Working locally means working for an employer located in the country where you are living. In almost every case, you need a work permit or work visa to legally work in another country.
The normal situation is that you have been offered a job or contract by a company in that country and you have used that job offer to obtain a work visa from the embassy or consulate of that country. You are usually required to apply for this visa from your home country. The work visa allows you to work for that specific employer and it has a specific time limit on how long you are allowed to work for them, either a specific number of years or for the duration of the job. Usually you can get extensions if you have not completed the job or if the company wishes to keep you on. The process of getting a work visa is typically not a very quick one, often taking 3-6 months. Refer to the consular pages for the country you are interested in for the details on how to apply for a work visa, as the process for each country is different.
Usually to obtain a work visa you need to have job skills which are needed by employers in the destination country which cannot be found in the local population. Many countries maintain lists of in-demand jobs which you can find online. For example, for Spain, I found the sepe.es website (Ministry of Employment and Social Security) which lists in-demand jobs by region. Granted, I didn’t find many useful jobs postings there, but Spain is currently experiencing very high unemployment, so I wouldn’t imagine there would be much local work available in Spain. Usually, if a company is hiring from outside its own country’s labor pool, there is an inadequate skill base to supply candidates for the selected jobs. In other words, you are not likely to be taking jobs from citizens of the country. However, you may still encounter some animosity from unemployed natives when they find that you, a foreigner, are working in their country and they aren’t.
Suitability of Jobs for Semi-retirees
Most of the jobs which will be offered to foreigners are fulltime positions and are not really the types of jobs which would be of interest to someone looking for a supplemental semi-retirement income. Because of this, I’m not going to go into any detail about the process of seeking this type of work. Just Google “working internationally” or “international jobs” and you will find plenty of websites which address this topic. However, I will mention one job which is in high demand in many countries, which can often be done without a fulltime work schedule, and which natives of many countries simply don’t qualify for. I’m talking about teaching English as a second language. This job has some appeal as a semi-retirement job because it allows you to visit a variety of countries, usually on a limited contract of 6-12 months, it often involves fewer than 40 hours per week of work, depending on the contract terms you agree to, and the pay can be decent. Also, if you have a college degree, you can qualify for this type of work by completing a relatively short training course. Some countries have an age bias against hiring older people for this type of work, but many countries value older teachers as well. Refer to my related post Teaching English as a Semi-Retirement Job for more information.
Work Visa Age Restrictions
You should be aware if you are seeking local jobs that some countries restrict work visas by age. Usually this is because the country has a mandatory retirement age policy and they can’t legally allow someone over the retirement age to work in the country. It may seem surprising, coming from the USA where the government is currently talking about raising the standard retirement age to 70, that in many countries the mandatory retirement age is 60 or, in some countries, 55. If you are planning to try to find work locally, you need to be sure to research the work visa age restrictions for the countries you are considering relocating to. Unfortunately, if there are age limits that exclude you getting a work visa, there isn’t a lot you can do about it.
What about working under the table?
If you research working in other countries on the internet, you will likely find many articles and posts about how common it is to work locally without bothering to get a work visa while staying in the country as a tourist. This is particularly true for jobs like teaching English, working as an au pair, doing seasonal work, or working jobs which cater to English speaking tourists, such as condo and apartment rental liaisons, waiters, bartenders, tour guides, etc. Some countries are more stringent than others about enforcing their work permit laws, but you should be clear about one thing…this work is illegal, and you can be deported from the country if you are caught doing it and possible banned from re-entering the country for several years after the violation. We don’t recommend working illegally to help fund your semi-retirement lifestyle, but we have to admit we’ve encountered several people doing it.