What I Wish I Knew Before moving from India to Germany as a Software Developer
Relocating to Germany for Tech Talents in Emerging Markets
By Anoop Nair, Founder of “Germany Is Calling” and software developer, in Collaboration with acework
Germany has emerged as a promising destination for tech professionals from emerging markets, offering a world of opportunities and a high quality of life. Having made the journey myself, I’ve experienced both the triumphs and tribulations of relocating to Germany. In this blog post, I’ll share insights from my personal experience and reflections, shedding light on what I wish I had known before taking the leap into the German tech landscape.
Before we dive into the intricacies of relocating to Germany, let’s address the fundamental question: Why Germany? Several compelling factors make it an attractive destination for tech talents:
- Social Security: Germany’s social security system is well-established and provides a strong safety net for residents. This commitment to social welfare is reflected in the allocation of a significant portion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to social protection measures. According to the Social Protection Expenditure Database of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Germany allocated approximately 26% of its GDP to social protection in 2019. This substantial investment underscores Germany’s dedication to ensuring the well-being and financial security of its citizens.
- Higher Salaries: One of the key draws for tech professionals is the competitive salary packages offered in Germany. Data from the German Federal Statistical Office reveals that the average gross monthly earnings in the information and communication sector in Germany were between 5,207 and 5,693 euros gross per month in 2021. This figure significantly surpasses average salaries in many emerging markets, providing tech talents with a higher standard of living.
- Free High-Quality Education: Germany is renowned for its commitment to providing accessible and high-quality education. The country consistently ranks high in global education indices for its academic excellence and strong emphasis on research and innovation, further enhancing its appeal as an educational destination for families and aspiring students alike.
- Tech Industry Demand: The country’s tech sector is thriving, with a constant demand for skilled professionals. Across all sectors, Germany has a shortage of 137,000 IT specialists. That is the result of a Bitkom study on the labor market for IT specialists, as the IT Times reports.
- Quality of Life: Germany is renowned for its clean environment, efficient public services, and less crowded cities, contributing to an enhanced overall quality of life. The World Air Quality Index consistently ranks many German cities as having excellent air quality. Additionally, the World Happiness Report ranks Germany among the top countries for happiness and well-being, highlighting the positive living conditions and efficient public services available to residents.
Demystifying Myths About the German Tech Industry
Before embarking on my journey to Germany, my perception of the tech industry was largely shaped by conversations within my professional network. Like many others, I wasn’t fully aware of Germany’s prominence in the tech sector. Instead, discussions often gravitated towards tech hubs like Canada, the United States, Australia, or the Middle East. However, Germany’s tech landscape is a hidden gem worth exploring.
Germany has quietly established itself as a tech powerhouse in Europe. It’s home to a thriving ecosystem of startups, tech giants, and innovative enterprises. The country’s commitment to research and development, coupled with its strong emphasis on engineering and innovation, has fostered a dynamic tech environment.
With over 2,500 startups, Berlin is not only the capital of Germany but also a burgeoning startup capital in Europe. It’s part of a tech scene that’s growing at an impressive rate. Germany consistently ranks among the top countries for innovation, with a robust framework for research and development. In 2022, it was ranked eighth in the Global Innovation Index.
The country’s strong industrial base has seamlessly transitioned into the digital age. Germany is a leader in Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, which focuses on automation, data exchange, and smart manufacturing. This transformation has not only modernized traditional industries but has also created new opportunities for tech professionals.
Some of the world’s most renowned tech companies, such as SAP, Siemens, and Bosch, call Germany home. These industry giants contribute to the country’s tech prowess and offer enticing career prospects. Additionally, Germany’s education system is known for producing highly skilled tech professionals. The country offers world-class technical education and research opportunities, attracting talent from all corners of the globe.
Innovation Hubs and Collaboration
While Germany’s tech industry may not always be the centerpiece of international tech conversations, it certainly deserves a place in the spotlight for tech talents considering relocation. The data and thriving ecosystem confirm that Germany’s tech landscape is more than just a hidden gem; it’s a dynamic force in the global tech arena.
When I left India in 2019, tech industry salaries were relatively low. However, India’s tech job market has evolved rapidly, offering competitive salaries and attracting foreign investments into startups. Your decision to relocate should consider both your current circumstances and long-term career goals.
Challenges in Relocating to Germany
Relocating to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. For me, one of the most significant hurdles was the language barrier. When I first arrived in Augsburg, a city with fewer expats, I faced the daunting task of navigating daily interactions in a language I was not proficient in. While I had prepared by learning some basic German (A1 and A2 levels), the real-world conversations often proved more complex. However, this linguistic challenge encouraged me to further immerse myself in the local culture and accelerate my language learning journey.
Another noteworthy challenge in Germany is the meticulous bureaucratic processes and extensive documentation requirements. Navigating these procedures can be time-consuming and, at times, overwhelming. Whether it’s obtaining the necessary visas and permits or dealing with residence registration, mastering the bureaucratic maze is an essential part of settling in Germany.
Perhaps one of the most striking differences from my home country, India, was the healthcare system’s approach. In Germany, securing a doctor’s appointment often involves scheduling weeks in advance. This was a significant departure from the accessibility of healthcare services in India, where we could visit a doctor even on weekends without any prior appointment. Adapting to this new healthcare system required patience and careful planning, especially as we adjusted to the intricacies of the German medical landscape. Despite these challenges, each obstacle presented an opportunity for growth and learning, ultimately enriching my experience of relocating to Germany.
Cultural Adaptation and Career Growth
Relocating to Germany isn’t just about work; it’s also about embracing a new culture and lifestyle. Here’s how my journey unfolded:
Language Integration: Language can be a formidable barrier, particularly in regions with limited English speakers. Learning German, even at a basic level (A1 or A2), is advisable. It not only enhances your daily interactions but also opens doors to a deeper cultural experience.
Thriving Tech Community: Germany’s tech community is renowned for its warmth and constant evolution. Frequent tech meetups, hackathons, and networking events offer fertile ground to build a robust professional network. These connections can be invaluable in your career journey.
Supportive Employers: Having a supportive employer can make a world of difference. My first employer in Germany played a pivotal role in helping me settle. They assisted in finding accommodation, navigating bureaucracy, and even provided support for German language courses.
Adapting to German Work Culture: Adapting to the demands of German work culture and technical requirements was relatively seamless for me. My commitment to continuous learning and skill development played a crucial role in bridging any gaps.
Work-Life Balance: Germany offers a work culture that places a high value on personal life and leisure time. It’s a place where vacations are taken seriously, and work-related activities are typically reserved for working hours.
Career Acceleration: Relocating to Germany can significantly accelerate your career. In my case, I achieved more in terms of compensation, professional growth, and responsibilities in 1-2 years in Germany than in the first 7 years of my career in India.
Advice for Aspiring Tech Talents
If you’re contemplating a move to Germany, here’s my advice: If you’re seeking career growth and competitive compensation for your skills, Germany is an excellent choice. The country has a high demand for tech talents, and with the right skill set and experience, you can easily find opportunities that align with your aspirations.
In hindsight, I wish I had known about the abundant opportunities and work-life balance that Germany offers. I would have made the move much earlier in my career. However, every journey is unique, and the experiences gained along the way are invaluable.
The Journey Continues
My journey from India to Germany has taught me the value of continuous learning and self-improvement. The more you learn, the more valuable you become in the tech talent landscape of developed nations like Germany. Embrace the challenges, seize the opportunities, and remember that your career path can lead to incredible destinations if you’re open to exploring new horizons. Germany is calling, and it might just be the perfect destination for your tech career.