This feature first appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
NOTE: Wondering where in the world to look for work? Our first article addressing this topic can be found here.
IT professionals have greater career mobility than most other categories of workers, because much of everyday life is dependent on technology. There is a worldwide demand for people who can work with current technologies, offering suitably skilled tech pros the opportunity to work in countries as diverse as Israel, Sweden, and Canada.
Though Silicon Valley is still the mecca of tech innovation, it is no longer the preferred destination for IT professionals. This is primarily because of the high cost of living, including very high rents, poor work-life balance, and recent visa restrictions.
When selecting a destination for employment (and living), one should not consider professional and economic benefits alone. After all, you and your family need to be comfortable living in whatever spot you end up. Safety is of course a key priority, as is quality of life.
In my previous article I listed six top countries for tech pros looking to relocate: Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This article looks at six more. Since a language barrier can pose difficulties, only countries where English is the first language, or is widely spoken, are listed here.
Each of the countries listed below has something different to offer in terms of culture, environment and society:
Amsterdam is headquarters to many world-class tech companies. More than 50 percent of the Forbes 2000 companies active in IT and telecoms have a presence in the area. The city also boasts a vibrant tech startup scene. If you’re a .NET developer or a data scientist, then Amsterdam is currently one of the top cities for your skills.
Salaries are not as high as in the United States, Switzerland, and Israel, and just a bit less than in Germany or the United Kingdom. According to PayScale, the average salary for software developers in the Netherlands is $44,658 (U.S.).
- Netherlands offers a great quality of life with a range of entertainment opportunities.
- Rents are relatively reasonable, and one has a variety of accommodations to choose from.
- Healthcare services and the public transport system are good.
- According to the Safe Cities Index 2017 compiled by The Economist, Amsterdam is currently one of the 10 safest cities in the world. It has a low crime rate and ranks 4th in digital security, 6th in infrastructure security, and 10th in personal security.
- Health insurance is expensive.
- You might have to get used to traffic congestion and train cancellations.
- Dutch weather can be unpredictable, particularly in summer.
Stockholm is one of the best cities in the world for tech startups. Software engineers working in Sweden earn more than their counterparts in most countries, but not significantly more than the average Swedish employee.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a developer in Sweden is $54,872 (U.S.). Sweden is currently one of the top markets for PHP developers.
- Currently, Stockholm has one of the most promising tech startup scenes.
- According to the Safe Cities Index 2017 compiled by The Economist, Stockholm is one of the safest major cities in the world, ranking 9th on personal safety, 4th on infrastructure security, and 10th on health security.
- The country is known for its strong work culture.
- Swedes enjoy a high standard of living.
- Most public services are subsidized.
- Sweden has a relatively high cost of living, including high personal income tax rates.
- Accommodations of any sort can be difficult to find, especially in the center of Stockholm.
According to Bloomberg, Israel ranks 6th on the list of preferred destinations for high-tech companies. Over the years, Israel has developed a robust ecosystem for startups. Tel Aviv, in particular, is a hub of financial tech startups.
Salaries for software engineers in Israel are among the highest in the world, and much higher than the average salary for Israelis working in other occupations. According to PayScale, the median annual salary for software engineers in Israel is $65,000 (U.S.).
- The dynamic startup scene appeals to professionals looking to work at a startup.
- Israel enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Winters are cool and relatively short. Summers are long and dry, and can get very hot at times.
- With its beautiful beaches, outdoor cafes and thriving art scene, Tel Aviv offers abundant opportunities for recreation. There are art galleries and museums everywhere in the city.
- The cost of living is high. According to an Israel National News report, the Israeli Finance Ministry acknowledged that “The level of prices in Israel is higher than in countries with similar GDP per-capita.”
- Housing is expensive in Tel Aviv. Most people live in apartments. A detached house with a garden is out of reach for most.
- Healthcare services are good, but expensive.
- The country has a moderate crime rate. Violent crime is rare except in a few areas, but incidents of bag snatching, car theft and domestic burglaries are not uncommon.
- Due to the conflict with Palestine, political violence can occur suddenly in certain areas. Many expats do live and work in Israel. One needs to be careful and avoid trouble spots.
Software engineers in Australia earn more than in many other countries, but the high cost of living takes some of the shine off those handsome salaries. If you’re a Java or PHP developer, it’s one of the best countries to look for work.
- Australian society is egalitarian.
- Tech pros looking for a laidback lifestyle are likely to be quite pleased with life in Australia.
- The Australian countryside and coastline offer abundant opportunities for outdoor/adventure recreation.
- Australia has a varied climate and winters are relatively mild.
- Both Melbourne and Sydney have made it to the Top 10 in the Safe Cities Index 2017 compiled by The Economist. Melbourne ranks within the Top 10 on personal safety, as well as infrastructure and health security. Sydney ranks 6th on health security, 9th on infrastructure security, and 12th on personal safety.
- The cost of living is high in cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Groceries and utilities are not cheap.
- Though public and private healthcare are of a good standard, private health insurance is expensive. Expats who are not eligible for Medicare will need to purchase private insurance.
Though the United States ranks 27th in the work-life balance rankings for all countries, it still attracts tech workers from around the globe. In large part, that’s because the American tech industry is one of the most inventive and advanced in the world.
Salaries for software engineers in the United States are also much higher than in most countries. PHP, .NET, and Java developers are particularly sought after in the United States. Data scientists are also in demand.
- California’s Silicon Valley has traditionally been home to the nation’s highly innovative tech industry and an incubator for startups. Texas (especially Austin), the Carolinas, New York, and such western states as Utah, Colorado, and Washington have all emerged as major tech hubs, however, offering a high quality of life for professionals looking for a less expensive alternative to the west coast.
- Across the country, travel and recreational activities abound.
- Work-life balance is poor, leading to high stress levels.
- Rents are typically very high in large U.S. cities on either coast. The average software engineer can end up spending substantially more than 30 percent of salary to rent an apartment with in a few miles of Google, Uber, and other established tech companies.
- H-1B employment visas have recently become more difficult to obtain.
- American cities generally lose out to European, Asian, and Australian cities as far as overall security is concerned. San Francisco ranks highest among U.S. cities in the Safe Cities Index 2017 compiled by The Economist, but with a ranking of 15, it doesn’t rank among the world’s top 10.
Canada’s tech industry is currently benefitting from a favorable economic ecosystem. The Canadian government has introduced fast-track visas for tech professionals, is funding research in artificial intelligence, and is encouraging investment in startups.
According to Bloomberg, Google, Uber, and Microsoft are developing artificial intelligence capacities in the country, and a number of Silicon Valley venture capitalists are investing in Canadian startups. Facebook, Amazon, and other tech majors have offices in Vancouver, which is fast becoming a tech hub in North America. Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are currently promising destinations for software developers. Perl coders, .NET developers, and data scientists are also currently in demand in Canada.
- Canada offers a fairly good quality of life.
- Toronto comes in at number 4 in the Safe Cities Index 2017 compiled by The Economist. The city ranks 5th on personal safety, and 6th on digital security.
- Healthcare services are quite good and mostly free.
- Renting or buying a home is expensive in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
- Setting aside Vancouver, the rest of Canada can get very cold in winter. You could be in for five months of very cold weather per year.
- There is a perception that Canadian tax rates are relatively high, but this depends on where you’re relocating from. Income tax rates are higher than in the United States, but lower than in many European countries.
Where will you end up?
Depending on your tech skills, the market for your area of expertise will differ from country to country. Relocating can mean not only advanced career prospects, but an enhanced quality of life, improved work-life balance, better health, different and enriching cultural and social experiences, new friends, and a new life.
If you have a naturally adventurous spirit, then don’t hesitate to take advantage of the freedom to relocate made possible by your hard-earned IT skills.