07 Sep How To Prepare Yourself Before Working Abroad
Working overseas is exciting – and a little intimidating. There are lots of steps that need to be taken before you can board a flight and take on this new challenge. From packing your bag and deciding what to take, to getting your visas and passport in order, to saying goodbye to friends and family, getting ready to work abroad is an intense and emotional process. Many companies will help their new employees make the transition by providing relocation support. However, there are still a few things you need to do yourself to prepare to work overseas. These five tips are important to keep in mind before you head out to work abroad.
Find a low-cost way to transfer money home
Whether you’re supporting family back home or simply keeping a bank account open, it’s likely you’ll need to transfer money at some point. Hidden fees associated with transferring money across borders can add up quickly. Upfront fees are one thing: but up to 100% of the money that remittance companies make isn’t from that transfer fee companies tell you about. Instead, companies use exchange rates and other hidden expenses – somewhere between 2.5%-4% of your transfer total– to take more of your money. Find a low-cost solution, like SendFriend, to make sure the money you make stays in your pocket.
Know the terms and conditions of your visa
There are two key things to know about your visa and employee status. The first has to do with the terms and conditions of your working visa. Find out before you travel what restrictions there are in regards to your employment status. As one expat explains, “Remember that, depending on which type of work visa you have, you may have to return to your home country if you resign or are fired. You often cannot look for a job elsewhere after you arrive.” Depending on where you will be working, each type of working visa has different restrictions. Make sure you know what your restrictions are ahead of time!
Adjacent to learning about your visa status, take time to learn about your worker’s rights. Working abroad comes with specific challenges and cultural differences; sometimes it’s not clear what working conditions are normal, or what to expect from your employer. For example, in France, employees are covered by a Right to Disconnect Law, a regulation that stipulates that “most French professionals are not responsible for responding to emails that come in after hours.” Learn what you’re entitled to as an employee and what you should do if an employer oversteps their legal boundaries or if working conditions aren’t up to standard.
Research the work culture and customs
Logistics aside, one of the hardest parts of starting a new job overseas is the culture shock. Typical tourist customs – tipping, greetings, and other basic interactions – will only get you so far once you start your new job. For example, in India, arriving 15 minutes late is still considered “on time.” In Israel, offices are open Sunday through Thursday, and the standard workweek is 43 hours. Navigating the new work culture will bring on a learning curve completely separate from the rest of your daily life. Give yourself the advantage of researching what your new country’s work style is before you arrive.
Save money for emergencies
It’s difficult to estimate how much money you need to budget for your new standard of living. As a result, most experts recommend saving a rainy day fund for emergencies. Many people work abroad to be able to support their families, but it’s also important to make sure you’re setting aside some funds for yourself in case you need to get home for an emergency or have another big unexpected expense. Save up a nest egg before you travel. The amount you need depends on factors such as your destination, lifestyle, and new income – but generally speaking, you should have at least two months of living expenses for your new country. This gives you a cushion in case you don’t get paid right away or need to cover deposits for accommodation or other big costs.
Get health insurance
Health insurance regulations vary from country to country, but it’s a good idea to find out what coverage is provided by your employer and what costs you might encounter. Find out if there’s any coverage requirement mandated by your federal government (and if you’re going to be penalized on your taxes for not having health care). “Some countries require foreign residents to be able to fund their own health care, even if the country has socialized medicine for its own citizens,” writes one expert from Travel + Leisure. Likewise, find out if your prescription medications are permitted and easily accessible in your new country. If not, make sure to bring an extra supply with you!
Find your community
One way to ease into your new life? Find others working abroad from your home country. They can help you navigate the transition, having done it themselves. Start building a community for yourself by connecting with your coworkers or using Meetup and Facebook to find workshops, happy hours, volunteer opportunities, and more. Make it a priority to show up to something each week to build your network and start to put down roots in your new home away from home.