Yes, that’s a picture of the UAE which is one of the most opulent and desired expat destinations in the world! It is also a place where I lived and worked for three years during my career as an expatiate professor. Additionally, it is one of the many places where I learned first-hand the below-mentioned benefits of working abroad.
So, if you are thinking about pursuing a career as an expat in the UAE or any other country, keep reading to find out why you should get started planning your journey right away!
The ability to grow and develop as a professional is hands-down one of the greatest benefits of working abroad. Beyond salary and perks (which I will discuss next), the growth opportunities that working abroad can afford you are priceless. This is why I consider it to be the number one benefit of working abroad.
International work experience looks great on your resume or curriculum vitae. It provides you with a wealth of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are highly sought after by employers. Diversity, language skills, adaptability, flexibility, etc. are common skills that expat workers often bring to the employment table. Many employers are fully aware of these benefits, which is why they often prefer candidates with international work experience.
I was very fortunate to work in diverse environments with very talented and skilled people during my time abroad. I learned countless lessons from these individuals that I have continued to carry with me as I transition into different roles and spaces. The people and experiences that I encountered expanded my worldview and my understanding of how the world operates in such a profound way. I can truly say that I am a completely different person now than I was before I moved abroad.
Many expats that I know or learn about share the same sentiments. Working in a different country with a uniquely distinct culture has the ability to help you develop at a much faster pace. I am sure that much of it has to do with you being forced to rapidly adapt to change and learn new processes. Developing these soft skills along with the functional skills that you gain in the work environment will aid you in many ways in your professional and personal life.
Salary and Benefits
Many people consider working abroad for this one advantage alone. It’s no secret that a number of overseas employers pay top dollar and give the most generous perks to professional level expat workers. This is not a myth.
I worked in two Middle Eastern countries that typically pay some of the highest expat salaries around world. My salary increased by 22% when I first started working in the Middle East. Like many other expats in the country, I received housing, utility, and transportation allowances, and health insurance benefits. I also received cash in lieu of tickets to return home every year for my entire family of four. Additionally, I received 8-weeks of paid vacation annually along with paid national holiday time off. And these are just the main perks that I received when working abroad.
As I mentioned in my previous article, international employers are willing to pay top dollar for top talent. Many of the wealthier countries like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, etc. are known for paying some of the best expat salaries and offering some of the best perks.
No doubt working abroad can allow you to save, pay off debt, and travel the world if you secure the right position. I can attest to the fact that all of these perks are absolutely real.
When you work abroad, you often have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Even if you work in a homogeneous country, you will still be able to interact with locals and a hand-full of foreigners who may serve as great networking connections for you. Either way, you will meet people that you generally would not come in contact with if you were living in your home country. These connections can serve you well in many ways during your time overseas and beyond.
I still have connections in every country that I lived in and even a few countries that I visited while living abroad. Most of them are amazing friendships that I cherish deeply. However, some of them serve in dual capacities as friends and career connections as these are people that I can call on for references, job opportunities, or business partnerships.
Working abroad will also aid you in your personal life beyond your career. It gives you a chance to dig deeper into self-discovery, self-improvement, and oftentimes self-actualization. Being abroad somehow gives you the opportunity to look at yourself in a whole new way.
Expats often begin to deeply connect with themselves on a higher level than they ever did before their international journeys. This is irrespective of a person’s age or stage in life. Having to rapidly adapt to change, learn the nuisances of a new culture, and possibly a new language forces you to gain a better understanding of who you are, what you want to be, and where you want to go. It’s like being a baby all over again, but with the benefit of having a higher depth of understanding at your disposal while trying to navigate your way through new terrain.
I think part of this has do with being removed from the regular distractions encountered in your normal, day-to-day life. Once you get settled in a new country, you often have to find different ways to entertain yourself and make new friends. This is not always easy at first, especially if you move to a rural area or to a place where your native language is not widely spoken.
Living in West Africa, which was my first international working experience, was a major catalyst in my personal development. I didn’t have issues with the language as English is the official language of the country I lived in. However, I had many issues with finding amenable sources of entertainment and quality friendships.
This forced me to spend quite a bit of time in meditation and introspection, which was necessary for my soul and spirit. My journey of self-discovery catapulted to a much higher level during this time in my life. Even after my three years in the country I continued to purposely take out quality time to focus on self-discovery and self-improvement as I transitioned to two different countries over a five-year span.
This experience was not unique to me. Many of my expat peers indicated to me that they had had similar experiences. They were amazed at how much living abroad helped them grow and understand themselves so much better in such a short span of time. Would we have achieved the same results living in our home countries? Probably so. However, I think it would have happened at a much slower pace. And I think my progress would have been shallower in comparison to the way I think and interact with myself and others at this stage in my life.