This article was published on May 29, 2015

Why I left my home and my family for a startup job in Spain

Why I left my home and my family for a startup job in Spain
Chuk Ikeh
Story by

Chuk Ikeh

Chuk Ikéh is Head of Content at Tyba. Chuk Ikéh is Head of Content at Tyba.

The Back Story:

I’m from London. Until about 14 months ago, I’d never lived outside of the UK. I’m 27 years old now, so that’s a good two and a half decades spent audibly groaning about the same grey skies.

Finding a job has never really been a huge problem, and I say that with as much humility as I can muster. But to land a gig as a copywriter at what was, at the time, one of the internet’s biggest startups about a month after graduating feels pretty cool in hindsight.

But things are different now. There are more startup jobs in Europe than people realize, as I’ve discovered first-hand working at Tyba. So, for those of you considering packing your bags, boarding a flight and moving abroad to find a startup job that excites you, I thought I’d share a few reasons.

You learn how to adapt to a new environment

Okay, in my case, I had already been to Spain a few times. But lounging around in your Speedos in a hotel resort swimming pool and shovelling paella into your mouth a couple of times is not the same as living somewhere.

Here’s an example: here in Madrid, most banks close their doors at around 2pm during the weekdays, and only one or two of them are open for business at all on a Saturday. That means you need to get all your bureaucratic shit together before lunchtime, otherwise you’ll be waiting another day, my friend. Coming fresh from London, that was a bit of a surprise for me, to say the least.

But while it can be a bit of a pain to suddenly change the way you normally do things, you actually end up becoming more flexible, quicker to react to situations and also more empathetic towards other people.

Your career ladder will shrink

We all know that finding a job in any country is no walk in the park. The job market is getting acquainted with millennials and as a result is becoming very competitive.

But here’s the thing: if you have your metaphorical house in order, know the specific field you want to work in, and have done your homework, the door to your dream job suddenly creaks open a little wider. On top of it, you have more chance of being given more responsibility in a shorter time.

For example, a lot of people aren’t aware that Madrid actually has quite a healthy startup scene. Yet you don’t really see herds of eager tech talent sprinting over here as fast as they do to, say, London or Berlin.


You can learn a new language

OK, I must confess: after more than a year of living in the capital city, my Spanish is still a little ‘mas o menos’. That’s partly because I spend most of my waking hours at work, where the default language is English, and partly because I’ve yet to put more effort into practice.

But there are so many positives to having a second language up your sleeve. For starters, people who speak more than one language tend to earn more. Then there’s the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, the companies looking to grow beyond their immediate borders are more likely to make you a key part of that on both a national and international level.

Your network will grow. A lot

When you work abroad, you construct new relationships, you expand your circle by adding new people who work in your field, and all of this happens on an international scale. So when the time comes to move on, these relationships are likely to stay.

The fact that you’re somewhere new will challenge to reach out to new people, even heading out for groceries is a new experience. The new friends, colleagues and acquaintances you meet and the circles they connect you to are likely to be valuable in more ways than one.

The takeaway

The more miles you clock up on your personal dashboard, the more difficult it is to drop everything like it’s hot and set yourself up in another country. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take on a job abroad earlier in your career, so that you can start stacking up experiences and skills that’ll ultimately make you stand out from the crowd.

And if any of the aforementioned isn’t enough of a reason to stuff a suitcase with essentials and say sayonara to your mother, your friends and your comfort zones, the stories you’ll be able to tell about your experience certainly will be. My adventures abroad are only just beginning and I’m loving every minute so far. So, my advice to you? simple. JUST DO IT.

Check out some of the exciting startup jobs available across Europe on TNW Jobs. And if you’re part of a startup looking to expand your crew, take advantage and post your vacancies here.

Image credits: Steff Gutovska

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