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How to Live and Work Overseas

Posted on September 26, 2014, 10:34 AM, by Mike Sannitti under Adjusting to Your International Move

Moving to a foreign country can be a jarring experience--you often find yourself alone in a unfamiliar culture. Working in a new country is also difficult because the regulations and work

culture may be different than in your home country. These strategies can make living and working overseas more manageable. 

Research your destination's culture

To make life overseas feel less foreign, you should know something about your destination's culture. This is especially important if you are going overseas to work for your company, since you probably didn't choose the country yourself. Here are some things you should research to help you understand how things work in foreign countries:

  • The government: The government in a foreign country can be very different from what you experience normally. A country's government directly impacts how you will be viewed as a foreigner and how you will be able to work there. Tax policies in foreign countries can be quite different, so you should be familiar with them if you plan on working overseas for a foreign company. Make sure you understand that the titles of countries' governments are not always accurate.
  • The most popular religion: Most countries have a unified religion practiced by the majority of the population. Knowing the average person's belief system can help you understand  the country's values and should also help you avoid offending anyone accidentally.
  • Their entertainment preferences: To really get an idea of the country's culture, find out what entertainment the people enjoy. A look at box office numbers in your destination may show you what American films are popular , and which ones don't translate to the country's cultural values. It is also useful to see what Hollywood movies are popular in your foreign country because that may be the locals' only exposure to American culture. Most foreign countries are quite interested in American culture, but you should also take a look at what uniquely local things are popular, as well.
  • The language: Knowing the most commonly spoken language isn't always necessary to live and work in a foreign country, but it will help immensely. Most countries' common or official languages are readily available online, so learn a little before moving to fully prepare yourself for life overseas.
  • The work culture: Working overseas can be tricky because corporate culture differs in foreign countries. Spain really does have a siesta mid-day, so work essentially stops for a few hours. Businessmen do customarily bow in Japan. Knowing these foreign workplace quirks ahead of time will help you fit in when you work overseas.

Prepare yourself for work overseas

Whether you are moving overseas with your current company, or looking to find a new job in a new country, you need to properly prepare.

  • Apply for a work visa: To live and work in a foreign country you usually need a work visa. Visa requirements vary significantly country to country, so you must apply via the country's consulate or official website to find out the process.
  • Transfer funds to the country: Most business done within the new country will be in their currency. Open a bank account in your destination and transfer some of your money there to get started. Be aware of exchange rates and try to find a reputable bank that will let you transfer your money from home. Don't convert too much of your money to the foreign currency if your move is temporary.
  • Research your foreign company: It is important to research a company's culture for any new job you take, but if that job is overseas, it is even more important to get an idea of how the company is run. Companies can function quite differently overseas. You will have to do this mostly by online research before you move, but any information about the companies' policies can help you be a happy employee when you do go to work.

A little preparation can help you avoid culture shock when trying to live and work overseas. Once you are prepared, you can contact an international moving company to start your journey to life in another country.

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