Opportunities Overseas

Last month, I posted an essay from a father in Spain (where the unemployment rate is more than 25 percent) who wrote about watching his daughter leave the country in search of a job. The Washington Post had a piece this weekend about Americans who are leaving the country to do the same: look for jobs that pay a decent salary and provide good benefits rather than continue their fruitless job hunt, or settle for jobs that underpay:

When Liz Jackson, 31, earned her PhD in educational policy from the University of Illinois, she hoped to find a job as an assistant professor. She applied for about 50 jobs in 2010. But U.S. colleges and universities were shrinking; layoffs and hiring freezes were rampant. Jackson’s only nibbles of interest came from the Middle East and Asia.

She ended up taking a position as an administrator at a university in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. There, in addition to a tax-free salary of $45,000, she was given a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment to live in rent-free, plane tickets for her and her husband to visit the United States every year, 44 annual paid vacation days, an $8,000 moving allowance, and a promise to help find a job for her husband, who’s a physicist. Plus, there was great health insurance, with no co-pays, dirt-cheap drugs and free dental coverage. This was a major draw for many of Jackson’s friends, almost all of whom are fellow Americans.

“We can pay off our student loans in the next six years,” Jackson says. Together, she and her husband owe about $200,000. “That would be impossible in the United States.”

A few Billfold readers have moved abroad and found similar success. I would have liked to see the WaPost provide some examples of people who went abroad and found the move wasn’t as ideal as they originally thought it would be, but maybe those stories aren’t as prevalent as those who’ve found a way to thrive. Also, because of the U.S. foreign earned-income exclusion, you don’t have to pay U.S. taxes on money you earn abroad (or at least up to $95,000 in 2012), and income tax in places like Hong Kong are generally lower than in the U.S.

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