COVID has undoubtedly changed every aspect of life as we know it. It has changed how we work, where we work, and in some cases, when we work. The expat workforce has been challenged by these same changes in a similar way. Many people are living the “expat” life in their home country as they wait for travel to open back up. Even more, some expat contracts have been delayed, postponed, or outright canceled.
The expat workforce just isn’t the same as it was a little over a year ago. And as much I enjoy the thrill of a new expat adventure, I caution anyone considering such a journey at this time to exercise wisdom. It can be a perfect time to get in some adventure and fun, but it is also a time of great uncertainty that can leave some in a precarious situation.
On the other hand, if you are looking for work and having trouble finding a decent-paying job in your home country, the expat marketplace may prove beneficial to you at this time. Of course, there is no one size fits all answer for either scenario. So, let’s take a deeper look at this question.
Things to Consider
You should consider many things before embarking on an expat adventure in the current state of affairs. Beyond salary and benefits, you have to think even deeper about the far-reaching consequences of such a move more than at any time in recent history. So here are some things to think about before making the big move….
Salary and Benefits
If you need a job and have been offered a decent expat salary and benefits package, I say take it. Even a meager salary is better than no salary in these current economic times. There are very few guarantees right now, so I say take what is available to you if it makes sense.
However, do read the fine print. Right now is just not an ideal time for reeling in the lucrative expat packages as it was just 1.5-2 years ago. Many companies are shaving some of the heftier benefits that once made the expat lifestyle attractive (at least in certain countries). And, this can make a big difference if your sole reason for seeking expat employment is financially based.
Air travel, in particular, is very precarious right now. Many flights have been delayed or canceled over the past few months due to staffing shortages. This can seriously hamper the expat lifestyle. Not being able to get to your expat destination or not being able to get back home in the case of an emergency can seriously hamper your experience.
And honestly, there is no real “safe” place to travel to right now. Some of the most luxurious destinations are not easily accessible due to airline challenges. So do think long and hard about this aspect of expat life if you decide to take a position abroad right now. Have a plan B, C, D, etc., for getting back home to your family if you need to do so urgently. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a serious predicament.
If you are concerned about vaccine requirements, you need to be mindful of such stipulations in various countries. Some nations now require all citizens, residents, and visitors to take the COVID vaccine for entry and exit into and out of the country. If you have objections to taking the vaccine, this is something that you need to think about now and in the future. Since the process is still new, there may not be a national law in this regard. However, it can change in the future.
Even in instances where national law doesn’t provide guidance in this area, workplace laws may do so. Many companies and organizations are requiring their employees to get the COVID vaccine. This may apply to the job that you are considering. If you have already taken the vaccine or don’t have a problem doing so, this is not a big deal. On the other hand, if you have concerns about the vaccine, this is definitely something to think about.
Another concern is the health and safety of you and your family (if they are traveling with you). As you already know, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. The COVID virus is wreaking havoc in every corner of the earth. Exposure makes everyone more susceptible to the virus. Travel of any kind increases the risk of exposure. So, your odds of getting COVID only increases if you take an expat assignment that requires you to travel to another country.
Aside from COVID, people are still suffering from other communicable and chronic disease states. Unfortunately, every country is not equipped to handle COVID or other health concerns. As such, you need to consider your health needs and the provisions available in the country you wish to move to. Some countries may actually be better equipped to care for your health needs. So moving abroad could be beneficial for you.
If you have been reading my blog or following me on social media, you know by now that I am all about the expat life! I am always up for an adventure that will allow me to discover new places, people, things, and ideas. So by no means is this post meant to discourage anyone from doing the same. I still coach expat clients and still advocate for this lifestyle.
At the end of the day, this decision will boil down to economics for the average person. If you are in need of employment, and the only opportunities available to you are in another country, do what you need to do. Don’t let me or anyone else stop you from making the best decision for your life. But do exercise caution and wisdom. Let your intuition be your guide, and your logic be your compass.