Preparing for a Job Abroad
Working abroad, whether in your current career field or in something new and challenging, can open up career and life paths you’ve never dreamed of. Working and moving abroad may not be the impossible leap you think, but it does require planning, and not a few lists to check and double check before packing your bags.
Assuming you already have a job lined up, here’s what else you need to prepare before your move.
Visa and Other ID
A visa allows you to enter a country for a certain period of time. It can be a separate document or a stamp on your passport. While your passport is issued by the U.S. government, your visa will be issued by the country you are going to live and work in. This means you will most likely need to visit the country’s embassy or nearest consulate to complete the visa process.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair’s website provides valuable information about passport and visa requirements, vaccinations, and other requirements for visiting any country.
If you plan to drive a car abroad, be sure to also research the proper license requirements.
Securing your visa can require a lot of paperwork, and there’s more to come! You will want to have copies of all job references and statement of services from your current job and from your new employer, your birth certificate, social security card, degree certificates, driver’s license, bank statements, and health insurance cards with you when you move, as well as the originals stored safely in the U.S. in a safety deposit box or with a trust family member or friend.
You may need to present the originals of any of these documents while abroad, so do your research before bringing them or leaving them behind
Taxes, Currencies, & Savings
A safety net of savings built up before you move is a must. You’ll need money to pay for a deposit on rent, on a car, and any other start-up living expenses. Keep some of it in your credit union checking account (there may be surprise bills to pay even after you move!) and transfer some of it into a local bank where it can be converted into the local currency.
Figuring out what taxes to pay to the U.S. and the country you work in can be confusing! In addition to using a trusted tax software program or professional, you can use a service like taxback.com to make sure you haven’t overpaid on your taxes in either country.
Be sure you understand the benefits offered by your new job, your eligibility to receive them, and the process for receiving coverage like healthcare. Proper healthcare coverage should be at the top of your list to have sorted, documented, and understood. You can obtain international health insurance for expats from American healthcare companies or from a global health insurance plan. These can cover dental and vision plans. Look into medical evacuation options if you’ll be moving to an area with limited medical services. Ensure your plan includes coverage back home in the U.S. for when you return to visit.
Be sure to fully understand your job’s other benefits, like holidays and paid time off, sick leave, retirement savings, etc.
Build Connections Before You Arrive
Hopefully you’ll be in regular contact with your new employer before you arrive, and you’ll know at least some of the names of your new coworkers. But for the best and most welcoming experience, strive to make acquaintances outside of work and in the larger community. Websites like Meetup.com help facilitate just these kinds of connections.
You could also ask your employer for a mentor—someone to help you navigate a new work culture, help apply for and obtain any additional certifications you’ll need, help with culture shock or learning a new language, and maybe even invite you over for dinner!
Tie Up Loose Ends
Just like there are multiple steps to setting up a new life in a new country, there are several steps to pausing the one you have back in the States. You’ll need to decide if you’re selling or renting out your current home or condo. If you rent out your space, who will be your manager when tenants have questions or need something fixed? How will utilities be paid?
Also, will you sell your car or put it in storage? Cancel any subscriptions you won’t be able to access abroad.
Like any big life change, moving to live and work abroad can come with incredible benefits and opportunities for growth, if you plan ahead.