Many people assume that they either need a lot of money or have a job offer in order to make their European dream a reality. This couldn’t be further from the truth! There are multiple visa options—more than you think— available to people of all ages and income levels. and although in many countries in Europe, the standard of living and therefore the cost of living is extremely high, there are also affordable places to settle down and start a new life.
Depending on your nationality you can apply for the right (long-term) visa. And maybe you can move to Europe to study, work remotely, get hired, start a business, retire, and more! It’s simply a matter of knowing which visa options you have and finding the one that is right for you.
What Countries Can I Move To?
Most European countries have difficult paths to residency but don’t worry, there are still plenty of countries with long-term living options. For example, there are 16 European countries that are easy for U.S. citizens to move to, including popular destinations like Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and Estonia.
Spain and Portugal are attractive for a variety of reasons: low cost of living, high quality of life, and captivating cultures! But more importantly, both countries offer extremely friendly visa options for different nationalities that are renewable and can lead to permanent residency. Spain also has an attractive option for Americans to teach English there.
If you’re a US citizen entrepreneur, then the Netherlands could be an excellent fit for you. They have a special treaty with the U.S. that allows American entrepreneurs and freelancers to gain Dutch residency for two years (which can be renewed) by starting a business in their country.
While there are a few hoops to jump through, this is a great “in” for anyone who wants to make a life in the Netherlands.
For Digital Nomads looking for an online working-friendly environment, the new Estonian Digital Nomad Visa might be a great option. In Estonia, you can live there for up to one year while working for an employer or your own company if that company is registered abroad.
With over 50 visa options including the Schengen visitors option, which allows you to orientate freely among Schengen countries first before deciding what country you want to apply for your long-stay visa for, you’re sure to find one that suits you.
What to consider when moving to Europe?
Moving to another country requires a lot of paperwork and patience. While the process might not always be going as smoothly and fast as you please or wish for, moving to Europe could be a great opportunity for you. But as with every move to a foreign country, there are always things to consider
Finances. Can you afford to live in Europe? You don’t need to have a fortune saved up, but you do need to understand your financial situation and what something like this will cost. And the cost of living should be manageable. Also, you might need to meet some financial requirements for your visa approval.
Obtaining a European Work permit might be difficult for non-European citizens, and do not expect to find a job soon, although in some countries the job market at moment offers a lot of jobs, this can change and fluctuate and is always depending on branches, qualifications, and educational levels.
Visa application. Applying for a visa requires gathering a variety of documents. While each country’s application requirements are different, getting everything together will probably take more time than you think. Some might need to be translated or require an Apostille. Read all documentation about the visa requirements carefully before you set off to Europe so you can complete the documents at home if you have to.
Research. Do as much research as you can about your future country and city. The more educated you are on the ins and outs of the local culture, what a move will bring on, and how to get set up once you arrive, the fewer surprises you will encounter. Do you need to register at a civil registration when you rent a house, can you open a local bank account? If you can, I highly recommend visiting a city at least once before moving to spend some time there, preferably outside the tourist peek weeks. So you can experience the city in its natural setting. Some European cities and towns have a totally different vibe during the off-season.
Language, start learning the local language, even if it is only a few words, Europeans highly appreciate it when you can at least say Good morning and Goodbye in the local language. If you can start learning a few basic phrases in the local language, even better.
Groups and communities Connect with fellow foreigners and migrants and locals online before moving. There are numerous online communities, especially on Facebook, for just about every city and country in the world. Use these groups to ask general questions, connect with people who already live there, and read about their experiences. Be aware that not all stories in those groups are accurate, when it comes to official legal business always do a fact check.
FAQ about moving to Europe
Where do I pay taxes? Most countries have a location-based tax system, which means that usually, you pay taxes in the country where you reside. For a U.S. citizen, your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, no matter where you live. If your country’s tax system is not location-based then depending on which country you live in and how many days of the year you live there, you may be considered a local tax resident. In that case, you will be required to file taxes in both countries. Be sure to find a tax lawyer or accountant who specializes in international taxes. Treaties will prevent you from paying taxes double.
Is healthcare expensive in Europe?
If you are coming from the United States, no! While it varies from country to country, Europe has some of the best healthcare systems in the world. Depending on which visa you obtain, you may or may not qualify for access to the public healthcare system. If you don’t qualify, private health insurance is often available.
Are there any travel bans in Europe? There are currently no travel bans in Europe regarding the recent pandemic. You are free to travel.
Is it cold in Europe? It can be pretty cold in Europe, especially when you are settling down in the northern or eastern part. Most countries do have snow in winter. And some countries like the Scandinavian countries have little to no daylight during wintertime. But around the Mediterranean Sea, the climate is moderate to comfortable all year round. But it depends on where you are coming from of course, where do you live now? If your current place is very hot, you might find all of Europe pretty cold and even ice cold. But hey, you take up ice skating!
Where do I find all the visa information? on this website (click) From this website you can visit all the Schengen countries’ visa pages and look for the best fit for your needs and nationality. The best way to find local visa information for non-Schengen countries is to look it up on the website of the local Embassy of that country in your country. The Schengen website will be a good start to determine if your location is in the Schengen area, the European Union Area, or not.