Living and working overseas come with their own sets of challenges. Below we’ve got a few experts to help you navigate the international job market, particularly by acclimating to remote work.
Here’s how remote work helps expats acclimate to working overseas:
Acclimate as an Expat
Sten Tamkivi knows a thing or two about working overseas and being an expat: the start-up founder has lived in England, Estonia, Singapore, and the U.S.
His advice to those considering becoming an expat?
“If you’re thinking about relocating, don’t be afraid to leave or let your doubts hold you back. You can always come back if you want to, whether it’s in a year, two years or ten. Being somewhere else for a while doesn’t make you any less of a citizen; the knowledge and experience you gain will benefit you as well as your home country in the long run.”
Sten’s company, Teleport, helps location-independent workers with discovering their next destination. Their main tool, Teleport Cities, allows users to compare income, living costs, and quality of life data in 150+ of the “most creative cities” in the world.
For remote workers who are still looking for their next adventure, the Cities tool matches each individual with their most ideal destinations based on their personal preferences and around 130 data-driven criteria within the app. Even if users already know their destination, the tool provides a wide variety of information about each city for further learning, and also lends expats a hand with the relocation process with community or service-based assistance.
Although Sten’s expat story has evolved around creating his own jobs and companies, he’d encourage those not pursuing a fully entrepreneurial path to consider remote work.
“Finding a new job in a new country you’re not familiar with is one of the most intimidating tasks when moving. Therefore, having a secure remote position already takes away a huge chunk of anxiety from the moving process and makes acclimatizing a lot more stress free.”
Secure Remote Position Helps
Liz Rittenour knows this firsthand. She followed her fiancé to Tel Aviv, Israel—and almost immediately found that the “start-up nation” was pulsing with job opportunities. That is, of course, if she had a work visa. After starting the application process almost immediately after arriving, she remained hopeful.
“I knew well before our big move that this would be the adventure of a lifetime. That said, we did have more than a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump over in terms of securing my visa as a foreign worker. Luckily, I already had a remote job before I left home that I was able to continue after relocating.”
The job gave her a lot more than peace of mind.
“I was able to dive into my new life here, meeting people in industry and making new friends, learning Hebrew, getting to know my fiancé’s family much better, and pursuing hobbies that I enjoy. All of that would have been much, much harder if I’d had to worry about where my income would be coming from in the meantime. And I was able to accomplish all of this while staying up-to-date in my field within a familiar role.”
Now with a work visa in hand, Liz has more employment options—and has had a longer runway to adjust to her new surroundings.
Become a Global Citizen
Remote work advocate Kavi Guppta believes that location-independent work builds broader global citizenship. As to whether or not the movement is giving rise to even larger expat communities, well, that depends.
“You don’t have to be an expat to work remotely, and there are many expats who continue to (and want to) work in an office environment to wherever they have relocated. Of course, if remote work facilitates the relocation of a person. For example, if someone has always wanted to live in Vienna, but not necessarily work for a Vienna-based company, then sure, the expat community could grow to include all of these location-independent workers.”
He notes that expats do face a significant number of logistical issues as well.
“The real challenge lies in navigating various immigration laws for respective countries. Most long-stay visa requirements mean you have to secure employment or sponsorship within the desired country to reside. And many countries have yet to offer decent visa options for the growing number of mobile workers.”
Although Kavi has yet to take the plunge to being a full-fledged expat, he’s greatly enjoying life as a digital nomad.
“What remote work has allowed me is the freedom to spend more time getting to know my new base country. My schedule and time zone advantage affords me the ability to get out and see more of my country as often as I like, while still getting deliverables done. When most of my colleagues are starting their day, mine is already over. I can adjust my schedule to get work done or go out and explore fairly quickly; this is a huge advantage over being an office worker anywhere.”