Thursday, June 30, 2022

Know this before you move abroad in search of money and wealth

Finding a job, keeping it, and getting periodic salary hikes is currently almost impossible in Kenya. The economy is doing badly.

Employers are keener about salvaging their businesses than hiring new workers or offering salary hikes. If you are caught up in the middle, one of the options you can consider is immigration. You can move abroad for work. Jobs abroad pay better.

You can make a lot of money. And you can also lose and return to Kenya broke and depressed. If you are planning to relocate abroad or get a job overseas, what can you do to ensure you return with a basketful of wealth? Take a look:

Which country?

Before you move abroad, you must first know where you are going, the cost of living and the employment rules that govern that country. Know the type of job you are taking and the terms of employment.

There are certain countries you can find a job only if you have a specific permit or visa.

For example, you may find that country A prohibits doing a side job when on a visitor’s visa, while country B could permit you to find a particular category of jobs when on a student visa.

“Getting a work permit or immigrating has become quite difficult and costly. In countries such as New Zealand or Australia, you may need to justify your skills set before you can get a work visa. Most countries have revised their immigration policies,” says immigration consultant Jemimah Njoki.

There are countries like Canada that do not allow employers to source for skills outside their borders unless such skills are in the long term shortage category.

While you can circumvent some entry requirements and find you way abroad, Ms. Njoki cautions that you shouldn’t breach immigration regulations and laws governing jobs for immigrants. Your permit could be revoked.

The odd jobs

The job you hold in Kenya may not be the same job you’ll get abroad. You may end up getting what you’d locally consider an odd job. Before you trash such a job, know how well it pays. It might end up paying as well as a formal job.

According to Loise Githiga, a licensed immigration expert in Canada, the type of jobs people do abroad will not necessarily tell you how much money they make.

“I have worked with ladies in the office who work as waitresses after office work. They make an equivalent of the money they earn at the office from their waitress jobs. If the office pays 60,000 Canadian dollars a year (Sh. 420,000 per month), they end up making an additional equal amount from their side waitress jobs,” said Ms. Githiga in a Canadian immigration video chat.

She adds that residential cleaners who clean up to 4 houses can easily make 500 Canadian dollars (Sh. 42,000) per day. If you can, do not overstay your entry job. The majority of these jobs are meant to prepare you for the career ahead.

Local accounts

Do not neglect your Kenyan personal finance portfolio. “If you save through the Sacco or the Money Market Fund, find a way to keep these investments active,” says Robert Ochieng’ a local and offshore investment expert at Abojani Investments.

Have an arrangement with your investment bank on how money can be delivered and channeled to your investment portfolio.

“There are banking and investment packages that allow Kenyans working abroad to invest or own property back home. Find out the package that suits your investment goals best,” he says.

Gone till November

Would you like to come back or would you rather leave Kenya for good? This is the question you should answer before you move. Have a plan on how long you will stay abroad.

“If you want to work abroad for ten years, be clear about it and have a concise plan. If you intend to retire or slow down when you return to Kenya, figure out your projected monthly or annual expenditure and work to fund your investment portfolio to an amount that will comfortably pay you when you return home,” says Ochieng’.

He says that if your monthly expenses are Sh. 200,000, the annual expense budget will be Sh.2.4 million. If 2.4 million is the 10 per cent return that your investment will give you, then you will need to have put away at least Sh. 24 million to ensure you never have to work a day in your life to fund your living costs when you return.

Check the benefits you will get at the end of your contract if you are on a formal job. These could include a heavy payoff. Have an advance plan on how you will use that money.

Ochieng’ says that from the moment you start earning abroad, the better strategy is to create a plan on how to transfer what you earn to Kenya.

“For example, owning property and starting multiple revenue generating projects will be cheaper to execute in Kenya than abroad,” says Ochieng.

Sending your money back home does not mean sending it to relatives to invest on your behalf. Cunning relatives could end up defrauding you.

“The world has become a global village. You don’t need a relative to invest for you. You can invest, pay for your investment, and monitor your investment portfolio in real time.”

Keep your social and professional networks in Kenya alive. They will come in handy when the time to resettle back in Kenya comes.


Don’t go abroad to show off. Redefine the meaning of living below means. Go below your means as low as you can. If you have been living in a three bedroom bungalow, don’t shy away from a single-shared room. The idea is to squeeze as much as you can and save or invest it back home.

How educated is Raila Odinga? See his education and life profile

Ochieng says that outside of Kenya, things can go from 100 to 0 in a second. “Never get too comfortable. An anti-immigrants’ political leader could launch oppressive laws that limit what immigrants earn, the type of jobs they can access, and the financial transfers they can do,” he says.

Join a network of other Kenyans who can show you thrift and budgeting tricks, and emerging opportunities for side jobs.

UK work visa example:

The United Kingdom is now using a merit-based application system. To qualify for a UK work Visa, you will need to achieve 70 points as follows:

  • 40 points if you have a job offer from an approved employer
  • 10 points if you can prove ability to speak English
  • 20 points if you will be paid at least Sh. 3.79 million per year (316,000 per month).
  • 20 points if you get a job offer in a category the UK has a shortage in. This category will qualify you even if it pays lower than required.

US case example:

Ralph Kithuka Kilondu, the owner and president of Alpha Couriers Incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia USA, says moving to the US is no longer easy. To move and get a job in US you’ll need to:

  • Get a green card. This is the safest legal way to relocate and find work anywhere in the US.
  • Have adequate resources to get you started. Know where you’ll live or what it costs to get a home and travel to work.
  • Don’t cheat the system. Days when you could move on a business or tourist’s visa then get social security and driver’s license after a couple months are gone.

This feature on life and work abroad was first published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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