Archives for October 2016

October 27, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part VI – Prague, CZ

Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part VI – Prague, CZ

Milburn Lewis is a recruitment business that conducts cross-border searches for our clients, the Big 4 and other international accountancy firms. Most of the professionals we work with are not just considering a career move, but also a relocation.

Since the launch of our ‘Making the Move’ blog in June 2016, we have explored locations across Europe. From Dublin to Geneva, Zurich to Luxembourg, we have discussed the many reasons professionals are choosing an international move as the next step in their career.

Today, we mark the first in a three-part series focusing on the Central and East European region. This week we travel to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. This will be followed in the coming weeks by Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia.

Welcome to the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a sovereign state located in central Europe. It is boarded by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east, and Poland to the northeast. Czechia is one of Europe’s, and indeed the world’s, newest countries having been established in 1993 after Czechoslovakia was dissolved into two countries: The Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Czechia is a is a mid-sized country compared to other European states. It is spread across 78,866 km2 (30,450 sq. ml), which means it is similar in size to Austria and the Republic of Ireland. The total population is c. 10,000,000 with around 7.1 percent characterised as being “foreign born”. The principle ethnic groups in the Czech Republic are: Czech, 90.4 percent or 9.25 million people; Moravian, 380,000 people; Slovak, 193,000; and Roma, 171,000.

There is only one official language in the Czech Republic, which is unsurprisingly Czech. According to the Czech census it is spoken by over 96 percent of Czechia inhabitants. However, English is also widely spoken throughout the country, as is German and Russian to lesser extent. Professionals making the move to the Czech Republic will find it relatively easy to live day-to-day only speaking English; however, making an attempt to learn the local language is always advisable.

The Czech Republic is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, with the Prime Minister as the head of government and the President as the head of state. The parliament is bicameral, with the Chamber of Deputies (200 members) and the Senate (81 members). In recent years, the Czech Republic has witnessed a significant increase in the number of tourists coming from western Europe, North America, and Russia.

In 2004, the Czech Republic became a full member of the European Union. As part of the joining process the Czech government made a commitment to join the Euro Zone and therefore adopt the Euro as its state currency. Although the Czech government continues to assert its commitment to joining the Euro Zone there is no fixed date for join. Czechia continues to use the Czech Republic Koruna as its currency.

The Czech people are known to be welcoming, especially in Prague where Czechia’s tourism is heavily concentrated. Professional’s we have helped me to the Czech Republic tell us that it’s a great place to live and work.

Living and Working in Prague

Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, with a population of over 2 million living in the greater metro area and around 1,250,000 in the city centre. Prague is often referred to as the cultural centre of the Czech Republic due to its historical buildings, parliament, festivals, bars, and restaurants.

Although Prague is the largest city in the Czech Republic, this is relative when compared to other capital cities around the world. Spread across 496 km2 (192 sq. ml) it is comparable in size to Madrid, Spain. This means that it provides professionals with a relatively easy commute within and outside of the city centre.

As well as offering an exceptional work-life balance, Prague also present professionals with fantastic opportunities for career development. In recent years, we have witnessed a number of the Big 4 firms invest heavily in Prague and the wider CEE region. This ensures that opportunities will continue to be available in the long term.

Like most European cities we’ve explored, there is a healthy immigrant community in Prague attracting professionals and tourists from across the world. It is therefore highly likely that wherever you come from, you will find someone from your country of origin, making Prague a great choice for professionals looking to make an international move.

The Practicalities: Right to Work

The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union since 2004. Therefore, citizens of EU member countries do not require a visa or work permit in order to travel, reside, or gain employment in Czechia. If you are a non-EU citizen the process does become more complicated. As always, however, we would like to point out that it is not impossible to acquire a move for non-EU passport holders.

Citizens from countries outside of the EU are referred to as “third-country nationals” and the restriction on their right to live and work are more stringent. If a professional is offered employment in the Czech Republic, the prospective employer must be on the approved sponsors list and must submit an application to the Czech government for the require visa and work permit.

The Practicalities: Cost of Living in Prague

The cost of living in Prague is high when compared to other cities and regions in the Czech Republic. However, when compared to similar cities across Europe it has an exceptionally low cost of living. In addition to accommodation, transport, food, you will be required to pay taxes and health insurance premiums.

The relatively low cost of living is extremely attractive to professionals looking to further their career outside of the larger markets such as London and New York. When living and working in the Czech Republic, one’s largest outgoing is likely to be accommodation. The average cost (per month) of a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre is 14,321.40 CZK (€530), whilst a 3-bedroom in the same location is roughly 27,021.50 CZK (€1000). For those professionals who prefer to live outside the city centre, you’ll find a lovely 3-bedroom apartment/house for about 16,212.90 CZK (€600).

All residents of the Czech Republic are required to pay income tax. This is currently levied at a flat rate of 15 percent on gross income with an additional 7 percent solidarity tax surcharge for individuals making over 48 times the average, which is currently 1,277,846.73 CZK (€47290).

Given the increase in tourism to Prague, there has been a great deal of investment in its public transport services throughout the city. It is also very economical with a monthly, unlimited ticket costing around 540.43 CZK (€20).

Another outgoing will be healthcare. Under Czech law you must be covered if you have a permanent residence or are working for an employer that has a registered business address in the Czech Republic. Healthcare in the Czech Republic is paid for on the basis of contributions from your salary (if you work for a Czech employer), and they are paid to a public health insurance company. Private insurance is of course an option too, and many professionals are members of private schemes.

Concluding Remarks: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a city that offers Big 4 professionals the opportunity to advance their career, whilst simultaneously achieving an exceptional standard of living. If you’re committed to a move to Prague, or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles available, email: info@milburnlewis.com.

October 05, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part V – Amsterdam, NDL

Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part V – Amsterdam, NDL

Milburn Lewis is a recruitment business that conducts cross-border searches for our clients, the Big 4 and other international accountancy firms. Most of the professionals we work with are not just considering a career move, but also a relocation.

It has been a busy summer for us here at Milburn Lewis, but we’re welcoming back our successful ‘Making the Move’ blog series with a visit to one of Europe’s most vibrant and exciting cities – Amsterdam.

Welcome to the Netherlands

The Netherlands is the main constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions and offers much in the way of history and beauty. In recent years it has also become an attractive location for the world’s young and ambitious professionals.

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country in western Europe. It borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Due to its location on the North Sea, the Netherlands is home to Europe’s largest port and, as a result, has played a significant role in the European economy for many centuries.

Like many of the countries we’ve profiled, the Netherlands is a relatively small country at just over 41,500 km2, which is similar in size to Denmark and Switzerland. The total population is circa 17 million, with roughly 11 percent being “foreign-born”. The ethnic makeup of the Netherlands is therefore unsurprising: Dutch, 78.3 %; other EU, 5.9%; Turks, 2.3%; and Moroccans, 2.2%.

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. There are also languages that are classified as being regional to the Netherlands, which include English, Frisian, and Papiamento. According to government data, the Dutch is home to a high proportion of bilingual, trilingual, and multilingual people. As a result, professionals seeking a move to the Netherlands should find it relatively easy to assimilate into their new surroundings.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with its political epicentre based in Amsterdam. The Dutch are well known for their multi-culturalism, welcoming nature, and desire for an excellent work life balance.

We’ve found that professionals have been attracted because of its strong economy and links to Europe’s largest markets. The Dutch economy has a high level of economic freedom. Its primary trading partners are Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Italy, China, and Russia.

The Netherlands is also one of the world’s top 10 exporters. Its main industries are foodstuffs, chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, trades, services, and tourism. It is also home to some of the world’s largest and most successful brands: Randstad, Unileaver, Heineken, KLM, Royal Dutch Shell, Philips, and TomTom.

Being the 17th largest economy in the world, the Netherlands has much to offer early career professionals who are looking to enhance and grow their career, especially within the Big 4 environment. It also offers an excellent work life balance, which is becoming increasingly important for professionals at all stages of their career.

Living and Working in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital and largest city in the Netherlands, with over 2.4 million people living in the metropolitan area and around 836,000 living in the city centre. Amsterdam is frequently referred to as the cultural hub of the Netherlands due to its diverse population, high levels of tourism, festivals, bars, restaurants, and museums.

Although Amsterdam is the largest city in NDL, it is still small compared to many other European capitals. Spread across over 219 km2 it is comparable to Lyon and Stockholm but is a lot more densely populated. The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, is renowned for its public transport. The public transport card (OV-chipkaart) allows commuters to travel on trams, buses and metros, which makes commuting between the city centre and outer suburbs quick and painless.

As well as offering an exceptional work life balance, Amsterdam also presents professionals with fantastic opportunities for career development. In recent years, the Big 4 and Top 10 firms have all made clear their intentions of investing heavily in the Dutch economy, ensuring that these opportunities will be available in the long term.

Like most European cities we’ve explored, there is a healthy immigrant community in Amsterdam, attracting professionals and tourists from across the world. It is therefore highly likely that wherever you come from, you will find someone from your country of origin. This makes Amsterdam a great choice for professionals looking to make an international move.

The Practicalities: Right to Work

The Netherlands is a founding member of the European Union and therefore all citizens of EU member countries do not require a visa or work permit in order to travel, reside, or gain employment in the Netherlands. However, if you are a non-EU citizen the process can become a lot more complicated. As always, however, we would like to point out that it is not impossible to acquire a move for non-EU passport holders.

If you are a non-EU citizen, you are required to acquire an employment permit in order to work in the Netherlands. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by getting a company to sponsor you as a “highly skilled immigrant”. There are a number of stipulations that must be met in order for the Dutch government to approve your sponsorship:

  1. You must have been issued with an employment contract by the sponsoring company
  2. You must agree to take out healthcare insurance prior to arrival in the Netherlands
  3. If you are over 30 years of age, your salary must be over €4,240 per month
  4. If you are under 30 years of age, your salary must be over €3,108 per month

Many of these restriction do not apply for professionals taking roles that require advanced educational qualifications, i.e. PhD. However, given the salaries one might expect within the Big 4 or Top 10 firms, we believe that these requirements make a move to the Netherlands a real possibility and exciting opportunity.

The Practicalities: Cost of Living in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city that is full of culture and excitement. Having had a great deal of development over the last decade, Amsterdam has established itself as one of Europe’s most attractive locations for tourists and professionals alike. However, this does mean that the cost of living is higher than some of capital cities across Europe.

We strongly believe that this shouldn’t dissuade you from making a move to Amsterdam, however. The feedback we’ve received from professionals we’ve placed at firms in the city is that these costs are more than mitigated by the high salaries, strong economy, and exceptional work life balance on offer.

Similar to most cities around the world, Amsterdam has its upmarket suburbs that are increasingly popular and therefore expensive. In such areas, professionals can expect to pay a monthly rent of on average €1,918 for a one-bedroom apartment. These areas are known to have a lively nightlife and will offer ample opportunities for socializing and networking with fellow professionals.

If this seems too exorbitant, it is possible to find city centre locations for around €1,502 per month. These areas are still considered lively, exciting, and safe – possibly suiting younger professionals who are making their first career move.

Regardless of where you chose to live in Amsterdam, the exceptional public transport offers quick and reliable commutes from most areas of the city – making Amsterdam a perfect choice for those professionals wanting to improve their work life balance. Compared to other cities, the public transport might be considered expensive: €118 for a monthly unlimited pass. However, the feedback we’ve received is that it is worth the cost and is clearly invested back into maintaining and enhancing the service.

Another thing to think about when considering a move is healthcare. In the Netherlands, all non-EU immigrants are required to obtain health insurance before arriving in the country, whereas EU citizens have four months to acquire coverage. The basic coverage in the Netherlands costs €100 and covers “general medical care, including medical specialists, hospital care, GP appointments etc.”

Like we’ve already said, the cost of living in Amsterdam is high but so is the quality of life, salaries, and opportunities for career advancement.

Concluding Remarks: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is a city that offers Big 4 and Top 10 professionals the opportunity to work in a growing and thriving economy, advance their career, whilst simultaneously achieving an excellent work life balance. If you’re committed to a move to Amsterdam or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles available, email info@milburnlewis.com.

info@milburnlewis.com
+44 (0) 131 510 5530
3-4 Queen Street, Edinburgh. EH2 1JE, UK