How to pick your next career work destination

Have passport, will travel. You’re keen for an adventure and ready to work in some faraway place. So how can you decide which place to grace with your presence?

Deciding where in the world your next workplace will be is no easy task. Why, you ask? There are far too many excellent choices! The good news is, you can (and should) narrow it down with some important criteria, based on your life goals. To start with, ask yourself which countries and cities match your goals:

  • What cultures (and languages) am I interested in?
  • Is the jobs market tangible for my industry or profession?
  • Are there any landmarks or types of attractions I want to see on a regular basis?
  • Is there a type of weather that I have a preference for?
  • Should I remain relatively close to home, for important life events?
  • Economically, does the country make financial sense for me?
  • Am I interested in the option of becoming a citizen?

You should start by reordering the above questions by your highest personal priority to lowest. You’ll find that as you work your way down the list, you may only leave one or two countries as an option. Each question takes time to answer – try spending fifteen to thirty minutes on each initially, and cycle through them again later.

Find cultures you’ll enjoy exploring

Your future place of residence will be unique, no matter where you go. How unique exactly is up to you. Culture has various forms; people, language, culinary, historical, architectural and much more. What excites you the most? Personally, I’m biased towards great food and nature-oriented adventure. Nothing beats a scenic weekend road trip with some chatty friends! Culture and personality of the locals is definitely important – you’ll want to make new friends to accompany you on your adventures. The general nature of each country’s population is different – Australians can be carefree, Italians are often passionate, and Japanese are respectful.

You also need to take the local language into account. If you only speak English, consider if you would enrich your life by speaking another. Or if you already speak Japanese for example, is this a great opportunity to rekindle your love of it? Of course, for career purposes you need to ensure that you are fluent in the languages that your role requires of you – so do your research about what the average job requires. In Germany for example, 64% of the population speak English according to this list of English-speaking countries. However, the vast majority of jobs still require you to speak German.

Research the local jobs market

To continue progressing your career, you’ll need a similar or better job than your most recent one. Ask our friends at Google to find job vacancies in each of your candidate countries. Make sure that each country has plenty of jobs available for your criteria, such as:

  • language and skill requirements
  • salary expectations
  • employment type (full/part/casual time)
  • growth opportunities

Remember, at this stage you’re just trying to shortlist countries or cities and make sure you’ll find the work you want. You’ll reiterate and refine the job listings later – but you can take the opportunity to save or ‘favourite’ what you do find.

While you’re checking the jobs market, you also need to find out what the visa and work permit situation is. Some countries offer easy-access working holiday visas, but only if you are thirty years old or under. If you’re above thirty, research into the work permit process. This process differs from country to country, but often requires you to receive sponsorship (support) from a prospective future employer before being awarded the permit. There is an art to this, which I’ll cover in a subsequent article. The important thing to remember is that you are still very much eligible for an overseas job, even without a working holiday visa.

Explore the lifestyle and attractions you’ve always wanted

Every country has different work packages that are available. In the United States, it’s quite common to have two weeks of vacation leave per year. In Australia, the standard is four weeks while for some European countries it’s up to five weeks per year. It’s a good idea to consider this along with the public holidays, to ensure it matches your expectations. Here’s a list of minimum annual leave days by country.

As for environmental factors, seasonal weather should play a big part in your shortlist. The UK has a great indoor culture but is often labelled as rainy. Australia on the other hand has great sunshine but can be quite hot, humid or dry depending on the section of the continent. Canada is surprisingly cold even in the months surrounding summer, when it can still snow unexpectedly on a sunny day! Check out this summary of global weather and see what interests you. Your favourite type of weather would have a correlation to the lifestyle and attractions you enjoy.

For a beach-oriented lifestyle, Australia is a good choice. If you’re into snow and skiing as a getaway, consider Japan or New Zealand. The United States is known for its national parks. Each of these places are famous for certain attractions and natural features. Picking attractions you’re passionate about is a great way to narrow your shortlist.

Consider the ties to your homeland

Family and friends are an important consideration when making a dramatic move. Will they visit, or will you want to visit them on a regular basis? It’s useful to estimate what your maximum flight time distance is, for your personal circumstances. For example, there could be elderly people in your life that need assistance in the coming years. I personally have friends that may be delivering children in the next few years. This means that I should consider returning in order to maintain that connection with them and their new kids as much as possible.

Some people also have assets such as houses or apartments that might need occasional visits. Overall, give some thought to what might change and need attention at home in the next 2-5 years. If it’s unavoidable, you might need to pick a destination that is relatively closer to home – a two hour flight away, rather than twenty.

Make an informed economic decision

It’s vital to carefully consider your personal financial circumstances with respect to your long-term goals. If you plan on returning home with more savings in your pocket, you’ll want to ensure that your future job and place of residence makes financial sense. Particularly, research into:

  • tax rates in your candidate country
  • average pay of your intended/ideal role
  • past, present and future exchange rate of the candidate currency, versus your own
  • living costs in your candidate country

For tax rates, jump online for a simple tax calculator. You might be surprised – Ireland for example, is known as a tax haven. However, this only applies to corporate tax, not your income tax, unless you plan on starting a business. In reality, Ireland has one of the highest tax rates in the world, once you factor in social levies and other charges.

With respect to exchange rate, always make the assumption that the target currency will become weaker than your own. This is important as you should be able to survive unfavourable fluctuations in the currency. If the currency actually strengthens (which is in your favour, as you will trade it for more of your home currency), then this is simply a great bonus, but should not be expected. For example, if you earn 75,000US and search for jobs the equivalent at 66,000 Euro, add an extra buffer just in case the Euro falls within the next couple of years.

Plan for long-term residency

It’s always a great idea to plan for your future. While working long-term as a professional for a number of years, you’ll have the capability of obtaining citizenship in your new country, also via a process known as naturalization. The process is different in each country, but they all operate on similar terms – work and/or reside legally there for a certain number of years, and you will become eligible for citizenship.

The number of years required prior to citizenship is usually at least five, particularly in Europe. If your goal is to obtain a dual passport via citizenship, take the number of years under consideration for each candidate country.

Choose your own adventure

Overall, the choice is always up to you. Pick a place that will excite you, enrich your life, and bring passion into your day. Find out where you will enjoy your favourite weather, while you sample the various food, culture and places that the nation has to offer. Find a competitive job market where the roles offered make financial sense. After you’ve done all that, all that’s left is to pack your bags!