10 tips on navigating life abroad as a freelancer

The dream of working overseas as a freelancer is one held by many. As technology makes remote working and communication easier than ever before, many are taking the plunge and embarking upon a new life abroad. But it’s not always plain sailing when navigating a new way of life. We’ve put together a list of 10 top tips to help you establish your new expat lifestyle as an overseas freelancer.

1. Work remotely…

If your work is primarily based online, you could consider working remotely. Remote work isn’t for everyone, but it can provide a number of benefits to those wishing for a more adaptable career:

● Job flexibility: As a remote freelancer, you’ll be able to choose jobs from around the world that work around your lifestyle. It may work best for you to juggle a number of projects for multiple companies, or you may feel more secure working remotely for one company
● Location flexibility: If you’re an avid traveller, you could become one of many freelancers to use remote working as an opportunity to earn money as you explore the world. An increasing number of companies are now offering more adaptable working arrangements, so you may be able to visit multiple countries on a short-term basis without requiring a visa.

2. …Or work in-house

However, as a British freelancer living overseas you may feel more comfortable freelancing in-house from a single location. This arrangement also offers a number of benefits, such as:

● A different kind of job flexibility: While you may wish to base your freelancing roles in a single country or city, this approach doesn’t have to mean being tied down. As a local freelancer, you’ll be in the perfect position to take on last-minute, in-house roles, and to network and build relationships with local companies
● Establishing a new life: For British expats hoping to establish a new life in a specific country, freelancing in a single location could provide the perfect opportunity to adapt and settle. As a local, permanent freelancer, you are more likely to meet locals and learn about the country you now live in. You will also have a greater opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and language than remote freelancers.

3. Do your visa research

Every country has its own rules when it comes to living abroad as a freelancer. Before moving to your country of choice or taking on any new jobs, consider what visas you may require to allow you to work and settle overseas.
For example, changes to the rules following Brexit have resulted in new visa laws for British expats moving to many countries in Europe. Previously, a British freelancer would have enjoyed an automatic right to live and work in the European Union, but you will now require an appropriate visa. A number of countries also require immigrants to apply for a residents’ permit, including France.

4. Take note of changes to EU working rules post-Brexit

British freelancers moving to the European Union have more to contend with than visas. Changes to the rules post-Brexit mean there are many new rules that could affect the ease of your transition. One such rule affects travel and has resulted in British passport holders requiring a visa or work permit in many countries in order to work abroad. In addition, freelancers working for UK companies from a location within the European Union must remember to apply for a visa if planning to remain overseas for longer than 90 days in any 180-day period.

5. Make sure you can get paid

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re paid quickly and efficiently is to use a wire service. Such services can be used all over the world and are often instantaneous but beware of fees or hidden charges related to exchange rates. It is also possible to transfer via a bank account, but this can take significantly longer, particularly when it is being transferred between countries. If you’re working with only a small handful of clients, consider using the payment method that’s preferred by them.

6. Consider coworking

If freelancing abroad is likely to mean in-house working or working at home in a shared property, you may feel you already have the perfect setup. But as a freelancer in a foreign country, it could be worthwhile to freelance from a local coworking space. There are many benefits to coworking spaces, including:

● Cheaper rent or usage charges than private offices
● Little or no financial commitment
● The separation of home and work life
● A more focused environment for those who are easily distracted.

In addition, coworking spaces often contain many like-minded people. By placing yourself in the right environment you could not only gain friends and local knowledge, but you may also find some work opportunities that otherwise would have been inaccessible.

7. Embrace the local network

In the same vein as coworking spaces, local networking events can be a crucial part of integrating for freelancers navigating life abroad. Networking events are often easy to find and, if you choose the right one, could provide you with access to a number of helpful business contacts.

Take the time to do your research – choosing a networking event that’s appropriate for you and your business could lead to links with local business contacts and boost your freelancing options.

8. Localise your advertising

Whether you choose to advertise online or through another source, localisation is key. Once you’ve arrived at your new home, or preferably even before, take the time to conduct research on your local target market. This applies to social media too; social networking is now a key aspect of any marketing strategy, so choose the platform that is appropriate for your target audience and utilise it in a way that is appropriate to your new location. If you work across multiple countries, this could mean creating multiple accounts so you can ensure your content is targeted correctly.

9. Check the tax rules

Tax rules are incredibly variable depending on your work and location. If you trade in services rather than goods and your work does not require you to permanently settle overseas, you may be in a position to continue paying your taxes in the UK via HMRC. Freelancers trading in goods may be affected slightly differently, depending on the countries involved in importing and exporting. As a result of Brexit, those trading to or from the European Union are likely to be affected by changes to tax laws, so make sure you take note of the rules that apply to you.
If you have permanently settled overseas, you may only be required to pay UK taxes on income that is sourced from Britain. Once you’re considered a non-resident in the UK, you will be required to pay taxes on your freelance income to the government in the country where you are now considered a resident.

10. Keep your details up-to-date

If you have previously freelanced in the UK, it is likely you found yourself on a number of agency lists that made finding work relatively easy and stress-free. However, when starting fresh overseas this luxury may not be immediately available to you.

The only way to tackle this problem is to conduct some research to identify all relevant freelancing and networking sites, and ensure you keep your details up-to-date. Make sure any profiles you create include information on all your relevant skills. International sites such as PeoplePerHour.com and Upwork streamline this process, but you may find local sources of freelance work that require a more personalised touch.

Freelancing overseas can be a challenging but fulfilling way to earn a living, but you don’t have to go it alone. ExpatRoute can provide the information you need to help you make the right decisions as you continue to define your path and invest in your future.

For tailored advice based on your circumstances, contact a financial adviser.

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