If you are seriously considering moving abroad, you’ve probably already gotten a taste of life in a foreign country through holidays or know of someone who has already made the move. If you are reading this, you’ve probably realised you can adapt to life abroad quite well and are excited to make an even longer-term commitment as an expat. No matter if you’re a new graduate and no matter your educational background or financial standing, working abroad for a while (or forever) can be a wise and adventurous move.
The benefits of moving abroad for work span professional, personal, financial, developmental and growth. The main reason for working abroad is much the same. You’ll want to make sure you are properly prepared in order to get the most out of it and set objectives as to what you want to achieve, otherwise in the future you’ll always wonder why you’ve made that step. The good news is that you don’t need to be rich to reach your ambition. Here’s how to move abroad with no money.
10 steps to move overseas with no money
There are many steps you can take before setting foot on the jetway to ensure this will be a win-win for both you and your awesome new place of employment.
1. Get on board with finding work abroad
Are you ready to work overseas? Are you mentally prepared to let go of your home comforts, culture, support system, etc. for an extended period? Take the time to work out what the personal advantages and disadvantages of working abroad will be.
For some, the career, cultural, and personal benefits outweigh the challenges you’ll face living as a foreigner abroad. For others, they don’t. If you can’t bear to think about missing your families birthday parties, first soccer practice, or the first day at school…you may need to step back and ask yourself where you are going to be happier, because it can get lonely abroad.
But, if Skype is your best friend for staying in touch, you are beyond excited for the possibilities moving abroad can bring, and you’re ready to put in that extra effort transitioning to a new culture, it’s time to stop thinking about it and get into action!
2. Find the right location and job that suites your needs.
There’s no one-size-fits-all process for moving abroad for work. You could just be out of college and want some international experience to kick-start your career, or you could be an experienced healthcare professional who needs a break into a new clinical discipline.
No matter your reason for moving to a foreign country, make sure you know what kind of environment and expectations you are getting yourself into. Recruitment agency scams do exist, and the last thing you want to be show up in another country for a year just to have to come right back home or paid a lot of money to find the employer doesn’t even exist.
So, how do you find the right overseas job? research, network, and put yourself out there! Nurses may have an easier time getting a job in the United Kingdom and Middle-East, while Australia and Canada is a good location for Doctors. Narrow your job search by best locations for your field, occupation, health sector and preferred clinical discipline and contractual type of the job. Read reviews of the employers or recruitment agents and compare staffing benefits and pay. Use our location explore page to help you.
Life moves fast working abroad, so you’ll need to figure out the logistics of moving to a foreign country pretty quickly.
You got your offer letter/s and now reality sets in. You can ACTUALLY move abroad with no money to work! Do you take it? Once you have identified and shortlisting opportunities, apply for all of them. Employers and recruitment agents can take several months to progress your application to interview, let alone your visa. Keep your options open and only decide once you have the offer of employment in your hands. Only then should you make your decision. Ensure you inform the all other employers or agents you don’t want to be blacklisted or make a bad name for yourself in case you need to go back to them in the future.
Take a look at where you stand: you’ve already gone over the advantages and disadvantages of working abroad and moving to a foreign country, you’ve done your research, you found a reputable recruitment agency or employer that takes you where you want to go – is there still something holding you back? If it’s only fear, let go of that fast! Fear comes along with any big decision, so don’t let it interfere with the pursuit of your dreams. If all signs are moving you forward, make the decision and don’t look back.
In moving forward, it’s time to make sure you have all the pre-departure information you need. Ask the employer or agency to provide any resources they can (visa, accommodation, etc.) to make the next steps smoother for you. Your work isn’t over yet!
It’s your choice if you take this step before or after you make your ultimate decision to work abroad. Sometimes it’s the support of loved ones that makes it even easier to make the move, and sometimes it’s their fears and doubts that distort our own thoughts about it. The most important thing is the decision you want to make, and at some point you have to tell those around you. It always feels good to hear instant excitement and confidence about the change you are about to make. Maybe those are the people you tell first. When it’s time to tell those who may be more shocked or worried, plan it around a convenient time and proper setting. Posting the news that you’ll be moving to the Middle-East on Facebook for your Mum to stumble upon probably isn’t the best way to go about it.
If you’re using a recruitment agency or going directly to an employer, they may claim to pay for all the visa arrangements. When it comes in getting your passport stamped, you’ll most likely need to go to the appropriate embassy, which may include paying a fee. Before you hand over hundreds of dollars, ensure you investigate if and how the agency or employer will pay or refund those costs. On many occasions they will pay everything directly online to the necessary embassy, however on occasions, they may ask you to pay and that you’ll gain a refund upon your arrival. If this is the case, ensure this promise of a refund is written within the offer letter and employment contract.
Ensure you understand the visa your obtaining, the length allowing you to work, any restrictions of work, if the visa is transferable to another employer and any rules on the completion of the visa. Some short term working visa’s allows you to visit for two years, however restricts you from working for one year. Some employer sponsor visas only allow you to work for that employer, however your limited in the hours to can work. It is quite normal that many visa do not allow you to undertake additional shifts and overtime. Find out the process in extending your visa and when this should be done. Be aware of any salary thresholds you must achieve to be able to gain a new visa. The visa process varies per country and per visa type as well. Check with a local embassy to find out exactly what documentation is required. Typically, a work visa takes a bit longer to obtain. Give yourself at least a month or two to avoid last minute anxiety.
It is very ill-advised to travel on a visa that does not allow you to work. Some agents may encourage you to travel as a tourist and gain cash ‘under the table’. Regardless of what is being promised, it is illegal, it may affect your professional registration and the ability to travel to that country again.
6. Finding accommodation
Most employers and agents will have accommodation opportunities or options. Read the small print and make sure you understand what your getting yourself into. Some employers may offer the first month free, however pay over the market rate following that term.
Due to the nursing shortages in the United Kingdom, many hospitals are fortunate to free accommodation for up to three months in their old nursing student dorms. Make sure you understand what is included, will you have to pay the utility bills, how far away is the hospital from the accommodation and do you have to give notice before leaving. These questions will prevent any surprises.
If you must find your own accommodation, start networking with people who have already travelled to the same location. They maybe happy to accommodate you for a period, know of someone who has a spear room or give you inside information. You could connect with employees already working for the same employer by using Linked-in or Facebook. They have the inside knowledge about your new city or town to find the best options for housing. Often there are Facebook groups or websites specifically designed to find roommates or rent flats in the city you are moving to. You may also find a community of people from your home country that will help you navigate the housing scene.
Don’t worry if you aren’t able to lockdown a place to live before moving abroad, either. Temporarily living in an Airbnb, hostel, hotel, or even with a colleagues family while you search for something more permanent is common and works just as well.
There will be things you might take for granted back home that are going to seem like heaven in a bottle when you are working abroad. For instance, do you have free public health insurance in your chosen country? Depending on your new job abroad, you will either need to buy travel health insurance or ensure you are covered through your employer.
Health insurance isn’t the only thing to consider. You may need to apply for an international driver’s license or figure out how to open a bank account abroad. If you take prescription medication or wear contacts, you’ll need to know how you can obtain them in your new country. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just think about the major needs you have now that you’ll still need abroad and start asking your employer and agency these questions.
7. Prepare yourself financially.
Now, we know you’re a little low on cash, but the reality is—any move comes with costs. Yours will also come with plane tickets. Create a budget and some savings goals and get to it. Ensures you fully understand the costs, who will pay for what and when.
The easiest way to make some money is by selling your stuff! Have a Boot sale, post on Ebay, tell your friend that wall art she always admired is up for grabs (for a price…sorry, friend). There will be a lot that you don’t need while you are gone and probably won’t even need when you return.
Other, less fun, but useful methods include cooking at home more often, choosing house parties over bars, giving up Whole Foods, and, if the situation allows, moving in with family before you leave. Set yourself up to be able to experience all that life abroad has to offer – without going into debt. Ensure you travel with at least one month salary relevant to the country you’re travelling.
8. Prepare yourself culturally
This is a vital step for success in moving to a foreign country. Research your host country to find out what life is like for locals and tourists. What is socially acceptable and what is not? What are the major social issues and crime-related problems? How are local politics run? Understanding the community, you will be calling home will better enable you to transition, adapt, and add to local life, rather than take away from it. This is also just as important for the workplace environment. Work and business culture are not the same across the globe.
9. Prepare yourself mentally
Just because you’ve weighed the pros and cons of working overseas doesn’t mean you’ve considered all the effects of moving to another country. Waking up daily to unfamiliar faces, getting lost on unfamiliar streets, and communicating through an unfamiliar language can take a toll on you.
Knowing that hardships, loneliness, and bad days are bound to happen will help you not be so overwhelmed when they do hit. Keep in mind the people you can turn to when life gets hard, create a list of reasons why you made this decision and be ready to be your own best advocate and friend.
10. The most important step: Give yourself space and time
You aren’t just going on a two week holiday; you are moving abroad for work! It doesn’t matter if it takes three months or one year from the time you start looking to the time you get on the plane. Working abroad like a champ takes proper research and preparation—it takes proper time and plenty of tips for moving abroad to have in your back pocket.
Don’t be discouraged! The benefits you’ll find as you step into your new role, make new friends, adapt to the culture, and excel in expat living will make all this well-spent time worth it. Don’t be surprised if your employer abroad never wants you to return home!
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