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How to work abroad: A guide to landing your dream job overseas

Whether you’re dreaming about greener pastures or looking for an exciting new challenge, find out exactly how to work abroad and start your next adventure.

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Sun, sand and…Slack messages? More often than not, even the mere mention of working abroad leads to comments about endless sunny days, a slower pace of life and famous cuisines. While that may be true for some, working abroad is so much more than just a sunny escape. 

As the world changes, so does the way we work. Oftentimes, we think of career development in terms of building skills and consistently progressing in our fields – and what better way to accelerate our progress than with a move abroad? In this article, we’ll explore the why’s, what’s and how’s of working abroad, so you don’t have to. 

Why work abroad?

Great question. Maybe you’ve always wanted to travel to a certain country or are simply looking for a change to kickstart a career switch. Whatever your reason, there are plenty of reasons to work abroad. Here are just a few of them. 

New experiences 

There’s nothing like a new experience to revitalise your professional (and personal) life. Experiencing new places and cultures, and all the sights, sounds, and tastes that come with it, doesn’t have to be strictly for holidays. 

Professional experiences in a new environment help build soft skills that are essential to every role. After all, every big move requires a little problem-solving, communication and collaboration. 

Job opportunities and earning potential

Perhaps, you’re thinking about making a move to another country that’s known as a hub within your field. Take the tech hubs for example – London, Silicon Valley, New York, Dubai and Singapore are just some of the places known for their innovation and emerging technologies, with job markets to match. 

Depending on your desired career path and current experience, moving abroad to work could also give your career the boost it needs, whether that’s with roles more suited to your skills or a much-needed pay increase. 


Lifestyle and culture

If you’re a budding bilinguist or a would-be polyglot, moving abroad for work could offer the perfect opportunity to practise a language and flex those language skills. Alongside new languages, working abroad exposes you to new lifestyles and cultures. From Spanish siestas to Swedish fikas, discovering different ways to work can only benefit your career path in the long run. 

Things to consider when deciding whether to work abroad

While there are several benefits to working abroad, it’s important to think carefully about your decision. Before you start planning and packing, here are some important things to think about if you want to work abroad.


It wouldn’t be a helpful article on working abroad if we didn’t mention money. After all, it’s one of the most important aspects of working abroad. What’s the cost of living in your desired location? How much does it cost to travel there during peak and off-peak seasons? What is the earning potential (taking into consideration your professional experience)? These are all important questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to work abroad. 


While there’s never been a better time to work abroad, it is without a doubt a time-consuming process. Whether you’re researching, applying for jobs and visas, or even practising a language, the work you’ll put into working abroad starts well before you board a flight. 

Have a think about any current commitments you have at the moment – it will be helpful to consider how you can fit these into your daily routine. 

Professional experience

To work abroad you’ll have to enter an entirely new (and equally competitive) job market. How does your professional experience match up? Going over your CV can help you spot a few gaps and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. 

It’ll also give you enough time to consider what the local customs are around job applications. Countries such as Spain, Japan and South Korea require photos as part of their job application, so making sure you have an appropriate headshot is definitely a good idea. 

Your network 

Think about who you know in the countries you’re interested in working in. While it’s not necessary to have a set community upon arrival, it doesn’t hurt to connect.

 Even if you don’t have family or friends there, getting in touch with acquaintances (or even reaching out to your LinkedIn network) could prove useful, and who knows, it just might make that transition easier. 


The least exciting but certainly the most crucial aspect is paperwork. Depending on where you want to work, paperwork could be the difference between a simple job application or tons of documents that need to be signed, sealed and delivered. To make things easier, consider what exactly you’ll need. 

Will you need a visa – and what do you need to support that? Does your desired role offer sponsorships/visa support? Have you considered taking out travel insurance? What would your living situation look like? How easy would it be to open a bank account? All important questions that vary depending on where you currently live and where you want to work. 


Aside from the obvious food, music, entertainment and clothing, your current and desired lifestyle could help you decide on a new country to live and work in. 

Cultural compatibility matters, whether that means you’re looking to step outside of your comfort zone and live somewhere that offers a vastly different lifestyle, or you want more of the same (in a different location). Luckily, the world is a big place, so the choice is yours. 


While there are a ton of English-speaking countries, if you were to move from, say London to Madrid, language would be a huge consideration. To prepare you for those all-important introductions, consider taking a language course to sharpen your skills and build your confidence so you don’t mistake ‘Estoy embarazada’ for ‘Me da vergüenza’

How to work abroad

We understand that this question is exactly why you’re here – luckily, the answer is that there are many different ways to work abroad. Here are a few tried and true methods that you might want to consider:

  • Moving abroad then searching for local jobs – Arguably the riskiest method, you could move to a new country and start applying for jobs while there. This would give you the opportunity to get used to the pace and lifestyle, familiarise yourself with the area and perhaps help you discover something you might not have been able to, had you already been employed. 
  • Moving to an international office at the same company – For those working at larger global companies, an option could be to move to the same department in another office. Fancy living in Tokyo? Then maybe you could put in a transfer request to that office. That way you’ll be familiar with company policies and practices and may already know a few of your international colleagues. 
  • Work anywhere in the world remotely – There are plenty of roles that can be done remotely. From copywriting to coding, the world of work has evolved beyond strictly in-office roles. With a Zoom account, a Slack channel and a calendar, you might not even need to be in the same country as your team. 
  • Take advantage of your workplace schemes – Some companies offer time periods where employees can work anywhere in the world. With these, employees can typically take anywhere between four weeks to a few months in another country. This means the only thing standing between you and a beachside morning catchup is a plane ticket. 
  • Enrol on a work abroad programme – Several programmes allow you to work abroad, most commonly teaching English (TEFL) in different countries. To put you in a good position for any upcoming applications, take a look at our range of language teaching courses
  • Take your digital business abroad Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone – but if you offer digital services, there’s no reason you couldn’t move abroad. Just remember to fill out the proper paperwork to make your move that much easier.

Get ready to work abroad with FutureLearn

Working abroad comes with new experiences and challenges, but it can be so much more rewarding when you’re prepared. Learn from the experts and take your first steps towards working abroad with FutureLearn. 

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