Living and working in a foreign country is an amazing way to learn about the world, yourself, and what it means to be a global citizen. As the world becomes more and more interconnected people are seeking work outside of their home country, but knowing where to start when deciding where to go abroad can be difficult.
To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best countries to work abroad. We considered several things in creating this list: the cost of living, the ease of getting a work visa, and the job opportunities in the country. Read on to learn why we chose each of these countries and why you should work abroad in them.
Germany is a highly modern and organized country making it a great place to work overseas. It is rich in culture, history, and has an unbeatable work-life balance. People in Germany work less (about 27 hours per week) and live better as a result! Excellent healthcare, generous paid-leave, and unforgettable experiences await you in Germany. The cost of living can be higher than what you are used to, but living in Germany can be less expensive than many other European cities.
Every city has something different to offer, making it perfect for any ex-pat. The larger cities remain the most popular among ex-pats, with Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt having the largest ex-pat communities. Regardless of where you end up, you’ll get a taste of the eclectic charm that is characteristic of this innovative European country.
German Work Visa Process
Applying for a working visa can be on the more difficult side – you can blame the German love of bureaucracy for that – but there are ways to obtain a permit to work and live in Germany relatively easily. If you are a freelancer, Germany offers an “artist visa” that grants residency for self-employment.
Nationals of most Western countries can apply for a “looking for work” visa that allows you to line up a job while in the country and then apply for a working visa after securing a work contract. Expats can find jobs available in the multitude of international companies based in Germany. If you are a native English speaker it may be easier to find work as well.
2. South Korea
If you’ve done a bit of research you may have noticed Korea tends to grace the top of many of these types of rankings, for good reason. I may be a bit biased myself as I am currently living in South Korea, but this is easily one of the best countries to work overseas. There are all types of jobs available to foreign workers, especially those that are fluent in English.
The government invests a lot in English education so, if you are interested in working as a teacher, Korea is a good option for you! Foreigners working as English teachers have the potential to save a decent amount of money due to the work benefits and low cost of living in Korea (upwards of $13,000!).
Korea can be a difficult place to live if you are not prepared for some cultural adjustments especially when it comes to working culture. Rank and hierarchy mean everything, but most companies tend to treat foreigners a bit more favorably because they understand the cultural differences. However, be prepared to work longer hours than you are used to – Korea has the longest working hours of any developed nation!
Despite the long work week, Korea has a lot to offer. From the bustling metropolis of Seoul to the stunning natural beauty of Korea’s interior there is something for everyone to enjoy. Seoul, Busan, and Daegu have sizable ex-pat communities, rich night-lives, and most importantly – delicious food. Living and working in Korea is sure to be an experience of a lifetime for any international worker.
South Korea Work Visa Process
Obtaining a working visa in Korea is relatively easy. By far the fastest and easiest way to get a working visa in Korea is to become an English teacher under Korea’s “E-2” visa.
If teaching is not your cup of tea, South Korea has agreements with some Western countries that allow workers to enter on a “working holiday” visa for up to a year. There is also a “looking for work” visa that allows foreigners to live in Korea for up to six months while seeking a job.
Cambodia is one of the easiest countries to obtain a long-term working visa. Many ex-pats flock to this South-East Asian country due to its incredibly low cost of living, deep culture, and tropical weather. Cambodia may lack some of the comforts many Westerners are accustomed to, but it makes up for it many times over with its laid-back culture and out-of-this-world cuisine.
International workers can expect to find jobs with NGOs, international companies, or as English teachers. Cambodia is also a popular destination for freelance workers who seek to work overseas.
Cambodia Work Visa Process
To legally work in Cambodia, you will need to apply for a work permit upon arrival. Though it is important to note the country has been fairly lax in regards to these permits in the past.
Most foreigners obtain a residency visa by applying for a long-term “business” visa which, at the moment, can be renewed indefinitely.
4. The Netherlands
Constantly ranked highly among ex-pats for its working conditions and work-life balance, the Netherlands is another great option for working abroad. The Netherlands actively seeks out foreign entrepreneurs and has many great programs to help them invest in local companies or start their businesses, big and small.
The quality of life in the Netherlands is higher than in most other countries on this list. The country is clean, efficient, and the people are straight to the point. Biking, canals, endless entertainment and festivals, and a relaxed way of life are sure to please almost all ex-pats.
Netherlands Work Visa Process
It can be a challenge to obtain a working visa in the Netherlands, but if you’re up for it the rewards outweigh the effort. The Netherlands has many programs to help foreigners enter the country and work. The “start-up” visa allows foreign investors to reside in the Netherlands for one year to develop a new innovative business idea. The government also provides you with the assistance of a local mentor to help your business grow. The Netherlands also encourages small businesses through its “self-employment” visa.
There are many jobs available for international workers in the fields of IT, finance, and engineering. It’s important to note that the majority of ex-pats in the Netherlands hold at least a Master’s degree – which increases your employability significantly.
5. The Czech Republic
As home to over 500,000 foreigners, the Czech Republic (Czechia) is another strong contender from Europe. Located in the heart of central Europe, it is a hub for many international businesses in the region, creating many opportunities for foreign workers. It also makes it incredibly easy to travel throughout Europe. Though, if you choose to go overseas to the Czech Republic you won’t want to spend much time traveling – there is an abundance of beauty to experience there.
Most ex-pats live in either Prague, the capital, or Brno. However, more jobs are available for foreigners in and around Prague. The city itself has something for every type of ex-pat, it’s home to weird, yet undeniably cool bars and music venues, rich food, and stunning architecture. Prague is one of the most charming cities in Europe – and having lived there myself I can guarantee you would enjoy it as well.
Czech Republic Work Visa Process
There are plenty of jobs available for foreign workers, especially for those that can speak English. Many younger people in the Czech Republic can speak English, but there is always a need for native speakers in international companies.
To work in the Czech Republic, it is best to have your job lined up before you arrive. You will need to apply for a work permit before applying for your long-stay “employment” visa. Though the permit can be issued to nationals from many western countries who arrive on a tourist visa, it is best to apply beforehand.
As the strongest and most powerful economy in Asia, China is a unique place to work overseas. China’s position in international markets makes it a great place to work as a foreigner. Multinational companies based in China are always in need of individuals who understand Western business and can speak English. Though jobs are not as easy to come by as they used to be, there are still many jobs open to foreigners.
One surefire way to make a good wage in China is to work as an English teacher. There is a massive demand for native speakers and as a result, China offers enticing benefits for those willing to relocate to China to teach English.
Life in China is too multi-faceted to explain in a few words, but as an ex-pat, you can expect to always be on your toes. China has so much to explore and experience, you could never be bored living there. However, it can be hard for some people to adjust to the Chinese way of life. Many social and cultural aspects can be difficult to adapt to, but if you can tough it out life in China would be a rewarding experience.
China Work Visa Process
If you plan to be an English teacher the visa process is almost painless. Whichever company you decide to work will handle the entire visa process and set you up for success.
If you plan to look for work outside of teaching the process is quite similar. You will need to secure a job before arrival in China and your company will help you obtain your visa through sponsorship.
Vietnam is famous for its lush landscapes and its lively yet relaxed culture. The friendly people and vibrant cuisine draw in many visitors to the country every year, and inevitable many can’t find it in their hearts to leave. Vietnam also boasts a great work-life balance – there is a great emphasis put on the value of life outside of your career. Vietnam can be an invigorating place to live an ex-pat, but there are some challenges.
The cost of living is very low in Vietnam and it is easy to live comfortably even on a tight budget. On the other hand, this means wages can be quite low as well, depending on your profession. Expats also express qualms with the chaotic traffic and congestion in the big cities, which can lead to harmful air pollution. However, there is a certain beauty to the chaos of navigating Vietnam by motorbike.
Vietnam Work Visa Process
Since Vietnam is still developing it can be easy for foreigners to find work with NGOs and in fields related to international development. Freelancers also tend to flock to Vietnam, at least temporarily as the long-stay “business” visas can be difficult to renew. By far the easiest way to work in Vietnam is as an English teacher. Visas should be arranged before arrival in Vietnam, even if some companies claim to offer visas on arrival. Once in Vietnam, all foreign workers must apply for a work permit to begin legally working in the country.
8. New Zealand
Almost 90% of ex-pats report that they are satisfied with their life abroad in New Zealand, making them the happiest globally. The laid-back culture of Kiwis and their work-life balance creates an atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else. It can be difficult to find full-time work in New Zealand, but that doesn’t deter most foreigners.
Kiwis are extremely friendly and most foreigners find it quite easy to adapt to life in New Zealand as a result. The country is also well known for its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle.
New Zealand Work Visa Process
New Zealand has several agreements with countries all over the world that allow foreigners to enter on a “working holiday” visa for up to 12 months, and 23 months if you are a citizen of the UK or Canada. This is the easiest way to initially obtain a working visa in New Zealand.
Additionally, visas can be acquired for those looking for work and for ex-pats with special skills, which range from engineering fields to telecommunications.
Australia consistently ranks highly as a country with excellent quality of life, standards of living, and overall happiness. It holds the third-highest Human Development Index (HDI) in the world, for good reason. People enjoy a great work-life balance – and it is not hard to enjoy your time outside the office in such a beautiful country. Even though the cost of living is quite high in Australia, foreigners can still live comfortably thanks to the relatively high minimum wage (about $14).
From its wide-open outback, pristine beaches, and cosmopolitan cities Australia has it all. Sydney and Melbourne are known for their multicultural population and are home to a multitude of foreigners making it extremely easy for an ex-pat to adjust to life in Australia.
Australia Visa Process
The process for obtaining a visa to work in Australia is roughly identical to that of New Zealand. Australia also has a “working holiday” visa that allows foreigners of certain nationalities to enter the country for up to 12 months. Likewise, there are working visas available for international workers that pass a skills assessment similar to that of New Zealand.
As one of the most geographically varied countries in South America, Ecuador is a genuinely pleasant place to live. It is truly an all-in-one package with the Andes, coast, and Amazon rainforest. Because of the diversity of habitats, the weather is varied throughout the country, however, you can expect generally pleasant weather year-round.
Life is relaxed and quite inexpensive, as you would expect in any Latin American country. People enjoy quality healthcare and a stable economy. Living in Ecuador is quite different than what most people may be used to, but with an open mind, it can make for a unique experience working abroad.
Ecuador Work Visa Process
Ecuador is one of the easiest Latin American countries to obtain a residency or working visa. It is ideal for freelancers as the “professional” visa has few requirements to fulfill. If you have an income of at least $400 and a bachelor’s degree (from the US, Canada, or Europe) you can apply.
Jobs can be more difficult to come by if you do not have any Spanish language experience, but there is work available for foreigners in international businesses, NGOs, and tourism. Some work is available for English teachers as well. If you have a job lined up the working visa is easy to apply for.
Many other countries could have made this ranking, but these are the overall best places to live and work abroad, based on overall work-life balance, cost of living, and the general happiness of ex-pats in these countries.
No matter where you would like to work abroad it will always be easiest for those with special skills or higher education to obtain permission to live and work in a foreign country, but don’t let that deter you.
It is such an eye-opening experience to live and work outside of your home country and to experience the life and culture of another place. Be it one of these countries, or another, you can expand your worldview and make lasting memories by working overseas.