The Games Industry is a very transient one with people frequently willing to relocate for their next job. We're an industry driven by lifelong passion and the pull of exciting projects, a dream studio and well loved franchises can mean you need to be open to going where the work takes you.
While the current climate may seem like a strange time to be considering relocating, many companies around the world have continued to take on new hires throughout the pandemic with the intention of having them relocate once it is safe to do so. Which means that with vaccine's being rolled out globally and recruitment levels as strong as ever, 2021 could be the perfect time to consider a move.
If a move is on the horizon for you then it’s important that you consider all the factors around the move, and how relocating for that job could affect you and the people around you. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most important factors to consider and share resources that we use when assisting people in making these life-changing decisions.
So... Are you ready to relocate?
NB: This article doesn’t consider factors relating to the position itself. Details of the position will of course vary studio to studio and role to role. Instead, the focus will be the economic, cultural and personal factors that you should consider.
Family & Friends
If you have a partner, kids, pets, or other dependents, think about how a move would impact them. Are these people 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! Speaking of which, you can find out the local minimum holiday entitlement across the world using this handy tool.
Also working in a great city on your favourite title might not end up feeling like your dream job if your friends 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. Timeout is a great website for looking up what’s happening in cities all over the world.
Make Sure The Finances Add Up
Most moves are going to mean a salary increase (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. Use this along with your current salary expectations to go to a website like Numbeo for comparing the cost of living between cities so you can see how far this salary will take you.
I can’t stress this enough - do this when you initially apply for a position! 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. Some countries have minimal or no taxes, whilst others such as Switzerland are very high. Like 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?
When looking at studios for which you’ll have to relocate, the best thing you can do is make sure you fully do your research on how the money will work out when you are applying for a role there, rather than waiting until you get an offer.
Setting up a New Home
There are the obvious considerations 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 AirBnB?
When looking for somewhere to live in a new city/country, Numbeo and other similar tools offer comparisons between locations however, it’s equally important to find out what you’ll need to secure a property in that area. How much is the average deposit? What’s required in terms of references? Do you require a local bank account? What support can your new company offer?
You should also consider the area you want to/will be able to live in. If you are moving to a major city, you won’t necessarily want to or be able to afford to live in the city centre/right next to your new office. So, researching about the suburbs and what they offer is a good way to move forward. You’ll of course then need to know how you will travel and how long it will take you to travel to work each day – websites such as Commuter Maps offer details of major cities and areas around them, where you can search for properties that suit you.
With Brexit now firmly on the horizon, many are becoming concerned as to how it will affect Europeans working in the UK. If you’re looking for a detailed explanation of how things will work in a post-Brexit Britain, get in touch with us to discuss the different type of visas available and when and how to apply.
Although it’s a headache to apply for and get approved for a visa, it’s certainly not impossible. The UK Games Industry relies heavily on talent from abroad, 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, but it is 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).
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 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.
Although these can be considered the four the main factors to think about, it is important to do your homework on the location, studio, and role as well so you can confidently weigh up all the pros and cons of relocating. The majority of studios we work with offer comprehensive 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!
In spite of the pandemic, plenty of job seekers in games were able to start a new role remotely in 2020, with the intention of relocating across countries and continents to their new studio once it is safe to do so! So, while not many people have been relocating in the past twelve months we're ready to help you with your relocation as soon as the world allows.
If you're considering where your career in games can take you (once it's safe to do so!), get in contact with our team! Whether you're interested in exploring new opportunities either locally or further afield, we can help you find your next move.