You could be earning more money as an expat in one of these countries than in the U.S.
It’s true. According to the Expat Insider 2017 report from expatriate network and global guide InterNations, 41% of expats relocate because of their career or their partner's career, whether by choice or out of necessity. Northern Europe and the Middle East are home to the top 10 countries where at least 60% of the expats said they earn more than at home. However, overall satisfaction with personal finances varied widely even if a higher income was earned as it depended on the cost of living and the state of the country’s economy.
The top 10 countries expats earn more money than in the U.S. are:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
I myself have had experience with this, living and working abroad for over 20 years in five different countries: Japan, the U.K., Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia. I first left the U.S. in 1994, two years after graduating from university, teaching American business English and etiquette to Japanese businessmen in large corporations. I easily tripled my salary and wound up living in Japan for four and a half years. Japan was the best country I lived in where I significantly increased my salary – at that time.
A key lifestyle change I made was living like most Japanese did. I bought local Japanese food and products, which stretched my disposal income. However, if an expat chooses to work overseas and still prefers to consume American products, which would be imported and thus expensive, they would be spending a greater portion of their increased disposal income and not see the accumulated dollars in their bank account. Times have changed, and Japan’s economy took hard hits when the real estate and stock markets collapsed which led to the overall reduction in expat salary levels. There opportunity for an expat to make more money than their home country still exists in Japan, but it is not as lucrative as in the early 1990s.
Additional factors to consider when contemplating taking an overseas posting is the exchange rate and taxation. When I lived and worked in Japan and the U.K., both the Japanese Yen and British Pound were stronger than the U.S. dollar. When I sent money home the result was more dollars in my bank account. Also, I paid local taxes in the country I domiciled so I didn’t have to pay U.S. taxes up to a specific threshold.
Job postings to countries in Africa and Asia are commonly considered “hardship postings” and come with additional financial benefits, or incentives. Standard financial incentives are an international insurance policy, subsidized housing rental as well as utilities, internet and cable tv, car lease, round-trip air fare home at least once a year, and paid international school fees for your children. Sometimes there is even a U.S. tax credit paid by an employer if your income is above the tax credit threshold. It is common that an expat can bank most of his salary with the basic life expenses covered by an employer.
If you have the opportunity to work abroad with the expat employment perks of having your employer cover even some of your expenses, it is definitely worth it not only for the increase in your income but also for the experience of living and working in another country. The experience alone will certainly increase your income potential. Go for it and experience the world! What’s the risk? You can always come back home.
Valerie Lynn is a Traditional Feminine Healthcare Expert specializing in Postnatal Recovery as well as author of, The Mommy Plan, Restoring Your Post-Pregnancy Body, Using Women’s Traditional Wisdom and the cookbook Healing Meals: Simple Recipes for New Moms (Q1-2018). Valerie has lived, worked and conducted research in Japan, the U.K., Australia and Indonesia. Her coaching practice in New York City supports expecting mothers and their families guiding them through a new mother’s recovery based on the most holistic and effective after birth recovery program in the world with success rates of 97%. Her exclusive seminar, Optimizing Maternity Leave: A Roadmap to Post-Pregnancy Recovery is gaining recognition in the public and private sectors. The objective of her work and the seminar is for every new mother to create her own individualized, systematic, daily 6-Week & Beyond Post-Pregnancy Recovery & Recuperation Plan starting from Day 1, Birth Day; encompassing new nutritional needs, diet and meals, personal care, body care, activities and maternal mental health needs. Having a Recovery Plan in place ensures a systematic and progressive healing and recovery takes place during the Healing Window of Opportunity that every woman has naturally but doesn’t benefit from.