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Packing up & shipping out: Becoming an expat in the global startup scene

Whether you’re still coming to grips with your Brexit blues, or you’re just considering some of the exciting startup scenes around the world, we’re taking a look at the top international startup destinations, and how to make the transition to becoming an expat. So check out our list and find the right expat startup scene for you!

The Expat Startup Scene

Making the decision to move to a foreign country for work will be a life-changing experience. You’ll be dealing with a new culture and everything that comes with it; the food, language, social norms, and just the general day-to-day differences in the office. All of these can cause growing pains, but the rewards can be generous, including a relocation package, tax benefits, and numerous allowances from housing to travel. We’ll take a look at average salary as well as a typical one bedroom apartment in the city centre. You’ll also want to know about tax and visa issues, as well as some of the perks for each location.

the expat startup scene is alive and well in Berlin
Berlin Oberbaumbrücke

Startup jobs in Berlin, Germany

Average Salary: 41,510 €
Average 1-bedroom apartment: 772 €
Visa Requirements

Berlin has one major benefit over every other tech hub in the country: it’s international pool of talent. Nearly 17% of the city’s population is comprised of foreigners, with the majority coming from nearby Poland and Turkey, but there’s also a sizable American and UK population that keeps growing. With some of the most attractive cost of living numbers – not just in Germany, but Europe as a whole – the city continues to be the center of the country’s expat startup scene. With success stories like Zalando and SoundCloud, new names are entering the fray on a daily basis.

Germany also topped our benefits list in nearly every category, with flexible working hours and free food & drink commonly cited as some of the best perks of working at a startup there. However, the bureaucratic red tape for startups is a serious issue, and just getting the proper resident permit and visa will definitely cause a few headaches. But the benefits seem to outweigh the downsides as the expat startup scene continues to attract new talent.

If you’re serious about looking into the German job scene, your LinkedIn account might not help you as much as a Xing profile will. There are plenty of English speaking positions available in startups looking to reach a global market. However, having German language skills will definitely open up more doors for you. The monthly startup jobs Meetup group might be a nice first step once you’ve landed.

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the global expat startup scene in Boston
Boston skyline

Startup jobs in Boston, USA

Average Salary: $41,500
Average 1-bedroom apartment: $2,493
Visa Requirements

The Silicon Valley startup scene has been well established for decades and the market is fiercely competitive. This has caused entrepreneurs to search for other up-and-coming centers for their business ventures. With world class universities and research facilities, the Boston labor pool is highly qualified and highly educated. This makes for an exciting but very competitive job market. According to MoneyTree’s Q4 2017 Report, the New England area received 11% of all VC funding and 9% of all recorded deals, taking third place in both categories. There’s a lot happening here and there’s no signs of slowing.

With access to the huge US marketplace and favorable tax incentives, this is a great city to focus your startup search. Proximity to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC puts the entire Northeast Corridor at your fingertips, but also comes along with corresponding real estate prices. The notoriously difficult H1-B visa process is another deterrent for job seekers, but breaking into the US expat startup scene makes the difficulties worth it.

Besides updating your LinkedIn account and checking the Boston Startup groups on Facebook, there are a few very active Meetup groups geared towards helping newcomers find their startup network in the tech scene there. Both groups are a great place to shake hands meet new faces!

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canals and bikes and the expat startup scene
The canals and bicycles of Amsterdam

Startup jobs in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Average Salary: 34,190 €
Average 1-bedroom apartment: 1,489 €
Visa Requirements

With Uber, Netflix, and Tesla already making Amsterdam their European headquarters, the tech startup scene is alive and well here. With a multilingual workforce and multiple sectors to consider, there’s more than just beautiful canals and bike-friendly streets that draw expats to this city. And while there weren’t as many startup jobs created as London or Berlin, Amsterdam saw the highest rate of growth at 7% in our 2017 startup report. They also topped every category in our “Soft Skills” section. 91% of startup employees identify with their company’s mission and values. This is vital for creating a working environment full of passionate and ambitious coworkers.

While it’s getting harder to find affordable housing in the city center, the city has an excellent public transportation system and is one of the most bikeable cities in Europe. Finding an apartment a little further out will save you some money. It’ll also give you a chance to see greater Amsterdam away from the throngs of tourists.

I amsterdam is a great multilingual resource and has a helpful interactive startup map that will give you the lay of the land and a good idea of exactly what’s out there. And, as with most cities, there’s quite a few Meetup groups that are geared towards new arrivals in the expat startup scene.

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the expat startup scene continues to grow in Paris
The sprawl of Paris at sunset

Startup jobs in Paris, France

Average Salary: 41,035 €
Average 1-bedroom apartment: 1,078 €

Visa Requirements

Paris is more known for its cafes and museums than its startup culture, but all of this is changing. With the success of Dailymotion and Vente-Privee, the city has seen a boom in VC funding over the past few years. With flexible working hours and a 35 hour work week, along with a very competitive salary, there’s never been a better time to get into the expat startup scene in Paris. As established startups expand into the global marketplace, the need for English speaking staff is becoming more and more necessary.

However, speaking French is crucial to finding a good position with potential for advancement in the company hierarchy. And the startup scene is notorious for being risk averse and subject to higher tax rates than most Brits are accustomed to. There is also an internship culture, which makes up 31% of the startup contracts. This is compared to 56% of contracts that are for permanent positions. You’ll most likely be coming in on the bottom floor of whichever startup you land a position at.

Signing up for a Viadeo account will help get your foot in the door for the French job market. It’s very similar to LinkedIn or Xing, but Viadeo is definitely the prefered platform in the country. There’s also a very active Meetup group that would be a great opportunity for networking and seeing what’s available in the expat startup scene here.

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Tel Aviv continues to attract expats to their startup scene
The Mediterranean coastline of Tel Aviv

Startup jobs in Tel Aviv, Israel

Average Salary: 66,696 €
Average 1-bedroom apartment: 1,080 €

Visa Requirements

Tel Aviv is attracting a growing number of expats to their tech startup scene. With a collaborative working culture and a Mediterranean climate, you can easily see why. And with record amounts of funding and investments over the past few years, the outlook for startups continues to be bright. With high salaries and a relatively low cost of living compared to other cities on this list, you’ll be able to enjoy the world famous nightlife the city has to offer. This may be the best destination for your search that you never considered. Europe at your doorstep and exciting travel opportunities just short flights away, it’s a tempting choice.

While the media greatly overplays the conflicts in the country, there is a security risk that isn’t an issue for the other countries on this list. it’s also a longer process to acquire a work visa when compared to staying in the EU, but landing a job before you arrive will take care of most of the paperwork for you.

It is very common to see startup Meetup groups at popular cafes and bars during the week, and is a great way to meet like-minded individuals. And with yearly events through Startup Grind and the DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, there is a huge welcoming community for startups here.