A generation ago, working abroad was a rare opportunity. Only certain professionals in a few specific fields could move abroad to work.
But working abroad isn’t just for the elite anymore.
Today, almost anyone can take advantage of employment opportunities abroad.
There’s an international call for jobs in language teaching, health care and hospitality, just to name a few.
In fact, the reason I decided to work abroad was precisely because I wasn’t part of the elite! I moved to South Korea just so I could earn money to pay off my student loans.
I got more than I bargained for when a one-year contract became two, and the fascinating world of ESL teaching drew me in.
I followed that path to several different countries and equally interesting career choices.
If you’re considering moving abroad, you can choose the time, place and profession instead of waiting for your employer to send you abroad.
But that also means it’s up to you to decide where to work abroad.
Why Work Abroad?
Depending on what kind of career you have, working abroad looks impressive on a resume.
It says that you’re flexible enough to learn to adapt to another culture. And that you’re stable enough to deal with any unexpected quirks in a healthy way.
Extended time working abroad opens a lot of doors that quick tourist trips miss. You can learn a language, personalize your adventure by making friends or familiarize yourself with a new diet.
This is part of the trending slow travel type of tourism that emphasizes a long, relaxed stay as opposed to a whirlwind tour. Learn gardening, cooking and other activities that might be mundane for locals but a voyage of discovery for you.
Working abroad is also a fantastic way to become fluent in a language. Spend time with coworkers, interact with customers and clients and learn business lingo.
If you’re looking for a language self-study method that familiarizes yourself with the language as well as deepen your knowledge of the culture, FluentU is the best way to go!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watching authentic videos is an entertaining method to immerse yourself in a language the way native speakers really use it, while actively building your vocabulary.
FluentU also offers progress-tracking tools and video suggestions based on what you’ve already watched. That means each user’s experience is 100% personalized! So if your time working abroad will be spent working in an office, waiting tables or leading guided tours in the mountains, you can watch videos that will best prepare you for your work day.
Access the full video library for free with a FluentU trial! You can study your target language on the website or download the FluentU app onto your iOS and Android devices.
Work Hard, Play Hard in These 12 Best Places Places to Work Abroad
Whether you’re a sports professional, ESL teacher, nanny or nurse, there’s the perfect place for you to work abroad.
The following cities were chosen based on economic growth, internet connectivity and visa requirements in addition to being fascinating places. Choose a city or region that fits with your lifestyle and hobbies.
Click here to join our team!
Work Abroad in Sunny Towns by the Sea
Some of us just need to be close to the ocean and all it has to offer.
If you like surfing, snorkeling or just lounging on the sand, check out these sunny, coastal towns.
Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
Puerto Limón is known as a popular transportation hub and the home of a unique Afro-Caribbean culture.
But the city isn’t a popular place for tourists.
This keeps the traffic under control, the prices reasonable and the experiences authentic.
Come for the work and stay for the surfing, annual festivals, a volcano, islands and a vast national park to explore.
All you need to enter Costa Rica is a valid passport and a round-trip ticket. You can’t stay in the country for more than 90 days at a time as a tourist.
There are strict laws against foreigners working in the country unless they have special skills that can only be found internationally. Once an employer has hired you for this specialized job, they can sponsor you as you apply for a visa.
Interested? Check out FluentU’s ultimate guide to working in Costa Rica to get started!
Tarifa is already an international favorite of backpackers and digital nomads. Travelers to Spain don’t need a return ticket when they arrive and can stay in the country as a tourist for up to three months.
Working here means you can enjoy reliable internet accessibility, warm summers and mild winters and a steadily growing national economy.
Residents of the European Union and Switzerland only need a passport for both holidays and work. Everyone else needs a work permit that would be requested by your prospective employer.
FluentU also has a guide for how to work in Spain as a foreigner.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Wax up your surfboard, break out the sunscreen and prepare to experience one of Australia’s trending national destinations. The entire country is experiencing an economic boom at the moment, and the Gold Coast is no exception.
It’s expensive to live in Australia. But the Gold Coast only recently emerged as a popular destination, so prices are lower than in other metropolitan locations.
There are several different kinds of traditional working visas available, and you can use this handy Australian government website to find the right one for you.
Work Abroad in Cities in the Great Outdoors
Some people like vast open spaces, great natural photo ops and outdoor activities.
If you like to live and work near hiking trails cross-country bike lanes and prefer plenty of elbow room, these are ideal locations for working abroad.
The Canadian side of the Pacific Northwest is a mix of cutting-edge modernity and old-school wilderness in a stunning location.
It’s expensive to live here, but you can find work fairly easily as Canada’s economy has been growing steadily.
Vancouver specifically is home to several software and media companies, three major ski resorts and literally hundreds of private schools if you work in these fields.
Documentation needed to visit or work in Canada depends on where you’re from. Most international visitors can stay for up to three months as tourists with just a valid passport.
For more, check out our guide for working in Canada!
Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand is famous for its impressive scenic vistas and rustic outdoor fun.
Its capital city, Wellington, is quickly earning a reputation as a modern hub for cuisine, wine, annual festivals and seaside fun. The healthy economy and reliable internet connection are also great benefits.
Digital nomads can visit New Zealand as tourists for up to six months if you’re from the United Kingdom, Australia or a visa waiver country.
Work and resident visas are available for those looking for more conventional employment. Eligibility depends on your skills or family connections within the country.
If you’re a young traveler, obtaining a Working Holiday Visa is relatively easy and applicable to countless professions!
Maastricht, The Netherlands
In general, Holland isn’t exactly an untamed wilderness.
However, Maastricht is ideal for those who prefer bike lanes, pleasant forested pathways and carefully manicured vineyards for their outdoor fun.
The city is closely connected to the rest of the country and the neighboring nations of France, Belgium and Germany. This is an ideal region to learn or teach languages or use as a home base to explore this region of Central Europe.
Residents from several countries don’t need a visa to visit the Netherlands at all, while others might have to apply for a Schengen Visa. If you have a job already, your employer can help you apply for a work visa.
Work Abroad in Cities with Culture, History and Food
These choices are ideal for those who prefer slow travel.
These cities’ best features are parts of life that only residents can discover, such as small annual festivals, historic architecture and hidden neighborhoods.
Mexico City, Mexico
Enjoy all the features of a modern city that still retains historic traditions.
Locals have a passion for gastronomy and independent political thought.
Thousands of digital nomads and expats already make el Distrito Federal (Mexico City) their home. Wi-Fi here is ubiquitous, available in virtually every commercial area and public spaces.
You can be part of a huge, vibrant international community based in central Mexico.
It’s fairly easy to stay for an extended time in Mexico. All visitors must have a valid passport and a Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM tourist card) and can stay for as long as 90 days.
Your employer can help you obtain a temporary residency card if you want to work in Mexico. Learn about that and more with our guide for working in Mexico!
Hangzhou already has everything that makes life in China appealing, such as an interesting history, a thriving economy and a rich gastronomic culture. This is also one of China’s most popular cities for tourism and has a lot to offer those in the hospitality or travel industry.
Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is still what employs most foreigners here.
Digital nomads and other workers who depend on the internet should make sure they have a reliable VPN so they can access all the websites they need to conduct work. Some websites, such as YouTube, are banned completely and can’t be accessed without that VPN.
Stay a while and explore the extensive historic sites in and around Hangzhou.
Or use the city as a headquarters to explore the rest of the country. Hangzhou is connected to Shanghai via high speed train, a trip that can take as little as 45 minutes.
There are are several different visas available for China depending on the purpose of your trip.
A simple tourist visa lasts for only 30 days for everyone except US citizens, who can stay for 60 days. There are work visas for traditional jobs like teaching and business visas for entrepreneurs.
You can read all about opportunities in our guide for working in China.
Greece’s second largest city is both ancient and cutting-edge modern.
Thessaloniki has a stellar location on the scenic Thermaïkos Gulf that makes it easily accessible from all points east on the Mediterranean shoreline.
As the economy is still struggling from the recent banking crisis, the economy favors digital nomads or those working in seasonal and tourist jobs.
Travelers love Thessaloniki for the weather, the extensive ancient ruins and the eclectic mix of Mediterranean cuisine.
Most visitors just need a passport to stay in Greece for 90 days without any additional documentation. To obtain a residency permit for more traditional jobs, enter the country on a tourist visa and then apply.
Greece is a member of the EU, making it easier for those with a Schengen Visa to live and work in the country.
Work Abroad in Cities with Modern Technology
Singapore is a unique country in the sense that it isn’t a country at all, but an independent city state on an island.
Singapore’s infrastructure and connectivity are first-world, but so are its prices. The daily cost of living is about the same as the United States, but rent is 29% more expensive.
A certain amount of paperwork is required to enter Singapore, even if you’re just visiting. You need a passport that’s valid for up to six months, sufficient funds to support you during your stay and a return ticket.
There are visitor visas and business visas. Digital nomads should be aware that if they have a visitor’s visa, they can’t legally work in Singapore, even remotely.
An ideal place for entrepreneurs, Singapore ranks highly as a country that welcomes business and has few restrictions on trade.
Although it’s in Asia, Singapore isn’t the best market for travelers looking to work as English teachers. A lot of locals already speak English. Those who do want to work as teachers need advanced degrees and teaching certifications.
Germany is famous for its robust economy and reliable public infrastructure for transformation and communication.
The quality of life is high but, like in Singapore, so are the prices. Thankfully, the variety of employment opportunities and a large international community can help buoy you up.
Berlin functions as a cultural hub for Europe. It has a variety of culture, cuisine, history and annual festivals that reflect ancient traditions.
If you’re bringing your remote office with you, apply for a Schengen visa and stay in Germany for up to 90 days. If you want to stay longer, you need to apply for a residence visa.
Busan, South Korea
Busan is second only to Seoul when it comes to large, metropolitan centers on the Korean peninsula. Busan and the surrounding region is also home to some of South Korea’s best preserved and extensive historic sites.
The whole country has a vibrant and creative street food culture and plenty of modern entertainment. Visit with a 30 or 90 day tourist visa depending on your current passport, or find an employer beforehand to sponsor a formal work visa.
When it comes to work, it’s not just a world for ESL teachers anymore. Digital nomads love the cutting-edge tech and fast internet access South Korea provides.
Speaking as an English teacher who has worked in places like South Korea, Myanmar and Mexico, I can attest that the benefits of working abroad are too numerous to count.
It’s all about finding the place that’s your perfect fit.
Which of these cities will become your new office?
Kristy Ambrose has been writing professionally since 2010. She dabbles in various genres, including everything from short blog posts to serialized novels. Her inspiration comes from gamers, beachcombers, foodies and of course her fellow travelers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Victoria.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.