WORKING ABROAD / JUL. 09, 2014
version 25, draft 25

A True Story: Moving and Working in a New Country

Millions of people around the world sit in their office working nine till five day dreaming about a better life somewhere else. If, like me, you lived in a place like Scotland, you’d stare at images of people living in the Philippines, Malaysia, the UAE, Africa, South America or maybe somewhere random like Sri Lanka, because to you there are unlimited reasons which make the place simply irresistible. Dreaming about lifestyles changes, plucking up the courage, meeting your friends who think alike, and like you, they’ve probably got a list of three or four places they would love to move to. The daunting thing about the whole concept is money. Jobs. Planning. How will your lifestyle actually be in your new destination? Will you have enough cash to be happy? Will you tell people? Only to tell them again that you failed and came home?

Taking the step and buying the one way flight is simply the only way to make things happen. Until then, nothing happens. Years can go by while you contemplate going, spending hours zooming in and out of Google Earth, reading Ex-pat forums and distributing job emails to various companies in the anticipation that something material could make this concept a reality. A conformation that this "if" or "maybe" could be real one day.

When actually, nothing happens until you buy that one way flight.

It’s all just pipe dreams and scribbled ideas on bar napkins. (unless you have a relocation package)

Many stories circulate the web, stories of tried, tested and failed relocation attempts. You can choose to believe what is posted all over the sites - the following article explains what can happen when moving abroad to live and work, in truth an honesty. 

Planning… Planning… Planning

For me I was 24 and about to graduate after completing 4 years at uni, about to take away a B/A with honors from the bright lights of Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. With a keen interest in the Philippines I researched visa requirements and jobs, before hitting a brick wall. The entry requirements are difficult to get in if you’re looking to work and live permanently - matched with incredibly low salaries. The higher paid jobs were still moderately low in comparison with anywhere else in the western world. Although the beaches are beautiful, the destination is a perception of paradise occupied by the nicest people; too many boundaries lay in the path. The same brick wall was also hit when looking to move to Indonesia; tough entry requirements, high moving costs coupled with masses of paperwork and limited scope for employment choices. After sending an application to recruiters in Cyprus as a researched alternative, I managed to land a job on the island through a Skype interview. But also in the same week received a call to start a new job in Edinburgh with a decent wage and scope to progress. So I panicked; the dream of moving faded away into nothing as the grounded option to start a new career locally, meant the mortgage was paid next month.

For almost 4 years I progressed through the company, was promoted, spent holiday entitlement’s travelling the various destinations in the list of possible places to live and work - for the next 4 years I regretted not taking the job in Cyprus.

For the next 4 years I looked out the office window to see wind and rain, people complaining about the summer and being sick in the winter. I find myself stuck in the busy city’s traffic congestion, every day, travelling to work to pay the bills, go home and sleep. Wake up – repeat.

F*** Planning

After being stuck in the system for too long, I reached out to a mere concept of what living somewhere else could be like. Up until now, I was satisfied only with the brief encounter of culture, climate and lifestyle options experienced momentarily, while being squeezed into grasp using work holidays.

I came home one night and together with my girlfriend we opened the laptop and bought a one way flight to Cyprus.

Put up an ad for the house and found a family willing to rent long term - another ad went up for the car.

Caution to the wind is an understatement. Caution had no place in this decision.

We began to tell family and friends, went for dinner with parents, grandparents, sisters and friends… dad hadn’t slept a wink after hearing the news. Feedback over dinner crept in… “Cyprus economy is unstable” and “what will you do if something breaks in your house?”, “What’s your exit plan? When you come home after 6 months”. Other keywords like “recession” and “try to be realistic” were flung across the table.

A best friend who tells you “mate, you know things are different there, people are struggling, the news last year with the banks…”

Makes it hard to go.

You start to question the caution you should have adopted but didn’t.

The people you love and trust the most are all singing the same tune; and you’re the only one with your hands on your ears – to think they ever considered you as responsible.

But you have to do this, because you don’t want to go back to the office window with wind and rain pouring down on an uninteresting and tiresome cycle of live to work, rather than work to live. Knowing something else is waiting for you. Knowing you can rise and climb where 1000’s have fallen and tumbled.

You have to do this because you gave your word, you’re committed and you’re names already on the resignation.

Landing

Stepping off the plane into a humid soothing temperature, a calming warmth to welcome your first steps down the staircase. Picking up the rental keys to the same make and model of the car you just sold, and driving on the same side of the road - a pleasant surprise to compliment the new steps you’ve taken. This doesn’t seem so scary…

What would you do if I stopped writing this article? Are you sitting in your office right now wondering about the new life you would like to chase? At home looking at Google images of beautiful beaches and enticing job vacancies? Thinking about whether you should or shouldn’t?

So let’s get down to business. What exactly happens when you jump in head first? You’ll need money. At the very beginning you’ll need as flexible accommodation as you can find, you’ll need a way to travel - if you can, get a car rental - you’ll need your best suit and you’ll need an internet connection, and enough pennies to accommodate the lifestyle you would like to accommodate. If that means more cash, save more before you come. Save a bit more as a fallback, it will probably come in handy. Try not to venture out in an excited endeavor to be a tourist and waste time on the beaches and bars, those times will come don’t worry.

On day 1, wake up early and make your way to the nearest recruitment consultant. Make sure you have already printed 20 copies of your CV. Do not send any emails for jobs; you could do that when you were still back home so what’s the difference? Walk into the recruitment consultant’s office in your shiniest shoes and warmest smile; give them your CV face to face (even though you know they will ask for a digital copy). Tell them you stepped off the plane yesterday – this will show how eager you are. You want them to like you, use your interpersonal skills here as best you can.

Now go to the next recruitment consultant’s office. And the next. Guess what you’ll be doing on day 2? The same thing. In the evenings you email companies explaining that you are here, you’ve arrived, and ready for an interview at first notice. Remember you’re only emailing because the recruitment consultants are closed. 

Following a successful job interview my girlfriend received a job offer only 8 days after landing on the island, barely a week later and were moving to the city where the new office will be, Limassol. Like a pair of gypsies we piled into the rental car with suitcases going to see a villa near to the new job with a view to ask the agent if we can move in there and then. The landlords were quick to act and they agreed; we viewed the house, and moved in immediately. My partner started work 2 days later and I had time on my hands to drive around local companies - based on my experience - who may be hiring, and left CVs. Barely a few weeks later I had the pick of two positions, took one, was alright, a month after working I had a third offer for a better position than the former two. Went to the interview, crowd-surfed it, started Monday.

The only hurdle you need to jump through from here onwards will be immigration, although this is regulated by different rules and policies depending on where you go. Follow their instructions, even if its a massive pain, give them everything they need; although this is something you will need to research before you go of course. Landing a job first does however make this process very smooth - otherwise you may have to prove self sufficient like I did at the beginning, if you’re working everything changes and you can resubmit your application.  

Make sure you go in low season, like February, March or April. Long term villa letting becomes heavily negotiable on price as no one else is around. Your car rental will probably be a big expense per month, but if you do your homework you can get it relatively cheap. Note that this amount will increase astronomically when the summer season starts, which is when you say "thank you" and look to buy your own car, so be prepared for this too.

http://www.wallpaperpics.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Tunnels-Beach.jpeg

If you’re still sitting in the office thinking that maybe we were ok… although others have tried and failed. Then you should know by now that not everything people say is true.

If you want something, make it work, if people give you advice like I had, take it as an honest concern for your wellbeing because they care. Acknowledge it and nothing more. Never let it change your plans. Keep everything grounded, achievable and most of all realistic. When "unemployment" and "recession" are being thrown around? Remember: 8 days. We both had the pick of 2-3 jobs each.

So if you do have a concept which you would like to follow, follow it, go out and sink your feet into it - whether your dream is teaching in Bangkok or accounting in Dubai - remember nothing changes until you buy that flight.

We now spend our days sunbathing by the pool with our 2 new puppies or snorkeling in sandy beaches enjoying the sunny climate with the roof off, tasting new foods, learning new languages and meeting new people.

Still looking out that window?

 

Image sourced: Business Suit Beach Sunset Beach 

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