Career, Travel

Live The Dream, Not The Nightmare, When Working Overseas

If you want to travel long-term, then working abroad is one of the easiest and most attainable ways of doing it. If you have some skills, even as basic as a good grasp of the English language, there could be opportunities across Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere to try life in another country and fund your stay while you’re there. Or you might be offered a more permanent position with a specific company. However, you manage to set it up, here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe and have the best possible chance of making it a dream trip, not a nightmare you’re glad to return from.

Photo by cegoh

Get an idea of who you’re working with

This is perhaps the most important step of al land can dictate whether your experience is the dream you’ve been anticipating or the nightmare you’ve been dreading. Finding a credible recruiter or a place of work is essential. It decides how much support you have during the move, whether you have pre-arranged accommodation and if there are other services you can benefit from. Crucially, you want to avoid those recruiters that avoid paying their recruits directly. It’s a good idea to check online on forums and review sites to get a feel for the reputation of a recruiter before you agree to work with any of them.

Save, save, and save

Through a recruiter, you might get many savings on travel, accommodation, living expenses, and other costs. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t save on the trip as much as you can. For one, there are expenses such as getting insurance and acquiring legal documents that can cost money. But you need to do research on average costs in the country, region, or city you’re moving to and figure out how much you need to save to keep yourself able to afford the most basic expenses for the duration of the trip. Don’t forget that you want to actually experience the country you’re staying in, and having a little extra money can help you pad out your itinerary more.

Cover yourself

Well in advance, while you’re saving, you need to take a look at what legal steps might be necessary for you to manage the move. Some recruiters and employers might make the step of acquiring international health insurance like mandatory. Otherwise, it’s still a necessary step. Then there’s all the paperwork that comes with the move as well. Have all your references and statement of services from your prior job at the ready to offer employers. Ensure you have all the documentation you need for the new position, including degree certificates, resumes, police checks, and so on. Then don’t forget what you need your visa, including the visa itself, bank statements, proof of residence, and so forth. If you’re missing even one piece of essential paperwork, it can delay your trip for weeks if not months.

Photo by 12019

Start looking at property early

If you’re not getting accommodation covered by an employer or recruiter, then you need to find your own. For that reason, it’s a good idea to start scanning the market in advance. To get a real idea of how much you can expect to pay, look at sites providing listings within the country, not just those aimed at foreigners. Sites like for Indonesian property give you a much better idea of how much you can expect to pay for rent alone. Just have a site translator and a currency calculator at the ready to help you figure out how much you’re paying and for what.

Know what to bring

If you have followed all the steps above, you should be much closer to the big move and now it’s time to start packing. The best way to do this is to pack with intent. For instance, if you’re working in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, or somewhere else in Southeast Asia, then guides like can give you a simple list to follow. Beyond your day-to-day essentials, you need to consider climate, access to clean water and any health risks like mosquitoes first and foremost. If there are any particular tourism activities you want to partake in, such as photography or scuba diving, then packing the right equipment is a secondary concern, but could save you money compared to buying it over there.

Anticipate the culture shock

The world is a diverse place and cultures are a lot more varied than most people expect. Even veteran travelers can be faced with a challenge when they go beyond just visiting a place and try their hand at living there. Avoiding culture shock is possible, however. Most importantly, keep your mind open and don’t assume that anything is set in stone. You might not have access to the same services and amenities common back home and you definitely won’t have access to the same products. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to get some idea of what to expect from others working in the same country, travel guides, and a preparatory stay over in the country in advance.

Photo by MasashiWakui

Build bridges over there

Loneliness can be another big factor that ruins the working abroad experience for many. Your work might introduce you to plenty of people and you may make some friends organically, but don’t rely on that potential alone. Build some connections before you make the move. If the recruiter or employer offers any way for their staff to get in touch with one another, such as forums, use them. Otherwise there are great sites like that act as social media platforms specifically for expatriates, travelers, and professionals abroad. A friend found in advance can act as a part-time travel guide, a sense of something familiar when everything else is new, and the company that so many travelers find themselves missing.


Working abroad can be a life-changing, eye-opening experience that you’re inclined to keep returning to. But it can also be a lonely, financially draining, and even dangerous experience if you don’t do it right. For that reason, keep the above tips in mind at all times.

Disclosure: This is a contributed post.


Candid Mama


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    December 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    […] you have managed to scrape the cash together in order to luxuriate for a full month or you are planning a new adventure working abroad, living like the locals will bring you new perspectives, new ideas, and new […]

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