Living and working in a foreign country is a perfect way to learn about the world, yourself, and what it means to be a global citizen. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, people are looking for work abroad, but knowing where to start when deciding to go overseas can be difficult.
We have listed the 10 best countries to work abroad to make your life easier. We considered several things when making this list: cost of living, ease of obtaining a work visa, and job opportunities in the country.
List of countries
Germany is a highly modern and organized country and a great place to work abroad. It’s rich in culture and history, with an unrivalled work-life balance. Germans work less (approximately 27 hours per week) and thus live better! Exceptional healthcare, generous paid holidays, and unforgettable experiences await you in Germany. The cost of living may be higher than you were used to, but living in Germany can be cheaper than in many other European cities.
Every city has something different, which is perfect for any expat. Larger cities remain the most popular for expats, with Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt having the largest expat communities. No matter where you are, you can appreciate the eclectic charm of this innovative European country.
German work visa process
Applying for a work visa can be tricky – you can blame the Germans’ love of bureaucracy for this – but there are ways to get permission to work and live in Germany with relative ease. If you are a freelancer, Germany offers an “artist visa” that allows you to gain residency as a self-employed person.
Citizens of most Western countries can apply for a “job seeker” visa, which facilitates you to arrange work in your home country and then request a work visa once you have a job contract. Expats to Germany can find employment in numerous multinational companies based in Germany. Finding a job will also be easier if English is your native language.
2. South Korea
If you’ve done some research, you’ve probably noticed that South Korea tends to top many of these rankings, and for a good reason. I might be biased since I live in Korea now, but Korea is undoubtedly one of the best countries to work overseas. There are various job opportunities for foreign workers, especially those fluent in English.
The government invests a lot in English education, and South Korea is a good choice if you want to become a teacher! Due to the job benefits and low cost of living in Korea (up to $13k!)
Living in South Korea can be annoying if you are still getting ready for some cultural changes, especially regarding work.
Everything is based on hierarchy and rank., but most companies are more friendly to foreigners because they understand cultural differences. But be ready to put in more hours than you’re used to. – South Korea has the most extended working hours of any developed country!
Despite the long workweek, South Korea offers a lot. From Seoul’s bustling cityscape to the breathtaking natural splendour of South Korea’s interior, there is something for everyone. There are a lot of foreigners in Seoul, Busan, and Daegu, and the nightlife and food are excellent. Living and working in South Korea is an experience of a lifetime for any international worker.
Korea Work Visa Process
Obtaining a work visa in South Korea is relatively easy. The best and easiest way to get a work visa in South Korea is to become an English teacher on a Korean E-2 visa.
If teaching isn’t your thing, South Korea has agreements with some Western countries that allow employees to enter South Korea on “working holiday” visas, valid for up to a year. A “job-seeking” visa allows foreigners to live in South Korea for six months while looking for a job.
Cambodia is one of the specific countries to obtain a long-term work visa. Many expats flock to the Southeast Asian country due to its unbelievably low cost of living, profound cultural heritage and tropical climate. Cambodia may lack some of the comforts many Westerners are used to, but it makes up for it in its laid-back culture and exotic cuisine.
International workers can find employment with NGOs, multinational companies or English teachers. Cambodia is also a popular destination for freelancers looking to work overseas.
Cambodia work visa process
To work legally in Cambodia, you must apply for a work permit upon arrival. However, the country has been lax with these permits. Most foreigners obtain residence visas by applying for long-term “business” visas, which are currently renewable indefinitely.
4. The Netherlands
Consistently ranked among the top expats for working conditions and work-life balance, the Netherlands is another excellent 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 or small.
The Netherlands has a higher quality of life than most countries on the list. The country is clean and efficient, and the people are straightforward. Cycling, canals, endless entertainment and festivals, and a relaxed lifestyle are sure to please almost any expat.
Netherlands work visa process
Obtaining a work visa in the Netherlands can be challenging, but the rewards outweigh the effort if you are prepared. The Netherlands has many programs to help foreigners enter and work. The “Startup” visa allows foreign investors to live in the Netherlands for one year to develop new and innovative business ideas. The government also provides you with the assistance of local mentors to help your business grow. The Netherlands also encourages small businesses through the “self-employment” visa.
There are many job opportunities for international workers in information technology, finance and engineering. It’s worth noting that most expats in the Netherlands have at least a master’s degree, which significantly increases your employability.
5. The Czech Republic
Home to more than half a million foreigners, the Czech Republic is another severe contender from Europe. Located in the heart of Central Europe, it is the centre of many international businesses in the region, creating many opportunities for foreign workers. Travelling in Europe has also become very easy. Still, if you choose to go to the Czech Republic abroad, you won’t want to spend a lot of time travelling – there’s an abundance of beauty to experience.
Most expats live either in the capital, Prague or in Brno. However, there are more jobs available to foreigners in and around Prague. The city caters to every type of expat, with its weird but undeniably cool bars and music venues, its food galore and its stunning architecture. Prague is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe, and having lived there myself, and I can guarantee you will love it too.
Czech Republic Work Visa Procedures
There are many job opportunities for foreign workers, especially those who can speak English. Many young people in the Czech Republic speak English, but in multinational companies, there is always a need for native English speakers.
Working in the Czech Republic, it is best to have the job arranged before you arrive. Before applying for a long-term work visa, you must apply for a work permit. While permits can be issued to citizens of many Western countries on tourist visas, it is best to apply in advance.
As Asia’s most powerful economy, China is a unique place to work overseas. China’s position in the international market makes it an excellent place for foreigners to work. Multinational companies in China always need someone who understands Western business and who can speak English. While finding a job is not as easy as it used to be, many jobs are still open to foreigners.
One job that pays well in China is that of an English teacher. There is a huge demand for native English speakers; therefore, China offers attractive benefits for those willing to come to China to teach English.
Life in China is multifaceted and challenging to explain in a few words, but as a foreigner, you can always be on your guard. There is much to explore and experience in China, and you will always be energized there. However, some people need help adapting to the Chinese way of life. Many social and cultural aspects can be challenging to adjust to, but life in China can be a rewarding experience if you can get over it.
China Work Visa Process
The visa process is almost painless if you plan on becoming an English teacher. Regardless of which company you decide to work for, the entire visa process is handled, setting you up for success.
The process is similar if you’re looking for a job outside of teaching. You will need to find a job before arriving in China, and your company will help you obtain a visa through sponsorship.
Vietnam is known for its lush landscapes and lively and relaxed culture. Friendly people and vibrant cuisine draw many tourists to the country yearly; inevitably, many don’t want to leave. Vietnam also prides itself on work-life balance – there is a strong emphasis on the value of life outside work. Vietnam can be a vibrant place for expats, but some challenges exist.
The cost of living in Vietnam is meagre, making a living comfortably, even on a tight budget, easy. On the other hand, wages can also be low, depending on your profession. Expats also expressed unease about chaotic traffic and congestion in big cities, which can lead to harmful air pollution. Yet there’s a certain beauty to the chaos of riding a motorcycle through Vietnam.
Vietnam work visa process
As Vietnam is still developing, it is easy for foreigners to find jobs in NGOs or fields related to international development. Freelancers also tend to flock to Vietnam, at least temporarily, because long-term “business” visas are difficult to renew. The easiest way to work in Vietnam is as an English teacher. A permit should be arranged before arrival in Vietnam, even though some companies claim to provide a visa after arrival in Vietnam. Once in Vietnam, all foreign workers must apply for a work permit to work legally.
8. New Zealand
Nearly 90 per cent of expats said they were satisfied with their lives in New Zealand, making them the happiest people in the world. New Zealanders’ laid-back culture and work-life balance create an atmosphere everywhere. Finding full-time work in New Zealand is hard, but that doesn’t stop most expats.
New Zealanders are very friendly, so most foreigners will find it easy to adjust to life in New Zealand. The country is also known for its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle.
New Zealand work visa process
New Zealand has several agreements with countries worldwide that allow foreigners to enter on a “working holiday” visa for up to 12 months or 23 months if they are British or Canadian citizens. This is the fastest way to get a work visa in New Zealand.
In addition, visas are available for those looking for work and foreigners with special skills ranging from engineering to telecommunications.
Australia has always been a country with high quality of life, the standard of living and overall well-being. For a good reason, it has the world’s third-highest Human Development Index (HDI). People enjoy work-life balance – it’s not hard to enjoy time outside of work in such a beautiful country. Although the cost of living in Australia is relatively high, expats can still live thanks to the relatively high minimum wage (around $14).
Australia has a vast outback, pristine beaches and cosmopolitan cities. Famous for their multicultural populations, Sydney and Melbourne are also home to many foreigners, making it very easy for expats to adjust to Australia.
Australian visa process
The procedure for obtaining a work visa in Australia is the same as in New Zealand. Australia also has a “working holiday” visa, which allows foreigners of certain nationalities to enter the country for up to 12 months. Likewise, international workers who pass a similar New Zealand skills assessment can be granted a work visa.
Ecuador is a natural place to live in one of South America’s most geographically diverse countries. It is a tourist destination that combines the Andes, the coast and the Amazon rainforest. Due to the diversity of habitats, the weather varies across the country, but you can expect a pleasant climate throughout the year.
In any Latin American country, life is easy and cheap. People enjoy high-quality healthcare and a stable economy. Living in Ecuador may be very different from what most people are used to, but with an open mind, working abroad is a unique experience.
Ecuador work visa process
Ecuador is one of the easiest Latin American countries to obtain a residence or work visa. This is ideal for freelancers, as there are few “professional” visa requirements. You can apply if you have an income of at least $400 and a bachelor’s degree (from the US, Canada, or Europe).
Finding a job can be more difficult if you don’t have any Spanish experience, but there are jobs for foreigners in international businesses, NGOs and the tourism industry. Some jobs are also available for English teachers. A work visa is easy to apply for if you have a job.
Lots of other countries could make a list, but these are the best places to live and work abroad based on overall work-life balance, cost of living and general happiness for expats living in these countries.
No matter where you want to work abroad, living and working abroad is most accessible for those with special skills or higher education, but don’t let that stop you.
Living and working abroad, experiencing the life and culture of another place, is an eye-opening experience. Whether it’s one of these countries or another, you can expand your worldview and leave lasting memories by working overseas.