Tips for Living and Working Abroad
Living and working abroad is a much different experience than your normal holiday vacation. For most people it requires you to tackle a new life without the immediate support base of friends and family should things not pan out exactly as you planned.
Most of the time the plans don’t work the way you thought they would, but often they work out better.
Don’t fear though, because soon enough you will have a new set of friends whom you can call family and when its time for you to leave you will be sad to say goodbye.
Tips for Living and Working Abroad
If this living and working abroad experience is your first time of leaving the “safety of home” and venturing to live in a foreign country, its understandable to be a bit nervous, or even a bit scared, but don’t worry, you will not freeze or starve to death. Here are a few tips on living and working abroad that I have learned the hard way.
Each country has different “deals” with other countries for living and working abroad. Visit the embassy web page on the country you plan to visit to find out the information you need to know. Many organisations are out there to help you but beware of “scams”. Often it is just as easy to do it yourself. Talk to people that have been to where you’re going before. If not in person, then on forums.
Do your research
The only travel guide I use (besides this one) is Wikitravel.org. Look up the country, take notes, then the city. If you want specific details on a certain ‘adventure’ e.g. a bush-walking, the silk road etc and it doesn’t come up on Wikitravel.com, then just Google.com it. Chances are someone has done it and blogged about it. If not, then you should!
When You First Arrive
Before you first arrive in the country you will be living and working abroad in, it is a good idea to book ahead your first night in a hostel. Somewhere close to the city and easy to navigate to. Also, in Wikitravel.com they usually give some recommendations.
Once I’ve got my sh*t together, I will decide if I am going to stay in that hostel for another night or two. Go to the tourist center, do some internet research, etc. and suss out what area you envision yourself living in. I usually just go for the cheapest area, as long as its not too dangerous (e.g. I wouldn’t live in Compton).
It’s a tough choice to choose between whether you are going to get a job and find a place close to work, or get a place and find a job close to where you live. I usually just try do get a job and a place at the same time and see where I land.
Gumtree.com is great. I usually look for short term accommodation, anywhere not too far from the city (and cheap). It’s better than staying in a hostel, and you’ll get to meet locals. Once there, start looking for work. Then, when you find a job, you can move closer to your workplace.. or you can try to find a job in the area you’re in if you like it.
Do the Tourist Thing
While your waiting for your living and working abroad plans to to fall into place, do the tourist thing. You may not get time once you get a job and a social life. Also, venture out to other areas. Just get a bus to nowhere.
Get a Life
Traveling alone can get lonely, and it’s not like when your kids. Adults already have friends that they have known for years, and often don’t need or want any new ones. You need to actively be social. Easy for some, not so easy for others. If your interested in something, see about joining a club for it, just like you would at home. Its easier to make friends with common interests, e.g., sport, music, art. People you work with, people you live with. There are probably a few people in the hostel you stayed at which are in the same situation as you. Like minded travelers bond fast!
So you’ve settled into your ‘new life’, living and working abroad. You’ve got a job, a place to live, a social life.. now what? Its easy to get stuck in the routine of life, even in a foreign country. You can get up, go to work, go home, watch TV, have sex, go to sleep from Monday to Friday, then go and get stupid drunk on the weekends. Right?? Well, I can do that anywhere, but since your living and working in a different country, why not explore it!
Its fine to ‘live the normal life’ in a foreign country, but you’re a traveler, so travel. Use where you are as a base, and then explore from there. After a month of being in a new place I’ve usually seen more than most of the locals. It’s the Travelers Spirit. Don’t lose it, or you may as well go home, start a business and get filthy rich, ’cause you can’t do that whilst traveling (well I guess you can, but it’s much harder). You may be ‘away from home’ but if you’re not traveling, then your not really traveling!
Summer camp. This is a great place to start when first living and working abroad. You’ll meed a lot of like minded people. You will form some amazing relationships and possible travel partners. It s a nice safe way to test the waters to see if you want to keep traveling, but be warned, it is not an accurate depiction of the life of a long term traveler. I use it as a break from travel. Check out Camp Leaders, BUNAC, IEP and Camp America.
Teaching English. I’ve not done it but it has been on my list of things to do for a while. Good thing about it is the age limit for living and working abroad as an English teacher is much higher than working holiday visas. You can do online courses or train in country.
A Normal Job. This has already been discussed. Try to get a job you’ll enjoy, and where you’ll meet people.
Cruise Ships. I’ve never done it, but know people who have and they have had a blast. There is a a lot of information for sale on this subject all over the internet.
Working Illegally. Be careful with this one. If you get caught you’ll either get kicked out of the country with a permanent ban, or have to bribe someone, depending on what country your in. In saying that, I’ve done it a couple of times in countries where I had been living and working abroad, but could not get work visas, and even in countries where I could but just didn’t have one. It’s all about who you know with this one. Talk to the people in the hostel, Gumtree.com or craigslist might hold some promise, and pubs are a good place to find cash labor work. Or maybe even work in the pub. Beware of exploitation.
Make Money Over the Internet
This is my eventual aim. Even if I was making enough over the internet to not have to work while living and working abroad, if I planned to stay in a place for a while I’d still seek some part time work. Its good to meet people, learn new skills, and just keep busy.
Sending Money Home
Whilst living and working abroad, you’ll probably want to send some money back to your home country. I just found a pretty good site which allows you to send money between US, CA, AU, EU, UK, HK and SINGAPORE for a $7 flat rate, no matter how much it your sending. Considering Lloydstsb tried to charge me 30 quid, and Commonwealth charges around $20AUD and even Bank of America tried to charge me $30USD once I think its a pretty good service. Better than Western Union. You also get the first two transfers free. This is my referral link. http://tiny.cc/8anuj. I think if i get 10 referrals I get a Mac Book or something, so if you send money home (or anywhere internationally) then check them out. If you find a better deal, let me know!
Well that’s it for my tips on living and working abroad. I know there’s not very many, so if you have more, add them in the comments :D.