Cheap Laptops For Online ESL Teachers

Buying a refurbished computer for online teaching

You’ve been looking into teaching English online, excited by the prospect of finally being able to work from home full-time or make extra money to pay off debts or save for that awesome family vacation you have planned. There is just one giant hurdle standing in your way. Your computer is too old or doesn’t have enough power to meet the minimum tech requirements of the companies you are looking at, and a new computer is something you just can’t afford.

Every listing you look at for a new computer slowly dashes your hopes and you are beginning to think that online teaching is just another in a long line of work from home jobs that won’t work for you. It’s okay though. There is another option that is more affordable which many people simply don’t know about. Buying a refurbished computer.

Why should I buy a refurbished computer?

Before we get into the why let’s clear up the what. Refurbished computers are simply laptops or desktops which were returned due to a defect or which were damaged at the warehouse or at the factory. They are completely repaired and are then sold for a discounted price.

Let’s take a look at a real-world example. Mike is an Amazon warehouse worker and loads trucks with electronic equipment. One day, he is moving a pallet of new Dell Inspiron Laptops to load on a truck. A minor collision with another pallet, however, knocks off one of the laptops from the top of his pallet. Instead of putting it back on and potentially shipping a damaged product, the computer is returned to Dell and Amazon receives a credit. Dell then takes a look at the computer and determines that the screen was cracked but everything else is working perfectly. So, after replacing the screen, they sell the laptop for a heavily discounted price as a refurbished laptop.

Pretty sweet right? By purchasing a refurbished computer you are getting what is oftentimes a brand new computer for much less than you could buy it in the store. Sometimes the prices of a refurbished computer can be as much as half as what they would retail for.

The best part is that a refurbished computer will typically last just as long as the same computer bought brand new from a retail outlet or online. As an added level of reassurance, most sellers of refurbished computers, including refurbished computers bought directly from the company, will offer a money back guarantee of varying lengths of time. So, you can rest assured that you aren’t going to be stuck if something does go wrong.

Can I use a refurbished computer for teaching online?


Online companies don’t care whether your computer is brand new or old or refurbished. The most important thing is whether or not it meets the minimum specifications needed to run that companies teaching platform. The actual specifications are going to vary depending on the company but typically include:

  • A minimum of an i5 processor
  • At least 60 GB of free hard drive space
  • A minimum of 8 GB of RAM
  • HD Camera
  • Windows 8 or above (many companies do not support Mac computers)

When looking for a computer, either new or refurbished, these are going to be the most important points to take into consideration. Especially the processing speed and the RAM capabilities as these are going to directly affect how well the teaching platform will run.

An HD camera is also going to be extremely important so that your video is clear to all of your smiling young students. However, an HD camera can always be purchased separately which you can plug in via USB.

How much can I save buying a refurbished computer?

Obviously, the whole reason you are probably interested in buying a refurbished computer is due to the immense savings when compared to buying the same computer brand new. But just how much can you save?

This is going to vary depending on where you are buying the refurbished computer from as well as which computer you are buying and how much had to be replaced. So, let’s just take a look at an example so that you can get a general idea:

This listing from TigerDirect meets all of our above specifications for a computer which can be used for teaching English online. It has an i5 processor, 8 GB of ram, 128 GB of memory, and Windows 10. The most important part, the price.

This exact computer, which is going for a sweet $317.99, retails on Amazon for $769.99. That’s over $450 of savings for the same computer.

This specific model has been rated as a grade B refurbished computer. This means that there may be some minor cosmetic damage such as scratching on the surface. However, this can be a small sacrifice when compared to an outright new computer. There are countless examples of the above deal to be had for computers of all makes and models.

Where can I buy a refurbished computer?

There are many different websites where you can buy refurbished electronic devices. Many times, manufacturers will themselves have listings for factory refurbished computers.

Personally, we recommend TigerDirect for the simple fact that they are a trusted name in the industry and provide a wide variety of makes and models to choose from when it comes to refurbished computers.

TigerDirect regularly publishes new deals on refurbished laptop and desktop computers and, because they are a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, you can feel confident in buying a computer and knowing it is going to work. As an added assurance, they offer a money back guarantee on all purchases.

Buy a refurbished computer and get paid to teach online

Don’t let a new computer be what stands in the way of you making your first paycheck as an online ESL teacher. As you have seen above you have options. You don’t have to shell out tons of money for a new computer just to meet the minimum requirements and you don’t have to settle for some sketchy second-hand equipment that may or may not work. Buying a factory refurbished computer strikes the perfect balance between cost and quality and can be your ticket to a fulfilling experience working from home or wherever you choose.

Adil Vellani

Adil Vellani

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Adil Vellani is the co-founder of ESL Job Exchange. With more than 20 years of international experience in both the education and corporate sectors, Adil is devoted to sharing his knowledge and experience to help individuals and organizations connect and make a massive impact in the lives of ESL learners across the globe. Adil also lectures at the Sino-European Institute of Aviation Engineering, where he teaches aviation engineering students in an international degree program.
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