Taking a job in a new country can be exciting. This is a way many people have the rich experiences that will shape their views of the world and their roles in it for the rest of their lives. You will learn just as much about yourself as you will about the people and things around you.
Before you pack your bags, though, there are a few things you need to consider. This will have a huge and lasting impact on you and your family, and it is important to weigh all the options. Here are some things you should think about.
Pro: International experience
Many high achievers never receive an offer to work in another country at any point in their careers. Taking a job that would make you an expatriate gives you an edge over other people in your profession with education and experience similar to yours. Most who eventually go on to become high-level managers, especially CEOs and top executives, have this international experience on their resumes. Hiring committees want to see at least one international assignment for top contenders who want to head multi-location companies.
Con: Do you get homesick easily?
Being away from home can be a big adventure, but that sense of new wonder can fade fast, especially if you have a deep love for home or things that are familiar. If it takes you some time to adapt to change and you are not quick on your feet in getting adjusted to different surroundings, being an expat could be a real challenge for you. You will need to absorb information quickly, be extremely sociable in order to build alliances and stay open to different ways of doing business. Even if you do any one of these things very well, having to do them all at once can throw you off balance and make you really miss home.
Pro: Learning another language
It will seem very awkward at first if you are not fluent in the local language. If you are able to suspend all of your doubts and really see a new language as a learning experience, you will experience much joy in speaking to others. The more you practice, even if you find yourself struggling, the easier your conversations will become.
Con: Working conditions
Although many companies try to offer comparable working conditions for each location they own, it is unlikely this will remain intact country to country. You may be working in a country where the work location does not have air conditioning, an on-site cafeteria, a nearby gym or any of the amenities that you are used to at your home base. You will have to keep your mind focused on your assigned tasks, in spite of the conditions.
Pro: More potential income
You should always ask as many questions as possible about your compensation package before you accept a job overseas. In some cases, your income may fluctuate, but there may be other perks for being out of the country, such as a food or living allowance. Be sure you are in a position to take advantage of these perks. Have a safe way to save income while you are away from home.
Con: Responsibilities of more income
Be sure you understand what your tax responsibilities are with an expat job. If the company you work for is based in the US, it is very likely your tax obligations will stay the same. If you are working for a company that is not based in the US, you may not have to pay the same taxes. Even so, if you are a US citizen, there is only so much money you can make before you are still required to pay taxes. Know the rules so that you do not run into unwanted headaches down the road.
One of the biggest factors that will influence your decision to take an expatriation opportunity is your family. While many may be supportive of the experience for you, they may not be happy about you spending so much time so far away from home. It is an experience that comes with a lot of unknown variables for all of you, so this is to be expected.
You should ask yourself what a big move like this would do to enhance your life and make your decision based on that answer. Your family will continue to love and support you, even if they do not like your decisions at first. You should also enlist your family’s help to come up with a solid exit plan, just in case the expat journey is not working for you and you want to come home. Know all of your options before you take the leap.
written by Emeline Powers on Sept 23rd 2017
photo by Steven Lewis from unsplash.com