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  • Writer's pictureMatilda

How to Work Abroad for a Year: The Beginner's Guide

QUICK SUMMARY: Thinking about working abroad for a year? Discover the benefits, prepare yourself for that big career and life change, and explore the best options to work in your dream country for the next twelve months.

Whether you've always dreamed of living abroad or the idea has just recently sparked your interest, working abroad for a year is the ultimate life experience.

Twelve months abroad is more than enough time to explore your new destination, meet new people, and make yourself feel at home. It's also the ideal timeframe to test the waters, see if your new country has the potential to be a long-term home, and decide if living abroad is the right thing for you. And if it's not? Pack your bags, no harm done. Regardless, you'll make memories that will last a lifetime and you'll often find yourself starting stories with, "When I lived in France," "When I worked in the UK," or some other variation paired with your year-long destination.

Now, if you're serious about making that idea a reality, this guide will help you understand the benefits of working abroad for a year, help you prepare, and discover five beginner-friendly options to work abroad for a year for first-time expats.

While you're at it, you might also be interested in:

A cover photo for an article about how to work abroad for a year.


What Are the Benefits of Working Abroad for a Year?

Working abroad for a year literally opens up a world of opportunities. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I have to say that this experience will change you, forever. (But don't worry, it will shape you in all the right ways.)

Let's dive into the benefits that come with immersing yourself in a new country and culture.

Personal Growth

When you work abroad for a year, you are thrust into a new environment that challenges you to adapt, learn, and grow—often in ways you never saw coming. Stepping out of your comfort zone becomes a daily thing. In fact, this experience is all about learning to stand on your own two feet in situations where your comfort zone doesn't exist. By the way, if you're into personal growth and development, living and working abroad for a year will put this journey on steroids.

Cultural Immersion

One of the most exciting parts about working abroad? You get to dive headfirst into a whole new culture. Living and working in a different country means you get to experience new traditions, customs, and ways of thinking up close and personal. It's like getting a front-row seat to how diverse the world is, and it's a total eye-opener. Plus, it often comes with the bonus of visiting the places you've only ever seen on TV, eating delicious world cuisines, and meeting people from every corner of the world.

Language Learning

Working in a foreign country is a fantastic way to enhance your language skills organically. Through daily interactions with locals and immersion in a native-speaking environment, you'll find yourself picking up new words, phrases, and nuances of the language effortlessly. The immersive experience accelerates your language learning and helps you become more proficient in a foreign tongue.

Career Development

From a professional standpoint, working abroad for a year can be a game-changer for your career. The international experience adds a unique dimension to your resume, setting you apart from other candidates. It's a strategic move that can help you stand out and take your career to the next level.

Sidenote: This experience doesn't come without downsides. Explore seven biggest challenges all expats face while working abroad.

Global Network

Working abroad offers a unique opportunity to meet lots of people and expand your network. Collaborating with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and industries not only exposes you to different work styles and practices but also opens doors to a huge network of contacts around the world. After living and working abroad for a year, the next time you want to travel or move abroad, the chances are you'll know someone local who'll be able to share practical tips and tricks. That's a huge benefit of being an expat.

Now, let's see how you can best prepare for this venture.


How to Prepare for a Year of Working Abroad?

Working abroad for a year is an exciting adventure. And it all starts with solid preparation. Here are some essential steps to take before embarking on your journey:

Research Your Destination

When moving abroad, it's easy to romanticize your destination and see only the positives. But to truly make the most of this experience, you need to do your homework. Take off the rose-tinted glasses (just for a bit) and research your destination thoroughly. Dive deep into the country's culture, work environment, visa requirements, cost of living, and job opportunities. Familiarize yourself with the local customs, language, and etiquette to adapt seamlessly to your new workplace. Use online resources, connect with expats, and read travel guides to gain valuable insights into your destination. Know the good and the bad. It's the key to living and working abroad for a year.

Secure Necessary Documents

Onto the fun part—paperwork. When planning to work abroad for an extended period, you need to be familiar with the necessary visas and work permits. Start by identifying the specific visa requirements for your desired destination. This may involve obtaining a work visa, residency permit, or other relevant documentation. Check the embassy or consulate website of the country you plan to work in for up-to-date information on visa applications and processing times. Stay informed about any changes in immigration policies and seek professional guidance if needed.

Plus, explore health insurance options to cover medical expenses during your stay abroad and organize other essential documents such as identification, certifications, and references.

Plan Your Budget

Let's talk money. Financial planning is essential when preparing for a year of working abroad. Create a detailed budget that outlines your expected expenses, including accommodation, transportation, food, insurance, and leisure activities. Consider setting up a separate bank account for your overseas venture to manage your finances efficiently. Be mindful of currency exchange rates and potential unexpected expenses. Just in case, build a contingency fund into your budget.

Update Your Resume and Cover Letter

When you've set the foundation with your research, paperwork, and budget, it's time to start preparing for a job search abroad.

The first step is to tailor your resume and cover letter to international standards. Highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and qualifications that align with the requirements of employers in your target country. Adapt your resume to showcase your cross-cultural competencies, language proficiency, and ability to work in diverse environments. Check out this guide that will help you write a resume for a job abroad in seven simple steps.

If you want to be 100% sure you're prepared well for the big leap, dive deeper into seven things you must do before moving abroad for work.

And when you have everything ready, start exploring opportunities to work abroad for a year.

A picture with a list of 4 things to do to prepare for a year working abroad.


What Are the Best Ways to Work Abroad for a Year?

Let's explore some of the best options for working abroad for a year. From international secondments to remote work, we've covered the five simplest ways to get you on your path to living and working in your dream destination.

1: Internal Transfers

Do you currently work at a big, international company? If so, your current company might be your fast lane to living and working abroad for a year. Many multinational companies offer secondments—fancy term for temporary transfers to other positions, departments, or countries they operate in. Or they might have some short-term projects your expertise could be valuable in, and that could give you the option to work abroad for a year. Even if these options aren't on the table, don't worry. Just by being an internal employee, you've got a leg up if you apply for a job at your company in a different location. Often, that's the express lane to scoring a job abroad.

By the way, exploring internal job opportunities is a criminally overlooked way of landing a job. Explore seven underrated job search methods and land a job abroad ASAP.

2: Work Exchange Programs

When budget constraints are a concern, work exchange programs like Workaway or WWOOF offer a fantastic opportunity to work abroad for a year, 6 months, 3 months, or however long you'd like. These programs allow you to work in exchange for accommodation and meals. Imagine immersing yourself in a new culture, meeting people from around the world, and gaining valuable work experience abroad—all while keeping costs low. It's a win-win-win!

3: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

For those seeking a rewarding work experience, teaching English abroad through programs like TEFL or TESOL is an excellent choice. These programs provide the training and certification needed to teach English in a foreign country. Picture yourself making a difference in the lives of students while exploring exotic destinations during your free time.

4: Internships or Graduate Programs

If you're a fresh graduate or early in your career, internships or graduate programs are the best way to land an international job and work abroad for a year. These programs offer a unique opportunity to work in various fields, broaden your skill set, and establish international connections. Most international companies offer 12-month graduate programs every year. Applications are typically open between August and January, with September and October being the high hiring season. Make sure to visit your dream companies' websites and apply!

5: Remote Work and Freelancing

Can't land a job abroad? Good news: Maybe you don't have to. With the Internet, you're not physically tied to a specific location. Remote work and freelancing have opened up endless possibilities for adventurers like you looking to work from anywhere in the world. Embracing remote opportunities allows you to build a career, gain valuable work experience, and explore different destinations without being tied to a traditional office setting. Whether you're a writer, designer, developer, or marketer, freelancing can provide you with the freedom to work on diverse projects while embracing the nomadic and expat lifestyle.

A picture with a list of 5 different ways to find work abroad.


TL;DR — So, How to Work Abroad for a Year?

Working abroad for a year can be one of the most enriching and life-changing experiences you'll ever have. From embracing new cultures to building lifelong friendships, the benefits are endless.

To work abroad for a year, explore these five simple options:

  1. make an internal transfer to your target destination,

  2. find a work exchange program

  3. teach English,

  4. land an internship,

  5. or embrace remote work and freelancing opportunities.

Whatever you choose, remember the world is yours to explore. So go ahead, take the leap, and explore the world beyond your comfort zone. Let this be the beginning of an incredible chapter in your life's story as you go and work abroad for a year.

Matilda and Ana, founders of MoreThanCareers

Matilda & Ana

Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana — the founders of MoreThanCareers, expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, and career-changing jobs.

Now it's your turn. And MoreThanCareers is here to help!

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