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Becoming an expat, working and living abroad, is an exciting concept and one that many people would jump at the chance for. If you’re working for a multinational company with offices across the globe, securing an expat position in a foreign branch is a great option. These big companies know all the ins and outs of setting up life your life as an expat and will hold your hand every step of the way.

But, if like me, you’re a location independent professional, you won’t be working for a big mothership who’ll take care of all the hard work. You’ll need to know how to do it all yourself.

Here are four things you’ll need to consider if you’re contemplating working and living abroad.


What visa will you need? Many location independent folk simply work on a tourist visa, spending the maximum amount of time possible in a country as a tourist and making border runs to renew visas when necessary. For countries in South East Asia this is an easy option but if you want to live abroad in Europe, America or Australasia things start to get infinitely complicated. Nomadic Matt has a great post about how to legally stay in Europe for more than 90 days.

Insurance and Healthcare

If you’re a digital nomad, living abroad, hopping from country to country on various tourist visas you’ll need to have travel insurance to cover you for travel, accidents and any injuries sustained while abroad. If you’re an expat working legally in a foreign country you’ll have different requirements for health insurance. Some countries, like the UK and France, will have national schemes that you’ll be eligible for depending on your visa. Other countries will require you to have some form of health insurance or expat insurance in order to obtain a working visa. Do your homework and don’t ever travel abroad without some form of global health insurance. If independent working is the main motive then specific health insurance for individuals ( is tailored to Asia-bound nomads).


If you’re working online in some capacity you can probably get away with using a tourist visa (although not 100% ideal, it’s what most of us do.) If you’re not already set up as a digital nomad but want to live and work abroad there are a few jobs that foreigners are best suited for. Depending on your skill set you could teach English as a foreign language (most popular in Asia – see here), work as a dive instructor, work in a hostel, work in a ski resort or work as a nanny. These formal jobs will require an appropriate working visa. If you’re under 30, look into working holiday visa programs.


If you are working abroad legally, you’ll need to pay tax. This can be a complicated enough event in itself. Most countries will require you to register for an IRD/IRS number in order to pay tax. If you’re only working part of the year, look into your entitlement for tax refunds once you’ve finished your employment. You will have been taxed based on the assumption that you’re working for a full tax year so if you haven’t it’s likely that you’ll receive a tax refund of some sort. If you’re working as a digital nomad, you’ll still be paying tax in your home country. Make sure that, by staying in another country for any length of time, you’re not required to pay tax there too. For example, New Zealanders and Australians can work in each others countries without a visa but, as a Kiwi living in Oz, you are required to pay tax if you’re in the country more than six months.

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