Tips for Living and Working Abroad
Living and working abroad is a much different experience than your normal holiday. For most people, it requires you to tackle a new life without the immediate support base of friends and family.
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 is your first time “leaving the nest” it’s understandable to be nervous, or even a bit scared. Don’t worry though, 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 when it comes to work visas. Visit the embassy web page on the country you plan to visit to find out the information you need to know. Many organizations are out there to help you but beware of “scams”. Often it is 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 SurviveTravel.com) is Wikitravel.org. Look up the country and city and take notes. If you want specific details on a certain activity and it doesn’t come up on Wikitravel.com, then just Google it. Chances are someone has done it and blogged about it. If not, then you should!
When You First Arrive
It is a good idea to book at least your first nights accommodation. Somewhere close to the city and easy to navigate to.
Once settled in your temporary accommodation suss out what area you want to live in. You can do this through internet research and talk to locals. I usually go to the cheapest area that isn’t too dangerous.
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 try to 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. 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.
Update 2018: These days I book a week or a month ahead on AirBnb. It’s usually cheaper than a hostel and if you want you can get a kitchen. Once there I try to rent through locals as it is cheaper in the long run. Sign up with the following link to get a good discount off your first booking.
Do the Tourist Thing
While your waiting for your living and working abroad plans 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.
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 be social. Easy for some, not so easy for others. If you’re interested in something, see about joining a club for it, 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 people in the hostel you stayed at which are in the same situation as you. Like-minded travelers bond fast!
Update 2018: Couchsurfing.com has a thing called “hangouts”. It’s a great way to meet up with people. Also, Tinder is not only for dating. In many places people use it to meet new friends. Finally, my favorite is ConversationExchange.com. Great if you are trying to learn the country’s language.
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 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 of the place 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. 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. Be careful though, 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. The age limit for working abroad as an English teacher is much higher than working holiday visas. You can do online courses or train in the country.
A Normal Job. I’ve already talked about this. 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 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. In saying that, I’ve done it a couple of times. It’s all about who you know with this one. Hostel workers often have contacts. Pubs are a good place to find cash labor work. Beware of exploitation.
Make Money Over the Internet
This is my eventual aim.
Update 2018: I accommplished this a few years ago.
Sending Money Home
Whilst living and working abroad, you’ll want to send some money back to your home country. I 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! Better than the banks and Western Union. It’s called tranzfers.com. You also get the first two transfers free if you use the link below.
Update 2018: Now I prefer to use Transferwize. Use the following link to get your first transfer free.
Well that’s it for my tips on living and working abroad. Share your tips and thoughts in the comments.