Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Working in paradise. Sure, it sounds too good to be true. But as the working world becomes more mobile, and the web makes job information easier than ever to find, more people are taking extended breaks to sunny winter destinations – all while getting paid.
Case in point: Tierza Davis, owner of Pura Vida Adventures. She took the plunge and opened a surf camp in Costa Rica in 2003. What’s her advice to anyone contemplating whiling away the winter in warm weather?
“Do it,” says Davis, who has no regrets about chucking her corporate life back in San Francisco. “Once I came here, I realized what I wanted from life.”
The opportunities for both seasonal jobs and permanent jobs in warmer climates are almost endless, says Nancy DeCrescenzo, director of Career Services at Eastern Connecticut State University. It just takes a little creativity (if you’re self-employed) or confidence (if you have to convince a boss you’re ready for a new challenge).
Let’s take a look at just a few of the opportunities out there:
Healthcare Workers: This field is perhaps one of the most ideal fields for finding permanent and seasonal jobs in any location. Sick people are sick people, no matter where you live. A shortage of healthcare workers also makes it easier to find seasonal jobs in locations you consider “paradise.”
Example: Registered Nurse Salary – Miami, Florida – $63,700/year*
Service Industry/Tourism: While the pay won’t be terrific, you don’t need a lot of specialization to work as, for example, a bartender in the Florida Keys. More skilled workers, such as massage therapists and yoga teachers, can obtain seasonal jobs in high-end resorts all over the world.
Example: Concierge Salary – Los Angeles, California – $27,000/year*
Teachers: Certified teachers can find jobs almost anywhere, and sometimes “teacher swaps” are possible, too, says DeCrescenzo. For people who don’t have an education degree, it’s relatively easy to teach English in foreign countries – and you don’t have to worry about a traditional fall-to-spring school calendar.
Example: Elementary School Teacher Salary – San Antonio, Texas – $41,600*
Law Enforcement: Because workers in this field usually retire after just 20 years, and new positions are being added all the time, demand for workers is high, says DeCrescenzo. “The U.S. Border Patrol can’t hire fast enough,” she says.
Example: U.S. Border Patrol Salary – San Diego, California – $64,500/year*
Retirees or Near-Retirees: E. Scott Wingerter, COO of www.retireeworkforce.com, says companies like CVS Pharmacy, Borders Bookstores and Home Depot have developed “snowbird programs” for people who want seasonal jobs in sunny climates. “Typically, the mature employee works only part time at both locations, which is what (both the company and the worker) want,” Wingerter says.
Example: Retail Sales Associate Salary – Baton Rouge, Louisiana – $8.70/hour + $421.06 annual bonus**
Computer-Based Jobs: If the bulk of your day consists of sitting in front of a computer, chances are you can do your job in any place there’s an internet connection. Mike Ragsdale, a former vice president of marketing for a software company in Birmingham, Ala., is now a consultant for the town of Alys Beach, Florida. He works at home on the computer, leaving in time to take noon-time strolls on the beach and ice cream trips after his kids get out of school. “We’ve been living here for two years and it really still very much feels new, like I’m on an exotic vacation,” he says.
This shift from cubicle to home (or to a cabana in Mexico) is known as “alternative workforce strategies” and, according to a survey by Microsoft and CoreNet Global, is only expected to grow in popularity as companies look for ways to creatively cut costs without hurting their bottom line. New technologies like web conferencing and voiceover IP are helping fuel the trend and convincing more companies to stop paying for office real estate.
Example: Software Engineer Salary – Phoenix, Arizona – $87,800/year*
Professional Development in Your Current Job: If you’re not ready for a permanent move, some companies – especially those that are multi-national — may offer off-site (or even out-of-country) education, training and “job swaps” for committed employees. Why not pitch studying a language in another country? After all, one of the fastest ways to learn a new language or regain your fluency is through short (three months or less) immersion programs in foreign countries. “It’s a very marketable skill,” DeCrescenzo says. “If someone’s willing to fund you to do that, then heck yeah: go for it.”
Websites Offering Language Instruction for Business People:
* Salary data are from PayScale.com and show median salary or hourly rate for each profession for workers with 5-9 years of experience.
** Salaries are from PayScale.com and show median salary or hourly rate for each profession for workers with 1-4 years of experience.