19 December 2019 12:32:12 IST

Why you should work abroad

An InterNations study finds that international stints have a positive impact on one’s career

InterNations, a community for expatriates across the world, has done a study by speaking to its members about the top reasons why you should work abroad.

“Looking for a personal challenge and getting to know different cultures and customs has become more important than ever,” InterNations Founder and Co-CEO Malte Zeeck said. “Academic research proves that gaining international experience by working abroad not only improves your income and career, but also makes you smarter and more communicative.”

Market research company Finaccord estimates in its recent Global Expatriates report that there are about 42 million individual workers and 500,000 corporate transferees worldwide; together, they make up about three-quarters of the global expat population. Compared to 2009, this is a growth rate of about three percent for both categories, indicating that more people are looking for assignments and positions abroad.


So here’s why you should try and land a job abroad. The information is based on findings from various sources — several academic studies regarding life abroad, the community’s 2.8-million member base, and the network’s annual Expat Insider survey . There have been nearly 13,000 respondents living and working internationally.

Improve your income

Studies show that 61 per cent of Americans and 40 per cent of Britishers worry about money. Moving abroad, however, can improve your financial situation.

More than half the expats around the world say they earn more than in their country of origin (51 per cent). One-fifth of expats (21 per cent) have a yearly household income of more than $100,000 and another 26 per cent have between $50,000 and $100,000 at their disposal.

Speed up your career

About three in ten expats (31 per cent) say that their job or business is the most important reason they relocated. Working abroad seems to live up to their expectations: only about one quarter view their career opportunities negatively (26 per cent).

On the other hand, more than half of the respondents (53 per cent) are happy with their career prospects. Malte explains: “Our research shows that career opportunities vary strongly by country. Ambitious expats should consider moving to emerging markets like Kazakhstan, Vietnam, or the US, while those more concerned about job security and a strong local economy may prefer Luxembourg, Germany, or Switzerland.”

Discover your genius

A study by William W Maddux from INSEAD Business School found that learning about and adapting to new cultures improves problem-solving skills among MBA students enrolled in an international programme.

After living abroad for almost one year, those who showed an open-minded attitude towards other cultures were also able to make more complex connections between disparate ideas. This is a very valuable talent in one’s personal and professional life.

Become more creative

Angela Leung from the Singapore Management University demonstrated in her study that experiencing diverse cultures has a positive effect on creativity.

Students who were exposed to two different cultures at once not only showed better creative performance, but were also more likely to engage in creative processes, such as the generation of unconventional ideas. Therefore, it might not be unsurprising that nearly one in ten expats (9 per cent) works in the arts (for example in music or the performing arts).

Build a global network

On an average, expats are connected with five other nationalities, as representative research among the 2.8 million InterNations members shows. When this result is compared to available data from social media platform Facebook, the following trend emerges: expats are far more likely to have a global network than a local one.

Learn a new language

For one in ten expats, improving their foreign language skills was one of the reasons for moving abroad. However, far more seem to have benefited linguistically from their relocation: one in three expats speaks the language of their new home at least a little, and over two-fifths (43 per cent) feel confident communicating in the local language.

Modern-day pioneer

What unites pioneers across industries is the courage to move towards the unknown. It is the same spirit that defines an expat. Irrespective of why they move — for their work and career (31 per cent), love and family (25 per cent), a better quality of life (8 per cent) or in search of adventure (7 per cent) — the moment someone decides to shift abroad, they become modern-day pioneers. They crave the new, the unique and the unknown.


Improve communication skills

Inter-cultural communication is not just about language, but about cross-cultural competency. As expats settle outside their country of origin and feel at home in the new culture, they become more open-minded, tolerant and find it easier to overcome cultural differences, says Rona Hart from the University of East London in her book Preparing for Your Move Abroad: Relocating, Settling in, Managing Culture Shock .

Find better work-life balance

A study by American Psychological Association shows that an astounding 58 per cent of employees feel stressed out by work. However, the circumstances seem to be a lot better for those who have decided to work abroad.


About six in ten expats specifically state that they are satisfied with their employment situation (64 per cent), work-life-balance (60 per cent), and job security (57 per cent). Up to one in five even say that they could not be any happier with those aspects (17 per cent and 19 per cent each for the latter two). A similar share of respondents also express satisfaction with their work hours: 61 per cent rate this factor positively, 38 per cent of whom are completely satisfied.