Jetting away for a weekend, or even a week or two, is what most people have in mind when they are thinking of “a getaway.” But what about taking off for months or even years? This is not merely a reality for the silver spoon set. Savvy people and those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty a little bit can stay abroad, at least in certain destinations, for as long as they want.
Is there a secret to becoming an expat? No. Some so-called experts may try to sell you a book about how to work remotely or how to find English teach jobs abroad. But it is not that complicated. Sometimes, it is as simple as going to a place that has an economy that is moving along faster than your own country’s.
So where do would-be expatriates and economic refugees (more on that below) get started?
Think that you need some sort of advanced degree to teach English (or some other subjects) in a foreign country? You may not need anything more than some decent shoes and a tie. In many places in the world, the only requirement fir teaching English is being a native English speaker with some sort of background that can be spun into a qualification for teaching. The Far East, Eastern Europe, South America, and even some of the growing economies of Africa are all hungry for English, which remains the language of business despite the extended recession in the US and many other English-speaking countries.
Working for a language center or even as a private tutor is a great way to fund an extended out-of-the-country stay. In newly developed countries, the qualifications needed could be as simple as being able stand-upright and string together a few words in English. If that doesn’t cut it, one or three month certification courses could get you through the door and into a better paying classroom. In counties like Thailand, these certificates (which carry acronyms like TESOL, TEFL and CELTA) can be bought without having to actually do the coursework. Needless to say, the ease with which most people can step into the English classroom is the reason why it is one of the most popular jobs for wannabe expats.
People who are tied to a profession or who don’t have the desire to step into a classroom may be able to fund their travels by working remotely. Everyone points to sites like Elance as a great way to get clients for whatever freelancing business you have. But these freelance marketplaces are riddled with businesses looking for cheap labor and people who get business by undercutting other freelancers’ bids. Because of this, going remote is best for people who already have an established business that can be run remotely. Or, it could simply mean starting up a freelance career and getting a couple of clients before you actually purchase your airline tickets and take off.
Find a bull (market) and become an (economic) refugee
I am surprised that more people haven’t looked for work abroad during the latest economic downturn in the US and Europe. While much of the West was stuck in the economic equivalent of a standing-eight count, places like China, Brazil, and Vietnam were, and are, surging forward. The tiny territory of Macau, a former Portuguese colony and now a major gambling destination, has seen a reverse of the standard immigration stream Hundreds, if not thousands, of Portuguese people headed East to take part in the hospitality and tourism boom while their home country struggled through terrible economic times.
Perhaps you are not experienced or interested in working for the gaming industry or those industries that benefit from the trickle-down, but the Macau boom is merely an example. Some countries in the world are thriving, and in these places talent is valued (and paid for). If you can cast out some CVs and land something in a place like this, you may come out ahead, especially if the cost of living is not as high as it is at home.
This approach may provide more than the standard expat lifestyle. In the right boomtown, you may even be able to build a nest egg faster than you would have had you chose to stay at home.
About the Author
columnist for Gadling and has contributed to Hackwriters and Skive Magazine.