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Ask HN: What is your story of immigrating to another country?
126 points by litchi 17 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 171 comments
What is your story of immigrating to another country? I am interested to know what path you followed, what plans you made, how you executed them and how long it took to achieve your plans and begin a life in a different country. How easy or difficult was it to find a new job? How do you like living in a different country now?

If you don't mind, please share your home country name and where did you move to.




Moved from the UK to France after the Brexit vote (the last chance to easily move my family to another country and have my kids grow up as Europeans with the ability to work and live in the EU country of their choice, access low cost or free university education etc.)

I'm a contractor and felt reasonably sure I could find work as an android developer in most large cities - Paris is also close enough that if things really went sideways I could commute to London for work. That turned out to be true, although the rate for developers is a little lower in Paris (and now I work remotely from Paris for a UK company anyway).

Finding an apartment was one of the hardest things, in the end I had to pay someone to find us one. Dealing with all the admin was pretty tough, but visa wise it was straight forward (because it was still within the EU). I hired an accountant to set me up a small business and do the tax work (exactly the same as I had done in London). I also pay another accountant to handle the personal tax (it got complicated for a while because some of my income was UK based and the UK and French financial year is different)

I think I underestimated how much french language skills would help, but also underestimated how much my french would come back to me (I studied french at school as a kid) so it worked out.

It was tough at times but I don't regret it one bit, life is better here in so many ways.

Sitting by the Seine on a summer's evening with friends and a bottle of wine is amazing. Try to do the same in London, you'll be moved on a by a security guard because the Thames river side is all privately owned despite its appearances. That sums up the difference for me, France truly is a republic, and it feels like it.


France can be tough!

Low salaries, high taxes, high prices around Paris area, heavy administration (I don’t wish anyone going to a prefecture!), hard to find information about services, hard and expensive to find apartment or relocate, congested public transport, mono-lingual static culture, hard to make friend with French, public litter and lack of cleanliness, periodic strikes, small apartments (in EU in general), complexity of system, no-skin-in-the-game nature of public system produces a lot of dysfunction everywhere, etc.

I for one gave up!


Disclaimer, I'm French.

It's tough but it's a reminder that every country have their quirks and identities. People seem to imagine that moving from California to Texas is the same as UK to France or Greece to Germany, but it isn't.

It's relatively easy to physically move but getting integrated is a whole other story. I moved from France to Germany, salaries aren't crazy here either, I pay more tax, bureaucracy is equally complex, and people are just different, culture plays a big role. People underestimate how conditioned we are from birth to things like philosophical/political views, ways of life, humour, &c. and even language, no matter how long you'll learn a language you'll never be able to express yourself as naturally as a native (I'm not talking about ordering a beer or filling tax reports, but more on an emotional side, having deep discussions about complex topics, &c.) and tbh I like it that way. I'd say it also is extremely dependant on which part of the country you move to, big cities are hell almost universally, Berlin is an open dumpster but take the train for 2 hours to Hamburg and it's much cleaner, on the flip side it's much easier to meet peopel in Berlin than Hamburg. Same thing with Paris and Strasbourg for example

Small apartments, regular strikes, the public system, they all take their roots in French history; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Moving to another country is a chance, but it equally is a sacrifice


Well, this is true. Some of those things are also true of London though.

Re the admin (to get set up on the health care system etc) everything does need things like original birth certificates etc. And I spent several days going in person(!) to an office somewhere to deal with it (but that's mainly because my french is not really good enough to deal with things like that on the phone easily)

I think if I was on my own here, loneliness would have been a real issue until I had decent conversational french. (I moved with my family though, so it's less if an issue for me)


> with the ability to work and live in the EU country of their choice,

I have to ask what is stopping someone in the UK from doing that post-Brexit? I imagine there's more paper-work, but that doesn't sound like a hardship? Feels extreme to move your whole family just to reduce the minor frictions.

Glad it worked out for you though.


It's not really a matter of paper work, you simply don't have the right to move to another country just because you feel like it. Whereas it's a key pillar of EU membership.

As a non EU citizen, immigrating depends on that specific country's requirements, but typically it would be a time limited arrangement, you'd need to pass a language test, find a company willing to sponsor the effort (so your residency is tied to that specific that job, and if you loose it you need to leave), that job would need to be at a certain level (e.g managerial level), the job would need to be in a field where there are national shortages, the sponsoring company would need to prove that it had made the effort to fill the job with a local first. If you're rich enough you can alternatively pay to create a business with maybe 100k capital and employ 1 or 2 nationals on a continuing basis and get your residency that way. Software developers no doubt have an easier time than most given the lack of software devs, but it's not a given by any means.


Also as a non-EU citizen, if you want to move to a different EU country you'll need to reapply there. Rights of work and residence in one EU country doesn't give you the same rights in the others.


You can still move to Ireland due to agreement between the UK and Ireland. Once you've lived there 5 yrs you can apply for citizenship. However, who knows how long this will remain for especially if UK breaks up

About the bit regarding you possibly commuting from Paris to London for work, I'm curious - how would that even work? Would you go through customs every morning/evening? Has anyone here done this?


Ahh I see what you mean, it would typically involve staying in a London hotel a few nights a week. Maybe traveling in on Monday mornings, and leaving on Friday afternoon.

I do have a British passport still, and I have a french residence permit, so in both directions it's fairly simple anyway (and the Eurostar is almost like taking a regular national train but it's a good 2-3 hours). Taking a flight is a bit more hassle and terrible for the environment (but cheaper).

About 20 years ago in London I worked with a guy who commuted from Greece(!) to London once a week. London salary, worked from home on Mondays, came in on Tuesday morning, budget London hotel on Wednesday and Thursday night, and back to a big house in Greece for the weekend.


It's somewhat common. The Eurostar (train) from Paris takes you to central London (Kings Cross) in just over 2 hours.

Doing it every other Monday/Friday is not uncommon.


I’m an Indian who had no intention to leave my home state. I got recruited by an Outsourcing giant during the outsourcing boom of 2005-2008 and eventually landed in the US. I came in contact with Silicon Prairie startups which was an eye opening experience, and gave me a new career boost. But due to the racist quotas on H1b visa, I decided to quit US and move to Berlin. Best decision of my life ever.

Finding a job was not easy and many companies didn’t support relocation, though Berlin was still cheap then. Coming from the USA also helped me as I found people in EU tend to have favourable opinion about US Americans. It was not easy to integrate in the society and I had to work hard to learn the language and culture. Living in expat bubble is the worst way to live in a foreign land.

I’m now well integrated in the society and I feel that Berlin is home for me now.


For reference, I’m from the Netherlands.

I didn’t have any plans to emigrate until my friend introduced me to a small company in Japan that was looking for an engineer.

I applied, but was rejected, so I thought that was that. Then a few months later I got another email. Their initial hire didn’t work out and now they wanted me to join.

I worked remote for about a month while we got the visa process sorted (apparently they needed my actual bachelor diploma in Japan to issue one, so sending that and getting it back was a fun exercise).

Then I moved to Japan. I hadn’t been further than like 1 country over from my home ever before.

To be honest, it wasn’t quite as different as I expected it to be. I didn’t speak the language at all, but western civilization is oddly similar even if the details are different.

After 9 months I was tired of life without my friends, so I said I’ll work remote, and moved back to the Netherlands.

That didn’t quite work out either. While being back was nice, apartments in the Netherlands are expensive (and I wasn’t making so much), so I ended up living with my parents. I’d also grown used to a lot of little conveniences Japan has, and it all added up.

It took me only 4 or 5 months to move back to Japan. I quickly made new friends, and I’ve spent a very happy 8 years here now.

At this point it’s hard to justify moving back because there are no similarly well compensated IC positions in the Netherlands.


> I didn’t speak the language at all, but western civilization is oddly similar even if the details are different.

Never heard Japan being referred to as part of western civilization before.


When I visited I remember going through some gardens and read some history of a emperor who prioritized integrating western civilization practices.

I think it was this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_Restoration

This included finding knowledge in western civilizations and innovating on them, as well as wearing suits or hats I think. This is in relation to the industrialization era as well.


I was referring to a way of living, as opposed to civilizations in the west. According to the definition that seems wrong, but I can’t think of a better term.

Daily life in Japan is practically similar to life in Europe. The rituals for buying food, going to restaurants, greeting one another. I’m not sure why I expected it to be different, but it wasn’t.


I think that's just the good old ambiguity of the English language, I read it as: western civilization being oddly similar to Japanese civilisation (I'm a British native, but I don't claim to be any kind of arbiter of the English language!)


This interpretation works. It’s certainly the spirit of what I was trying to convey ;)


Ah, that makes a lot more sense. Thanks.


Similar or arguably higher levels of development, very different culture though.


Have you been here recently? House prices are going absolutely crazy. To the point where there needs to be come intervention or policy to limit the size of the bubble.

You're a chip designer? There may very well be movement in your area in the coming years in the EU - the EU want to build their silicon capabilities in the coming decade.


Yeah, house prices are fun in the Netherlands.

In my desired area they’re roughly similar to central Tokyo, so it’s not terrible in terms of price. But that’s in farming village nowhere as opposed to the center of the largest metropolis on earth. I can’t quite reconcile those two things.

Unfortunately I’m a developer. The Netherlands has quite enough high quality ones I think.


Japan was known to have low salaries in tech. Has this changed nowadays?


You can very easily earn 100k USD in Tokyo if you're half decent.


At a selection of like 20 companies in total. 15 of which are likely inaccessible unless you are close to native Japanese.

I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but definitely possible.


What is the salary difference? Japan isn't so cheap either right?


Mostly it’s income tax, which is 43% until around 180k in Japan but 51% from 80k in the Netherlands.

Japan isn’t necessarily cheap (though childcare is), but there’s a wide range of options. The Netherlands has sort of settled on one default, but is now slowly making that default (family home) impossible to achieve for the average (and if things keep going like this, even above average) person.


I married an Austrian while living with her in Texas. I made exactly zero plans before moving. She had the better degree by far so it only made sense to move to Austria.

Getting a job was easy by local standards due to a tight local market for programmers. Getting through German classes to earn the permanent residency was the toughest part.

I would never consider moving back to the USA. I was always a sceptic of the 'Greatest country on Earth' rhetoric. But now that I've lived in a functioning society for 10 years, it's clear to me that the USA is basically a "3rd world" country.

EDIT: I'm using "3rd world" here for lack of a better term indicating general decline and emmiseration.


Tip for any EU citizens marrying a non EU citizens. For the EU citizen, make sure you execute your European right before your partner applies for residency. That way your partner does not have to learn the local language etc.

The reason for that is, that EU family law is pretty liberal. And EU law is "higher" then local law. But that only applies if you executed your European right.

To execute your European right, you must have lived for 3 month in another EU country. Or simply marry in an other EU country which is not your own country.

I'm writing this from experience. As this was the way my wife (Saudi) and I (Austrian) did it. I did first study in Denmark. Therefore executing my EU right.

https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/residence/documents-fo...


I think this is referred to as the Surinder Singh principle, here's more about it:

https://www.freemovement.org.uk/surinder-singh-immigration-r...


Thank you. Good to know.

For me most interesting about this situation is, that most people I know, think they are EU citizens just because they live in an EU country. But that's not really true, until they executed their EU rights first.


I agree, it was certainly very surprising to me when I find out


What are the main differences you see? How would you describe the local population? While statistic indicators are very high compared to most other countries, horror stories can still be heard ("this office showing lack of common sense" etc.). Have you identified sources of high cultural production - or does it seem a land to you, say, "focussed on business but dismissing other factors"?

Very interest for practical reasons (as it may transpire).


I don't even know where to begin on differences. A big one is how much more orderly basically everything is, from government processes to condition of the streets. Overt politeness is more common.

People are generally more relaxed to the point that it annoyed me for years. I attribute this to the lack of any concept of 'hustle' and not being worried about dying in poverty. I think a huge amount of the American personality comes from a subconscious anxiety over how precarious we live. You're never more than 20 paces from a beer; I just had one at 11am at a fleamarket for kids clothes.

It's the least business focused place I've ever been. Many large businesses lock their doors for 2 weeks in the summer. I've had other Americans tell me directly that I'm making that up it's so shocking to them. When I worked for a Dutch company, one of their visiting engineers couldn't believe that the office was nearly empty at 1pm on Friday.

If you're the wild type, it's not the place for you. People are very mild mannered. It took a long time for me chill out, having come from a Texas party-loving town. I tell people it's a great place to be 35.


[flagged]


Ha! What are you talking about? That comment was in response to a question about differences between the countries.

The USA is a 3rd world country because we allow people to literally and figuratively rot on the street. There are many others of course...

Can I assume from your aggrieved attitude and uncharitable reading that you're a fellow American?


[flagged]


I'm feeling like you're trolling now, but I'll bite anyway:

1. The one line you are harping on is half way down a list of things, not at the top. 2. It's obviously just a literary indulgence to add some local color 3. I've spent 2.5 years traveling rough and solo through the Global South which I hope counts for something. I'm gonna guess you consider any kind of pleasure travel to be privilege though.


The parent comment asked «How would you describe the local population», to which it was replied «People are generally more relaxed to the point that it annoyed me for years», also instanced to the "anytime beer". The reasoning flows.


Thanks for the backup, but they've already decided that they're willing to die on that hill. Better to get back to the original point of the thread.


Wow.

Um, maybe step away from the computer and go for a walk or something.


From the father comment, that was what you took away from his message?

> "People are generally more relaxed to the point that it annoyed me for years. I attribute this to the lack of any concept of 'hustle' and not being worried about dying in poverty. I think a huge amount of the American personality comes from a subconscious anxiety over how precarious we live."

I think this was the bigger driver over his personal perspective of living in Europe vs the USA, though having beer readily accessible every where is certainly a boon but not the differentiator.


You nailed it. The beer thing was just adding some local color.

drstewart's comment is a great example of what I mean by the US not being a functioning society. What you have there now is a conglomeration of individuals all with their knives out waiting for anyone around then to trip up in the most trivial way. I believe this is caused by the anxiety I mentioned already, and it in turn causes anxiety in everyone else. Everyone becomes negatively charged and thus they repel each other.


>drstewart's comment is a great example of what I mean by the US not being a functioning society.

Talk about trolling - pretty convenient to just hand wave any criticism of your own talking points away as proof of them.

No, there's no subconscious anxiety here. I'll remind you that you brought up all the negative stereotyping and accusations, so maybe there's an imminent failure of Austrian society at play?


Funny, I live in Austria and I wish to emigrate to the US. I consider Europe, and Austria in particular a living nightmare.


So do you confirm the availability of "horror stories", as mentioned? Kindly share why you consider Austria a nightmare.

I got mixed signals from the place. While some people are extremely friendly, I also perceived quite a defensive atmosphere. Something solid on the surface but struggling below it, like a defence of daily routine - not really lively or happy. But it could also depend on the region, I guess.


There are many horror stories indeed. Xenofobia is a big thing here, but unlike the US where racism is direct and in your face, here it is subtle. People are polite, but that won't help you get that raise that native Austrians colleagues would get.

While all these things are important, my main issue is far deeper, see my reply to alangibson.


I live in village so small the streets don't have names, but today I talked to an Ethiopian guy living around here and said Servus to a couple of kids adopted from Tanzania walking down the street. The chances of them getting shot by a police officer rounds off to 0%. Austria has racism, but the US has Racism.


Very few people are racist, although you will find that if immigrants come from eastern europe instead of exotic countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania, the percentage of racist people towards them increases dramatically. Even so, few are overtly racist, yet somehow the society behaves in a way that precludes true integration.

My friends from Romania are paid significantly less than their native Austrian collegues. Are their bosses racist? I don't know, I don't necessarily think so, yet the society somehow converged to this state.


Here in Germany the BLM protest marches were tolerated in the middle of the pandemic.

News orgs would fall over themselves trying to dredge something to be offended about in Germany’s colonial past or discussing any triviality regarding black people.

I saw this one article about people from Eastern Europe working in Germany, lodged together like cattle, passports taken by the employer for safe keeping. Modern slavery happening in 2021 on German soil. Few comments online if any condemning the perpetrators and zero empathy, no marches, no protests.


People are to polite to be overtly racist. You're totally right about eastern Europeans though. Hungarians, Romanians, etc. do a lot of the crap work so they get looked down on. (Pretty standard Marxist analysis there). What I mean about Racism vs racism though is they don't get red lined put of home ownership or disproportionately harassed by the cops though. At least as far as I am aware.

> true integration

I don't believe full integration happens until the second generation. We immigrants will always be from somewhere else. Their kids have a foot in both worlds. Their kids are fully from where they live. I could be wrong; these were my observations living with a large number of immigrants in Seattle.


A certain degree of xenophobia, like in the example you mention is present everywhere. Or where are foreigners treated just like the locals in this world?


Don't want to be incendiary here. Anecdote to illustrate that racism/anti-immigration can be individual and come with highly diverse flavour.

I was having a beer with friends in a bar in western Austria a while back. A middle aged local was loudly, but in a friendly tone, proclaiming the horrors of immigration to us. We were from Sweden, Ghana, China. I asked (in my broken german) why he thought we three would be a good audience for this monologue, considering our obvious non-Austrian-ness? He quickly countered that "you guys are not real immigrants. In his mind a real immigrant does not contribute to society, misbehave, and whatnot.

I think at least some racism have foundations stemming from other issues.


I don't disagree with the vibes you picked up on. I get that same feeling in most cold weather counties though. Maybe Nietzsche was right about that.

I wouldn't say people are overtly happy at all. Something like 'jolly on occasion' is a better fit. They kind of store it up for parties and festivals. This isn't a negative for me though. It's rather have honesty that the sickly sweet fake nice you get in the US.

At least where I live, people like to complain a lot. Idle grousing is sort of a pass time. Honestly I'm not sure why.

Austria was dirt ass poor within living memory. Anyone with gray hair probably had a couple pair of d lederhosen for their whole childhood. Plus Hitler was Austrian. The ruling political party in my state was started by a literal Nazi. Sexual abuse in the Catholic church was (is ?) rampant. That kind history has to weigh on a society.


Although I complained about europeans in my other comment, I could as well complain about americans, and the fake american smile would be at the top of my list.


>It's rather have honesty that the sickly sweet fake nice you get in the US.

Or maybe people are genuinely nice in the US and there's just an subconscious anxiety and depression in Austria?

>At least where I live, people like to complain a lot. Idle grousing is sort of a pass time. Honestly I'm not sure why.

Perhaps a subconscious anxiety and depression? Seems like Austria is a failing society to be honest.


Are you OK bro/ma'am?


Why? It could be it just doesn't suit your personality. If you a 'rise and grind' type of person, I can see it being hell.


Well I could enumerate all the material things that are worse in Europe and better in the US (I have lived in the US enough time to have an informed opinion), but that would get old, and in the end it would miss the point, as I could just as well enumerate countless things which are better in Europe compared to US.

The real issue (which causes all the above differences anyway) is cultural. What matters is not comparing things, but comparing people, their attitude, principles, and way of life.

For me, Europe is an socialist dystopia which punishes individualism, risk-taking, private businesses, and where people don't have a passion for much, no hobbies, and no aspirations.

For any particular thing that people do, for example what hobbies they might have, but this could be extended to almost anything, what car do they drive, etc, anything that can be analyzed statistically you will find that the distribution for people in the US is far wider than the distribution for people in the EU. Whatever it is that interests you and is outside the median, you will find that there are people in the US who share your interests, but you will likely won't find the same to be true in europe. The distribution of anything in europe is narrower.

Let me give you a silly example. On average, americans eat far worse cheese then europeans, but if cheese is your thing you will easily (!!) find better cheese in the US compared to the best cheese I can find here in Europe. But that's not all, if you explain this to an average american who isn't into cheese, they will understand that cheese is your thing, just like they have their own peculiar things they are into. But I will not be able to explain the same thing to an european, all I would get is "what's wrong with our cheese?" and "you are stupid because our cheese is great".

This is not a thought experiment. I have done this exact experiment with cheese with many americans and many europeans. As silly as the example is, it illustrates the point that europeans simply cannot accept that you might care about things they don't care about while americans understand this idea very well, even if they don't understand the thing.

Let's take another example, general aviation. It's an expensive and rare hobby even in the US, but even middle-class people can partake in it, and they do, it's a thing with communities associated with it. It's not a thing here in europe. It's extraordinarily rare, and it's extraordinarily expensive -- not relative to european incomes, but in absolute terms -- GA is fantastically more expensive in europe compared to the US, so you have to be made out of money, and if you do it at all, it's not a community thing.

Just search youtube for anything, any kind of activity that you are interested in, and you will find that the majority of videos are produced by americans. I posit this is not a coincidence.

Someone might claim that's because all these activities cost money, and it's not simply the fact that europeans are not interested in these things, but rather that they don't have enough money to do them. And therein lies the problem. The reason europeans don't have money is because doing business here is a terrible endeavour stiffed at every step of the way. People don't really start businesess, and starting a businesses is shed in a negative light societally. People see their bosses as their enemy (from which they require mandatory (!!) union participation to protect yourself from).

Mind you, not any particular boss they might have, which might be terrible as a person, but the whole concept of "us workers" vs. "they the rich people". Of course, your direct manager is very unlikely to be rich, but in most people's minds the bosses are "part of the oppresing class" and they are the enemy that the state must protect themselves from. The idea that you might even become a boss one day, say by starting a business is ideologically rejected. The regular people are the good people and they don't join the enemy by becoming the oppresor.

I could go on and on, but the gist of it is that I have trouble finding people here in europe who I share values with, but I have no such trouble in the US.


I don't disagree with anything you said. You should definitely move to the USA. It's tailor made for people with your perspective on things.

For people with mine, Europe is perfect. For instance, I think this is just an obvious fact

> People see their bosses as their enemy

and I think this is a great idea

> Mandatory (!!) union participation

Also, a big part of your comment was about the amount of stuff available. What I always tell young folks I talk to here that are thinking about moving to the US is this: If you want to own a lot of stuff, move to the US. If you want anything else stay here.

Edit: I missed this line that I do disagree with:

> people don't have a passion for much, no hobbies, and no aspirations.

You should have applied the same distribution analysis here as you did for cheese. People have plenty of hobbies, just in a narrower range (ie regional outdoors sports). There are even motorsports, but for common people it tends to be confined to tuning VW hatchbacks.


Just to add more personal anecdotes to the thread, and not to dismiss what you said... How you feel is how you feel and I wish you the best.

I'm pretty happy with the cheese situation in Europe. I'm from Hungary, and thanks to the EU, I can get the best cheese from Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France even in relatively small towns. It was not like that 20 years ago. I live now in Munich, Germany, and there I have access to even more kinds of cheese. Both countries have tons of "artisan" cheese factories.

Regarding GA, I also disagree, though I only have experience from Hungary. There, most towns have small airports for GA, my dad often brought me there and let one of his friends take me for a short flight. Once, I wanted to learn to fly a hang glider, it was arranged in half a day, and they welcomed me, and I flew a couple of times. Note, my dad was not a pilot, or anything, just had to serve two years in the military, so he knew people that were interested in GA.


In that case, we have the combination of the worst of these two societies in South America.

We are enemies of our bosses, our hobbies are ridiculous expensive (unless it is football), and at the same time individualism is punished, risk-taking and private business are punished by all sides, it seems like only illegal business actually work, and both media and people around are trying to push their religious beliefs on us.

So, yes, it can always be worse.


Thank you for this.I am also working in Austria it is the way you describe it.

There's very little exchange of new ideas and new approaches.Once you reach "good enough" it's impossible to question the state of things.Especially if you are not austrian or native german speaker.


Wow. I have lived, worked and paid taxes in Europe, the US and Australia. And the US ranks 3rd on my list of places where I would choose to live. I turned down a highly paid job in California and instead moved to Australia. They wanted to pay for my relocation, green card, everything. But I still said no. Best decision ever. Also, a friend of mine recently regretted moving to the US and happily returned to Australia. If Europe is such a terrible place for you to live why haven’t you moved to the US?


Because getting a work visa for the US take a tremendous amount of effort. I would move tomorrow if I could.


So you have never actually lived in the US? Or any other country outside of your birth country? Believe me when I say that reality doesn’t match your expectations.


I have lived in the US for about 8 years of my life in total. I have lived in Austria (not my birth country) for 11 years.


I have not lived/worked in Austria so I don't have your experience. However I will say that Austria is not Europe. Denmark, Spain and France (for example) are very different countries with different cultures. So making claims about "Europe" based on your experience in Austria might not be accurate.

GA is huge in Europe. There are small airfields dotted all over Spain, France and Italy (probably elsewhere, I only have personal knowledge in those countries) and many aero clubs and communities operating. I suspect that in this, and in cheese, you may have found that a language barrier prevented you finding the information that you were seeking? Even then, the U.K. (still geographically part of Europe!) has a vibrant GA scene and cheese scene as well as a strong hobbyist culture in general.


Gliding (non motor powered aviation) is HUGE in Europe.

And Cheese?! I'm not even in to cheese but my Instagram gets cheese posts because I follow some UK stuff. I don't know what this guy is on about.


There's a lot of anecdotal and subjective content here, but I have no idea why you're being downvoted. It's a legitimate opinion.

It's interesting to see a counterpoint.


Agreed. Downvotes on this comment are BS. It's a legit point of view that I've heard many times from locals.


> For me, Europe is an socialist dystopia which punishes individualism, risk-taking, private businesses, and where people don't have a passion for much, no hobbies, and no aspirations.

I'm from the EU and I totally agree with you, I'm always having trouble fitting in because you are required to be so passive.

I need to have some sort of aspiration for every day, that's what gives me purpose and meaning, and in the end happiness. And I get really depressed and demotivated when I'm forced to stagnate from idleness.

I guess you can always argue that it's a matter of preference, if you are the type of person that wants to have a safe and secure life, knowing that you're cared for in every day, and knowing that tomorrow will be identical to today. Or if you're the type of person that thrives on hopes and dreams and need to be motivated and stimulated by some kind of vision. But I'm also having a hard time seeing how Europe will stay competitive and innovative with such a culture, even if it can be argued to be "morally superior".


Europe is crap for entrepreneurs to be sure. However, Europe is high up on the value chain for many industries that actually require a "move slow and don't break things" mentality. Aerospace, etc.


> I need to have some sort of aspiration for every day, that's what gives me purpose and meaning, and in the end happiness. And I get really depressed and demotivated when I'm forced to stagnate from idleness.

In 2015, first year with a good salary, i started learning a new hobby every year. River kayak, sea kayak, windsurf, kitesurf, skiing, paragliding (did not learn anything in 2020 coz covid).

You are absolutelly not required to be passive. I'm not. I went hiking three weeks ago, the weather over the Pyrenneans and Alps was shit, so we decided to continue to Spain. We biked through the Madrenas, then stopped at a lake (i dont' remember which one, i think it was west of Teruel) where we decided to do a water hike for a day, hiked around in a natural park near Cuenca then decided to go south and visit the Alhambra, then going north while hugging the Eastern coast of spain. Long story short, weather was starting to get messy when we got around Valencia, so we crossed spain again to get back to France through Vallaloid/Vitoria. 11 days of mostly hiking and canyoning unsupervised, i even found a non-managed river where we tried to do some hydrospeed (without the half-boat). Next year i'll learn rock-climbing, because we had some missed opportunities there, but it was fun and i most definitely will take unpaid leave again in spring to do the same when the rivers are more interesting. Just find stuff you like to do, and people you like to do the stuff with. Also, it will give you conversation subjects and help you discover people like-minded. My new manager seems to be as fond as me of canyoning and hiking, so i'll probably invite her and her friends next time around.


> On average, americans eat far worse cheese then europeans, but if cheese is your thing you will easily (!!) find better cheese in the US compared to the best cheese I can find here in Europe.

I take offense to that. You can find great cheese in the US. In fact, i found a small producer in WV that produced exceptionnally good goat cheese, and could compete with the best in Europe, but you can't find this on the market, you have to be part of (or invited to) his community to sample it.

I also happen to really like cheese and to have sampled the best producers in Europe. And i have a sister who worked in different starred kitchen, and got to try their products (sometime paid for it, sometime it was just not eaten soon enough for the chef) (and especially when the pandemic hit and they had to empty their fridges, great few days for me). They have cheese from all over Europe, NZ and Japan. None from the US.

US good cheese is really expensive, and even then, only compete against some categories of cheese (Brie, Goat cheese -goat here for chèvre, not brebis- and some pasteurized hard cheese). They are definitely lacking in diversity, and most cheese plate had four kind of cheese on it, sometime as high as six.

Idem for wine, a 60$ quality-bottle in California would be as good as a 15€ Sicillian or Cote-du-Rhone (We blind tested with same cepages). I don't drink anymore, but my stay in the US was interesting on this point. In US wine, enough diversity exist, so i think they will be competing soon on the global market, but right now?

Also, general aviation: Lycée Alfred Kastler (school i went to) proposed a 200€ course to get a pilot license (i'm dumbing down the terms, don't really remember th license name: we would be able to fly small planes). 40 students took this course in 2007 (year i was in), 26 finished it (i bailed, so did not get the license, worst mistake of my life tbh). So i guess you might not have researched enough, it was in one of the poor area of France, and i know another Highschool offered this license near Bordeaux. If i had to guess at least two dozen highschool offer the same in France, as we have a lot of small aerodroms everywhere, and there is no beach where i never saw personnal airplanes flying around in the summer.

Also parachutism is a thing too.

> where people don't have a passion for much, no hobbies, and no aspirations.

I'm only hiking/canyoning/rafting every summer, and kitesurfing/windsufing in fall/spring, ever year since 2015 i take lessons in a new sport (paragliding last summer) to see if it's interesting and i could add it to my list of "things i do when i'm not working". 35h work week and 7 weeks of paid leave leave me with a lot of time on my hand.

I spend a month in WV, hiking, kayaking/rafting and playing music, i can tell you one thing: West virginia might be one of the most beautifull, interesting place on earth, but no working american who did not work there was present. None. I saw more people biking in the Madrenas desert for a day than i saw hiking/kayaking in Pocahontas county and surrounding forests for the best part of a month.

Other point are kinda political and better left to each and everyone own feelings, but i guess you're quite young and did not see much of europe.


>Austria in particular a living nightmare.

Please elaborate, that is quite a statement


See my parallel reply to alangibson.


By definition, not a 3d world country.

But it is a rich country full of poor people.


The '3rd world country' definition is outdated for modern usage anyway.

The US is definitely not on the same tier of standard of living as the rest of the world, that's for sure. It fell well down from the first place a while ago. Shame really.


Met my now wife playing online games back in 1999. Moved to The Netherlands from the UK in 2006. Learnt the language, integrated and settled here.

We're absolutely killing it here - it was the best decision of my life. We live in a safe stable country which isn't dominated by the wishes of the selfish elderly. We have a fairly well functioning state with a strong social safety net. We're both business owners, have a nice home and three happy and healthy kids.

The UK in comparison feels like a third world country - everything seems to be falling down, and working-age people - particularly those under 40-45 have been absolutely screwed by the last 10-15 years of policy. Basically, if you were 25 in 2000 and bought property then, you have a huge amount of equity. It was very common for people a little older at the time (30-35) who had the means to buy a second property, for rental. Policy in the last years has been about protecting (mainly final-income based!!) pensions, protecting property prices and indulging in the racist fantasies of the retired at the cost of the working age.

In The Netherlands housing is also an issue for anyone under 50 - thanks to the "free market" being allowed to buy up all of the housing stock. Particularly the foreign investors who operate with schemes that ensure that they basically don't pay any tax are the biggest problem. It's impossible to compete with an American corporation who pays $0 on every $100 they earn, whereas you have to pay $40 of every $100 you earn in tax.


> The UK in comparison feels like a third world country - everything seems to be falling down, and working-age people - particularly those under 40-45 have been absolutely screwed by the last 10-15 years of policy.

Which part of the UK did you come from? I have to say I'm 41 and neither me or my friends/family have experienced what you describe.


We're the same age. I'm from the South West, but called Warwick my home. Before Corona I visited family in the South West regularly - driving along the M20 > M4 > M5 or M20 > M4 > A-roads.

Dover, Maidstone, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and Exeter all look and feel worse with every visit.

The shops are where you see it the most. In the past towns were full of boutique places. They have been replaced by "pound shops" and plastic fantastic chains (like Gregs). Or horrible fake pubs like Wetherspoons or whatever it's called.

The South West has just gotten so bloody old. I'm 41, and when I'm there I feel young.

People there are so angry - I'm constantly being sworn and shouted at by fat old (60+) guys because I have a European car.

The country has just turned into a shitshow, only like frogs being slowly cooked the people living there are blind to it.

It's not just me - it comes up all of the time in conversation with European friends.


My experience is mostly UK / USA and small parts of France and Denmark. It's funny you say the UK feels like a 3rd world country...I had that experience in the USA, whereby you see people who were visibly mentally ill just out of hospital (they would still be in hospital gowns) on street corners shouting at cars driving past. Walking around in Miami we were warned from a passer by (she obviously heard our accents and realised we were british) not to walk further down the street otherwise we'd be shot. Days later there was a mass shooting in that area. In other instances in the Miami I was offered drugs several times just walking around a tourist area.

I've never experienced anything on this level in the UK my whole life - and it's not like I've spent much time in the USA - just a few short weeks at a time.

Honestly I think the UK has a lot going for it - very low levels of corruption, good law and court systems, good education, low levels of crime outside of London stabbings, the NHS, excellent Civil Service, The National Trust, English/Scottish Heritage.

I think your comment about town centres going downhill is valid, but a symptom of more out-of-town shopping centres taking away the business. Horrible pubs have always existed, and pubs in general have been struggling for numerous reasons for decades.

The South West is where people go to retire - there are no jobs there as there's hardly any major cities, so not sure why you are surprised about the ages of the people there?

> People there are so angry - I'm constantly being sworn and shouted at by fat old (60+) guys because I have a European car.

Do you mean you had a European registration plate? I drove a BMW for years without many people shouting at me (when they did it was because I'd made a driving error).


> I had that experience in the USA.

Me too! It feels like the UK is following that lead (but thankfully we don't have so many guns).

> Honestly I think the UK has a lot going for it

Sure, but the differential is pointing the wrong way, especially on corruption and the NHS (which is being chocked - I have family working in it and have worked with some trusts so I know exactly what is going on).

> Do you mean you had a European registration plate?

Yup.


"Honestly I think the UK has a lot going for it - very low levels of corruption, good law and court systems, good education, low levels of crime outside of London stabbings, the NHS, excellent Civil Service, The National Trust, English/Scottish Heritage."

Except the heritage everything that you mentioned here has gone to shit.


I have the same feeling (am also an ex UK guy). It's a feeling v. much borne out by the statistics - there's been a slump in wages and living standards in the last fifteen years or so that's been unevenly distributed, both geographically and socially, but has generally lowered quality of life for everyone.


> selfish elderly

No one wants to say it, but this is a huge problem on the US too. They used to talk about the Soviet Union being run by a gerontocracy, but Biden makes Brezhnev look like a young upstart.


> Biden makes Brezhnev look like a young upstart.

You need to know Russian to compare the two; but, from video archives of the time, late Brezhnev was clearly in a far deeper mental decline than Biden currently is. Last December Tucker Carlson ran a video clip of Brezhnev, three years prior to his death, to draw a parallel with Biden. A person without Russian (as most of Tucker's audience must be) would miss on Brezhnev's trademark embarrassing slow slurred speech. Biden is in a better shape now than Brezhnev was (five years younger then than Biden is today).

[0] - https://youtu.be/XLVkBdAxGWQ


Sweden -> Denmark

Denmark -> Sweden

Sweden -> Malta (2 kids, stayed only 4 months in Malta)

Malta -> Bolivia (stayed 2 years)

Bolivia -> Sweden (bought a house and finally we will settle)

Sweden -> Spain (with 3 kids, got an offer I could not refuse)

Spain -> Sweden (in year 2023, hope this will be the final)

Some pain points: changing schools for the kids, learning new languages, residency and citizenship, paperwork, selling and buying house, transporting 98 boxes of stuff, having friends and relatives spread around the globe etc

My wife is from Bolivia and there I learned spanish. I like to live in all 3 countries (spain, sweden, bolivia) - they all have their pros and cons. We have kept our house in Bolivia and we will also keep our house in Spain when we move back to Sweden.

Important question: has this been a net positive for our 3 kids? I think yes. They speak 3 languages and have seen the world and lived in different cultures more than most other kids.


If I might ask, what prompted all those moves? Sounds like at least one was for a job, perhaps others too?


Just my opinions. Grew up in Sweden (Gothenburg). Started moving around on my own in my late teens for work, studies, research, love, etc. Have lived in quite a few places over the years.

Moving to a new place is not difficult. Just don't bring a lot of baggage, neither physical nor emotional. Don't pack lots of expectations and opinions. Adapt fast. Expend serious effort to make a lot of new friends immediately, there will be some uncomfortable moments, most people are genuinely nice.

These are the countries (regions) I generally recommend and would move back to:

Switzerland (Zürich-Zug-Liechtenstein), Norway (Oslo), Denmark (Copenhagen), Sweden (Gothenburg), Netherlands (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Utrecht), Japan (Tokyo).

These are the countries (regions) I would need a strong reason to move back to:

USA (South East states), Germany (München, Frankfurt, Konstanz).

These are the countries I avoid, recommend against, and would need very strong reason to move back to:

France (Grenoble), Spain (Bilbao), Cyprus.

These are the areas I'm keeping an eye on for future possibilities. Just for fun, from my limited knowledge:

Auckland, Vancouver, Singapore.

Just my opinions, based on my values and what I want in life. I love nature and want easy access more or less daily. I want a clean environment wherever I go. I want functional society that does not drain my time with bullshit nonsense. I am ultraliberal and want to have an easy time to find many other well educated and active open minded people.


Out of curiosity, Konstanz and München sound like they should fit your constraints yet you said you need strong reasons to move back to. Why is that?


I generally enjoyed my time in both Konstanz and München, but not quite enough. It was quick and easy to find fun people. Great active social life.

München has horrendous housing shortage and traffic and is a bit too large for my taste. The alps are reasonably close but it is still quite a drive. The Konstanz region has the lake but is otherwise quite densely developed. It takes a bit to get away. Also, for Konstanz, Zürich is close enough to make Konstanz kind of pointless.

Germany has significantly heavier and more heavy handed bureaucracy than I want. Everyday life, all the small stuff, also costs more of my time there than in some other countries. This is an issue for me. I want the little necessities of my days to be as few, quick, small and frictionless as possible.

I visit these regions regularly, just don't have a good enough reason to move back there.


I moved from Scotland to Iceland just over ten years ago. The company I worked for exploded spectacularly and a company here came to pick up the pieces. I wanted to visit but didn’t really have any intention to live here. Initially I thought I might be here a couple of years and then move on again.

It was super easy to move here due to the UK being in the EU at the time. Brexit didn’t change anything for me personally but has made me more keen to get citizenship here to get back in to Europe.

During the next decade I met my now wife, had two kids, bought and then rebuilt a house in downtown Reykjavik and then got married. Work hasn’t been a problem, I stayed at the original company for four years and then worked for a bunch of others. I’ve now been working remotely for a US based startup for the last three years.j

I stayed because the quality of life here is fantastic. Living in Reykjavik, with the small, still very residential downtown is like living in a village with the amenities of a city. There is a vibrant cultural scene. It’s probably one of the best places in the world to raise kids. I love the outdoors and access to instant remoteness is often less than an hours drive.

The most immediate downside is that everyone will speak English to you so it becomes a challenge to properly integrate. All my work has been English speaking for example. All my kids friends speak great English and so on. I can understand quite a lot of Icelandic but really need to brush up on speaking to pass the pretty low language bar for citizenship.

Edit: The frivolous things I love are the pools and basically the entire country taking a month off in the summer time.


> It was super easy to move here due to the UK being in the EU at the time. Brexit didn’t change anything for me personally but has made me more keen to get citizenship here to get back in to Europe.

I'm don't quite follow what you are saying here - Iceland wasn't (isn't) in the EU? So I imagine Brexit or not would have made zero difference to your situation.


As noted Iceland is part of the EEA and so follows almost all of the same rules as countries in the EU including freedom of movement. When Brexit happened it was pretty up in the air what that meant for my permanent residency but the UK and Iceland signed an agreement before the UK left. Right now my wife and children can freely travel in the EU and I can’t or won’t be able to shortly. So getting citizenship here in Iceland will restore my rights in the EU.


I see yes it makes sense for Iceland with such a low population to still be part of the EEA.

Hope it works out for you.


I live in hope that at some stage the UK rejoins as well.


Iceland is part of the EEA which still allows freedom of movement with EU members.


I lived in Iceland for around 6 months and the people were nice enough but because of the cold it is an extremely home bound existence that I hated.


Yeah winter can be hard but summer is glorious. I also love to ski so I enjoy the cold.


> There is a vibrant cultural scene

Care to elaborate? Thank you!

By the way: have you found the cold an issue?


I’ve not found the cold to be an issue. It’s actually pretty temperate, we get a few days of really freezing temperatures a year but nothing very low or very sustained. The darkness is more of an issue, we’re high enough that days get pretty short in the winter time. But it’s also a very cozy time.

Culture wise there’s just a lot going on. Currently the annual film festival is on with loads of ancillary events like playing live music to a live performance of a video game. There’s a strong tradition of authorship here so loads of books getting written. The music scene is always super busy which shows in the number of international artists Iceland has produced. Art shows abound, there are a number of theatres and concert venues and so on. Basically it’s easy to find something interesting to do.


Moved to Germany from the UK.

In practical terms, Germany is so far ahead it's not comparable. The quality of life here is better making minimum wage here than it is if you're on a decent wage in the UK. A lot of the difference is housing - in the UK, you're usually paying a lot of money to live in a shithole. Also, as other commentators have noted, everything is falling apart in the UK, so even if you have money, you can look forward to taking trains that break all the time, driving on roads that have holes in them, etc.

In mainstream cultural terms, a lot of germans don't like foreigners, and are pretty rude if they pick up that you're not german, although a lot of that is modulated by where you're from. That extends to germans who work for the state - the auslanderbehoerde is pretty famous for being generally miserable to deal with. The state's basic policy is 'assimilation', so you're basically expected to leave your culture at the door and become 'German', and the state has a pretty narrow definition of what that means (Oktoberfest, christian religious holidays, slightly dubious history etc), and depending on where you're from, you'll have to do courses on this stuff, which can be pretty depressing.

If you're black, there's a certain level of racially-motivated violence in some places, although I think the basic level of violent street crime compares favourably to the UK - it compares extremely favourably if you're white. Still, because of the aforementioned rudeness thing, friends I've had who migrated from Africa generally have a pretty bad time living here.

Culturally, in the broader sense, Germany is great. The music scene is great here, the art scene, classical music, the food and youth culture etc are all really good, and very welcoming to foreigners. You meet people with a very broad range of views and lifestyles, there are parks and galleries and playgrounds and all sorts of stuff that makes you feel like you're actually living in a 'culture' worth engaging in, not just a bunch of people decompressing after a work-week.

The thing I like most about living in Germany is it's a pretty reasonable country. If you deal with institutions, they'll generally talk to you as a rational human. If you live in a city, the city will generally maintain parks and public spaces because they'll see that as important to the community. Money is set aside for cultural life, youth recreation, sports, etc.


The idea of "assimilation" (which also reminds of some directions taken by France) clashes with some important interpretations of «Culturally, in the broader sense, Germany is great».

The idea of having to do courses on "becoming German" is downright creepy. Is it a crisis of identity, or maybe some unclear practical reason?


Yeah, it is creepy, and you're right, it does clash.

What I'm getting at here is there's a dominant culture, which is essentially based on the idea that national unity is important, and that unity comes from people being on the same cultural page. So if you're an immigrant, that's fine, but you have to get with the program and become a normal german, because germany is the nation of the german people, and that's (at this point in time) a cultural grouping. It's a pretty classic european-nation thing, and you're right in pointing out it's there in France - it goes back to the founding ideas of european nation states as a form of organization.

There is however, a really vibrant subculture, full of people who believe all sorts of things, and that's big enough that it has some political weight. So you do get a good deal of pushback against the most egregious forms of chauvanism, far more so than you get in the UK.


In your third paragraph you say Germans don't like foreigners, but then in your fifth paragraph you say they're very welcoming to foreigners.

What's the context here?


Only went to Berlin, but i guess there is two different kind of foreigners: tourist/students, and immigrant workers. Also i think the night scene in berlin is quite pro-cultural differences, but its true than when i worked with Universities in (forgot the name, rhineland?), you could tell even immigrants were acting German, it was quite weird.


Depends on the Germans? It's just more polarized here than where I've lived in the UK. The closest reference point I can think of is the UK in the 80s. There's an active far-right (the AfD got 27% of the vote in Saschen recently) but there's also a lot of people who will bend over backwards to make foreigners feel welcome.


Partner would have been happy to stay with me in the UK but I was blown away by the beauty of Scandinavia when I visited, and am so glad she relented.

Average quality of life in the nordics is massively better than the uk. It’s not even close!

Wages are lower in absolute terms but not qualitatively and we probably couldn’t afford to move back to the uk and have any semblance of same standard of living. We are now trapped in a utopia and happy about it.

More than half of programmers here are immigrants. Shop staff happily talk good English. There really isn’t any barriers finding good work.


> Wages are lower in absolute terms but not qualitatively and we probably couldn’t afford to move back to the uk and have any semblance of same standard of living. We are now trapped in a utopia and happy about it.

Can you give some example of improvements that you would need to pay for in the UK?

I'm interested.


(GP)

Childcare etc is great, but that wasn’t top of my mind when I wrote this. I was thinking about general standard of living.

Normal wage structure here is very flat - there really aren’t orders or magnitude like you see in, say, the UK or the US. The vast majority of people live in much the same income bracket and that affords them very comfortable housing. (Locally there are valid complaints about a housing shortage etc, but this is nothing compared to, again, the UK. Grown up children aren’t financially forced to live with their parents etc)


House prices in the part of the UK that have decent jobs are crazy. Public services have been slashed, heavily, in the last decade. The health service has been cut so much that to get a comparable service as in Scandinavia you'd need to buy expensive private coverage.

Childcare is really expensive too (because pensioners don't need it).

Education: in the UK is really pays to send your kids to a private school.


Most of the time, it's the paid maternal leave and free/cheap child care, and this equation usually never works out in favour for anyone who doesn't have children.


Childcare is a joke in UK (London). Super expensive. To send your kid to nursery 5 days a week you are looking at £1500-2000/m.


I second this.

I pay ~£1700pcm for a nanny to look after my 2 pre-school age kids 5 days a week.

This is (obviously) paid out of post tax income. At current UK income tax rates this equates to earning ~£2100 gross.


Where exactly? Continental Nordics are three (or maybe four, depending on the definition) different countries.


Meh. The Scandi-Nordics are functionally similar enough that the local region matters more than which country it sits in. The everyday life experience in the industrial tech centers are more similar across the countries than compared with more traditional cities just a couple of hours away in the same country.


I'm from Canada and have been a full time expat since I'm 19 (32 now). I've lived in Hong Kong, China, USA, Dominican Republic and now Turkey. I never really planned anything, I just visited places and eventually decided to stay longer than expected. I'm lucky that I can work from home and made some lucky investments. For me, the most difficult is dealing with bureaucracy like getting visas and bank accounts. Another difficult part is not having many close friends nor many people I can relate to. I also sometimes envy people who identify to a culture and have their important life choices made for them. I have a lot of analysis paralysis / paradox of choice regarding that. But overall, I'm very happy with my trajectory.


Hi olalonde, how did you land in Turkey?


I initially went to a friend's wedding and now I am staying longer to help start a business. I love Turkey so far :)


Moving to an another country isn't for everyone. If you move to a richer country, foreigners are usually automatically treated differently. You go from being around equals to being the lowest tier in their social "caste" system.

I moved to a neighboring country for about 3 years. I enjoy a far better living standard in my home country with half the pay. Money isn't everything.


> Moving to an another country isn't for everyone. If you move to a richer country, foreigners are usually automatically treated differently.

I'm sorry this was your experience. It sounds however like a very broad generalization. It is not my experience at all for me and other friends that have moved to richer and/or more developed countries.


This is by far the most interesting thread to me in years.

Thanks for kickstarting the discussion!


Very timely for me too, as I'm planning an unbounded move from the UK to Europe in the next few months.


I have lived and worked in England, Scotland, in the US, Switzerland and in Germany.

USA: best opportunities for smart people to engage in big-impact work. People are too crazy about work. Depending on the city, can also be unsafe. Switzerland: extremely high financial compensation but also high cost of living despite low taxation. People love nature but many are too materialistic. UK: Was the most interesting country to live in up to 2016, no sadly going isolationist. Germany: good quality of life but a bit boring apart from a few hip cities like Berlin or Cologne.

Although the weather there sucks, living in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been fantastic experience, and it tops all other places. The only disadvantage is that due to Brexit (most Scots were and are against it) it is (now) outside of the EU.

The fact that all EU citizens have complete freedom of movement is priceless (to me).


so where do you reside now?


> UK: Was the most interesting country to live in up to 2016, no sadly going isolationist.

In what way? Can you point at a thing that would mean we are more "isolationist"? If you are referring to Brexit: it means we will have to interact on a more global scale whether we like it or not (e.g. negotiating trade deals, etc). That sounds less isolationist does it not?


I'm a Brit - got a grad job at SCO in 1998, then moved to Sun in 2000 when SCO imploded, then decided to emigrate when Sun started imploding in 2005. I was initially planning to move to Israel - I'm Jewish, so don't need a visa, I speak decent Hebrew, got friends and family there, and there's plenty of tech work, but I got... diverted.

16 years later, I'm still in Hong Kong, having initially come to work for a bra company owned by a distant branch of my family, in more ways than one. Since then I've worked for an IT services company, amongst other things debugging SuSE servers in the back room of 7-11 stores, freelanced for a decade or so, built a few sites and Android apps during that period, worked for an Asia-wide 'Uber for cargo' start-up, and have now been contracting at a large bank doing devops for the past year.

Hong Kong is/was a very easy place to live as a Westerner. Everything official is bilingual, it is/was a transport hub so it was very easy to get home or anywhere else - before the Covid lockdown ended that - plenty of international food, brands, and other expats, and there is/was a fairly active local tech scene. It is/was fairly easy to get a work visa for a 'professional'-level job, but I actually got a special visa which allowed me to work, freelance, have my own business, etc. without needing to be sponsored by an employer, and after 7 years you become a permanent resident which means no more visa needed. That said, moving to Hong Kong was much more of a whim than a plan - it happened to work out pretty well, overall, but it would have been easy to back out and move back to the UK/EU if things hadn't gone well.

I have vague, but slowly firming-up, plans to leave Hong Kong next year, for all the obvious reasons (feel free to ask if they're not obvious!). Unfortunately(?), my local partner is very uninterested in leaving, so it's likely I'll be travelling solo, and my unformed plan at the moment would be to spend a bit of time in UK, maybe bum around Europe for a bit to decompress, then look into Israel - again.


Swiss living in Colombia for a bit over 5 years.

There is not that much of a path or sophisticated plan to it. I was tired of Switzerland/Europe and wanted to try different things for at least a while.

I have travelled Latin America extensively before and had a short list of potential countries/cities. After that it was basically a couple of months for finding a job I'm exited about and winding down obligations and contracts in Switzerland.

So far, and now that I have a residency visa, I don't have any plans leaving, I really like it here. But also not sure whether I will stay forever, some things are quite exhausting. Maybe eventually I will get back to Europe, maybe go somewhere else.

The way I have always seen it is as Terry Pratchett wrote: “Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”


I just spent about a year in Colombia and really enjoyed it. People there are more friendly than anywhere else I've been in the world. Money goes a lot further there too (if you have a foreign source of money). The thing that I couldn't get used to is in the cities, you could always be subjected to loud reggaeton blasting or other loud noises, even in residential areas, rich or poor. Weekdays, weekends, 8am or 1pm or midnight. It was too much for me. I stayed in different areas and couldn't avoid it. Sometimes I just need quiet and need to be in control of that. Also the multiple hour wait to go to the immigration office or phone company office or any bureaucracy was draining.


And regards the bureaucracy. Yes, it is still very convoluted and unnecessary complex. But digitalization has advanced significantly in recent years.

The entire visa process was done online, I just had to go to the offices in the end to take picture for ID, but with a pre-scheduled half hour slot, so there was little wait. Taxes from filing to paying is trough a web application. Most proceses with my bank, health insurance, internet provider are via apps or web chat.

As mentioned many things are still too confusing for me to do alone and I would be completely lost. I have a personal tax person, friends advising me on contracts before signing and the company lawyers for visa stuff. But at least I no longer have to sit around hours and fill by hand long forms and start again from scratch if I make any tiny mistake.


Agreed. It is a very noisy country, wherever there are humans. There are neighborhoods / streets that are on average nicer, but you are as you mentioned not in control of it. The street I live in is actually almost dead quiet at night. The loudest sound I hear is my fridge. On the flip side, in the 3 story house I grew up in Switzerland we got complaints from the neighbor downstairs because apparently we closed the water faucets to harshly after 10pm.

I usually balance city living, which I very much enjoy (if there doesn't happen to be a pandemic), with spending longer weekends in nature.


>some things are quite exhausting.

Mind giving some examples?


So compared to Switzerland many day to day things you want get done are just less convenient, less straight forward, less predictable. Getting from A to B, buying exactly what you want vs. what is available, making contracts, lack of consumer/renter protection, etc. But those are mostly balanced out by other day to day things that are nicer here, like the friendliness of the people.

The big things that are mentally taxing for me are the gross income gap, inequality, classism and their effects on society. A somewhat benign example. Couple of years ago I went to a small alternative rock club in Switzerland while staying there for vacation. Through the night I met a plumber, an investment banker, an electrician and a physics phd student. They were all there, just because they shared the same interest in music. You never see this here. Classes don’t mix. And this goes trough everything. From pre-school to careers to leisure. Social mobility is very tough.

On the other hand, this is big part of the reason I moved, to have more meaningful work and at least try to have a positive impact on the aforementioned problems.


Bill Bryson: "You can't come home _again_."


Bill Bryson reflecting on this quote

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/br...

"So, on balance, I was wrong. You can go home again. Just bring extra money for road maps and remember to ask for spackle."


I moved from India to Thailand to Sweden. And I feel I will stay here for few more years now. Started at a well known global consultancy (ThoughtWorks) which gave me opportunity to travel world for different assignments. Then in Thailand chose to stay for extended period because Thailand . Eventually got kids so was looking for more stable country. Got offer with Spotify and now here since 2017. Didn't took lot of effort moving different countries since I am working on DevOps/SRE/Agile/Cloud which has been in extremely high demand last few years. I think moving to Sweden was very good decision since it gave more stability as I got my first house here and kid loves the country and snow.


European. Moved to China. Studied here for two years, went back to Europe and then returned to China once again. When I returned I did one semester at university, studying Mandarin while looking for a job.

I've now been working in Chinese tech for six years. Liking it and probably staying. Job market is hot but as a foreigner your options are fewer and speaking Mandarin is growing in importance year by year.


Just curious: shanghai or shenzhen? and did you make the conscious decision for the city or just follow the flow? (I'm still deciding between a year in China or Estonia)


First Shenzhen, then Shanghai.


I moved from Argentina to the Netherlands in 2017. I wanted to experience living in a safe, stable and low-burocracy country. Turns out The Netherlands is much more and I've been here for more than 4 years already. As a big fan of bikes, learning about bike centric cities... I don't know where else I could go now. Living surrounded by cars is terrible.


I am from Albania, I came in the US as an exchange student for my last year of high school where I lived with an american family in Virginia (they were awesome). I got a full scholarship for college at Radford, VA, and stayed here. Then I had to deal with the whole visa saga, form J1 to F1, to F1 OPT, to H1B to finally a Greencard (after 17 years in the US).

The whole journey to get the Green Card was not easy at all, at it had a lot of papers, embassy visits, dealing with visa requirements, etc. I feel this country makes it a bit too hard for legal residents to come with work visa, meanwhile I know people that got it much faster via 'fictive' marriages.

Also, the talk to let illegal immigrants become legal, while still not doing squat about all the legal immigrants and their long waits, irks me off. It is just not fair, and it rewards delinquency and lawless behaviour.

So, Albania -> Virginia -> Boston/Massachusetts -> SF/California -> NYC (some short stint in Sweden)

Now I am back in Tirana, Albania for a couple of months, and returning to NYC. Probably will be doing this for a long time (few months back home, every year).


> I feel this country makes it a bit too hard for legal residents to come with work visa, meanwhile I know people that got it much faster via 'fictive' marriages

So true. I have been on a student visa for 8 years, and hence I am a non immigrant. I have the luxury of getting a working visa by a random lottery, with no regards to my skills as a PhD. And when I have that, I have the luxury of entering the 100 year long line for green card for Indian immigrants. They have such racist policies in immigration, but consider Asian Americans privileged.

I find it hilarious to hear politicians talk about immigrants creating jobs, while actually having the worst policies possible for the high skilled immigrants that actually create the said jobs.


Immigration should be on a reciprocal basis. Americans should give Indians the right to live, work, and own property in the United States, in exchange for India giving Americans the right to live, work, and own property in India, both on an unrestricted basis.


I'll disagree. No individual should ever be judged on the facets of life they don't control, like country of birth.


It's a nice sentiment, and I'm not sure it really disagrees with what I was saying. What I said was that Americans and Indians should both be treated indistinguishably in both America and in India. That would agree with your sentiment, no?*

The novel idea was only to link openness to openness. Imagine the result of such a treaty: Assuming India would be happy to grant residency and work rights to all Americans, then all Indians would have those same rights in America. That would, in fact, be a radical elimination of the current restrictions!

In structure, it's actually a little like freedom of movement within the EU.

Put another way, the highway would become a lot wider -- but it'd have lanes in both directions.

This is a deal that the United States should offer not just to India, but to most countries.

The only "catch" is the two-way nature of it. But why would India have a problem with that? Many Indians want access to the US; India is a democracy; ergo it would happen, right? It would only not happen if Indians thought it more important to keep Americans out. But why would they do that?

* The only way to break the idea is to distinguish between each group of people and their government. And in fairness, I suppose many Americans would very much want to be distinguished from the Trump administration (and some now from Biden). And possibly some Indians from Modi? Thus, basing the decision about whether Person X should be allowed to immigrate to/from US/India on the basis of their Indian/US citizenship, rather than only on things entirely in Person X's control, does violate your principle somewhat, even if it does so in an equal/reciprocal way. E.g., there are people outside of either the US or India who would not benefit from the treaty.

Still, I like this idea of using the carrot of American citizenship to create similar and symmetrical benefits for Americans, in other countries. The unidirectional way we think about immigration only to America seems broken. The idea that Americans might want to go to India should also enter our imagination.

It's a little like "copyleft", in a way: You get access, and in exchange we get access. Optimistically, at some point everyone would enter this web of reciprocal arrangements. (Of course, "Brexit"s would still be possible...)

Well anyway, at least this creates a new direction outside of the standard, boring, "pro-" vs. "anti-" immigration debate. It's one that, in its way, is radically pro-immigration, but one which also insists that the process create more options for ordinary Americans (rather than only for American businesses).

I think this kind of quid pro quo might be capable of producing a nice equilibrium.


That's a big writeup and with a lot to address.

No, it does not align with my sentiment. I don't think an Indian should be differently treated than say an Australian based on not just their skin color, or what the Indian and Australian governments say or do, but also on them being indians or Australians. That's not a deliberate choice they made, and should not be a facet of having a different treatment for them.

Although, as you said, Indians would like India to give Americans easy access to India, but India might still not do it, because it wants to prevent brain drain.


Co-founded a 2-person tech company in Korea while residing in the US. My co-founder is Korean living in Seoul. We started during the pandemic, with no capital, working remotely out of our homes. Now 18 months later we have modern offices in a tech district of Seoul, with 14 people working on multiple tech products and projects.

I very much agree with the commenter who described the US as a third-world country, when compared with advanced nations such as Korea (as well as other nations mentioned in this thread).

There are many reasons to back up this observation: health care system, education, culture, social values, transportation, digital infrastructure.

Korea is not a perfect country, but it is years ahead of the US in the areas that matter.

EDIT: Added clarification: After 12 months working remotely from the US, I immigrated to Korea and have not left.


Since there's no other way to message you: I'd like to live in Korea for at least a few months, more if I like it. Ideally, working in a small tech company. Is there a way to see what your company does so I can assess if I could bring in some value? My email is in profile. Thanks!

I immigrated to the Netherlands for 3.5 years and came back. I really recommend immigration as an experience as it's real character building and gives you so much perspective on life and on your home country. I realized my close family and culture were more important than I thought and I moved back. Also there are some genuine annoying things about being an immigrant - like the fact you will be seen as an immigrant :) I just didn't like it too much. My homecountry still has water running down the pipes and the supermarkets have food - I found out it's not such a terrible place and every place has problems, even the Netherlands.


Mexico ——> US

Commuted across the Tijuana-San Diego border for a few years then relocated definitely for GC

Path was TN, H1B, GC then citizenship

There was no plan, just getting to the next stage and figuring things out - very lucky it all worked out

Grew up on the border with US culture so close, getting a job, moving, daily life has not been difficult at all, feels like home.

We have a house in each country. Although I love visiting Mexico I can’t see myself ever moving back due to violence

My work is in the US, but all our family is in Mexico, so it feels like I still have one foot on each side.

My current dream though is to be able to live in Europe for a couple of years and experience life over there


I moved to Korea when I was 23 in 2016 from the USA to see if I could globalize my idea for a start up in Seoul to take advantage of the focus on innovation.

Here's a post I wrote many years later now that we are the most awarded global startup in Seoul - https://www.jacobjacquet.com/blog/building-a-global-startup-...


Moved from France to the US in 2013, mostly because opportunities in tech don’t compare, and also because for all the great things French culture has, the gloomy/whiny tone of the culture was always difficult for me.

It was hard for a while on precarious immigration visas, but then we got our self-sponsored Green Card in 2015, and it’s been smooth-sailing since. The Green Card path I chose took many years to prepare, starting far before we immigrated; and tons of continuous hard work to prepare. It’s hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s worked out pretty fantastically for me and my family, so I regret nothing. We became naturalized citizens last year.

Every culture is different and there is none that is for everyone. That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to me that people would want to spend their whole life where they happened to be born, without trying anything else. I think everyone should live abroad a little while, no matter where.


My wife and I made the decision of moving from Brazil a couple years before we moved. Even before the destination was chosen, I started working remotely for companies outside Brazil.

We looked for countries that would take us that had a good political alignment, a decent social security system, and a thriving tech ecosystem. We ended up with Canada, Ireland, and Germany. We selected Toronto even though I am a Hungarian citizen and that would have made Europe a lot easier.

My wife and I applied using Canada’s points system, something mine and mostly hers post-grad work impacted positively. My wife would continue her studies and I’d go along and work remotely. She had everything set up and we’d move the next semester.

Then, out of the blue, I was pinged by an Irish recruiter and now we live in Dublin. Ireland is much nicer than either of us suspected and while the government is slightly to the right, labor law and public healthcare are sensible, and the voting system weeds out extremes such as the Trumps, Bolsonaros and Orbans that made some countries so undesirable.


Bolsonaro was eased into power by Obama. They eliminated the most popular politician Lula with fake charges in Operation Carwash and a sham trial of it. It is now overturned. Bolsonaro even gave a thank you speech for the help the Obama administration gave at the CIA headquarters after he came to power.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Car_Wash

https://apnews.com/article/9e097b1cb92c4400b76c096da8f26910


Left Australia in 2012, moved to Indiana for a job at IU. I had been stuck in yearly contracts at my Australian employer, and they were allergic to full time offers.

I really didn't think things through very much. Turns out starting life again with nothing but a bag of clothes is pretty hard. Met my now wife, who helped me buy things for my apartment (cutlery, dishes, furniture lol). Not having a car, drivers license, or social security number were pretty rough impediments to start with.

I got a great job in Boston, lived there for a few years, then moved back to Indiana when we were ready to buy a house and start a family (much more affordable). Been working remotely since before the pandemic.

I love living here. I do miss my friends back in Aus, but I could never afford this quality of life. My kids will be dual citizens, so if they manage to hit it out of the park salary wise they could always head back if they wanted.


Sweden-> Ireland (5 years)

Ireland -> Switzerland (3 years so far)

I wanted to switch jobs after 7 years, and got an offer from Google. They handled relocation to Ireland.

After five years, I wanted to leave, but didn't feel like going home. So I transferred within Google to Switzerland. Again, they handled relocation. Now I've left Google, after 7 years, of course.

No plans on going anywhere but back to Sweden. There's no rush, though.

Generally, it's been fine. I'm sure the locals make fun of me (at least two Gardai in Dublin Airport did...), but it's not been a problem. I stay humble, since I'm a guest. Learning new paperwork is probably the least fun part of getting to know a culture. Hasn't been too bad, in retrospect. Authorities have been generally helpful, if a bit square-shaped.


> Now I've left Google, after 7 years, of course.

Why “of course”?


Probably some vesting schedule.


I grew up in a large town (technically a small city) of ~75k people, and moved to a city of 1.5m people (Dublin). I hated how claustrophobic daily living felt but I enjoyed the large city benefits, so I started looking around for 500k cities with programming jobs and settled on Edinburgh.

I moved here with my partner 8 years ago. We were both just finished university when we moved so we were starting fresh no matter where we moved and both had jobs lined up when we moved. It took us probably 4-6 months to line everything up, and moving was literally buying a £19 ojr way flight and a trip to the local job center (as we're Irish were unaffected by the brexit rules). We love it here, and it would take some life changing events for us to move.


I'm from Trinidad and Tobago. I moved to Ontario, Canada in 2014 to do a B.Sc. in Chemistry. Given that I was only 19 at the time, the process was relatively straightforward in my memory. My parents took out loans to send me to university which I will always greatly appreciate. I also had a partial scholarship from my Uni which helped a lot, since international student fees in Canada are ~3x more than domestic tuition.

University was overall fantastic. A lot of ups and downs e.g. having to learn how to be studious, as I didn't study much in secondary school, and having to deal with depression, which was fun. Canadians are very friendly and welcoming, so that side of it was great as well.

I graduated in 2018 with a B.Sc. in Chemistry and got my Post Graduate Work Permit (open work permit, lasts 3 years) in 2019. I had a lot of trouble getting it, which was partially my fault, but this process is mostly straightforward in Canada as long as you are a full-time student throughout your studies and don't screw up applying for your work permit after graduating lol...

Anyways, now that I've gotten at least a year of skilled work experience, I've applied for my Permanent Residency and I'm waiting on that to stop stressing about immigration problems. I had a lot of lab experience from university so it only took me about 4 months once I came back to Canada to get a job. WORK EXPERIENCE IS SO IMPORTANT. Anyone doing university at this point should be in coop to be honest, it is the most pain-free path forward. I wasn't actually in coop but I did have the mind to know that work experience is key, even though I started off wanting to go to grad school afterwards.

I was also introduced to programming in late 2018, and now I've been self-studying since then and I'm now applying for junior developer jobs, and at least getting interviews, so that makes me happy. Although the process of job searching is incredibly draining, I'm determined to make it work!

So overall, I'm extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to move to Canada. The majority of my fellow Trinidadians don't get such an opportunity. The quality of life here, especially where I live out in a more rural area, is so much higher than my life in Trinidad, which was still decent by Trinidadian standards.

I wrote a lot more than I thought I would, but I hope this little post helps someone out someday. My experience being an immigrant in Canada has been quite great. There will be a lot of headache, mostly with regards to immigration. But from hearing stories about immigration in the US, Canada is a lot more accessible, assuming you come as a student or are skilled in a field with at least 3 years of foreign work experience.


Moved twice - once to the USA, 30 years ago, from Eastern Europe. US is a perfect place to make [more than enough] money (and enjoy some, when not at/with/connected to work), while strong / well fit educationally, psychologically and physically, in a country where jungle capitalism shrunk social safety to nothingness. So make sure you don't need it.

After 30 yrs moved out of the USA, to France, to enjoy the financial fruits of my labor in probably one of the best-to-enjoy-life-at-its-fullest places on earth. Planning to stay here until the end.


[flagged]


I’m curious how is it that you don’t need money in France. Did they implement UBI while I wasn’t looking?


Background: normal indian software dude mid 20's. Always wanted to go abroad from childhood but poverty.

Recently got the urge to do something with my life (probably because the whole pandemic situation was really monotonous). Tried hard and got an opportunity to move to Amsterdam and I took it. I went with almost zero preparation because, I mean its a first world country, I can buy everything there and what could go wrong?

Its been more than a month and here are my thoughts. Abroad is good, its definitely not India, things actually work. Public transport works! If you want to reach anywhere within Netherlands (or even in EU), google maps will show you the correct route for public transport and the timings will be correct to the minute. It's really convenient.

All the laws here make sense and you feel like some one has put some thought into it and the people making the laws are competent. There's no pollution whatsoever and the air feels clean. It feels almost exactly like the time I travelled across Himachal and Uttarakhand, but this I feel everywhere in the city.

I can see that there's a lot of trust put into people, for example, in grocery shops, you can buy your stuff and scan them on your own and pay them on your own and take the stuff outside. Literally no one checks (or if they do discreetly, I'm not sure). And on a related note, compared to India, very few people work to "serve" you. In the sense that in a huge decathlon or a grocery shop there will be like 2-3 employees only and even they don't do much. Everything works by card and almost no one takes cash (save for one haircut I got).

Now to the "bad" parts.

The place seems a bit dead, I'm not gonna lie. I'm not great at socialising but I don't absolutely suck at it. That said, it is very hard to mingle and socialise with people. Having come alone to this city, man... its so hard to get stuff done when you have no friends. There's no soul in any conversation, people will help you but that's it. Don't expect friendship with the locals at all. In fact I'm finding it hard to make friends with anyone. Where am I supposed to find them? And the worst part is, office is closed due to covid so that's one door closed. I have gone 3-4 days where I literally talked to no one. It does get creepily lonely sometimes but I have learned to deal with it.

Everything is soo costly here, think 5 to 6 times that of India on average. I literally spend 2 euros on a 20 minute bus ride. 2 euros will get me a private Uber in India. I cry every time I buy vegetables and don't get me started on the fruits. I know I earn in euros but still, I'm not used to caring about grocery costs. Ironically, I'm saving less money in Europe than in India even with the Dutch 30% ruling for skilled immigrants.

Overall, I honestly think abroad very overrated. Once you actually start experiencing day to day, you will eventually realise this.

I had a comfortable life in India. I was earning enough, I had no struggles and I had my family and a few friends. I don't know what the fuck got into me but here I am. I hope things get better but I won't bank on it. I have made a plan to come back to India every 3 months or so and to come back permanently by 2 years in the worst case.


> I had a comfortable life in India. I was earning enough, I had no struggles and I had my family and a few friends. I don't know what the fuck got into me but here I am

I think you should just go back. I did the same move to NL from a different place. Here's the thing; some things there's no getting used to

1) The weather is absolutely horrendous. If you're used to Indian sun forget it, you will be miserable for big parts of the year.

2) The language: It's just better to be born in NL. English is too comfortable to get by there so you don't invest enough in learning Dutch. I heard stories of people living 20 years there without knowing proper Dutch. Sure you can work on it and it's up to you but it's a struggle that many people lose.

3) The mentality: there will always be some annoying barrier making it extremely difficult to befriends actual locals. The ones who are open to meet you are sadly often times super weird. The "normal" ones don't really need a "weird" immigrant friend it seems. And on top of that they would prefer to speak Dutch after long day's work which makes sense.

4) The taxes: Are simply brutal. The country is amazing so some of the taxes is used wisely, but still. Why do kindergartens cost so much? In Berlin they are free! As a tech worker you are real middle class since it's not a luxurious job in NL (most accountants, lawyers and even school teachers make more or the same as you in NL), you will feel the squeeze a bit.

5) Most tech companies don't offer any shares/options. For such a socialist country this is a head scratcher to me.

6) But mostly dude the weather ...made it unlivable to me and we decided to move back after 3.5 years. Those freaking winds and endless gray skies, I'd cry every time I'd look at the weather forecast. I suggest you look at it as an adventure, try have some fun and if you discover life in India was actually working out good - just go back. Immigrant life is way way overrated.


I moved recently to netherlands and a lot of your experience mirrors with mine, but thankfully i have been able to make some connections by joining different activities like gym, kick boxing, soccer etc.

I think if your are earning well enough in India, it's always going to be more comfortable than here but that doesn't mean one shouldn't get out of one's comfort zone and travel.

It's okay to go and work outside, gain some experience and then later on return if you don't end up liking it.


That's exactly my plan. I plan to stay for a couple of years and work my way through it.


Ten years ago I moved from Canada to the US.

I was 2 years out of college, and the tiny local software consultancy I worked for went out of business after our clients refused to pay their invoices. (My hometown is notoriously stingy). My two friends/coworkers both took that opportunity to move away, one to Ottawa and one to NYC.

At the same time, I had a friend on IRC who worked for Mozilla and she sold me on moving to the Bay Area. I have since come to believe that she sold me a bill of goods, but at the time she made it sound like an amazing place to live.

I didn't have very many social ties back home, and I was too naieve to have any understanding of the costs and difficulty of going to a different country (even one so similar to my home). So moving seemed like not a big deal. Worst case, I can just move back. If I knew how stressful it would be, I probably wouldn't have done it. But I'm glad I did.

As for how I did it? Well, I came on a TN visa, which is a NAFTA thing that is very easy to get and entitles you to work at a specific employer for a period of up to 3 years. So before I could move, I needed to find a job. I started cold-applying to Rails jobs posted here on HN as well as on a bunch of other job boards. I interviewed at three or four other places (each time getting flown out to SF for the process) before finding a job that wanted me, and that I wanted. As for timelines, I started applying to job postings in mid February, and I moved at the start of May

Finding a new job was very easy, all things considered. Based on what I hear from junior programmer friends, it's much harder now. I'm not sure why it is. I'm not sure if things have changed, or if I had some kind of special situation that made people notice me.

Overall, I absolutely hated living in the Bay Area, for reasons I'm sure have been discussed by a billion people on HN already. I moved to Texas in 2018 and it's much more my speed here. But as for the US vs Canada as a whole? If I never set foot in Canada ever again (and that's looking more and more like a reality every day), I'm fine with that. As far as countries go, Canada is pretty good. There are certainly worse places you could go. But here's a scattershot list of some things that stick out to me when I think about my different experiences

* I make way, way more money in the US, and pay way, way less in taxes. The money goes farther (everything in Canada is expensive compared to here). Economically, I am so much better off. For every conceivable consumer good, there are 3x as many choices here vs there. And the one that surprises people: my healthcare is actually cheaper in the US (if you compare the premiums that I _and my employer_ pay, vs the extra taxes I would pay back home).

* I appreciate American culture more. I like that people aren't afraid to take risks here. I like shooting guns. I like that so much of the cutting edge of science and technology is here. One thing I noticed in Canada (maybe it has since changed) is that, since they don't have nearly the talent pool that the US does, everything in tech just felt like a constant game of catch-up.

* There's so much more to see and do here. Canada is like a string of cities, each surrounded by five hundred miles of nothing. It's incredibly beautiful nothing, and I'd like to see it again some day, but it is what it is. In the US, I can hop on a plane and go to any kind of geography within 3 or 4 hours (at ~1/3 the cost of a Canadian flight). I can see artists who would never come to where I grew up. I can see cities that are meaningfully different from each other and explore all kinds of historical places.

* The obvious contentious current cultural and political things. Leaving this one vague because I am not trying to start an argument and don't want this to devolve into a flame thread


Whenever you do these kinds of comparisons US/Canada, remember to add in all of the taxes and fees you have no control of. I have found that Federal taxes are similar between the two countries, Provincial tax > state tax, but social security/medicare > other fiddly taxes. And the private health payments here were less than those at US employers. People often, I think, forget that they pay like 3X for US social security while getting 3X the eventual benefits - that recovers some of the difference. And the deductions for Canadian taxes (aside from mortgage interest) are more helpful, particularly with health-related payments. I would think Alberta looks quite favourable vs. California while Quebec looks bad vs. Texas. But property tax is quite reasonable (4.xK for 550K).

YMMV, but the aggregate cost here vs. where I've lived in the US has been less different than expected. Sales taxes are somewhat higher and the currency is 80% but it's nice not paying drug costs or copays.


Costa Rica -> Germany

Would have moved to the US as it's culturally more similar to my country, but Trump had just been elected. I'm very satisfied with my decision.


Is the implied question "/from/ the US"? :)

I moved from Russia to Canada and then US, my story is probably very typical, with some variation because (a) I didn't plan or expect it (b) to me, it actually didn't feel like much of anything.

I was a web/fullstack developer in Moscow and never considered myself anywhere near "FAANG" (or whatever it was in 2007) material. The lucky trigger was the fact that I was really passionate about tech and consumed a ton of media on programming. Actually someone from Chicago sent me an interview request based on my activity on some webdev forum, but they ghosted me when they realized I'm not US-based.

Anyway I was subscribed to 1000 tech blogs and randomly saw a BigCo recruiting event in Moscow. I decided to go just for lulz, and didn't get hired... I definitely remember bombing the "does the linked list have a P-shaped cycle" question. Apparently they were on the fence enough that they invited me to another event for a different team, where I again bombed at least one leetcode-style question, but really aced a design question that was supposed to be "open ended" and "impossible to finish in 45 minutes" but we finished it to some approximation and had time for idle chat :)

So, out of the blue I was moving to Canada. The relocation itself was easy if tedious, as it is typically in such cases, so I won't go into that.

I am not sure why, but adapting to life in Canada and later in the US was pretty easy, I really don't remember having any major cultural issues, or adaptation issues... I did hang out a lot with Russian speakers esp. for the first few years, because it was the path of least resistance I guess (and they worked in the same building); but e.g. I used to hang out in Vancouver equally well with Russians, Canadians, or even occasionally Turks (I used to speak a tiny bit); I even got drunk with some anglo right-wingers once who were ranting /to me/ about francophones, who were (unlike me apparently) "not true Canadians". Or e.g. I ended up married to a "regular" (i.e. not an immigrant for 100+ years) American who I met thru a hobby. I am really not clear why other people have cultural problems (I understand it's a real issue for many, I just don't intuitively grok why it should be so). Moved from Canada to the USA due to job market concerns, changed jobs, moved states, gotten married, bought houses, etc. in a way that is not in any way special to an immigrant as far as I can tell.

It sounds like the first half of a bad joke about two immigrants arguing who could assimilate better ;) But, living in a different country didn't really "feel" special. The "system" (using the term very broadly) of life in the US/Canada is different (and better in most aspects IMHO) than in Russia, and the US is slightly different (and better in the plurality of aspects IMHO) than Canada, but it just doesn't feel noteworthy that you do things differently in different places. (If my wife agreed) I could totally see myself going back to Russia, or to another country, if I thought the life there would be a lot better.




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