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Anyone work as an ex-pat?

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gahurts posted 5/19/2014 10:19 AM

I've posted before that I am trying to start a consulting company to get some income and then I have ideas for a start-up of my own making biodegradable plastic film for bags and other stuff. I've had several promising leads that are looking really good but so far nobody has actually written me a check or a PO and told me to get to work. So realistically, I have to also consider just plain getting a job and whichever hits first is what I need to consider going with.

One company that has contacted me quite a while ago is an Indian specialty plastics company. They want to hire me as a full time employee, not as a consultant. The position would be based outside of New Delhi and I would work in India two weeks each month and in the US two weeks each month.

I've had a few phone discussions with the headhunter and a phone interview with the hiring manager and HR director and gave them a salary that I would be willing to accept. I had not heard anything in a few months so I figured it wasn't moving forward.

Last week I got an e-mail that the hiring manager would be in the US this week and wants to meet with me. I will fly up to Boston on Friday for a face to face interview.

Does anyone have any advice regarding working as an ex-pat? They made it very clear that they want me for a 2 -3 year contract and I would only be working for them, no independent work on the side. My concerns are if they are willing to pay what I am asking and how flexible they would be with travel and with when and how long I need to be in India each time. I have my children for two weeks each month so I would be working around my custody schedule if this actually comes to pass. I am also concerned that I am able to have time with GF and I don't want thins to interfere too heavily but I also need income.

I really don't know if I will accept this position. The work is exactly what I enjoy and if there was a way I could act as a consultant to them on specific projects I would jump at it in a heartbeat. As a full time employee I'm not so sure but I need to follow any reasonable leads until I have something that works.

Anybody have any advice? Suggestions? Thoughts?

Pentup posted 5/19/2014 10:45 AM

The one thing that strikes me is the travel. That is a very long flight and to do it every 2 weeks?? How would travel time be taken into account?

Any way that you could travel there every other month or quarterly?

Otherwise, not a lot of help.

Amazonia posted 5/19/2014 10:51 AM

I've lived and worked overseas for almost 4 years now. It definitely means sacrifice. I would verrrry carefully consider the custody arrangements.

2 weeks on, 2 weeks off with flights is a pretty exhausting schedule. I'm 30 and it takes me 2-3 days to adjust to the time change each direction. That's a LOT of time that you'll lose to adjusting. Even a month on, month off would be easier (but way harder on your time with your kids).

Central Asia also comes with it's own challenges - a lot of people get sick living here. The pollution in Delhi is terrible, and they don't call it "Delhi Belly" for nothing. (I've had 3 bouts of giardia in the last 5 months...and I'm extremely picky about what/where I eat.) Have you ever been to this part of the world before? It's like nowhere else I've traveled or lived.

Would you love the work? Or would you miss consulting? Are the benefits good? Will they pay for business class and let you keep your frequent flier miles? Will you have an apartment in Delhi or live in a hotel? What kind of per diem are they offering for the time you're traveling? How long are you going to want to do this, versus how long until you want to retire, versus what kind of setback will this impose on your consulting business (which may sustain longer into "retirement")?

ETA: My experience is obviously different, having lived abroad full time as a single woman only (no kids), but please feel free to ask questions about the experience, or to PM me about central Asia if you've got questions about my experiences here.

[This message edited by Amazonia at 10:53 AM, May 19th (Monday)]

FaithFool posted 5/19/2014 10:58 AM

That would be too much travel for me from an exhaustion standpoint and the stress of being in urban India would probably put me under.

From a carbon footprint standpoint, air travel is a biggie.

Are you working on a biodegradable plastic because you care about the planet? I think the air miles would more than cancel it out.

Food for thought.

sisoon posted 5/19/2014 11:00 AM

Not only will you have a 13-14 hour difference for each trip, you'll lose a day going West and gain a day going East. You probably don't want to be paid on an hourly basis; monthly may be better.

It'll be a lot more convenient for you to have an apartment. That'll enable you to travel light, since you can keep clothes & toiletries in both locations. You'll probably be more comfortable with air conditioning, if the power is stable. That means higher rental and utility costs than standard for New Delhi.

You'll probably want a servant full-time - probably not very expensive, but something to consider.

gahurts posted 5/19/2014 11:23 AM

Thanks, These are the types of comments I am looking for. The amount of travel and the rigidity of their expectations are what I think concern me the most. I've had issues at times with that working for a company in the US so how well can I honestly do this for a company in India.

Ama, my travel experience in Asia has so far been limited to Japan and cities in China (Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing). I know that India is a huge difference and also that going there to work is a lot different then working for a US company that sends you there. I may PM you as I get more details especially if I get close to having to make a decision. At this point its just talking and a trip to Boston is not too bad.

Sisoon, These are really good points about getting an apartment vs hotel and keeping stuff there and asking for help. I know whatever I do they will provide a driver but outside of that I do not know what normal is. And would an apartment be considered part of my salary. I know I am very concerned about the tax implications especially having to pay taxes in both countries.

hexed posted 5/19/2014 11:52 AM

I would talk to a CPA/tax attorney with experience in this area.

I would spell out very clearly what the expectations are in terms of flexibility. My experience with India and contract is that they are very 'letter of the law' but that is just my experience

I spent a year travelling back and forth to India. 5 trips in all. The time change can be brutal.

Definitely find out about the driver and apartment. Travelling light is much easier.

All of that said. I LOVED Delhi. It was fantastic time and the people I worked with were fantastic. I really cherish that experience.

MovingUpward posted 5/19/2014 13:33 PM

The traveling would kill me. It takes me about 2 weeks before I feel adjusted when I go to china. Having to do that every couple of weeks would make me miserable. Then to top that off, I'd lose the connection with my kids. Missing out on their activities when I am overseas is so tough. I know that I couldn't do this; I'd be losing too much.

sisoon posted 5/19/2014 13:57 PM

Taxes! Holy crap! Ask about 'tax equalization' - i.e. a provision that allows you to pay both countries a total that is no more than what you'd pay in the US.

Also, consider the cost of doing your taxes for international income. And it's a hassle - I went to Malaysia for Arthur Andersen. They sent the file folder for recording income and expenses from Hong Kong to Chicago by sea! Yup - it arrived in May! Of course, I was an employee - maybe a real client would have been treated better.

Checkout They have a forum, and you might be able to find someone who's doing something like you're contemplating. That could give you current info specific to India.

What do you want to do? Remember - you've got a lot of power here, too, especially if you're willing to walk away from the opportunity.

dontknowwhyme posted 5/19/2014 14:36 PM

The travel would kill me for that long of duration. You sacrifice a lot of time in prep, yes prep, and recovery of time zone changes. Two weeks at a time is very rough. I did it for about three months in South Korea. The money made it acceptable but I would not do it for less than about double what I normally make. I know that sounds crazy but it is true.

From US to North Korea the trip took nearly 24 hours with layovers and traveling. I would leave in the morning in US and travel for 24 hours so I would really want to sleep before my trip was complete. But wait you can't because it is night time when you arrive so you had better be sleepy still when you get there. So you struggle to stay awake for the entire trip just to be ready for a good sleep for the job the next morning.

The same thing happens when you travel back home. The only way that I found to make it easier was to add an additional day into the travel to spend a day to help transition my body to the opposite part of the day. That is one reason for the additional pay too. Travel, even when you are used to it costs more than it does to commute to a local job. Always does for me at least.

Those are just the physical aspects that travel can mess you up. Emotionally it has always been hard for me to be away from my kids wife, and family that often. I always hate the goodbyes. I actually began to take the wimpy way out of it with my kids and say my goodbyes the night before. The didn't usually cry that way. And honestly it help me not to cry as much. I would just tell them I would be on a plane when they woke up. Driving away still hurts and I do cry but at least it is not as bad as trying to keep my kids from crying to.

Anyway, that's my take on that type of travel. I wouldn't have minded it quite so much if I was single without children and just wanting to experience a bit more of the world. It is such a huge world and not nearly enough time in a lifetime to take it all in.

gahurts posted 5/19/2014 15:03 PM

The effects of travel you all are bringing up are reminding me of the 6 trips I took to China in 2010-2011. Twice I was in country for only a week and I didn't even bother to get acclimated to the time. I just went to bed at 5 pm and got up at 3 am. Every two weeks is really sounding like it would be super brutal.

Sisoon, I am willing to walk away from this but I am also willing to consider the opportunity if everything lines up and it does have to all line up. I intend to be super critical on this and if it doesn't feel right then I won't go with it.

Amazonia posted 5/19/2014 19:49 PM

Definitely ask about the taxes. Is the company based in India or the US? Consider talking to a tax attorney, because the taxes do get really, really complicated. My last job was a PITA and I'm terrified I'll get audited someday because I'm sure I made mistakes.

Ask about holidays too - which country's holidays do you get?

I probably wouldn't do it unless they agreed to pay for a serviced apartment and driver, and I'd be making 150% of my current salary. It's too much trouble to find your own household help, and the travel really is a bitch.

Now, if you decide to take it, come back and we'll talk about the joys of luggage and noise canceling headphones and why you should never eat airline food.

[This message edited by Amazonia at 7:49 PM, May 19th, 2014 (Monday)]

Sad in AZ posted 5/19/2014 20:14 PM

Normally, I would say GO FOR IT, as I love to travel and it would be fascinating, but they are there are several red flags, as well as serious family considerations, and yes, heath considerations.

Red flags.

They are being very pushy about this.
They don't appear to want to give you a lot of time to think about it. Based on your description, I expect them to make an offer on Friday and want an answer right away.
There may not be enough time to get financial and medical advice.


You have relatively young kids. Being on travel for two weeks, then home with custody for two weeks is going to be a KILLER.


Traveling to and from India every two weeks is also a killer, and you really won't get a chance to recover. If you were 25 and single, I might say try it.

Unless they are open to negotiation for some of the suggestions you've been given, I would say this is a big, fat NO.

gardenparty posted 5/19/2014 21:44 PM

I did a rotational work schedule in Canada for 3 years, 3 weeks in the oil patch then fly home for a week off. The travel grinds you down for sure. I also did a six month contract in Afghanistan and the travel and temperature change almost killed me. I went from plus 50 to mid teens over night and spent a month freezing to death until my body readjusted. I am sure that people adjust to this but I personally found it very hard.

pointmagnet posted 5/19/2014 23:39 PM

I have worked in India - New Delhi and Bengaluru and it is really hard to do that trip on a regular basis... Plus there is the sanitation issue that your have to really be careful about...

Over the last two years I have been in Trinidad, which is a Caribbean country with African/Indian origins... It is also difficult, but less so, with a shorter trip and better sanitation when you get there. Nonetheless, when you are an ex-pat, you have to deal with long plane rides and timezone changes...

I would have a hard time going back to India on a regular basis. It is too long of a journey and too dirty of a destination. :(

traicionada posted 5/20/2014 04:36 AM

Not me but I know a few, enough to say their quality of life is impacted by flight delays, cancelations & random battles with food poisoning or flu like illnesses

dontknowwhyme posted 5/20/2014 08:21 AM


Pointmagnet- What did you think of Trinidad?

pointmagnet posted 5/20/2014 10:49 AM

I like Trinidad in general. It's a very interesting country from a historical and cultural standpoint. They are gradually improving the infrastructure in the country, which will eventually help travel between the north and south part of the island. The food is different tasting, with a lot of Indian influence... The economy in Trinidad is better than most other Caribbean nations due the the petrochemical industry.

Trinidad's sister island of Tobago is a Caribbean paradise, with beautiful beaches and some very nice resorts. I would go there for vacation every year if I could afford it!

The only complaint I have about Trinidad is that nobody seems too concerned about picking up trash. It's a beautiful country but so much trash alongside the roads.

tushnurse posted 5/20/2014 12:11 PM

My thoughts on this are NO FREAKING WAY!!!!

I'm not a good flyer, and that is a LOOOOOOOOOONG Ass flight. To do it every 2 weeks, or even once a month??? No, not gonna happen, I would continue to look for options here in my own backyard.

It would wipe me out in a matter of a few months. I have no doubt.

But that's me. Crossing the pond is doable, but India. Yah no not gonna happen.

dontknowwhyme posted 5/20/2014 12:55 PM

In Trinidad I never really felt safe there. There were quite a few contractors kidnapped around the time I was working there. While there I saw a news report of a home being shot up by the police because they thought a kidnapper was inside. Children were killed and no kidnapper found. Even the locals I worked with warned me to stay at hotel once the sun started to set.

Driving there was dangerous too. Traffic laws are not followed at all. I would see a major wreck everyday on the way to and from work. One time they were shrink wrapping a victim to try to save him. Crazy stuff.

You are right though. I could be a very beautiful place. Needs a lot of clean up. Lots of beaches and rain forests environments too.

[This message edited by dontknowwhyme at 12:56 PM, May 20th (Tuesday)]

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