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“They do everything to retain staff”

I lived in Greece and worked for a product company there. I graduated from a Belarusian school, stayed in touch with classmates—some of them work in IT. That’s how I started thinking about relocation: my friends invited me to Minsk, told me about its benefits. I checked out the resources on the topic to learn that Belarus does have an established IT community and tons of events.

The key reason to move for me was career development, which was lacking in Greece.

“Belarusian IT sector’s special feature is adopting the best Western traditions”

Local employers do everything to retain their staff. In Belarus, programmers are in demand, there’s a need in experts. The competition for them is keen. In Greece, on the other hand, no one seeks to retain anyone: the economy is tough, and there are many people willing to fill a vacancy.

I found a suitable job offer after a couple of months of inactive searching. Accepting the offer and the move itself were two weeks apart, no red tape or difficulties. The first disappointment was the weather. Even my childhood memories were totally different, even though I lived a little further south. Minsk summers are cold; 7 degrees (45 °F) on a July night—this is OK for Alaska, not Belarus. Very few sunny days, too. For those moving from southern countries, vitamin D level plummets rapidly if one fails to monitor it.

Vacancies at iTechArt Group 9 Created with Sketch.

But the city itself is wonderful—infrastructure, transportation. Getting about is so easy if you live near the subway; especially since it opens early and works until late. I don’t use ground transport. Minsk is very clean, especially downtown. The selection of places to go out will suit every taste. For example, I remember being impressed by one bar whose entire interior was made of ice. All in all, bustling cultural life here came to me as a surprise. Shows, performances, new places open—something’s going on every day.

Another downside: the local airline Belavia’s monopoly; flying is only convenient via Vilnius. Unfortunately, the flight market remains largely inaccessible until low-cost airlines come here. In my opinion, Belarus is generally expensive. Foodstuffs are cheap, but other prices may be unreasonably high. Say, accommodation is twice as expensive as it should be: a two-bedroom apartment’s rent is equal to an average family’s monthly earnings. I think it’s in part because of IT folks.

“Everyone is looking for an apartment, which leads to a shortage”

Me, I got lucky, on the other hand—found an apartment fairly easily. The company pays your first two weeks’ rent after relocation; this time was enough for me to find a suitable option. Generally, iTechArt surprised in a good way by how its staff is treated, the extent of support provided when moving.

The way I see it, Minsk has already reached global level in many aspects. Even in terms of technology—public transport fares can be paid by card, for example. Of course, things may not be as bright outside of the “IT world,” but by and large, the city is changing for the better. I recommend that any IT expert at least consider Belarus. The “salary/cost of living” ratio is really decent here.

Upsides
Demand for experts.
Active urban cultural life.

Downsides
Not enough sun.
No low-cost airlines.