Thinking of relocating in pursuit of greener pastures, but don’t want to go as far as Sydney, Dubai or Silicon Valley? If you work in tech, you might want to consider one of these European hotspots. Not only do they offer great career opportunities, but impressive standards of living too. Quit your job and pack your bags: Europe is your oyster.
01 Dublin, Ireland
Dublin’s favourable corporation tax rates and English-speaking community has made it the obvious choice of European HQ for many international tech firms – including Microsoft, Facebook, Slack, Apple and eBay, to name just a few. (Google, the largest private sector employer in Dublin, employs more than 6,000 people). But it’s not just the giants; Dublin has a thriving start-up scene too, with thousands of early and mid-stage firms – particularly in fintech, travel tech, igaming and edtech. If you’re a fan of breath-taking countryside, a great live music scene, the Irish sense of humour, Guinness, and of course world-class St Patrick’s day parties, Dublin could be for you.
OK, so we might be a bit biased at Pentasia. We've been recruiting here for over 10 years, and have helped hundreds of candidates relocate to the Mediterranean island (including many of us!) But with sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches, gorgeous historic sights, friendly locals and affordable prices – it’s not exactly a hard sell. Add this to the booming digital scene, (Malta’s digital economy is growing faster than the European average) it can’t be denied that this rock in the Med is a pretty awesome place to accelerate your career.
Berlin is indisputably cool, and the German capital’s arty, hipster and tech scene has placed Berlin firmly on the ‘digital hotspot’ list for a few years. Berlin start-ups raised €2.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2015 (more than London or Stockholm) and now the city is hoping for a ‘Brexit Bonanza’ as digital companies choose to avoid London in favour of Berlin, in the wake of uncertainty over the UK/ EU relationship. Street art, communist blocks turned warehouse chic, cheap German beer… yes please.
Warm summer evenings, tapas and sangria on picturesque squares…. Barcelona is everyone’s favourite city. But the Catalan capital is also emerging as the hub of Spain’s booming tech scene over rival city Madrid. Home to the annual Mobile World Conference and an expanding start-up community based in the 22@ District (Districte de la Innovació, which has been successfully redeveloped through government initiatives), Barcelona has an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial culture, with regular meet-ups, relatively relaxed working restrictions and a cheap standard of living.
One of the many cities in central Eastern Europe emerging as tech and innovation hubs, Sofia has a high level of technical talent sprung from it’s past as the IT capital of the Soviet Union. Combined with lower living costs and a €200m grant from the EU for venture capital activities, Sofia has become an attractive prospect for investors and start-ups, with iGaming, SAAS, cloud being some of the sectors gaining traction. The locals are welcoming, beer is $1 for a large bottle, and in under 2 hours you can escape to the beautiful Rila mountains, boasting cheap ski resorts and incredible scenery.
The culture may be relaxed but ambition is rife in Amsterdam’s tech scene. In the city that brought Python and Bluetooth to the world, many US companies are taking advantage of Amsterdam’s location and English-speaking population for their gateway to Europe – including the likes of Tesla and Netflix. Amsterdam has wifi everywhere, 400km of cycle lanes and topped all other European cities in the Economist’s ‘safest cities index’ for 2017. What’s not to love?
With incredibly low taxes and home to some the biggest names in igaming, banking and data centres, the 6.8km square piece of land dubbed ‘The Rock’ has been a prominent destination for digital careers (and the world’s biggest igaming hub) for some years. A British overseas territory boasting 300 days of sunshine a year and located right on the doorstep of the stunning Costa del Sol, it’s no surprise that Gibratar is a popular favourite with British expats.
A veteran of the tech scene and the birthplace of Spotify, Skype and SoundCloud, Stockholm can now boast the most ‘unicorns’ in Europe (private tech companies valued over $1bn), second only per capita to Silicon Valley. Working in Stockholm has its perks: the Swedes value work-life balance (they trialled the 6 hour work day last year), and it’s common to break up the working day with ‘fikas’, coffee and cake breaks where you are encouraged to step away from your desk and chat to colleagues. Yum!
A booming digital scene might not be your first association with the bustling, arty, historic city of Budapest, but Hungary’s capital is now recognised as a magnet for start-ups, investors and incubators in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region. According to VentureBeat, it’s the top Eastern European ecosystem for scaleups due to the city’s availability of capital. And with the cost of living coming in at over 50% cheaper than London, it’s one of the most reasonably priced cities on this list.
Forget Silicon Valley, it’s all about Silicon Roundabout. London’s booming digital scene is undeniable: with great international connections, it’s home to 18 of the 47 European tech ‘unicorns’ in Europe, and attracts a huge amount of technical talent from overseas, due to the city’s reputation as a vibrant, forward-thinking and creative city. The weather might not be that sunny, but the outlook for the digital scene looks bright even despite Brexit uncertainty.