Working Overseas: 5 Things to Know

Some of you have asked in the past
what one would need to do 
to move overseas.

I'm by no means an expert...
but as someone who has managed to move here,
I guess I have a bit of an advantage.

I've offered the little I know
 a couple of times to you in the past
-probably best on my vlog-
but with new readers
and new tides of college graduates
wanting to move somewhere exciting
comes an influx of these questions.

If you've written to me
and I haven't replied 
over the past few weeks,
I was stock-piling over the holidays
in efforts to address you in an official post.

Please forgive my tardiness
and let these five things
help kick-start your brain 
into crafting what you need to do to move
 somewhere fabulous and exotic.


1. If you want to move to a new country,
you must immigrate there legally... with a visa!

If I were to guess, I'd say about 90% of people don't realize this fact.

Maybe it's because most of us are Americans 
who can move freely from state to state
without any problem.

If we want to pack up and move to New York City,
by gosh- we can.

So it doesn't occur to us that moving to London or Paris would be any different.

I don't think I fully realized this until I had to do it myself,
so I can't blame you.

Some how in movies and books,
they skip all the red tape, biometrics & applications.

But you'll need to officially immigrate
so that you do the big stuff like be hired for a job,
open a bank account, rent an apartment and have health care.

2. They don't make it easy for you to move here.

Completing the paperwork for a visa
is the modern man's form 
of survival of the fittest.

The forms are terribly long
and you can expect as much feedback
as talking to a brick wall.

Take all the paperwork you fill out seriously.

Filling in the wrong answer
could black ball your application 
from getting processed then...
and perhaps upon future submissions.

Oh, and it's expensive...
we have to get visas for our little ladies
that will last for approximately 11 months.

It's going to cost us £1200
and then we will have to re-apply for our third visa
the following spring.

3. Consider higher education.

For any 20-something that writes me,
my best advice for moving overseas
is to come over on a student visa.

They are the most obtainable,
the easiest to process,
& the most common way
I know that other expats have moved into a country.

Many countries will offer some sort of 
"post study visa" 
that will allow you to reside in the country
for a couple of years to follow.

It's a great way to immigrate in to the country,
make a network of friends through your program,
and get your foot in the door...

Oh, and you get a degree out of it, too.


{Megan answered some great/common questions about studying in the UK here.}

4. "But can't I just apply for a job in Europe and get a visa that way?"

When I was finishing my last semester of college, 
I remember scrolling through the French L'Oreal website
looking for potential jobs.

What my optimistic 21 year-old self didn't realize
was that I wasn't eligible to work any of these jobs...
because I didn't have a work permit.

In the UK, a job has to posted for a minimum of 90 days
before it can be submitted for a non-citizen to apply for it.

Assuming that it gets to that point,
they would then have to make a case
supporting why YOU are the only person that can fill this job
and why NO OTHER CITIZEN could also do it.

You have to be pretty specialized to work this angle.

I'm not sure how it exactly works in other EU countries,
but I know it's similar to this...
and it makes sense, I suppose.

Why give your local jobs out to other people
and let your own unemployment rates go up?

Especially since so many of these countries
are offering healthcare to their citizens.

They need them to be paying back in with income taxes 
to keep everything supported...
which is why they aren't making it easy for us adorable Americans
to fill out an application that could take away their jobs.

See what I mean? 

It kind of has to be this way.

One caveat to this is being transferred in from a large company
that has offices in both countries.

Large accounting firms, law firms & other businesses
can transfer existing employees to offices in other countries.

These are typically companies that are large enough
to support the moving costs & visas that come with immigrating.

Most of these companies offer 2-3 year moves.

It's an awesome deal 
and I'm always jealous of our friends that move this way...
they get taken care very well.

5. It's not impossible.

All of this gloom and doom talk is discouraging, I know,
but hey, look-
I'm an American and I live in London!

Obviously, there are plenty of us here, 
so it's not like the door is completely closed
to getting to move to a different country.

It's just important to know what you are up against
before you start making grand plans to move overseas...
because unless you plan accordingly,
you're only allowed to stay for 90 days on a tourist visa.

And while any 90 day vacation would be pretty sweet,
you're looking for a life overseas,
so it's important you start down the right path.


Every person's immigration story is different,
so there isn't a set formula for how to get over here.

The best I can offer is murky, muddled advice that I've gathered
over our time in England 
from our experiences
and the experiences of our friends.

While I may not be able to offer much more advice than that,
I can offer you my encouragement:
it's completely worth the struggle!

*This is written for Americans. All of you Commonwealth countries are much luckier 
when moving about amongst yourself... and for that, we remain extremely jealous.

*images borrowed from here.

Posted on January 14, 2013 and filed under "europe", "life", "make your life better".