Pros & Cons of Moving Abroad & Working Overseas

Evaluating Cost Benefit Ratio of International Employment

One often will find better opportunity for promotion and increased salary by seeking employment as an expatriate. Indeed, during a recession, working abroad may well be the only viable means of paying the mortgage.

Or, perhaps, seeking work in other countries may be seen as the quick route to building a nest egg for retirement, a college education for the children, or to garner enough cash to start a new business venture.

Adventure in other lands, among other societies is often reward enough. Getting paid big salaries while touring the world’s exotic vacation destinations intrigues many. This point is of special importance to volunteers considering charity work abroad.

Living, Working Abroad Requires Sacrifice for People Working Overseas

Before plunging in head first, prospective expats need to evaluate their ability to:

  • endure long durations of separation from the spouse and family
  • adjust to an environment wherein special care or medication may not be available
  • adapt to different lifestyles and culture and even different languages
  • alter his or her routine for sleep, entertainment and work
  • accommodate him or her self to their new role as a supervisor or manager
  • change eating and drinking habits
  • possibly having to cease alcohol consumption altogether
  • get along with others whose lifestyle or religious practices greatly differ

Admittedly, the world seemingly grows smaller every year. Thus, through the miracle of cell phones, hi-speed Internet and VOIP there are fewer places on the globe that require so stark a sacrifice as 20 years ago. Still, the adjustment to a new lifestyle is not easily made. Satellite TV, I Phones and Kindles are smoothing the transition from living in in comfort in Silicon Valley or in the remote African bush. I Pads will soon further ease the shift for many American expatriates.

Living, Working Abroad Brings Great Pay, Friendship, Adventure for American Expats

Sacrifices noted above are somewhat evened out by:

  • salaries that often pay double the stateside salary and are usually tax exempt
  • lasting friendships (both with other expats and with people of the host country)
  • adventure to exotic lands that people pay thousands to see for only a week
  • opportunities to build stock photo portfolios or daily logs for use in writing

Expat American Engineers in Demand and Earn Big Pay Working Abroad

Construction projects, funded by or for oil and energy, continue throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa. Mammoth projects such as the world’s tallest structure, Burj Dubai, erected by a subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries, has completed. So, too, has the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall.

American Expat Safety Engineers, QC Professionals Well Paid for Working Abroad

A number of international companies involved in power generation, oil and gas or petrochemical, or in construction are in constant demand to recruit qualified managers, supervisors and technicians so they can meet stringent international standards cost-effectively.

International Standards Organization (ISO) specifications are being applied to most internationally-funded construction and also are being used for food and medical industries, as well as many service-oriented businesses. This is resulting in the need to recruit and employ Westerners, particularly Europeans and American personnel with experience as quality or safety professionals.

Membership in ASSE, American Society of Safety Engineers, is a definite plus for Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) employment by international corporations.

Trade associations within the United States of America have, or are linked and networked with testing and certifying agencies recognized internationally and are highly recommended for prospective American expatriates seeking work abroad as HSE or QC engineers:

Many American Expats Feel Pros Outweigh Cons of Living Working Abroad

Challenges posed by living in unfamiliar surroundings, often in weather or unsavory environmental conditions. Dreaded “Culture shock” also can spoil that first attempt to get assimilated into societies practicing other religions or customs where the nearly-sacred no longer Bill of Rights reigns.

If it is determined that the pay and benefits of moving abroad and working overseas is worth the cost, a grand adventure beckons.


The Big Guide to Living And Working Overseas, by Jean-Marc Hachey, (4th edition revised 2007) published by Intercultural Systems Systemes Interculturels, ISSI, was consulted in preparing this report and provides a wealth of information in its 1,000-plus pages. This “Bible” includes a wealth of information regarding charity work abroad and volunteer work abroad.

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