So You Want to be an Expat? How to Get a Job Abroad

At some point or another, almost everyone has fantasized about packing up and spending some time in another country. Maybe you’ve got the itch to live in a different climate, to try different foods or to become bilingual. Whatever the reason, if you’ve decided you’re ready to give things a try in another country, you likely have one major concern: employment. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s not easy to get a job abroad – it takes dedication, organization – and, whenever possible, some friends in high places.

Unlike taking up a new role somewhere within your home country, finding employment in another country requires dealing with foreign governments and a lot of red tape. For example, in many countries, there are policies in place which require employers to demonstrate why a selected foreigner is more qualified for the given position than anyone already in that country. Unless you’re extremely specialized in your field, this can be a tall order! Thankfully, there are a few other ways in which you can earn money in another country.



Freelancing can be a great segue into moving abroad because you’re already able to work wherever, whenever. More importantly, you have verifiable income, which depending on your country of interest, you’ll likely need to demonstrate in order to qualify for anything more than a tourist visa. However, certain things to keep in mind in this situation are increased overhead costs, as services like cellular and wireless internet are often more expensive and less readily available. Think you’ll just go cafe hopping like we do so often in the US? Think again.

Niche Opportunities

If you’re looking to relocate simply to gain travel experience, consider niche, short-term jobs that are typically accepting of internationals. These jobs won’t put a lot of cash in your pocket and normally max out between 12-24 months, but they give you the chance to see a bit of the world. Specifically, working as an au pair, house sitting or working as an ESL instructor are the most common types of jobs for expats to pursue. The most critical thing to remember about these situations is that you’re an independent contractor whose income and visa status rely on one employment situation. In other words, if anything goes awry with your employment contract, you’ll very quickly be on your way home at your own cost.

Global Companies

If you’re looking for something long-term, consider a US-based firm that has international satellite operations. There is often less red tape associated with transferring an existing employee abroad, and some large companies even encourage their employees take advantage of the opportunity to work abroad. There’s a good chance, however, that you’ll need to be proficient in the appropriate foreign language for your destination.


Living outside of your home country is an incredible experience that will not only broaden your personal horizons, but will also very likely make you more attractive to future employers.

Happy travels!

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