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8 Important Things to Think About Before Working Abroad

Posted: 30 October 2018

There are many reasons you may find yourself dreaming about working abroad – a better quality of life for you and your family, an exciting opportunity to develop your career, experiencing different cultures and enjoying warmer weather. If you want your dreams to become a reality, whether it’s for a six-month stint or longer term, there’s lots of different aspects that you need to consider beforehand.

1. Will you be better off?

Start by taking a look at your current monthly outgoings compared with what you take home each month in wages, then research how much each of these expenses cost in your new location. Once you have an idea of your potential new salary, you’ll be able to compare this against your estimated cost of living in your new country. In doing this, you’ll also quickly see where you can save money – is it really necessary to have subscriptions for Netflix and Amazon Prime and Sky Plus? 

2. Language and cultural differences

If your first language is English, you can’t just assume that everyone else will speak English in wherever you’re relocating to. As a minimum, learn the basics of conversation so you can get by in day-to-day interactions with your colleagues and local people. Speak to your new employer to get a feel for what the language barrier will be like; regardless, it’s still sensible to know a little of the local lingo to help you get around and settle in.

Working abroad can come as a shock to the system – yes, it’s new and exciting, but it can also be overwhelming and a little scary when you’re trying to navigate daily life in a completely new environment, away from all of your usual comforts. Try not to go with too many expectations, just let things flow and embrace the new, uncharted territory!

3. Get your paperwork in order

As it’s a fairly complex process, you’ll need to get a work visa sorted early on – your new employer will often help you with this, and there will be plenty of paperwork for you both to fill out! They should also be able to advise you on any other permits you’ll need for your new role.

Be aware of the details for your specific type of visa and the regulations within the particular country. In some cases, if you quit your job or are fired, your work visa will become invalid and you’ll need to return home.

Have all the important paperwork that you may need, ready to take with you, including: your visa, qualification certificates, CV, references, portfolio, bank statements, passport, driving licence.

Being sick or injured in a foreign country is no laughing matter – give yourself piece of mind with international health insurance.

4. Work environment and culture

What will your new working environment be like, and how does this compare to what you’re used to in your current role? Having to adjust to a whole new set of expectations and way of working can add unexpected and unnecessary stress to your experience, so be sure the company culture aligns with your own values and goals. You can find this out by asking your new manager, the HR department, or doing your own research into the company.

5. Getting paid

You’ll need to know what the processes and practices are for banking and taxes in your new location. Some countries will require you to pay tax there, rather than in your country of origin, but you may still need to declare your earnings to the appropriate government department back home too. Again, your new company should be able to give you some advice regarding this.

6. Life outside of work

Relocating for work is a big step, but it’s not just about work; a huge factor in working abroad is to explore new places and experience the culture, so think about what you’ll be doing in your free time. Consider the types of leisure activities you’re currently interested in, then research what sorts of things you’ll be able to do in your new location. 

If you enjoy running or going to the gym, you’ll want to find out where you can do this locally. Or if having a vibrant nightlife and nice restaurants to eat out in are important factors in your new country, be sure to thoroughly research the area first to see what’s on offer. Create a wish-list of places you want to visit, or activities you want to try whilst you’re working abroad – it can’t be all work and no play!

7. Getting around

What will you do for transport? If you’re planning on relying on public transport, is it regular and easy to get to your place of work from where you’ll be living? If you’re planning on hiring a vehicle whilst you’re over there, you’ll need to check that your driving licence will be valid in that country – otherwise you may need to get a driving permit. 

8. Accommodation

Where will you be staying? Will you be renting or looking to buy? If you’re only working somewhere in the short-term, for a few months, and planning to come back home after, then you may be looking to rent somewhere. If you’re relocating permanently, check whether your new company will help with the costs and offer support for finding somewhere to buy, as this might be part of the package.

Working in another country can be a wonderful experience that will enrich your career and give you new perspectives by being immersed in another culture. But it requires lots of planning and forethought to make it happen and ensure you get the most out of it. Consider these points before taking the plunge and going to work abroad, and you’ll set yourself up for an unforgettable time!

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