If you’ve seen friends and former colleagues making a life for themselves abroad and have wondered whether it’s something that would benefit your career then we’ve created a handy guide to help answer your questions. Click on the section titles below to read our guide on how you can make your own fresh start:
If you’re willing to temporarily relocate and sacrifice some of your home comforts, there could be a fantastic opportunity awaiting you abroad.
Why contract abroad?
A research study undertaken by William Maddux, an Associate Professor at INSEAD, discovered that working abroad could help you to think more complexly and creatively.
The study indicated that people with international experience were better problem solvers and displayed more creativity - finding that they were more likely to create new businesses and products or be promoted.
Working within different cultures, countries and work environments means you’ll often feel out of your comfort zone, providing opportunities to solve problems and develop your communication skills.
Arguably the greatest benefit for transferring your skills abroad will be a boost in your salary package – where your skills are in demand you should see a higher rate of pay offered, and in some overseas countries you can also earn your income tax free.
Expat networking community InterNations surveys its members each year to find the best places to work and live. In 2017 members rated Bahrain, Taiwan, New Zealand, Singapore, Portugal and Spain as some of the top 10 expat destinations.
Bahrain, Portugal, New Zealand, Philippines and Malaysia rated highly for ease of settling in, making them ideal places to consider for your first overseas role. If you’re thinking of relocating with family, expats think Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark and Thailand are the best top 5 locations for family life.
When asked which countries allowed them to earn the same or more money abroad, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain were the top 5 locations.
Whichever continent you fancy working on, sign up to job alerts with recruitment agencies to see which roles are being advertised and where your skills are in demand.
Why contract instead of going permanent?
Moving abroad is a big change so opting for a project based contract could let you test the water and see if the expat lifestyle is for you.
If you’re looking to travel alone, this project by project approach to working will allow you to experience different countries and cultures – and you’ll soon identify the places you feel most at home in.
Working in the UK is simple - we all understand our tax and national insurance obligations. Relocating to work overseas however means you’ll need to pay tax and other financial obligations which differ depending on which country you are in.
If you’re looking to work overseas though you will need to ensure you remain compliant, both in your assignment country and back home – but that doesn’t need to feel as daunting as it could be.
Visa and travel documentation
If you're looking to work outside the EU you'll most likely need a working visa. These visas will be sponsored by your employee or recruitment agency, and you’ll work in the country under their permission.
Depending on the length of the contract or time you’ll need to stay in the country you may need to keep on top of your visa time allowance and apply for extensions.
Every country is different – in some countries you won’t need to pay as much tax as you do in the UK. In some countries you won’t have to pay any at all, making a life overseas sound extremely appealing. As a worker within that country however you’ll need to be on top of your tax obligations, and ensure you remain compliant – failure to do so will incur financial fines or legal action.
A good international recruitment agency will be able to provide you with guidance and support for this however, so don’t let it put you off making the move.
Insuring for every eventuality
Although you’ve not even left yet, you’ll also need to consider how you’ll relocate back home at the end of your contract, or what you’d do if you needed to cut your time abroad short for emergency reasons.
Making sure you have sufficient insurance cover while you’re abroad for repatriation and travel will provide peace of mind that you’ll have the support if you need it.
Engage an agent for assignment support
If all this compliance seems complex, you can engage an agency to provide you with international assignment support. They’ll work on your behalf and liaise with local authorities to secure a visa and documentation, ensure tax compliance and all the necessary insurance you’ll need.
You’ve decided you want to benefit from the perks of an expat life – a warmer climate, great job opportunity and better salary package – you’re ready to make the move.
Now what? There will be many things you need to arrange, including:
• Health insurance cover - if you won’t have access to free healthcare in your country of work you’ll need to take out an extensive healthcare plan including how you’ll cover living expenses if you’re unable to work due to illness
• Banking – you might find it beneficial to open a bank account in your new country of residence to help with your monthly outgoings, or speak to your UK bank to see what options they have to support you overseas
• Accommodation – if you’re new to the country you may decide you’d rather look for temporary accommodation or a serviced apartment for the first few weeks while you familiarise yourself with the area and gain local insight on the best suburbs to look for a rental property
• The packing list – you’ll need to think about which items you’ll need to relocate and how you’d get these shipped overseas. Transporting good by sea can take several weeks, however it may be more cost effective to buy new when you arrive
Many recruitment agencies, including NRL, provide mobilisation services as part of their international assignment support. They’ll be able to provide you with travel plans, and provide temporary accommodation while you search for the right base for your time abroad.
It can be daunting arriving in a new country when you’re unfamiliar with it, so you can request that your international assignment support includes an in-country meet and greet. A local guide will meet you off the plane and take you to your accommodation. They’ll arrange a tour of the local area, ensuring you discover all the local amenities you’ll need to get settled in. If there’s any paperwork you need to complete with the local authorities or embassy they can accompany you to help with any language barriers.
First things to do when you arrive
1. Make sure you purchase a mobile phone - you might need to shop around, but you’ll often find it’s much more cost effective to use a local network provider than rely on your UK mobile phone contract.
2. Download a language app on your phone – if English isn’t the native language it’s best to start learning a few key phrases as soon as possible. It’ll help when you’re at the stores picking up supplies and make your first day at the new job a little easier.
3. Check the working week and public holidays – you may find your new country of residence works a little differently to the UK. Working weeks in some Muslim countries are Sunday to Thursday, and public and religious holidays will also differ to the UK.
4. Try and understand the local culture – in Australia a woman shaking a man’s hand should offer her hand first, but she shouldn’t shake the hand of another female. The custom is somewhat different in Japan however, where you’re expected to wait for an introduction as it’s considered impolite to introduce yourself. It’s important to read up on these traditions to ensure you don’t start off on the wrong foot.
5. Try the local cuisine – the best part of living in a new country is being able to try all the local delicacies. You’ll often find that the home comforts you enjoy in the UK need to be imported, making them expensive to purchase overseas – developing an appetite for the local delights can help reduce your monthly overheads.
NRL has worked with hundreds of contractors across the globe to ensure full taxation, visa and payroll compliance – supporting them to ensure they can enjoy their overseas contracts.
Make your fresh start
If you think working abroad could benefit your career, register your CV below to express interest in our overseas vacancy.