If you are a skilled professional that would like to work overseas, you may have seen opportunities that come up often in your industry. But what if you have a spouse and children?
How would you manage a family as an international contractor? This situation is not insurmountable, and there are ways to support working abroad with family which we will dive into in this article.
A common image of international contractors are workers who are young, single and free to move abroad for opportunities. But this is far from the truth, as contractors will often have a spouse or children to consider when working in a foreign country.
For many contractors, working abroad and leaving family is not an option, so a little preparation and research will be necessary.
International contracting offers many opportunities for families to live abroad together, as a shared and educational adventure which you can explore.
Table of contents
- How to Take Care of Your Family When Working Abroad
- Best Places to Live Abroad with Family
- Moving Abroad Checklist
- How Contractor Taxation Can Help When Working Abroad With Family
- FAQs about Working Abroad with Family
- Related topics about working abroad
How to Take Care of Your Family When Working Abroad
Once you have secured a position with a foreign client, the next step is to consider all related personal matters. If you already have experience working abroad, this will come naturally, but including your family’s needs will add a new dimension to your planning. In particular, working abroad with a child demands special attention to the life conditions of your target country.
Language and Culture
One of the most interesting parts of living abroad is experiencing a new culture, and your family will be both excited and apprehensive. How will your spouse and children assimilate into a culture as new arrivals, and make friends?
Learning some of the local language prior to the move can be a huge help to bridge the communication gap. Also, studying the history of the country and how it has developed politically and economically will add to your family members’ appreciation. If you approach it like an extended field trip, then it becomes an educational adventure rather than a daunting mystery.
Health and Safety
You will want to make sure that you can take care of the health of your family during your working abroad experience. This will include researching health care facilities and access, obtaining necessary insurance policies and assessing any specific disease prevalence. Security risks do vary from country to country, and can fluctuate quickly. Your client should be helpful in getting you this information and ensuring that you are prepared.
You will want your children to continue a quality education without interruptions, and school systems do differ worldwide. There are options such as American or British schools abroad, private tutors and in some cases homeschooling.
Daniel, an expat contractor, was offered a position by a client in Thailand, and faced the prospect of having his two children in a new educational system. Due to the difficulty of the Thai language, he decided to place them in an American school in Bangkok, where the subjects were taught in English, and they could learn Thai gradually. There was a cost to this, which he had to factor in when negotiating his contract.
If your spouse would also like to work in the new country, that can be accomplished if they have the right skills. However, they will need their own work permit (if required for your nationality) as they usually can’t work on the spousal visa attached to your work permit.
Best Places to Live Abroad with Family
You might wonder where are the best places to live abroad with family, and if some countries are preferred over others. Almost any developed country in the world will have the infrastructure, educational system and support that you need for your family. Most of Europe would meet these criteria, as well as many countries in Asia and the Americas.
Peter was an expat contractor from Australia who was offered positions in both South Korea and Singapore. While both countries have developed economies, it became apparent that it would be easier for his family in terms of language and social integration to choose the job in Singapore where English is widely spoken.
This example illustrates that it is helpful if there is some common language that you can rely on, for example a family from Argentina would have no problem living in Spain. You would also need to consider climate and recreation for your family, and if it’s a place that they would enjoy living. In other words, the professional position alone can’t be the only factor that you rely on. It is probably best to avoid countries with a history of security issues, or where the culture is extremely divergent from your home country. Living abroad is challenging enough without adding to the stress.
Moving Abroad Checklist
If you are ready for the challenges of working abroad with family, you will want to start a checklist of items to look into ahead of time.
Health and Vaccinations
There are countries that have specific vaccination requirements for travellers, and those may be different from rules for locals. For example, the US still has a Covid vaccine requirement for foreign visitors, but no such rule for US citizens. You will also want to find out how to maintain any prescriptions for your family, and whether those can be easily obtained. Recommendations for family physicians and dentists is another item to look into.
Private vs. Public Schools
If you are unsure about the public school system, you will want to apply ahead of time for any private schools. There may be exams required to test your child’s education level based on local standards, and you might have to wait until the new school year begins.
It’s a good idea to start compiling all the documents that you will need such as school transcripts, health records, work history, and references. Every family member will need their own documents and travel permissions depending on the relationship to the contractor. It’s easy to overlook passport validity as six months is required to enter most countries, and you may want to do an early renewal.
Many countries require that you have your work permit in hand before entering the country. This will mean applying ahead of time through a local consulate, as most won’t allow you to apply while on a tourist visa in-country.
How Contractor Taxation Can Help When Working Abroad With Family
If you have decided to experience working abroad with your family, then there are resources and partners available to assist you. Contractor Taxation has umbrella companies in almost all countries that can ease your transition with your family and support your client relationship.
Other benefits of umbrella companies include:
· Manages all client payments, tax withholding and any social contributions
· Issues you a payslip each month, to a local or foreign account
· Sponsors work permits
· Helps set up the contract with the client
· Moderates any disputes with your client
· Advises on access to totalization and double taxation treaties
If you have questions about how an umbrella company can help you as an international contractor, we’re here to help!
FAQs about Working Abroad with Family
Working abroad can help your family in many ways, by creating a shared experience and bond, as well as the education and adventure of it. In many ways, you will have to rely more on your family relationships for support, which can strengthen your bond as a family.
This will depend on how far away the country is from your home, and the length of the contract. For short term projects, this is doable for many couples, but can otherwise strain your relationship.
Working abroad is fine for any age contractor, depending on their family situation and personal preferences. For some, the older you are the better, as you might no longer have children in school and your spouse can easily accompany you.
Working and living in a foreign country is truly a lifestyle choice, and does come with some sacrifice. One Indian expat shared that they missed their friends more than family, and that was eased by the fact his spouse and children were with him. He committed to regular calls 3-4 times a week to his parents, and decided to focus on more quality time with his children.