Working as an Expat in Asia: Top 5 Tips

Are you planning to make a big change in your life and move away from your country? Well, there are a few places in the world as welcoming for expats as Asia. Besides having many great work opportunities, Asia is also full of adventure that will definitely bring that excitement into your life. So, if you’re interested, here are a few tips that will help any working expat in Asia. 

Apply direct

Some areas of Asia (this greatly depends on the country) are willing to hire foreigners thought a simple direct application online. Before you apply, make sure to do your homework and consider local wages and price of life. Oftentimes, getting a job through some other channels like internal company transfer will get you different rates than what locals would get (and these offers sometimes even come with housing, allowances and free plane tickets). 

Try interning


If you’re willing, you can try interning or even volunteering through organizations like AIESEC. Most people who choose this path get 6 to 12-week placements with NGOs, social enterprises and charities. Some agencies have professional internship programs with many well-known companies in Asia. Many expats who start their journeys this way, end up with paid internship and even get absorbed into the company and get a full-time job. With this experience, you can expect a direct hire transfer and end up with a better-paid job and better living conditions. 

Try teaching


This is one of the most popular career options for expats in Asia. Many countries like Japan. Korea, China, Vietnam and Taiwan have a shortage of experienced English teachers and they are especially fond of native speakers. While requirements vary from spot to spot, many schools require a Bachelor Degree or even just a short English course. Programs like easy TEFL courses in Hong Kong allow people to perfect their English skills and become international language teachers. With TEFL, you can find work anywhere in the world, so if you decide to try out another country, you’re free to go. In some Asian countries, you need to know the local language in order to enter the corporate world, so teaching English might be your only work option until you assimilate. Being a teacher can be a great stepping stone into the community, allowing you to get the taste of the culture, language and geography. 

Create connections

Many expats don’t realize just how important having a good network is. So, as soon as you arrive, try to find your local expat scene and meet as many people as you can. Almost every major city has foreign chambers of commerce, expat sports clubs and expat-frequented bars and restaurants. LinkedIn is also a great way to you reach out to other expats. For instance, you can search for your university alumni location where you live and want to work. When you share an expat bond, it’s much easier to connect to people than you might think, even with managers and CEOs.

Negotiate always 

If you’re a westerner, this might take a bit of getting used to, but everything in Asia can be negotiated, especially in Southeast parts. You can negotiate everything from your pay to your rent, furniture and cab fares. So, whatever you do, don’t hesitate to be nice and ask for better prices. As long as you’re not insulting (like asking for enormous pay or asking for a 50% discount) you can get away with a great deal. 

Becoming an expat is a huge adventure and a great career move. If you feel like you’re stuck, there’s no better way to get out of that rut and start your life anew. So, do your research, pick a country you like and you’ll enjoy your Asian adventure so much that you’ll never want to return home again!