Ask LH: How Can I Plan A Move Overseas?

Hey Lifehacker, I work in IT with a core skill set as a .Net Developer. I have noticed a slowdown in work and there has generally not been many jobs advertised. I started looking for work overseas in New Zealand and south-east Asia — but how does anyone get a job overseas, let alone uproot themselves and move? Especially when we have commitments here such as mortgage/car/other half. Any suggestions? Thanks, Net Migration

Dear NM,

Uprooting your life and beginning afresh in a new country is obviously going to be a massive undertaking — especially when you have an existing mortgage and partner to consider. It’s not going to be easy and will obviously require a significant chunk of money.

The first step is to research the rules surrounding foreign employees in the country you want to work in. Your best bet is to find an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a role that can’t be filled by a local. Obviously that depends on your level of qualification and experience. Alternatively you can apply for the relevant working visa, but these aren’t always easy to obtain. Work visa laws vary from nation to nation, so you probably need to pick a target country before proceeding.

If you and your partner are English speaking Anglo-Australians, you’re probably better off moving to New Zealand than south-east Asia. In addition to having no language barrier, it’s a better cultural fit and there are far fewer visa hurdles to cross. Applying for jobs will also be much easier — most of Australia’s top job search sites have New Zealand equivalents that look and behave identically.

Once you’ve secured a job, that’s when the real challenge begins: preparing the move. Our night editor Elly Hart offers some great advice in her How To Move Overseas series. Elly, an Australian expat based in Canada, covers everything from opening an overseas bank account to dealing with consulate paperwork. If you’re serious about working overseas, her series is definitely worth a read.

As to your worldly possessions, it makes economic sense to sell rather than ship: especially when it comes to large items like cars and white goods. You’ll save a lot of time, money and frustration if you just stick to the essentials. Be brutal about it — if something is replaceable, sell it and put the money towards your travelling costs.

Unfortunately, you might have to consider selling your property if there’s a huge amount left on the mortgage. Juggling mortgage payments, property upkeep and tenant issues while living abroad is probably more hassle than it’s worth.

With all that said, are you sure you’re not be jumping the gun here? It’s not uncommon for industries to suffer from cyclical dry spells — this doesn’t necessarily mean that the profession is in decline. While IT managers might not be hiring today, things are bound to bounce back sooner or later.

According to the latest industry stats and figures, the pool of IT graduates in Australia has dropped by about 36 percent. Last month, Shadow communications minister Jason Clare highlighted the dwindling number in a speech at the Tech Leaders conference in Queensland:

In the last 10 years there have been 100,000 new jobs created in the technology sector, but in the same time only 49,500 students have graduated with technology degrees.

If the above figures are accurate, your job prospects should begin to improve year-on-year as the old guard gradually retires. In other words, you might be better off biding your time and waiting for things to improve (unless you really feel like a drastic life change). Plus, as Elly points out, there are some things in Australia that you’re sure to miss beyond sunshine and Vegemite.

We’re also going to throw this one over to our readers — if any expats are reading, how did you secure employment? How hard was the physical move? If you have any specific tips to share, let NM know in the comments section below.


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