Expat Business Ideas

Quite often expats relocate to a new country without having secured work beforehand. This is especially the case with a trailing spouse who may have moved overseas as a result to a change to their partner’s job. Many of the expats who find themselves in this position choose to take the opportunity to start their own business or work for themselves. We have put together a list of expat business ideas that you may wish to consider if you want to start your own venture abroad.

Online Freelance Work

There are a number of prominent websites that are aimed specifically at putting freelance providers together with people who are searching for the provision of services. You can find a large number of freelance opportunities on these sites from copywriting and translation through to web design, voiceover and photo editing. Such sites may also give you further ideas and inspiration for expat business ideas. Just some of the websites that may be of interest to you are:


If you are a skilled photographer you could consider starting your photography online. There are a number of websites available that will sell your photographs on your behalf, paying you a commission for each one sold. You may wish to try the following sites:

Alternatively you may wish to start your own photography workshops. Photography is a hobby that is very popular throughout the world and there is never any shortage of people who are looking for lessons on how to properly use their cameras and photo editing software. If you are an expert photographer this could give you an opportunity to earn some extra money whilst also doing something you love.

eBay or eCommerce

Many expats choose to establish their own online shopping stores. If you do decide to pursue this idea you should carefully identify and understand your target market. You may wish to sell to. Ideas are as follows:

  • Sell things that are available in your home country but are not readily obtainable in your new location. Here you could target expats who are specifically looking for these desired items or you could introduce them to the local community.
  • Sell things back to your home country that you can obtain in your host country that are more expensive back home or totally unavailable.
  • Sell things that you have made or produced yourself.

Become a Personal Trainer or a Life Coach

One of the most popular expat business ideas is to start a personal training business and if you are health and fitness orientated you may wish to pursue work as a fitness instructor. Providing you have the right qualifications you could start a business that allows you to engage in fitness activities whilst also earning some money. If you have had a successful career prior to your move abroad you may also wish to start a careers advisory practice whereby you can assist people to develop their careers or address any work related problems effectively.

Personal Tutoring

Personal tutoring or teaching is a very popular choice amongst expats and work is readily available in most expat destinations. You can choose to operate on a freelance basis and therefore work the hours you choose. This can be especially lucrative during the traditional school holidays where parents may be looking for an opportunity for their children to engage in additional studies.

Webdesign/Desktop Publishing

If you are a skilled web developer you can very easily establish your own web design company from home. A few notices on public forums and in newspapers will quickly attract work opportunities.

Alternatively you could consider selling your designs online. You could start your own online website to do this or could contract your services via freelance websites, see “online freelance work” above for further details.

Arts and crafts

If you have a particular hobby or skill that allows you to produce sellable goods then you should consider starting your own arts and crafts business. The possibilities are endless and you can produce anything from stationary, wooden toys, jewelry, gift baskets, clothes and knitware through to baked goods, jams and chutneys and ales. Find out where local markets take place in your area and consider setting up a stall on a temporary basis to try and sell your wares. You may also wish to consider starting an online site where you can share your talents with the world.


If you are a skilled cook and like catering for others you could set up your own catering business. It is useful to try and identify a niche market and specialize in a particular type of food. The most obvious is to stick to the food of your home country and offer catering services for this type of cuisine.

These are just a few ideas. If you are considering starting your own business it is important that you identify something that you are naturally good at or have a passion for, and then consider methods by which you can translate these into a marketable business. There is no end of possibilities; all you need is hard work and passion!

There really are a wide range of expat business ideas for starting your own business as an expat– the only limitation is your imagination!

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Our Expat’s Manual is updated regularly so comments about the article may have already been addressed.

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