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How to decide “where” when planning an international career move…

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  • Josh is one of our International Head’s handling construction recruitment for the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Whether you’re in the early stages of your career and contemplating that first international leap or you’ve been there, done it and bought the t-shirt, below I have broken down the key factors you will need to consider when planning an international career move.



Quality of life

Social life:

If, like me, social life is important to you, then this is something to seriously look into. If you’re a sports fanatic, you could research access to facilities, local clubs or where the nearest sports arenas/venues are. If you consider yourself a “foodie,” understanding what sorts of restaurants you will have access to and also testing the local delicacies in advance may be a good idea. If you can’t go a week without a pint of the glories golden nectar (or a glass of Malbec for the fancier readers) then understanding the local nightlife may be key.

Vacations/Accessible locations:

Holiday/vacation days are becoming more valuable than money for most professionals in the working world. Whether you are an outdoorsman or simply like to lay back and relax on a white sand beach, having a good understanding of where you and your family can use those precious days off will be a key factor to research.


Moving a family internationally can be a serious task to undertake so it is critical to understand the location you are considering and how your family will settle in. For example, researching the schooling systems and what is available for your children and partner outside of school/work can be vital for deciding where is best for you and them.

Distance from “home”:

If you can’t go a few weeks without having dinner with the parents then it may be a good idea to consider your first international move a little closer to home. Fortunately though, technology nowadays makes spending time away from loved ones much easier than it used to be and you can at least catch a glimpse of your mum’s famous homemade dinners via a webcam every now and again. On the other hand, maybe you can’t wait to get away from your mental in-laws and being on the other side of the world gives you a pretty good excuse to avoid your second cousins step-brothers son’s 3rd birthday party. If that’s the case, you might want to consider the locations that take a little longer to fly home…


This is a factor that can be easily overlooked -especially by us Brits with our wonderful NHS. Healthcare is different in every country and having an understanding of the system, what you will need prior to the move and what your prospective employer can provide for you and your family is critical. Some will provide private healthcare, others will pay for your entire families insurance, and others will contribute a percentage to your insurance. You will need to ensure you have a detailed understanding of this before making a decision.



Why do we work? For most of us, salary has and will always be a key factor when considering a next career move. The variation in take home salary between one country and another can be enormous. Some can’t resist a tax free haven and others are happy to take the sting of the taxman for a different way of life. Understanding which is currently the most important between salary and lifestyle will likely be the most critical decision you’ll make.

Cost of living:

This is an initial factor that many people overlook when they research into salaries in different countries. Some countries pay less because it simply costs a hell of a lot less to live there. Taking into consideration rent, car hire, schooling costs, groceries, how much a fillet steak and a bottle of the finest cabernet-sauvignon costs in those 5 star restaurants your other half demands you visit every couple of months…. It’s critical to understand what you can expect to spend and also how much will be in your pocket at the end of every month.

Here is a website solely created to compare this. 

Future of the industry


Which countries are investing the most in your sector? This is another important factor to consider, especially if you are hoping for a long term future in that particular location. More investment means more projects and more projects mean more opportunity. Researching which countries are investing the most in your sector will give you a great idea of where you have the best long term career prospects.


Within the construction industry, we are all too familiar with a project duration role where in the final 6 months you have to start searching for your next job. The majority of employers now are hiring professionals to join as a permanent employee and, upon completion of a project, you will be immediately transferred to another. However, this is not always guaranteed so I’d certainly recommend a location that will offer you the best opportunity to join a similar project in the same country. It’s important to understand what options you will have a few years down the line.


Career/Working environment

Contract or permanent:

Whether choosing a shorter term, project-based role or a long-term opportunity, knowing how you want your career to progress or to finish will likely be a key factor to consider. For those potentially planning an early retirement, short-term contract work can certainly add some extra pennies to the savings pot and will give you that extra flexibility that you have earnt from the years of graft you have already put in. If you have no plans of hanging up the tools any time soon then I would always recommend leaning towards the long term/permanent roles. These generally offer more stability when taking that international leap.

Incentives offered:

Will the company be offering bonuses? Do they offer more holidays? Pay for more annual flights home? Offer a company car? Provide accommodation? Whatever it may be, more and more employers are introducing incentives to draw the best talent their way. Understanding what prospective employers offer other than a salary will make choosing your next step a hell of a lot easier.

(If you’re reading this by the way, boss, I’d love a few more holidays…)

Contractor or Consultancy? Both? :

Whether you prefer the hands-on approach of a contractor or the management approach of consultancy, this very much depends on you. One thing I have noticed is many construction professionals can become pigeon-holed into one or the other very early in their career. It’s important to understand the difference between both and to gauge which you feel you will work better within.

Status of the Company:

Whether you like the idea of joining a well-established company that you can progress within or a new up-and-coming business that you can grow with, understanding your prospective employer’s current place within the market is always worth researching.


There will certainly be additional factors that you will likely need to consider depending on your personal preference and circumstances but I’m confident I have included the most important ones. There will be many considerations and minor details that may be more appropriate to you. However, I hope that this can be used as a helpful guide. Deciding “where” when planning an international career move will take time and, on occasion, an opportunity will come up that makes the decision for you. But no matter how the opportunity comes about, I would always recommend that you be thorough in your research and do everything you can to understand exactly what to expect when you finally take the leap. When you’re ready to make the move or just curious to hear what’s out there, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


P.S Below are a couple of helpful articles and links to get you on your way…

Top 5 Construction Markets by 2030

Which countries are investing the most in construction?

6 of the best companies to work in construction

Eduation rankings by country 2019

Best countries to live in 2019

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