Working abroad: How to choose where you go

There are two different types of working abroad, and how you go about the process will depend on which type. In one case, you will have decided – or someone will have asked you – to move abroad for a specific job, to a specific place, to undertake specific work. It may be short, medium or long-term in that case, but generally, the framework will already exist for you to go, work, and live. It’s still not automatically a simple way to go, but you’ll have a fair idea of what the move will entail.

The other approach – becoming a digital nomad – puts travel at the center of what you are doing. It’s not the case that your employer has asked you to head up the launch of the new Rome office, so you won’t have everything laid out for you. You’ll have some resources to rely on, such as Digital Nomad World and some more general advice on working abroad. But everything else will be on you to work out. And one of the first things to decide will be where you’re actually going – which is something we can help with.

Where do you want to go?

Many of us love to travel for the joy of travel itself – merely experiencing something new and different is a goal in and of itself. But almost all of us still have preferences. You don’t hop on a plane and decide to set yourself up wherever it lands. It makes sense, then, to have a loose concept of what your time as a digital nomad is going to look like. The finer details can come later, but knowing a list of places and an order in which you want to see them is a good idea; this form of planning will help you adjust when you’re actually on the road.

A fortnight in Lisbon followed by a jaunt to Madrid, then on to Bordeaux? Or would you prefer to hop around Southeast Asia for a while? Sketching out that itinerary in your head is the first step to making it all real.

Where can you go?

When you commit to spending a chunk of time in a new place, you commit to abiding by its laws, whether you agree with them or not. The very first law you need to be conscious of is whether you can enter that country at all, which means researching their immigration law. Some countries might not allow you in. Others might allow you in, but not allow you to bring prescription medication.

Others might be fine with you staying there, but have restrictions on public behavior that make life uncomfortable for you. And then there is the question of visas. Do you need one for entry? Do you need one in order to work there? Being cognisant of the legal framework before you go is essential. Not knowing it will not be a defense for breaching it.

Where should you go?

Really, any country that is OK after the first two questions is fine for your plans, but it is beneficial to know which countries are particularly keen on digital nomads. Some countries issue specific visas for people who plan to work and live as a digital nomad, and they might be worth looking at if you’re still open to a decision on your initial or eventual location.

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