Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Week 4: Getting Closer

Things are rollin' now. I spoke with Mathias in Stuttgart today. We talked about our options and I told him about my preference of obtaining a permanent position with his company, with the hopes of getting the freelance visa once we are over there. He was excited about that, since he also investigated the process, and discovered that that would be the easiest and quickest option. By Friday morning, he will present me with an offer.

We talked about some details and he straight up informed me of the benefits that will come with my salary. 40 hours a week, 28 working days of vacation (almost 6 weeks!?!?), sick pay, health insurance, and they will pay for up to 2 months of accommodation once we arrive, until we get settled. That was a nice surprise, I thought I was going to have to beg for that one. He thought the work visa would take between 6-8 weeks to get. He will be offering me between 50-60,000 euros, so we will see what he comes up with. I hope it's towards the higher end, because I usually end up selling my self short and am not a good barterer. I have done some research on costs of living and how much would be enough for us to live comfortably and 60,000 should be fine. Stuttgart is certainly cheaper than Munich, so I am kind of glad that we are not there, but Stuttgart was not my first choice. 

I hope to get my hopes up too much, but I am excited about this...I will write again when I hear from him.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Week 3: Bureaucracy Wall

If any of you ever want to know anything about immigration to Germany, I am your man. Through that Toytown Germany site I mentioned a few posts back, I was put in contact with a company in Stuttgart looking for exactly my skills. I called him on Wednesday, giving him a few days to look over the ol' resume, which I sent last Friday. He is a very nice guy and I obtained lots of information from him. His name is Mathias (aren't they all haha). He can 100% guarantee me work, which is exciting, but the whole problem is the work permit situation. There are two possible work permit situations for a guy like me. One is a "freelance" visa which allows the holder to work as a freelancer (mostly teachers, writers, etc use this) for any company that they want. It is the holy grail of work permits. The second is a work permit bound to a company(a "permanent" visa), similar to the one Jenna got when we lived in London. This permit is valid only for working with the one company. If you were to quit or change jobs, you would have to go apply for the work permit all over again. As a freelancer, you are in charge of obtaining health insurance, get no paid vacations, or any social benefits, and are stuck doing your own taxes--basically you get paid 100% of what you earn and you take care of all the messy work with the government (and I assure you Germany has some strict laws haha). So an employer loves this type of arrangement because they have zero responsibility for you. These jobs pay alot more. We are talking 50 euro an hour. Now, if I was to get the permanent work visa, I would be on a salary. For the jobs I am looking at, this is 50-60,000 euros a year. Works out to be like 29 euro an hour max. But, 6 weeks paid vacation in Germany is the norm, plus all the extra holidays they get over there, plus complete healthcare coverage and any other social benefits (pension, etc.). My man Mathias in Stuttgart offered me an option of taking the freelance or doing the permanent. So, now we have to talk about how I am to get these work permits....

The permanent one is pretty straight forward--I will get a work contract from Mathias, send it in with my passport to the German embassy in San Fran, and they will process it, checking to see if the job is scarce enough to be hiring someone outside the EU, etc. I called the embassy today and they said the process takes 2-3 months! The one benefit to being an American in all this is that we have the privilege to be able to go to Germany without a work permit (90 days maximum stay), apply for one inside the country, and start working as soon as it is issued. Through research, I have read consistently that work permits are issued in 2-3 weeks or so, if you are in Germany and applying for it. This is alot different from 2-3 months. When I called the German embassy in San Fran this morning, the visa lady really did not know anything about the freelance visa. Through research on the subject, it seems like a daunting hula hoop fest to get one and could take months to obtain, which is why its the holy grail of work permits.

SO....right now I am leaning toward taking the permanent position for less money, but being relatively hassle free.  Mathias and company may even be able to assist with accommodation when we arrive or some relocation costs, which would be nice. I have yet to discuss this with Mathias, so I will keep you updated. I hope that his company is willing to wait the 2-3 months for the work permit. Otherwise, it would be pretty risky for us to pack up and move over there without the work permit in place. It's nice that it is an option, but if something did go wrong (work permit takes longer than we thought, etc.) than we would be losing lots of money trying to stay afloat on our savings. That rule really benefits a single guy with no wife no kid and no dog haha

I guess I was hoping that the situation was as it is here in Portland. I work for a company (Idex Solutions)who contracts out my services to a large company (Freightliner) and I get paid a good wage and have all the taxes taken out by Idex. A freelancer in Germany is basically the same thing as self-employed. Maybe once we are over there, I can talk to some people and find out what its all about. It is hard getting any quality up to date info from the US and speaking ZERO German. Sprechen Zie Work Permits? NEIN.

So I may not be making the big bucks right away but at least we will be over there...hope that salary is enough to be comfortable. 

I will update as I know more.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Applying Myself: Week 2

Week 2 is over. Alas, no job yet. Things have slowed down a bit. I had one guy say he can definitely help me out, but haven't heard from him in almost 6 days. I did have a phone interview yesterday--that went well and they said they were interested, so we shall see. That was for a job in Stuttgart, which would be just fine. So there are some leads out there but I think the major issue is the work permit issue--just have to keep sending myself out there and hope that an employer bites (MORE fishing analogies haha). I am trying not to get discouraged. Life is going by so fast that if I am not careful, I will be 50 and still looking to work in Germany!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Applying Myself: Week 1

It's a battle out there! Week one is over and I have had some good feedback from potential employers but no job offers yet. Although I expected to possibly have an offer at this point (even though I told myself that was wishful thinking), I am fine with the fact that this might take awhile. Don't get me wrong--we want to be there and are ready if an offer comes by, but at the same time, we are still enjoying life and life is good right now, so it's fine. Gotta be able to go with the flow.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Job Applying, Day 2

Well, Day 2 of the applying-for-jobs adventure comes to a close. Including monster.co.uk and jobsite.co.uk, I sent out around 18 copies of my resume and cover letter. PHEW. I got many "thank you for your resume, we will review it and get back to you" emails and one email from a connection on Toytown Germany that was more proimising. It is for a design position in Nuremburg (north of Munich), doing car interiors using CATIA. He asked me what kind of wage I expected and why we wanted to move to Germany. After replying to him (I only have a rough idea of how much I should make over there so I asked for 45 euro an hour. I have seen some jobs for as much as 55 euro.... either way plenty of money), he said he would forward my resume to the people who do the hiring. So thats the news from the last couple days....I will keep updating the blog as more EXCITMENT develops!