Should you move abroad to make more money?

  • money
Published on 2024-03-25 at 08:52 by Asaël Häzaq
Your aim is straightforward: to work abroad and earn more money. You're not looking to relocate permanently but rather to return home with a fair amount of money. Achieving this goal involves considering various aspects. Here's a list of essential steps to ensure your project goes smoothly.

Define your real intentions

Why do you want to earn more money? While increasing your income can be a goal in itself, there's usually a specific purpose behind it. You're not aiming to stash your earnings under your mattress. The money you earn abroad will likely go towards financing a project when you return to your home country. Are you planning to buy a home, pay off loans, start a business, invest in real estate, secure retirement funds, cover education expenses for yourself or your children, or perhaps purchase a house for your parents? Clearly defining the intended use of your financial gains is crucial. Even a short period abroad can feel too much if you don't have the right motivation. Identifying the ‘goal behind the goal' will help you stay focused and rekindle your motivation during challenging times.

Be ready to spend your time and money

The saying ‘time is money' rings true in a foreign country as expenses pile up quickly. From researching the destination country to sorting out visas and immigration procedures, money seems to flow in all directions. You're not only spending before you leave but also afterward, covering costs such as accommodation, private health insurance, health insurance contributions in the host country, food, transportation, and various other expenses. Therefore, planning your budget well before your move is essential. Calculate your expenses in both your home and host countries, considering differences in the cost of living and the impact of inflation.

Choose your country wisely

We've all heard of “working more to earn more”. For you, it would be “work far to earn more”. Although you don't necessarily have to go to the ends of the earth to get a better salary, how do you choose your host country? Your variable is money. It's up to you to select all the countries that offer high incomes, according to your sector of activity. But this choice will have to be weighed against other crucial factors: the possibility of obtaining a residence permit (and the time it will take), affinities with the host country, and possible constraints (your state of health, for example). Don't minimize these aspects. Even if you're highly motivated, the days can be very long if you opt for a country that may offer you a good salary but in which you don't feel comfortable.

Establish a deadline

To streamline your preparations, establish both a financial objective and a deadline. You're moving abroad with the specific aim of increasing your income, but that's not the end of the story. Your visa selection and overall organization rely on these two factors. How much money do you need to earn to fulfill all or part of your underlying goal? And how long do you anticipate it will take to reach this target? In your calculations, remember to account for the expenses incurred during the expatriation process and life abroad. Estimate the time required and the salary needed to save the desired amount.

Choosing your visa/residence permit

Before you actually find a job through which you can make more money as an expat, it's crucial to select the appropriate visa. Consider the expenses associated with visa application: visa fees, minimum income criteria, and health insurance (especially for digital nomads). In both scenarios, these expenses must be weighed against the cost of living in the destination country. Opting for a country with a lower cost of living than your own enhances your purchasing power. The same principle applies to a country with a weaker currency. However, be mindful of planning for your eventual return home.

Work visa 

This visa serves as the gold standard for boosting your income overseas. While it can be challenging to secure, it offers greater flexibility. With this visa, you have the freedom to work indefinitely in your preferred industry and reap rewards such as bonuses and additional benefits. Many countries experiencing significant labor shortages are actively seeking foreign talent. Industries such as healthcare, transportation, information and communication technologies (ICT), emerging technologies (AI, advanced robotics, etc.), construction, automotive, agriculture, and food processing are particularly high in demand.

Digital nomad visa

Are you self-employed or working for a company that allows remote work? An increasing number of countries are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. Among them are popular expatriate destinations that actively recruit foreign talent, such as the United Arab Emirates, Norway, and Spain. However, the income requirement varies depending on the country you select. For instance, in Spain, you'll need to demonstrate an income equivalent to twice the local salary, which translates to at least 2,500 euros per month (approximately 2,700 dollars). Other countries like Germany, Belgium, Argentina, Ecuador, and Cape Verde have lower monthly income requirements, ranging from $870 to $1300.

Startup visa

Are you considering a business venture? Countries actively seeking foreign talent are particularly interested in entrepreneurs. Canada, France, Japan, Finland, Estonia, and Germany have established their own programs tailored for entrepreneurs. However, it's important to carefully review the eligibility criteria and ensure they align with your goals. Keep in mind that countries offering favorable conditions for startups often aim to retain them in the country. Consider investing in a project that can be easily relocated, such as the digital sector, to facilitate the transition of your business when you return home.

Assess your skills when choosing a job overseas

Are you currently employed or seeking employment abroad? Are you considering exploring a new career path during your stay in a foreign country? What level of education do you have, and is your profession in demand in your chosen destination? Are you working in a field facing shortages? How does your current salary compare to the salary levels in the country you're considering moving to? After deducting your estimated expenses from your projected salary abroad, how much would you have left to live on? What amount could you potentially save each month? Do you plan to keep these savings in your foreign account, or do you intend to invest them elsewhere (such as in life insurance)?

It's no surprise that high-tech sectors and prestigious positions tend to offer higher salaries. However, it's impractical to undergo training in the tech industry solely for a short-term international relocation of 1 or 2 years, especially considering that the timeframe for training is unlikely to align with your departure deadlines.

Keep your expectations grounded

Are you aiming to save $100,000 within a year while living abroad? That's approximately $8,330 per month. It doesn't take much calculation to realize that this target may be unattainable, even in a management position. The era of golden (expat) packages is long gone. Moving to a high-wage country often comes with a high cost of living. Your short-term stay abroad could extend to 2 or 4 years, depending on your plans and the provisions of your residence permit. So make sure to update your project regularly to adapt in case of an early return to your home country (such as non-renewal of your residence permit).