Expat Living, Taking the Plunge for the Third Time

Expat Living

Over the course of my life I’ve lived as an expat for nearly a decade. Last year I made the decision to begin preparations for a year of living overseas.  My initial plan was to spend a year living, traveling and writing throughout Italy and Europe with my dog Tanner. Italy is still my desired landing spot, but other issues have crept in.

European Union Countries and the Schengen Agreement

Within the EU Americans can travel freely for 90 days, BUT at the end of 90 days you must leave all participating EU countries for 90 DAYS before returning. Here is a map showing the Schengen Agreement countries. The only countries not currently participating in the Schengen Agreement are Bulgaria, Romania, the UK, Ireland and Cyprus. In addition there are non EU countries such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland participating. With pet entry requirements being strict into the UK I have no interest in crossing that bridge. Besides which, I really want to have a stable base (apartment) for Tanner and I to launch our travels from.

Plan B Living as an Expat

My video about embarking on this expat adventure with my dog Tanner.

Expat Adventures


Berlin Cafe


Cafe Anneliese in Berlin

After much consideration, research and energy I have decided to go the route of living as an expat again. The reality is that I want to live and work overseas and I want to do it with my dog in a desirable location. Given the above limitations I’m focusing on Plan B, living as an expat. Both plans have pros and cons, no question about it, but I’m happy with my choice. This choice will offer me a job I enjoy, additional income, an apartment to base my travels from and, a stable environment for Tanner. It will also provide the opportunity to travel extensively overseas for one to two years.

Visas and Work Permits

These are,  in my opinion the two biggest stumbling blocks travelers face, when finding a way to experience expat living. No question about it, if you want to be legal (and I do) these two are critical and they can be a real pain in the butt. As I began searching for overseas jobs I considered Language Schools, knowing those would allow me some flexibility. Then I began finding that (at least in Italy) Language schools don’t want to sponsor your visa or your work permit. According to the website for the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. your employer MUST sponsor your visa and work permit.

When I was living as an expat in Germany it was simple, efficient and painless. I’m certain a lot of that had to do with the efficiency of the German government and the German American school I taught for in Berlin. Regulations to live and work in Germany.

So What’s a Woman to Do?

Go with what you know, is my best suggestion. In my case that means finding a teaching position with an International School in a location I love. There are multiple ways to do this. In my opinion the best way to tackle this task is to use a recruitment agency. Having lived as an expat previously I’m familiar with the process of using a recruitment agency; I highly recommend it.

The Three Main Recruitment Options For Overseas Teaching Within the U.S

Search Associates

International School Services

University of Northern Iowa


Search is the agency I prefer. I have also used ISS (International School Services) and they offer great services for prospective teachers, much like Search Associates. They were well organized and there were directors from around the world in attendance. So why do I prefer Search Associates?

In my own experience attending fairs through both agencies I felt that the ISS job fair was impersonal and too large. In contrast I felt that my Search Associate cared about my success and happiness. He took the time to mentor me and discuss the three offers I received and to guide me in making a decision. (I listened to his opinion and eventually after much deliberation I accepted the job he recommended in Berlin.) His insight and opinion were spot on, I was happy with my job, the school and the support of the community and administration. My other job options were in Sumatra and Venezuela.

If I had the time I would try UNI this time around. I have heard excellent remarks from both administrators and teachers about this recruitment fair. It is held each year in Iowa. Directors from all over the world attend this fair to hire teachers. It offers excellent hiring opportunities for teachers.

Other Options For Searching for Overseas Teaching Jobs

TIEonline This website is another excellent option for those searching for international teaching jobs. I mentioned this in a previous post.

In my opinion the sites I’ve listed above are the best options for finding an overseas teaching job in an International School. There are other sites that offer teachers an opportunity to post their resume and search for ESL jobs and Language School jobs. I bought Nomadic Matt’s book, he offers an extensive list of possibilities for those wanting to teach ESL or teach in a Language School. His book is well researched and offers insight that you would otherwise spend a great deal of time  searching out on your own.

There are many options out there for teaching abroad. If you have a degree and teaching experience you are pretty much guaranteed an opportunity to teach overseas. There are great jobs throughout the world, and countries that probably make visa/work permits a thousand times simpler than the EU. It all depends on which destinations appeals to your sense of adventure.