Working remotely from Pakistan

Mohsin Hayat,remote work

Work with big brains

The best of all luxuries of working remotely for a European/US startup is that you get a chance to work with the big brains. Big brains in the sense that these people compete from all around the world to get the job. They are from diverse backgrounds. Someone could be from Harvard, another one could be from MIT. When all of the brains sit together to get a task done, the interaction is very fascinating.

It's different from what we have in the Pakistani offices. I worked for around 1.5 years for 3 companies (see resume) in Pakistan and I realize it's almost the same environment with known people there. In remote jobs, I feel excited to know about cultures and regions from around the globe and it feels great to be part of the greater world.

I see remote jobs as a challenge and an opportunity for Pakistanis to stand out in their career. This increases your network and gives you more exposure than anything else.


When I started working remotely, or when I was about to accept an offer for a remote job, I always got this advice from seniors "don't accept the offer because you'll become stagnant". "There's no interaction in the remote jobs so you'll learn less". "Remote jobs are temporary only". "They are offering you because you live in a cheap country."

After one year of my successful career as a remote software engineer, I can tell you that these are all bulls*it advice.

The most important thing for anyone to grow is feedback and you can get it from anywhere. Getting feedback has nothing to do with whether you work remotely or from the office. Software engineers usually rely on code reviews and my code reviews were extremely brutal. I always had like 30 comments on 3 lines of codes in my merge requests.

My first mentor in the company was Yann Buydens (opens in a new tab), who is the co-founder and was the CTO of the company. He not only gave me thorough reviews on my merge requests, but also gave advises to me that will remain with me till the end of my life. He literally gave feedback to me on what to speak in meetings, how to think efficiently and how to write good content. He added composure to my thinking and gave me confidence that I didn't know I have.

My second mentor in the company was Etienne Bomcke who is the tech lead of the company. He's very objective about everything and all the advice I got from him is super valuable and easy to follow. He does 1-on-1 meetings every two weeks and does complete retrospection of my performance like a psychologist. He even asks if I'm happy or not with the company and work that I do.

At least for me, the growth has been great. I've never felt the need for an in-person meeting or work from office of any sort. My growth and learning hasn't been affected by the fact that I work from home and work thousand miles apart from my colleagues.

Here are some pointers:

I can go on, but you get the idea. The company helped me a lot in my growth and got me out of my comfort zone. Learning the technology stack is a secondary growth aspect in my opinion. Because if you teach someone how to learn, it becomes easy to learn any technology stack. And my mentors never suggested me to strictly stick to one technology stack.


When I started hunting for jobs during my last semester at the university, I realized there was an abundance of jobs in the job market which were giving 70,000PKR to 90,000PKR to top performers of the University. This equates to around USD400 to USD500 per month. A great offer meant 140,000PKR which is also less than a thousand dollars.

I was skeptical about these jobs from the start and when I started looking at the international market, I got the notion that we are getting insultingly underpaid jobs and we are among the most talented people in the world. The university where I studied is the premium computer science university in the country. I thought, maybe this is meant to be this way. But seeing how Indian software engineers are getting more remote jobs and resultantly more salary than an average software engineer in Pakistan, my skepticism was amplified by 10x.

I always thought getting 100K per month should be the dream of every Pakistani engineer out there in the job market. But I was wrong. The amount is way more than that.

I watched an Indian guy explaining this in a Youtube video (opens in a new tab) that he was able to cover all his four-year tuition fees in a single paycheck. SINGLE PAYCHECK! If this isn't an eye-opener for you, then what is?

The salaries for a junior software developer in any startup in the European or US region is at least USD40,000 which equates to around 5 lacs PKR per month. And this is just for a junior developer, if you grow, you'll get equity, bonuses, increments, and lots and lots of incentives.

And you don't have to pay taxes on foreign remittances earned through software services. If you compare this to your salary which would have been if you lived in the EU or US, you'd realize that you would earn a lot less.

Living cost

The living cost in Pakistan is way cheaper than US or any European country. Just for the comparison, if you see Cost of Living index (opens in a new tab) on Numbeo, you'll notice Pakistan's index is at 21.53 which is below average in the score table.

This means you can enjoy a luxurious life in Pakistan by earning standard European/US salary.

© Mohsin Hayat.