Ask an Expat: I Want to Live Abroad! How Do I Do It?

World Travel


A question that I often get, with slight variations of course, is: “I want to live/work/study abroad! How do I do it?”

This question is difficult to answer without more information, such as which country/countries the person is interested in moving to, what their work experience is, whether or not they want to stay in the same field, what their educational background is, whether they’re willing to switch careers/teach abroad/study abroad, etc.

To give folks a good starting point, here are ten (general) tips to help guide you on your path to living/working/studying abroad:

1. Do your research. Lots and lots of research. I can’t stress how important this is. Visa and work permit laws vary widely from country to country. For example, in the EU technically countries can’t hire non-EU folks unless they can prove that no EU person can do it. But how that’s applied in practice varies widely from country to country, it’s just a matter of looking at the country’s employment/immigration law. In addition to work permit laws, research the strength of economy, the unemployment rate, the job market for what you want to do, cost of living and how the ease or difficulty with which other expats managed to get jobs. It might not be the best idea to try and get work in a country that has 25% unemployment rate.

2. Narrow your search. Often I get emails asking me about moving to Europe. It’s a big continent, so I normally recommend really thinking about which countries you’re interested in and focusing in on them. Same goes for Asia, Africa, South America, etc.

3. Consider switching careers. I can only speak from my own experience, but in Europe they do a lot more around jobs in what you’re trained to do/have a degree in/have previous experience in. They don’t quite get the whole transferable skills thing that we do in the US. That being said, if you’re thinking of switching careers consider going abroad to do it. Which brings me to my next point…

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  1. Appreciate the recommendation. Lett me try it out.

  2. Ridicxulous quest there. What ooccurred after? Thanks!