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Ask HN: Germany vs. Canada for Tech Jobs?
130 points by startuplife01 on Sept 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 185 comments
I'm 25M from India and looking into settling in either Berlin or Toronto to build my career in tech. I'm not considering the US because of its visa issues.

Both Berlin and Toronto seem to have some tech scene going on. Cost of living in Toronto is quite high compared to Berlin. It seems it'll be easier to save money in Berlin to work towards financial independence.

On the other hand, tech companies in Canada pay peanuts and the high cost of living leaves quite a small amount to save each month. However, once a Canadian citizen, there is a possiblity to get transferred to a Silicon Valley arm of a US company from Canada (using the TN visa) and hence receive a higher compensation.

How would you compare between the two countries for building a career in tech for an immigrant?

>tech companies in Canada pay peanuts

This is because:

- Canadians are happy to accept whatever wages they are given (the "smart" Canadians move to the US to get higher salaries)

- immigrants to Canada are happy to accept whatever wages they are given

With those two factors, you're not going to make a lot of money in Toronto unless you're working a US company (Google, Amazon, and so on) and even then it'll be less than US counter-parts.

Berlin is a better choice because you can easily travel around Europe and there are more markets. It's also a faster flight back to India if you're visiting family.

>However, once a Canadian citizen, there is a possiblity to get transferred to a Silicon Valley arm of a US company from Canada (using the TN visa) and hence receive a higher compensation.

This is what I'm talking about. The employer will dangle this prize in front of you for as long as they can and will continue to hold off on promotions and keep your salary the same for as long as possible. This is why Canadian salaries remain low, because there will be another sucker that comes along and will also be offered the same "we'll give you a promotion in a few years!" or "we'll transfer you to the US soon! very very soon!" line and they'll accept it.

>How would you compare between the two countries for building a career in tech for an immigrant?

Is immigration required? Because if not, all you need is a good internet connection, a good computer, and knowledge lots and lots of knowledge to distinguish your skills from others and get the higher freelancing rates.

This is changing. I work with Canadian colleagues at a remote-friendly company, and they make the same salary as the folks in NYC and SV, taking conversion into account (most make >200k CD). I also know that Shopify pays very well. Canadian tech is catching up in compensation terms, and the dominoes are going to start following as demand picks up.

Would you care to share which companies you know that pay equal salaries? I'm close to 200k CAD in total comp working in Vancouver but that's still around 40% less of what colleagues in the States are making.

My question for you though is, is it much less? Americans have to save way more money for retirement than Canadians. I bet your fully loaded costs are close.

I believe the last time we ran the numbers it wasn't that drastic. The mandatory retirement saving in Canada (Canada Pension Plan) is quite bad, can't really be maxed out beyond a very low benefit, and is almost criminal for your beneficiaries if you die before retirement. It is certainly than nothing, but definitely not better than taking the same money and placing it in a tax sheltered index fund.

I hear this a lot - most of the time its just people happy making >100k not realizing the Canadian dollar has dropped a lot, and just how ridiculous US salaries have become in the last 10years.

Which industry and how many years of experience if I may ask?

I work with deep learning, and with ~2 years of experience >125k CAD base is a rare find.

What does "taking conversion into account" mean? Either they earn the same or they don't.

I'm pretty sure that's referring to currency conversion. 200K CAD is around 150K USD.

So they earn the same then.

New graduates make more than that with 0 yoe in silicon valley.

>Canadian tech is catching up in compensation terms, and the dominoes are going to start following as demand picks up

Slowly changing. The US companies are going to pick up all the talent here.

> This is what I'm talking about. The employer will dangle this prize in front of you for as long as they can and will continue to hold off on promotions and keep your salary the same for as long as possible. This is why Canadian salaries remain low, because there will be another sucker that comes along and will also be offered the same "we'll give you a promotion in a few years!" or "we'll transfer you to the US soon! very very soon!" line and they'll accept it.

After 3 years of being a permanent resizent you can apply for citizenship, and getting one is pretty easy if you work in tech. Companies don't really have that much of leverage on you, especially in comparison with US with a dangling carrot of H1Bs and green cards.

This is because: ...

Supply and demand. If you're going to compare salaries, look at the number/density of tech companies in the area and the value generation. SV corporations setup offices here in Toronto, but the pay doesn't match up because it doesn't have to. Competition for talent is not as fierce.

There are single buildings in SV that host more "elite" software engineers than other entire cities (how many thousand engineers at a single location like Google/Apple's HQ? What native equivalents does Canada have? It used to be RIM/Blackberry, but now its what, Shopify? The scale matters.)

You're misattributing quality of wages to people being ignorant of their own value, but what you should be attributing it to is plain labour economics.

Yep. I was given an offer to work for Microsoft in SF, ended up having visa denied (no post secondary), so sent to Vancouver instead. 75k CAD drop in salary. & Vancouver isn't cheap

American living in Germany here. (I also speak pretty decent German.)

I think it's hard to compare two countries like this. There's a lot more than just the objective differences--it's easy to be miserable in an objectively "better" country.

I am absolutely miserable in Germany. I don't have a particularly good reason to be; I just hate it. It simply disagrees with me, even though--objectively--Germany is a better place to live than many of the other countries I lived in.

My advice is apply for jobs in both countries. Get on-site interviews, and go to Toronto and Berlin. It's important that you see for yourself, so you can really make an informed decision.

The bit you wrote about transferring to Silicon valley, etc seems premature to me. You don't really know what you'll be doing in the future: neither choice here is bad. Choose which seems the best now, unless you have a specific, realistic goal for the future that one option enables better than the other. But without that: go to both cities and just see what you like.

Comparing salaries is also premature: you don't even have offers yet. It's all just conjecture. If both cities are serious contenders for you, apply to jobs in both and see.

(Besides, German CS salaries are definitely nothing to write home about either. And many things in Germany are more expensive: cars, gas, electricity, basically all consumer goods, etc)

I'm curious why you are miserable? I live in Prague and visit Germany 3-4 times a year and really enjoy it. Better food at restaurants and much better selection of food in the stores. However, I am not paying German taxes, health care or rent so I don't know much about actually living there.

On paper, I ought to be fine here. Germanic life doesn't jive with me, that's all. I feel very culturally isolated and alienated and would go so far as to say that I find the German aesthetic/way-of-life somehow depressing.

I spent various parts of my childhood in Germanic countries and was going through a difficult time then as a kid. I think I've been unable to separate that time from my perception/understanding of Germanic countries and that that has a lot to do with it as well.

Plenty of Germans I've met here in Montreal echo the same concern; that the German way-of-life is depression inducing. Everything works decently well but it saps the strength from you to have the kind of vivacity and challenges that, while don't make life any safer or easier, make life worth living.

Atleast, that's my interpretation of what I've been told. It's a little what English Canada felt to me now that I've moved to French Canada. It's safe and fine but nothing's really happening. Your relationships aren't going anywhere; your career is basically about paying an oversized mortgage.

As a canadian who as moved to Europe here are some of my points that have nothing to do with money but a bit.

1) More indians in toronto more food and less likely to fee lonely 2) Make more in EU but costs other than housing are more 3) Easier to start a company in Canada 4) Easier to fit in culturally in Canada 5) Too many immigrants to Toronto make competition killer 6) Need a car

German/Canadian here. Was born and raised in Germany to a Canadian parent. Have lived and worked in Cologne, Berlin, Mountain View, San Francisco and now Toronto.

Some random thoughts and musings that might not matter to you:

- All in all, having made the switch from a rather high paying (by German standards) job for a DAX30 company to a Silicon Valley-based US employer in Canada, my gross pay decreased but my take home increased due to significantly lower taxes in Canada. After all taxes and deductions my take home pay in Germany was about 51% of gross, in Canada it is about 67%. On the bottom line I come out about equal due to significantly higher cost of living in Canada, especially Toronto. My groceries spend is factor 2.5, my rent spend is factor 4.5, internet at home is factor 2, cell phone is factor 3 compared to Germany. Pretty much everything but clothes is much more expensive in Canada.

- Also the availability of things through online shops or stores is very different. In Germany we have Services such as Geizhals.de which allows you to compare prices on very specific items across hundreds of online stores. Amazon is usually not the cheapest or best option. In Canada, Amazon is usually the only option. Or ordering from the US and paying duties and fees. This is especially true if you into crafty or electrical engineering things (parts and materials).

- As a visible minority Berlin is going to be fine (if not great!). Other parts of Germany might be less pleasant. I believe physically you'd be safer in Berlin that you'd be in Toronto due to overall significantly lower gun violence.

- Depending on how the US administration goes the TN visa might not be a long term option. It certainly isn't, even today, if you plan to stay in the US long term.

- Banking in the US and Canada are horrible when compared to the EU. Also: The German credit score system is basically the inverse of the US/Canadian system. Nothing on your file == good.

- I personally like winters. Toronto gets lots of snow, Berlin I find to be exceptionally cold and damp during winters but rarely it gets snow. I prefer snow over dampness.

- 24 days of paid leave is the legal minimum for a full time position at 6 days per week, 20 days if you work 5 days a week in Germany. That will vary wildly in the US and Canada.

And many more things I haven't got the time right now to list. But if you're interested I can go on.

Hey, this is very helpful. Would love for you to list more things.

Berlin salaries are lower but standards of living are better and immigrating is quite straightforward, especially if you get a job offer. A blue card visa will fast track you to residency. Just make sure you start learning German ASAP, people will tell you that you don't need it in Berlin but it will make your life outside of work so much easier if you can at least speak and read at a basic level.

It depends. I have a contrarian view here. I’m German and would advise against learning German for OP. This advice counts for Berlin.m only. The opportunity costs are just too high. In Berlin you do not need to learn German. Also it’s way harder in Berlin than in any other German city. Just make sure you live in districts with a high expat density, make Some German friends and focus on your career. OP is young and it seems he wants to build his career.

That said from my experience I see 7 years as a cut off point where expats start to leave the city. If you are quite confident that you’ll stay >7 years or even consider other cities in Germany start learning German ASAP :)

Thirty years ago, I lived in Germany as a military wife for nearly four years. Pretty much everywhere I needed to go and interact, everyone spoke fluent English and businesses near the American military post had signs in English and catered to the Americans.

I showed up knowing some German because my mother is German. My fluency only improved marginally in the time I was there because most Germans I met spoke English and were thrilled to have the opportunity to practice their English with a native speaker, so I was actively denied opportunities to improve my German because they would promptly begin speaking English to me.

When we did day trips to do touristy stuff, it was helpful that I knew more German than most Americans there. I carried a German-English dictionary with me and looked up words I saw on signs. (You can now do that much easier on a smartphone.)

It may actually be nigh impossible to learn German, even if you want to. I wanted to, so badly. Almost no one would speak it with me.

I am still not fluent in German and it would be too hard to get there via intentional self study to be worth the effort to me. It should have been vastly easier to learn through immersion while living there, but almost no one would speak German with me in Germany.

It quite aggravated me. In my youth, I wanted to be a translator and I wanted to learn seven languages fluently. I know a smattering of German, French, Greek, Spanish and Russian (and took French and classical Greek in college). I'm not fluent in any of them.

I've turned my attention to learning languages like HTML and CSS. I'm not fluent in them either, but they are infinitely more useful to me in day-to-day life.

> It may actually be nigh impossible to learn German, even if you want to. I wanted to, so badly. Almost no one would speak it with me.

The trick is to be direct about that you want to speak German. Germans are direct, it's not impolite. "Entschuldigen Sie, können wir Deutsch sprechen? Ich muss es üben." will get the majority to switch to German.

And if you have German friends and they know you've been in Germany now for a longer period, and some stage they'll decide "Jetzt muss sie aber wirklich mal Deutsch lernen" and start to speak exclusively German to you.

The "I am polite and speaking English" thing is usually only applied to strangers.

I'm trying to think also of how you would increase your social exposure to settings where you would just socialize with native speakers. That's what needs to happen to get immersion. I'm coming up blank.

I got to practice a little at my first apartment. It was a downstairs unit and the rest of the building was the home of my landlord. It was a tiny farm village about twenty minutes from the American post.

I broke the lease and moved because my baby was very sick there. My next apartment was a four story building, but all the tenants were American. Then I finally got quarters and the entire neighborhood was American with American services (grocery store, daycare, gas station).

I actively tried to shop at German stores and things like that. It turned out to not be practical. It made more sense to shop at the American stores.

We needed living room furniture. We went downtown to shop. It was all giant shranks.

It didn't provide the kind of storage we needed, it was out of our price range and I knew that taking it home to the US would be a bad idea. We mostly needed shelves for books. German apartments have fewer closets and windows than American homes, so they have long expanses of wall. Shranks are designed to work in that kind of housing.

When you take a shrank back to America, you can't easily find housing that will hold it. A friend of mine had a custom house built in the US to get a wall to fit her shrank. I went house hunting with my sister. We looked at a house where they added a room -- with a stupidly long hallway just for that room -- to hold their German shrank. They were selling the shrank with the house. The listing said "shrank remains with house."

So, disappointed, we returned to base and bought American bookshelves. It made far more sense.

We did day trips on the weekends to visit castles. This is a tourist activity. It's not conducive to long conversations with locals.

I visited my best friend when she was in Germany visiting her relatives. She and I stayed up late talking to catch up -- in English, of course. She spoke fluent German, but we hadn't seen each other in some time and wouldn't again for sometime. She didn't invite me over to teach me German. It made no sense to try to speak German together. We were together to get caught up. English made more sense.

I took scuba diving with a German company. They spoke much better English than I did German. I was still breastfeeding. It made no sense for me to join everyone for a beer after class at a local pub. I couldn't drink and I needed to get home to my baby. It ended up being too exhausting and I dropped out of the class even though they had a no refund policy.

All my efforts to connect with people in settings where I should have had more exposure to German basically went nowhere.

I could make small talk with waiters at restaurants or whatever, but I just wasn't finding myself in social settings where it made sense for others to expect me to make the effort to really engage in serious conversation in German.

I'm leaving this comment as food for thought for other people who may be considering living elsewhere and/or desire to learn another language. I might have learned more German had I continued to live in a tiny farm village where no one spoke English, but I couldn't do that because it was making my baby sick. All other social settings I found myself in failed to foster conversation in German.

If you do what makes sense to make your life work, you may just not have that many opportunities to practice German, even while living in Germany. Luck and circumstance are factors, but I was actively seeking to escape the American bubble I lived in and get out into the local culture and largely failing to find opportunities to talk with people conversationally in German. I already knew enough German to help make tourist activities easier for us to navigate. That doesn't result in conversational fluency.

I spent years listening to tapes in one language or another, doing home study courses, watching TV in Spanish with subtitles, looking up Russian words on the internet, etc etc. Trying to improve my exposure to other languages was a hobby for a lot of years.

It's never gotten me anywhere near the kind of fluency I desired and I've never found much real use for any of it. It was a largely pointless hobby.

I eventually quit actively working on it. It wasn't fruitful, and not for lack of trying.

But you lived in a very american bubble then. Other parts of germany are not quite english adopted.

Berlin is mixed. The younger generation does speak english, but you can not expect the bus driver to understand you.

My German learning experience has been exactly the same. It is frustrating to have plateaued at a certain level.

In Berlin I found a tandem partner who grew up under the DDR and spoke Russian instead of English which is how I practised.

Something I also found is that if you start off speaking English with someone, it is nearly impossible to change your relationship into a German one, whereas if you start off speaking German, it seems to reoccur again in the future.

It's like your first impression cements which language you're associated with.

I 100% disagree with this advice. I don't know what opportunity cost you refer to, but I think learning German is still probably the best way to get to know Germans. Sure the country is multicultural and German is no longer the only language if you want to truly know Germany, but it is still a big deal. I feel like language is the single largest contributor to a group's culture.

That said I am amazed to say I agree that you don't need to learn German to survive in Berlin. I lived in Berlin 2005-2006 and learned German while there. I think that not knowing German at the time often made things extremely difficult. Even many of my highly-educated university friends were quite bad at English. But now when I go back and visit English is just plain everywhere. It's weird now how easy it is to live in your bubble and never really need to learn German. And it is true that now you will need to push learning the language yourself when presented with so many opportunities to speak English.

Whether or not to learn the local language is of course a personal choice, but I still feel like it's something you should do.

Learning to speak German is time intensive. The global utility of that language is on the lower end. I argue that OP should rather invest this time into (1) building his career, (2) professional+personal network and (3) exercise.

That said my assumptions are that OP wants to live in Berlin, is a young tech worker who does not envision today that he stays in Germany for more than 7 years.

> Learning to speak German is time intensive. The global utility of that language is on the lower end. I argue that OP should rather invest this time into (1) building his career, (2) professional+personal network and (3) exercise.

> That said my assumptions are that OP wants to live in Berlin, is a young tech worker who does not envision today that he stays in Germany for more than 7 years.

I guess we are just different. And since it's a personal value judgement there really isn't any right answer. I just couldn't imagine living somewhere for 7 years and not wanting to learn the local language. I can't even imagine living somewhere for a few months without making an attempt at it. I agree that your examples (1)-(3) are important, but I consider learning the local language and culture as an investment in your life and experience. It may not have global utility, but I find that totally irrelevant since you are not living "globally" you're living in Berlin.

Anyway I find it interesting to hear your opinion. At this point I guess we'll just have to let the OP decide what's important.

Im Western Nicht Neues, Buddenbrooks, Schiller and Goethe are all enough reason to learn German.

"Im Western nichts neues" is a great typo: "Nothing new in (the genre of) western", instead "nothing new in the west".

> nothing new in the west

A believe that's usually translated as "All Quiet on the Western Front"

I know, but literally, it's what I wrote. Thanks for mentioning though!

My thoughts exactly. I live in Berlin for ~6 years and my German is rather poor. All my friends speak English including the german ones and I don't see what would I have in common w/ someone who doesn't speak English at all.

The main reason why I gave up on German classes is that it is simply too much of an investment with very little benefit to my especially that I am not a 100% sure I want to stay in Germany. What also bugs me is that in a city/country that is in dire need for knowledge works yet seems unfriendly towards non-German-speaking immigrants, at least from the authority offices.

> __That said from my experience I see 7 years as a cut off point where expats start to leave the city__

Spot on.

It's not at all clear to me that the quality of life is better in Germany than it is in Canada. Or, if we nature it down, in Berlin vs Toronto. Having spent only a few months in Germany and bring from Canada, my guess would be the opposite of yours.

I would certainly still aim to learn it, but I wouldn’t let that intimidate me. I observed many people in Berlin starting with English, even when both parties clearly spoke German. I’ve had friends move out there and live and work for many months without picking up much German. Berlin is pretty damn effortless as an English only speaker.

How terrible can Canada be if Berlin, as you claim, has better living standards?

Go to Switzerland if you can. I have no clue about taxes in Canada, but in Germany it’s not fun. As a single person household you will be heavily taxed. Be ready to give a ~half away for the state. Saving for retirement will be also taxed heavily. Or at least I wasn’t able to find good investment vehicle to save taxes. Unemployed wife plus kids could help here. Public health insurance is ok. Glases, dental problems and modern procedures you must pay by yourself. It’s not expensive: minor surgery costs 300-500€. Berlin has skyrocketing housing cost (as probably all big cities nowadays). I would not go the former Eastern Germany as a foreigner. Colleague from Philippines told lots of stories about ugly situations in Dresden. I also wouldn’t accept offer under €70k in Berlin. Of course, it’s doable with €45k, but I am not sure if it’s worth all migration effort. Fresh graduates start with €55k nowadays. In southern Germany even more. But be aware, Germany’s economy is slowing down, hiring process might take longer than couple years ago.

> Saving for retirement will be also taxed heavily.

There already is a public pension system, that should cover the biggest part of the pension. Saving anything beyond public the public pension system is taxed like normal capital yields. Capital yields are taxed as 26% or the tax rate of the normal income tax, whichever is lower.

> dental problems and modern procedures you must pay by yourself.

Basic dental healthcare is included (biannual checkups, fillings, getting teeth pulled, ...). I don't know what you mean with modern procedures that don't get paid. Healthcare pays everything that's medically necessary and some stuff on top (e.g. the contraceptive pill is included until you're 22).

> I also wouldn’t accept offer under €70k in Berlin. Of course, it’s doable with €45k, but I am not sure if it’s worth all migration effort. Fresh graduates start with €55k nowadays.

That seems a bit high in my experience, especially as Berlin is one of the areas with lower pay.

> That seems a bit high in my experience, especially as Berlin is one of the areas with lower pay.

I think new graduates may make less than 55k, but salaries are going up and 70k for an offer with 2-3 years of experience isn't uncommon (although it will likely be closer to 60-65k).

It’s a bit naive to believe, that public pension system will bring you far. My friend earned a lot back then, now she gets 1700€ plus owns her flat. Now it’s almost impossible to buy a flat even in Berlin if you don’t have rich parents, that can help with €100k.

As you write “basic healthcare” is included. For advanced stuff you pay by yourself.

€30k is Aldi cashier’s salary in Southern Germany. But Blue Card has also very low limit, €42€: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/newsroom/buergerservice-f...

> For advanced stuff you pay by yourself.

What is this "advanced stuff" you're talking about. With public health insurance in Germany you'll get open-heart surgery for free if you need one.

The only thing you won't be getting is "just-for-looks" type of treatments e.g. breast implants, white implants at the back of your mouth etc..

I'm in the min range of the offers you'd accept for Berlin, no wife/kids - 50% tax is not the greatest, but it's easy to live on the other half plus save. I'm not the most savvy/concerned about investing and/or avoiding tax, but I put a good amount of money aside for savings.

Depending on what you're getting away from, Berlin is definitely worth it. A few things are hard, but all-in-all it's a great place to live. Germany still wants tech workers, look in to the Blue Card - they make your process/life so much easier if you qualify.

Some of the social system is fantastic (sick leave, parental leave, etc)

I'm happy to pay my 50%.

edit: to say that at this salary bracket, looking around, I'm very privileged. It's ridiculous that that'd be a minimum for anyone.

Never seen anyone starting out at 55k in Germany. 35-40k sounds more reasonable for someone without experience. Seniors around 65k with a hard limit of 80k for engineers not moving into management/consulting.

I started at 47k 14 years ago at an automotive company in southern Germany. I think they generally pay a bit better than the small companies, and nowadays it certainly is even more. The caps will also be higher than what you mentioned. But there is certainly a lot of a lower limit than what people can make as individual contributors in other countries.

Even in Berlin my employer offered 50k plus 8% bonus for new grads. Some hip startups paid even more than us.

Plus about every fresh grad hired at the IG Metall Tarif, they're definitely not starting at a mere 40k.

I researched Switzerland a bit and it seems your comment about taxes is valid if you assume that you live a low tax canton like Schwyz or Zug (from where you can commute 30-60 minutes to work in Zuerich). Taxes in Geneva look pretty high to me.

Taxes in Zürich are fairly low, anything you'd save living in Zug or Schwyz would probably go into your much higher rent.

The job market in Geneva isn't super exciting anyway. But even in Lausanne, Bern, ... you should end up paying a lot less taxes and contributions than in Germany. I believe only Belgium has a higher tax wedge than Germany. And at least in Switzerland I can see my tax money being invested in the infrastructure.

Can you write something about salaries in Zürich? How far can CHF 120k bring me with a family? Is CHF 150k doable outside Google Zürich at all?

120k is a decent salary for a mid-level engineer. 140-150k is definitely doable with significant experience. Google pays quite a bit more.

Young kids are expensive in Switzerland if both parents work. But assuming one parent stays at home, 120k is enough to live a comfortable life.

Then if you're in embedded as per your profile, there are just so many more opportunities in the South of Germany, I'm not sure it makes sense.

Thank you very much!

I am in embedded, but doing more and more Linux C++ programming for my personal projects. I hope, I can transfer from embedded to “normal” software engineering in foreseeable future.

I know people who live fine with two kids on one phd salary (60k / year) or so. 120k CHF is definately enough to support a family. On 100k CHF you get already >7k CHF net, an apartment costs 2k - 2.5k if it is not in the city center and health insurance is 500 chf and food maybe 1k CHF more, so you can save 3k CHF every month. I run a tech recruitment firm in Zurich (coderfit.com), DM or email at iwan@coderfit.com if you want to know more.

Berlin is still a great place to live, but dev salaries are low and seem to stuck at a ceiling of about €70-75K/y gross for senior/lead positions (there are exceptions, but even this is a hard sell to get). For a long time this was "justified" by the allegedly low cost of living. This is not true anymore, the city is rapidly getting more expensive (housing) and the leverage has all but vanished. Senior devs who are moving here, please smash the ceiling and ask for more (you deserve it).

Senior dev at a Canadian tech company here. At a good Canadian tech company in Vancouver or Toronto, as a senior+ dev, you can make $120-140K CAD (83-96K EUR). You can make substantially less than that as a senior+ dev too (plenty of senior devs making $80-100K CAD), but $120-140K is moderately common. And if you work for a Canadian office of a big American tech company (for example Amazon has a major presence in Vancouver), you can make a lot more.

Canadian costs of living are high, and the salaries are low compared to the states, but they’re still some of the better non-American tech salaries out there.

That's one thing that surprised me when I got serveral offers from headhunters for Berlin located jobs. The highest paying one was 68k (at max).

Meanwhile I work in Essen with a lot of cheap housing in and around the city for 75k. And I'm just your everyday non-senior "DevOps Engineer".

This gels with my experience of compensation here, but just to add another data point: when earning €70k & being functionally the sole breadwinner of a family of 4 I managed to save almost 40% of my net pay while not trying to live particularly frugally.

Despite recent price hikes Berlin remains a remarkably inexpensive western major-city.

Working for some time in the valley as an east coast Canadian native, I absolutely agree about peanut pay. That being said, in my experience it feels like the quality of life is still higher in Canada. In the valley, it feels around every corner there is a landlord/private healthcare/other event that wants to drain finances "because tech worker". I returned to Canada, and despite a lower salary it feels so much more sustainable.

As a Canadian – born citizen who just recently became a US permanent resident I would caution you on how “easy“ the Canada to US Route appears to be but may not actually be.

My permanent residency was super straightforward. My PhD is from a US institution. I have a long research career and a very long software development professional resume, and it still took three years.

Be aware that the TN work permit can have a serious downside: it’s so easy and simple and straightforward to get for Canadian citizens that many employers will stonewall or simply not consider going the green card route. That’s what happened to me many years ago even before the current immigration insanity, which will likely make things worse for you.

In general Canadians have to go to the H1 B route. It is vaguely possible to apply for a green card while under a TN work permit, but because of the way the rules are interpreted by USCIS, most immigration lawyers with experience in the matter strongly strongly strongly advise against it.

The issue with applying for a green card while on a TN is simple. The TN is non-immigrant intent while the H1-B can be dual-intent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with applying for a green card while on a TN. However, if for any reason, you are denied, you have now shown immigrant intent making it impossible to continue on a TN. You can, however, continue on an H1-B because it allows for dual intent.

I believe that permanent residency wait times are based on country of birth not citizenship so for getting a green card becoming a Canadian citizen first would make no difference, only open up the possibility of working in the US on a TN. IANAL etc.

This is true. It's based on country of birth.

Why would you want to have a green card as a Canadian citizen thought?

I visited Berlin a few times and it seemed like a nice place to live.

Don't forget that you want to visit your family in India. I think in Germany you typically get more vacation. Also consider the flight time. Berlin is much closer to India than Toronto.

An interesting non-standard choice for a country to immigrate to is Japan. Tokyo is a fun place with lots of foreigners. Applying for a visa is quick and reasonable, which is the complete opposite of US.

I found that after you have a certain amount in your bank account, you become one of those annoying rich people who tell others that money doesn't give you happiness and there other important things in life.

I always (probably ignorantly) assumed immigrating to Japan to be difficult based on news articles about tight immigration laws. What is the job market like without speaking Japanese?

There is a special visa for highly skilled immigrants. If you hold an advanced degree (MSc or PhD), have a highly paying job offer, and are young, then you'll get a visa easily and there is a quick path to permanent residency (after 1 year in the best case). If you're not highly qualified, then I guess things are more difficult. From what I know the rules are straightforward, reasonable, and the visa application is processed quickly. My perspective may be limited, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

I don't know much about job market, but I met many expats working as software engineers and they didn't speak any Japanese.

The highly skilled visa is good for a fast track to perminent residency. A regular work visa is easy to get provided you have a university degree and a job offer.

Still I would not recommend coming to Japan unless it was a life goal. This is not an easy country to live in or build wealth in. Both the language and career will be playing life on hard mode. I love it here, but it was a life goal I was willing to trade for.

Definitely this. If you have a university degree and a company wants to hire you, a work visa is straightforward to get. But work culture, language, daily affairs - everything here requires some adjustment that you should really think through before moving your entire life here.

Definitely checks my list on the Life Goal aspect. Got into a serious relationship in Canada and part of moving forward in it for me involves a commitment to moving with me to Japan in a few years. Luckily, she's more and more invested in it and I've been pivoting my career to leave me the most options to end up there to work and learn Japanese. Been loosely studying the language for a few years now, ready to go faster when the plan becomes more concrete.

Is permanent residency really permanent? As far as I'm aware, only New Zealand PR is really permanent. For Canada and Taiwan, I know that if I leave, I'd lose it. So the only unconditional right to return is citizenship, and naturalising to become Japanese is really hard from what I've heard.

It's not permanent. You can loose it if you move out of Japan or commit a crime.

>I found that after you have a certain amount in your bank account, you become one of those annoying rich people who tell others that money doesn't give you happiness and there other important things in life.

It sounds to me like the rat race. Being a king with a million dollars sucks. Being a peasant with a million dollars is amazing.

Have you considered London? Google, Facebook, Amazon and a lot of Big N companies have significant presence there.

The startup scene is great! Monzo, GoCardless, OakNorthAI etc are some startups that are doing well.

You'll get PR in five years and citizenship in 6. If you are in a Big N you can ask to be transferred to the American office if you want to after 18 months.

There will be plenty of flights to India and if you fly via the Middle East they will be really cheap flights. As someone(Indian) who lived there for a bit, I had so many people visit me! You will find Indian food easily and will easily make friends.

I am a foreign born developer in Uk, and I reccomend against it. The immigration system is difficult to deal with, especially if you are not single. Most IT companies do not sponsor visas, so your choice is quite narrow.

Germany has a far easier immigration system. Don't know about Canada.

Canada's immigration system is straight fowarded provided you qualify for Express Entry.

I share my time between Montreal and Berlin for past five years. in short: if you are searching money then the answer is definitely Toronto. It is expanding more and more, tech scene is booming and getting your permanent residency or even Canadian passport is not that hard if you are determined.

Berlin is a life changing city, once you are there you may see life differently. You may end up getting a small programming job then being a DJ in evenings. You cannot go to Berlin with a plan, Berlin will re-planify you. While the tech scene is going up (specially during recent years because of blockchain startups) access to money and VCs are far limited. On top of that although English is ok in Berlin but if don't speak German, competing with local people is hard.

Montrealer as well. I get the feeling like Montreal would be the best city between Berlin & Toronto. It's kind of grungy and full of culture like Berlin, but still authentically Canadian in terms of being open-minded.

Moved here from Vancouver and it's totally where I'm rooted now.

I haven't lived in Toronto but I imagine it's a lot greyer of a city with a deep hustle, work>life mentality. Not to mention the unaffordable living.

German here. Several of my colleagues are from India. As far as I know they are quite happy here. One of my former managers is from India. So You can make a career here.

From what I can see, salaries are diverse. It is possible make decent money even in Berlin. English is usually not a problem in Berlin. In some companies English is default. Knowing a bit of German helps of course.

Consider Hamburg too, salaries are better there and it is more secure.

Why do you consider Hamburg more secure? AFAIK Berlin offers more variety and Munich more security for tech jobs in Germany.

I think he means secure as in less crime.

A Canadian living in US, so take this with a grain of salt.

Canada is a great place to immigrate too, I would also explore Montreal, it has more of a research/AI/gaming scene but the cost of living is lower than Toronto. Don't know about the salaries, I would investigate!

I support this idea. I've been based in Toronto and Montréal and the cost of living in the latter is usually a factor of two less expensive. As k3fernan mentioned, the software buzz in the area focuses around gaming, AI, and research, but there are still lots of general jobs (mindGeek is a big presence). Be aware of a necessity to learn/know french with certain roles, but usually anglophones get by just fine.

I've heard from friends living in Canada that Toronto is much more friendlier than Monteral towards immigrants.

Immigrant Montrealer reporting in. I've never felt any animosity or close-mindedness because of my ethnicity but being polite and understanding that you're in a 'country' that speaks French really goes a long way. I do so it's never been an issue for me, but I can see it rubbing the locals (including myself) the wrong way if people are deliberately being impolite about it.

Hello, fellow Montrealer. Totally a great place if you lean a bit more towards quality-of-life & affordability & national culture vs. more money & global,ethnic culture (Toronto)

Also check out Ottawa. Tech scene there is pretty hot both in Kanata (suburb) and downtown... although you might find it a bit "sleepy".

Yup. There’s plenty of places along "the corridor" – Kitchener/Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal – in eastern Canada that could cater to the OP's goals and hop between them if there's a particular event happening in one of those cities (though not as a cheap as hoping around Europe).

Ottawa is nice, but I wouldn't recommend most companies in Kanata unless you're content with working in a cubicle farm in a bleak, suburban, commercial park hellscape.

Kanata is definitely the heavy hitter in terms of tech jobs, but the downtown has gotten way hotter in the past 5 years. Shopify, Klipfolio, Pythian, SurveyMonkey, EDC, etc.

What you said about Canada is 100% correct.

Peanuts for a pay + add miserable winter weather.

That said Canadian passport is high quality and so far TN-to-Green card is ~2yrs process. Took me 1.5 yrs.

Better than US passport in some aspects - especially that US passport is essentially a way for IRS to keep you tax hostage no matter where you are.

Can't say about Germany - likely will be some good comments here

What is the path from TN to green card? Everything I've read is it's impossible unless you get an H during your TN.

Just FYI, I believe TN to GC will be quite lengthy for OP since his place of birth determines the GC quota

Correct, thats important. Might be quite different from my experience

...or the place of birth of OP's spouse.

I'm a 30M Indian, relocated to Canada about 5 years ago (when I was your age). I have Permanent Residence here but now moving back to India. The reason is absolute amount of savings and a better path to financial independence.

I wanted to live in a western country and command a higher salary. US was a no-go because of obvious visa issues, so went to the closest place which was Canada. I've been employed here for 5 years now, and definitely earned and saved a lot more than I used to back in India. But, as the years went by, I the downsides of living here started taking a toll like the brutal weather and lack of interesting opportunities. I continued traveling to India to visit family and was updated with the tech there. I now realize the job market in India has grown significantly and given the cost of living, you could effectively save the same amount at a good senior-level job position in Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. I have friends there who save more than I do in Toronto on a 200k CAD salary, with equivalent quality of life.

Sure, I could apply for citizenship, then go to the US on a TN but that's not going to make things easy either. For financial independence, what matters most to me are two things: absolute amount of money I can save/invest TODAY; and my physical health so that once I retire early I'm still in good health to do the things I want to. I could work in Silicon Valley, but if I lived a good healthy (mental and physical) life the amount of money saved will drop. I'd have to live like a miser given the CoL, something I'm not willing to do. I can live frugal but not like a miser. I must also mention that I'm married now and planning kids in the next year or two. The cost of childcare will significantly affect my CoL if continued in Canada. This may not apply to you now, but could in the future. One more point: most of our vacation days are spent in traveling to India visiting family and we haven't actually had a vacation in 4 years.

I feel the tech scene in India is really booming and lots of interesting startups are coming up in Bangalore, Pune. Companies like Amazon are also expanding operations and hiring massively in Hyderabad while paying well.

I have already done the calculations and given my current offer in Hyderabad, it'll take me about 6-7 years to retire and 10-12 years if done in Canada.

My main reasons I want to move to Canada over staying in India are

* Pollution in cities like Bangalore, Delhi

* Water scarcity issues which cities like Bangalore are already affected by and might get more severe.

* Overpoppulation and over competetion. I have no fucking clue whether my Children would be able to goto a decent college because of the over population and competetion.

* Corruption. You life is is valueless if you are not pwerful

* Global warming and rising temparature in the sub continent.

* If robots take over and more people become jobless Canada sounds like a better option than a country with 1.4 Billion people and counting.

Salaries are increasing in India, partly due to inflation, but

>> with equivalent quality of life

I seriously doubt that.Visiting is different, it is not as rosy when you have to go through it everyday. Regular travel to India is expensive, may be you need to ease up on it.

Lot of things that are easily available in the US/Canada like good public parks/library, national parks, outdoors, simply do not exist in these cities or are not easily accessible. If you value those things.

>> but if I lived a good healthy (mental and physical) life the amount of money saved will drop.

I think there is some disconnect here. If you are healthy, you will be more productive, less medical expenses - how will it result in less savings ?

Can you elaborate on the weather, what is so brutal about it ?

Yeah, I have a hard time buying any of this. Moved to Canada ten years ago and from everything I've heard even from friends who have stayed back is life is overall worse in India, not better. Sure, the market is growing and your work opportunities and salaries might have improved, but quality of life is even more in the toilet in all of the Tier I & II cities where you'd most likely be working that it's incomparable unless you want to live like a hermit in a walled compound.

Hey, I would love to talk to you more about this since you were at the same age when you moved. You mind exchanging a few emails? I couldn't find your contact info on your HN account.

Curios to know what's considered a good offer in India for someone making ~200k in CAD?

I grew up in Canada (Calgary), and have spent a decent chunk of time in both cities. I live in NYC now.

If possible, I recommend you take a trip to both cities and see what you like more. Spend a week in each, and maybe try to go to Toronto in the winter to see if you like it. Berlin has mild winters and doesn't get much snow, but Toronto can have harsh winters. Summers in Toronto can be hot and humid, which you might be used to already (since you said you're from India).

The biggest advantage to Toronto over Germany is the proximity to major US cities. Like it or not, most of the "tech innovation" is centred in the US.

Also don't count on the TN (which is not a visa, btw) sticking around forever. If your main reason for going to Canada is border mobility, you're probably better off staying in Europe. An EU citizen can live and work anywhere in the EU. Canada and the US have a close relationship, but NAFTA (which is where the TN comes from) could be gutted whenever the politicians decide that's what will get them reelected.

All things considered, if I were in your position (knowing what I know) I'd go to Berlin. It's more trendy, has better public transit, milder weather, and Europe has much more culture to explore and learn about than Canada (sorry).

NAFTA has just been renegotiated although that new agreement has not yet been ratified. Long term the TN visa might be dead but I think it's pretty safe for the next 10 years.

Canada's winters must be very harsh (although I already heard a bit about them from Jordan Peterson on his podcasts).

I'm from the UK and Berlin's winters were harsh for me :).

Most bigger Canadian cities really aren't that bad. Vancouver is particularly mild, and Toronto winters are fairly tame.

"Real" Canadian winter happens in places you won't find many tech jobs anyway.

I don't think the winters are too bad, but I was born here. The problem is Toronto being right next to a big lake and the downtown core is a series of wind tunnels.

It's really really hard to get visas if you have an Indian passport. Especially if you are not invited by a firm.

I don't know why you would use a TN visa for an internal transfer (you should use an L visa).

Canadian citizenship takes 4 years from landing. Although they are speeding up the citizenship process so you might be able to do it in 3.5 years. I became Canadian this year and I've been here for 4 years.

> "tech companies in Canada pay peanuts"

Anecdotally better wages than anywhere in the EU I've found.

Odd. 200k cad is the norm for contractors in london, uk. Are you sure your skills are simply not in demand in most eu countries? From my calculations when i wanted to move to canada pay is indeed lower than even in east europe (after tax).

120 grand is not the norm for contractors in London.

Glassdoor has London at 52k and Toronto at 44k. Rent in London is almost 50% higher than Toronto and the housing stock in London is awful.

I am talking about full time salaried positions though which rarely break 80k in London (less than what I am currently making in Toronto). My last offer in London was a pathetic 45k.

All figures in GBP.

I have not heard of salaries as low as 45k cad in london since about 6-7 years ago.

Unless! The offer you had was bound to a visa. Sponsored developers are indeed on very very low rates.

I'd also encourage you to consider Stockholm. The market is smaller than Berlin, and the CoL is higher, but the tech scene is extremely vibrant and lots of Swedish tech companies have good connections to the US. Also, you don't really need to learn Swedish as everyone speaks very good English.

How about the taxes and costs of living compared to say Berlin & social welfare?

I don't know the income tax in Germany/Berlin, but in Sweden/Stockholm it's roughly 30% for (upper) middle-class folks. VAT is quite high and food in general is a lot more expensive than in Berlin.

> and food in general is a lot more expensive than in Berlin.

Interesting. I had the impression food in supermarkets wasn't __that__ expensive compared to Berlin. Restaurants were noticeably more expensive. For what it's worth, I thought the food quality in Stockholm was a lot better than in Germany.

> food in supermarkets wasn't __that__ expensive compared to Berlin.

From a recent comparison Stockholm is more expensive, but cost of living has more than that, using numbeo [0] I see that utilities and childcare are significantly more expensive in Berlin and this link [1] I can also see that health care is more expensive in Berlin.

A month public transport ticket costs almost the same (890 SEK vs 81 Euro) and I think the the Stockholm one covers more distance.

As for market size I don't know how big the difference is since I guess there are simply more people in Berlin to compensate for the increased number of companies. From personal and friend's experience I have never seen any problem finding work during the last years.

[0] https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

[1] https://www.settle-in-berlin.com/health-insurance-germany/

> From personal and friend's experience I have never seen any problem finding work during the last years.

In which city? both?

As a Canadian coder who lived in Toronto for 20 years, I recommend Germany hands down.

I love my country, but high taxes, housing bubble, stagnant salaries, horrible choices when it comes to political candidates...

I will say the healthcare is great, and the people are generally awesome (to a lesser degree in Toronto though).

>high taxes, housing bubble, stagnant salaries

Salary ranges are still the same since a decade ago even though cost of living has gone up.

My first job as a full-time dev was $65k rent was $1500 or thereabouts, I'm sure there are first-time devs making $65k now. Even though rent is now $2000 at least for the same place I was living at.

After tax income is $49,190 (https://simpletax.ca/calculator) and rent went from $18,000 to $24,000. As a percentage of after-tax income that's going from 36.6% to 48.8%. The rent would have made me poorer if I hadn't changed jobs!

Sounds like you love your country, but not the City.

Lots of places in Canada other than Toronto, LOTS, that aren't impacted by the mentions you mention.

Housing bubble is everywhere as are stagnant wages. Household debt in Canada is at a historic high. https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/households-debt-to-gdp

I would say avoid germany. They claim to be open and all, so it sounds great for politics, but if you have dark skin you are pretty much “not to be trusted”.

it's not even that. even if you are light skinned but have remotely "ethnic" features you will never be considered German.

If you're considering Canada, keep Montreal in mind. It has substantially lower rent prices than other major cities, and still has a healthy tech sector.

IMO, the only downsides are that it's substantially less multicultural than Toronto or Ottawa (which is a high bar to meet, tbh), and you'll sometimes miss out on things if you don't know French (though you can get by with English).

Generally you would need to learn German. It's possible without, but that would not be that great in a German speaking country...

It's really a no-brainer.

3 years on a permanent resident visa in Canada gives you the citizenship and a passport that opens up a lot of opportunities. No other country in the world comes even close to this, Germany included. Canada is also a very nice and comfortable country, so you may just as well end up staying despite the pay being higher elsewhere.

This is misleading. 3 years in Germany after permanent residency gives you citizenship if you pass the requirements, two big ones being language and generally not allowing dual citizenship[1]. The amount of time to get permanent residency changes depending on your type of visa, i.e. blue card or normal work visa.

[1]: Generally meaning there are exceptions, but the default means giving up your other citizenship(s).

> 3 years in Germany after permanent residency gives you citizenship if you pass the requirements, two big ones being language and generally not allowing dual citizenship.

Two wrong assumptions.

1. One must have lived in Germany legally at minimum 7 years (https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/themen/migration/...)

2. Germany allows dual citizenship in some cases, always allows with EU states (https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/themen/migration/...)

> However, once a Canadian citizen, there is a possiblity to get transferred to a Silicon Valley arm of a US company from Canada (using the TN visa) and hence receive a higher compensation.

As a Canadian immigrant, I'd rather people don't come to Canada and get citizenship as a shortcut to go to another country.

I'd rather have professionals come and be productive no matter where they are vs. one person come and followed by 25 family members who never learn english and sit on welfare forever.

I'm OK with coming over and being productive, it's taking citizenship in a deceptive manner that I object to.

As another Canadian immigrant who became a citizen I'm 100% with you. This country is not a revolving door investment scheme for libertarians to seek easier entry into Silicon Valley.

In my view, using compensation only to make decisions is flawed as current compensation is a lagging indicator. 10 years from now, I am certain the compensation structure that exists today will be very very different [much like what has happened in the world of Finance and Consulting].

In the 1990's and early 2000's, everyone wanted to be an investment banker or a consultant. Its only been the last 7 years or so that the salaries in Technology sector have risen so much. Perhaps over the next decade, software development will stop paying as much (especially on the variable comp as companies phase out equity compensation ro general masses).

I would choose my career based on what I like to do and the quality of life I want to pursue. A lot of that comes down to the cultural integration, especially as an immigrant. What value system do you associate yourself with?

I don’t see the compensation structure changing in the short term. In any case, I wouldn’t base the decision on a future hypothetical. I would rather earn $X today and invest it over settling for something < $X, independent of whether $X becomes $Y in the future.

I agree with you on factoring cultural integration - obviously as well as what’s the mission of the company, what problem are they solving, is that something that motivates you, etc etc

Another possibility. Go work somewhere else in Europe at USA company. Get transferred to USA on intercompany visa.

Yeah this is the way to go. European internet/cellphone plans are also cheaper than in Canada. So for freelancing or working at a company, it's worthwhile. Plus you can travel more easily around Europe when you're within an EU country.

I'm a Canadian who has lived and worked in Canada, San Francisco, Japan, and Germany.

Go to Germany.

They're foreigner friendly, immigration is straightforward albeit bureaucracy sucks. Quality of life is head and shoulders above. Food is better. People are nicer. Employers don't dick you around. Housing is cheap.

Although I more or less agree with the above, a point of contention I have is saying the food is better. The food in Germany is not great. It's generally not bad, but the food is almost always bland and almost never amazing, and often just good, not great. I would chalk this up to many restaurants making Germanized versions of the original -- it is often difficult to find something that resembles the original version save for a few select cuisines. Compared to Toronto, the food here (in Berlin) is nothing special.

Canadian salaries are generally low and at the same time the major employing markets have a terrible housing crisis right now.

So you pay California-style cost of living without the California salary.

I like living here and I like my job, but I wouldnt recommend it to somebody starting out.

While Berlin is a better city than Toronto, I think you will find that Canada is far, far more open to immigrants than Germany is. Berlin is multicultural for Europe, but it's nothing compared to London, Toronto, or New York.

That's not to say that Berlin or Germany are anti-immigrant or that you'll face hostility, but more that you will have a more difficult time integrating into the culture. Even someone from a culturally similar country like Belgium or the Netherlands will never be regarded as a "German", even if he/she lives in Germany for decades. This isn't the case in the U.S. or Canada, or in a lesser sense, London.

Just moved to Berlin over a month and a half ago. You don't _need_ German, but it makes everything way easier.

Tech scene is smaller, of course, but there's lots going on. I can definitely recommend living here, especially if you're into art or music.

There seems to be some disagreement in the comments about relative salaries in Berlin and Canada. A tool I've been using to get a rough idea of salaries in different parts of the world is the GitLab compensation calculator: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/people-operations/global-c...

According to this, salaries for software engineers are about the same in Berlin and Toronto (about 0.55 of Silicon Valley salaries).

Consider moving to Scandinavia. Great tech scene! Good vacation policies up to 6 weeks of paid vacation. Less hierarchical meaning you can have a bigger impact. Good parental leave. Good work life balance.

any spots in mind? I never know where to go search

Stockholm is a good start, see somewhere else in this thread

Cannot talk about Canada but I’m willing to speak about Berlin. How the tech scene evolved during the last 12 years and where I think it’s heading. Reach out via contact on my profile. Happy to jump on a call.

It'd be great if you can write up a paragraph or two about your thoughts on Berlin for everyone else. Thanks!

Not sure if you noticed, but you don’t have any contact information listed on your profile. If you set the email address, only you and HN can see it; for everyone else, there isn’t anything visible.

I recently changed to a keybase profile only due to spam. However, thanks for pointing it out. Maybe it still creates too much friction. Folks can reach me via ck at firma dot de.

There's no keybase information in your profile either.

I’m confused and you are correct. Being logged-in I see my about section filled with data. If I open my profile as anonymous user with incognito mode I do not see any content. Not sure what’s happening. Thank you for pointing this out.

Maybe this is related to https://keybase.io/a/i/r/d/r/o/p/spacedrop2019

I saw a bunch of new accounts spamming their Keybase proof in all the wrong places. Maybe HN did something to combat the spam and it accidentally hit your account.

Try contacting them at hn@ycombinator.com

Thank you. I will reach out.

Salary depends on the company. Amazon and Uber are both in Toronto paying pretty well. Toronto is also Canada's banking centre and the big banks have some roles (not all) that pay well.

interesting, that you say salaries in Berlin are higher than in Toronto. i always thought it was other way around. can someone give ballpark numbers about Berlin fulltime and contract rates?

While you'll meet idiots who move to Berlin for 50k€, decent companies pay 70-80k€ for a mid-level developer. 90-100k€ isn't out of reach with 10+ years of experience, above that you probably need to switch to some kind of management.

Contract rates can be anywhere between 500€ (6+ months contract for a relatively inexperienced freelancer) to 1200€/day for specific and short-term gigs. Grossly speaking you need to charge twice your desired net salary in order to cover all the mandatory contributions, taxes and the risk factor.

70-80k is salary for senior in Berlin.

Here are some other points; Working in Germany, you may obtain an EU Bluecard, which allows you to reside/work wherever you want in Europe. The salaries are quite good and life quality is pretty high. The mentality is European, which is considerably different from American countries. Language in Europe is always a concern, however, Berlin benefits an international atmosphere. German may need a bit of work! Canada is cold, but English. This could be a huge advantage!

If you wanted to springboard off one Citizenship to get into the US, you could go to Australia, and then you get access to the E3 visa.

Though as an Australian living in Canada and running a business here, I hope you would stay and reward the country that accepts you as a PR.

After having lived in the UK and also seen my countries hostility towards migration, it was a breath of fresh air to see how progressive the Canadian immigration process is.

You should consider Singapore as well. It is superior to Western countries in almost every dimension of social success: better education, lower crime, better GDP per capita, stabler government, better infrastructure, and better health care - all of this achieved with a much lower tax burden. It is closer to India and there are many ethnically Indian people there. It has a thriving tech sector.

I've spent some time in Singapore. The country is too tiny for me to live. I love natural beauty and exploring new places, which Singapore lacks IMO.

Really? I thought that Singapore was a beautiful place.

It doesn't have forests or mountains. It is beautiful in its own way -- it's a small, developed and commercial island. Lots of skyscrapers but very little natural beauty.

That's Toronto in a nutshell, which is pretty much the only place in Canada that has real tech jobs.

If your goal is sv than go to Canada. Work three years and get citizenship and start applying in sf.

Salaries are the same. Huge Indian community in Toronto from all Indian provinces so that may factor in. As someone who lives in Toronto Germany sounds like more fun.

No matter where you choose you'll be fine. But if US is the goal go to Canada.

I am 32M full stack developer from South Africa.

Been trying to relocate to Canada for a few years now with no success.

Things that appeal to me are: Lots of tech jobs. Foreigner friendly population. Indian community (I am of Indian origin). Low crime rates.

If there is anyone in Canada looking for a fine developer, please give me a shout!

Are you currently in South Africa or in Canada? It's very difficult to get a job from outside Canada. First get the PR then look for a job.

I am currently in South Africa. Yes I have sent hundreds of applications but nobody seems to want to sponsor visas in Canada. I have also applied for PR but my points are rather low - I thought that getting a job would boost my PR score but it's kinda like a catch 22 as I need to be there in order to get the job!

Get a job in South Africa and work on increasing your points. Also, look into provincial nomination - it can boost your points alot.

Thanks man! Already employed in SA. Hope to see you in Canada :)

I have lived and worked in Berlin. I am from the UK.

I speak, read and write semi-fluent German. This didn't really help me in my work life, as everyone wanted to speak English, however obviously helped in everyday life. My doctor, for example, oddly, spoke no English at all. Nevertheless I am sure I could have transferred to another doctor.

I found it was very useful to read contracts in German. If you don't do certain things, then things can get quite expensive. For example, if you don't have personal liability insurance and you lose your flat key, it can cost you 1,500 euros [1]. However I wouldn't let that discourage people. It just pays to ask for advice for colleagues on what you should be doing.

Public transport in Berlin is great, and you can get anywhere in the city within about 40 minutes. This is useful for socialising after work. There are a LOT of talks and conferences that happen in Berlin.

However as a lot of people are transitory, moving in and out of the city, I found it difficult making more longer-term relationships. I don't think Berlin is unique in that regards, rather I think it is a trait shared by other large cities. I think it can be reinforcing: people are reluctant to invest in deep relationships as people move so often, and people move when they haven't formed relationships.

At times Berlin felt a bit like living on an island, as it is far away from clusters of other major cities in Germany. Deutsche Bahn did open a new line between Berlin and Munich, however, so now you can go to Oktoberfest in 4 hours.

German industry is also more located in West Germany, rather than the East. However what I did see was the big companies opening up subsidiaries in Berlin. There is a positive feedback loop: there are developers in Berlin, so more companies open, which brings in more developers.

The climate was more extreme than England's mild maritime climate. Very much warmer and more humid summers and a longer, colder, winter. However you also get Gluehwein and winter markets.

I enjoyed the experience living there. If I were to do it again, I would pay to live in a furnished apartment for my whole stay, instead of going the local route of finding an apartment, then having to furnish it (this can also be a nightmare if it doesn't have a built-in kitchen, which a lot don't!). This can be significantly more expensive, however. Berlin is not that cheap any more.

As an immigrant, I bought a furnished apartment with a 3 month let from a specialist company (who obviously charge a premium). This allowed me to get my official German papers, such as a SCHUFA check (a piece of paper that says you don't have any debt) that allowed me to rent a "real" place. In the 3 months I could also get the bank account, town registration, etc. documents you also need.

However, as I mentioned, if I were to do it again, I would have probably just tried to pay a premium to get a furnished place, longer term. Jon Worth's Euroblog was one of the useful things I read regarding renting a flat in Berlin [2].

[1] https://www.finanzen.de/news/15102/schluessel-verloren-eine-... [2] https://jonworth.eu/how-to-find-a-flat-in-berlin/

Just out of curiosity why only these two choices? Why not London for example? Just trying to understand your rationale behind your choice.

Germany hands down: learn a new language, a new continent, better work-live, happier people, better IT and gov for IT

I wouldn’t think about a transfer to Silicon Valley as an upgrade, actually. (I’m a Senior PM based in Berlin.)

I’m not Indian and I’ve never lived in Canada, but I can comment on Berlin as a long-time foreign resident from the US.

Berlin has an amazing cultural scene. If you care about things like art, music, theatre — then Berlin will never, ever bore you. Also if you like bars! And South-East Asian food!

The tech scene in Berlin is very startup-focused, and the pay is not great. There are people who move to Berlin to make money, and there’s a lot of money to be made, but those people don’t have 9-to-5 jobs slinging code. You will be ludicrously underpaid compared to Frankfurt, much less London, much less San Francisco — but aside from the high rents, which can be really tough and require a lot of flexibility which you hopefully have at 25, you will have a very high quality of life.

Berlin is also a working-class city behind the vibrant cultural scene. If you like that, and you learn German, you can easily make friends from the “real Germany” or you can hang out with hipsters all the time if you prefer that. Berlin has both.

As others have noted, immigration is very straightforward, but you do need a lawyer and (obviously) a job offer. The path to citizenship is also straightforward.

Interestingly, there aren’t that many Indians in Berlin, or at least I would say I see more Indians on the street in Budapest than in Berlin, and I would probably have expected the opposite. There’s probably an “Indian scene” in Berlin but there definitely isn’t good Indian food. In Berlin the “Asians” are mostly from Vietnam.

One thing you should think seriously about if you’re looking at settling in Germany is Munich. Munich is where the higher-paying tech jobs are. Less startup culture, more good old fashioned German profit-making actual legitimate business culture. Google, Apple, Microsoft — these companies have a much bigger presence in Munich than in Berlin.

There is still quite a bit of specialization in German cities. Publishing? Hamburg. Finance? Frankfurt. Cars? Munich, or Stuttgart and environs. Basically if you want to live a dynamic and interesting and vibrant life, and are cool with making less money, go to Berlin. If you want more stability and professionalism go somewhere else. And it’s really easy to travel around Germany by train, plane or automobile, so you can always start in one place and explore others. Check out Darmstadt for example! Amazing art museum! Very very serious tech research scene! Minutes from Frankfurt!

Another thing to consider is that German employment culture revolves around stability. There are lots of opportunities to do weird risky things, but in principle almost everybody thinks the best way to live is to have a good job, do your work, and by the time you’re 30 you have a pretty good idea what your life will be like when you retire at 67. If that’s attractive to you, you’ll probably really love Germany.

And as long as you’re in Berlin or Munich or Hamburg you don’t have to eat German food! :-)

Finally, one thing I think German “tech” doesn’t get enough credit for: there is a lot of very serious engineering done in Germany but it’s not the “Uber for X” variety — it’s mostly based around existing, real-world technical challenges, usually involving physical machines of some kind. If things like self-driving cars or factory automation or building a better hammer attract you more than “Social network for cats” then you’ll probably really like German engineering culture.

> always start in one place and explore others ... German engineering culture

It's said that Germany has almost 50% of the world's 'hidden champion' companies (revenue less than 5 Billion Euros, unknown to the public, market leader in a niche domain globally (among the biggest three) or leader at the home continent). People coming from the outside might overlook these companies. More than 1300 hidden champions are distributed all over Germany, often in rural areas and acting globally (examples: Herrenknecht for tunnel boring machines or Lürssen for superyachts). Germany in general is a very decentralized country with lots of successful small and midsized cities (Examples for large companies: VW headquarter is in Wolfsburg, Audi in Ingolstadt, Adidas in Herzogenaurach, SAP in Walldorf).


Man if you everything that’s “said” about germany you’d think it is paradise on earth. The indian dude has nu clue whats waiting for him in that country given he is not white. He’d better go to the uk if he wants a truly open minded european country. Canada is by far cleaner, safer, and better organised than any thi.

From my own experience of living in Berlin as a foreigner, been living here for 4 and a half years:

- life cost is hiking up due to rent prices and a lot of people moving, rest is kind of cheap

- salaries vs. life cost is good, not as good as the US

- Germany is an overall good country, better than canada, but only if you want to adapt to their culture. Remember that outside of work, people generally speak german and act as a german.

- Hard to make friends here, but good if you are a bit antisocial or is married

- There is a lot of socialism here, like, if you have a kid, you get money and childcare is free(but hard to find). Medicine cost also very cheap. I'm more libertarian/capitalist and find it annoying, but everything works well so I can't complain much.

- Get some insurances, for personal liability and for your place

- Finding an apartment can be hard: get a temporary furbished apartment first, live there for like 6 months meanwhile you look for a permanent place. This can be annoying, but once you are done with that, it is great!

- Learn german. Try to start learning from when you move in, because you will need it. Also, if you start learning early and constantly, you will be progressing. German is a very hard language to learn and you will need a lot of time to become fluent on it as you will be working full time. I've been learning little by little, while working full time and it is hard. But rewarding.

- Taxes are high but if you don't spend a lot you can save some money, disposable income is great.

- Parks are great

- Germans on average are much smarter than Americans or Canadians, they are more aware of what is going on. For me it's a big point as most Americans really lack even basic knowledge about geography and history, or philosophy. Even very successful/rich people in America are quite illiterate and I like talking with smart people.

- Meat in Germany is pretty bad and expensive, I became vegetarian a few years after I've moved here and don't regret it at all. I remember I would spend like 20 euro to get meat that I would consider "bad" with my Brazilian standards.

- Berlin has a lot of foreigners with different cultures, you will be able to learn from everyone something. I think on Canada you might not be able to have the same experience. I don't know how much you care about that.

I would rather live in Berlin than in Canada. Better than Berlin is possibly only the US, but the working permit there sucks(H1B). Here in Germany it is pretty good, even my wife can work. If you wanna come and live here for a long time(maybe forever or until you are retired, it is a good country).

I think if you don't wanna come to stick with it for a few decades, I think an english speaking country is better. People keep mentioning life cost(which is Berlin wins by a wide margin in comparison to Canada), but I think that culture and the mindset is also important. Please make sure you know that germans do not think like the canadians, no matter how international Berlin is, the overall mood is set by the germans. If you don't want to embrace their culture, you might have a hard time.

As an immigrant from India who is happily living in Toronto with no desire of going (back) to US, here are my reasons why I like it here better. My reasons have nothing to do with job opportunities. (I lived in NY for about 8 years ).

As a "visible minority", life in Toronto and Vancouver is less stressful than it is in USA or Edmonton. Also your dating life will be better in Toronto. If you plan to have a family and kids, you don't have to worry about school shootings -- this is now a thing parents worry about in USA. Your parents can visit you and getting a visitor visa is not a pain.

Of course taxes are higher and take home pay is lower than in USA and the rent is too damm high. But somehow your quality of life will be better here. People are more chill here than in USA (my experience is limited to NY/NJ) and I will bet you already have someone you know who has relative living in Canada. So loneliness will not be an issue.

Also, you can start your own business as soon as you get permanent residency. in USA, a green card could take upto 12 years. In Canada , you will get it in 3 years at most. And when you start contracting as an independent , you will make a whole lot more.

I have never been to Berlin but I hope to visit it one day. I have German friends and they are wonderful people.

12 years is optimistic for a green card in the US as an Indian. The current expectation is closer to 60 years.

>And when you start contracting as an independent , you will make a whole lot more.

This is true and more true if you're freelancing for US dollars. That sweet sweet conversion rate from USD to CAD works very well. But again this is why Europe is a better choice, Euros to USD or Euros to CAD whenever you want to travel is also a nice conversion rate.

I have slowly been transitioning to full remote work and I have been contracting for a while already (I am in Canada). I think I have a good opportunity in the coming months to transition to a remote engagement with a US company. Any insight with the best approach to do that? I am aware of the different freelancing websites but I'm wondering if there is strategies that can accelerate the process. In my particular case, I normally do six to one year contracts (with renewals and an engagement usually lasting for a couple of years) so would be looking for something similar. This would be for senior development role.

> this is why Europe is a better choice

Do you mean consulting in Europe. How hard/easy is it to find consulting gigs in Europe without knowing the language.

>...in USA, a green card could take upto 12 years. In Canada , you will get it in 3 years at most.

In Canada you can get PR on the day you arrive.

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