Moving Abroad For Work: 10 Things To Consider
Opening your horizons up to the international job market and moving abroad for work can be incredibly rewarding. It’s an exciting time and there are many benefits involved, from experiencing another culture to strengthening your professional portfolio, better pay, a higher quality of life, or to be with family. However, it’s also a big decision and one that could deter you from taking up your ideal role.
whether you’re considering a transfer within your current organisation or are thinking of altering your job search criteria to a more international search, it’s important to understand what’s involved. Below, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 things to consider when moving aboard for work.
1. Ensure you understand the company’s culture
Attitudes towards work-life balance can play a big role in your new lifestyle abroad so it’s important to do your research prior to making a decision. Statistics show that British workers take more of their vacation days than anyone else in the world, with 75% of Brits taking the full amount of paid time off – usually around 27 days a year. In contrast, only 43% of Australian workers take their full vacation entitlement, which is usually around 20 days a year, and 44% of US workers take their full vacation entitlement of around 12 days a year.
In addition, each country will have a different attitude towards the most effective age to be in work. For instance, studies show that the global average age a person is considered to be physically and mentally capable of working until is 60, whereas this age is 66 in places like the US, Canada, Sweden and Spain, and as low as 44 in Poland, 48 in Malaysia and 54 in China. This is worth noting when considering your long-term career prospects.
2. Moving abroad for work visas and work permits
In most countries, moving abroad for work requires a work permit or visa to work legally in that country. For countries that require a visa, a firm job offer is usually a prerequisite. In this instance, most employers will provide assistance or sponsorship of the visa application process.
For EU citizens, it is much easier to take up work in another EU member country, without the need for a visa or work permit. For British citizens, this is no longer the case in which Brits hoping to work in an EU member country will now need to obtain the relevant work permit.
There are a number of worker mobility incentives across the globe, aimed at making it easier to hire foreign workers to fulfil skill shortages. Countries like Canada and Australia operate on a points-based system to obtain a visa for workers who want to permanently relocate.
When it comes to the US, the requirements are slightly more complex in which most foreign workers will need to obtain an H1-B visa; requiring applicants to have a higher level of education and specialised knowledge in order to be eligible for sponsorship by an employer. More information on the types of US work visas can be found on the State Department website.
3. Your social network
Moving aboard for work means you will most likely be leaving behind your existing social network. While today’s environment means we’ve all become very skilled at maintaining relationships virtually, it’s important to have a plan for how you will build up a new social support network in your new location.
It’s worth checking with your employer to see if they run any social events that could help you get to know your new co-workers or speak to the HR department about connecting you with other workers who have recently made the move overseas.
Even small things like joining a local gym, attending a local class, or working remotely in a local café could help you to make connections. This will ultimately play a large role in how well you settle into your new role and new life overseas. More tips for establishing a social network in your new overseas location can be found here.
4. Cost of living
When moving abroad for work, be sure to check the cost of living in your new city in relation to your salary. The cost-of-living index in countries like Switzerland, Israel and Denmark are significantly higher than that in the UK or the US in which, on average, goods in Switzerland are 43% more expensive than in the USA.
The most important things to consider include rental costs for your new home, fuel and grocery prices, and medical care. A good employer should provide a relocation package whereby they provide assistance with leasing temporary housing and/or a monthly stipend for living costs, shipping your belongings, setting up medical cover and in some circumstances, assisting with the relocation of your family members too.
5. Relocating family members
Your family may be top of the agenda when it comes to considering moving aboard for work. Therefore, it’s important to work out with your employer whether any support will be available for your family members while negotiating the contract.
Some things to consider include:
- Whether your spouse will be able to work under the visa conditions
- Getting children into local schools and if there will be any language barriers
- Local amenities and hospitals
- Cultural fit for your family and how well they will adjust
The matter of healthcare is an essential point to discuss with your employer before moving aboard. Many countries even list this as a visa requirement that the employer provides adequate medical care. Remember that not all countries have the same standards of medical care, in which an emergency could require costly air evacuation overseas.
When negotiating on medical coverage, you should check whether cover is included for any accompanying family members. You should also check carefully what is included, e.g., Dental, translator expenses, pre-existing medical conditions.
In addition, you may be required to have a medical check-up at home before you go. You should visit your doctor to find out if you need any vaccinations and try to stock up on prescriptions for medication, contact lenses or contraception as these may be difficult to get hold of overseas.
7. Tax requirements when moving abroad for work
Whether moving abroad for work on a temporary or permanent basis, you will need to understand local tax laws in the country where you’ll be residing. Some countries have a bilateral tax treaty in place that determines the rate a non-resident will pay on income and pension. There may be a period of exemption if you’re only staying for a short period.
Be sure to check whether you will be required to pay tax both in your host destination and back at home, as this could have a significant impact on your financial status. Working overseas could also affect your eligibility to receive certain benefits in your home country; healthcare could be one of these factors, for example receiving NHS care if you stop paying National Insurance in the UK. You should also determine how your state pension will be affected by working abroad.
8. Preparing for lifestyle changes
Moving to a new country comes with many cultural changes. If you’re moving from one European country to another then there will still be moderate changes, but it may not be as much of a cultural shock as moving from Europe to the Middle East or Asia.
You should study the cultural norms of your host country, from the climate to local diet, religious beliefs or rules in the country and any language differences too.
9. Wrapping up business at home
Moving abroad for work isn’t as simple as packing your suitcase and hopping on the plane. There are a number of loose ends you may need to tie up at home before you go. These can include:
- Renting out your home, or selling it
- Closing any memberships you have for clubs or leisure facilities
- Typing up car finances or selling your car
- Notifying your bank of your move abroad
- Let authorities in your home country know about the move
- Consider if you need to put anything in storage
- Make plans for pets to accompany you or be re-homed
- Establish if you need to get any documents legalised or translated, like your driver’s license or university/college transcripts
- Establishing a new mobile provider/ tying things up with your existing provider
10. Get excited about moving abroad for work!
There’s no denying that there’s a lot to think about when moving abroad for work. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all and become overwhelmed or stressed as you race to get everything sorted, however, it’s important to remember that this part of your journey is only temporary. What waits for you beyond this period is new prospects, new cultures, new people to meet and adventures to be had.
To help get you excited, why not purchase a book on your new destination or watch a documentary. Overall, remember that you’re not in it alone and both your employer and your recruiter and there to help you negotiate terms and navigate unchartered waters!
UPCOMING! – Keep an eye out for our upcoming guide to compliance jobs around the world!
Check out our current job vacancies here.