After Abroad

4 Things You Need To Know About Living and Working Abroad

5 Comments 05 February 2013

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This post was written by The Abroad Guide’s very own Jess Dante, and originally appeared on her personal travel blog, You’ll Find Me in Florence. After a year working and living in Florence, she’s passing on her knowledge of all things abroad.

So you hate your job, you can’t seem to shake the work-happy hour-bedtime-work again routine, and you keep drooling over my blog posts consisting of delish Italian food and videos of me free-falling through a canyon in Switzerland. You think that you are ready to quit your job and try something new… like living abroad.

On the outside, quitting your desk job and moving to a foreign country seems glamorous and fun. And while an experience like mine is, at many points during my year, I was scared, stressed out, and just wanted to pick up and move back to my cozy house on Long Island.

So if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here’s four realities you need to know before moving abroad.

1. It’s nothing like studying abroad

If you’re like me, you studied in a foreign country during college and caught the travel bug then. You were traveling all over the continent, were fully emerged in new cultures, and were making tons of new friends. But be aware that living and working abroad is a very different experience. Earning money while living abroad sounds like a dream, but with a job comes responsibility. Chances are, you won’t have a job that you can just pick up and leave to go on a trip any time you want to. It may not be too different than a job back at home– you can only take so much time off before you piss your boss off.

2. You won’t be a millionaire

Most jobs that you will find abroad won’t pay much. Depending on where you go, you might be working illegally, which means your job opps are slim and those who are willing to hire you know that they can pay you less because of that. But if you work hard, network, and do your research, you have a good chance of finding arrangements that will at least let you break even if you live within your means.

3. Doing your research could save you thousands of dollars

You can find almost anything on the internet. If there’s a city or country that you have your heart set on, do your research to find other people who’ve moved there, what the job market is like, what the cost of living is like, and more. This is something I wish I had done more of– when I first arrived in Florence, I planned on teaching English there and got my TEFL certification. Little did I know that the market for English teachers in Florence is saturated and it is almost impossible to find a job teaching when you don’t have working papers. If I had known this, I would have saved the $2,000 I spent on the course I took and the overpriced housing they had put me in.

I also HIGHLY suggest knowing ahead of time the situation for working visas in that country and how long you are legally allowed to stay there. Some countries are stricter than others, so make sure you aren’t moving to one where no one will hire you without papers and where you’ll be slapped with a huge fine and a ban if you overstay your allowed time.

4. Being flexible can mean great opportunities

As I said earlier, I originally moved to Florence thinking that I would teach English. When that didn’t work out, I networked my butt off, met every business owner in town that might need an English speaker, and managed to snag jobs running or helping with social media for a few different companies and various other odd jobs that helped pay the bills. I even got a job that let me travel for free. Opportunities may bring you to other cities as well– give it a shot!

Take it from someone who’s been through it– moving abroad is more than just selling all of your stuff and hopping on a plane. But if you manage your expectations and do your research, you’ll have the chance to have an amazing experience in a foreign country.

Do you have a question about moving abroad ? Let us know in the comments and Jess will answer it!

Jess is the Editor-in-Chief of The Abroad Guide. After studying abroad in Belgium during her junior year of college, she caught the travel bug. Her experiences include volunteering in Nicaragua, backpacking through Europe, and a year-long adventure in Italy, and she’s now settled in London. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or read her expat blog Love and London.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Wait, I thought all millionaires stayed in Hostels and CouchSurfed. ;-)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your job sounds so cool. I want to live in Florence and have your job.


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  1. Working Abroad Options - May 7, 2013

    [...] and it is almost impossible to find a job teaching when you don’t have working papers,” Dante wrote in a recent blog post. If I had known this, I would have saved the $2,000 I spent on the course I took and the overpriced [...]

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