Usually we talk about moving to one country and compare it with Russia. Now let’s compare three of them at once! Our heroine has a varied experience. She was born in Russia, lived in Tel Aviv for 11 years, moved to Amsterdam and recently moved to London.
Let us analyze Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on points: IT, living conditions, mentality and traditions, language.
Few words about myself
Hi, my name is Lula. I left for Israel when I was young, on a family visa. There I studied as a designer, but I realized that I didn’t want to be one. I decided to become a developer because Israel has a very good IT market. She studied herself and since 2013 worked in Israel in IT.
Over time, I realized that there are no prospects for life here: the annual aggravation of the military conflict with Palestine is straining and there is absolutely no entertainment like exhibitions, museums and restaurants. Therefore, I do not want to live in Israel all my life. I managed to find a job in the Netherlands with Booking.com – this company is known for gathering programmers all over the world and bringing them to its office in Amsterdam.
We moved with my husband, a programmer. She worked in Amsterdam for a year and a half, first at Booking.com, then at a small startup. But I realized that although Amsterdam is a beautiful city, it gets boring to live here. The endless taxes were especially depressing. In the first five years, of course, there is a 30% tax rebate, but then it will disappear, and you will receive much less money. Plus I’m tired of Dutch: it’s not very convenient here without it, but I didn’t want to learn.
We decided to move to a country that speaks English so that we don’t have to learn anything. It is difficult to leave for the USA, for Canada, at 32, I was too old for an express entry visa. The easiest way was to move to the UK. I found a company there, they made a visa, and in 2019 left for London to work at Condé Nast.
By the way, there is an interesting story with a British work visa. The company paid for the services of an assistant office, which issued a tier-2 general visa (since the end of 2020, this visa is called a skilled worker ). With such a visa, you can change jobs without leaving the country. And in 2021 I did just that, going to work at Monzo. But it’s still dreary – you need to repeat the entire application process like the first time. Only the language exam does not need to be retaken.
With the lyrics and backstory finished – now let’s talk about life in three different countries.
IT infrastructure and work in the IT sphere
Israel. The IT infrastructure is quite developed here, IT is one of the main sectors of the state. Only foreigners are hardly hired, there is simply no such practice. All personnel are looked for among local people, so there are a lot of companies, but it is practically impossible to get from abroad.
The model of work here is not entirely European. In my opinion, in Israel I worked more hours, and there were fewer weekends. And everyone tried to do everything faster, hurried somewhere.
Plus, the top-down scheme is widespread in Israel, that is, key initiatives and decisions come from the bosses, and employees are just executors.
Netherlands. In terms of infrastructure, everything is not bad in Amsterdam – there are many companies and interesting projects, plus even small startups willingly give visas to foreigners.
In terms of work, after Israel, for me there was a real resort here – I finally understood what work / life balance is, I was able to have a normal rest and not rush anywhere at work.
Well, the scheme of work here is more bottom-up – the teams themselves propose something, defend their initiatives before the management.
Great Britain. There are even more IT companies in London than in Amsterdam, so finding a job is not a problem at all. Previously, in my opinion, local companies, especially small ones, were worse at issuing visas to foreigners. But now the situation has improved – Great Britain has left the European Union, so even Europeans need visas. And the issuance of a work visa to a foreigner is no longer a rare occurrence.
In terms of work / life balance and work processes, everything is like in the Netherlands. Maybe the work is going a little faster, a little harder, but it’s still better than in Israel.
But I did not notice the difference in programming languages, projects or technologies. And in Israel, and in the Netherlands, and in London, everything is about the same. The same Agile development processes. Jira, Slack apps and more.
Salaries and cost of living
I must say right away that, according to my feelings, the cost of living in all three countries is approximately the same. In London, maybe a little more expensive, but not too much. But salaries and taxes are different.
Israel. Compared to all other countries, I earned the most in Israel. And now, if you estimate, she could receive a quarter or even a third more than they receive in London. The salary level is significantly higher than in Europe.
Taxes are also rather big, but even after paying them all, more would come out of the hands.
Netherlands. I won’t say anything special here – the salary is slightly lower than in London, and it was not bad with the tax bonus. But in five years, it would have ended, and revenues have dropped dramatically.
Great Britain. In London, the median salary is around £ 44,000 per year. I get between 60,000 and 80,000. Taxes are lower than in Israel and the Netherlands.
Since my husband and I both work in good jobs, we in all countries could afford a comfortable life – not counting how much we spend on food, traveling, saving. Everything remained the same in London.
Israel. In Israel, medicine was “free” and paid for it from taxes. I paid about 10 euros a month for additional services like a subsidized dentist. For free medicine, it is excellent here – fast and high-quality. Perhaps the best of the three countries – I could, for example, clean tartar once a year for the price of a large cup of coffee. Or get a 50% discount on braces.
Netherlands. In the Netherlands, she also paid for medicine from taxes, plus about 100 euros per month for services. I spent a little time here and almost didn’t get sick, so it’s hard to say something.
Great Britain. England also has government insurance that is withheld from taxes. My employer pays £ 50 a month for private insurance, plus I pay £ 30 a month for a private GP subscription.
In England, medicine is very slow, especially during a pandemic. You can wait six months for an appointment with public insurance, so it’s better to have a private one. The situation with state dentists is especially dire – there are endless queues, and then patients often complain.
I think those who have some kind of chronic illness should budget for high medical expenses when moving to London.
Mentality and traditions
Israel. It is quite difficult here – the society is homogeneous, there are few foreigners. You are expected to quickly become like the locals. However, there are cultural nuances. For example, the locals are very assertive. The queue in Israel is a crowd where everyone climbs forward, everyone complains, a few people scandal. They generally like to shout – employees can yell at each other, and this does not mean anything – no one will quarrel, then everyone will calmly go to lunch together.
Netherlands and Great Britain. There are more foreigners here, and people do not expect you to behave like everyone else. In this regard, Europe is much more comfortable. In Israel, for 11 years I have not completely become “my own”, and here I am not yet “mine” either, but this does not bother anyone.
There is an interesting point in England – everyone here is extremely polite. They won’t just say no to you – they will definitely wrap it up in “Would you mind” or “madame would you be so kind”. Sometimes it can be difficult to expand all of these constructs and get to the bottom of the true meaning, especially on the fly during a conversation.
It is generally not easy abroad due to the fact that you have no common memories from childhood with anyone. Like the film strip “Patchwork and Cloud”, chocolates Alenka, herring under a fur coat or Olivier. They all have their own memories of books, cartoons, food.
Therefore, it is more comfortable for me to work in international companies. There everyone is from different countries, and everyone does not understand each other 🙂
Israel. In Israel, you almost certainly need to know Hebrew for a normal life. The locals speak English poorly, and it will not work to fully integrate into society.
Netherlands. Here, English is spoken much better, and in general you can live a normal life with it. But in order to interact with the state, you need a Dutch one. And this is a big part of life: you constantly need to receive documents, look at some information on websites, and issue something.
In life, it is also not always convenient – sites and services are often in Dutch, you have to use an auto-translator. And it is not always adequate.
Great Britain. One of the reasons I went to London was precisely the English language. I blissed out that everyone around me understands, and I always understand them. There was a state of linguistic euphoria. Then I got used to it, but it’s still much more convenient to live like that.
Israel. You can have more than one citizenship, so by getting Israeli citizenship, you do not lose another one. In general, the process is quite simple, but for the majority it is irrelevant – almost no one is hired here. So I’ll tell you about other countries.
Netherlands. You cannot have more than one citizenship. That is, getting Dutch citizenship means giving up any others. This must be taken into account if you plan to stay in the country of moving for a long time. To get it, of course, you need to learn Dutch.
Great Britain. You can have more than one citizenship, the naturalization process is not too complicated. If you come on a skilled worker work visa, you need to live in the country for 5 years – they will give you permanent residence, leave to remain. It allows you to live in the country without being tied to an employer. After a year with permanent residence, you can apply for citizenship. As a result, the whole process takes 6.5-7 years.
For me, British citizenship is not an end in itself, but if I like living in London, I will try to get it.
Other little things
Climate. I was born in Siberia: cold winter, little sun, not very high humidity. This was not the case in Israel. It is good here in winter, but in summer for five months it is constantly +30 ° C and above. In the morning and in the evening a little better, but in the afternoon you don’t want to leave the air conditioner. But it is very sunny.
It is much more comfortable in Amsterdam and London – it is always cool, but not cold or hot. When I just left Israel, they scared me that there was no sun in Europe at all and by the middle of winter I would die of lack of it. In fact, everything turned out to be not so bad – yes, not so sunny, but there is no endless gray winter.
Services. It is very sad in Israel with different mobile services. I logged into my bank account from the web pages because the mobile app barely worked. I used to receive expenses on a credit card in a month.
In Europe, compared to this, there was a strong improvement. The financial industry is especially developed in London – from applications you can manage pensions, savings, investments. They say that Russia is even better, but when I left it was not yet so widespread. After Israel, I am satisfied with the European level.
Delivery services in Israel are also not very good – local parcels go for a week, from Europe – from three weeks to infinity. In Europe, this is much better – I rarely wait for something longer than a week.
Communication and the Internet. In Israel, the Internet was good, I can’t say anything special about it. In Amsterdam too. But in London it depends on the area. So far, everything is bad for me – only 10 Mbit / s via cable. I rummage from the phone – it gives 60, sometimes 100. I plan to move to the Canary Wharf area, there will be fiber optic and normal speed.
Sport. In Israel, everything is mainly related to the sea – surfing, kiting, jogging along the coast, sitting on the beach.
In the Netherlands, everyone is on bicycles. “Take a walk in nature” = “Ride a bike outside the city.”
In England, such leisure activities are mainly hiking in the countryside. There are many scenic routes through all sorts of villages: beautiful views, fields, sheep.
Bonus: weekend in each country
Let me tell you about my typical weekend in the Tel Aviv suburbs, Amsterdam and London.
Israel, Friday (here it is like Saturday):
- I have breakfast at home.
- Until 10 am I go shopping – until the streets are warmed up to the daytime maximum. Half of the shops in the afternoon will close until Saturday evening or even Sunday – Shabbat. It is especially important to buy vegetables and fruits.
- I take a shower, because even in the morning on the street you have time to sweat.
- On the street during the day it is +32 ° С, there is even no point in looking at the forecast. So I sit at home: I read books, I learn something about programming. Air conditioners are heard humming and humming outside the windows. Some are old and make strange noises like rattling and grunting.
- At 8 pm, the heat subsides. We have booked a table at a restaurant for this time – there are many pleasant, exquisite places in Tel Aviv, and we go out for dinner once a week.
- We decided we would go to the High Society portrait exhibition at the Rijksmuseum.
- We usually ride bicycles on weekends, but it is more convenient to get to the Rijksmuseum by tram. So let’s go like this.
- After the museum, we go to coffee with Dutch Apple Pie in the Back to black cafe. It is very well known in the city, I learned about it from a colleague at work.
- We return home and nothing else interesting happens during the day. Cleaning the apartment and trying to learn Dutch by reading an article in the local newspaper. It tells about a pair of storks that nest every year in the park near our house.
- On Friday I checked the weather forecast and made sure it wouldn’t rain.
- Through the AllTrails app I chose a walk with my husband, bought tickets through the Trainline app and look forward to the opportunity to get out of the “concrete jungle” for a few hours.
- I took the point to point route from Shoreham to Otford, two villages in Kent. I travel by train for 50 minutes, the route will take 1.5 hours.
- Basically, this is a walk through fields and meadows, you can see sheep and cows. I try to avoid cows – as a city dweller, I am a little afraid of them. From wild animals I saw a deer, pheasants a couple of times, once I saw a snake.
- After a walk in a good mood, we return to London.
- We decide not to cook dinner and order through the app from my favorite Indian restaurant “Silka – Urban Indian”. I usually use UberEats or Deliveroo, they both work great in London and compete for the market. There is also Takeaway.com.