You’ve decided you want more than a once in a lifetime backpacking trip, or the annual 2-week holiday. You’ve decided you want the full cultural immersion experience and want to live and work abroad. Great! You’re in for a really special experience. So now it’s time to think. What options are available to you? If you work in a company, could you get a transfer to an overseas office? Are there positions being advertised in your desired destination that you could apply for? In research, as many positions are 2-year contracts anyway, it gives quite a good opportunity to experience life in different countries. If these options aren’t applicable to you, then fear not, below we present six different options to get you that dream job abroad.
Start by having a think. Ask yourself the following questions:
By answering some of these questions, it might help you decide where in the world you want to look for work and what kind of job you might want to apply for.
OK, so this position probably won’t pay you any money, but maybe you have the kind of job you could do remotely for a few months? Or maybe you have some savings and just need somewhere to stay for a while. House sitting lets you try life in a new country without having to pay accommodation. Quite often you’ll find bills will be covered as well, and you might even be offered the owners car to use during your stay. This position does mean you are responsible for the house and property whilst the owner is away though, and if something goes wrong it will be your responsibility to fix it. So far, we only have experience house sitting within the UK. We spent 2 months house sitting for a University professor. This was a complete luxury and allowed us to stay in a big house with a garden in rural England, something that would have been completely out of our budget if we had had to pay for it ourselves. Internationally, we have heard good things about trustedhousesitters.com and we’re keen to try it out one day ourselves.
If you are resident in Europe and aged 18 – 30 you could apply for the European Voluntary Service (EVS). These positions are mostly within Europe, but there are also opportunities in Africa, Asia and South America. These are positions for between 2 and 12 months and provide a great opportunity to gain experience in the field of your choice, have all travel, accommodation and food fully paid for, and they often provide cultural or language training. Through this scheme, you are fully supported and can receive help with what you need, be it travel insurance or opening up a bank account in your new country. Depending on the position, you may or may not need some knowledge of the local language. If you go for a long term EVS position, you will have to undertake two in-country training weekends. These are fully paid for and allow you to explore a new part of your adopted country and to meet like-minded people from all over Europe. I (Catherine) spent 10 months living amongst rice fields as a nature reserve warden in the Ebro Delta, Catalonia through this scheme, and attend training weekends in Murcia and Madrid. I got great work experience, improved my language skills and made friends from all over Europe and of course met my now husband Miquel!
This one is probably more for the geeky types like Miquel and I, but if there is a project you have always wanted to study or research, this could be your chance. The Leverhulme study abroad studentship allows 12 – 24 months advanced study or research anywhere in the world (except the USA). They provide flights, baggage allowance, £21,000 annual allowance and an additional £7,000 if you have an accompanying partner. To be eligible, you must have been resident in the UK for 5 years, have an undergraduate degree from a UK institution, and have been registered as a student at some point in the last 8 years. Unfortunately, I didn’t get pass the interview round for this one so don’t have too many details to share.
If you want to move abroad with your partner, the website Workingcouples.com might be of interest. There are often advertisements looking for couples to run a resort or ecolodge whilst the owners are out of the country. If you and your other half fancy waking up overlooking the ocean in Belize, or the cloud forests of Nicaragua, you may find your perfect position here. We were very close to getting a job running a small ecolodge on a Nicaraguan coffee farm through this website. However, it just came at the wrong time and we ended up accepting jobs in Japan instead.
Native English speakers have an advantage here, with English being the most sought-after language in many countries. But if English is not your native language but you have a good knowledge of the language, you should be able to find work too. By teaching English, you can choose where you want to go in the world, but we recommend researching well first to hear of other peoples experiences, working hours and rate of pay. A TEFL course is often a prerequisite for the well-paid positions – and let’s face it, if you are going to be a teacher, you want to be a GOOD teacher, right? Have a look on google, you’ll find many TEFL course options. To search for teaching positions, try Dave’s ESL cafe. It is also possible to find informal teaching jobs – I taught English to children part time for a year whilst studying for my Masters in Madrid. This basically meant going to the child’s house and playing games and singing songs. In summer it sometimes meant playing in the swimming pool. For this I was paid 10€ an hour, so it was a pretty nice part time job! This kind of informal position is dependent upon the country (ie. you couldn’t do this in Japan as you can only earn money from the form of employment allowed by your visa), and is often easier to set up when you are already in-country.
Another one that doesn’t pay, I know it’s not great. However, if you look hard enough, you will find positions that offer free accommodation and food, and some even provide a small stripend so you can explore your new country and not be out of pocket. After doing some research, we think Volunteer Latin America has a decent selection of options. They’re also an ethical company, guaranteeing low cost volunteering, and any money you do pay goes to the actual project instead of being taken out by middlemen. We have our eye on a project with them at the moment, managing a nature reserve in Ecuador.
So there you have it. Six options to work abroad and leave your normal life behind you. We hope this article has been of use to you. Let us know in the comments if you have any other advice you can add.