Working halfway across the world is a dream come true for many people who want to get more from their career than a wage. There’s plenty of proof that it works, as well. People have been seeking and finding lives all across the world and in more ways than you might think.
If you think you’ve found that dream opportunity, you might be tempted to leap on in. However, there are real challenges to face when working overseas and opportunities that many fail to catch. Get ready for them and you can be one of the success stories, not one of the horror stories.
The procedure to get in
This should be an obvious point, but every now and then, there are those who don’t realize how convoluted the process of actually getting in another country legally can be. If you’ve been set up with a job overseas, there’s a good chance your future employer can fast-track you to a working permit. That’s how the majority of them are received.
However, you should check to see if your destination of choice also has any practices or skills that they’re willing to fast-track your entry for. If you find your position in demand, it can make it much easier to get the permission you need. If they don’t have any such arrangement, then your only shot at getting in is through an employer.
Organizing a move can be stressful at the best of times. Add an ocean and a globe-trotting trek to that and you can imagine how much of a hassle it can be. Relocation can be a lot easier if you’re willing to carry less with you.
However, the costs of using removal services can be cheaper than buying a whole new set of possessions depending on where you’re moving and if you have a furbished new place waiting for you. There are plenty of moving checklists to help you prepare the specifics, including taxes, possessions, pets, insurance, and much more.
Naturally, if you’re moving over, you’re going to need a place to stay, too. Some employers are more than happy to set their new hires up with some digs to go with the job, but you shouldn’t assume that will be the case until you get the confirmation.
Thankfully, most countries have estate agents with localized services. Scan the market and find an affordable studio apartment to rent. Bear in mind its location compared to where you’re going to be working. Affordability only goes so far if you end up placing yourself where an hour-long daily commute is going to ratchet up your cost of living.
If you are planning on commuting, find out how viable your existing driving licenses are and what steps you need to take in order to make you road-legal. Otherwise, learn the specifics of the public transport system in advance.
The Culture Shock
Some of the points mentioned above, such as getting to know an area, the public transport, and the traffic, can all benefit from a little proactive maintenance. A visit to the country in question can clear up some of the mystery.
It can also be a great protection against culture shock. Finding yourself in a foreign land, surrounded by sights that would be entirely alien at home can be more distressing than many realize. Indeed, there is a difference between visiting and living there, too. However, a pre-emptive vacation can be something of a primer, something to prepare you for the biggest portion of that shock.
The culture shock is very often mixed up with some other emotional difficulties you might have when first moving to a new place. If you’re on your own or even living as a couple or family, it can be lonely when it sets in that you have no friends in your new home.
The best way to get over that is, of course, to have some friends. Set up some contacts that you can meet up with before you move. They might be colleagues that you could ask to help show you around. Or you can get in touch with the network of expatriates online.
Finding others from your country of residence or even those with a shared language and similar culture can do a lot to ease you into a new place. I should actually make a video elaborating more on this.
Another part of the culture shock issue is, of course, the culture of the people living there. But there’s a difference between getting used to behaviour you’re not used to during daily life and being caught off-guard by professional etiquette you weren’t prepared for.
The latter could have some negative implications for your new job. If you’re going to do any cultural research at all before moving, ensure that it is research on professional and unprofessional customs.
What might seem innocuous to you can be hugely offensive in other countries. The ‘OK’ hand-symbol and the ‘thumbs-up’ can get you in trouble in Venezuela and Greece, respectively. Then most countries have their own codes of conduct regarding timeliness, business meetings, seniority, company culture, and more. Do your research!
The language barrier
You don’t have to know a language in a huge amount of jobs that are open to overseas workers. For many of you, that might bring a sigh of relief. But it shouldn’t. It might not be necessary to speak a language, but it’s going to be helpful.
For one, that second language can become a great career skill. But everyday life will be a lot easier if you can understand and converse with the locals. Practice some before you go, nailing at least a few fundamental words and phrases.
Use the words you know, and ask a native speaker to practice daily scenarios with you while keeping a language notebook, scribbling in it every time you think you’ve figured out something new or you’ve discovered something you’ve got wrong.
Most of all, don’t get caught worrying about your accent or grammar. It will improve with time; get the fundamentals down, first.
This issue is somewhat self-imposed. Many workers, when first arriving overseas, are over-eager to impress their new bosses and cement their place so they don’t get sent home. It can often lead to them overworking themselves.
Not only will this inevitably lead to a stressful burnout, but it won’t achieve the desired effect. If you want to impress your boss, don’t try so hard to impress them. Do your work and make a good impression, but focus on showing results that you can sustain in the long-term.
Having a short burst of really impressive work then shifting back to your natural gear is just going to look like you’re getting complacent over time.
The Financial Uncertainty
The process of moving alone can be expensive enough. Too many people make the financial side unnecessarily hard on themselves by moving with very little knowledge of the costs of living in their new home.
Do your research on the costs of food, toiletry, transport and more in the specific area you’ll call home. Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up as well. Depending on the strength of the economy in the country, the markets you work in can be vulnerable.
If you lose the job, you lose your permit and you have to get back home. You absolutely need your escape nest egg planned at all times.
The Protections you Need
When moving overseas, you have to consider your health, as well. If you have pre-existing conditions that you’ve been receiving help for, talk to your doctor well in advance and find out whether you’re going to be getting the same treatment in the same arrangement overseas.
Then you’re going to have to consider whether you have to get health insurance, as well. You might still get your country’s healthcare coverage overseas, so long as you’re staying for a set period of time. If your move later becomes permanent, you lose that coverage, so be aware of the impending costs.
The Question of Taxes
How you pay taxes while working abroad is not a question that can be answered quickly. Sometimes, you end up paying all your taxes back to the country of origin once it’s tax return season. Then, after a set period of time, you might end up paying split taxes between both countries.
However, there might be tax relief available for you if you do end up doing that. It’s a good idea to get in touch with a financial advisor. Your tax situation will change depending on whether you own any property, earn an income from it, continue to earn an income from your country of origin, and much, much more.
The sooner you understand what your tax situation is going to be and what breaks might be available to you, the better.
Those are a lot of potential problems, but if you’re willing to prepare yourself and aware of them, you’re a lot less likely to be shaken by them. Ride them out, get on the other side, and that dream career across the globe can be yours.
Are you planning on working abroad? Share with me your story in the comment section below. I love it when I hear back from you.