[thelist] Working in Europe

Mark Howells mark at mountain.ch
Mon Feb 25 05:09:01 CST 2002

> Having moved from the UK to Sweden 3 years ago my main piece of advice would
> be: DEFINITELY arrange your job and preferably your accommodation BEFORE you
> move out.
> When I moved, I had a place to stay, but no job. I assumed that it would be
> pretty straightforward to get one and as it turned out I was lucky and
> managed to land one fairly quickly, but even then it surprised me how long
> it took (4 months).

Bear in mind that some countries require that you have a work / residence
permit arranged before you enter the country on a permanent / semi-permanent
basis. My job search took about three or four months as well, as I found
that many employers were reluctant to employ a foreigner over national
applicants (especially when you're not already resident in the country).

> With the current economic climate I would suggest that
> it is even more important than ever to arrange everything up front. Be
> prepared to visit a few times before you move, you can book a whole set of
> interviews within the same 2-3 day period, travel out and do your interviews
> then travel home again.

Some companies are willing to do the preliminary interviews over the phone,
which will reduce your costs and will sort out the "wheat from the chaff"
(if there are enough positions for such discrimination).

> If you don't know the language, then I would recommend starting an evening
> class while you're still in the UK, or alternatively aim for
> British/American companies who use British as their company language.

Don't be surprised if you get treated badly by some locals as well,
especially if you can't communicate with them in their own language. Don't
forget that you'll be a foreigner and may be seen as an intruder by some,
particularly away from busy towns.

> Look into the requirements for living in the country. Despite the EU
> arrangement, many countries still have requirements that you be registered
> as resident in the country for tax purposes etc. In Sweden I had trouble
> getting a residents permit until I was employed full time.

Ditto Switzerland, which is notoriously picky about who it lets in. Things
are a lot different in mainland Europe, from longer working hours to more
flexibility over your working times. After-hours meetings are common, though
this often gets balanced out by longer lunch breaks. Other legal
requirements are worth taking into account as well -- for example, my
residence permit doesn't allow me to change my job or canton (county) of
residence without prior Governmental approval, and I've had to surrender my
driving licence after being here for one year, in exchange for a Swiss one.
Taking a car (or other items of value) with you may have tax / customs
implications -- don¹t be surprised when you get landed with all kind of
administrative bills in the first couple of months after you first arrive.

> Moving country is intensely exciting / stressful /
> fulfilling / irritating / mind-opening!

I'm here in Switzerland for an indefinite period and if you're thinking
about staying "abroad" for more than a few months, then I found that the
first six months were the worst. I've just "celebrated" the first
anniversary of my arrival in Switzerland from the UK and I'm completely at
home here now. The foreign languages (German and French), "alien" landscape
(the Alps) and Swiss traditions / customs all seem completely natural and
while I miss my family, friends and my home land, there are many things
about living in Switzerland that make me see that some things are better
here than in the UK.

Feel free to get in touch off-list if you have any other questions.

Mark Howells

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