Self-employed expats – pros and cons

While most expats move abroad for a job opportunity, there is a sizeable chunk of the expat population who are out there as entrepreneurs, running their own businesses and even employing others. They might be offering their services remotely, consulting in different workplaces or running an office. As with running your own business anywhere, there are upsides and downsides, so before embarking on such a task in a new country, here are some pros and cons to consider:

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Pro: Flexibility

Everyone loves a flexible lifestyle. If you are self-employed, you get to dictate your own hours and choose where to work. When you’re living and working somewhere exotic and beautiful, this can be especially tempting. It also gives you the option to make visits home if necessary – important for an expat


Con:  Learning new business requirements

Starting a business is hard enough without also having to learn a new business etiquette, and HR requirements, finding a trustworthy accountant and navigating the legalities of running a new business, as you do in a new country.  Ensure you budget for expert advice in your startup costs.


Pro: Develop your niche in a new industry

If you are in a place with an emerging market, your business could be exactly suited to your new location. What might be a competitive marketplace at home might turn out to be highly profitable as a niche in your new location. You can also bring your skills and expertise to a new set of people.


Con: Difficulty finding contacts

Your product or service might be perfect, but how are you going to spread the word? You might need clients or suppliers; where will you find them? When starting up at home, we rely on existing contacts. Don’t forget, if considering a new business in a different place, that you will be without these.


Pro: Work for yourself

Not having to answer to a boss or manager is a dream of many. Whether you’re the boss yourself – or just your own boss and no-one else’s – self-employment is ideal, if you can make it work.


There is no denying that starting your own business is a big risk, and it can be a bigger risk if you’re creating your business in a new country that’s not as familiar as your native land. However, if you do as much research as you can, and then some more, you could find yourself in a winning situation.


Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health International.