Friday, April 10, 2009

Where do I Start?

"I know I want to live abroad but where do I start?" I am often asked this question. There are three main points to start out with.

1. Choose your target location carefully. First you need to decide in what region, or, even better, what country you'd like to live. Its too difficult to try for many different countries. You'll spread yourself out too thin. Each region and country has its own language, culture and ways of doing things. Therefore if you cast your net too wide, it will take much longer to reach your goal of living abroad.

Conversely, if you narrow your desired location down to one city or even one small town you are then limiting yourself to a place that may or may not end up being the right location for you.

My advice would be to choose one or two countries that you belive would be right for you.

2. Do your homework. Research, research and research some more. Thanks to the web, there are so many resourses available for you to make a decision. Factors to consider are, but not limited to:

Work Ethic
Employment Possibilities
The native language
The cultural demands
Housing options
Cost of Living
Religious climate
Typical Lifestyle

3. For most people, the two things that you'll need to secure as soon as possible are a job and a place to live. If its important that you have work quickly, you should spend a lot of time researching the job market in your target country or countries. If you can find a job first, securing, at least, temporary housing won't be overly difficult.

While its possible to find the same work that you do in your home country abroad, it may take you longer if you don't speak the local language or are not familar with the process of job seeking in the target country. For that reason, I often suggest to native English speakers that initially they start out teaching English. It doesn't have to be forever but there are some advantages. Its not necessary to speak the native language. The minimum requirements are usually English speaking ability and a TESOL/TEFL Certificate.
Your CV/resume can usually be submitted in English. You can earn a wage comprable to that of the average worker in the given location. It gives you time to learn some of the language, to network, to meet the locals as well as other foriegners, to find out the best places to live and in general get a feel for how things work in your desired country. Once you have some of these things under your belt, you then have the tools to find the job you really want.

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