Working in video games, as many of you’ll know, it’s a very transient industry with people moving regularly for the next exciting opportunity. Many of the people we assist in finding new employment relocate for those opportunities. It’s not uncommon for a large proportion of these relocations to be international, sometimes cross-continental moves.
The reason for that? Very few people just fall into working in the games industry. Often our jobs are led by a lifelong passion, meaning people are much more willing to make life-changing moves across the globe in order to work at that dream studio or on an incredible project. However, if a move is on the horizon it’s important that you consider all the factors around the move, and how relocating for your that job could affect you and the people around you.
Did you know: Our annual Salary and Satisfaction Survey has for the last two years highlighted Canada as the most popular destination for people looking to relocate in the games industry.
In this article, I'll go through some of the factors that are most important to consider (some may seem obvious but better safe than sorry!) and most importantly I'll share some of the resources I use when assisting people in making these life-changing decisions.
NB: This article doesn’t consider the factors relating to the position itself! That’s obviously going to vary studio to studio and role to role. Instead, the focus will be the economic, cultural and personal factors that you will need to consider.
So...are you ready to relocate?
Consider your family and friends
Are the other people that will be affected by the move able to relocate and carry on working or studying with similar ease that they are already accustomed to?
Think about checking out possible job listings for your partner, and school options if you have kids. Making sure that the move works for your immediate family is the most important thing to do, so do this first.
If however you’re young, free and single then moving to a dream job in a far-flung location may seem easy but have you considered your mum, dad, niece, nephew, best mates, etc. Are you happy to be away from them and are they ok to let you go? In today’s modern connected society we can talk to people on the other side of the world, but being far from home can still be tough.
To help with this, do your research about local holiday entitlement and the cost of travel back and forth. Especially if you’re looking to move somewhere exciting, chances are your friends and family will soon forgive you once the subject of holidays comes up!
Also working in a great city on your favourite title might not end up feeling like your dream job if those closest to you aren’t around so make sure you find out what events happen locally to build up a picture of what your life there could be like.
Make Sure The Finances Add Up
- Numbeo compares the cost of living between cities
- Know your tax options
- Skillsearch annual Games and Interactive Salary and Satisfaction Survey
Most moves are going to mean a promotion from your current job role. Promotions are likely to lead to more money (or at least equal if you're moving to a similar position) but moving will almost certainly mean a different cost of living. You need to ensure that you have done your research on what you'll be earning and what you'll be spending!
Our annual Salary and Satisfaction Survey is a good place to start when it comes to researching salary levels and benefits you can expect to see at different levels across the globe and Numbeo is a great tool for comparing the cost of living between cities.
Do this when you initially apply for a position. I can’t stress this enough! It can be a lot harder to start renegotiating a salary during the interview process if you find out if your initial calculations were wrong.
Beyond the difference in cost of living, it's important to do your research regarding local taxes. I’m sure everyone is aware that some countries have minimal or no taxes, whilst others such as Switzerland are very high. But are you aware that the Netherlands has 30% tax breaks for expats working with the country or that 7 US States have no income tax?
Basically, just make sure you fully do your research when you are applying to the studio rather than waiting until you get an offer.
Setting up a New Home
- Again Numbeo can give comparisons between locations
- Commuter Maps show commuter times around major cities
There are the obvious considerations you'll have to take into account when considering leaving your current home. Will you need to sell a property? Do you have a notice period on your rental property? Could you rent out or sublet your current property either long term or on a site such as Air BnB?
When looking at a property to move into tools such as Numbeo will give you a comparison between locations but it’s important to find out what you will need in order to secure a property in the local area. If you are going to rent a property, how much is the average deposit? What’s required in terms of references? Do you require a local bank account to sign an agreement? What support can your new company offer?
Along with the costs of accommodation it’s important to consider the type of area you will be able to live in. If you are moving to a major city won't neccearily be able to afford to (or want to) live in the city centre or near your new office. Therefore you need to look at the suburbs, what they offer and how easy it is to commute to the studio. There are plenty of websites such as Commuter Maps that will show you commuter times around major cities providing you with multiple areas in which you can search for properties that suits your needs.
If you're concerned about how Brexit will affect Europeans working in the UK you need to be prepared. With a bit of research into the relevant visas required for working in the UK Post-Brexit, you'll soon see although it's bit of a headache, but it's definitely not impossible and as the UK Games Industry relies heavily on talent from outside the UK to boost studio numbers so it's not as bleak as it may at first seem.
Depending on the move that you are making, you may require a visa. Studios that can offer visa sponsorship will be able to assist you with this process but it’s important to make sure you match the criteria required to be successful before starting the process. Do you have the level of education that’s required? Is your job title on the skill shortage list? Luckily for our industry, the majority of roles within a Games studio are included but you can double-check yours on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
It’s important to be aware that although the visa process should be relatively simple it can be lengthy and affect how quickly you will be able to start at a new company. This, of course, varies from country to country, visa to visa. At Skillsearch we have seen a dramatic increase in the time for visas to be issued in the UK post Brexit referendum. In some circumstances, the visa process is taking 3 + months when previously it was a matter of weeks.
Whilst I strongly believe these are four the main factors to consider it is important to really do your homework as on the location, the studio, and the role as well so you can confidently weigh up all the pros and cons of relocating. The majority of studios we work with offer really solid on-boarding procedures as they understand moving across the world for a job can have many challenges and it's in their best interest to make the process as smooth as possible for you so you can hit the ground running when you arrive at work!
And don’t forget, your recruiter will be on hand to support you through the process.
Over the past year, we've helped 134 people relocate across all four corners of the globe, and we're there every step of the way to help ensure a smooth transition to your new city... country... continent!
If you are interested in exploring new opportunities either locally or further afield, please get in contact with the team at Skillsearch who can help you find your next move in the games industry!