One of the best ways to improve your career prospects and broaden your life experience is to relocate abroad for work. Researchers often consider relocation early in their careers because it can offer more possibilities for academic positions beyond their home country.
Global organizations, including those in the software, engineering, oil, gas, healthcare, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical fields also recruit globally in search of the most suitable candidate. Here is a checklist of the top 10 things you need to consider if you are thinking about taking up a post abroad.
1. Lifestyle Changes
Moving abroad may involve numerous changes to your lifestyle. You need to reflect carefully on the difference in culture, language, climate, quality of life, and work ethic when you research a move. Even better would be to take several trips to further explore the location to ensure that your expectations and needs will be met. You should constantly ask yourself whether your quality of life would be compromised or improved by the move. If it is the former, are there some factors that may compensate for that, such as better remuneration.
Take an example of a young man that was considering moving from the UK to Dubai, UAE for a software position. He hadn’t given proper thought to the climate and had actually gone quite far with his application when he came to the realization that his aversion to hot weather would make it very difficult. In contrast, another young man realized that he would greatly benefit by relocating to Australia due to the opportunities for specialist sports and outdoor living, which are both very important to him. The secret is to do proper research in advance, so that you can know how the change is likely to affect you and your interests specifically.
2. Establishing a Social Network
Moving abroad almost always means losing your existing social network. You need to consider the possibility of building a new one when you look into a position. Are there regular social events organized by the new employer? Do you have any friends that currently reside in that area? Will you be living in an isolated or lively location?
Irrespective of the location that you move to, it is likely that you will have to be proactive for some time if you want to meet new friends. Find ways to meet like-minded individuals through leisure activities, courses, and events. It will take some time before you establish your new network.
3. Visa Considerations
You will be required to first obtain a visa or work permit if you want to work legally in many countries. Usually, you would require a firm job offer before you apply for the relevant visa. Employers can routinely apply for your visa on your behalf, but this requires clarification before accepting a position.
For instance, EU citizens currently don’t require a visa or work permit to work legally in any other European Union country. However, this is likely to change for citizens of the United Kingdom, depending on the terms agreed in negotiations for the exit of the UK (Brexit) from the Eu in 2019.
Several mobility incentives and specialized visas for skilled workers are provided for encouraging foreign candidates to help plug local skills shortages. Countries such as Canada and Australia also have a points-based system for visa qualification if you wish to settle permanently.
In the United States, researchers working in a technical field typically use a H1-B visa, which requires applicants to possess a higher degree and specialized knowledge. Shorter scholar exchange programs can be undertaken on a J-1 visa. Visit the US Visa pages on the State Department’s website for more information on criteria.
Refer to the relevant foreign embassy website for specific information about the country that you plan to relocate to. Other countries also require a passport that’s valid for a specific period after the date of entry, so check whether this applies to you.
4. Finance and the local cost of living
Once you have been offered a role, you need to be given a clear breakdown of what your salary and benefits will be. Make sure that you negotiate your salary in line with the local cost of living. Find out about the living costs, household costs, and the local rental property rental costs you will have to factor In.
Local bank accounts usually take time to set up and may require a physical visit. You will find numerous articles online about how expats moving to specific destinations can open bank accounts. Such articles also review the best ones, so ensure that you do your research in advance. Furthermore, you can use your future employer as a source of information.
5. Relocation and Associated Costs
Find out from your employer whether it is up to them to cover relocation costs. Find out what the budget is along with what’s included e.g. travel costs, international removals, purchasing white goods upon arrival, etc. You should also find out whether the employer can provide you with temporary accommodation once you move or refer you to a reputable agency that can. If the new employer is keen on getting you on board, they will be ready and willing to help you in the best way they can.
Find out the costs of furniture and other goods in the destination country. If you can buy them relatively cheaply at your new location, you should consider whether it warrants the shipping costs. Sell your goods at home and repurchase them upon arrival, if it makes sense financially.
6. Future Employer and Career Prospects
You also need to fully research your future employer before you relocate. Find out as much as possible about who you will be reporting to. Learn as much as possible about the person you will be reporting to. Have the people in their team progressed? What are the promotion options and do they live up to your expectations? Try to learn more about your employer’s work ethic and see whether or not it matches yours. Get in touch with other workers if possible, or ask to speak to a person performing a similar role in the organization for insights.
7. Selling or Renting an Existing Property
You will have to look into options for either selling or renting your existing property depending on whether the post that you are applying for is permanent or temporary. Expats usually choose renting, particularly if they plan to return in the future. It also has the added benefit of extra income. If you don’t have friends or family living close to the property, or they don’t wish to get involved in tenant matters, you can always use an agency to manage your rental.
However, don’t forget that this attracts extra costs.
For instance, agencies in the United Kingdom usually charge 12 to 15 percent of the rental income for property management. Extra costs include gas and electricity, inventory preparation, and any emergency work or call outs required during your absence.
If the move will be more permanent and you plan to buy in your new location, you should find a reliable agency to act on your behalf if you are unable to sell prior to going.
Get recommendations from other people that have sold in similar circumstances to find a communicative agency that gives you regular progress updates.
If you plan to be regularly visiting your home country to see family, consider the cost and ease of travel from the new location. How easy would it be to get back in case of an emergency?
If you will be relocating with a young family, you will need to look into options for local nursery, preschool, and schooling in general. What are the available options, the costs involved and how will your children integrate there? If it is a temporary post, consider options for international schools that would match up with the levels expected once you return home.
9. Tax Treaties
Some countries do have bilateral tax treaties in place for determining the rate at which non-residents will be taxed on their income, dividends, pension when relocating. It also helps avoid the problem of double taxation in your home country and abroad. The host nation may give you a period of exemption. If you stay beyond the exemption time, you will be liable for tax, and this may change your finances considerably.
Make sure that you find out the conditions of the tax treaty between your home country and the country where you plan to move if there’s one. For instance, the UK has over 100 such treaties with different countries. Residents are required to fill in form P85 to inform the HMRC (national tax organization), that they are moving. You should also inform the equivalent tax organization in your home country and find out whether or not you will still have to pay taxes in your country of origin. Working overseas can also affect your state tension, which is why you should clarify your pension status.
10. Researching the Destination
It is important to visit the country and precise location you are moving to - several times if possible prior to the move. Use your employer and network to gain insight into what day to day life is like. Which are the best neighborhoods to live in? How does it compare to your home country? What changes can you expect? What is the daily commute like? Look for expat articles to learn more about other people’s experiences and post in relevant forums in case you have any unanswered questions.
Relocating for work can be a very stressful process because of the numerous factors involved. However, with proper research, consulting fully with your employer, and using your family and network, it can bring exciting changes, enhance your life knowledge, and prove valuable with regards to your career.
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