How does “working abroad” work?
So, you want to travel and live abroad but your bank account is totally killing your vibe? Consider looking at working abroad. Companies are global and there are opportunities everywhere! Not just teaching. Jobs are diverse and range across industries, so when it comes to finding the best ways to work abroad, there’s always a way. Whether you are looking for ways to work abroad after college, having a mid-career shift, or exploring jobs abroad for the over 50s; it’s never too late to make working abroad work for you!
The term working abroad means a lot of different things. Depending on where you go, who you work for, and the length of time you plan to stay; working abroad is a process. As you determine the best way to work abroad it’s important to think of all the details involved. But don’t worry we got you!
7 best ways to work abroad
1. Through an agency / program provider
Program providers, regardless of where they are based, offer a wide range of work, intern, and volunteer abroad opportunities around the world. Supporting you from when you first show interest to your return home agencies like these help you sort out everything you did and didn’t think of. For a fee that ranges from agency to agency you can get help with your visa, phone, and job placement among other things. It’s one of the best ways to work abroad if you find yourself needing an extra push or organizer through the process.
Pros: These people are here to make your transition abroad super smooth. They’re going to help you get your visa, driver’s license, health insurance, even helping you set up an international bank account if you need it. If this is your first time working abroad these are your peeps!
Cons: Depending on the support you need, the fees for these agencies can end up on the high side. Leaving you less money to spend once you arrive. However, budgeting ahead can make this big con a minor one.
2. Work abroad as a teacher
You believe the children are the future, so teach them well and lead the way as a teacher abroad. Teach anywhere in the world to leave a lasting impact on the students you teach. Teach students English and maybe pick up a little bit of the local language in return. You will have flexible hours, and with your salary have time to explore other places in your chosen country. It’s a work abroad option anyone can do, young or old, experienced or not. The only requirement for these positions is that English is your native language. Not too shabby, eh?
Pros: While it’s never about the money, your teaching salary combined with the low cost of living of the country you’ll be teaching in is a major pro! While you can always stash it away for your own travels, the money you have left over can always go towards beating those student loans. (super pro!)
Cons: While temporary, culture shock is sooo real and will definitely be a challenge when it comes to adjusting to your new life overseas.
3. Move abroad, then find work
For all the explorers out there! You don’t always need a job before you reach your destination. If you have the means to get up and go, definitely do it. Don’t let people make you second guess your decision either; just because your decision isn’t conventional doesn’t mean your move is doomed.
Pros: You make your own path. Being completely independent is a surefire way to not only get immersed in the ways of your new country but have complete control over your experience.
Cons: Moving abroad this way is like having another full time job. Pressing the restart button on your life will be overwhelming especially with the heavy paperwork you’ll have to deal with. So if you like to avoid stressful situations at all time you might want to skip this way of moving abroad.
4. Get a working holiday visa
If you don’t want to work abroad on a permanent basis snagging a working holiday visa is a great option. Travelers aged 18-35 are eligible and can stay for up to two years depending on the country they choose to stay in. While your working holiday visa determines where you can work and live legally for a period of time, this visa has no restrictions on any free travel you wish to do.
Pros: One of the best things about a working holiday visa is the work experience you will get on your resume. Once you choose to start applying for jobs back home your time abroad will be a standout experience that will set you apart from other applicants. Your experiences here are also going to make some unique interview answers.
Cons: There’s an age limit. While other visas aren’t as easy to obtain as working holiday visas thankfully there are other opportunities to work abroad after 35.
5. Do a work exchange
Ideal if you have a tight budget, completing a work exchange is the closest you can get to traveling abroad for free. Through a work exchange you can do a range of things from pretty much anywhere in the world. As you work in exchange for your room and board all you have to worry about is securing a visa! So, if you’re into wanderlust with little financial pain, a work exchange is the perfect move.
Pros: Your housing is free and depending on the program your meals will be free too. Not having to worry about food or where you’re going to stay is a huge relief. The only budgeting you’ll have to worry about is planning for trips of your own.
Cons: While your housing will be free for the program, you can’t control where you stay. Most of the time, your accommodations will be far from the 5-star living you might be used to at home. While you certainly won’t be living in squalor be prepared to give up “luxuries” like privacy or convenience.
The act of giving back isn’t just restricted to your community at home. Take your passion for a cause and help people from all over. In addition to traveling, you get to be a part of something that is important and meaningful. As a volunteer, these working experiences won’t be paid, but the work you put into aiding communities, problem-solving, and practicing cross-cultural communication are experiences that have more value than any paycheck you’ll receive. Since there is so much you can get out of this experience volunteering is definitely one of best ways to work abroad after college
Pros: As a volunteer abroad, you can truly get to know the world around you. A destination is more than just its tourist brochure or visiting guide. Get to know the locals, culture and language outside the vacationer bubble. It’s only by immersing yourself in these communities that you can truly achieve an impact and aid in positive change.
Cons: Problems just don’t solve themselves overnight. With this being the case, be ready for the unfortunate reality that you can’t help everyone. While your efforts will always be appreciated, real change takes time and can be a complicated journey itself.
7. Freelance/digital nomad
Travel Writers, Web Designer, Photographers, and Vloggers are some of the many things you can do as a digital nomad. Earn your money and grow your clients while traveling the world. If you can’t stand the idea of having a 9-5 within a tiny cubicle, then becoming a digital nomad is one of the best ways to work abroad while pursuing your passions. This lifestyle is definitely ideal for self-starting entrepreneurs looking for a flexible schedule.
Pros: As a digital nomad you work your own hours and you can finally be your own boss! Taking your career into your own hands is a powerful statement and one you should be proud to make!
Cons: The downside to this life is that your income won’t always be consistent. Before you jet off and become a digital nomad make sure you have enough savings in the bank to cover the days you won’t be making money.
Decide where to go. Figuring out where YOU should work abroad is paramount. Have a short list of locations that sound ideal for your goals. Don't let your experience (or lack thereof!) hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
Pick your job. Do some reflection on what skills and knowledge you bring to the table, and which type of company or organization—and role within—would best benefit from your time and energy.