Side hustles
Let us walk you through the legal side hustles that you, as an international student, can do to make some money. Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Are you a financially struggling student? Have you ever searched the deepest, darkest corners of the internet for answers on side hustles or “how to make money fast”? Do you get sucked into a vortex of spam advertisements that have absolutely nothing to do with your life? Becoming a sugar baby is out of the question — so, where else can you look to get that much-needed cash?

Don’t worry, we did the research so you don’t have to. As students struggle abroad financially, we get it, it’s a tough world. Add a pandemic into the mix and we know just how much of an effort it takes to keep up with cash flow problems. 

A great starting point to solve this is by getting a job. Small, big, full-time or freelance, it’s up to you. However, do make sure they follow the laws of the country that you’re in and comply with your student visas.

In the US, the F1 visa rules should give you clear guidance on the dos and don’ts. To work in the UK, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holiday breaks. In Canada, research the Canadian Study Permit of the kinds of jobs and hours you are eligible for.

If you’re in Australia, you are allowed to work 20 hours per week when school is in session, and during school vacations, you can work however long you want (pro tip: picking fruits is a great way to get paid there).

Let us walk you through the legal side hustles that you, as an international student, can do to make some money:

Renting out property 

If you have properties or rooms, you are allowed to rent it out to make some side income. This is common, but usually done through paying a fee to a management company so you don’t have to deal with tenants yourself. God knows you don’t need the trouble while you’re chasing assignment deadlines!


A good way to generate income is to invest. If you are blessed with a financial sixth sense and an ability to predict the stock market, this is another legal opportunity to earn money. And who knows? You could be Wolfing your way onto Wall Street on the down low. 

A graph is pictured before the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 14, 2019 in New York City. Source: Johannes Eisele/AFP

As long as you have no say in companies you have shares in, and you don’t make too many trades, you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble. You’ll still generate profit, and your costly dream of owning bitcoin can finally come true!


Consider yourself somewhat of an Ernest Hemingway? Another popular and legal way to earn money is to become a freelance writer. If you’re good and establish a good relationship with editors, you could earn a pretty penny. 

While the US won’t allow F1 visa holders to submit books, manuscripts, etc. for publication and profit, there’s nothing stopping you from submitting to other countries like the UK, though. 

Writing can be a source of therapy, and a source of income. Source: Luis Acosta/AFP

Competitions and paid surveys

Do you have the lucky charm? A fun way to get some side money is to enter as many competitions as you can — winning something small is still considered winning. Having the option to keep or sell whatever you win — now, wouldn’t that be great? 

PAID SURVEY! CLICK HERE! PAID SURVEY! CLICK HERE! No really, click there. Paid surveys are a way to get some cash into your account — make sure you get a separate email to avoid the large number of spam mail coming your way soon. You’d be surprised by the amount of paid survey websites in every country, and when you are a regular surveyor, the amount of coins will start to add up. 

Online freelance work

One minute you’re avidly reading through the Tattletales From Tanqueray on “Humans of NY”, the next moment you’re on “Youtube” looking at videos of spicy chicken mukbangs —  the internet can be a mean blackhole of distraction, procrastination and misinformation. 

However, if you are good at online work — graphic design, social media, blogging, and the likes — freelance work could be for you. With an entrepreneurial-like way of thinking, companies will definitely have use for your skills on a freelance basis. It also gives you a chance to build your CV while working a flexible schedule. 


Don’t worry if you don’t have formal teaching qualification. If you have stellar grades, you could help parents who are usually looking for university students to tutor their kids. In the UK, you could be making 20 pounds an hour or more. 

Tutoring can earn you some big extra income if you have the patience. Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Plus, if you complete a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course, you could set yourself up for job opportunities around the world. It’s also a great way to expand your savings, and explore different cultures on your travels abroad. 

Participate as a paid volunteer

Fancy being a guinea pig? When you participate in a focus group, clinical trial, or any other similar experiment, you are usually compensated in cash, food and drink. As this is paid volunteering, there are no legal issues to face here. Imagine if you were part of a group of trial testers for finding the cure to coronavirus!

Dog-walking or babysitting

Last but not least, another easy method to expand your bank account would be to babysit or dog-walk. You’d have to juggle your study schedule around, but it’s something that could rake in loads of extra cash for little effort.

Dog-walking, a fun way to earn some extra cash. Source: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/AFP

There are several ways to beat around the bush as you begin your life as a young, independent adult in university abroad. On the other hand, if you keep your eyes open and ears peeled on the many money-making opportunities, you can easily find options for some profitable side hustle. Remember to always research the dos and don’ts of where you are!