Re: overseas work

Subject: Re: overseas work
From: Buck & Tilly Buchanan <writer -at- DHC -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 13:14:07 -0500

>I read your post to Susan and was intrigued by your comment about overseas contract work. I too am an independent, and because I am single now I have thought about going back overseas to work. It has been many years since I did that and I'm not sure what the situation is like now.

>Would you mind sharing some of the details of your work overseas with me? I live in Silicon Valley and have been a tech writer for over 20 years. Before that I worked in O&M at various military sites around the world. I worked for large defense contractors at that time, not as an independent.

> Thanks for any information you might care to share.
--------------------------------------------------------------

I have found that the biggest deterrent to getting an overseas job is
the reluctance to go after the job single-mindedly. Hoping for a
classified ad just doesn't work anymore, although from '75 to '82 that
was a good way to start.

Here's how we do it.

1. Decide where you want to go. That's based on probable job
availability and your requirement for net salary (what's left over after
taxes and living costs). On occasion we've ended up with less than
$1000 net for several months, but used the time and paid expenses to
find something better.

2. Get on line and find a place to stay for at least a month, possibly
two. Addresses from Singaporean Web pages got me my last housing
source. My message said, "I'm looking for a place to stay for a couple
of months while I visit S'pore. Need a bedroom for two and kitchen
priviledges. I'll pay US$250 per week for me and Tilly (that's about
1/3 what a hotel room would cost). If you know of someone who would be
willing to rent a spare room for that please let me know. I can provide
references if you wish." I sent about 50 messages like that and got
four affirmative replies. We plan to go in July '97.

Kitchen priviledges is an important perk most everywhere but S'pore. It
costs as much to eat in as out there, if you know where to go. We eat
in the "hawker stalls" at times when we don't want to cook in. Those
are sidewalk cooks (there are even parks where dozens of them
congregate) with a table or two in front of their stall and some camp
stools. The food is fabulous and they keep the area around them so
clean, you could eat off the sidewalk. Cheap, too. Easy to eat for
less that US$3 per person in 1996.

3. Try to obtain a couple of the local newspapers prior to leaving the
U.S.

4. Take a laptop and printer or plan to buy one when you get there.

5. Buy a ticket and go!

6. Start printing and firing off resumes and visiting manufacturers and
software publishers.

7. Try to have at least two marketable skills. Tech Writing and
Editing. Tech Writing and AutoCAD (that's mine). Whatever.

8. After arriving, spend at least two or three days per week touring
and just "meeting people" to see if you really would like to live there.
Hotel bars are great (whether you drink or not--we don't, but have
gotten two excellent jobs in S'pore from the bar/restaurant at the
Ladyhill Hotel--our favorite).

9. Try to visit other nearby countries while you're there for job
hunting (I've heard Malaysia is growing technologically and needs just
about every pubs skill). Not as much fun to live there as S'pore,
though.


That's an expensive but fun way to do it. Our last excursion was to New
Zealand and after five weeks, we decided not to work there because of
the high taxes and low pay. That trip (1996) cost us about $5k.
Starting a business is often the best way and you may find that easy to
do if the capital is available--or contracting with several companies.

I hope this will help. I'm putting it on the list because others may be
looking for similar advice.


Buck Buchanan
writer -at- dhc -dot- net
Arlington, TX

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