Finding an income when you move abroad – what are your options?

Finding an income when you move abroad – what are your options?I read some stats recently that suggested up to 75% of people in the UK have a desire to move abroad at some point in there life. I’m not sure how many people actually see it through but I reckon a big blocker for people is not knowing how they would get an income in the country they want to move to. I know it was for me up until the opportunity to move abroad came along in the form of a job offer.

In this post I’ll run through the different options I think are available for you if you want to move abroad but don’t yet know how you will fund a life in a new country. I’m sure some options will be obvious but hopefully there will be a couple that you might not have considered or that might get you thinking about alternatives to the norm.

What are your income options for moving abroad

Relocate with your existing international employer

If you’re working for a company that has office locations around the world then it’s definitely worth starting here. There are a load of benefits with this, including:

  • You already know the brand and business
  • You’ll have contacts who can recommend you
  • There will likely be more flexibility in your transition
  • There’s a chance that if the company is international then there will be a common language

Above all of this though is the ease of kicking things off. You’ll probably be able to check the company intranet for roles and engage in discussions with other offices without too much hassle. So if you’re going down the employment route then just start here.

This obviously depends on you being happy with the brand you work for, but that’s down to you.

Work remotely for your existing employer

When we moved to Barcelona we started building a network of expats and one of the guys we met still worked for a legal firm in London. He had to be in London perhaps 4/5 days a month but the rest of the time he worked remotely from Spain. This worked out for him as he had an advisory role where he could just maintain communications from a remote location.

This won’t always be appropriate for the job that you do but it’s worth thinking about and exploring if you feel it’s an option. The benefits are similar to the previous option but also includes the fact that you’re around more to support your family if you’re working from home (and have a family).

The downside to this is that you’ve got to have razor sharp focus and the ability to lock yourself away when the work needs to be done.

Check your network to see if anyone you know can help you

This is actually how I landed a role in Barcelona, although it was my network coming to me rather than the other way round.

It’s absolutely worth going through your contacts on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and wherever else to see if anyone has relocated to a country that you’re interested in. Also, your contracts have their own contacts so spread the word (if possible). Having an insider in a company is another way to fast-track yourself to an interview and to get the insider information on the company, the lifestyle and the challenges.

Just remember when you’re getting information from people already doing it that your journey will be different and will come with different challenges and experiences.

Search international job boards to find a role

This is probably where most people start if the above options aren’t valid. Not much different to searching for a job in your current country although you’ll need to be conscious about what you need from a company to move abroad. Things to consider when searching for a job this way would be:

  • Do you need the company to provide you with a relocation package (pay for you to move abroad)?
  • Are you expecting them to provide a relocation agency or are you happy to do it all yourself?
  • Do they pay for flights and accommodation during the interview process?
  • If they are providing support and a relocation package, how does this tie into the contract (repaying if you leave etc)?
  • How much ongoing support does the company offer you/your family once you arrive?

Here are a few sites I’d recommend you take a look at for jobs abroad:

Start a business in your home country that you can manage remotely

This one is a bit more difficult and if you’re starting from scratch it’s going to potential include a substantial amount of setup time prior to being able to move abroad.

So if you’re hoping to get out of the country in 3 months time this one is not as useful for you, but if you’re happy to have a couple of years planning then you could go down this route. Being able to start up a business where you can work remotely is going to depend on your skill set and drive. There will be certain things that are more suited to this type of work, such as (but not limited to):

  • Webdite design – This is something you can absolutely do remotely, depending on the arrangement you have with clients
  • Consultancy – It may depend on the type of consultancy but if you can communicate with clients via Skype and email then this could be an option
  • Freelance writing – You could do this from absolutely anywhere and just submit your articles to clients over the web

If you’re really entrepreneurial then you could look at building a business that you can hire someone else to run when you move abroad. Again this will depend on your skill set and your business management ability.

This is one of my favourite options although I’m not sure I’ve got the patience and ability do it.

Start your own business abroad

Finding an income when you move abroad - what are your options two

Similar to the above option although this time you’re not keeping the core of the business in your home country, but instead focusing on your adopted country as your target market. This will without doubt throw up a load more challenges for you, including:

  • Language – If you’re heading for a foreign speaking country then you’re going to need to learn the language (or hire someone who knows it)
  • Laws – There’s a pretty strong chance that laws will be different to the ones you’re used to. You might need to hire someone in your destination country to support you
  • Taxes and accounts – As above, these will likely be totally different so you might have to pay for support to get this stuff right

This will again come with a substantial set up period that will likely take place once you’ve moved. So you’ll need to do a hell of a lot of planning and will probably need a significant pot off cash to see you through until the business is of the ground.

Buy an existing business abroad

Might sound daunting but it’s something lots of people do. As an example, think about how many expats own pubs/bars in foreign countries or bed and breakfasts. That might be the cliche option but it’s an option none the less.

What you could do in this space will depend on your current situation and the type of business you think you could run. Language could be a big factor here depending on the business you want to buy too. For example, if you buy a pub or a bar in a tourist area in Spain then you’ll likely be OK not knowing huge amounts of the local language. If you buy a grocery shop in the middle of a traditional French village then there’s a good chance you’ll need to have a fair grasp of the language.

As I’m sure you’ll know, this will come with a significant upfront cost and a load of planning and negotiation. It also comes with a big risk in terms of maintaining the profitability of the business whilst dealing with foreign laws and regulations. These aren’t things that can’t be overcome but you definitely need to be realistic about the impact and work involved in making it a success for you.

Just because a business is currently succeeding doesn’t mean it will just continue to tick along in the same way.


The are a coupe if alternatives that you could explore, which are:

  • Passive income – Basic principle is that you create an online product or system that generates income with little need for management. It takes a lot of hard work and time. See for more insights into this option
  • You don’t need to work – You have a ton of cash and you have no need to find a monthly income. If this is you, can I be your friend?
  • You’re happy to wing it – As much as this option fills me with fear, there are people who can just go for it without much planning at all. I’m guessing these people are more likely to be single or younger couples but I take my hat off to them. Let us know if you’re one of these people via the comments as I’m sure your story will be inspiring to others.


Hopefully there’s some food for thought here if you’re starting to think about how you could fund your lifestyle in a new country. I’m sure that you’ll already have considered some of the more obvious options but it’s worth considering whether there’s something a little different that could suit your lifestyle.

If you’ve got other creative ideas and options or you have additional resources that fit into any of the above options then please share via the comments.They can only add benefit to other people looking to create their own adventure.

Take care.

The Essential Guide To Planning Your Dream Move Abroad - Downloadable eBook

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