Working abroad checklist: 8 things you have to do
Working abroad can be an exciting opportunity in your next career move with new challenges, new experiences and a new environment waiting for you. However, there are few key things you need to keep in mind when considering such a life-changing experience.
Whether you’ve been offered a job in a new country or are just considering clicking on that ‘apply now’ button, here’s our checklist of important things to consider.
Moving abroad is a strange and exciting new experience. But in all the excitement, you want to make sure you’re not worrying about money issues once you’re there. Make sure your salary is paid to you correctly by setting up an overseas bank account as soon as possible, preferably before you leave.
Tax rates / cost of living
Negotiating your salary can be a delicate issue, so finding out how tax rates and the cost of living differ will give you a good starting point. What may seem like a very generous pay rise, or even a pay cut, may in fact just be in line with local tax rates.
While there may never be a ‘standard’ number of hours every person works in one country, there are some differences between other cultures and markets. You should do your best to find out how they differ from yours so you know what you’re in for.
For example, the UK working day is traditionally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour for lunch. In comparison, Spanish employees will normally work from 9am to 8pm with a two-hour lunch break, while a working week in Dubai is Sunday to Thursday.
The amount of paid leave you're entitles to can vary, depending on what country you’re in. Finding out how much time off you will have before accepting a job offer, will make planning your visits home that much easier!
On average, workers in the USA take 10 days paid holiday a year, while those in Germany enjoy up to 30. And it’s not just how much, but also when. Many businesses in Italy, for example, encourage their employees to take almost the entire month of August off, due to the high temperatures many cities reach.
Visa / work permit / travel documents
As part of your travel documentation, you’ll need to get your visa sorted as soon as possible. Many employees or recruitment agencies will actively help you out with this, but it’s something you need to keep in mind when you’re applying for overseas work – especially if you have past criminal convictions.
Also, is your passport up to date? Don’t leave it too late to renew. Turning up to the airport with a copy of your application form won’t go down too well with security.
It’s not just where you’re going to live that you need to think about – what are you going to do with your current property? Do you rent and plan on simply moving out, or do you own and want to keep your house?
Create a plan for what you want to do: both before you move and once you're there. This will help you plan long-term and decide whether this relocation is a permanent move or a temporary placement.
Possibly the biggest question you’ll need to ask yourself is ‘How will this affect my family?’ Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have any family members that are dependent on you?
Unlike taking a new job back home, you need to think carefully about how your family could cope with such a big upheaval. It’s best to get everyone on board before attending your first interview, rather than finding out after the job offer that you can’t take it.
Check you’ve completed all legal documents
When leaving, you should always get in touch with your local government. Websites such as www.gov.uk for Great Britain or www.usa.gov for the USA, for example, will help with moving abroad and ensure you don’t forget any legal issues. The last thing you want two months into your new job is a tax official chasing you down for non-payment!
There’s a lot to think about when considering working abroad, and it’s important not to take such a life-changing decision lightly. This list may not be exhaustive but should help you think about issues you may not have been aware of.
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