For many of us, international travel seems out of reach. Who can afford to travel when we have bills, rent, student loans payments, and just a whole slew of responsibilities?
I overcame this mindset when I started looking into working in other countries.
When you work abroad, you don’t drain your bank account–you grow your bank account! At the very, very least, if you are a big spender, you drain your account more slowly.
More blog posts about working abroad:
Working abroad is not only a way to keep yourself afloat in your new city. It is also a way to earn money so that you can keep traveling! When I worked in New Zealand, I spent so many weekends exploring the country. I even took a two-week trip to Australia!
There are several ways to find jobs in foreign countries. Here are a few that I feel confident recommending, either because I have followed these routes or have close friends who have.
Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
When I was 22 and fresh out of college, I moved to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Besides, you know, that whole “getting married” thing.
If you want to work abroad, you can obtain a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand or Australia.
New Zealand lives up to the hype. It’s a small country, but every inch is beautiful and vastly different.
I worked as a server in a restaurant in Wellington. Many expats work in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. If you like winter sports, I recommend moving to the South Island during the winter months (remember, New Zealand’s winter is America’s summer!), then looking for a job at an outdoor store or ski resort.
You don’t necessarily need to find a job ahead of time. You definitely don’t need a company to sponsor your Working Holiday Visa! I knew someone in Wellington who hooked me up with the restaurant beforehand, but most expats I knew just handed out resumes once they arrived and were able to find jobs. However, if you are a major planner/worrier like me, you can apply to jobs ahead of time on TradeMe, a website you can also use to find housing.
You can find a more detailed account of how going to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa worked out for me financially in this piece I wrote for The Penny Hoarder!
Australia has a very similar gig. Australia is huge, so think of all the places you could potentially live in this country! Sydney. Melbourne. The Outback. Perth. Brisbane. Cairns. Tasmania. Okay, I’m going to stop now, because this list could go on for a while.
Applying for my Working Holiday Visa was almost too easy. If you’re from America, applying is free. I received an email informing me of my acceptance and containing my visa after only a few days!
Working Holiday Visas are for young people. Typically, you must be 18-30 years old, but the New Zealand government accepts applicants up to age 35 from certain countries. Check out these information pages for New Zealand and Australia.
Teach in Asia
The Husband taught in South Korea for a year before we got married, and we both currently teach in China. All that to say, we are huge advocates for teaching in Asia!
Teaching in China and South Korea are great gigs, because you make decent money, and living is cheap. Teaching in Chinese public schools, we both make about $1,600 per month. That doesn’t sound like much, but considering a meal where we live costs around $2.00, we are sitting pretty.
Working for a private school, or hagwon, in South Korea, The Husband had less vacation time but made around $2,500 per month.
In both instances, housing has been covered by our companies.
Due to this low cost of living, we have been able to afford things we never dreamed of. We have been able to travel a lot. In Korea, The Husband paid off twice the amount owed on his student loans each month. In China, we have put more in savings than I thought possible in such a short amount of time!
Other popular Asian countries where you can teach English are Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand. Keep in mind that cost of living is high in Hong Kong and Japan. While Japan is amazing, you almost always have to go to the country before finding a job, which can be inconvenient. Also, the work is more difficult than other countries.
Each country has its different quirks and inconveniences, but that’s why we have the Internet! Do as much research as you can before leaving to prepare yourself. For example, here’s a list of things you should buy before moving to China, including coffee and a VPN.
Teach in Europe
For many years, I wanted to teach for a year in France right after graduating college. I applied and, tragically, wasn’t accepted!
That disappointment led to my moving to New Zealand instead, so I really can’t complain. However, deep down, I still have a longing to live in France. At least for a little while.
France has a solid government program that hires native English speakers to teach in the country’s public schools. Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Italy are also known for their good programs, ideal living conditions for foreigners, and strong job markets right now.
Keep in mind that the pay is probably not going to be as good as you would receive if you teach in Asia–especially in Western Europe. However, if you know you want to live in one of these countries and travel around Europe, this can be a good option!
Have you worked abroad? What advice would you give?
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