The Pros and Cons of Working Abroad
The Pros and Cons of Working Abroad
Following the rather miserable, cold and rainy summer the UK has had this year you may be starting to consider escaping to a sunnier, warmer climate. We don’t blame you! With the ever-rising cost of living, a lot of young Brits are packing up and moving across the world in search of a better quality of life. Working abroad offers a multitude of benefits, from cultural enrichment and personal growth to career advancement and language acquisition. But is the grass really that greener on the other side? Uplifting your life and moving abroad is a huge decision to make. Not to mention other challenges such as family separation, cultural adjustment and visa applications. Before embarking on an international career, it’s essential to research and plan thoroughly. We have weighed up the pros and cons of working abroad to give you a head start and help you decide your future a little easier.
But before we get into that, let’s start with exploring exactly how someone could take the leap and immigrate to a foreign country. Some pathways are more logistically complicated than others and some are much cheaper than others so it’s vital to explore all your options and choose the one that best suits your needs. Here are a few different routes you could look at;
Working Holiday Visa
If you are aged between 18-30 then one of the most popular choices is to obtain a Working Holiday Visa. A Working Holiday Visa would allow you to work in your chosen country for a varied period depending on where you go! There are lots of countries that offer the program but the most popular are;
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
Now, several companies out there offer their services to help you during the immigration process. For a fee, companies like BUNAC will help you secure your Visa, flights, temporary accommodation and even a bank account, taking all the stress of moving off your shoulders. However you could also go solo, do it all independently and save the extra cash by visiting your desired country's immigration website.
Become a Teacher
What better way to end a full day of teaching than to head down to the beach for a swim? If you have studied education or completed a QTS or PGCE then teaching abroad is a very realistic option. Choosing to teach in a foreign country could land you with a higher wage in comparison to the UK, cheaper rent and a more diverse range of opportunities. If this idea sparks some excitement in you then head over to TES.com where lots of international schools post job openings daily.
Additionally, if you haven’t trained specifically in education then fear not! You can still teach abroad by gaining a TEFL certificate. TEFL stands for “Teach English as a Foreign Language” and given the significant demand for English teachers around the world, could be a good option for your working abroad journey. Once qualified, you are open to a range of opportunities including teaching in public or private schools, language centres, Universities or even online.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the typical “van life” videos of people who travel the world in their homes on wheels and work entirely remotely and thought about doing a similar thing. Well, it’s completely achievable and there are a couple of ways you could go about it.
Firstly, some countries offer a Digital Nomad Visa which will allow you to live and work remotely in their country long-term. There are different requirements and costs for this type of visa to consider but for the majority of them, you have to be employed and earn a certain amount, again depending on the country's requirements. You probably would also need your employers' permission before you jet off… just a thought.
Secondly, if you don’t like to settle and you’d rather see as much of the world as you can, you could always enter different countries on a tourist visa. This would mean you stay in the country for the amount of days permitted in your visa then when the time comes, pack up and find somewhere new! The main thing to consider is your living situation as your easiest and cheapest option would probably be to live in Hostels which isn’t for everyone! Again, it’s probably wise that you already have a remote job or a well-established freelancing career before choosing this option. Good ways to make money by freelancing include;
- Graphic/Web Design
- App Developer
- Virtual Assistant
- Content Writer/Blogger
- Voiceover Artist
Don’t forget you’ll need a good internet connection too!
If you aren’t in a desperate rush to start your career and want to travel but also have the reassurance that you’ll be returning home in a few months then we recommend you consider seasonal work. It won’t make you loads of money but you're essentially working to fund the expenses of travelling and living abroad. The opportunities for seasonal work are endless, here are just a few examples of sectors you could work in;
- Summer Camps
- Ski and Snowboard Instructing
- Holiday Rep
Jobs like these can include long hours but you are guaranteed to mix with a diverse range of like-minded people from all over the world. Once again, several companies out there will charge a fee for securing your job and supporting the process of gaining a temporary work visa, booking flights etc. so if you are looking for some temporary work abroad, this is your go-to!
Finally, the most selfless, yet pricey, of options would be to volunteer abroad. We say pricey because for certain volunteering programmes, you would have to pay a fee and for your flights. Despite this, volunteering abroad can be very fulfilling and rewarding because organisations and communities need volunteers. If you have a way of finding the money to volunteer abroad then you should consider it.
Additionally, you could always try a work exchange role. This is where you would be working for a company or organisation in exchange for free accommodation and often food. Best part? You do not require a working visa, just a tourist one. This is a great option if you have a chunk of money saved up and want a temporary escape to a different side of the world.
Hopefully one of those routes has attracted your attention and you are now starting to genuinely consider whether some time working abroad is in your future. Before you even start the process though, you should do your research and make sure that you are absolutely 100% mind made up! So with that, let’s get back to the pros and cons of working abroad.
You get to experience different cultures and meet new people - Perhaps one of the most attractive things about working abroad is the opportunity to see just how different life can be in another country. Living and working in a foreign country allows you to experience new customs, languages and traditions firsthand, broadening your horizons and fostering a deeper understanding of different cultures. Not only that but the range of people you will meet will range from national citizens to other wanderlust seekers like yourself.
Increase your confidence and personal skills - For a lot of people, even the thought of getting on a plane alone can be daunting. By moving abroad you are bound to face lots of challenges and will have to adapt very quickly to settle into your new, unfamiliar surroundings. Most people choose to travel alone but even if you do so with a friend, family member or significant other, exposing yourself to new experiences, new places and new people is a sure-fire way to increase personal skills such as confidence, resilience and independence.
Better life/work balance - Many people claim that they have a better quality of life abroad and this could be for a variety of reasons. As mentioned before, the cost of living crisis is something that is forcing a lot of Brits to move abroad. Not only do a lot of countries pay more but also the average cost of renting tends to be cheaper. Plus if you can move somewhere that feeds into your hobbies, perfect! For example, a surfer may choose to find work near an Aussie coast. Additionally, if you choose to live somewhere in Europe then you are only a short plane or train journey away from neighbouring countries, thus expanding your opportunity to travel and see more of the world.
Expand career opportunities - Simply put, working abroad will increase your network, boost your professional skills and potentially result in a very desirable, well-rounded CV. These days, most employers are looking for life experience as well as professional. When you move abroad you are demonstrating that you are willing to take risks, adapt to new surroundings and embrace change. These are all skills that potential employers are looking for.
Distance from family and friends - Everyone has different circumstances and this may not apply to you, but for a lot of people moving away from family and friends can be a very difficult decision to come to. And once you are living away from them the possibility of getting homesick is a possibility and with today’s air fares and travel prices, it’s not so easy to just pop home for a brew. You should really take the time to consider whether distancing yourself from your inner circle is something you think you can emotionally handle.
Lots of immediate expenses - Unfortunately, a large barrier to being successful in moving abroad is your financial situation. No matter which path you choose, you will have to lay out a considerable amount of money to be able to move abroad. Often people will plan for months or years for a move abroad and we recommend you consider doing the same thing. Not only do you have to consider the costs of visa, flights, accommodation deposits and insurance to name a few, but you can also expect some countries to require you to have a certain amount of money in your bank account and often this number will be in the thousands.
Language barrier - If you happen to be moving to a country where English is not the first language then sometimes communication can be difficult, thus resulting in a language barrier. This is something you have to consider not just in the workplace, but in your personal life as well. In some countries, foreigners may be looked down upon for not speaking their native language. We would advise you to make an effort to learn the basics before you move!
Career Uncertainty - Although we said before that moving abroad can increase your career potential, it could also send you in the opposite direction. Sometimes people have been known to move abroad and they haven’t been able to secure work so they have inevitably returned home. In addition, if you do choose to return home at any point after your time away, you could also be left jobless and having that label of someone who has travelled and lived abroad could potentially be a red flag for businesses as it could imply that you will be up and off again soon.
Moving abroad is not a decision you should take lightly. However, if you have the funds, time and confidence to do so then go for it! The old saying goes “You only live once” and you’ll never know unless you try. Hopefully, our list has given you some food for thought and helped you to make up your mind.