Best European country to move to, for a software guy
November 7, 2009 4:33 PM   Subscribe

Which is the best European country to move to, for a software engineer?

bit of background: born and studied in India, came to US for work. looking at options - Canada, Europe or going back to India.

I have some idea about Canada but no clue about Europe. The first problem that comes to mind, with European countries (other than UK) is language, which is not an issue with Canada. I'd like to stay in one country for at least 5-6 years. Anybody has experience living in any of the
European countries? Especially from software field?
posted by raghuram to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There is a lot of software development going on in Germany. If you want to work here you are going to need really good chops in order for a German company to go to bat for you when it comes to getting a Arbeitserlaubnis. If you are really good and have the skills, it shouldn't be a problem. There are a lot of German companies on,, and that advertise their jobs in English because they need to get people from anywhere to fill the positions.
posted by chillmost at 6:11 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Netherlands might be an option, as lots of the multinationals with large-scale European operations there have multi-lingual workplaces where English is often the primary working language. Google has a big campus in Zurich with English-language positions. Nokia in Helsinki might be another option. I've heard that Berlin has stuff going on too.

You get the picture: outside the UK and Ireland, anglophone software jobs tend to be in big cities for big employers.
posted by holgate at 6:23 PM on November 7, 2009

Anybody has experience living in any of the European countries? Especially from software field?

Hey, lots of us are living there :-)

Seconding Zurich (and Switzerland). Some big employers even have English-speaking head-offices in Switzerland. English-speaking groups at unis might be an possibility, too. Zurich itself is getting the "highest quality of life award" year after year.

However I think you always need to learn the local language fast to not keep feeling like an expat whose only friends are expats.

In general I recommend you'll find out, based on your nationality, where it's possible for you to get a working permit. This should be the same across the European Union (EU), but Europe is bigger than the EU. Switzerland (and Zurich) e.g. are outside the EU but within Europe. Then decide on the language and only after that look for actual jobs. Chillmost has given a good list of job portals, change the TLD and you'll get the sites for other countries in most cases. Switzerland has .ch.
posted by oxit at 1:12 AM on November 8, 2009

In terms of the UK all the official information you'll need about arranging visas can be found here; be forewarned, however, they have been changing the rules recently, for example no longer crediting US taught Masters degrees as immigration points. While his has caused some folks problems others are reporting that only the online calculator awards American degrees zero points and a manual review of qualifications by NARIC gives full credit (i.e., 35 points) towards a Tier 1 visa.

The UK Yankee forums can provide help with your specific situation, even if you're not American by birth. If you are considering the UK I suggest trawling that forum for an extended period to get current on UK visas, etc before progressing.

Probably the biggest problem you're going to encounter in the UK is the recession; unemployment is at a record postwar high and there is a lot of national soul searching now as many University graduates from 2008 are still unemployed. In these circumstances a backlash against immigration is not unexpected.

That being said, if you can get sponsorship from a multinational you'll avoid most, if not all of these concerns. After five years on a work permit you can transition to what's called "Indefinite Leave to Remain", permanent residence, US green card equivalent (unless, of course, the next election changes things in this regard drastically and yes, immigration is becoming a political point).

JobStats will give you an idea on the viability of the UK market. Since about one third of UK GDP is based on financial services, the market is in a little rut now. That being said, there are still plenty of jobs about, even more if you as an IT guy speak banking.

holgate's tip to Netherlands is spot on. Mrs Mutant is Dutch, and we haven't seen the same scale of problems with banking related employment in Nederlands; in fact it seems the job market never really tanked there like it did in the UK or US. Most of our friends back in Amsterdam are in financial services and they're still working like they were in 2006.
posted by Mutant at 1:21 AM on November 8, 2009

Check out Sweden.

I worked there coming from Australia. Huge amounts of English spoken, many companies speak English. Lots of development.

Visas are obtainable. I got mine fairly quickly. If you have something a company wants they can get you.
posted by sien at 2:26 AM on November 8, 2009

Frankly, life can be a little tough in Western Europe for those with brown skin. There's decades of racial tension between "native" (i.e. white) Europeans and North-African, Turkish or middle-eastern minorities. Indians tend to get lumped in with the lot -- expect to get frequently frisked and asked to produce ID in the street, held up at border crossings, and treated in general as an outsider.

In this respect, the UK would be the least hostile environment for an Indian to immigrate to. The public discourse on immigration is significantly more mature and progressive in the UK. Brits have centuries of colonial guilt that they're trying (at least ostensibly) to atone for, and there's a huge community of "British Asians" that you could link up with. Finally, being separated by the Channel, the UK suffers much less illegal immigration compared to continental Europe, consequently the police don't assume every non-white on the street is a potential alien (just a potential menace).

I say this as a Brit of chinese heritage who has lived all over Europe, who is shocked at the disparity between how I am treated vs. how my Indian, Pakistani or Egyptian friends are treated.

These days I live in Vancouver, Canada. I'd say this place is an immigrants' paradise, and there's no shortage of software engineering jobs here either (current recession notwithstanding).
posted by randomstriker at 3:08 AM on November 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

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