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Factors to consider when relocating to a new country

Updated: May 11, 2020

What are the most important factors that one needs to keep in mind when relocating to a new country?

This is one of the most important question that needs to be considered when making such a critical life decision.

Since 2014, Arun has been based in Germany. In his case, the consideration to move to Germany was due to his wife's career, after she got a Phd admit to Heidelberg University. In relative terms, it was an easy decision.

Being very active in guiding professionals and students on Linked In, Arun keeps getting a variety of messages from those who aspire for an international career. Those messages are the foundation for this article.

General factors (hidden factors are shared later) :

  • Career growth : This is one of the most common reason to relocate from countries like India to Germany, US, UK and Canada. This is primarily driven by a strong mindset that working outside India enhances the value of that professional. In addition, due to a clear co-relation between hard work n rewards, its a easier environment to showcase one's results and succeed in career,

  • High salary : With an international relocation, a higher and attractive salary is assumed to be a guarantee. This is true in cases, where the hiring companies adhere to the standard market salaries. In cases, where your visa is limited and/or tied with the employer, this might not hold true. In such situations, the hiring companies try to negotiate cheaper salaries than the going market rates.

In his first job in Germany, Arun was also hired at a rate which was atleast 50% lower than his benchmark market salary. Luckily, he was able to move to Amazon after his first job, which brought his salary upto the market standards.

  • Better quality of life : This is definitely another strong motivation for students and professionals to move away from their home country. Specifically, in the context of Asian countries, the basic quality of life - air, water is highly questionable. Some of the most polluted cities are in the Asian continent. People have started to realise the impact of these on their health and kids. Combined with the lack of national health or social security system, it means that the health costs are borne by the people out of their pockets. In addition to other factors such as traffic jams, lack of infrastructure and corruption, it provides a genuine motivation to look for international careers.

  • Foreign permanent residency and/or citizenship : The ultimate goal of undergoing such an intense process. The ideal goal of majority of the economic immigrants is to aim for a citizenship in their host country. (In Germany, with a Blue card, permanent residency is available within 21 months of moving to Germany). A lot of European countries still have relaxed regulations compared to traditional destinations such as US and UK.

Just yesterday (15th Feb, 2020), Arun was talking to a friend "DS". DS is from Indian and a CA (Chartered Accountant). DS worked for 5 years in London and then moved to New York. After spending 18 months in NY, DS came back to London to take up a new job.

Now you are thinking - Why this conversation is mentioned here? Read on :

Hidden factors :

  • Long term prospects : Since most of the immigrants are looking for PR or Citizenship, they do not research this enough to know before relocating. The lure of moving to a foreign country is enough to make them forget/ignore other factors.

In the example of DS, he paid all the statutory payments in his 5 years in UK (taxes, social security, health insurance etc). BUT - he was on a Visa which was :

  1. tied to his employer,

  2. did not allow him to apply for long term visa,

  3. needed him to leave the country after 5 years.

This means that he had to endure :

  1. all the payments from his salary, which did not provide for his future,

  2. he was always scared of his reporting manager, since he needed the job to live in the country,

  3. daily uncertainty about his personal and professional future,

  4. a small window to find a new job in case he got fired (60 days to find a new job, or else leave the country),

Do you think this was a good move when relocating to a new country.

  • Time value of money (for your life/career) : While this is a financial concept, it applies equally well when making a decision to relocate. Let's compare the above example of relocating to UK vs Germany :

  1. Language : UK scores over due to English, German is tough to learn and takes time, hence makes settling in Germany more challenging,

  2. Jobs : On a like to like basis, UK has more service (financial, tourism, legal, medical, hospitality etc) oriented jobs. Germany on the other hand, being an engineering oriented has more traditional (manufacturing sector) jobs. Its only now that the startup scene in Germany is picking up, thereby offering more jobs,

  3. Visa status : For those coming for jobs, there are various types of UK visas which may or may not be restrictive as in the example of DS above. In Germany, there are standard kind of visa, which allow enough flexibility to change jobs, change employer and relaxed unemployment perks (all in case of a Blue Card holder),

  4. Unemployment : As shared above, UK gives 60 days to find a new job, while the same period is 6 months in Germany (for Blue card holders), Germany also provides money as unemployment benefit after a threshold,

  5. Social security : Germany provides the same level of social security, irrespective of the resident status of the economic immigrant. Arun, on his dependent and employment visa, had the same access to healthcare, similar social security and other benefits as other citizens.

It was actually Arun's discussion with DS yesterday, which prompted this article. The intention of the article is not to question or show down to any specific country. The purpose of the article is to bring forth the factors which should be kept in mind and researched when making critical decisions like relocating to a new country for a better career and life.

Ask yourself :

If after going through all the pains and expenses of relocating, there is no long term benefit for you and your kids, will that be a good situation to be in after 10-15 years?

It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.

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