How to get out of America and make good money

It’s true that an education from one of America’s universities is highly valuable. Our universities are among the best in the world, with students from all over the globe seeking admittance. But it’s also true that America’s job market is tough. It’s highly competitive and wages are relatively low, meaning grads with student loan debt often find themselves in a desperate situation, whittling away at their debt in a low-paying job.

Enter globalization. You don’t have to live in America to get a degree from one of our universities. And the job market in a foreign country may be just what you’re looking for. The option to expatriate is real, and so is online education.

Technology and globalization are two of the major trends in higher education today: around 70% of institutions offer online education, and, according to Maryville University, “Trend-setting colleges are actually expanding with physical locations overseas, in places like China and Qatar.”

For some students, the state of affairs may be such that getting an education from an American university abroad is an attractive proposition. If that’s you, there are some important things to consider.

The economies of foreign countries

Since you can access online education from virtually anywhere with internet service, one of your primary considerations will be the economies of the countries you’re considering. For one, a country with a thriving economy is more likely to have a good internet infrastructure. Two, a country with a solid economy will have more jobs to offer. Earning your degree online gives you a little more time to work and explore the local culture, because flexibility is one of the big perks of online education.

But the state of an economy is not your only consideration. In tandem with that, there’s the quality of the worklife.

According to Fast Company, if you want to work outside the US in a satisfying environment, consider the following:

  • Iceland has one of the highest employment levels at 79%, and has a great social environment, with 98% of the population reporting a supportive social network; that could be why it’s the third happiest country in the world
  • Switzerland’s employment level is also 79%, and workers between 15 and 24 have an unemployment rate lower than 8%, which is half of the global average; Switzerland is the second happiest country in the world
  • Norway’s employment level is 75%, and it’s the fourth happiest country in the world
  • Sweden ranks as the 10th happiest country, and 85% of Swedes say they have more positive experiences per day than negative ones, which is 5% above the global average

Places like Finland, Germany, and Canada also rank well when it comes to work and quality of life. But according to the Washington Post, when it comes to overall considerations for expatriation, Asian countries such as China, Singapore, and Thailand should also be in the mix. Germany and Switzerland also fare well in the overall considerations, as salaries for expats in German-speaking countries are unusually high.

There’s also the consideration of what type work you want to do. If you’re the entrepreneurial type, there’s no doubt America is one of the best countries for you. Looking to found a startup? Worldwide, Washington State University ranks Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, and Australia as the best places, besides the U.S., in which to do so.

Practical considerations

Expatriating isn’t easy, but there are several routes to take that will make working and studying abroad easier. And of course, you don’t have to completely expatriate and give up American citizenship. There are temporary options if you just want to find out what it’s like in a different country.

First, studying abroad. More and more students are taking the community college option, which is a bit less of a commitment than university. In fact, the number of students who chose community college options abroad shot up from less than 4,000 in 2001 to nearly 300,000 in 2015.

For short-term study abroad options, CIEE Study Abroad, IES Abroad January Term, and Go Overseas all offer programs.

For a semester abroad, the California community college system, community colleges in New York, and community colleges in Texas all have a wide variety of options. But consult whichever community college you’re considering about their programs, too.

Or you could volunteer abroad and do service learning. ISA Service Learning and Global Crossroads are organizations that can help you out in this respect.

And, of course, there are study abroad options in just about any university of your choice. But if you want to expatriate, that’s a different story.

In 2014, the cost to expatriate rose by 422%, from $450 to $2,350. The State Department chalked the incredibly steep rise up to the extra work they were having to do to process departures. To put that in context, 2012 and 2013 saw a 366% rise in the number of people who expatriated. If you want to get out of here, you’re not alone.

The process is relatively simple:

  • Go to a foreign country and find a U.S. Consulate or Embassy
  • Tell a consular or diplomatic officer you want to expatriate
  • Sign a form

That’s it. But here’s the catch. When you renounce, wherever you renounce your citizenship, you’ll have to hand over your passport and will be stateless, unless you already have citizenship in another country. This will make it hard to travel, meaning you’d most likely have to stay in that country. You’ll want to choose the country where you’d like to live first. Then, either look into obtaining a work visa, or study abroad there. Next, apply for dual citizenship. After that you’ll be in a secure place to expatriate.

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