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The Best Countries to Work Abroad in 2022

Working abroad can be a profound experience to grow both personally and in your career. Find the perfect destination for you to work abroad and learn the legal requirements to get employed in each country.

Living and working abroad is a fantastic way to learn about the world, yourself, and what it means to be a global citizen. As the world becomes more and more interconnected, people seek work outside of their home country, but deciding where to go abroad can be difficult.

To help you find your dream job abroad, we’ve compiled a list of the best countries to work abroad. These countries are in no particular order, but all represent highly desirable places to either find short-term work or build a career.

In creating this list, we considered various factors, including work-life balance and happiness indices, the cost of living, the ease of getting a work visa, and the job opportunities in the country. With that, our goal is to provide a variety of options not limited to the most traditional expat destinations.

In analyzing happiness, we are using the most recent version of The Global Economies Happiness Index, published in 2020. This rates 150 countries from 0 (unhappy) to 10 (happy). For work-life balance, we used the OECD Better Life Index, which charts various indicators, including the percentage of employees working over 50 hours a week on average, time devoted to leisure and personal care, and gender inequality. All cost of living and salary data is provided by Numbeo and all dollar values are in USD.

Note: The countries on this list are not ranked in numerical order. The list was compiled based on the interests of our community members, industry knowledge, and our travel research.

Read on to learn about 10 of the best countries to work abroad in 2022.

Great for seasonal work: New Zealand

Best Countries to Work Abroad - Haley J., Start Me Up

Cost of living: $927/month + rent
Average Salary: $3,323/month
Work visa duration: 12 - 23 months based on residency
Happiness index ranking: 9

If you're a young adult looking to expand your perspective through a grand adventure and plan to fund it with intermediate work along the way, New Zealand may be the perfect destination for you! From adventure sports companies to tour operators to farmers, there are seemingly endless short-term and seasonal employment opportunities throughout the country.

In addition to the thriving tourism industry, New Zealand has no language barrier for English speakers. Additionally, Kiwis are extremely friendly, and most travelers find it quite easy to adapt to life in New Zealand as a result. The country is also well known for its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle, making it the perfect spot for adventure-seekers.

New Zealand regularly ranks among the happiest countries globally, including a 9th place ranking on The Global Economy 2020 Happiness index. The laid-back culture and emphasis on a healthy work-life balance create a truly unique atmosphere. It can be challenging to find long-term work contracts in New Zealand as an expat, so many travelers work for a season to fund a season of full-time travel, then repeat.

As a remote Island Nation, the cost of living in New Zealand is high so it's important to budget appropriately if you want to build savings while working there. You'll find that most job opportunities outside of agriculture will be in or around Auckland, Wellington, or smaller, tourist towns like Queenstown. These are also the areas with the highest rent expense, and rent in New Zealand can be quite expensive. Work exchange programs are popular to mitigate this for those looking for short-term work opportunities to supplement travel.

How to get a work visa in New Zealand

New Zealand offers a working holiday scheme to residents from specific countries throughout the world. The working holiday visa permits work and travel throughout New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if you are a citizen of the UK or Canada.

Additionally, visas can be acquired for those with special skills, ranging from engineering fields to telecommunications. These are typically need-based skilled positions and have much stricter requirements than the working holiday scheme.

To learn more about acquiring a visa to work in New Zealand, visit the New Zealand Immigration web portal.

How to find work in New Zealand

Start your job search well before the season you plan to be employed during. If you want to work during the ski season, check out NZSki. Agriculture work is often listed on Seasonal Jobs New Zealand. Additionally, check out the Go Overseas Job Board and filter by job type to find recent job postings.

Great for jobs in research and academia: The Netherlands

Netherlands Unsplash

Cost of living: $975/month + rent
Average Salary: $3,025/month
Work visa duration: Indefinent with a company sponsor
Happiness index ranking: 5

A favorite destination among expats for its quality of life and work-life balance, the Netherlands is another excellent option for working abroad. The Netherlands actively seeks out international entrepreneurs and has many great programs to help them invest in local companies or start their own businesses, big and small.

The Netherlands is a safe country with great social programs and a strong economy, leading to its fifth-place ranking on the 2020 Happiness index. Additionally, the Netherlands is on the cutting edge of research and academia, and expats will find abundant opportunities to work in these fields. With a strong focus on sustainable energy and a clean environment, the Netherlands is also a great place to find work in tech or energy.

Working in the Netherlands requires a company sponsor for non-European citizens, and the cost of living is relatively high, so this is a destination for career-minded international workers and is not as suitable for short-term or temporary work. That said, full-time employers in the Netherlands are guaranteed a minimum of 20 vacation days a year, a holiday allowance, 16 weeks of maternity leave, and many other benefits. This means there is both a cultural and legal emphasis on a healthy work-life balance. If you dream of finding a career in the Netherlands but aren't sure where to start, consider getting an internship there first.

How to get a work visa in the Netherlands

Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands; however, most young adults will speak fluent English, and there are job options for English speakers. Tools like UnDutchables.nl allow users to filter job postings by preferred language, and you might be surprised at the number of opportunities you'll find in English. It’s important to note that a majority of expats in the Netherlands hold at least a Master’s degree – which increases your employability significantly.

Since you'll need a work visa sponsor before moving to the Netherlands for a job, you'll likely be doing the entire hiring process online. If your mind is set on working in the Netherlands, it's a good idea to learn some Dutch before taking interviews. Learning the language will show employers you are serious about living and working there. You can even consider heading to the Netherlands for a couple of weeks on a tourist visa to take an intensive Dutch language course in Amsterdam!

The Netherlands Work Visa Process

It can be a challenge to obtain a working visa in the Netherlands, but the rewards outweigh the effort if you're up for it. A traditional work visa requires you to have an employer willing to sponsor you and will expire when you leave the company.

The Netherlands has other programs to help international workers enter the country. The start-up visa allows investors to reside in the Netherlands for one year to develop a new innovative business idea. The government also provides you with the assistance of a local mentor to help your business grow. The Netherlands also encourages small businesses through its freelance and self-employment visa.

Great for teaching English (TEFL): South Korea

Best Countries to Work Abroad - Taylor, CIEE Teach Abroad South Korea

Cost of living: $962/month + rent
Average Salary: $2,210/month
Work visa duration: 12 months
Happiness index ranking: 62

South Korea has gained recognition as a destination for work abroad recently, and justly so. The combination of globally acclaimed pop culture, world-class cuisine, a thriving economy, and high wages make Korea one of the best countries to work overseas.

While all types of jobs are available to international workers, especially those fluent in English, South Korea stands out as one of the best destinations to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). Whether employed by the Korean Ministry of Education (EPIK) program or a private institution, English teachers will be paid a highly competitive wage and find students eager to learn. Additionally, work benefits and the low cost of living in Korea provide teachers with a high standard of living and the opportunity to build savings.

That said, Korea can be a difficult place to live if you are not prepared for some cultural adjustments, especially when it comes to working culture. Rank and hierarchy mean everything, but most companies tend to understand the cultural differences and treat expats accordingly. However, be prepared to work longer hours than you are used to -- as Korea has the longest working hours of any developed nation! This is a contributor to its relatively low ranking on the happiness index and means you won't get the work-life balance in Korea that you do in many of the other locations on this list.

Despite the long work week, Korea has a lot to offer. From the bustling metropolis of Seoul to the stunning natural beauty of Korea's interior, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Seoul, Busan, and Daegu have sizable expat communities, rich nightlives, and, most importantly -- delicious food. Living and working in Korea is sure to be an experience of a lifetime for any international worker.

How to get a work visa in South Korea

Obtaining a working visa in Korea is relatively easy. The fastest and easiest way to get a working visa in Korea is to become an English teacher under Korea’s “E-2” visa.

If teaching is not your cup of tea, South Korea has agreements with some Western countries that allow workers to enter on a "working holiday" visa for up to a year. A "looking for work" visa allows travelers to live in Korea for up to six months while seeking a job.

To learn more about acquiring a visa to work in South Korea, visit VisaHQ.

Find work in South Korea

The Korean Ministry of Education and National Institute for International Education operate English Program in Korea (EPIK), with the goal of developing the English skills of Korean students. Apply directly through the EPIK web portal. Private teaching jobs are also available. Check out the Go Overseas Job Board for the latest listings.

Great for work exchanges: Australia

Best Countries to Work Abroad - Cherilyn B., CAPA Australia

Cost of living: $996/month + rent
Average Salary: $3,684/month
Work visa duration: 12 months
Happiness index ranking: 11

Australia consistently ranks highly as a country with excellent quality of life, standards of living, and overall happiness. Additionally, it holds a top-10 Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, globally. People here enjoy a great work-life balance – and it is not hard to enjoy your time outside the office in such a beautiful country. Even though the cost of living is quite high in Australia, expats can still live comfortably thanks to the relatively high minimum wage.

Australia is an excellent choice for travelers looking for a work exchange experience. With an easy visa scheme, Australia is one of the most convenient countries to find a work exchange program. Organizations like World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) align volunteers with farms in exchange for food and board. WWOOF has been operating in Australia for over 40 years, providing safe, rewarding work exchange programs to thousands of volunteers.

From its wide-open outback, pristine beaches, and cosmopolitan cities, Australia has it all. Sydney and Melbourne are known for their multicultural population, making it extremely easy for an expat to adjust to life in Australia. Additionally, the need for labor in the agriculture industry across Australia and the lack of a language barrier for English speakers make Australia a formidable destination to beat.

How to get a work visa in Australia

The process for obtaining a visa to work in Australia is roughly identical to that of New Zealand. Australia also has a "working holiday" visa scheme that allows foreigners of certain nationalities to enter the country for 12 months. Likewise, there are working visas available for international workers that pass a skills assessment similar to that of New Zealand.

To learn more about acquiring a visa to work in Australia, visit the Department of Home Affairs visa finder.

How to find work in Australia

There are established organizations like WWOOF that will connect you directly with a work exchange host who provides meals and lodging in exchange for up to 36 hours of work a week. Workaway is another popular resource for matching travelers with homestays, work exchanges, and volunteer opportunities.

Great for engineering jobs: Germany

Best Countries to Work Abroad - Jenny H., CIEE Germany

Cost of living: $886/month + rent
Average Salary: $2,908/month
Work visa duration: 12 months
Happiness index ranking: 12

As one of the leading economies globally (per GDP) and among the largest exporters of goods, Germany is filled with incredible opportunities for career-minded people looking to work abroad, especially engineers. Many global corporations have offices in Germany, meaning there are opportunities for English-speaking positions, although the job hunt will be more challenging. Fortunately, most Germans have a strong English proficiency, so the language barrier is manageable.

Along with the leading economy, the enriching culture and unbeatable work-life balance make Germany a great place to build a career overseas. People work less (about 27 hours per week) and live better as a result, with Germany ranking in The Global Economy 2020 Happiness index! Excellent healthcare, generous paid leave, and unforgettable experiences await you in Germany. You may also want to consider an internship in Germany if you're a young adult looking to take your career to the next leve.

The cost of living can be higher than what you are used to, but living in Germany can be less expensive than in many other European cities, depending on where you find a job. Every city has something different to offer, making it perfect for any expat. The larger cities remain the most popular among international workers, with Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt having the largest expat communities. Regardless of where you end up, you'll get a taste of the eclectic charm that is characteristic of this innovative European country.

How to get a work visa in Germany

Applying for a working visa can be challenging, but there are ways to obtain a permit to work and live in Germany.

Nationals of most Western countries can apply for a job seeker (aka looking for work) visa that allows you to line up a job while in the country and then apply for a working visa after securing a work contract.

To learn more about acquiring a visa to work in Germany, visit the Employment in Germany web portal.

How to find work in Germany

Finding work within your career field in Germany will be more difficult if you don't speak German. Linkedin allows you to filter available jobs by industry, type of work, and the language in which the job can be performed. Germany has a highly competitive job market, so networking is essential to find work. Linkedin is also an excellent tool for finding current contacts or fellow alum currently employed in Germany. Reaching out to these people for advice is a great first step. Additionally, join expat Facebook groups and attend international job fairs in your local area. If all else fails, consider taking a job-hunting trip to Germany.

Great for tourism industry jobs: Brazil

Brazil Unsplash

Cost of living: $479/month + rent
Average Salary: $396/month
Work visa duration: 24 months
Happiness index ranking: 33

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and with that has the most opportunities for expats. This beautiful country has a booming tourism industry. While Portuguese is the primary language in the country, there are many opportunities for English speakers within large cities like Rio de Janeiro.

Since 1988, the Brazilian government has strengthened laws promoting a better work-life balance and fair compensation for long workweeks. Any time worked over 44 hours a week must be paid time and a half, and weekend and holiday work is paid double. However, what really stands out is the 41 days of vacation Brazilians get, leading to high job satisfaction ratings and a strong ranking on happiness indices. If you work in Brazil, get used to placing higher importance on a mid-day break for coffee and lunch than in places like the US and UK.

While negative stereotypes exist about the safety of living in Brazil, those are mostly overblown. Like anywhere, there are areas to avoid and basic safety precautions you can take to stay safe. Overall, there are safe cities in Brazil that make great destinations for expats, tourists, and volunteers, but be aware of the risk of scams, which are common in Brazil.

How to get a work visa in Brazil

There are multiple forms of work visas in Brazil depending on your circumstances. The VITEM V visa (temporary visa) is the most common visa for expats working in Brazil. The Visto Permanente (permanent work visa) is for professionals and is usually acquired after working on a temporary work visa for two years.

To acquire a temporary work visa, you will likely need either professional experience or a post-graduate level degree. Find the exact requirements and apply on the Consulate General of Brazil website.

How to find work visa in Brazil

To find English-speaking jobs in Brazil, consider using job classified sites, like Glassdoor, that allow you to filter language preferences. Before searching the web, you can find recent job postings in Brazil on the Go Overseas job board.

Brazilian expat community pages on social media sites are another great place to connect with fellow travelers and find jobs targeting international workers. Additionally, a trip down to Brazil to meet with local companies is always a great networking option!

Great for trainees: Denmark

Denmark unsplash

Cost of living: $1,044/month + rent
Average Salary: $3,556/month
Work visa duration: 3 - 48 months
Happiness index ranking: 2

Denmark promotes a fantastic work-life balance, has strong social welfare resources, including professional child care and public healthcare, and is one of Earth's safest and happiest countries. Combining this with the high standard of living and strong economy and it's easy to see why Denmark is one of the best destinations to work abroad.

The cost of living in Denmark is the highest on this list, however, average salaries are also high, and working in Denmark means you'll likely work fewer hours than most other countries as well. The countries location, nestled between Germany and Sweden, has allowed Denmark to be an important trade route throughout time, and those relationships still exist today.

While Danish is the primary language, English is widely spoken, and there are many jobs available for English speakers, and certain degrees can be done entirely in English. Additionally, Danish work culture values teamwork and has a flat management structure, making it much different from what most expats are used to in their home country. This helps employees feel empowered and leads to high job satisfaction. Yet, Denmark is still ranked among the most productive countries in Europe according to the European Investment Bank Investment Report.

While Denmark has many work visa schemes available, a popular option to gain international work experience is through a trainee visa. This is a great option for young adults to build their resume, make professional connections, and potentially find full-time employment. Working abroad is a great way to show prospective employers that you are highly adaptable, work well in a culturally diverse environment, and have great initiative. Completing short-term work or interning in Denmark is a perfect place to do so.

How to get a work visa in Denmark

To work in Denmark, you will first need to apply for residence and acquire a work permit. There are multiple types of work permits depending on your individual circumstances, including a fast-track scheme for those with a current job offer from a company certified by SIRI, an Employed Ph.D. scheme for those offered a job as a Ph.D. in a Denmark education institution, and a trainee scheme for those looking for short term training experience.

To find all of the work visa paths, learn the requirements, and apply, visit the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration website.

How to find work in Denmark

There are plenty of options for finding work as an English speaker in Denmark, from working as an Au Pair to teaching English. You can follow the latest job postings here on the Go Overseas Job Board. You can also filter for English-speaking jobs on the recruitment website Jobs in Copenhagen and find well over 1,000 current listings.

Great for finance jobs: Botswana

Botswana Unsplash

Cost of living: $544/month + rent
Average Salary: $975/month
Work visa duration: Determined case by case
Happiness index ranking: 147

While it may be a non-traditional location for expats looking for countries to work abroad, Botswana is a wonderful Southern African country with a stable democracy and strong finance sector. Botswana is also one of the safest countries in Africa, and its location (bordering South Africa) provides prosperous opportunities for its thriving export industry. According to The World Bank, Botswana is also one of the fastest-growing economies globally, making it a great place to build a career. That said, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a reduction in demand for Botswana's exports, and the government has implemented an economic recovery and transformation plan. Hopefully, this will lead to a diversity of opportunities among different industries in Botswana and a need for skilled labor.

English is one of the two official languages in Botswana (Tswana being the other), meaning the language barrier will be insignificant for most English speakers working in the country. Many international corporations operate and hire workers in Bostwana, including Microsoft, Deloitte, World Bank Group, Heineken, Coca-Cola, Visa, and PWC, so opportunities are abundant.

Botswana is not only a safe country but, according to the BTI Transformation Index, they are enthusiastic supporters of anti-corruption and conflict resolution efforts led by the African Union and United Nations. Botswana is an active participant on the international stage and has the longest-standing multiparty democracy in Africa. Expats in Botswana have the opportunity to support the country's efforts in continuing to grow the economy and build a higher quality of life for the Twana people.

How to get a work visa in Botswana

Botswana has a single type of work visa (permit) for expats interested in working in the country. The application process requires the support of an employer and for them to show they have first attempted to recruit a qualified Botswana citizen for the position first.

Overall the application process is known for its ambiguity, and the decision board makes a determination on the length of the visa when choosing whether or not to grant one. Unfortunately, this creates additional uncertainty. However, once granted a visa, expats can apply to renew it indefinitely through the same process.

How to find work in Botswana

Since Botswana has laws requiring companies to first attempt to hire a Botswana citizen before expanding their search for qualified candidates globally, finding a job in Botswana can be more challenging than the other countries on this list. That said, many multinational corporations operate in Botswana, and most expats working there do so through an intra-company transfer.

In addition to intra-company transfers, expats can find opportunities in Botswana through the JobNet Africa job board, which you can find recent listings in Botswana and throughout Africa. Another option to spend time and immerse yourself in the local culture is to volunteer in Botswana.

Great for jobs in healthcare: Canada

Canada Unsplash

Cost of living: $889/month + rent
Average Salary: $2,784/month
Work visa duration: 24 - 48 months
Happiness index ranking: 14

Canada is a progressive country with a solid list of mandatory employee benefits, including parental leave, 25 vacation days a year, and the highest minimum wage in North America. The average salary is high in Canada, and cost of living is quite reasonable, making it a great destination to work and build savings. Canada is also one of the safest countries on Earth, and has a thriving economy that is ranked 14th in size globally.

Healthcare is the largest industry (by employment) in Canada, and the country has made monumental contributions in medical advances, including the discovery of insulin, the invention and world's first pacemaker, and the discovery of HAART therapy treatment as HIV prevention.

The focus on work-life balance and happy employees in Canada expands beyond mandatory benefits, and many companies provide additional benefits to promote a healthy lifestyle. Discounted gym memberships, child healthcare, flexible schedules, and extended health benefits are all common forms of non-monetary compensations employers provide their workforce in Canada.

Since Canada has many job opportunities spanning across various sections, especially in IT, research, healthcare, and energy, it's a great place to find short-term work, build a career, or for young adults to intern abroad. English is the primarily spoken language in most of Canada, so there will be no language barrier for English-speaking expats or interns.

How to get a work visa in Canada

Whether you need a permit to work in Canada and how long it will last depends on your citizenship and other circumstances. Those with US or Mexican passports can legally work in Canada for up to 6-months without a work visa, however, they will need one if they plan on staying longer.

There are two types of temporary work permits in Canada. The first is an open work permit which allows you to work for most employers in Canada. The other option is an employer-specific permit, which requires you have a contract in place with a specific employer.

To determine if you need a work permit, what one you qualify for, and to apply, visit the Government of Canada Work-in Canada webpage.

How to find work in Canada

Before you begin your job search, review the informational page on the official Canadian government website for looking for jobs in Canada. This will provide you with great resources to assist your job hunt and ensure the job will be compliant to receive a work permit.

Once you're ready to peruse classifieds, first hop over to the Go Overseas Job Board and review recent job postings. Joining Canadian expat groups on social media is another great way to network, find opportunities, and learn from those who have successfully found work in Canada.

Great for digital nomads: Cambodia

Best Countries to Work Abroad - Andrea M., TruTravels Cambodia

Cost of living: $581/month + rent
Average Salary: $264/month
Work visa duration: 12 months with indefinate renewals
Happiness index ranking: 114

The growing trend of digital nomads spreading across the globe has inspired some countries to attract these workers with friendly visa schemes and other benefits. Cambodia is home to a significant expat community and has recently caught the attention of remote workers looking for a low cost of living, beautiful culture, tropical weather, and world-class cuisine.

From the vibrant capital of Phnom Penh to the laid-back city of Siem Reap, international workers can rent a room for just $300 a month and will find coworking space nearby for as little as $5/day. With unreliable power and internet in many homes and apartments, finding a convenient place to work is recommended to keep you and your clients happy. If a coworking space isn't for you, hop into one of the hundreds of Wi-Fi cafes along the streets of Cambodia. You will likely find other expats with similar goals to you, and with the cost of living in Cambodia being as affordable as it is, you can maintain a great work-life balance.

The quality of life and unintimidating business visa scheme has made Cambodia a digital nomad hub over the last few years. This means you will find an international community of remote workers to connect with and build your global network. The cost of living in Cambodia presents the opportunity for expats living there to build significant savings while still enjoying a high standard of living. That said, the average salary in Cambodia is much lower than other countries on the list, so keep that in mind if you plan on searching for a job locally.

Aside from those striving to live the digital nomad lifestyle, Cambodia is also a fantastic destination to teach abroad. English teachers with TEFL certifications can expect to earn between $700 - $1,000 a month in Cambodia, which goes a long way considering the cost of living.

How to get a work visa in Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the easiest countries to obtain a long-term working visa. A business visa initially costs $30. However, extending the business visa from 30 days to a year will cost you an additional $300. Even better, this long-term business visa can be renewed indefinitely.

To learn more about acquiring a visa to work in Cambodia, visit VisaHQ.

How to find work in Cambodia

As a digital nomad, you don't need to be employed locally, although finding reliable location-independent work can take time. Traditional job classified sites like Indeed allow you to filter down to remote-only work. However, it is important that you clarify with the prospective employer that you plan to be overseas. Working Nomads provides available job listings with tags that show where the job can be performed. To improve your chances of finding location-independent work, find local expat career fairs and join industry Facebook groups to grow your professional network.

If you plan to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL), apply to private schools, as public schools rarely hire international workers in Cambodia. You will likely be required to have a certification to gain employment as an English teach, so get certified before applying.

Start applying for your dream job abroad

There are many other fantastic destinations to work and live abroad, and the perfect destination that meets your goals and aspirations may not be on this list. Don't let that deter you from taking the leap and pursuing work overseas. The insight you will gain, the broader perspective you will develop, and the memories you will make will be worth all the work it takes.

As someone who has personally gone through multiple visa application processes, I will be the first to admit that it is both intimidating and stressful. Countries with straightforward working holiday visa schemes, like Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, are wonderful destinations for young adults looking for short-term work to supplement travel. Many of the other countries on this list will require much more work to gain residence and legal employment, but the process will also be another lesson along the way.

No matter where you would like to work abroad it will always be easiest for those with special skills or higher education to obtain permission to live and work in another country. Ensure you update your resume to reflect your unique skillset, and always adapt your CVs format to reflect the standards of the country you're applying in.

It is an eye-opening experience to live and work outside of your home country and to immerse yourself in another culture. Whether in one of these countries or not, get out there, expand your worldview, and make lasting memories by working overseas.

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