field for people who want to do the work. 

A Great Profession, But...

When I decided to make the transition to teaching fifteen years ago (I was 27 years old), I was walking away from a job in the accounting department of a large financial institution. I had just finished my MAcc and MBA and decided that taking a job teaching in the inner-city for $36,200 per year was the way forward for me. My mother, who had been a teacher for 30 years, thought it was fantastic. She encouraged me. My dad was more direct, “It’s a nice thing to do, but it doesn’t pay the bills.” He was right. Teaching is a phenomenal profession, but it’s an awful job. If you love what you do and you’re passionate about affecting change, you can really touch lives. If you think this is a job where you can get rich easily, you’re in the wrong field. It’s a thankless job that requires a tremendous amount of ongoing professional development. You might spend hours working on something that goes well in a class, only to have it go entirely unnoticed. You have to be able to look past that and think of the kids. You have to think beyond the pay raises and the bookings. If you are in it for the cash, get out. You don’t make anything teaching- especially online ESOL.

If you’re looking at teaching as something that is entirely necessary to pay your bills, then look into working in the public schools in the states. Good districts pay comfortably in excess of $100k for well-qualified, highly experienced teachers. I have a friend in NY earning $130k with a MEd+60.  If money is a concern, then online ESOL is not the place to find a solution to that concern.  

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Final Thoughts

The nature of this job is such that there is a lot of insecurity. We work contract to contract, and some teachers don’t even have a contract. It could end at any time. If my job ended tomorrow, I would be grateful for the time I’ve had and the money I’ve earned. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the ability to connect with my kids. I’ve also been smart enough to work hard to build financial security. My greatest sense of security comes in being well-qualified and highly experienced. If online teaching ended, I’d start over with something else. If I had to, I’d simply go back into the classroom- something I greatly enjoy.

Thankfully there are still a lot of opportunities with online ESOL. It suits my lifestyle perfectly. If you want to earn a few bucks while you travel, then great! But accept it for what it is- some part-time work for a little spending money. If you are going to make this a career path, then start to look at ways to professionalize. 

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Economic Implications of Coronavirus

The outbreak of the coronavirus has lasted longer than many people expected. I’m currently in the Canary Islands, and just yesterday the first case was reported in an Italian man on Tenerife. The entire hotel is on lockdown. Even without any confirmed cases here in Gran Canaria, all pharmacies are sold out of masks and hand sanitizer. The two precipitous US stock market drops on Monday and Tuesday are leading people wonder what the mid to long-term implications of the virus may be. 

No Underestimating the Impact

China is the world’s second largest economy and the United States’ largest creditor. The nation is suffering the terrible effects of the virus and any people are forced to remain in their homes. However, the good news is that the number of new cases there seems to be declining. Hopefully this continues to trend in the right direction. However, with new cases appearing everywhere around the world, what might the impact look like- for those in our profession and for the economy as a whole?

Our Profession

It seems online instruction will continue as usual in the near-term. If anything, many teachers are picking up additional classes as students who are confined to home seek to use their time productively. Many brick and mortar schools are running classes online, as it is not yet safe to go back to school. In the near to mid-term, it seems that things will continue as usual for online instruction. If this turns into a long-term situation, which does not seem as unthinkable as it once did, then it is possible that demand may drop off due to the worsening toll on the economy. The real professional concern is how we can best be there for our kids who are undoubtedly being affected by this situation. 

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The Economy

The US equity markets were probably overvalued without coronavirus fears. The downturn in the market was likely fueled by two factors. The first being global hysteria over the virus. This impacts investor expectations and can lead to a panicked sell-off. The second is the undeniable economic impact that the virus can have on businesses. Airline stocks have taken a serious hit, as people shun airports and international travel. I picked up AAL stock after Monday’s drop, and then again on Thursday. The drop in price pushed the dividend yield up near 2%.

 

In the near-term, there is tremendous uncertainty surrounding the US & the global economy. With that uncertainty, investing in the US market brings a lot of volatility and risk. Investors may choose to look at this as a buying opportunity. As the market pulls back in a panic, this may be a chance to pick up certain stocks at a discount. If the virus concerns are quickly allayed, then stock prices are likely to rebound. This represents an opportunity for short-term (day) traders to make a quick profit. It also may be an opportunity for investors with a longer-term time horizon to buy the market after a roughly 15% pullback. 

While many may view this as an opportunity to invest, keep in mind that the virus is not contained and the hysteria surrounding it is likely to continue to impact investor sentiment. If things aren’t brought under control quickly, further selloffs may occur. Imagine a scenario where Americans are forced to stay inside their homes in large cities. This would clearly drive an emotional “SELL” response.

 

Even if the virus is contained quickly, the US equity markets are likely overvalued. This may lead to further pullbacks this year and next. The US presidential election is also setting up a dangerous market dynamic. The incumbent has taken dramatic steps to artificially buoy the market. These are likely to continue as we get closer to the election, as this president will be running on the strength of the economy. If he were to win re-election, the US may be out of bullets when it comes to aiding a sluggish economy. Therefore, we may see a downturn in the future. The front-runner from the other party has built his political platform around a belief in taking down Wall Street. If he were to win election, this would likely trigger a negative response from investors. Either way, there is a likely to be a more opportune time to buy into broad market indices.

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Bear in mind that any downturn in the economy, regardless of the cause, is a reminder that it’s always important to have other options for employment. Ensure that you’re well-qualified, or that you can transition easily to another field.

As for investing, try not to be emotional.

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

Stay focused on long-term goals and continue to invest regularly. Investing early and often is always a good mindset. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of buying opportunities, but in my humble opinion, it’s better to be consistent and committed than to try to time the market.

Stay safe and healthy-

 

Jay

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Earn a Rigorous Online TEFL Qualification with TEFLPros

The options for a TEFL certification are as diverse as they are many. Some certificates can be completed online in as little as a few hours for less than $20 USD. Other certifications require in-class experience and can run thousands of dollars. There are pros and cons to both online and in-class certifications. Many learners opt for the convenience of online study, while simultaneously seeking a more rigorous learning experience. The 120-hr certificate from TEFLPros may hold the answer.

What is the curriculum like for the TEFLPros program?

The 120-hr TEFL certificate consists of an introductory module, ten additional modules- each with its own quiz, classroom observation component, and portfolio assignment, a final exam, and a final portfolio submission. The modules are designed to be practical and give prospective teachers a glimpse of both the positive experiences and the challenges they will encounter in the classroom.

The Modules are as follows: 

INTRODUCTION: Welcome to TEFLPros
UNIT 1: Welcome Material
UNIT 2: Teacher Interviews
UNIT 3: Bonus Course Materials

MODULE 1: The Role of Teachers and Students
UNIT 1: The Role of the Teacher
UNIT 2: The Student Experience
UNIT 3: Introduction to Teaching Methodology
Portfolio Assignment 1
Module Quiz

MODULE 2: Lesson Planning for Receptive Skills
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Lesson Planning Basics
UNIT 2: Lesson Planning for Receptive Skills
UNIT 3: Lesson Planning Step-by-Step
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 2
Module Quiz

MODULE 3: Lesson Planning for Speaking Lessons
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Lesson Planning for Speaking Lessons
UNIT 2: Lesson Planning Step-by-Step
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 3
Module Quiz

MODULE 4: Lesson Planning for Writing Lessons
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Lesson Planning for Writing Lessons
UNIT 2: Lesson Planning Step-by-Step
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 4
Module Quiz

MODULE 5: Lesson Planning for First Day Lessons
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Lesson Planning for First Day Lessons
UNIT 2: Lesson Planning Step-by-Step
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 5
Module Quiz

MODULE 6: Classroom Management
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Classroom Management Part 1
UNIT 2: Classroom Management Part 2
UNIT 3: Classroom Management Part 3
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 6
Module Quiz

MODULE 7: Student Interaction
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Getting Students Involved
UNIT 2: Giving Instructions
UNIT 3: Monitoring
UNIT 4: Feedback
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 7
Module Quiz

MODULE 8: Grammar Review
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Introduction to Grammar
UNIT 2: Parts of Speech
UNIT 3: Grammar Tenses
UNIT 4: Grammar Extras
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 8
Module Quiz

MODULE 9: Lesson Planning for Last Day Lessons
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Lesson Planning for Last Day Lessons
UNIT 2: Lesson Planning Step-by-Step
Classroom Video Observations
Portfolio Assignment 9
Module Quiz

MODULE 10: Final Considerations
Trainer Chat
UNIT 1: Classroom Materials
UNIT 2: The Reflective Process Revisited
UNIT 3: Grading and Exams
UNIT 4: Cultural Awareness
Portfolio Assignment 10
Module Quiz

Final Exam
Portfolio Submission

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What makes TEFLPros different?

As the course outline indicates above, there is a wealth of interaction with your trainer. This is not the type of course where your read some online materials, take a multiple-choice quiz, and receive your certificate. This is a rigorous undertaking that requires regular interaction with your trainer. Further, as it contains over 50 hours of classroom observation and videos, it cannot be completed in one afternoon. With that said, it does give you a wealth of knowledge and the classroom observation is highly applicable to what you’ll be doing in the classroom.

This practical element is one of the big advantages of the TEFLPros program. It offers the flexibility of being available entirely online, but also gives learners the chance to learn through observation of classroom teaching and lesson plan creation. The program is suitable for teachers aspiring to teach online or in a brick and mortar institution.  

Another huge benefit is job assistance. TEFLPros job assistance is different than many other companies because TEFLPros doesn’t receive any kickbacks from schools that hire you. They seek to find you the best position for your unique circumstances and job goals. They have a list of global schools, which they’ve vetted, that are seeking graduates of the TEFLPros program. Not only do they help prep you for your interview, but you’re able to take the portfolio you’ve completed in their program to your interview. This gives you a huge leg up on the competition.

 

The job assistance program with TEFLPros may be one of the reasons it is held in such high regard by alumni. Independent ratings organizations also rank TEFLPros as one of the top programs available. Best College Reviews ranks the TEFLPros program in the Top 5 of all TEFL certificate programs available. The program also receives outstanding reviews on Go Abroad, with most of the 34 respondents giving the program 10 out of 10 stars!

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Is it accredited?

Yes. The program is accredited by ACCREDITAT, which is a UK-based accreditation body for TEFL organizations. Bear in mind that because of the international nature of TEFL certificates, you won’t see regional accreditation like you see for universities in the USA. However, ACCREDITAT is well-known and utilizes a four-pronged approach to accreditation:

o   the ethics and integrity of their operation

o   the high capability, extensive knowledge and expertise of their tutors

o   the caliber of their assessment

o   the high quality of their course

 

After completing the program, you’re given a hard copy of your certificate as well as a digital copy. Both certificates contain a certificate number, which is often a requirement of many online schools in China. 

With all that study, how long will the program take me?

One of the advantages of many online learning programs is learning at your own pace. TEFLPros is not different where that’s concerned. How fast you progress is largely up to you. Again, you definitely won’t be able to complete the program in two or three hours. The school suggests three to six weeks’ worth of study to complete the certificate. 

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Is this certificate right for me?

If you are looking for the cheapest and fastest way to a TEFL certificate, this is not it. The program is highly rigorous, requires classroom observation and communication with your instructor throughout the program. However, if you are looking for a program that gives you more thorough training and better prepares you for the challenges of the TEFL classroom, the TEFLPros certificate is a great option. The top 25 TEFL programs have an average price of $320. Priced at $349, the TEFLPros program is on par with these other top TEFL certificates. Again, with TEFLPros you’re getting the benefit of the individualized attention and support- something you won’t be getting with all programs. If you’re still not sure, you can access their two-day trial absolutely free and see if it’s for you. The nice thing about their two-day trial is that it does not require you to input any credit card/payment information and cancel later. You can do the two-day course and decide if you’d like to continue with the full 120-hr certificate. 

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The Challenges of Being on the Road

It’s no secret that I love living the life I have. Last week, I was drinking red wine in Portugal. This week, I’m surfing in the Canary Islands. I have plans for New York and Bali this year as well. With any luck, I can also fit a few new European countries into my travel plans for 2020. Don’t get me wrong- having the freedom to travel and live freely is amazing. But, like anything else, there are drawbacks. This week, I’m going to address some issues people thinking about entering this lifestyle should consider. This posting is an expanded look at a chapter of my recent book, Teaching English Online: Leave Home, Live Rich, Retire Early

Loneliness

This is one of the biggest challenges that a lot of nomads face when traveling abroad. The idea of getting away from it all and getting out on the road by yourself can be really tempting at first. After a few weeks or months, you may begin to notice how different things are without friends and family around. This is entirely normal and something that I think all digital nomads go through at one point or another. It can also be a great opportunity to get your new life off the ground.

 

If you find that you’re not as comfortable being alone as you thought you would be, this automatically forces you to make an effort to go out and meet new people. It forces you to operate outside your comfort zone. It might be getting involved in a project at a co-working space, volunteering in the new community, or partnering with other nomads or entrepreneurs in your new home. 

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Boredom

If you’re burned out on your job and taking off to teach English is a way to escape it- GREAT! You probably deserve the time off. The limited teaching schedule will likely serve as a much-needed break. However, after your batteries are recharged, you may find that you miss the grind. Coming home and sitting at the pool may now feel more like a wasted day than a well-deserved respite.

 

I believe it’s absolutely essential that you take time management into account when you’re becoming a digital nomad. We usually think of time management as a way to prioritize things when we don’t have enough time. It’s equally as important to figure out how we’re going to manage all the extra time we’re going to have. Whether it’s a hobby, like surfing, yoga, or writing, make it part of your daily schedule. If you want to engage in a side hustle (or you need to in order to live), then plan for it. 

Fatigue from Travel

This is something that I believe many people fail to consider. If you’re reading this, you probably love traveling. I’ve been obsessed with travel my entire adult life. It’s one of my favorite things to do- but it wears you down. If you’re not settled and you’re bouncing around with a laptop, it can be exhausting. The buses, airplanes, taxis, and then logging into class to teach? It can take a toll- both physically and mentally.

 

Remember that the beauty of this lifestyle is the sustainability. You can make this a long-term gig. If you find you’re worn down, stick where you are. Find a place that suits you and spend a few months until you’re ready to get back out on the road. If you think home is the where you need to be for a bit, and it’s an affordable option for you, then perhaps consider a few months at home with family and friends. It might be just what you need to inspire a new run on travel experiences. 

Missing Out on a US Salary

This website is really all about making this lifestyle sustainable for digital nomad English teachers. Getting on the road and teaching English is a great way to avoid the rat race at home. You can take advantage of geoarbitrage and live an outstanding quality of life on a significantly reduced salary. However, keep in mind that it is going to be just that- a significantly reduced salary.

 

This is an important consideration for digital nomad ESL teachers. I really can’t stress this enough. You may feel you are disgusted with America (or wherever you call home), and you’ll never go back. Just remember, never is a long time. If you forgo a US salary, you may find it difficult to relocate back to America later in life. Make financial planning a priority if you choose to embrace this lifestyle. 

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Missing Out on Life at Home

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It definitely hurts to go without that US salary, but the things many people find that they miss are the those which can’t be quantified. You may find that you’re missing weddings, funerals, holidays, graduations, and celebrations that you always thought you would be a part of. Even if you choose a new home which is relatively close, you’ll likely find that the frequent trips just may not be feasible. That doesn’t mean you can never go back. Just be realistic about how often you’ll have to say, “no.”

 

This is tied closely to the previous challenge because I think these things become increasingly important as we age. Hitting the road in our 20s seems easy, but when we get to our 50s, we may want to be home more often. Make sure you plan your financial course carefully enough to make this a reality. 

Complacency

Whatever you choose in life, you need to always keep moving forward. If it’s making a living, pursuing a hobby, or working at a relationship, you have to constantly seek out ways to improve. When you’re working online and not going into an office, this can be more challenging. You don’t have immediate contact with colleagues who will challenge you. You need to find ways to challenge yourself. Further, this lifestyle is really easy. It can be too tempting to just sit back and let life unfold.

 

In some ways, you should take it slow. After all, that’s why we’re here, right? We want to live the good life. We also have to remember that teaching is a profession. We owe our students our best efforts. This includes our professional development- whether it’s reading, studying a course, we need to move forward as educators. Our personal interests are just as important. We need make an effort to learn the language in our new home, adapt to the culture, write the book we always wanted to, or learn to pick up a hobby that we’ve been meaning to for far too long. 

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Final Thoughts

I hesitated writing on this topic because I hate to even mention challenges. I usually only focus on the positive. However, I think for people who are considering online teaching and geoarbitrage as a full-time lifestyle, these considerations are important ones. In my humble opinion, there is no better way to live than to take your life on the road. It’s also important to remember that no matter what life you choose, there are always roadblocks. Overall, this life still represents one helluva good choice! Enjoy the ride-

Jay

 

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Is a SIMPLE IRA a good choice for self-employed teachers?

There is no doubt that the lack of benefits is one of the biggest drawbacks of being an online English teacher. Treating online English teaching solely as a gap year experience is something a lot of young people choose to do. However, the lifestyle is so amazing that you may want to do this on a more permanent basis. If that’s the case, you need to be prepared for retirement. There are several sources that a self-employed teacher can tap for income in retirement. Ensuring you pay your payroll taxes can help you earn credits toward social security benefits. Contributing to Roth or traditional individual retirement account (IRA) is possible if you have US taxable income. However, if you exclude all your income under the foreign earned income exclusion, you may not be eligible to contribute. In previous postings, I’ve discussed the wisdom of having a SEP IRA. I currently contribute to a SEP IRA on behalf of my sole employee (myself).

The issue many people face is that they don’t appreciate the enormity of saving for retirement. If you’re anticipating getting a small check from social security (or no check at all), then you really need to ramp up your private savings. A traditional or Roth IRA will allow you to contribute $6,000 USD per year (again- if you have US income), which isn’t much at all. A SEP will allow you to contribute $56,000 per year or 25% of your salary- whichever is LESS. If you’re making an online teacher’s salary- you’re probably not going to be contributing $56,000. So, without US income to contribute to a Roth or traditional IRA, you’re left with saving 25% of your teaching salary in a SEP. This is probably not going to prepare you for any retirement- much less an early one. A SIMPLE IRA may be the answer.

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What is a SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLE IRA stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account. As a self-employed individual or an S-Corp, you can set up a SIMPLE IRA, which will allow you to contribute up to $13,500 of your salary to towards a tax advantaged retirement account. Much like the name implies, your employer can match your contribution (up to 3% of your salary). The contributions grow tax free until you decide to take distributions.

What the rules?

SIMPLE IRAs have some complex rules (including those for filing and reporting), so always consult with a tax professional or a financial advisor. Some basic rules are outlined below.

  • You must be a business that has less than 100 employees.
  • To be eligible, an employee must have earned at least $5,000 in the two previous calendar years and be expected to earn at least $5,000 in the current calendar year.
  • You must make employee contributions at the end of each month.
  • You must make employer contributions at the end of each tax year.
  • Employees over age 50 can contribute an extra $3,000 to catch up for their retirement.
  • The employer can contribute either a flat 2% of the employee’s salary or match dollar for dollar up to 3% of the employee’s salary. The employer must contribute whether or not an employee contributes.
  • You can begin taking distributions at aged 59 and a half.
  • You must begin taking required minimum distributions at aged 72.

What's the better call for a self-employed ESL teacher?

For most ESL teachers who want to maximize their retirement, the SIMPLE IRA seems the better option. Both are pretty easy to set up, but the SIMPLE probably offers the best option for tax deferred savings. The contribution limit ($56,000) is higher for a SEP, but that $56k would need to represent 25% of your total salary- a figure most online ESL teachers don’t reach. If you are earning a higher salary, then the SEP may be better for you. The $13,500 that you are able to contribute to a SIMPLE, along with your employer match, can easily total over $14,000 per year. At $20,000 per year, your employer match would be $600- bring your total contribution to $14,100. By comparison, if you are earning $20,000 and contributing to a SEP, your total contribution would be 25% of your salary, or $5,000. In this case, a SIMPLE is a much better option.

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Why a SIMPLE IRA Might Not Be a Good Fit For You

If you really need your teaching salary that comes in every month, then it’s not for you. SIMPLE IRAs have some contribution limits and regulations that make them a bit more cumbersome to deal with than SEP IRAs. There are also regulations regarding transfers. If you’re relying on the bulk of your income to pay the rent and the bills, then stick to a SEP. If you have financial freedom and flexibility, then a SIMPLE might be better for you. I have been contributing to a SEP for many years and considering transitioning to a SIMPLE. At the time, I needed my income to pay down student debt and mortgages. Now, I’m feeling more confident about my own financial future and think it may be time to stick more money into a tax deferred plan. Bear in mind that you can’t have both a SEP and a SIMPLE.

Similarly, if you hope to retire early and are looking to have your dividends help finance your retirement, then a SIMPLE may not be the best option for you. Remember that you won’t be able to touch your money in a SIMPLE until age 59 and a half. If you contribute to a SEP and then put the rest into a brokerage account, while not tax advantaged, you will be able to withdraw your income from the brokerage account whenever you want free of any penalties.

Final Thoughts

Consider which account suits your situation best. Remember that you need to have earned $5k for the last two years and be in a position to earn at least as much in the current year. So, if you are just starting out, a SIMPLE won’t be an option for you. Whatever you choose, the important thing is to begin saving as much as possible and as often as possible. A SIMPLE is another option to help prepare you for a solid financial future. As always, the information presented here is only informational. You should always check with a financial professional before making any decisions regarding how you invest your hard earned money. Make sure that the rules apply to you and that you are putting yourself in the best position to have a financially stable retirement!

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Managing Student Concerns Related to the Coronavirus

During the last several weeks the severity of the coronavirus has sparked global panic. Citizens of China are taking measures to protect themselves and their families from a potentially deadly virus. As a result, the New Year holiday has been extended and many children won’t be going back to school until the 17th of February. Most will continue to receive their online instruction as usual. The situation in China is an incredibly scary one, and one that we will likely have to navigate in the classroom over the next few weeks. One of my middle school students lost her aunt to the virus. I’ve always been particularly concerned with how potentially traumatic situations can impact young kids. I made it part of my graduate studies in TESOL. I’m not a mental health professional, but hope this article at the very least raises awareness as to how we can approach this issue with our kids.

Creating a Positive Distraction

This is especially important with young kids. This situation is undoubtedly something that parents and relatives will be discussing. It’s likely something the kids are seeing and hearing about on the news. Whenever there is a major catastrophic event, mental health professionals often talk about the importance of getting kids away from the TV and getting them outside to play or do things that kids normally do. For a lot of our students, going outside is not an option. Let’s allow our classrooms to be a positive distraction for 25 or 50 minutes out of their day. If students don’t mention the coronavirus or the precautions that they’re taking, don’t mention it. Carry on as though it was business as usual. 

 

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Teaching English Online
Leave Home
Live Rich 
Retire Early

A How-To Guide for Digital Nomads

Be Extra Understanding

Effective classroom management is such an important part of the learning process. Nowadays, our kids may be a little antsy. One student told me today that she hasn’t been outside in nearly two weeks. As a grown man, if I was in the house for nearly two weeks, I would be going crazy. Imagine an eight-year-old who hasn’t been out of the house for two weeks. If students get off task or you find them interrupting classmates, try to be understanding- especially if you observe this to be abnormal behavior for the child. At the same time, we do need to manage our classrooms effectively. If you have students who are often off-task and exhibiting behavior that is consistent with the norm, don’t be afraid to use the same classroom management techniques that you would normally use to properly deliver your lessons. 

Consider the Timing

This outbreak couldn’t have come at a worse time- the Spring Festival. This is a time when these families really look forward to getting together. Unfortunately, many families may have had to forego their travel plans as a result of quarantine and other precautions surrounding the coronavirus. Some of my students have gone to see relatives and been unable to return to their homes until it is safe to do so. These children may be trying to take their classes in houses that are filled with members of their extended family. They may not be able to sit at a desk in their own room and take their classes as usual. Again, try to be extra understanding of their unique circumstances.

Validate Feelings

Some of the hardest conversations that I’ve had with my students over my fifteen years as a teacher is when they tell me about the loss of a loved one. This may be something that we have to deal with during this time. If you find yourself faced with this, try to be empathetic in every way possible. Also, remember that our kids are really strong young people who manage incredibly demanding schedules. I always make an effort to offer my deepest and most sincere condolences. Then, I do my best to challenge them and deliver the best instruction possible. I’ve found this more to be the case with my older students. Younger students seem lack a complete understanding of the severity of the situation. 

Be Mindful of Age

Building on the last point, remember that if you have very young learners, they likely won’t appreciate the gravity of the situation. Five-year-olds probably just know they have to stay inside so they don’t get sick. I wouldn’t make an effort to explain anything further. They may repeat something they have heard their parents say or something they heard on the news. Research shows that most kids at this age form their opinions based on the what the adults in their lives say. That is, they don’t form their own opinions. Without a background in education, most people are able to figure that out. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t expand on anything they say as it likely will be lost on them. Saying something along the lines of, “I’m glad that you’re staying safe, and I want you to be healthy,” is usually enough. If they try to speak further about it, transition to the subject of the lesson. If you have older students or young adults who you feel are capable of discussing the situation, then use your best judgment. 

Final Thoughts

It’s incredibly unfortunate to see a lot of students that I’ve had for many years feel so afraid about a potentially deadly sickness. As adults, we are capable of understanding that the disease will be contained, and life will eventually return to normal. Kids may lack this perspective. Again, this article is in no way meant to be a ‘mental health how-to guide.’ It’s something that I’ve thought a lot about throughout my lessons today and hope it raises others’ awareness to the issue of teaching the kids who are going through this difficult time. Also, perhaps consider how we can help. I’ve also decided to volunteer a few hours a week at my school until the kids go back on the 17th. I hope to do fun online classes for my students. As opposed to content-based instruction, this would be an opportunity for kids to do more free speaking and play games. I’m hoping this receives some interest from the students and parents as they navigate this difficult situation.  

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Comparing the Canary Islands and Portugal’s Silver Coast

With a week off for Chinese New Year, I packed my bags and headed to Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. It’s been eighteen years since I’ve been back to the Canary Islands. I last spent time here studying Spanish as an undergrad. I absolutely loved it then and love it just as much now. So much so, that when I first set foot in my Airbnb, I thought, “I’m not leaving this island without buying an apartment.” While I still may make a purchase here, I think it will probably be later in the year. Since I’ve spent the last few days comparing the tiny beach town where I live in Portugal to this urban beach in Las Palmas, I decided to make that the subject of this week’s blog. Bear in mind that Portugal is a big place. I recently wrote on the differences between Lisbon and my home on the Silver Coast. Likewise, the Canary Islands (and even the island of Gran Canaria) may be quite different depending on where you are. I’m going to compare my town, Peniche, with Las Canteras Beach here in Las Palmas. 

Cost of Accommodation

There’s no comparison here. Portugal is FAR cheaper. I purchased a two-bedroom condo in Portugal, directly across the street from the ocean, for 130,000. It includes a small studio upstairs with a separate entrance. The living space is 115 m2 downstairs and 17 m2 upstairs. By comparison, a small studio near the beach in Las Canteras is about the same price. You’re likely to only get about 25 to 40 m2 for a fairly new studio apartment between 100,000-150,000. I saw some small apartments that were further from Las Canteras (near Confital) for lower prices. Also, as you go west on the northern coast, prices drop significantly, too. Being in the center of Las Canteras will of course drive the price up.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE- PENICHE

Social Life

Las Canteras is an urban beach environment. As a result, it has much more of a city feel than Peniche, which has an incredibly small permanent population. Tourism is huge in Las Canteras, but you also have a lot of permanent residents in the area. There are tons of people to go out with, and there’s so much to do. By comparison, Peniche is a sleepy little beach town. I also find the people in Gran Canaria to be incredibly outgoing. The Portuguese, while friendly, are very private, somewhat somber people. Even the two months I spent in Canteras years back, I remember how friendly and welcoming the people were.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE- LAS CANTERAS

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Weather

The Silver Coast of Portugal is warmer than most of continental Europe in the winter. However, it’s still continental Europe. Winter months in Peniche are cold, windy, and rainy, with highs that struggle to reach the upper teens (Celsius). By comparison, Las Canteras offers sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s, even in the month of January. It’s common to see people sunbathing and running on the boardwalk in just a pair of shorts. The ocean temperature is also MUCH warmer.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE- LAS CANTERAS

Cost of Groceries

I found the cost of groceries to be fairly comparable. There were a few things that I saw in Las Canteras (almond milk, vegan products) that made me say, “Wow! That’s cheaper than back in Portugal!” Similarly, there were also a few things (chicken, juices) that I thought were slightly more expensive than back in Portugal. Ultimately, this is really splitting hairs. I think the costs are very comparable and shopping for food in either place won’t break the bank.

ADVANTAGE- EVEN

Coffee

Both countries are known for their coffee, and it’s good! Both Spain and Portugal offer a variety of coffee drinks depending on your taste. Coffee is about the same price in both places, but the Spanish coffee really can’t be beat. Café con leche and cortados in Spain can’t be matched by their Portuguese counterparts. Even a head to head comparison between straight espresso goes to the Spanish coffee.

ADVANTAGE- LAS CANTERAS

Wine

Much like the coffee, you won’t be disappointed in the wine in either place. However, one of the things I noticed right away upon arriving in Las Canteras is how much more expensive the wine is- and not only in the touristy restaurants. I found the price of wine in the grocery stores to be considerably higher. This is where Portugal just can’t be beat. There is such an amazing variety of wine and it is so cheap. It’s not uncommon to go into the grocery store in Portugal and find a very drinkable bottle of red for 2-3€. Being in a smaller town in Portugal, wine in restaurants and bars is far cheaper too- both by the bottle and the glass.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE- PENICHE

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Beer

Both places offer great beer. The larger brands, such as Super Bock or Estrella, are very drinkable. Both places have craft beers (or artisanal) that offer beer lovers a bit of variety. You probably won’t find a West Coast IPA in either place, but the beers are good. Las Canteras offers a bit more variety than Peniche. However, a bottle of craft beer in a bar or restaurant in Las Canteras will likely set you back about about 6-7€. Whereas a similar beer in Peniche will likely set you back about 3€.

TOSS UP- LAS CANTERAS FOR THE VARIETY/PENICHE FOR THE COST

Eating Out

As for the quality and taste of food, it would be really tough to make a call. The food in both places is amazingly good. However, living in small town in Portugal, eating out is incredibly cheap. I could literally eat out every meal in Portugal and still manage to live with a reasonable budget. Dinner for two with a few glasses (or a bottle) of wine will set you back about 30€ in Peniche, while that same meal in Las Canteras will likely set you back about 50€. Bear in mind that Las Canteras is a huge tourist destination, so this will have a huge impact on prices. Another determining factor is that I found beer and wine to be more expensive in restaurants and bars here. If you enjoy a meal without alcohol, you may find the prices to be more comparable.

ADVANTAGE- PENICHE 

Surfing

Both places are huge surfing destinations that offer great waves. However, if we focus solely on the areas of Peniche and Las Canteras, it’s a clear win for Portugal. Las Canteras offers a few waves within walking distance of the city. All are fun, and the water is warm. Having said that, the variety and quality of waves in Peniche bests Las Canteras. Because of the peninsular shape of Peniche, it’s far easier to find a place with offshore winds. Portugal is truly one of the most wave-rich countries on the planet. Though, the ocean temperature in Portugal in winter can be a bit brisk.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE- PENICHE

Visas

I wrote about some of the visa options in both Spain and Portugal. In my opinion, it depends on exactly what you are looking for. Spain’s non-lucrative visa allows you to live in Spain, so long as you don’t work in Spain or access social services. After ten years, you can apply for a Spanish passport. Portugal, on the other hand, offers a path to an EU passport in about half the time. You’re also able to access social services, such as public healthcare in Portugal. Though, in my opinion, you will want to have private insurance in both places.

ADVANTAGE- PENICHE 

Final Thoughts

Both spots offer a lot and you really won’t be sorry wherever you choose to post up. Las Canteras is a busy and very touristy spot. If you like the quiet life, finding a beach town on Portugal’s Silver Coast might be a better option. Or you can just get an apartment in both places and split your time. Life as a digital nomad has its advantages…

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