Moving Overseas – How to Select the Right Country for You.

by SteveMadsen on June 4, 2007

Moving Overseas logoIn this series, Moving Overseas, I will share my experiences living and working overseas, sharing the lessons I’ve learnt to make your move less stressful.

Choosing to live and work in a different country is common throughout the developing world whose citizens travel abroad to work for the more affluent people of the world. You can do it too but which country should you move to, where can your skills be put to the best use and where do you want to live?

The easiest way to move overseas and work is to take a position with your current company at an overseas office, they will pay to move you and arrange all the government permits (visa, work permit etc) on your behalf. Even if your company does not have an overseas office, maybe you can start one. Could you telecommute, Tim Ferriss shows us how to move your job out of the office, once you are out it is a short jump to move your home office to another corner of the globe. These represent the extremes of the available job opportunities, the decision is your employer’s or yours respectively.

Most of you will be looking for new work to support your new life as a expat in a far off land. You need to consider the following factors when you select the country that will become your new home:

1. Do you have any citizenship rights overseas? If your parents or grandparents immigrated to your birthplace, you may have rights in their homeland. For example, Italian citizenship is granted by birth through your paternal or maternal line. Be sure to check all the facts, national service may be a requirement of your new citizenship.

2. Do you have any in demand skills? There are skills shortages all over the world; teachers, builders and medical professionals are always welcome somewhere in the world but every skill set finds a niche eventually.

3. Do you speak a second language? Language skills help open doors but even your English skills are in demand to teach English as a second language overseas.

4. Can you get a work permit? You could work ‘off the books’ but you’ll feel more relaxed with the appropriate work permit. A work permit is much easier to obtain if you answered yes to one of my first three questions.

5. What is the Cost of Living? You can live well in any country for no more than you spend to live in most free-market economies and often substantially less if you choose wisely. Eastern European countries are very affordable compared to France, Germany and the UK. Consider living in a cheaper country near your travel dreams, the money you save fuelling your travels from this new base. I lived in Malaysia for two years, travelled extensively and saved a tremendous amount of money for future endeavors without living a monastic life of thrift.

These are practical considerations but this new phase of your life is about you and your travel dreams. Living in a country intensifies your relationship with it, you want it to be a good one. Look at your list of job opportunities and delete any job in a country you would not consider for a vacation but also ponder this question:

Do I want familiar surroundings or a exotic new environment?

There are many countries that feel like home within a few days of your arrival because of the common cultural traits and langauge to your home. Stepping off an aircraft into a completely foreign environment is a challenge, a woman arriving in Malaysia with her husband clearly had not prepared for the journey. At the top of the aircraft stairs, she surveyed the exotic scene then fled back to her seat and declared herself ready to return to Australia.

Many people love the challenge of exotic locations, revelling in daily adventure as they discover the new culture and way of life. Peer deeply into your soul and discuss the options with your family to choose a destination that excites everyone.

Choose wisely.

Next week: Preparing for your move overseas.

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