Photo By Milena Parobczy

Photo by Julie Ann Link

Moving to a foreign country is an exciting time, but it’s important to make the proper preparations to provide the most beneficial, growth focused, and fulfilling experience possible.  It’s one thing to vacation in a different country, but it requires a thoughtful and planned approach when looking to reside in another country long term.  Here are 10 tips on how to make a successful career in a foreign country. 

What is the first tip to make a career in a foreign country?

1. Plan

Shifting to another country isn’t always the easiest option, but motivation for a challenge, a new environment, and an opportunity for personal growth may be important to you at this particular time.  Start planning for your move as soon as possible.  Having a game plan sooner than later is a great way to begin your journey with confidence. 

Start by making a timeline for yourself. 

Is your passport up to date?  Make a note of when you’ll need to renew this.  It will take months to mail it away and for it to be returned back to you.  You don’t want to be caught needing to travel abroad and unable to do so without a passport.  What kind of visa do you need to enter the country?  Do you need a specific kind of visa for the work that you are specialized?  How long will it take for you to apply and receive the results of your visa application?  Documenting important dates like passport renewal and visa applications are vital to your ability to live abroad.  Are you even legally allowed to work or be hired long term as a foreigner in the country you’re planning to move?  Can you set up work interviews right after your arrival?  Keeping track of these details will keep you focused and on track to achieving a successful abroad experience.

What is your current financial situation like?  How long will your savings last?  Does the foreign country offer a work exchange program for free accommodation and food?  Write down a specific date on your timeline of when you’ll absolutely need confirmed financial security.  What’s your budget?  Do you know how much you can pay yourself each week until you find other income?  Where are you going to live when you arrive?  Do you need to book accommodation for a few weeks while you look for a more permanent living option?  Make sure to fill out tenancy applications as soon as possible, if needed.  Contacting agencies by providing a little information about yourself and your estimated rental date requirements are a great way to start planning for living abroad.  Confirming these logistical obstacles will provide you more energy for focus on work, travel, and new social groups.  Knowledge and understanding of visa requirements, travel restrictions, and industry parallels and differences from your homeland country to where you’d like to establish yourself is important. 

Writing down these necessary questions and creating a timeline will provide a visual way to check in with yourself to make sure you’re achieving your travel goals. 

What is the second way to build a career in a foreign country?

2. Network

Make the most of your immediate contacts to help you get in touch with someone already living in the foreign country that you’d like to move to.  Let your friends, family, and current co-workers know your future foreign country career plans to utilize local connections for potential networking abroad.  By sharing your upcoming intentions, you may discover that a friend of a friend of a friend is already living in the country that you can get in touch with.  Can you schedule a Skype chat or a Whats App video to inquire about their time living in the country?  Would this acquaintance be interested to exchange a few emails to answer some questions about their experience?  Any kind of foot in the door really helps. 

Share a post on your social media to see if anyone can put you in touch with someone they know, and mention that any referrals would be much appreciated.  Reach out to universities and professors in the foreign country.  People will have no idea who you are, and it’s your job to network, market, and promote yourself to create your own reality.

It’s okay to ask for help, and make the most out of your already established network of contacts to improve your chance to make a career in a foreign country.

What is the third tip to make a successful career in a foreign country?

3. Keep an Open Mind

When moving to a foreign country to establish yourself, it’s important to keep an open mind.  Sometimes opportunities arise that you could never have imagined.  You may end up doing a totally different profession than you initially planned.  You may end up leaving the country early due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Maintain an optimistic approach, and an open mind leads to endless opportunity. 

What is the fourth tip to build a career in a foreign country?

4. Volunteer

To get settled in a foreign country, you need to start somewhere, and giving back is a wonderful way to jump in.

If you enjoy attending concerts, volunteer at the local town hall for community events.  Have you always wanted to learn how to grow your own food?  Research city gardens to help out a few times a week.  Is there a particular cause that you’re really passionate about?  Look up events around this interest to provide assistance and support to the local community.

The chance to connect with locals is a wonderful way to build relationships and begin your journey in creating a wholesome experience in a foreign country.   

What is the fifth tip to build a career abroad?

5. Pursue Interests

You’re in a foreign country looking to make connections, and it’s vital to have a social life.  By pursuing hobbies and social groups that you’re interested in, you’ll expand your network of people in another country.  

Are you into playing basketball?  Join the community gym to play casual sport games on a Tuesday night.  Have you heard of language meet up groups?  This is a great way to practice a foreign language in an informal setting and make new contacts too. 

Joining clubs that interest you will expand your friend group, and new friends will lead you to the discovery of other recreation and a deeper understanding of the culture and people.

What is the sixth way to make a career in another country?

6. Be Humble

Assimilating and connecting in a foreign country is a daily effort.  You will spend a significant amount of time finding your individual anchoring starting over in another country.  Luckily you are up for this challenge.  You live for the opportunity to grow and to get to know yourself better, and remember that you are continuously evolving from each experience and interaction.

What is the seventh tip to establish a career abroad?

7. Know Your “Why

Throughout your planning and networking process, make sure to take time to reflect on your true motivations for pursuing a career in a foreign country. 

Are you in search of thrill and adventure through travel?  Are you wanting to improve your language skills?  Are you wanting to grow professionally, and this country is one of the best in the world to work in for your industry?  Are you escaping something?

Everyone, including friends, family, colleagues, and people in the foreign country, will ask you why you moved.  For your own mental health, it’s important to understand and know this answer. 

It’s good to be aware of your “why” because it will also help you to appreciate what you already have.  It’s okay to want to pursue a different environment, grow your career, and have new experiences, but 5 years from now, it’s okay to miss family, local food, and your own native country. 

Trust your decision to grow your mind and soul through the challenges of starting over and making a career in a foreign country, and know that you will change and evolve over time through these experiences too. 

What is the eighth way to make a career in a foreign country?

8. Explore the Country

Traveling helps you to understand the country’s culture, the people, the cuisine, and it will expose you to new activities you may never have done or dreamed of before.  These activities will broaden your perspective and understanding about life which will strengthen your experience in another country.

What is the ninth tip to make a career in another country?

9. Talk Retirement

Many countries have created unique pensions, retirement plans, and savings opportunities for citizens and residents.  Before accepting a job position, find out the savings and retirement options of the foreign country to open an account. 

Sometimes there are free rebates for opening certain accounts at specific times of the year, and doing this sooner than later is better.  Don’t miss out on any chance to plan for your retirement in another country. 

What is the tenth tip to make a successful career abroad?

10. Missing Home is Okay

When you first move to a foreign country, everything is new and exciting.  Little things like going on a walk with your sisters, popping over to see your grandma for some pie, and catching up with your high school friend will be replaced with adventures, exciting foods, and new friend circles.   After a few years of getting settled, the little things will be big things.  You’ll miss your family; you’ll miss your country’s food; you’ll miss the hot weather; you’ll miss almost everything about home. 

Remember your “why”.  Remember how much you’ve grown living in a new environment.  Remember how the challenges have made you into a more resilient human.  Remember that home is just a flight away.  Remember that nothing is permanent, and you have choice. If it gets too unbearable, you know in your heart that you can do anything after establishing yourself in a foreign country.  You know that you make your own reality, and you pursue and accomplish anything you set your heart out to do.  Remember gratitude for the opportunity to grow and evolve personally and professionally in another country, and remember that it’s okay to miss home.