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Can You Move to Europe? What You Need to Know

So, you’re thinking about moving to Europe? It’s a great option, and I love it, but it’s not for everyone. Realistically, people do move to Europe every day, so let’s get into how you can move to Europe and make your dream a reality.

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Can You Move to Europe?

To give a short answer to the question, yes, you can move to Europe!

For a longer, more precise, and nuanced response, read on to find out how to make your European relocation dreams a reality!

Where Do You Want to Live in Europe?

First things first, you need to pick where you ideally want to live. Make a list of your top five as visas and work situations might mean that some of these countries aren’t an option.

Not only think about the country in terms of the tourist highlights but also think about the politics, the socialized medicine, the education system, healthcare – all of it.

If you’re going to be moving to a new country, you need to evaluate it as a local, not as someone just stopping by.

Also, look at the different towns, cities, villages, and remote areas of your shortlisted countries.

The rural resorts and seaside towns might be fun for a week or in the Summer, but when the weather turns and the businesses shut down for the Winter, is it going to be still fun to live there?

girl standing in front of the Colosseum in Rome

On the flip side, big cities are great, but they’re not for everyone.

Most European countries have at least three or four big cities, if not more, all with their own charm, vibe, and selling points, so don’t just move to the capital city if that’s not your speed.

Research is your friend here!

What Visa Will You Need?

Ah, the paperwork. When it comes to answering the question ‘can I move to Europe?’, visa eligibility is going to play a huge part in the answer.

Of course, Europe is a big place with almost 50 countries inside it, so there are definitely plenty of options.

However, if you have your heart set on one particular location, a lack of visa eligibility is going to put that dream to bed very quickly.

a passport with visas

Essentially, when it comes to visas, you want to play to your strengths. If you have European family or generational links, then many nations have visas for this purpose.

It’s often a lot easier to get a visa to move to Europe if you already have a connection to the country.

Alternatively, if you already have a job waiting in that country with a business that’s willing to sponsor a visa, that’s another easy way to move.

Similarly, if you’re a student and you have an acceptance letter or email from the institution, that can help you get a visa. 

Check out this guide if you want to study in London, or this one if you want to get a Master’s in Europe.

The visa process is designed to ensure that you’re not going to burden the country that you’re moving to, so they want to make sure you can support yourself while you’re there.

If you’re not looking to move permanently and don’t plan on working, you can potentially get away with not having a visa.

This depends on the country and length of your stay, but if it’s a more permanent or long-term situation, or you need to work, check the visa situation in your chosen country and see what’s going to work for you.

If you’re a digital nomad or remote worker, I’m going to go into more detail about that later on.

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Do You Need to Find Work?

Okay, when you move somewhere new, you’re likely going to need a job unless you’re retired, really well-off, on a gap year, or a student with a loan or bursary.

Your work situation is going to inform the type of visa that you can get and how much money you’ll need to be earning, or have in the bank, to move there.

If you can get a job in the country with a company that’ll sponsor your visa, that’s ideal.

If you’re self-employed or have your own business, you’ll need to provide a lot of bank details and income information to see whether you’ll be a benefit to your new country’s economy, or if you’re likely to fail and become a burden.

It’s harsh, but that’s the reality. 

If you’re a student, on some student visas you can also work on a part-time basis. For example, UK student visas allow you to work up to 20 hours a week to help supplement your loan or grant.

This allows you to get a job in a cafe, bar, admin, or anywhere up to that amount of hours each week. 

Iron out your working situation as you’re not likely to be able to fund a move across the world, or be eligible for a long-term visa.

How Will You Find Accommodation in Europe?

Next up you need to work out where you’re going to live. Can you afford to rent on your own or do you need to find yourself a flatshare?

Maybe you’re in a position to buy a property in your new home country. This can be another good way to get what’s called a “golden visa” in some European countries.

It’s essentially where you’re investing a large amount of money into property, so it’s helping to boost the local economy. 

Either way, you need to be able to work out what you can afford to pay each month, either in rent or mortgage, and account for utilities, insurance, and any other city or town fees that might apply to your local area.

What Will Be the Cost of Moving & Living in Europe?

No move is cheap. That’s just the truth. Add in shipping costs overseas, setting up a home in a new country with a month’s rent in advance plus a deposit, or buying furniture, and it all starts to add up.

a cat in a moving box

You need to have a good amount of money saved up ideally before you move to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible. Remember to include flight costs and any paperwork costs in your calculations!

If you want to move to Europe, but have no money, check out this post.

What Language Will You Need to Learn?

Moving to a new country where your native language isn’t spoken? You need to start learning the language.

Knowing odd phrases might be enough if you’re a tourist and only visiting for a short time, but if you’re planning on living there, you need to be able to communicate with locals, officials, and your new colleagues.

In fact, in some countries, you need to be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the language to get your visa approved. Learn the language!

a girl using a language device in Berlin
Check out the Pocketalk Plus to help you learn a language!

Is Your Move Temporary or Permanent?

One of the key things that you have to figure out is whether you’re planning on moving to Europe on a temporary or permanent basis.

If you’re only coming for a year, the paperwork, accommodation, and plenty of other decisions are going to be completely different.

Moving on a permanent basis is a big decision so if you’re unsure, try living out there for a year or so and you can always try and extend your visa and set down roots. 

Moving permanently means completely selling up at home and moving everything with you. Although you can always move back if it’s not for you, it’s a lot harder to do.

Permanent residency in many European countries requires you to live there for an average of five years before you can apply, so keep that in mind. 

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Could You Try Digital Nomadism in Europe First?

Okay, so if you’re a digital nomad or remote worker, you have a lot more flexibility than most, and now you have your own dedicated visas in most of Europe.

Digital nomad visas tend to last up to a year and have a minimum income threshold that varies from country to country.

This is normally in line with that country’s cost of living, so the more expensive the country, the higher the monthly income threshold is going to be.

The great thing about having multiple countries with digital nomad visas is that you can bounce from country to country around Europe, but still stay in each place on a longer-term basis.

At the end of your year in Portugal, you can spend a year in Spain, and then return to Portugal the following year if you like.

It’s a great program, but it doesn’t really help if you want to stay in one country permanently.

It’s a good start, and you can always get one of these and look for more permanent work and visa solutions once you’re in the country if nomad life isn’t for you.

Are You Moving to Europe Solo or With Family?

Another thing to consider is if it’s just you taking the plunge or if you’re taking a spouse or kids with you. The more people the more hassle and the more paperwork there is.

If you’re thinking about pulling your kids out of school and dropping them into another school where they don’t really speak the language, that’s a huge decision that cannot be taken lightly.

You also need to think about what your spouse might be doing in this new country. Can they get a job in their chosen field out there?

Are they working remotely? They’ll need a visa too, so which route is best for them as well as you? 

If you’re a digital nomad and you’re bringing a spouse or children with you, the minimum monthly threshold or minimum bank amount does go up considerably. You need to factor this in as it might limit where you can move to. 

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You CAN Move to Europe, But It Won’t Be Easy!

So, all in all, yes, it’s likely that you can move to Europe. After all, people do it every single day, so it’s definitely possible.

Everyone’s expat journey is different and you’ll need to look at the best option for your specific situation. 

If you’re moving permanently, take your time in the planning process, and don’t rush the paperwork or location choices. It’s a big move and you want to do it right!

If you’re moving for a year or so, it’s a lot easier and a lot less stressful, but you do still need to make a plan in advance.

Long-term visas don’t get approved overnight, so factor time as well as money into your expat process.

Despite all this, living overseas is one of the best things you can ever do, and I’m sure you’re going to love it!