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Working in a Foreign Country as a Canadian

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Working in a Foreign Country as a Canadian

Written by Chrissy Kapralos
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood

Working in a Foreign Country as a Canadian

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Budgeting Work Visa Working Abroad

With a more globalized world, it’s becoming more and more common for Canadians to travel abroad for work or study. Offering unique and rewarding opportunities, working abroad can be appealing for many freelancers or prospective full-time employees looking to change their life. However, it’s important to remember that working abroad comes with many challenges and responsibilities, especially when it comes to financial planning. 

Costs of Living and Working Abroad 

The cost of living is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the costs associated with working abroad. A cost of living calculator can help map out your expenses. You’ll need to prepare your finances well enough to cover the following:

Rent and Utilities

Make sure you research the cost of rent in the neighbourhood of the country you plan to live in. Like Canada, different neighbourhoods and cities vary in rent. According to Business Insider, sometimes entire cities are known to have higher rent in general, such as Hong Kong, Zurich, San Francisco, Paris, and Amsterdam. Don’t forget to account for the costs of electricity and heating, which make up your utility costs. 

Check out these 10 mistakes people make when renting

Food

There are plenty of ways to save on food costs while abroad, including grocery shopping, dining out at lunch instead of dinner, avoiding tourist traps, and ensuring your accommodation has a kitchen. 

Travel

Travel costs can be high, especially if your destination is far away. You’ll want to account for travel costs to and from your destination, as well as travel costs associated with visiting family and friends throughout the time of your employment abroad. Additionally, travel within your destination city should be considered. For example, whether or not you’ll rent a car or invest in monthly passes for public transportation. 

Check out these credit cards to gain access to these airport lounges when travelling. 

Surprise Costs

When travelling abroad, there are often surprise costs that you might not consider before leaving. It’s always best to account for these costs with a bit of a safety net in your budget. Some examples include a taxi to your accommodation if public transportation has ended for the night or security deposits for a rental. 

Learn how to start an emergency fund

Travel Insurance

Don’t underestimate the need for health insurance while travelling. A visit to the hospital in a foreign country can cost you thousands of dollars, so it’s important to ensure you’re covered. If you manage to score a full-time position abroad, sometimes insurance is included in your employment contract. However, this isn’t always the case and is oftentimes not the case for freelancers and contractors. Most Canadian banks offer health and travel insurance; otherwise, you can find insurance at some private companies, including Cooperators, Blue Cross, Sun Life, and DesJardins.

What Health Insurance Covers
What Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Injury and sicknessInjury or sickness from a pre-existing health condition
Lost and stolen itemsInjury from high-risk activities (shark swimming, etc.)
Travel Costs if plan changeTravel costs losses from promotional funding, like frequent flyer points
Other preventable losses

Budgeting

Once you’ve mapped out an estimate of your monthly expenses, you can work out a financial plan or budget for yourself. Having a budget can help you manage your finances efficiently, and save you money down the road. You can use budgeting apps to help you create a plan and better track your spendings.

Getting a Visa to Work Abroad as a Canadian Citizen

If you’re planning on relocating your life for several years, you will need a special visa and will often need to be sponsored by your employer. But, the good news is that if you’re looking to travel for a shorter period of time and want to earn money and experience at the same time, Canadians have the option to choose a working holiday. 

What Countries Can a Canadian Work in Without a Visa?

If you have a Canadian passport then you’re in luck. There are over 30 countries that Canadian citizens can work in without a specialized and often hard to acquire work visa. Instead Canadians can apply for a “working holiday” visa, which is significantly easier to apply for. 

The working visa opens many borders including countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Oceania, North America, and the Caribbean. Some of these countries include Australia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, etc. 

How Long Can You Live in a Foreign Country For?

In general, Canadians are allowed to live in another country for 182 days or 6 months in a year without consequence. However, it’s also important to check how long you can stay in the country you visit unless the company you’re working for has sponsored you. Depending on the country you visit, ensure all of your documents are in order before travelling. Also be sure your finances are in order, updating your expired passport can cost a few hundred dollars, while visas can also be financially burdensome, especially if the destination country doesn’t have an agreement with Canada. 

Are you a foreigner looking to move to Canada? Find out what kind of documents you’ll need.  

Bank Accounts and Foreign Countries

When generating income in a foreign country, you’ll want to consider opening up a bank account in that country. This makes it easy to get paid in the local currency without paying international exchange fees. However, the process of opening an overseas bank account can be gruelling, and take a long time. Usually, you need proof of residency, a minimum deposit, and a visa. Another route to take is the borderless bank account. Such accounts offer you the ability to spend, send and receive money in up to 40 currencies in one bank account. 

Need to transfer money? Check out these international money transfer service providers.

Transaction Fees and Exchange Rates

If opening a bank account overseas is not the right option for you, you want to be extra vigilant in ensuring you don’t get financially dinged by transaction fees and exchange rates. Look up the conditions of your debit and credit cards to ensure you don’t rack up fees for international transactions. This might warrant looking into getting a new credit card that’s more travel friendly. 

Money Transfer Services 

There are a variety of money transfer services that can allow you to deposit and send money internationally. 

Transfer FeeSending LimitsTransfer Time
World RemitVaries$0.01 –  $40,0000 – 5 days Learn More
Wester UnionNo fee* $1 – $9990 -1 day Learn More
Money GramVaries$1 – $9901 dayLearn More
OFXVaries$150+1 dayLearn More
XE Money TransferNo fee*$1 – $500,001 dayLearn More
*certain conditions apply

Ways to Finance Your Your Overseas Expenses

Unless you have a super padded savings account, you might need a bit of extra help to finance your work-abroad trip. Here are a few credit-focused methods to help you finance your expenses overseas.

Bank loan – Canadian Bank and Foreign Bank

If your travel is for a short period of time, you’ll have an easier time securing a loan from a Canadian or foreign bank. You will almost always need to have a permanent Canadian address, as well as a bank account and Canadian residency or citizenship. 

But if you’ve moved overseas and have given up your Canadian address or closed bank account, you’ll have a much harder time. Having a working Canadian bank account will be necessary, and having a permanent Canadian address will also likely be a requirement. Since you’re living overseas, some lenders may require that you provide collateral that you own in Canada to secure your loan, such as a vehicle or your home.

There will be other eligibility criteria that you need to meet too, including minimum income, age and credit score requirements.

Online Personal Loan 

There are many providers that will offer personal loans in the event that you cannot obtain one from your bank. It’s important to inform the provider of all the details of your travel and work abroad, including the length of your trip, your Canadian address (if you have one), and residency status. Online providers might ask for collateral, and you will need to meet a few eligibility requirements to qualify. 

Credit Card 

Before you travel, try to secure a credit card that allows you to collect points for travel costs. This can be a great way to earn credit for flights and other travel expenses. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the card you choose does not charge foreign transaction fees. Remember- like all credit cards, you’ll want to pay your minimum payment just to avoid negatively affecting your credit score, but you’ll also want to aim to pay the entire balance to avoid paying interest fees.

Scams and Working Abroad 

Scams are alive and well in many countries. It’s important to be vigilant in preventing yourself from being a victim of a scam. Some scams include being pickpocketed, being distracted by a child to allow someone to steal from you, unverified currency exchanges, vague product selling, gambling and unofficial card games, and more. Tourists and foreigners are prime targets; however, with a bit of planning, you can avoid being scammed:

  • Do your research
  • Be wary of distractions
  • Exchange currency at official locations
  • Don’t wear valuables in an obvious way
  • Wear a Money Belt
  • Plan travel routes in advance

Find out if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

Final Thoughts

Working abroad can be a rewarding, exciting opportunity for freelancers and others interested in a dramatic life change. However, you need to ensure you plan efficiently and practically before you go. Remember to research all expenses and make a budget to ensure you maximize the most out of your work-abroad experience. 

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