Three weeks ago, Oleg, a passionate web developer from Russia, got on a plane and headed to Belgium for a challenging new job at Showpad. We spoke to Oleg to hear first hand what it takes to get a great software developer job abroad and how things are going after his move to Ghent. Here’s his story:
Name: Oleg Merkulov
Current position: Software Engineer @ Showpad
Time in the industry: 14 years
Favorite tech stack: PHP, MongoDB, Yii
Passions outside of work: Riding a motorcycle, a scooter, and a bicycle. Traveling in general.
I was inspired by the work-life balance in Belgium.
I have been living here for three weeks.
I was looking for a new software developer job somewhere in the EU and came across one at Relocate.me that fit me the best. I applied for it without delay. On Relocate.me, I also learned what I could expect in terms of relocation support. It’s incredibly helpful! I already recommended the platform to my friends.
There was an HR interview. Then there was an interview with the CTO that was very cool! We discussed my code on GitHub. Next was a general interview with one of the company’s managers. I was invited to come to Ghent for a day (flight expenses were covered by the company) and complete a test task. Finally, there was an on-site interview in Ghent with various people.
I received my job offer two days after the on-site interview. Each of the stages took about a week. The hardest and most exciting one for me was the test task.
Be honest and keep trying.
Really nice, open, and hospitable people. Everyone here understands that relocation to another country is a serious step. They are always supportive and ready to help.
The team is mostly comprised of local developers, however, there are some from abroad — from the USA, England, and the Netherlands. It started as a startup, but today Showpad is a close-knit team of 200 workers based in the US (Chicago and San Francisco) and London. I am so happy to be part of it.
I applied for the type B work permit. An application must be submitted by an employer, so the visa process for me was really easy. I just sent two documents to my employer: a translated copy of my university degree and a special medical certificate. The latter has to be less than three months old and be issued by a clinic/hospital accredited by the Embassy of Belgium. There are only four of them in Russia. Overall, it took about two weeks to finish the process.
The attitude towards the environment (the tidiness everywhere); people’s kindness and willingness to help out; the excellent work-life balance.
A hammer to assemble IKEA's furniture ;)
I haven’t met someone who couldn't understand me. Belgians speak Dutch, French, and English. The working language is also English.
Yes, it's something around it. I'm living in the center of the city in a studio flat for €660 a month apart from gas, electricity, and water. The overall cost is about €800 a month. Locals say to me that it’s too expensive and it’s possible to find a cheaper variant. I just didn't want to waste time so I decided to stay here.
The problem is that locals tend to rent apartments to students because they will pay lower taxes. If you're not a student, it can be hard to find good accommodation. A few websites to search on:
The sites are mostly in Dutch, but every person here speaks English. Don't hesitate to contact them in English.
Convenient, comfortable, and affordable.
In Belgium, salaries are not a thing that is openly discussed. However, for a mid-level software engineer, I suppose that figure is €2500 (gross). If you are single, taxes for you will be about 40%. From my experience, I can say that the salaries offered are sufficient to live comfortably here — all your personal needs will be met.
First off, be open, kind, and show that you are ready to learn something new. Companies are looking for someone for a long-term position and they can be very picky if you're a foreigner. However, Belgium has a shortage of tech workers so companies are always after skilled software engineers.
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