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Losing your job while living abroad

July 8, 2018 36 Comments

Losing your job is always traumatic no matter where you are; but losing your job abroad is somewhat more perplexing because it means that soon you may have nowhere to live!


Expats know that their jobs are not forever; foreign laws change frequently, companies close and shut down at an alarming rate and well, ANYTHING including nothing at all can lead to someone losing their job while living abroad. Which is precisely what happened to me. Despite a good performance review, no issues or disciplinary problems, myself and over 1000 other teachers were released from our three year contracts.

Pros: We were given three months notice and would still be employed until August 2018.

Cons: Come August 2018, I would need to find another job in the UAE or find another country to live in.


It’s a series of emotions that you experience when something shocking happens to you and as I watched people around me breakdown, I realized that it was worth me writing about and sharing my experience with people. So with the help of Pan Pan from one of my favourite shows, We Bare Bears, here we go:

What to do when you’ve just lost your job abroad?

1. Talk to someone whose advice you trust

The first thing that hits you is the shock; followed by the self deprecating thought of “Why has this happened to ME?”.


Before you fall into this heady spiral of self doubt and self pity, speak to someone you trust about the situation. Sharing your thoughts can help you process them and provide clarity on the bigger picture. Realise you are in a very stressful situation, and being upset, or even angry, is normal. Remember, speaking to someone who will sympathize and tell you to ‘come home’ is comforting but speaking to someone who has lived abroad for a while & can help you really make sense of the situation and how to best deal with it, will be more of a help in the long run.


2. Realise and review your options

After a while, the shock has worn off and you now have to think about what happens next. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll have some time in which to evaluate the way forward. Otherwise, you may have to make decisions quickly. Maybe you’ll take this as a sign to go back to your home country and be with friends and family. Perhaps this is the push you need to move out of this country and on to the next destination. Or will you stay to enjoy the live you’ve built here but look for another job?

The next job you take may be a transitional one. Whether it’s full or part time, embrace it. Every experience is a valuable one and you never know where it may lead. It’s OK to freelance or find part-time work to get some cash flow until you find the perfect new position. In fact, you may find that you don’t need a full-time job as much as you thought you did to be happy and secure.

As an expat, who once took that all important leap to move abroad once, you have many paths to choose from because you are invincible and can do anything!


3. Make the decisions that are best for you

Once you’ve reviewed your options, you’ll have to choose one. Many older expats take a job loss as a sign that they need to go back and spend time with the families. Younger expats often find it easier to find jobs in the same country or move on to somewhere new. Alternatively, the situation makes the decision for you; for example, if you’re looking to stay in the country but find a better job opportunity elsewhere while searching.


Or you don’t find anything suitable and have to return to your home country for a while to avoid being in a country illegally. Often this stage is full of fraught uncertainty and is the hardest to cope with. Having an open mind helps because you never know what may happen; but once you make your decision, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.


4. Begin the exit procedures/start the process of packing

Depending on your situation, you will have to pack up and get ready for a new beginning elsewhere, whether its in a new country or simply a new job. You may have to sell your car and pay your loans; ship your furniture, cancel your utilities or simply pack up your clothes. It really depends on your situation but my advice is NOT TO RUN WITH DEBT. As you hit immigration at the airport, there is a high likelihood of you being arrested if you have a lot of debt attached to your name and show evidence of leaving for good. This happens OFTEN in the Middle East and people are thrown into jail as a result. Who wants to be stuck in a Middle Eastern jail??!!

Since I was renting my apartment (although my employer paid my rent), I have to cancel all of my household expenses and vacate the apartment before I can get my visa cancelled in preparation for my next job. Its about a 1-2 week process filled with paperwork… JOY!


Since I have been living in the UAE for one year only- making it my second year in the Middle East- I decided I would continue to find a job in the region since I was not done with my experiences and the relationships I have cultivated since moving here. I was fortunate enough to find a job at another school in the UAE which means…

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 21.05.39

At the end of the day, always remember- these things happen to everyone and taking them personally doesn’t make the situation any easier. I see expats blaming themselves, blaming their nationality, blaming the government of the country they reside in and basically doing everything other than dealing with the situation at hand. Blame never accomplishes anything. Don’t get addicted to your story of why you got fired or how unlucky you are, because it will hold you back. There is no shame or embarrassment to be had. Every successful person has lost a job at some stage. Instead of feeling shame, honour this as just a life change that will make you stronger.


Also, a bad experience in one country doesn’t mean that living abroad is not for you; being open to all options increases your chances of finding something better than what you’ve just lost.


Have you ever lost your job while working abroad? Share your experiences below and always remember to…

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 18.16.29


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  • kdeange July 8, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Great post, I think it will help others who are dealing with the emotions of a job loss. Remind me this post exists if I get my email next lol. <3

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      I will remind you plus you know your couch is always available for you in JVC 😀

  • Aman July 8, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Really sad to hear that you have to go through the trouble of moving to another place. Everything happens for a good reason and I can see the advantage of you coming to Dubai. Hope everything works out just fine for you.
    As far as the blog is concerned, its really important that people who are going through same troubles, read it. Its very helpful.

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you for your kind comment Aman! I am actually getting excited about moving to Dubai and hope to develop a new perspective on the city 🙂

  • Zeenat July 8, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    I work in the middle East and this has happened to me as well! I am taking it as a lesson and believe in keeping my options open and always have a plan B
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Its good to know that I am not alone and I totally agree with you about keeping options open when you live abroad. All the best for your next venture 🙂

  • Tammy S Asad July 8, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    I’m surprised that so many were laid off at the same time. You’ve offered some good advice here. Good for you always seeing the positive and learning a lesson from the experience.

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      It seems surprising but after living abroad for a few years, nothing surprises me! Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  • JerseyGirl July 8, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    And I thought I’d had a stressful few months, nothing on this situation. Like everything you’ve done on your expat journey you face it head on, open minded and don’t let it keep you down. Onwards and upwards and into Dubai, I can’t believe we could have been starting over there at the exact same time! But kuwait isn’t done with us yet

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      When Kuwait is done with you then you know where I am! I believe that all these challenges have made me stronger and despite everything I have had amazing opportunities to travel and experience new things so I have to be grateful for that 🙂

  • Marina July 9, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Sorry to hear that darling! UAE has just issued a 6 month long visa for job seekers, hope that helps you and all those poor teachers! I wish you all the luck in the world! xox

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Ah I have been lucky to find another job but its good to know that there is a visa for job seekers!

      • Marina July 9, 2018 at 4:49 pm

        Oh thank God! Best of luck to you dear 🙂

  • Yusuf July 9, 2018 at 11:19 am

    As they say one door closes another one opens. Commiserations on the previous job and many congratulations on the new one. I know it’s been a shock for many but am sure they will get something there in the Uae otherwise how will they replace the workforce. Look forward to your new blogs in Dubai

    • Expat Panda July 9, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks for your kind words… there are still a lot of opportunities in the Middle East which is why I am not dwelling on the loss of a former one 🙂

  • higgledypiggledymom July 9, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    This was extremely insightful. I think your words about job changes are good for anyone who is let go from a position. Very well done and congrats on you being able to find another place–with what seems….easily.

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      I was really fortunate to find this job in such a short time frame and in a good location which makes me feel hopeful that better things are coming my way 😊

      • higgledypiggledymom July 24, 2018 at 2:36 pm

        I hope so too. Look forward to reading your continuing adventures.

  • Bharti Chopra July 10, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I agree on so many things written here. When I was a given a notice of termination in march 2016 along with few others , I panicked a bit. You know what was my first task- take back stuff to India so that we don’t have to leave it behind when we ultimately leave .. ha ha

    I have learnt not to take things personally in situation like this and it really helps.

    In the start of year, Kuwait made a new rule for renewal of visa for engineers. People panicked, lost sleep and what not. And I was like take it as a sign and go back to native country . The visa problem was for every nationality which meant millions were going thru same situation. I think its easier to handle problems which affects many people rather than persoanl problems because you have people in the same boat to talk to.

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      I agree that it’s easier to be experiencing what others are experiencing too so you can commiserate together BUT the problem is that some people are so negative and all they want to do is complain. So my problem- which I could’ve shared with others- became a personal problem because I didn’t want to spend my days wallowing! What’s this new visa law in Kuwait?

  • Zoya Kubra July 10, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    So sorry to hear you had to go through this but equally excited for you and the new opportunity awaiting you <3

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Aw thank you so much for your kind words, I’m hoping it goes smoothly inshallah!

  • Julie Cao July 12, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Really thoughtful post. I think writing this down helps you to think about the process and come up with ideas. I have been in the same situation – lost my job when I was broad in the USA, wasn’t gaven any notice. I struggled find another job due to my immigration status and ended up going back home. It’s really is the hardest choice. Now I am in Canada and live the life i wanted. The whole experience has made me stronger. Best of luck with your expat life. Wherever you will end up, have this experience will make you strong.

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m glad it worked out well for you eventually although I know that at the tone it must’ve been so tough. You story make me hopeful that better things are coming my way too 😊

  • frannnelli July 13, 2018 at 2:14 am

    Wow you have gone through so much this year! Your resilience is SO inspiring. Best of luck in Dubai and I can’t wait to follow your journey there 😀

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      I honestly don’t know what else life can throw at me now!! I need a vacation from my own life 😂

  • Riana Ang-Canning July 20, 2018 at 5:35 am

    I love this positive attitude that you have about this situation. Losing a job abroad has got to be really scary. But good for you for turning it into a learning opportunity and finding something new. Best of luck in Dubai! Can’t wait to read more about your adventures!

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words! I am excited about my new move and happy I found the strength to get through this tough situation 😊

  • Haseena July 21, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Hi Expat Panda. I was actually thinking of moving there in the new year. This situation is scary but also a reality. It takes a lot of strength to be able to gather your emotions and think about your next move. If you don’t mind me asking, did they provide a reason as to why the sudden change in the agreement ?

    • Expat Panda July 23, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      No reason is ever given in these sort of mass termination situations… it takes a lot of strength not to blame yourself and wonder what you did wrong but eventually you move on 😊

      • sharmota_says_what August 7, 2018 at 8:29 pm

        I hope the best for you mate but take it from me as expat born there. Pack your bags and leave. If you have family and a life out there, its soul crushing to see how bad things can get for people who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        • Expat Panda August 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm

          Agreed! This is not a place to settle forever!

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  • MissMaeva November 10, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    I am going through a similar experience right now. I thought I had landed another job in the same country but learned they would no longer be hiring me 4 days before I was supposed to start ( I had a accepted that position about 4 weeks ago at that point). I them had about 2 days to leave the country.

    So I chose another country to job hunt where I wouldn’t need a visa to enter and I’ve been trying to get a job there with no success. The worst part about working abroad is the lack of unemployment benefits.

    Now I am at the end of my journey in this new country and probably moving back to my own but I will still have no source of income, slim chances of finding any jobs and in more debts then I have ever been.

    I am just serial applying to jobs and hoping my luck will turn around. I have reached nearly 3 months with absolutely no source of income.

    • Expat Panda November 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

      I am sorry to hear about your struggles. Yes the job market is very tough to break into right now and having no unemployment benefits is a terrible disadvantage. I hope that everything works out for you eventually.

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