Ever wish that living and working overseas were the ‘norm’ and travelling to exotic places was a way of life?

For some, it is a lifestyle. As consistent and as normal as living and working in one’s own home country.

So why work overseas? Is it really better or just different? Does it truly expand your senses, your sense of being or does it make you lose your identity?

That largely depends on why you chose to move overseas, so let’s dig in and find out more.

The Overseas Lifestyle

I’ve lived and worked overseas for about 16 years now… and am still doing it. In my profession, (I’m a teacher) there is more work for me in an overseas country than in my own country. Compound that simple fact with a passion for multi-culturalism, travel and living with differences and you have a match made in heaven.

I have lived in South Korea, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Turkey and I am getting ready to make my next big move to Yangon, Myanmar. I lived in Brunei the longest time, for a total of 12 wonderful years. The minimum amount of time I stay in any country is usually 2 years which is enough time to really get to know the people and the culture.

My family is mostly excited for me that this is the way I live and work. My father is still very much against it and he thinks I should make a living at home in Canada where things are safe and secure. There is something to be said for living in your home country, especially as you get older, but I got the overseas bug 20 odd years ago and, for me, it is a lifestyle that is hard to break!

The Good the Bad and the Not so Ugly.

First off, living and working overseas is really only an option if you are in a profession that is transferable overseas.

Teachers, business people, doctors and any other health care professionals, finance people, salespeople, lawyers…there are loads of professions that can easily transfer overseas. To be eligible for a good job overseas you need to be highly qualified in your field and have loads of experience.

Most overseas jobs pay far better overseas than in your home country and there are always loads of perks such as free housing, health care cover, free education for children in private schools, bonuses to lure you to stay, sometimes tax-free salaries and all-round higher salaries with support for spouses who may join you and annual flights home.

I’ve met many families, singles, and couples who have taken the plunge and who have made working overseas their preferred lifestyle choice, and why not! Overseas, you often work and live in conditions better than what you would live and work in back home. Furthermore, you will have access to a whole new culture, way of life and many more travel options.

If you believe that life is all about living it fully and completely, then living and working overseas makes real sense.

When Reality Sets In

Ok so every new experience eventually settles and reality settles in.

After arriving in a new country there is much hype and energy flowing as you adapt to a new culture, new language, housing and your new job. There is so much to learn and adapt to and it can stress you out if you expect things to go a certain way.

If you are a person who likes routine and stable predictable circumstances then living overseas won’t be for you. You have to arrive in a new country completely open and flexible and with NO expectations. Things will not run the way they do ‘back’ home or as they did in your last posting.

In fact, things may not be at all familiar. You have to be willing to go with the flow and roll with the ups and downs. For example, you may not have a bank account for weeks maybe even months, your accommodation may not be up to scratch or it may be far better than what you had back home. Your job may change and you may be expected to do something you may not feel confident doing. In short, anything can change!

Things to Consider Before the Move

If you ever have a chance to work overseas and you have a spirit that welcomes adventure, then definitely consider it! Be sure that you have a solid contract though, and you are going to work for a reputable company. Talk to other employees who are currently working overseas and ask them honestly if they are happy and anything else you may be wondering.

Take your time to consider the decision to move overseas and consider everything from housing, to education for children, to benefits, health care, to career advancement, hours and days of work, salary, safety, retirement funding (if any?), host and base country taxes, freedom to move around and travel outside of work . Also if you own your house, you need to consider what you will do with it while you are overseas. Will you rent it or have it managed by a family member or a professional company? Also, what will you do with your possessions while you are away? You will likely not be able to take everything with you.

Be sure you have satisfied all your questions before you go. Nothing is worth the adventure if you have no support, get sick with no recourse, or lose your job when you arrive.

The Best Part of All

I have loved every minute of my overseas adventures and I truly thrive in foreign environments. There is so much contrast, new things to learn, situations that are unexpected and occurrences that can push you out of your comfort zone and make you rethink everything.

I love Canada but as a teacher, my prospects for employment are much better overseas than back in Canada where class sizes are much larger, salaries are lower, taxes are higher, and working conditions are generally harder. Furthermore, there is a lot of opportunity to travel and learn about new cultures and languages.

One thing I have to do myself is save for my own retirement. Canada doesn’t allow non-residents to pay into their Canada Pension Plan if they are working as a non-resident. This is something to consider if you a Canadian teacher about to work abroad.

The best part of living and working overseas is knowing that you are stepping outside of the box and experiencing life in a totally different way than you would normally experience it. You will learn lots, your senses will be overwhelmed, you will change your views on virtually everything and you will never take your home country for granted.

You will miss family, you won’t be part of major family get-togethers, you will have to be comfortable with being an outsider, you will feel sad and sometimes depressed, but you will feel that anywhere you go or live.

You can reinvent yourself overseas. Sometimes cultural ties make it difficult to step out boldly and live your life differently in your own country. Living overseas is like a breath of fresh air. No one knows you … yet. You can be the best version of yourself, you can start over, you can stay the same, you can learn new things. You can adapt to a fresh new outlook on life.

Best of all you will find your own peace. You will find yourself overseas. You will find your inner strength when you are surrounded by a world of ‘unfamiliar’ things.

So if you get the chance; embrace a job overseas! and live and learn in a whole new country and culture.

It will be the best education and experience you ever give yourself!

Please share you comments below if you are a professional working overseas or if you have any questions about moving overseas.

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2 thoughts on “Somewhere Between Here and There

  1. Very good blog and great information for people who like to have change in their life but who might have always been too scared. Not everyone can take the risk and move overseas.
    Knowing other cultures and living overseas teaches you lots about you and life.
    If anyone can do it shouldn’t waste time, start packing and move.

    1. Wonderful and thank you for your comments. yes moving overseas can be scary for some so I hope anyone considering it feels free to get more information and give it a go.

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