From Argentina to Scotland: relocation, 7,000 miles and a pandemic
My experience of relocating with Skyscanner
I started my career at Skyscanner at a potentially inauspicious time — right as the pandemic started to hit the UK, and just as I was moving 7,000 miles, from my home country of Argentina. I took on the role of Software Engineer in Spitfire, a team that was responsible for the homepage in desktop. Before moving, I’d never lived anywhere else, and I’d never even visited Scotland before. Relocation can feel really overwhelming, so here’s my story for anyone considering similarly.
Debating London vs Edinburgh
If I’m honest, initially I didn’t think very deeply about the fact I’d be moving not just country, but continent. A friend mentioned the role, I’d heard great things about the quality of Skyscanner’s engineering team, development opportunities and a culture of learning…so I applied. At interview stage I started to think seriously about the fact I’d be relocating and began weighing up the pros and cons between Skyscanner’s European offices (there are several: London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Barcelona). While for many people unfamiliar with the UK might automatically think job -> London, after some research I settled on Edinburgh. One of the key reasons for this was how well-communicated the city is for travel in the UK and across Europe. While London has five airports and Edinburgh has just one, that one airport is a mere 20 minutes from the city, costs a few pounds to get to and has direct flights to European destinations. That, and direct trains to the UK’s big cities, meant I could easily explore my new home continent of a weekend, and really make the most of my time here. I could finish up work on a Friday and be somewhere new come dinner time.
My one reservation was around whether there’d be less to actually do outside of work in Edinburgh versus London. I’m relieved to report I’ve had no shortage of cultural activities and it’s a very international city. Within our Scottish offices we have around 40 different nationalities, so there’s a real feeling of camaraderie and lots of people keen to give you tips on what to do, see and where to visit. When I’m not exploring Europe more widely, I spend a lot of time walking and hiking — Edinburgh has seven hills in the city itself, , ranging from an easy ramble to more of a gasping trek, and then there’s the Pentlands, which is a regional park on the city’s edge, with incredible views, a wide expanse of terrain and several reservoirs for paddling or swimming. The fact all this is on my doorstep is incredible, and I seem to constantly be discovering new areas.
Relocation paperwork made easy
I’m not a fan of paperwork and if I’m honest the prospect of reams of visa forms and hoops to jump through made me pretty anxious. Happily, I was put in contact with a specialist immigration consultant, who took care of the bulk of the necessary paperwork for my move. It was a huge relief, with the process taking a few months in total. I was also given a relocation advice and a bank of suggestions in terms of how to find accommodation, registering for healthcare, even how to bring my pet (which was a less simple task).
While this was my first time living outside Argentina and I have nothing to compare my experience to, what I will say is that the actual relocation part, after your visa is approved, is pretty easy. There’s very little paperwork to be done once you’ve found a place to live. I arrived in the city and found a flat within a week: it was less complicated than I thought it would be. I live in Morningside and love the neighbourhood. It was originally a village, built in around 1538, which was swallowed by the city as it expanded all those years ago It has a lot of independently owned cafes and pubs, so there’s a real community feel. It’s well located for The Meadows, a large park right next to Skyscanner’s office, as well as The Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill, a 60 hectare nature reserve in the city. Plus my commute is a 30 minute walk through Victorian and Georgian architecture and a park — as journeys to work go, it’s pretty nice!
The job itself
While I started off in a team responsible for the homepage in desktop, I’ve since worked in various other teams, including one responsible for our web experience and maintaining microsites. Being able to work on one of the most critical pieces of the funnel for Skyscanner was really interesting, as was getting involved in the consolidation of our web experience. I get real satisfaction in developing something and then using Skyscanner for my own travel and seeing it right there in front of me.
As I mentioned, I joined Skyscanner as the pandemic hit, and I expected going fully remote would mean I’d have less of the benefits of office culture — the conversations not about work, the collaboration, the meeting people outside your immediate team. In actual fact, I got to know some people even better than I might have in an office environment, as I went along to online social calls, fun get-to-know-you 121s and people went above and beyond to help each other out and keep that sense of team. I really quickly got a sense of continuous improvement, where making processes more efficient and ensuring our work is first-class is key — yes, we need to deliver quickly, and that’s important, but not to the detriment of quality and development. Now, we’re back in the office in a hybrid model (typically two days in office, rest of the time from home, but flexible), and I am really enjoying being back in the office and socializing with my team in person, meeting a wide range of people and finally putting a real face to a Slack name!
Federico Costa, Software Engineer