The Beginner’s Guide to Moving and Working Abroad

moving and working abroad guide showing travel gear

If you are considering relocating for career purposes, then you should know that it’s one of the best moves you can make career-wise. Moving abroad, whether short or long term, can help you gain valuable experience and turn you into a well-rounded professional.

But, working overseas is not always easy. The early stages of moving that can include getting a job, and visa often turn into a nightmare. Learning to deal with living in another country always requires some adjustment, which can be one of the most stressful periods of your life. The only way to cope successfully with this admittedly difficult situation is to prepare for it and know all of your options before actually moving abroad.

The Benefits of Working Abroad

working abroad benefits

Working overseas can benefit your career no matter what stage you are at. As a recent graduate, finding a job abroad could help you gain valuable work experience and take the first steps in your career. If on the other hand, you are more changing careers, it could still be a great way to get started.

What you can gain from relocating will depend heavily on how you wish to shape your experience. If you consider getting a job overseas as a means to satisfy your wanderlust and live somewhere different, then you should focus on finding jobs and locations which will allow you to stay there for as long or as little time as you want. But, if you are interested in having a career then you should focus on finding places with a stable economy and excellent quality of life.

If you are considering moving abroad because of Brexit, then you should make the arrangements as soon as possible, before the effects of the referendum hit the UK. Keep in mind that the longer you postpone it, the more competition you will have from other UK nationals so decide what you want to do and take steps to fulfil that goal.

1. Getting Your Dream Job Could Be Easier

Getting a job in the UK is by no means easy. In fact, unless you have a CV full of achievements and some lengthy work experience you will never get a shot at getting a job in your desired career and this is precisely where working abroad comes in.

Finding a job in a different country could be a lot easier back home, while it will also get some experience in the industry as well.

2. Better Salary

Although wages in the UK are quite high, you’d be surprised at how many countries in the world are willing to offer you more for the same exact type of work you’d do at home. Earning a higher salary could help you get ahead with the repayment of your student loan or provide a better quality of life for your family. Either way, you will definitely come out a winner.

3. Career Development

Because the job market in the UK is so competitive, there are often more opportunities to work abroad for professionals. This could help when you return home as it’s been proven that professionals with experience abroad have better chances at getting promoted.

4. It Can Help You Gain Unexpected Skills

Although academic qualifications are still considered essential, employers are currently looking for candidates who stand out, and this means having a broad range of skills. Working abroad will help you gain these skills because a specific role elsewhere could require different things.

5. Expands Your Network

Building a professional network will help you at every step of your career and this is why you should actively seek to make professional contacts. Working abroad can help you extend your network to people all over the world, which can be a valuable step to getting the job you want should you ever want to return home.

Your Working Abroad Opportunities

job opportunities

There are many opportunities which you can seek if you are interested in moving abroad. The key is to find a solution that fits your needs, so ensure that you focus on what would be a more viable option for you.

1. Remote Working

Remote working although not as common as the rest of the options on this list is becoming more popular lately. Employers have begun understanding that allowing some flexibility makes employees more productive and as such more people are allowed to tackle their responsibilities from home. Bear in mind that for the employer this option reduces their costs so if this is an option you are interested in, all you need is the right game plan to show your boss that it’s in their best interest if you relocate.

Be realistic about whether you can perform your duties remotely from another country. For example, if your job involves meeting clients in person then you’ll need to consider whether living abroad is really feasible. Ensure that you have all the details figured out before you talk to your boss about it and have a strategy in mind that will allow you to prove to your boss that you will be able to manage all of your work responsibilities.

It’s important to note that unless you are extremely valuable to your employer, there’s a good chance that they will be unwilling to pay your travel expenses or extra income taxes. You should know that you’re obligated by law to get a work visa even if you are not planning on doing any work in the country per se and as such taxation rules will apply. But, do note that double taxation does not apply within the EU (although this might change after the Brexit).

2. Job Exchange Programmes

Job exchange programs are more common than you think. Basically these programs refer to the opportunity to relocate to one of your firm’s international offices. This opportunity makes relocating for work purposes a piece of cake as your company takes care of all the legal responsibilities.

Some companies follow this practice when an international office is particularly busy and requires assistance. Basically, it helps companies ‘hire’ new people who are already trained and know exactly what to do in times of crisis and this is exactly why it is favoured by many employers.

But, if you are interested in relocating for a long period of time you might have some convincing to do and you will need to have a valid reason (yes other than ‘I really want to see Tokyo’) before you talk to your boss about it.

Job exchange programs allow employees to gain perspective. They allow employees to learn and mirror new principles which can help other offices within the same company achieve optimal results. They also allow less successful offices to operate more smoothly so all in all, they are necessary or at least beneficial to every company.

3. Getting a Job in Another Country

Getting a job abroad might have its difficulties, but it is definitely doable so if you have no professional links to any companies back home and if you simply want to live abroad then map out your strategy and start searching for employment.

Generally speaking, if you are planning to relocate somewhere that requires getting a visa, it will be easier to get one after you have secured a job rather than the other way round. The employer will handle work permits and getting a visa will be made easier so if you are planning to start a career, I’d advise that you start looking into your employment options.

Although different countries require different qualifications and skills, it’s safe to say that these will not deviate too much from back home. Translating your diplomas, degrees and anything else relevant into the target language can also help you win points with a potential employer.

Applying for a Job

There are many international job boards which you can rely on, for example Monster and Indeed both have independent sites across various locations. If you are applying for employment in other English-speaking countries then the same rules apply, but be mindful of your spelling and grammar as you don’t want to apply for a job in the USA and have your CV written in British English.

However, applying for work in non english speaking countries can be a little more complicated. If you already know the language and you expect that you will be speaking with your potential boss and colleagues in that language then it goes without saying that your application should be written in said language. Ensure that your job application is proofread thoroughly as you don’t want a spelling mistake to cost you a position.

If on the other hand you are applying to a country whose language you don’t speak things might be a little trickier. Job postings might be written in that language which could mean that tailoring your CV and cover letter to that could be impossible, especially if you don’t want to spend tons of money on getting your CV translated each time.

So there are basically two roads you can go down. One is to create a Europass CV which is a document accepted across Europe and which can also be used in other countries if you aim to show your skills and qualifications. The other is to try and make it as tailored as possible by reading job descriptions for similar roles back home and including some of the things from the actual description. Generally speaking, a generic CV won’t get you great results so it’s always best to spend some time to customise it, especially if it’s a higher level position.

Job Boards

Of course, using job boards isn’t your only solution. You can also target specific companies and send your CV directly to them as well.

4. Teaching English Abroad

This option is great for anyone who wants to take some time to get to know the world. This is why it’s highly valued by recent graduates, or people interested in taking a break from their lives. Teaching English abroad can be a great opportunity to travel the world, see and experience new things while also gaining work experience.

Getting a job abroad as an English teacher is not particularly hard as there are literally millions of people all over the world enrolling in English classes every year. What’s great about this opportunity is that you don’t actually need a degree in Education to get employed, just a TEFL certification.

Acquiring the TEFL certification is not particularly hard as you can do it online in a few weeks. The rewards are huge as you’ll effectively be able to pay for your travels around the world.

English teachers are expected to work a few hours each week while some companies will even provide accommodation for their teachers. As cost of living in most of these places is relatively low, you can even jumpstart your savings account or start repaying your student loan.

Finding a location that fits you is key to ensuring satisfaction in this working abroad opportunity so make sure that you do your research before applying for a job. Choosing a country that will allow you to start saving can be an excellent way to make the first steps in your career, especially if you’re considering becoming an entrepreneur.

5. Volunteer Abroad

Not a career step per se, but something that would look great on your CV and help you gain lots of different skill sets, volunteering abroad is a great option for anyone interested in travelling.

Usually, hosts provide room and board to their volunteers in exchange for some unpaid or low paid work. This makes this relocation opportunity the most effective way to travel the world on a budget.

There are many different schemes you can choose from so it’s important to find something you will enjoy doing and will also help you gain skills that can be used on your CV.

These are some organisations you can look into:

What You Need to Know Before Moving

before moving

As exciting as living abroad may sound, there are lots of issues you need to figure out before you pack your bags. Special permits are required if you are looking to get a job overseas, so it’s important to prepare.


EU residents don’t need to get a visa to work within the European Union but this is expected to change soon. Although Brexit’s legal details are yet to be figured out, The Guardian suspects that visas will be required for British people travelling to Europe.

Outside the EU, getting a visa is required anyway which makes relocating for work a rather complex process. Standards and requirements vary, but generally speaking the more skilled you are, the better are your chances of being granted a visa. Some countries, like Australia and Canada, operate under a points system according to which a candidate becomes more eligible for being granted a visa if he or she manage to get a higher score.

Points are given on the basis of how the candidate can assist the economy so for example, professionals aged between 18 and 24 are granted fewer points than professionals aged between 25 and 32 and professionals close to the age of retirement receive even fewer points. You can see a detailed version of Australia’s point system to see if you are eligible.

To better understand the process of getting a work visa you are advised to contact the embassy or consulate of the country in the UK. Bear in mind that relocating to some places is a very complex process so it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you out with the paperwork.

However you choose to go about it, make sure that you don’t just ask for a travel visa and then travel to the target country and secure employment in the hope that getting a work visa afterwards will be easier. Your best bet is to search for a job online and ask the employer to help you out with getting a visa.


Depending on your employment situation you need to consider what you are going to do with your bank account before you relocate. For example, if you are going to be working remotely or if you are going to be freelancing then there’s a good chance that your employer or your clients won’t want to pay fees to deposit your salary or fees into a foreign account so you might want to maintain your UK bank account and look for sister banks as withdrawal fees will probably be lower.

If you are getting a new job abroad then you might want to talk to the employer about your bank account as there’s a good chance that they’ll like you to get an account with a specific bank they work with.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is a particularly important aspect of living abroad since you want to be certain that you are medically covered if something happens to you. Many countries require employers to provide health insurance, but even if this benefit is provided by law you should check with the employer and ensure that your contract guarantees it.

There are also other schemes which can provide you with medical insurance. You may want to look into expat medical insurance for example. This type of insurance is offered by most insurance companies and it’s available to people living and working abroad and most of these insurance schemes will grant you 24hour support which can be extremely handy if you ever run into trouble.

If you are planning to relocate within the European Union then you should know that you are allowed access to government health institutions as if you were a home resident. This insurance comes free of charge and you can apply for it online.

Social Insurance

As different rules apply across the world you will have to speak with the social insurance services in your target country to ensure that you are following the law. Generally speaking however you will need to get a social insurance number independently of where you move and you’ll be expected to pay contributions to where you work, rather than to the NIC.

If you are performing your duties remotely you will still need to get a social insurance number and you will still be required to pay contributions to the country where you live. You may also be required to continue paying the NIC. But, your employer can exempt you from that so make sure you look into all of these legal details.

Top Destinations


According to a survey by MoveHub, the UK has the highest rate of professionals leaving. These numbers are expected to increase as soon as the Brexit hits the economy and if you are already thinking about living abroad you might want to start looking into your options.

According to the same study, British people tend to relocate to similar places which include locations with stronger economy, as well as places with sunny weather. Take a look at the top five most popular destinations below for British people:

1. Australia

13.6% of British people relocate to Australia

The land of down under is the most popular relocation destination for Brits migrating. The reasons have a lot to do with the weather and the great economy. The standard of living is high, and according to research, salaries in Australia are much higher than in the UK.

Relocating to Australia is not particularly hard, especially if you are a highly-skilled professional. The country is always eager to welcome industry experts so if you think that you would enjoy living there contact the Australian embassy today and find out more.

2. USA

12.32% of British people relocate to the US

The US is the second most popular destination for people leaving the UK as the sheer size of the country makes it the land of opportunity. There’s basically something for everyone in the States so do your research before deciding where to relocate.

Bear in mind that if you are interested in the metropolitan cities, like New York for example, the cost of living can be extremely high. Renting a flat in New York is even more expensive than renting a flat in central London. But, as salaries are higher and taxes are lower it might be an option well be worth looking into.

3. Spain

8.41% of British people relocate to Spain

Spain has been an incredibly popular holiday destination for some time now. The expat community in Spain is so large that you will surely find many likeminded people there, but you should be aware that the country’s suffering economy may translate into a paycheque that’s significantly lower than what you’d get in the UK for the same work.

4. France

5.36% of British people relocate to France

Neighbouring France is not as popular as it once was with only a mere 5 per cent of Britons choosing to relocate there. Getting a job in France is not easier either as unemployment rates are double those in the UK, and the quality of life has been decreasing.

But, France’s varied cultural identity can offer a lot to the individual who’s interested in leading a life that goes beyond being stuck in an office 9 to 5.

5. Canada

5.09% of British people relocate to Canada

Canada, just like Australia offers higher salaries, lower cost of living and better quality of life. However, only 5 per cent of UK citizens choose to call Canada their home due to the weather, which is probably worse than in the UK. But if you are interested in relocating to Canada, you should know that there are plenty of high paying jobs.

Obstacles You Will Need to Overcome

obstacles moving abroad

Although there are many benefits to consider when relocating for work purposes, this does not mean that everything will be pleasant. In fact, there are many obstacles you will need to overcome during the adjustment period and after so it’s best to be prepared for them before you move overseas.

1. Stress

Moving abroad comes with its fair share of stress as you need to do a lot of paperwork, most of which you will never be entirely certain that you’ve done correctly. There are also other things to consider like finding a new house and deciding what to do with your home back in the UK.

Apart from that, there’s also the fact that you will be working in an entirely new environment. Adjusting to a new team is never easy, especially if you don’t speak their language or if you are not acquainted with their culture. But, you shouldn’t let stress drag you down. Instead, you should see it as a big adventure and embrace it.

2. Loneliness

Many people who live overseas report that they feel lonely as they never get a chance to fit in with the locals. Being discriminated against is not a myth, and it is, in fact, a reality for many Brits who work abroad.

To avoid misery, you should try and get to know your colleagues and form friendships with them. Data has proven that having a friend in the workplace can make you happier so take the time to get to know your colleagues and do ask them out for drinks or activities even if they don’t.

3. Cultural Shock

Although the world is currently more connected than ever, there are still lots of differences between people. The only way to avoid cultural shock is by educating yourself on the target culture and ensuring that you understand its customs before you even set foot in the country. Having someone to help you through the adjustment period can go a long way in helping you learn to love the local culture so even if you can’t make any friends at work or form friendships with any of the locals, you can always look for expats as they will gladly take you under their wing.

Moving and working overseas can be quite exhilarating, but only if you allow it to be. Prepare for your move by understanding what you are obligated by law to do and educate yourself in the target culture and its customs as this will help you appreciate the country you are moving to more. Understand that work experience gained overseas counts and that it can help you extend your network as well as become more desirable as an employee.

Be as professional as you would be if you were back home so that your colleagues will only have great things to say about you and you’ll see that you will not only be enriching your CV, but you will also making new friends abroad.

Have you ever worked abroad? Was it beneficial to your career? Let us know in the comments section below...