So you’ve decided to take the plunge and move overseas with work. You’ve even gone as far as bagging a new job. Want to know what happens next? Please read on!
In his first blog our globe trotting guest contributor and disputes lawyer, Christopher Tan, shared his reasons for relocating to the beautiful island of Jersey. He also shared his top tips for finding an overseas role, including how to get a job search off the ground and what to expect during interviews. In his follow-up blog Christopher discusses the “offer” and practicalities of making the move.
All has gone well, you’ve received and accepted an offer from a team that you like in your jurisdiction of choice, what next? From now till your first day in the office, there’ll be various practical issues to attend to.
Depending on your nationality and the location you’re moving to, you might need to apply for a visa or other permits. With this is mind, do get timelines clarified with your legal recruiter and new employer as early as possible so you can collate all the necessary paperwork. It’s possible that your passport will need to be submitted to the relevant authorities during the visa processing period so you may need to stay put for a few weeks.
Law firms do typically cover the cost of any visa application fees but do check if this is something you are specifically reimbursed for, or if it is to come out of any lump sum relocation allowance that you might receive. If you are moving with a partner and/or children, the application process might take longer.
For the vast majority of lawyers, it’s unlikely you’ll need to get legal advice from an immigration specialist as your new employer’s HR team should be able to field most of your questions. But if your particular situation is complex or you’re worried about potential issues then you may wish to get legal advice from an immigration specialist.
Then there is a matter of accommodation. You might have an existing lease to terminate in London, for example. There would naturally be the question of finding somewhere suitable to live in your new location. Do have a discussion with your new firm’s HR team to see if they can offer any help or support.
When I first moved to Jersey, my firm arranged for me to spend my first month in a serviced apartment as part of my relocation package. This gave me some time to do flat viewings on the ground before making a final decision on where to live. This worked for me; some prefer to have their permanent accommodation sorted out from the outset but this might be impractical for various reasons.
With housing, there might be additional local rules, which your firm should advise you on. For example, in Jersey and Guernsey, to ration the limited supply of local housing stock, there are regulations in place that mean only long-term residents can rent or buy residential property without restrictions. Fortunately, my firm allocated me a license that allows me to access the full spectrum of Jersey accommodation.
Other administrative matters
When moving, you will have many questions, although some are relatively trivial, like, “Where do I go for coffee near my new office?”. However, shipping your personal effects to your new location, opening a local bank account and registering with national tax authorities are some of the more important tasks to prioritise. Again, your HR contact should be able to advise you. Depending on your new location (and your existing knowledge), you might find it helpful to start learning the local language or to read more on the local culture.
From your first day onwards
This is the moment that all the preparation, interviews, visa applications and other administrative tasks has been building up to: actually starting work in your new city! This is, naturally, an exciting period – but there is a lot to think about.
As with a new job back home, you would want to start on the right foot. I would recommend you make CheekyLittleCareers.com your trusted companion for everything you need to know about flourishing at work and beyond!
On the social side, you might be wondering what might be the best way to get to know people in your new location. In culturally Anglo Saxon-influenced countries, you would likely have the chance to get to know your colleagues over Thursday or Friday evening drinks if you are so inclined – this would be rarer in continental Europe. In locations with more of a community spirit, you might find yourself being invited to the home of a colleague one evening fairly quickly, which is a lovely way to get to know people on a more personal level – and which is something I appreciate about Jersey.
In terms of getting to know people outside of work, this similarly depends on the location. In Jersey, I have found that many newcomers get to know people through sports groups. Cycling is very popular in my office, for example!
In certain Middle Eastern locations, there tends to be an “expat circuit” of bars, restaurants and parties where people meet. In most places, there would be a good number of industry events where you would get to meet junior lawyers at other firms too. Regardless of where you go, I am sure you will come across some friendly faces in time.
Finally, a word on culture shock: it will happen. There will be things about your new location that might surprise, annoy or even upset you. Even in a location that seems familiar, do be mentally prepared for some differences. For example, when interning with the UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur, I had to consciously remember that I was expected to speak to government officials in Malay (rather than in English, which is the case across the border in Singapore). I once had to call a morgue – not knowing the word for “corpse”, I found myself referring to a deceased asylum-seeker as “the dead guy”. This caused the listener to burst out laughing, take pity on me and switch to English. I think the trick is to accept that you are in a new environment and be prepared to adapt to their ways and try new things.
Moving abroad is a decision that requires careful thought. However, it has the potential to be incredibly rewarding both professionally and personally. As someone with a fairly international background (Jersey is the fifth country that I have lived in), this has been true for me. However, regardless of whether you have explored relocating before, I’d encourage you to give the idea serious consideration: who knows where the road less travelled might take you?
Christopher Tan is an associate in the litigation team of Carey Olsen in Jersey. He works on a wide range of complex cross-border commercial disputes but has a particular interest in the financial services sector.