Top 10 Disadvantages of Working Abroad That No One Wants to Talk About

Have you ever thought of working abroad, haven’t you? Are you feeling jealous seeing your friends working in a foreign land? Or perhaps getting envious while watching your friends posting nice photos on their social media accounts. Admit it, you’ve wished to work abroad too or perhaps thought about it!


For most people, the idea of working abroad sounds very exciting, it’s like having a long vacation to another country. Seeing new places, meeting new people, having new friends, being able to buy new stuff and getting loads of money! Believe me, this is what you’ve thought about seeing your friends and relatives working abroad.

The truth is, yes! Working abroad could be exciting! – but, nobody has ever told you the disadvantages while working in a foreign land.  Perhaps nobody wants to talk about it, or they don’t want to tell the truth about what’s it like working away from home. Here are the top ten disadvantages while working overseas:

1. It’s Sad and Lonely – Even if you’re working in the most glamorous city in the world, it isn’t a guarantee that you won’t feel sad and lonely. When I was new here, even up to this day, I still find myself being lonely from time to time despite living in a luxury compound with all the amenities around me. When the thought of my family strikes, tears started to fall down unknowingly.


2. Salary isn’t really That Much I know you won’t believe me if I’m going to tell this to you. Most of us were convinced to work abroad due to our misconception that working abroad has a greater financial advantage over working in our country. Yes, that is true for some! But not all. Only 5 to 10% of OFWs are working in tremendous companies that are getting a higher paycheck, the rest of the 90% are not really well paid.

Back in my previous company, I was getting almost the same rate in the Philippines. So if you’re thinking that all overseas workers are paid really well! Then you’re wrong! I myself had that experience being paid roughly 200 dollars per month, which is exactly the same rate in the Philippines, especially if you’re based in the Middle Eastern countries.


3. The Cost of Living is Really High – Apart from the salary which isn’t that much, working abroad could be very expensive especially if your company is not giving you free accommodations and free food. Back in the Philippines, we can eat vegetables freely, grown from our backyard. The other days, I went to the grocery store and bought 10 kilos of rice, I was stunned by the price, it turned out to be 2 dollars per kilo!  Quite expensive isn’t it? What about your monthly dues like your electric and water bills? Sounds crazy right! After all the expenses you have, you’ll end up seeing nothing from your salary. So don’t blame your loves ones if they couldn’t send you that much! You don’t know how much they’re spending here.


4. In Times of Sickness, You’ll Crawl By Yourself We’re not an immortal being, whether you like it or not there’s always a time of sickness. The worst thing is when you’re working abroad, nobody would be there to sit beside you nor to take care of you when you’re ill (unless if you’re on family status.) So you’ll crawl by yourself finding the last paracetamol in your medicine kit or cooking for your food despite feeling dizzy and unable to stand straight. All these you’ll experience while working abroad, are you scared? Wait! We’re still halfway.

5. Extreme Weather ConditionAnother difficult situation when working abroad is adjusting and adapting to the new environment. Originally from the Philippines where the weather is mostly warm throughout the year, I found it so hard during winter here in Saudi Arabia as I’m not used to it. I could barely walk outside without thick clothing, and going to the shower early in the morning is like a punishment. In a contrary, summer here reaches more than 50 degree Celsius.


6. Missing Out Important Events Back Home What’s more heartbreaking is – missing out on important events and gatherings back home. If you’re working overseas, be prepared to miss out birthdays of your children, wedding anniversaries with your wife or husband, graduation day of your eldest son/daughters, birthdays of your parents and the saddest day is missing out – Christmas, while everyone home is joyfully celebrating. You’re alone in the room trying to hold back tears.


7. Being Surprised of Unfortunate News I am being emotional while writing this part, whether we like it or not, nobody lives forever right? We’re all bound to leave soon, and even our closest and dearest loved ones are not exempted too. The hardest experience working overseas is being told that your… dog has passed away, you know what I mean here, I’m not going to elaborate this part as it makes me really uncomfortable.

8. Family Members Becoming Too Dependent on YouThe ultimate reason why we’re working abroad is, of course, to help our families back home. To provide them with a better quality of life, a home to live in and a provision on the table three times a day.  However, in some cases, family members are becoming too dependent on, to the point of being abusive and wouldn’t work for themselves anymore.

It’s very sad, but this is the reality – whether you like it or not, it’s really happening and I do have friends who are experiencing this. I strongly believed that apart from our responsibilities back home, we should never forget to put limitations on our support because we also have a life to live. Our family has to understand and to work for themselves as well because working overseas is not forever.

9. People’s ExpectationsIn a popular culture, if you’re working overseas people who knew you (friends, classmates, relatives, neighbors etc) have the misconception that you’re earning so much money although you’re not. In return, they would be expecting so much from you and be disappointed if you could not give them “pasalubong” (gift, presents) when you went home. This is a Filipino culture and it’s difficult to ignore this.


10. Family Relationship Fails There is nothing more painful among the disadvantages I have mentioned above. Yes, working abroad is a high-risk business, you don’t wanna see your wife or husband left with somebody else while you’re away from them. Or perhaps your children got addicted to illegal drugs while you’re not there on their side. Working abroad is like a gambling game to play – you’re not sure whether you’ll win or lose.

So, are you still planning to work abroad? I’m not threatening you here not to venture abroad – my ultimate goal is to enlighten you to think twice and weigh in the pros and cons prior making a decision to try your luck working overseas. I hope this may help you decide now that you know the disadvantages of working abroad that nobody wants to talk about.

Have you experienced working abroad? What are the challenges have you encountered? Let me know in the comment box below!

Author: montergv

The author is currently based in Saudi Arabia, the holiest land of Islam. He’s a full-time employee of the largest energy company in the world. He’s a graduate of Communication Management, loves to write and travel.