How to Make Money While in Ukraine
Many men dream of leaving their drab life in the Western world, and heading east. Places like Ukraine, full of beautiful girls, a reasonable cost of living, and a vastly different culture that has more traditional values.
Who could blame them?
Which then leads to the necessary root of all evil: money.
The thing you would never have to worry about if you were making a short trip. After all, the cost of living in Ukraine is quite low. However—if you’re wanting to make a more permanent move to Ukraine (or perhaps anywhere in the world), you’re going to have to figure out how to make a few bucks.
Just a Reminder From the Cost of Living Post
If you haven’t read the post, click the link above to get the full run-down.
Keep in mind, you can buy a few pounds of meat, some vegetables, and other nutrition-laden foods for less than $10 in the supermarkets.
Nice business lunches will run you less than $5.
If you go the temporary route of renting from Dobovo, Booking, or AirBNB, you’ll end up paying roughly $500-$800 a month for an apartment in the city center. This is significantly cheaper if you go a more long-term route with renting an apartment.
So how much do you need to make, total? I’d estimate you could get by with as little as $800 if you signed a lease, but that would be penny-pinching. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you are frugal with your money and need $1,000 to live in Ukraine.
Just remember, your mile may (and will) vary. It’s easy to put this raw number on it, but some people will have drastically different experiences based on how you choose to live your life.
Which leads us to the question: what are your options to make money?
Get a Job *IN* Ukraine
Admittedly, the least appealing of the options given what the average salary in Ukraine is. I would certainly avoid this scenario if at all possible. You don’t want to be a software engineer, living in Kiev, and making $500 a month. And who knows how good your language would need to be.
Now, there is an exception to this—if a western country has sent you to Ukraine for business.
I had a friend who was working for and making a western salary, and living in Kiev. He had a two bedroom apartment paid for by the company. They paid all his moving fees. And he was still making a very good salary (albeit slightly lower than he would have in the west).
All of his business was done in English, they were sending him to Russian lessons, and he had it good.
That kind of situation is the one exception to when I would take a corporate office job in Ukraine. Other than that—no thanks. Which leaves us with the option of making money on the internet. Believe it or not, it’s not as hard as many people make it out to be.
Become a Freelancer
Yes, I know—freelancing has a bad stigma. But hear me out.
Freelance copywriters can make a ton of money (hundreds of dollars per article).
Writing doesn’t have to be terribly difficult. I’ve written this post in about thirty minutes, and it’ll be close to 1,500 words by the end of it (yes, I’ve gone back in and added this part!). The trick? Write first, edit later.
Set yourself a task and don’t stop until it’s done. Don’t eat. No social media. Just pure concentration, and the words will start to flow.
Of course, copywriting is an art in and of itself. But don’t be intimidated by the jargon. Think of it as “selling with the written word”. Have you ever sold anything before? Even if you worked in a fast food restaurant, you sold.
“Would you like to upgrade to a supersize french fry and Coke for just $0.50 more?”
Yep, anyone can sell.
A few recommendations for books on selling, persuasion, and business:
Graphic designers can charge $100s for a logo which is basically a pre-designed template most of the time.
Thousands of templates are available on the internet, with beautiful and ready templates for logos.
A lot of the time, it’s just a matter of showing people options, and letting them pick a couple of favorites. Then you combine the elements of those.
You change a few colors, change the logo to the company or person’s name, and you’re collecting money for a few minutes work and a few emails.
Web designers can charge thousands per project and have a retaining fee on top of it.
You’ve living in Ukraine, and have some good skills with WordPress. If you don’t know what WordPress is, it’s a blogging system—but don’t confuse that and think that WordPress can’t operate as it’s own website. Many, many of the sites you visit every day run on WordPress.
If you’re not familiar with WordPress, get a copy of WordPress Web Design for Dummies. It’s a simple system and this one book will have you well on your way.
So here’s an idea.
For example, Ukraine Living runs on Thrive Themes, who make some beautiful, stylish, high-conversion web pages for WordPress. They’re very simple to set up, too. Once you get the hang of Thrive, you can start churning out sites in a matter of hours—not weeks.
Let’s use web design as an example—here’s a free + quick business idea!
Before you leave, you’re able to find some small clients from local businesses (back home) before you leave. You build them a website, and then charge a monthly maintenance fee for both their hosting and their theme. You can also include maintenance, perhaps one piece of content a week, or whatever else you’d like.
When you’re talking a mom and pop kind of shop, a couple of hundred dollars per month to have their website 100% HANDLED FOR THEM is no big deal at all.
They just write that off on their taxes and use it as an expense to save them money.
I have sites on both Bluehost and iPage.
iPage has actually been around for quite a long time, but are just starting to really take off.
They offer some excellent pricing, fast servers, and a free domain name. I’ve been experimenting with them with some of my new ventures, and been quite happy. Their selection of starter templates is excellent.
With a free domain, brand recognition, and some of the best hardware in the business—it’s no wonder Bluehost has such a proven track record.
Bluehost has some of the best prices out there, it’s cheaper than almost anything else you’ll get out there. In fact, sister site Eastern European Travel runs on their platform (Ukraine Living is stuck on an older host and is due to be migrated by the end of this year).
If you’re a first time business owner, I’d probably encourage you go to the Bluehost route. They’re a bit more reliable, faster, and have better customer service (24/7 chat access is a God send when living in Ukraine—making phone calls suck!).
So, with hosting and themes—you are looking at $600 in expenses.
You could get this price both higher or lower depending on how much you want to invest.
You offer small businesses your services, and let them know that you take care of the hosting and theme. Make it clear you are 100% going to handle everything for them.
You see, these small business people know the terms like “hosting”, “themes”, and other jargon. It’s meant to scare them. If you handle it, and handle it well—they’ll pay you for that service.
So you tell them you will handle everything, including maintenance, for $200 a month. This means that one client would pay you $2,400 a year. That covers your Thrive membership and hosting costs, leaving about $1,800 in profit.
A successful small business owner who doesn’t want to be bothered would easily fork that out to have his or her problems solved on the web.
Get five of those clients, all paying you $200 a month—guess what—that’s $1,000. And that wouldn’t include taking on new clients for one-off projects, which could range from $500 to $5,000 quite easily. Put that extra in a rainy day fund!
6 Months On, 6 Months Off
If freelancing or online business doesn’t appeal to you, consider a job that has you working six months on, and six months off. Or 3/3. Whatever is available. Oil rigs, ships, and other high-intensity manual labor jobs offer these kind of crazy schedules. Sure, you go through a long period of working 14 hour days, but then you’re free.
On top of it, a lot of jobs like this pay for your flights to and from the location—from anywhere in the world. With no questions asked. It’s a huge perk of the job.
These jobs pay absurdly good for the short amount of work you do. I’ve known ship engineers making $75,000 a year. I’ve known software engineers on oil rigs who were clearing $150,000.
Obviously, those kinds of numbers are more than enough to live in Ukraine for half the year, and save a ton of money in the process.
Set your taxes up wisely and you can pocket even more money.
Making money outside of a corporate job doesn’t need to be difficult, but it does take effort.
If you get creative though, you’ll probably find people are practically willing to throw money at you to make their lives easier.
If you unearth enough opportunity, eventually you’ll strike gold.