Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. I’ve interviewed all kinds of people who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Recent posts include Joney Talks, Ruby from a Journey We Love, Pete of Do You Even Blog?, and Heather.
Guest posters will be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now.
The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Today I’d like to introduce Jalpan, a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
How did you make the decision to move internationally?
For college, Singapore seemed to be the best option for me since their universities are recognized internationally and place well in international rankings.
What was the process like for finding jobs?
For my Sweden experience, I had to be selected by my university and once that happened, I had to interview with companies that were participating in the program. It was scary as one of the companies took five weeks to make a decision and a delayed decision could have meant that I would have to delay going on the program for another six months.
Sweden is very culturally different from any other country that I’ve ever visited. It’s a really great place. They are a Socialist country and they do redistribute wealth. Even so, a lot of people want to do business there. There’s a part of Stockholm called Kista, which is the second hottest place for tech startups after the Silicon Valley. It’s also a very egalitarian country–it’s not uncommon to have two CEOs running a company, for example. There is almost militant gender equality there. Sweden mandated that for Lego sets, for example, half of the little people, like airline pilots, are women. Working mothers get sixteen months of paid maternity leave and I’ve never heard of anyone suing for gender discrimination or anything like that.
Studies have found that Swedes are some of the most open people in the world–maybe too open. It really pains me to sometimes see that after Sweden welcomes immigrants, some of the immigrants do not obey laws and hurt the police amongst others. I love Sweden and I love the tolerant nature of the Swedes but as my friend says “we shouldn’t tolerate intolerance.”
When I went to the US, I had a totally different cultural experience. For my training assignment at work, it was an internal selection process again. For those looking for an international assignment, I would really encourage you to look at your company’s internal job portal and see what kind of openings they have in the country of your choosing. Though it may not explicitly say that they are willing to consider international applications, you’d be surprised what could happen if you express keen interest in the job and show how you are qualified for it!
My employer started a new facility in Singapore, and a lot of us who were hired on didn’t have the necessary experience for the more complex projects. So our employer sent us to Houston, who had more experienced engineers who could train us.
We were put up in an Extended Stay Hotel which had a shuttle that would take us back and forth to work. On the weekends, I participated in as many cultural activities as possible.
Some people say you get bigger when you move to the US [Laurie: apparently America’s love of fast food is not a secret], but I actually lost about 15-20 pounds. I started training for a triathlon, and bought a bike which I eventually shipped back to Singapore. We did a bunch of cultural activities, like going to the Houston Livestock Show. We went to a shooting range (that was one day before I flew back to Singapore. People told me to make sure to do my laundry that night, so I wouldn’t set the sensors off in the airport.)
I went absolutely crazy shopping at the premium outlets, because things are so much more expensive in Singapore. When my parents were visiting, I told them not to bring any checked bags, so they could bring my stuff back with them. We had over 200 pounds of luggage at the airport! Your dollars go much further in the US.
Finding International Jobs
I have friends who found jobs overseas independently and I also have friends who run websites specifically to help people find jobs overseas.
Another friend went on exchange to Germany, looked up start-ups that were incubated at the university and sent his resume to them.
Lastly, a friend runs the website Start Me Up which is focused on helping people aged 20-23 get internships at startups.
Through her, I also learned about a website called Go Overseas that helps people find overseas opportunities. How about that!!??
- Determine your objective – why do you want to move overseas and which country + what type of jobs will help you achieve this objective.
- Determine the immigration process – the last thing you want to do is find a job, apply for it whole heartedly and then find that you are not eligible because they are not willing to sponsor a visa for you.
- Go all in – once you’ve decided to achieve something, pursue it will 100% determination.
Favorite part? Least favorite part?
Do you have any funny culture shock moments?
Why would you recommend a short term international assignment to someone? Or not?
How has working remotely positively (or negatively) impacted your finances? (since this is a personal finance blog!).
Great question! In my case, moving to Sweden for a year during college was quite an expensive move and it also delayed my graduation by six months. However, I would say that the financial impact is just one side of the coin. I think the experience I gained during that year and the skills I learned are totally priceless.
Moving to Houston for a year was a financial plus for me since the cost of living there is much lesser than in Singapore so my expenses fell considerably.
What are your future plans?
I do enjoy my job so I plan to keep working in the foreseeable future but I also love personal finance and investing so I want to reach more people through my blog and launch a course about the strategies I use to generate an income stream from investing with just 10 minutes of time commitment a month.
I really enjoyed hearing Jalpan’s story–he is a really interesting guy and is full of fascinating information! Make sure to ask Jalpan any questions in the comments section, or get in touch with him in the Comments section of his blog.