Working Abroad: How To Do It And Mistakes To Avoid

Whether you’re looking for seasonal work or a career move, working abroad opens up the world to you, but there are some things you need to know before making any rookie mistakes!

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Looking for jobs abroad seemed like an impossible task before we set out on our adventures. At first, we took on seasonal work in hospitality management as this was our background and then au pairing and farm maintenance.

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Working and traveling might be your new calling!

Now we work as ESL teachers and will continue to use this to travel the world albeit slowly.

Here are top tips on what to look out for and what to research (this word will become your best friend).

Visa Requirements

This might seem blindingly obvious, but you really do have to check the different requirements for each country and the process they use. For example, we live in Slovakia now, we thought being EU citizens we had the right to work and live here and then it was just sorting out tax.

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The journey to Slovakia

To live in Slovakia longer than three months you need to visit the foreign police and register with them (bring a Slovak speaker if you can). As a teacher you also need a teaching license which your school should help you secure. Your landlord also needs to sign off your apartment as a business because you are classified as freelance.

Every country has its own process that is sometimes quite laborious. Most work places should help you settle in your new country and explain the visa process before you make the move.

There will be a lot of research needed. Its always best to start with the official government immigration website of the country you intend to work in. You may be able to apply electronically, and you may need a travel visa to cover your arrival. You may also have to pay something towards a visa so be prepared.

Giving money to potential employers

There have been occasions where we have paid money to potential employers. Mostly this was towards uniform and flight costs to a British company operating in France. These kinds of costs are something to be expected. Another is you paying for your flights to a country and then being reimbursed by your new employer.

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First days on the job in France

The first thing we do is run a background check on any new employer whether it’s a company or a school. We use Glassdoor and look at reviews from ex or current employees, their social media channels and you will most likely have had an in person or Skype interview.

We have rejected teaching jobs based on horrible reviews online and even after asking on Facebook expat pages what people’s experiences with a certain school have been like. Once you know they are legitimate then you have a better idea on whether to trust them.

Things you might be asked to pay for are uniform, flights, a deposit on work provided accommodation or health insurance. Always question why you must pay for something, do your research and make an informed decision.

Social Etiquette and Different Work Cultures

Once you know the process and the logistics of moving to a new country and you can vouch for your new employer then the next thing to research is the culture of the place you’re moving to.

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Culture.

Learning some words of a new language is always helpful to get you started but it’s important to look deeper than that. What behaviours are frowned upon, and what is the specific work culture of your new country?

In Continental Europe it might be less of a handshake and two kisses on the cheeks when you first meet someone, the working hours will be different and perhaps your new workplace is a little more laid back or vice versa.

The same goes for respecting a country’s religion. In Italy and Slovakia, they are predominantly Catholic countries so on public holidays the shops will be shut and there will be nothing to do, so you better have enough food in.

There are all kinds of small cultural differences that you’ll learn along the way but it’s always good to research what you can before you land in your new home.

Accommodation

Finding yourself accommodation when you’re not in country is one of the most stressful things. We have mostly worked in jobs that came with a flat or room and our move to Slovakia was the first time we had to look for our own place.

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On the look out!

The school in Slovakia had an accommodation officer who provided us with the right websites to look at and we researched how much it took to guarantee a flat. It was one month’s rent, a deposit and agency fees (in total this cost us the equivalent of three months rent upfront).

Firstly, that was more than we expected so we had to spend more money. Secondly, we were finding flats but not being there to view them meant that we were losing them. As a solution the school’s accommodation officer said she could go along for us.

What we eventually did was waited. We stayed in temporary accommodation and viewed some flats which we found through local websites. We will say that housing groups and expat groups on Facebook was another useful tool, especially if you’re looking for a room in a shared flat.

Our advice is that if your job doesn’t already come with accommodation then wait, get in country and stay in a hostel or wherever you can and hunt. It took us ten days roughly to find a flat and we had been trying for weeks before we got there to secure something.

Please also check the small print before signing any contracts on a new place and make sure the rent is what it says it will be and there are no surprises when it comes to bills etc. Check everything works, take photos of how the flat looked before your stuff is in there, so you have proof when it comes to getting your deposit back and ensure you’re happy with the arrangement.

Saving Money

One major thing to think about is how much is it going to cost for me to make this move happen?

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Explore your surroundings!

Always save more than you budget for in case of any surprises such as having to pay an extra fee somewhere. Remember you might have everything paid off, but you also need to feed and clothe yourself for the first month or so before the first pay check comes in!

One more thing about money is that when you’re in a new country you should factor in the living cost. You’re pay might mean you have more of a disposable income that you do in your home country.

We see living abroad as a way to travel and see new places so while we have downtime when we’ve got less money to play with, we still spend our savings on trips and experiences because why else move across the world. You’re there to educate yourself and embrace a new culture so don’t worry too much about money.

Our agenda here right now is to save some money and continue to explore our surroundings before moving on the next country. Whatever you want out of moving abroad make sure you allow yourself some slack and enjoy it. We see our move as something that will give us a fulfilling career and when we return home our collective experiences will be so much more valuable to potential employers.

Useful Websites

Passport Index (Visa information)

GoAbroad (Jobs and advice)

Work a Season (Seasonal jobs with accommodation)

Au Pair World (Au Pair jobs with accommodation)

Glass Door (Review companies and look for jobs)

Dave’s ESL Jobs (English teacher jobs)

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