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Want to Work Abroad? Here Are Your Options

Finding work abroad is an idea that has gained increasing popularity in recent years. With the growing interest in expat living, there are a number of options that exist today that weren’t even thinkable a few short years ago.

The potential for earning a living in a foreign location can be dependent on a number of important variables. Whether you are seeking a career change, looking to fund your retirement in paradise, or wondering how to take your skill set abroad, there are some important first steps that you need to take.

expats jobs

Sylvia Overkamp

Pick the Destination Where You Want to Work Abroad

Before packing up and moving, you need to have a clear idea of exactly where you want to live. The best way to do this is to visit your prospective destination, more than once, to see if it resonates with you.

Remember, in addition to working there, this new location is also going to be your home. If you aren’t comfortable as an expat, even in paradise, you won’t be successful trying to work abroad.

Where to Begin the Search

One of the best search tools you can use is the Internet. There are a number of job boards that offer opportunities for positions–both paid and volunteer–in foreign lands.

Other sources are expat groups and social media sites. Learning about others’ experiences can be a valuable tool in helping you fine-tune your search.

Learn the Rules and Regulations

Since you will be living there full-time, it is important to learn what the residency requirements are and whether you can qualify. In many Central and South American countries, establishing a type of residency is a prerequisite to working within that country’s borders.

Some countries are more expat-friendly than others when it comes to finding work abroad. Others have fairly stringent requirements that mandate that foreigners cannot be hired if a local could fill the position.

By knowing what the rules and regulations are beforehand, prospective expat workers can better plan how to make their transition to their tropical paradise.

Make a Budget That You Can Live On

It is important to realize that there is going to be a lag between your move and when your work abroad starts to generate income. Planning a budget that can sustain you for a minimum of three months can reduce your stress as you become acclimated to your new home and your new employment.

expat jobs

Andy McDowall

Working for an Employer Vs. Working for Yourself

Working abroad will involve either working for yourself or finding an employer. As mentioned above, many Latin Tropic countries have stringent rules for local companies hiring non-natives as employees.

Depending on your chosen location, and your experience, becoming an employee for a local business may not be a viable option. However, there are other alternatives that you can pursue.


A popular option for many expats considering working abroad is to become a freelancer. Being able to make your own schedule, live where you want to, and have the freedom of being your own boss is an attractive proposition.

Before beginning life as a freelancer abroad, there are several important factors to consider. First and foremost is whether your skill set can translate into a freelance career.

Writing, photography, and technical support are three of the most popular freelance careers. Increased Internet access in many tropical locations has broadened the horizons for individuals with skills in these areas.

However, it is also important to recognize that freelancers do not have a guarantee of a regular income. There can be (and often are) “dry spells” that would need to be navigated while waiting for the next assignment.

Having a plan B is an important part of any freelance career. Even in a tropical paradise, having a realistic economic plan is essential to a successful freelancing enterprise.

Translating Your Stateside Career to a Tropical Destination

If you are fortunate enough to work for an employer who has locations in the Latin Tropics, it may be worth your while to see if your job location could migrate to a foreign destination. Telecommuting, staffing offshore locations, and similar options may provide you the opportunity to work abroad in paradise.

Importantly, many countries that have strict limitations on foreigners working within their borders DO make allowances if you are filling a position for your current employer. While these types of positions are limited, being able to stay with your current employer while enjoying life in the tropics is certainly the best of both worlds.

Chris Goldberg

Chris Goldberg

Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business is a unique way to find a working niche in a tropical paradise. Launching your own enterprise is a great way to carve out your own “brand.”

Teaching yoga, becoming a diving instructor, tutoring English and even acting as a travel guide for other expats are some of the most popular self-run businesses by expats. But before you get too far into your business plan, make certain that you know any local restrictions that may impact opening up a business.

Is Working Abroad the Right Choice for You?

Working and living abroad, even in the Latin Tropics, is not necessarily the best option for everyone. Preparation, research, and actually experiencing the destination can go a long way to answering the question of whether this life choice is the right choice.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to a leap of faith and belief in your dreams. When those two elements work in harmony, paradise can be achieved.

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