5 Overlooked Countries You Should Consider As An Expat
From Asia to the Middle East and Europe, working overseas is a resume must-have. But instead of instantly looking to the obvious London/NYC/Hong Kong option, we’ve rounded up some strong economies with many opportunities for foreign talent that offer a great standard of living.
Thriving professionally overseas is a challenge. You’re thrown out of your comfort zone with limited, if any, friends and family around you while adapting to a completely different way of working and living. You may not know the local language and even if you do, everyday cultural nuances will often leave you confused.
As the international market continues to globalise and unsuspecting economies boom, the value that managers are placing on taking your career overseas is only increasing. Working overseas demonstrates your agility and resourcefulness, you usually are working in much larger industry than here at home, and you get bonus points if you manage to learn another language while you’re there.
Browse the LinkedIn of any senior executive and you’ll notice they’ve probably worked overseas at least once in their career, if not multiple times in different countries. Thankfully, there are a growing number of unsuspectingly lucrative countries for expats to work and play in.
Here’s our five picks to place yourself as an expat that are less intense on job competition but offer ample opportunity, quality living and a feel of cultural diversity.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE is the Middle East’s second largest economy and one of the wealthiest countries in the region. Banking, construction, oil and tourism are major growth industries and with numerous free trade zones across multiple industries, the UAE offers professionals and entrepreneurs limitless opportunities.
Often described as a ‘nation of expats’, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most international of the seven emirates, with tight-knit, friendly expat communities.
While the UAE is a conservative Muslim nation, if you’re working in westernised Dubai, you’ll be up all night. A city designed for the young gun; there are constant parties and lavish bars to be seen at. Mix this with the tax that you won’t need to pay (the UAE is largely tax-free) and you can see why expats are flocking.
The darling of Asia, Singapore has been welcoming foreign talent in a bid to boost its economy for quite some time. Marketing, IT, Finance, Communications, Engineering and Advertising are all fields that continue to require foreign talent as the city boasts big-name companies like Microsoft, American Express and BBDO to name a few.
While Singapore is the most expensive city in the world, it’s one of the easiest to work in as a foreigner. Clean, safe, English-speaking and with flexible working visas, it also boasts low tax and is central to the rest of Asia, with cheap flights to just about everywhere if you need a weekend away.
A multicultural city with influences from all over, Singapore is often seen as expat utopia.
China has plenty of jobs in industries such as Banking and Finance, Sales and Marketing, Teaching, Advertising, Manufacturing and IT. Often associated with communism, corruption and pollution, it isn’t doted on as an amazing expat destination past the obvious financial perks of being one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Yet it should be. With a flourishing contemporary art scene in Beijing, the ever-cosmopolitan nightlife of Shanghai, a growing array of high-end international cuisine and all the high-end fashion you could ever want, many Chinese cities are becoming international hubs without the cost.
You can live cheaply, travel wildly and experience a culture completely at odds with the west while still being able to access cheeseburgers and H&M if need be.
No doubt you’ll also pick up some Mandarin (or Putonghua as you’ll hear it referred to in China). As the most widely spoken language in the world, it’s a definite asset for your resume.
Home to possibly the most polite and precise people on earth, Switzerland is often listed as the best European country to be an expat in. Those working in Finance are best off in Zurich, while IT and technical professionals are needed in all major cities and Geneva is the hub for all NGO and United Nations-related work.
The cost of living is high, but you’ll be paid very well and enjoy, quite literally, one of the highest standards of living in the world. Switzerland is a small country with amazing transport and some of the most breathtaking natural scenery. Its cities are safe, clean and welcoming to foreigners and it goes without saying that most of Europe is just a train ride away.
A country with four official languages, Switzerland is ideal for learning a new one.
As of this year, India is the fastest growing economy in the world. Key industries with local skill shortages such as Manufacturing, Automobiles, Pharmaceuticals, IT, Telecommunications, Banking and Transport, coupled with a cheap cost of living, have seen expat communities in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi thrive.
India may still grapple with issues of visible poverty, but that hasn’t stopped its major cities from becoming chaotic fusions of old and new. Mumbai now boasts indie dive bars, pop-culture inspired hang outs, cheap cocktails and rooftop bars that attract a number of Bollywood stars. You can eat street food or opt for high-end western dining and the food markets are second to none.
Evie Kennedy is a media professional, writer and literature junkie. She likes to punch, kick and lift things in the name of health and is trying to write a novel.