The challenges and opportunities of relocating developers from abroad

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Michael Andreyev
February 17, 2023
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As Europe has found its way out of the pandemic, many companies have become reluctant to relocate technical talent and prefer hiring locally. We at Toughbyte help companies find developers both locally and from abroad, so understand the pros and cons of each approach. In this blog post, we will cover the challenges and opportunities of relocating candidates from other countries to help you decide whether it’s the right strategy for your organization.

The challenges

If you don’t have prior experience with relocating, you risk wasting time talking to candidates who aren't serious about moving to another country, don’t have realistic expectations about salary levels and cost of living, or don’t have buy-in from their partners. If not identified and addressed early on, these factors can pose a significant obstacle to a successful relocation. It’s worth adding that many clients we work with believe that the benefits of living in their country are obvious to candidates from abroad, but this is definitely not the case. Most candidates know very little about your country and may have some misconceptions, so you will need to pitch not only your company and position to them but your city and country as well.

When it comes to foreign candidates’ salary expectations, they often vary wildly, since they do not have a clear understanding of the amount of taxes they will pay and the local cost of living. As their potential employer, you should invest in educating them on this topic early in the hiring process to avoid unpleasant surprises further down the line. As tempting as it may be to offer someone relocating a lower salary, you need to be aware that if you do hire them, they’ll likely quickly find out that they are being underpaid. This will be demotivating for them and could negatively impact your company culture.

There is also the risk of mismanaging expectations if you want candidates to work remotely for a while before relocating. We had a case of a developer refusing to relocate after several months of working remotely for a company when he realized that although his salary would remain the same, his living expenses would be higher than in his home country. If your goal is to eventually relocate the candidate and remote work is a temporary arrangement, you need to agree on the timeline and set expectations at the outset. You may also want to offer a lower salary at the beginning and a raise upon successful relocation.

Visa processing costs and other expenses related to relocation, such as the one-way flights over and temporary accommodation, need to be budgeted for. It is customary to cover these costs not only for the candidate, but also for their family members, so make sure to factor that in as well. You need to clearly state up front that you’ll be covering these costs. If you don’t, candidates will assume that you won’t be and will be a lot less likely to apply. Visa fees vary depending on location and are relatively low in most countries, on the order of a few hundred euros per person. Flights cost about the same, so the base cost of relocating a candidate and their family members should be somewhere in the range of 500 to 2500 euros. You can learn more about the cost for any given location in our blog posts on relocating to different European countries. When it comes to accommodation, candidates are usually able to find a place to live by themselves within a couple of weeks of arriving. You can help reduce the time and stress involved by providing them with advice on where and how to search for an apartment or even providing temporary accommodation.

Visa and immigration laws can seem complex and change depending on the political situation in your country and around the globe. It can cause uncertainty for you and the candidate due to the risk of delays in application processing, which can be hard to predict. Our suggestion is to seek external advice sooner rather than later and not to navigate the process by yourself. An incorrectly filed application may get stuck for weeks, if not months, without the ability to cancel and reapply. Your external recruitment partner or dedicated relocation agency can help you avoid this situation.

Last-minute changes caused by the candidate’s family or personal circumstances can also become an obstacle. For example, their spouse may realize they have a job they cannot leave, their pet may require quarantine or they may have elderly parents whose health suddenly deteriorates. Such issues can arise unexpectedly, but similar things can happen with local candidates as well.

The opportunities

One of the most significant pros of considering candidates from abroad is gaining access to a larger talent pool. By opening up the recruitment process to a global audience, you can find the best person for the job, regardless of where they live.

As you gain the ability to tap into a larger talent pool, you can access candidates with niche expertise. Additionally, if you’re after developers that have already worked for companies with a larger scale of operations, looking for candidates abroad increases your chances of finding someone with that experience that you would not be able to find locally. As a result, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, tapping into an international talent pool can decrease your time-to-hire.

In our experience relocating hundreds of candidates, they tend to have a higher level of commitment to their new employer. Since they don’t have an existing network in the new country and are looking for stability, they are much less likely to leave than someone local. At the same time, candidates that relocate can be more ambitious and keen to prove their worth to your company.

Finally, bringing foreign team members on board will give your organization different perspectives and help you build a diverse workplace, ensuring that English becomes your company language. This will enhance your ability to innovate, solve complex problems and stay ahead of the competition. Your business will better understand and cater to the needs of a diverse customer base, thus increasing customer satisfaction.


You should be aware of the following challenges if you decide to relocate developers from abroad:

  • Risk of wasting time on candidates that are not actually ready to relocate
  • Mismanagement of expectations in case you want the candidate to work remotely before relocating
  • Additional relocation-related expenses and time required to find accommodation
  • Uncertainty caused by visa and immigration laws
  • Uncertainty caused by changes in the candidate’s circumstances

However, relocating talent also opens up the following opportunities:

  • Access to a larger talent pool and niche expertise
  • Possibility of finding developers with specialized skills faster
  • Higher level of commitment from those who relocate
  • Different perspectives and diversity in the workplace

The relocation process is a serious commitment for both the company and the candidate. It opens up significant opportunities for team growth, but at the same time requires careful consideration of the challenges you may face. If you decide to relocate a promising developer to your country, make sure to properly invest in it and thoroughly plan all the steps in advance. Finally, do not hesitate to seek external help and advice early on.

Are you considering relocating developers?

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