Relocating from Morocco to Estonia to join Wise

Estonia skyline during winter

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I first heard of Wise during my remote internship. The company I was working for was based in Europe, and paying my salary to my Moroccan account through Wise. The positive experience I had with Wise caught my interest and I decided to apply for a Java Engineering position here. The recruiters liked my application and I got all the way to the final interview but didn’t end up getting the job. What I did get was heaps of useful feedback and was told I could reapply in 6 months.

Over the next two years I changed the focus of my technical skills from Java to Python and when I saw a Python developer opening I jumped at the chance to apply. This was the first time Wise had listed a Python job, and I got it! So, it all worked out in the end.

Getting the job also meant relocating from my home country in Morocco to Tallinn, Estonia. As a first time expat, moving continents, let alone countries can be terrifying but making that move is also so exciting and full of new experiences, so I wanted to shed some light on my relocation journey as I joined Wise as an Engineer.

Picture I took on my hike to Keava bog, Estonia

From Morocco to Estonia — the relocation process 🌍

Before I could get on a plane, I needed to pass a background check which took about 10 days and then I was contacted by Wise’s mobility specialist. They introduced me to the relocation company that Wise partners with, to start the process of my relocation.

The HR team at Wise were extremely helpful in facilitating my relocation and were really supportive when there were things I wasn’t sure about.

They shared a super detailed document that listed all the steps I would go through from applying for my visa to networking once in Estonia and took care of all communication with the Estonian embassy, the police, border guard and other governmental institutions, submitting all necessary employment documents on my behalf. All I had to do was to show up, hand over my passport and wait for them to scan my fingerprints.

Fun fact: Estonia doesn’t have an embassy in Morocco so I had to travel to the closest country with one, Egypt, where I stayed for two days to get the visa on my passport. Wise paid for the trip to the embassy and were on hand to support whenever it was needed so it was all super easy. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to go see the pyramids, next time though!

The relocation process wasn’t demanding at all in terms of paperwork, however, it did require patience and waiting. From accepting the offer to my first day at work took about three months. Once I actually moved, it was awesome that Wise covered the cost of my flight tickets and also provided me with the first month of accommodation. My lead at that time also picked me up from the airport, helped me with the heavy luggage, and showed me around the city.

This really helped me to get settled in, and allowed me to explore the different neighbourhoods and look for accommodation rather than rushing it. Wise really made relocating smooth and simple.

Not fan of selfies, but here is one I took while hiking, happy that I found myself in a forest full of wild blueberries.

Settling in to a new home in Estonia 🇪🇪

I was excited to move to Estonia — it was going to be my first time being an expat! And, I was looking forward to living in a country with totally different culture, food and weather. So far, it’s truly been an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a person.

Tallinn, and Estonia in general, are the perfect place for the type of person that I am. It’s quiet, small and has beautiful weather and nature.

Free transport, great coffee and beautiful nature — Estonia has a lot to offer

There are lots of cool things about Tallinn and Estonia. Public transport is free to citizens and residents, there’s tonnes of hiking and nature to explore (50% of Estonia is covered by forest!) and in the city there’s a beautiful old town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site packed full of pretty buildings and stunning architecture.

They also make great coffee. Estonians are big on cafe culture and Tallinn is home to local roasters alongside imported coffee beans.

Estonia might be small but it’s mighty — it’s also the most digital country in the world so whether you need to sign a document, login to your bank account or fill in tax returns it’s all done with your digital ID-card. That’s pretty awesome.

Rummu quarry, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

Settling in at Wise

Our Tallinn office has employees from 79 different countries so we’re a really international bunch and most of us take A1 language classes so we can speak a little Estonian which is a huge help when you’re out and about.

Everyone is super friendly and there are loads of social activities and clubs to get involved with and take some time to socialise outside of work doing — running, board games, Japanese anime, whatever you’re into they’ll be a club for it!

The Tallinn office is also great with the practical side of moving. Opening a bank account, for example, can be tricky but Wise has partnered with an Estonian bank to scrap account opening fees and local ID requirements which makes life so much easier.

Tallinn old town covered with snow, it’s cold but beautiful.

Settling in has its tricky sides too. There’s the language barrier and Estonians can take a little time to warm up. But, the biggest challenge for me has been the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been ongoing for the majority of time I’ve lived here… Like the rest of the world, I’ve got my fingers crossed things will get better soon.

Wise is one of the biggest employers in Estonia and attracts a great deal of expats. The office is also growing really fast, we recently announced we’re planning to hire 165 new employees in the next six months in Tallinn alone, which is exciting!

Getting into the job

Every Engineer that joins the company goes through two onboarding stages, a general onboarding one and an engineering one. My onboarding was in my second week after joining and my lead at the time had prepared an invaluable document for me that contained everything I needed to know — from the people to get in touch with to tools I needed to get my head around.

Transitioning from a startup with less than 20 employees to a multinational company with 2,000+ employees wasn’t an easy task. I had to unlearn the ways of my previous workplace and open my mind to the Wise way of doing things.

Each onboarding session was three days long with information-dense sessions that required a lot of attention. I learned a lot about the company — our story and history, mission and processes despite having the memory of a goldfish!

The first few months at Wise were a bit overwhelming. Everything was happening so fast: the meetings I attended sometimes didn’t make sense to me, I lacked a lot of the context around how decisions were made and didn’t know the processes in detail. The onboarding helps it all start to link together.

In a nutshell, joining Wise has been quite the journey (literally!). I’ve learned to push boundaries, reflect and learn something about who I am.

Plus, I now know how to order coffee in Estonian!

P.S. Interested in working with us? We’re hiring! Check out our open Engineering roles here.