5 Essentials You Have to Know Before Working Abroad

Moving abroad to work is a challenge… For some of us it could be the biggest one we will ever face. Did you know that according to the BCG, around 60% of workers are willing to relocate? Still, if you are looking for information on what to know about starting to work abroad, it’s hard to find expats who write about their experience. What do you even need to move to a new country? How do you get a job abroad before moving? As we are sitting in an international office, surrounded by people from more than 20 nationalities – who in addition have friends who live abroad –, we decided to ask around and get some first-hand information.


After analysing all of it, we chose the most important points we think you should know from the very beginning and summarized them in this article. Here are the 5 must-knows about moving and especially working abroad.

Choose the right company

Once you’ve decided to move abroad, make sure, it’s not only for the opportunity but also for the job or a great employer. Try to find a company that will “take care of you” and help you with administrative things, finding accommodation, etc. Especially when you don’t speak the language very well, all of this will be a big challenge. Some companies really struggle to find international talent, so they might offer you a relocation package to make the move more attractive to you.

Are you not sure yet whether living in another country is the right decision? In this case you can try your luck with an internship first. Just make sure you get enough information about the company first. Astrid told us – she studied in France and spent some months in Spain – that interns in Spain are not always treated the best way. It could happen that you’ll have to send mails the whole day – and we mean sending already finished ones, so you don’t even write them. This kind of experience will not only ruin your perception of the company, but also of the city or the whole country. At least, this is what happened to her.

Insurances and insurance numbers

Have you ever wondered what you need to work abroad when it comes to insurances? You’re not the only one… This part of your career start abroad is incredibly hard, no matter which country you choose. All of them have different practices and rules you must follow to finally be perfectly covered. Robi from Bulgaria told us:

“If you want to work in the UK, make sure you ask for a NIN (National Insurance Number), you can only apply for it once you’re in the UK. You need to call to apply and then you get a letter for an interview. You can maybe start working without, but you need to apply for it and give it to your employer as soon as you have it.”

In Germany, for example, you must register for a health insurance as soon as you arrive. The difficult part here is, that you’ll have to choose your insurance yourself, and there are plenty! Ask your employer or friends who already live there if they have any advice and start doing your research in advance.

Salary and taxes

It’s not a secret that many people choose their jobs according to the salary. If you are one of those, don’t forget that the average as well as the minimum salary varies from country to country. In France, the SMIC (minimum salary) is €1,521.22 per month, in Germany it’s a little higher with €1,557.00, but in Spain it’s a lot less (€1,050.00). How much do you want to earn and where will you be willing to make compromises? Ask yourself this question when you decide to move abroad for a job!

Thinking about the salary is crucial! Latest during your job interviews recruiters will ask you about your expectations. If they don’t fit the average salary in the country, you will have to adapt.

All these numbers refer to the gross salary, which leads us to the next point: the taxes. Of course, how could it be different, the taxes are never the same. This leads us to the most important point: your net salary also will never be the same in several countries! Keep that in mind while choosing your next destination.

Speaking about taxes, Elena, Italian expat in Frankfurt, also mentioned a very important thing:

“When I signed a contract for a job in Germany, I had to apply for a tax number. To avoid paying additional tax in Italy, I had to register at the Italian Consulate in Frankfurt. Fortunately, the two countries are in the EU, otherwise I would have had to do a lot more bureaucratic stuff!”

Finally, some cities in your country of choice will be more expensive than others, so the amount of money you’ll have after paying your rent, your insurances, etc. will vary. At this point it’s on you to decide: Is it enough for you to live the moment or do you want to save some coins?

Take care of your visa

For non-European citizens the visa is a very important part of the expatriation. Without it, you can’t do anything, and getting a visa is not easy, especially, when you’re over 30. You will have to find a job first or prove that your skills are really needed in the country where you want to go. One of the expats we asked – he moved from New Zealand to France – couldn’t even stop talking about this topic, because he wanted to be sure that we understand how important and hard to get this document is. Plus: bureaucracy always takes time! This means you must start preparing your papers several months in advance.

It’s about passion

“I think I would say that it is important to have a passion – for the country, the language, the job you would do there (and best: all together). Because it's definitely not “the easy way” and if you have to stumble through the administrative jungle or cultural differences, then it's definitely good to always know why you're doing this.”

This is what Amelie said, German expat in France – and we all know, Germany is the king of bureaucracy. But she mentions a very important thing: passion. If you don’t like what you’re doing or where you are, every step you take will be painful. So, make sure you don’t take your decision for the wrong reason and always remember: once the paper stuff is done, you will live the life you’ve always wanted, in the city you always dreamed of. You will be in Paris, drinking wine at the Seine with the perfect view on the Eiffel tower, enjoy a glass of Sangria during your after works at the beach of Barcelona, or stroll around the cute little streets of Berlin, eating your currywurst and discovering the best street art you’ve ever seen.

What are you still waiting for? It’s time to start packing! One of the rare Dutch expats we found had some nice words to describe why you should always give it a try and move to another country:

“Working abroad is a fantastic way to get to know a country. You get the feeling of travelling, but you also get that safe feeling when you stay in a certain place for a while and find a good way to sustain yourself. You get to see a new side of the country you love.”

And you? When do you want to move to the country of your heart?


Do you need more info on how to prepare for working abroad? Or do you still have to answer the most important question “Am I even made for working abroad?!” In this case, don’t hesitate to check our blog. We have all the info you need to organise your move and start your new life abroad.