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Whether you consider yourself a remote worker, digital nomad, or international freelancer, you have the unique opportunity to work anywhere in the world. But while traveling the world and exploring new cultures can be a thrilling experience, working remotely in another country can also come with a lot of challenges.
From getting a visa to setting up WiFi, there’s a lot to do to make your digital nomad lifestyle a success. Whether or not you’ve already left the country, check out these seven important factors to consider before working abroad.
1. Check the visa requirements
Every country has different rules when it comes to traveling, especially if you’re hoping to spend an extended amount of time in your destination.
If you’re looking for a long-term stay, you’ll likely need to apply for a visa before you leave. Along with gathering documents, you might need to answer questions on how you will support yourself, how much money you have, and if you plan on working.
The visa process can take weeks, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time prepare. Check out this guide to learn about the easiest countries for Americans to get a working holiday visa.
2. Plan out your workspace and WiFi
It’s never too early to start thinking about your workspace. It’s crucial that you figure out how you work well and what will set you up for success. Here are some important things to consider right away:
- Internet access: How will you get internet access right away? Can you rely on your accommodations, or do you need to join a coworking space? Should you purchase a WiFi hotspot? How much will that cost? Do you need a VPN? While you might be dying to backpack around the Amazon Rainforest, that plan won’t work if you can’t reliably connect to the internet.
- Find your desk: Do you prefer to work at a desk? Do you need it to be quiet, or are you cool with background noise? Everyone has their preferences when it comes to setting up their desks. Set yourself up for success by making sure you aren’t forced into an uncomfortable and unproductive working situation.
3. Think about tax season
U.S. citizens are required to file a tax return, even if they’re traveling overseas. If you earn more than $10,000 from an employer or $400 as a self-employed individual, you must file income taxes.
You might also find some rules tacked onto international work, and finding the right deductions can be tricky, too.
If your situation is confusing, consider consulting a tax professional before you leave. That way, you can save all the documents you need and be prepared when tax season rolls around.
4. Be conscious of time zone challenges
Consider how your time zone will impact your relationship with your employer or clients. If your clients are up and working when it’s the middle of the night for you, then you might need to adjust.
Consider whether you’re willing and able to commit to irregular hours. If not, find out if there’s a workaround that will fit your schedule and preferences better.
5. Consider language barriers
Half the fun of traveling is engaging with locals and learning about a new culture. But working while traveling can also present a unique set of problems.
What if your computer breaks and you don’t know how to speak the local language? Or you’re renting a room and can’t communicate that you don’t know how to set up the Wi-Fi?
Consider how language barriers could have an impact on your work, and have plans in place for when you need assistance, such as using Google Translate or even phoning a translator.
6. Don’t forget about hidden costs
While the cost of living in foreign countries can often be cheaper than your home city, you might also experience some extra costs. Here are some of the most common hidden costs.
- Food: Depending on where you go, what you consider to be staple foods may be pricier than you realize. Even if you’re not eating out for every meal, food costs can quickly pile up.
- Housing: Housing is one of the most important considerations when working abroad. While a hostel might be cheap, if you plan on staying for an extended period of time, it can quickly become uncomfortable. Hopefully you can find an affordable Airbnb or apartment for rent, as staying long-term in a hotel could be cost prohibitive.
- Transportation: Not only do you have to pay for flights, but you also need to cover daily transportation. Transportation costs can add up quickly, so look for long-term passes that can save you some money.
- Coffee shops, coworking space, etc: If you’re going to a coffee shop or coworking space every day, your expenses could add up. Make sure to factor this in when planning your budget.
- International health insurance: If you opt to purchase international health insurance, be sure to check the explanation of benefits to see what’s covered. Consider services like Integra Global that offers expat health insurance coverage in every country (except the U.S.).
7. Have a back-up plan
Just like living at home, things can go wrong, so make sure you have enough savings to cover emergencies. You may lose your job or have to return home on short notice, so always make sure you have enough money for on-the-fly travel plans.
Illness or injury could also end up costing you big, even if you have medical insurance. If possible, try to set aside an emergency fund with two to three months’ worth of living expenses at all time.
Working remotely in another country can be truly amazing, and an opportunity that few get to experience. The secret to making the most out of your overseas adventure is doing the right amount of preparation so you’re ready to take on the world!
And if the logistics are stressing you out, consider joining a work and travel program that takes care of many of these factors for you.