Thought I’d post a reply as I’m a South African developer working in UK, currently in Belfast. When people say London is expensive they’re understating it - it felt like I fell down quite a few rungs in the socioeconomic ladder when I moved over from Joburg. I had some incredible experiences in London, and the city has some amazing things to offer - but in the end the highs weren’t enough to cancel out how bloody difficult and crowded the city felt every day.
Be careful of recruitment agents this side of the world, as well as potential employers. In SA the labour courts have teeth, and you won’t often find an employer misrepresenting a job. My experience in SA was that generally you got the job you got sold, and they didn’t gloss over the negative details. E.g “this is a support and maintenance role only, there’s very little dev work”, “the previous team left the system in a complete mess and we’re still fixing it”, “you’ll have to work weekends close to a deadline”, or at a famous investment bank “we have a very aggressive culture and people generally only last 18 months”.
Here are my experiences to date in the uk:
Job 1: consultancy which promised working on cutting edge tech, the potential to travel around the world on projects. Reality was that it was a body shop with an extremely high turnover due to most of the staff being placed on resume killing support and maintenance work at banks.
Job 2: bank which promised ‘occasional’ overtime and a 9 to 5 work day. Reality was that people generally only left at 6. Overtime was not occasional either. I won’t complain too much about this one though because the manager did keep his word regarding greenfield work and I learnt a lot from him.
Job 3: promised a lateral move into a business analyst position, with upcoming greenfield work. Started getting very angry about a year in when the greenfield work they’d promised wasn’t materialising, or the business analyst role, and I was mostly doing support and maintenance junky work. I got put in the lead position on a project after that, so that redeemed my CV, but again...why didn’t they tell the truth about the timelines involved during the interview. I would have gone somewhere else.
Job 4: promotion, so a nice jump in title but almost a year in and still no greenfield work - although a project is due to start shortly.
My experience so far has been that recruiters and employers tend to exaggerate how much greenfield work is on offer to reel you in, and don’t tell the full truth about how much of your time will be spent on support and maintenance work. I’ve only worked for financial companies since coming here, and a lot of their code is very old, and very large, and patched and mutated to the point of becoming spaghetti. These companies do not seem to want to rewrite, only patch what there. So be careful which jobs you accept, check glassdoor for reviews and beware of any that sound like they were written by HR. (Company 1 planted fake positive reviews on glassdoor because every person leaving was trashing them on the site.) Anyway, I’ll end this post because it’s turning into an essay, but let me know if you want any more advice. Good luck!