Starting to work abroad in 2012? Get ready!
Do you plan to change your life and start working abroad in 2012? Then the following tips could give you a hand preparing for this once in a lifetime adventure.
Administrative matters: No one likes them, but they need to be done
Before you leave to work or study in a foreign country you will have to deal with numerous administrative matters. You will have to settle your taxes, take care of your medical needs, secure your social security and other rights you have accrued as not to lose them, to list a few. You have to learn about at least the basics of your new country, its culture and its languages. You will likely face a different legal status, whether as a resident or as employee. You may have to arrange for recognition of diplomas, face limitations regarding the ownership of property, or you may have questions about the availability of work. In a later stage changing immigration status on the basis of one type of visa may be more difficult than on another. Your social security rights and retirement accounts may be affected. Formalities to obtaining a drivers’ license or hooking up electricity can be, well, bureaucratic. We have picked a few things you have to consider before you actually leave.
Basic understanding of culture and language
Before you settle in a country you need to get acquainted with the local culture. You will automatically look for the similarities and compare the biggest differences to the culture you are familiar with. However, the devil is in the details. The language is more nuanced than you have learned so far. Working conditions and pace of life may be quite different from what expected. You should have a reasonable idea about the cost of living in order not to be charged double the price for housing or lodging whilst being paid less than market rate wages. The political, cultural and economic environment of your new country may affect your chances of finding work or own property.
With regard to income tax you will initially deal with two countries: the one you are leaving and the one where you are settling. In principle, you have to pay income taxes in the country where you reside. Residency ends at the moment you leave a country. Taxes are usually withheld in the country where you have earned income. The problem lies therein that every country maintains its own fiscal system. There are treaties in place to avoid double taxation, but these treaties are bilateral – between two countries only – and no treaty is alike.
Some medical actions are required before you leave, regardless of your medical condition. If you have health concerns you must review your medical situation and make arrangements for transferring your medical file before you leave. You can already assess the medical services available in your new country, and go over the differences with your current doctor. You will be surprised; these days numerous “developing” countries are ahead of several “developed” nations in providing health care.
You can also submit yourself to a medical evaluation if you don’t have any medical condition. This can help you finding a doctor in your new country in case you unexpectedly need one. You should also check if your new country requires immunizations against certain diseases, and inquire with your doctor whether your prescriptions are available there.
Of course, there is much more to prepare before you leave to work or study abroad. To get more tips on what to consider, read “Working abroad” by August G. Minke.