What to consider when working overseas
My name is Megan and I’m the cliché British backpacker on her working holiday visa.
I moved to Sydney in February for a job opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I started working as an SEO Specialist for Employment Hero over a month ago and I am loving the learning experience that comes with working overseas.
For anyone thinking of taking the leap and going to work overseas after graduating, whether that’s for a year or a lifetime, there are definitely a few things you need to consider before you start booking your flights
Understand Your Visa Conditions
It’s pretty straight forward… make sure you can actually work in the country you want to work in. And know exactly what visa type you’ll need to do that.
For example, when I moved to Australia I applied for my Working Holiday Visa (417). This visa allows me to work, but after six months I have to change employer. This is a restriction that I need to make any potential employers aware of, so that there are no hidden surprises six months down the line.
Will There be a Language Barrier?
The second key factor to think about is if there will be a language barrier in your chosen country.
Even between two English speaking countries, I’ve found there’s a soft barrier with slang terms and references that I don’t understand. But this is obviously a lot easier to overcome than a complete language block.
If you are willing to learn a completely new language, then go ahead and download Duolingo, or take up some language classes. If not, you might need to reconsider your options.
Salary and the Cost of Living
Before uprooting your life to another country, it’s good to get a basic understanding of whether it will be worth it.
Research the salary expectations around your job type and see whether it’s liveable.
For example, Sydney definitely pays more than London. My pay has increased by 30% since moving to Australia, but the cost of living is generally more expensive.
If we are going by the price of a pint (because what other measurement of money is there?) then that’ll only set you back on average £4 ($7) in the UK. A pint in Sydney will easily cost you $10.
Despite this, I’m still able to save a fair amount each month of what I earn in Sydney. This is ideal as I’m on a working holiday visa so it means I can save up enough to travel around after my work contract is up.Hopefully I’ll also have a small nest egg to take back to England with me when my visa is finished..
It’s worth trying to get a good understanding of what the working culture is like in your chosen country.
An easy way to find this out is through people you may know, whether that’s friends, family or former colleagues. Ask around and see if it sounds appealing to how you want to live your life.
It’s also good to note what the average working hours are within your industry, as well as what days of the week you will be asked to work.
In my case, I’ve found the hours are the same in Sydney. It’s the classic 9-5, Monday-Friday lifestyle I am used to at home. Yet, Sydney seems much more relaxed on time management, taking time off, working from home and sick days. There’s a much better work-life balance in Sydney which I love.
Glassdoor has written this great piece on 10 Ways Workplace Culture Differs Around the World which is a good eye-opener to how much things may vary from country to country, and give you an idea of what to consider.
Another major factor is the commute options in your new country. Every country around the world has their own popular form of transportation. So, make sure you have a rough idea of what your commute mode and time would be if you moved countries to work overseas.
For example, Amsterdam has 1 million bikes for a population of 1.1 million people. So it’s safe to say that most people commute to work by bike. Consequently, if you have a hat-hair phobia or still need stabilisers to stay upright on a bicycle then this might not be the place for you.
I’ve found that as efficient as the London underground can be (well, sometimes), our commute is a miserable morning slog compared to Sydney. Imagine standing on a stuffy, sweaty underground district line train with your face in someone’s armpit.
Now compare that to being able to catch a quick ferry across the ocean to work, on a sunny, blue-skied day. I know what I’m voting for.
Make sure you look through all your options and find something that fits your ideal lifestyle.
The Wrap Up
Working overseas has been one of the best experiences for me, both in my personal life and for my career. It’s made me realise similarities across business cultures and given me tips I can take back to England with me.
If anyone is on the fence about moving and working overseas, no matter how long the length of time, I would say do it!
Just make sure you’ve done your research first…
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash