Moving to Brunei for Work – What It is Like to Live and Work There

Expatriation has become increasingly common in recent years. That being said, expats have formed sizable communities in many areas. For this reason, many expats have tried to find alternative locations that are more appealing for their expatriation that provide a more authentic experience. Brunei is one of those locations where expats have relocated to with a unique experience in mind. One dimension of Brunei that is distinct is the reality of moving there to find work and how profitable that venture can potentially be. Consider the reasons below when trying to ascertain whether relocating to Brunei is the ideal fit for your expatriation. 

The Reality of Relocating to Brunei for Work 

Brunei has a very small population that sits at roughly 400,000. What makes Brunei quite unique is that they have an expat population of around 40%. Expats that were looking for a more diverse locale, will be quite happy with these statistics; however, those expats that wanted a more culturally authentic and isolated experience will surely have to look elsewhere. The diversity of population aside, Brunei actually boasts one of the best standards of living that the world has to offer. This is primarily attributed to the fact that the country is quite tropical and wealth that the country possesses from the oil and gas industry. 

One important reality associated with living and working in Brunei is that there are very high-income employment packages that offer tax-free benefits. This is particularly true if the expat has an offer to work in the oil and gas industry. What makes this combination even better is that the cost of living in Brunei is very affordable to expats that are residing there. To expats from Western countries, it seems very affordable to reside within Brunei. 

In regards to employment opportunities, Brunei does have a wealth to offer foreigners. What is important to understand is that the job market in Brunei is quite competitive for expats that may not speak Malay. The key to being secure when arriving to Brunei will be to have a job offer before you move. If you have a job offer, then you will not have a few months of looking for work in Brunei. 

Specific Cultural Nuances to Be Aware of Before Relocation

Brunei is a Muslim country, which is important to note for women that are considering relocating there. Be sure to take the time to research and learn the proper protocols for conservative dress and workplace standards. In doing this, a great deal of unfortunate cultural misunderstandings will surely be avoided. 

When contemplating the linguistic differences that Brunei possesses, it is wise to note that Malay is the primary language that is spoken in Brunei. English and some Chinese dialects are also utilized in business, which will make expats working in Brunei have a smooth transition in the workplace. The lack of language barrier is a major asset that Brunei has over other prospective expat destinations. 

The Local Currency in Brunei

The currency in Brunei is called the Bruneian Dollar. Historically, the currency has been quite strong; however, in recent years, it has grown quite weak in relation to the United States Dollar since 2014. For expats that are currently residing and working in Burma, this is a very important factor to consider. If the expat is being paid in Bruneian Dollars, then it is going to be a major disadvantage to transfer money back to the United States because there will be a great potential loss. That being said, if the expat is being paid in United States Dollars or other strong currencies, it absolutely is possible to make substantial gains on the exchange rate while residing in Brunei. 

Final Remarks on the Subject 

Relocating to Brunei for an employment assignment is a wonderful employment opportunity to pursue. There are many attributes that Brunei possesses as a country that is a great service to expats that have capital in United States Dollars. Since the recent decline in the Bruneian Dollar has occurred, there are major gains to be made while living in Brunei. Another incredible gain to be made is the fact that many of the expat salaries are tax-free. Having taxation eliminated is a major benefit that is an asset for expats to consider that are contemplating relocating to Brunei. From a cultural standpoint, relocating to Brunei can present its challenges; however, on the whole, the linguistic climate there makes it easy for expats who speak either English or Chinese. Lastly, Brunei is one of the safest places in the world to be, which is another benefit of relocating for an employment assignment there. For the expat that is looking for a unique employment opportunity that is also fiscally lucrative, relocating to Brunei is absolutely an option that should be carefully considered. 

Jacquelyn Vadnais

Jacquelyn Vadnais is a global traveler, blogger, writer, author, and entrepreneur with a JD/MBA/LL.M degree. To date, she has visited 50 countries, lived in 8, and hopes to see a great deal more of the world.

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