With the UK experiencing a record cold snap, the idea of moving country to escape from the weather certainly has an appeal, that being the case, what are the implications for working abroad for a period?
Working in a different country and culture requires you to adapt your style of communication, for example, in the US, business meetings are typically very brusque, there is an emphasis of getting to the point which can be quite jarring for those not familiar to it. Similarly working in a country where English is not the native language will result in you changing the language you use. For example, take a simple cricket phrase “playing with a straight bat.” Now in the UK and most Commonwealth countries, one could come out of a meeting and state the other person was playing with a straight bat and peers would understand the point. Go to a country where cricket is not played and people will look blankly at you. As a thought experiment, think about in a typical day how many cultural metaphors and similes you use. How many of those would be understandable outside the UK?
Culturally the country you are in may have different values, where there may be a desire to express why the values of your country are better, especially after hours. Resist the urge as it will have a polarising reaction. Whilst certain people may agree with you, others may find it patronising or insulting, not the impression you want to make when you are in another country as a guest!
Depending on the country you move to, it is a golden opportunity to then throw yourself into learning a new language. For example, if you learned Spanish at school but forgot most of it, working for a few years in Latin America where as part of it you become fluent can give you a big fantastic life skill you otherwise would not develop. Similarly the nature of the ex-pat society is such that people you mingle with socially will be very different from your peer group back home. You may well end up in an expat bar with the General Manager of an Investment Bank, Country Manager of an Oil Company along with a local Entrepreneur and someone who just arrived who has no idea what they are doing! That exposure may well in turn give you a network that would be significantly harder to obtain if staying in the traditional career path.
Another benefit to reflect on is the advantage of being based in a low tax economy for a period. For example, work a spell in Dubai where there is no income tax and after two years, you could easily have saved sufficient funds to pay for a decent deposit on a property back home without having compromised your lifestyle. Someone I know just returned from Abu Dhabi where the savings they made from their stint there enabled them to buy a one bedroom apartment in full back home.
Factor that distance to home will play a major part. Being based in Continental Europe where low cost airlines make it feasible to visit for a weekend for family events is quite different to a intercontinental move to say North America or Asia/Pac where it may not be possible to visit home any more than once or twice a year.
If you are thinking about relocation and see it a permanent change, make sure to examine the process of obtaining permanent residency and citizenship in the event you end up settling there. For example, there are certain countries where no matter how long you live there, even if you marry a local, you may not be able to obtain citizenship. In Singapore famously, men would be required to do military service in order to gain citizenship as well as relinquish their other passport.
Finally, if you are thinking of moving country, get the job first and let the hiring company worry about sponsoring your visa. Also if you end up moving for a smaller business, employ relocation experts to help with everything from opening bank accounts, getting a local mobile contract, sorting an apartment etc. You may think you can do it yourself, but trust me, if you are moving country the first two weeks are going to be so hectic you will appreciate the extra support.
Over the last ten years Vacancysoft has worked with recruitment firms of all sizes to help them map out market activity in order to identify changes in demand. For more information about how we can help, please contact us.