Not every IT company is ready to offer their employees job relocation opportunities––even though the IT industry continues to move toward remote work and can offer the opportunity to work from anywhere and move around the world. Relocation may sound exciting and, at the same time, intimidating. Indeed, it takes paperwork, numerous arrangements, and may involve sadness about leaving home.
If relocating sounds appealing to you, even with its potential challenges, you should know that there are companies willing to offer IT relocation jobs and A-to-Z support. And you will meet other talented IT colleagues who are courageous enough to seize the opportunity to relocate, like Diego, a Lead .NET Developer at EPAM Anywhere.
Diego joined EPAM Anywhere in May 2021, and has already moved from his homeland, Bogota, Colombia, to Estepona, a resort town in southern Spain, just an hour drive from Malaga.
We asked Diego to share his story of job relocation, key milestones in the process, roadblocks he encountered along the way, and his takeaways from the experience.
I've been with EPAM Anywhere for about five months, and I've joined the core team of a London-based hedge fund customer. In terms of technologies, I mostly work with .NET, SQL databases, RabbitMQ, and Front-end technologies like React.
I was lucky enough to land the project at EPAM Anywhere right away. In fact, on day one, I went through Anywhere onboarding, and literally on my second day, I already had a client onboarding. Things went really fast. In just one week I had everything up and running and was ready to be productive.
I'm happy to be a part of EPAM Anywhere. In addition to a challenging and enjoyable project, I have exciting opportunities to join the ambassador or technical interview programs. There are also tons of learning options. I'm looking to get the complete architecture Azure certification, and EPAM Anywhere offers me the chance to do that, as well as all of the material I need to prepare for certification.
Career path rewind
Before I joined EPAM Anywhere, and before I even started thinking of IT relocation jobs, I'd been working at a Colombia-based company for nearly 18 years. That company began as a startup before successfully extending its frontiers outside the country. With the company's growth, came many opportunities.
I grew from a Developer to a Senior Developer, an Architect, and finally, I was the Research & Innovation and Engineering Director. I enjoyed management experience since I love to help other people grow.
On the flip side, I really love coding and the tech component of the work. Plus, although I was giving my best effort in the Director's role, it routinely required me to work extra hours to meet deadlines, attend all of the meetings, and reply to all of the emails. Ultimately, the administrative component of the job just didn't excite me that much, so I switched back to technology and coding.
Landing EPAM Anywhere
The role of Tech Architect was what I was looking for at EPAM Anywhere. Here, the structure and the tech side of the architecture role slightly differ from what I've experienced before. So I'm studying the new structure. I think it's important that, as Architects, we standardize the way we communicate the concepts of architecture to all EPAM clients. We also need to be able to successfully deliver the message to different audiences across business roles and technical roles.
Among the key benefits that inspired me to join EPAM Anywhere was the opportunity of job relocation. These days, the tech talent market in Colombia is very hot. We see a race between companies coming from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States trying to win the talent war in Colombia. If you are a good programmer, you can receive five to ten job proposals a week through LinkedIn. But how can one opportunity stand aside from the others?
There are very good companies in Colombia, both service- and product-based. Most of them offer the same perks: competitive salaries, good vacation days, these sorts of things. But when you ask "do you offer jobs that will relocate me?" most companies say "okay, that might be the case in the future.
This is where EPAM Anywhere really stands out––by offering the opportunity to relocate here and now, not "someday".
The idea to relocate to Spain
In the past, I visited Europe many times. I really like the lifestyle here, which is a little different from the United States and Latin America. Although the United States is a great country, I think people there experience more stress since they're heavily focused on working hard and making money.
Here in Europe, people have a calmer and slower life, and I like this. So, I decided to move to Europe many years ago. At the time, I had personal issues and couldn't make the move. Last year, I resolved my issues, so I started looking for Spain relocation opportunities.
The key reasons that pushed me toward considering jobs abroad were:
- Seeking a better quality of life––and I saw it in Europe.
- I also like the culture and the multicultural aspect of living here, not only in Spain, but in the other countries of Europe. Plus, less than 1000 kilometers away there is another country with a totally different culture that I can visit really easily.
- I love to travel, and Europe is a good base to explore other countries from. I am finding it to be cheaper than Latin America. This may be my main reason.
Preparing for Spain relocation
Starting the ball rolling
When I was going through the interview process with EPAM, I was speaking mainly with the EPAM Spain team. So, I asked if there were engineering jobs in Spain, and if I could first start working remotely from Colombia. My contacts were receptive and ready to discuss this idea. So, that's how I met EPAM Anywhere :).
I was really amazed at how smoothly EPAM guided me through this stage of the process! I received simple instructions to follow: get this paper, then another one, do an apostille, and submit all the papers to the office they identified.
After just one month, I had all the papers ready for the appointment with the Spanish Embassy, which went very quickly. A week later, I got the visa printed in my passport. All told, it took me around a month and a half to get my papers ready. Not a bad amount of time to fulfill a dream.
Resolving personal matters
The personal matters were a bit more difficult and time-consuming. I had some properties and a car, and a lot of things to do before leaving. I had to sell all of my stuff, my car, and rent out our house.
To deal with everything, my wife and I developed a very specific plan together. It was like a project management project, with monthly tasks we needed to accomplish. It definitely required teamwork with my wife and a lot of cooperation.
Selling everything was a bit challenging because we had bought some nice homeware and furniture, and had some significant memories associated with those things. Selling them at a very discounted price was definitely not comfortable at first for either of us. Then, once we sold all our stuff, and our house turned into an empty space, we felt a little nostalgic. But that feeling went away after a couple of days. We realized that we needed to focus on the future, not the past, adjust to our new situation, and stick with our plan. And we moved on from there.
All my relatives and friends were really happy for me. We had very good moments saying our goodbyes, even though with today's technologies you can easily write or call your family and friends via WhatsApp.
We also had some nostalgic moments––not only with the friends––but with the house where I lived for eight years, with our favorite restaurant, and other places where we had made good memories.
This was the most difficult part. I have a dog, and due to certain restrictions here in the European Union, I couldn't bring my dog with me. Now, I need to obtain a rabies vaccination for the dog and then have a few medical tests done by labs in the USA. This will take another couple of months but, on the bright side, I've already bought the ticket to go to Colombia and bring my dog here, so the process continues and we'll reunite soon! :)
Adapting to the new country
First of all, EPAM offered us a temporary apartment for one month. That was great because it removed part of the stress that we were experiencing. The apartment was nice, and it was perfectly located, very close to the office. So all we had to do was get there and start our new life.
We arrived at the airport in Madrid with a dozen big suitcases, handbags, and personal items. Then we completed the COVID-19 testing procedure and went to Malaga. We hired a service to get all of our bags to our new place. It was a really good feeling to have someone waiting for us at the entrance to give us the keys and explain to us all we needed to know about our new place.
We had only the weekend before I started work, but it felt like a vacation :) We started our new life by discovering restaurants, getting to the sea, and checking all the local places.
Getting to work
On Monday, I went to the EPAM office, got a new work setup, and passed the onboarding, which was really nice. Since I was already working for a customer, I just jumped back into my work. This part went really smoothly.
Benefits of Spain
When I just started thinking of relocation jobs, I looked at different countries. Spain seemed to be a very good option because of the language and similar culture. I was going to leave my home, family, friends, and previous workplace. I wanted to soften the transition by moving to an environment with a similar culture. That's why I chose to relocate to Spain. In fact, I do feel very comfortable here because the south of Spain is very similar to Latin America: the people here are open, they like to talk, and they are very friendly and helpful.
Also, the weather here is much different from Bogota - and that’s a good thing. In Bogota, it’s always cold, it's like eternal autumn because it's located high in the mountains. Here in Spain, it's like mid-summer. When I finish work at 6 or 7 pm, there's still some light outside :D so I can go for a walk, visit some places, and get to the sea. The sea is something that I really enjoy because seeing the waves helps me to relax and recharge.
I only experienced Malaga for one month while I was in EPAM's apartment. After that, I had to find a new location for long-term rental. I moved to a little town called Estepona, which is one hour drive to Malaga. If I need to go to the office, I can drive there without any problem.
At the same time, I really love living in the countryside. I think it's fantastic that you can work from any place you want. That's a big advantage for me, and I really appreciate that EPAM Anywhere provides such an opportunity. This program was definitely created with a future-of-work mindset, and with people in mind.
Moving forward, I plan to use the holidays and the weekends to explore some other places in Spain and Europe. I appreciate that it's really easy to travel here.
In a year or so, I'll see if I enjoy it here, or whether we want to move to Malaga or another place, as I'm free to move and explore other cities. That's amazing.
Tips for other engineers
If you are considering job relocation, here's what I suggest you think about, based on my experience:
- Make up your mind. Make sure that you really want to relocate. Sometimes I have spoken with people who say, "Okay Diego, I really like your experience. I think I would like to relocate jobs as well." But, when it comes to taking actual steps to make it happen, they are not so sure that they want to relocate. So, first of all, make sure you want to relocate and that you won't feel as though you’ve made a mistake by being 10,000 kilometers away from your family or friends. It may help to think of it as a one-way ticket, and that's it.
- Strengthen your tech knowledge and skills. Reinforce your knowledge of the specific areas of technology that you want to work with and have seen in job openings. For instance, you can check EPAM Anywhere openings, IT jobs in Spain, or IT relocation jobs in other countries to find very specific requirements for every tech stack and role.
- Brush up on your English skills. This is the most important part: work on your English language skills. English is the official language at EPAM, and you'll also need to communicate with customers and teammates in English, even if you're considering engineering jobs in Spain or other European countries. Plus, English is the foundation of your entire relocation process. It's your key to understanding other people, communicating with the business side, and getting all sorts of helpful relocation support.
- Be proactive. If you want to relocate to Spain or another country, don’t just sit and wait for an opportunity to come your way––go for it. If you're with EPAM already, ask your mates and managers how it might work. Also, do your research; there are tons of useful resources providing information on relocation and living in different countries. The mortgage prices, taxes, climate, nuances related to buying a car, choosing a school for your kids, and everything else that you want to know––look around and ask for this information.
- Enjoy the process :) It can be stressful at times, but it will pay off in the end.
Am I happy? Yes, I really am. I'm living in Europe, which is what I wanted. I'm also living in the countryside, which I really enjoy. I have a great position with a very good customer. I enjoy what I am learning with EPAM. I'm really enjoying my life right now. So yes, I'm really happy.