Could You Work Abroad?
Working abroad can be an exciting adventure. It can offer the chance to travel and experience a new culture whilst earning an income. In some cases, it may open you up to job opportunities you wouldn’t be able to obtain back home. Even if it’s just a few months experience, it’s certain to look great on any CV and improve your employability.
Of course, working abroad isn’t easy. It’s a huge leap into the unknown and is likely to be an ultimate test of independence. If you’ve been offered a job abroad or are thinking of carving a career overseas, these are the main questions you should ask yourself before committing.
Can you cope living away from home?
Working abroad will require you to leave your friends and family behind. If you get easily homesick, you may find it challenging. That said, it’s a lot easier to stay connected now than it used to be in years gone by. Video-communication can allow you to still have a face-to-face conversation with your loved ones from any location around the world. There’s also social media, which will allow you to stay up to date with what your friends are up to.
Is the company culture right for you?
Working rights and conditions are different abroad. This is a big factor to consider before taking on a job overseas. Even if the salary is high, you may have to deal with long working hours and a poor work-life balance. You may not be allowed as many breaks and there may not be rights in place if you face harassment or made redundant. That said, there may be cases where incentives are better than back home. You should weigh all this up and possibly do some research online to see what other expats think of working in that country.
Will you need to learn a new language?
In many locations around the world, you can get away with speaking English. However, knowing some of the local lingo is still handy in many situations. Even working in the most touristy of areas you may still come across native speakers who you need to communicate with. In some locations where English isn’t widely spoken it could be worth getting a headstart before you go out with some lessons or by self-teaching yourself. If anything, being able to speak some of local language may help when applying to jobs. Consider downloading a few translation apps as a backup.
Will you need a place to stay?
Some employers may offer accommodation. However, this is a rarity. Consequently, you may have to find local accommodation. This may depend on your income and how permanent you hope your position to be. A new launch condo could be ideal for a budding overseas businessman. In other cases, a temporary rented bedsit may suffice. Make sure that you’ve secured a place before you start work. It’s possible to shop for places online, although you may want to venture out a couple weeks before and scout for somewhere whilst staying in a cheap hotel or hostel in the meantime. Also look online for advertisements from local families who may be renting a room in their home to those working abroad. In many countries abroad accommodation can be surprisingly cheap compared to back home, although this isn’t always the case with urban areas.
Will you need a visa?
Many countries require you to apply for a visa before being permitted to work. This should be a working visa and not a tourist visa. There may be different types of working visa that allow you to work for a certain length of time or allow you to do certain jobs. An employer overseas can usually help you out in this respect. It’s worth looking into visas well in advance as it can be a long process.
Or will you be applying for citizenship?
For a permanent move abroad, you may want to consider applying for citizenship. This is not a decision to be taken lightly and is best suited to people who have previously spent a lot of time in that country. It could be worth working on a visa for a couple years before applying for citizenship so that you know that the country and its lifestyle are right for you.
Will you need to set up a new bank account?
You’ll probably want to set up a bank account abroad. Your home bank account is likely to charge high transfer fees on any foreign money going into it. You should shop around for a stable bank to put your money into. This is something you may have to do whilst there. If you want to transfer money back home, you can do this in your own time using a reliable transfer company. There are many of these services online and it’s worth shopping around to get the best transfer rate.
How much will you pay in tax?
The amount you pay in tax varies from country to country. This is worth looking into before accepting a job abroad. In most cases, you should only have to pay tax in the country you’re working and not back home too. That said, you should still file a tax return each year to prove to your home country’s IRS that you’re being taxed abroad. If you’re self-employed and working abroad, you’ll likely have to calculate your own tax. If you don’t understand the country’s tax laws, it could be worth hiring an accountant to help.
What will you be bringing with you?
When working abroad, you may want to bring over some belongings. Shipping these items over isn’t easy however and can be expensive, so think carefully about what you realistically need. It may be cheaper to buy some items whilst you’re out there. In some cases you may even be able to rent out furnished flats, saving you the hassle of lugging over furniture. Of course, if you’re making a permanent move, you may want to bring over more items. Some people find it easier to ship over their belongings in stages rather than all at once.
Make sure to bring over any forms of personal identification such as visa documents, driving licenses, bank statements and obviously your password. This will help you when setting up bank accounts, finding a place to stay and potentially buying a car if you hope to drive whilst you’re out there. Print copies of these documents in case you lose them.
Is there any way of making friends abroad before you go?
Moving abroad can make many people feel lonely. Whilst you will make friends with people whilst you’re out there, it could be worth making a few acquaintances before you move. These could be local or fellow expats that can help fill you in on the ins and outs of the culture. There are many online forums and social media services for doing this.
Meanwhile, whilst you’re out there, consider joining clubs and taking up social hobbies that will encourage you to meet new people. You’ll have to step outside your comfort zone now and again, but each new bold step could help you to feel more secure in your new environment.