8 Reasons Why You Should Work in a Foreign Country

Off to Work

Leaving for Work, Kansai Airport Osaka.

@DanHaneveer posted a great question on Twitter recently. He asked, “Is a job you hate in foreign country better than a job you hate at home?” What an amazing question! In my opinion, and without hesitation, the answer is YES!.

Of course, a bad job in a foreign country is better than an equivalent job you hate at home. There are many reasons for this.

1. You are in a Foreign Country!
You are having new experiences, seeing new things, meeting new people, learning more about the world and yourself. Who cares about the job, enjoy the opportunity to live in new surroundings.

2. You are Working
You get all the benefits of being in a new country but you also have the security of a regular paycheck. You don’t need too much savings to travel if you are going to work. Finding a job abroad will allow you to get out of your home country much faster than trying to save up money to travel.

3. You Can Travel More
Living in a distant foreign country opens up a whole new world of inexpensive travel opportunities. My home is now in Japan, that means there are numerous nearby nations that are an inexpensive, short plane trip away. It is easy and cheap to go to Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, China, etc. And if you plan your trips right you can do free stop-overs in different countries for next to free. Working on the other side of the world is a great way to get more stamps in your passport.

4. New Insights
Living in a foreign country opens you up to an entirely novel way of living. All those old customs and habits we have in our home countries are just that, habits. The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily live the way your society does. It is not better or worse, it is just different. New countries help you question your assumptions of what life is about and ultimately makes you a better person, if you let it.

5. Escape Old Baggage
We all get into self-defeating routines that can rob us of our dreams and passions. We are afraid to try new things because we might fail and we all need to maintain a certain status among our peer groups. For better and for worse, being abroad allows you to escape your inhibitions and do things you might not have considered. There is no such thing as failure and humiliation in another country. Everything you do is strange, so it doesn’t matter if you make a fool of yourself.

6. Get Out of the Consumption Cycle
There is an incredible amount of peer and societal pressure to keep purchasing material possessions. People get locked in to cycles of bigger houses, newer cars and more things just because that is what everyone else is doing. As an outsider in a foreign country you completely by-pass that consumerism. Travelers are expected to have minimal possessions. It is cool and normal to not have anything when you are temporarily experiencing a foreign culture. In Japan, new foreigners often go garbage or “gomi” shopping for new furniture and belongings. There is no stigma with that at all. In fact, it requires some prowess to be the first on scene to get the good stuff.

7. It is a new job
A different job, even if it is not so great, is a welcome change. You will be doing different things with different people so there will be a lot to learn. Sure it might get tedious and boring after a while, but you are probably going to be in the foreign country for a short time anyway. Embrace the new situation and learn what you can from it, then move on.

8. Did I mention, You are in a Foreign Country!
By all means quit your job and start working abroad. You will be much better for it. I know that I certainly am. I was stagnating in Canada after a couple of failed start ups, no money and no desire to start at the bottom of some boring corporation. Moving to Japan was one of the greatest decisions I ever made. I arrived with no job, no visa and only about $1000 to my name. After a couple of years of working in mediocre jobs, I married a great woman, started a business and built a decent lifestyle. It is time to move on now, but my first decision to come here was exactly what I needed to restart my life. Maybe it is what you need too?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

18 Responses to 8 Reasons Why You Should Work in a Foreign Country

  1. Brian says:

    Wow, did #5 hit home. I’m in the States, and about a year ago I got fired up and fed up enough with working that I quit my job to go out and do web consulting. Now, web consulting is not my passion. Beer is my passion.

    So, I have sort of floundered around with the web stuff, not really wanting to try hard to get new business, because deep down I don’t really WANT the new business. So, I’ve decided to try and jump full steam into the beer world. However, since I have no professional experience in the production, retail, or service ends of this, it’s hard to find anything but entry level positions. That includes things like waiter, stocker, delivery truck driver.

    And living in a city where some people know me as a web guy, the thought of running into these people in a restaurant and taking their order is quite humbling. That baggage and inhibition has really hindered me from making the jump.

    However, I’m about ready to move on to the next phase of my life, here or somewhere else. Pride is no longer an option. Sometimes you have to get desperate to be motivated to act!

  2. […] Location: Japan Web: JetSetCitizen Bio: “Lifestyle Design at the intersection of work, play and travel.” Cool Recent Post: 8 Reasons Why You Should Work in a Foreign Country […]

  3. Brian Smith says:


    I really enjoyed this post, but I’ve got two observations. One – if a person isn’t a traveler or adventurous at heart, they will likely be even more stressed by working a job that they hate in a foreign country. For those of us that are adventurous, I agree with you.

    My second point is that I don’t think that anyone should simply move to a new country to escape any baggage that they may have in their home country. If you haven’t rectified any situation which you would consider “baggage” moving to the other side of the world will only delay the reemergence of those issues. Running from problems is not a solution (I do think that many location independent persons chose such a lifestyle for this exact purpose, but many will tell you that the approach fails.)

    All in all, a great post! I just wanted to add my two cents.

    Thanks for the great content, John.


  4. John says:

    @Brian Smith
    Thanks for the great comment and yes you are correct on both accounts.

    I personally like change, it is difficult to hate any new job in the beginning at least. That is why I think it is a welcome change for most people. They won”t hate the job in the beginning because there will be so many new things to experience. However, if you are not the adventurous type, it may be too much to handle like you suggest. I have seen a couple of those situations as well.

    Your second point is 100% correct. Traveling to escape personal issues is not going to work. In my case, I needed a major life reset and couldn’t do it in my home city. Radically changing everything was the only way to break from my old habits and ways of thinking. This is the type of “baggage” I was referring to.

  5. Hi John – May I ask where one pays their taxes to the US if working abroad? Do we just pay Federal, or do we also have to pay State taxes somewhere?
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Why The World Forgives Rich And Famous People For Cheating =-.

  6. John says:

    Actually, I am Canadian and we don’t have to pay taxes in Canada if we are paying them somewhere else.
    Maybe some Americans can answer that question???

  7. Ian says:

    So, how DO you actually start in another country with $1000 though? I have been seriously thinking about doing the same thing, your point about a life re-set really hit the nail on the head.
    You mentioned that you went with $1000, no job or work visa, wasnt having no work visa illegal then? How dya get round these things? especially somewhere like Japan, I’d be scared of ending up in a Japanese jail!
    I was considering Europe, I am a British citizen, born and raised in the UK, but you hear about such bad unemployment difficulties in these countries too, that why would they hire me over a national when I cant even speak the language either?

    Great, optimistic article, but would really love some help. thanks

    • John says:

      Hi Ian,

      There are many ways. Get a job teaching English. There are jobs all over the world. You can find one online and have the company provide the visa and arrange the apartment so you don’t have to worry about visas.

      There are many volunteer opportunities where food and accommodations are provided in exchange for work.

      There are also many opportunities to earn money online as a freelancer. What skills do you have? Do content writing, wordpress development, graphic design, app development, etc. If you don’t have skills, start working on some. With good tech skills you can travel and work anywhere in the world. In Chiang Mai there are hundreds of digital nomads working on every type of business imaginable. It’s not that difficult.

      If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. The world is not that scary.

      You don’t go to jail for working without a visa. They would have to catch you first, and even then, all they could do is kick you out of the country. It’s much better to have a work visa arranged, but there are always under-the-table jobs, even in the UK.

      Japan is probably the most developed country in the world. What do you mean by ‘especially somewhere like Japan”?

      • Ian says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for responding. My comment on Japan was just from my ignorance of the world really, having never left the UK apart from Spain haha

        I DO have many skills that I am proud to have accomplished and honed over the past 15 years. In my current role I am a creative art worker for a printers, I was a lithographic printer myself for about 8 years too and generally now after 13 years with the same company have aquired a very good knowledge of all things media and design related, working on small websites too, so data entry and content writing would be very suitable. (sorry if I’m sounding like an interview).

        So, again, take Japan for instance, is it a real struggle to begin with from a language perspective? or do you encounter a lot of people speaking english.

        • John says:

          English is the world’s global language. There will be people who speak English all over the world.

          Of course, it’s much better if you learn the local language as well. Study before you go to maximize the experiences you have in that country.

  8. Saro says:

    hi, I would like to know how did you found a job in Japan without a visa?

    • John says:

      Hi Saro,

      Every country in the world has ‘under the table’ or cash jobs. I found several technically illegal jobs in Japan when I first arrived through a classified ad magazine called the Kansai Flea Market. Now, with the internet, it’s possible to work online so you don’t even need local jobs, except to get a visa.

  9. fikri says:

    i seriously think to work abroad soon. im 24, i have bachelor in tourism and doing master in tourism as a part timer. now i’m working as a tourism lecturer for almost 2 years. Ive been thinking to teach abroad to places like Kathmandu, Ulaanbaatar, maldives…. issit possible and realistic enough for me to follow my dream?

    • John says:

      Hi Fikri,

      There are many opportunities to work abroad, but maybe it’s better if you focused on some type of online freelancing or creating your own business. Teaching English abroad can be difficult if you’re not a native English speaker. Good luck.

  10. Sushil sharma says:

    Awesome blog!! I like it and filled me with a new energy. I am graphic n 3d designer with video editer. I am doing this job past 5 years. I hope I’ll get a job as a freelancer or foreign job in my field. Wish me luck!!

  11. Sunday says:

    I am a Canadian really wanting to get out of Canada and I found your blog quite helpful so thank you! I have found myself at 43 starting completely over which is exciting, scary and overwhelming all at the same time. I have friends that just pack up and leave and they do find work in other countries which is what I would like to do- I need a break or as I call it, a pattern interrupt. I know I will be ok but it is scary to just go with no funds or resources or a job, I am extremely creative, intelligent and there is nothing I can’t do so I know I will be fine but can you give me some insight into what I should watch for or any resources I could seek out to point me in the right direction as far as finding odd jobs to keep me afloat- thank you-

    • John says:

      Hi Sunday,

      Finding odd jobs in inexpensive countries is probably not the best plan. They are likely to be low paid and against the conditions of your tourist visa. I think it’s far better to find some type of work you can do online so that you can bring your work with you where ever you go. That could be work like corporate blog writing, web development, design etc. I would also make sure that you have some clients before you quit your job. There are communities like the digitalnomadacademy.com that can help. All the best,

  12. kouhei says:

    Hi! I’ve curiously read this article. Now I’m living
    Japan’s country side Tottori prefecture. Here has no industry and fucking life. Since I’ve graduated my college, entire my life is desperate.

    I’m keen on work as soccer instructer. However, my home town is not popular soccer. Main industry of my hometown is day care, slot, public service amongst of them.

    I’m keen on work as soccer coach in foreign country.
    As first choice, Australia is better place as me.
    When you come to Japan, What was the turning point of your life??

    I wanna get my life. I hate this stagnant situation.

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