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Is it Hard to Move to Europe?

So, you’re thinking about moving to Europe and wondering “Is it hard to move to Europe?” It’s a great option and one that I personally love. Obviously, it’s a huge decision and one that you shouldn’t make lightly.

Depending on where you want to move to, it can be pretty difficult to move to Europe on a long-term basis. So how hard is it to move to Europe, especially if you’re moving from the US?

Let’s dive in and find out. 

How Hard is it to Move to Europe?

Honestly, this is a big question, mostly before Europe is a big place. There are 44 countries in Europe, 27 of which are located in the European Union. They pretty much all have their own rules regarding expats, remote workers, tourists, and well, Americans in general, so it massively depends. 

As with any continent, some places are easier to move to than others. It tends to be places where the economy is slower and the country is looking for an injection of foreign cash, whether that’s through expats setting up their own businesses, paying taxes, or buying property

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It all depends on your situation as well. If you’re a student, you’re going to have greater flexibility to move to Europe and study there at the same time. This means you can live there for three or four years on a fairly straightforward visa. 

If you need a job and can’t find a business to sponsor your visa, that’s when it starts getting tricky in the majority of European nations, but the launch of remote working visas in many countries is largely combatting this. 

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It also depends on where you’re moving from, as this can massively affect where you can move to on a permanent basis.

Moving within Europe

If you’re an EU citizen and you want to move to another EU country, it’s super simple because of the freedom of movement agreement. That gives you 27 countries to choose from. By any visa or “good” passport standard, that’s a lot of choices. 

So, if you’re around outside the EU, but can become a citizen of an EU country, either on a full citizenship basis or through dual citizenship, you can live and work in a wide variety of places.

people walking around and buildings

This was a very popular decision for many British people who didn’t vote for Brexit and wanted to keep the flexibility that came with the freedom of movement.

If you have any European heritage or familial connections to European countries, this is normally a great way to get on the road to citizenship. From here, moving permanently to Europe is relatively straightforward. Relatively!

Moving to Europe from the US

If you’re planning on moving to Europe from the US, without a familial connection, it’s going to be a lot harder. Again, some countries are easier than others – Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and Georgia are commonly referred to as some of the easiest European countries for US expats to move to.

However, for the most part, you’re going to need a job with a company that’ll sponsor your visa. This is the most common and straightforward way for US citizens to move to Europe.

eiffel tower and an airplane

There are some other methods that enable US expats to move to Europe, including student visas, retirement schemes, or if you’re business owners or entrepreneurs. These are all specialist visas that the majority of European countries offer in some form.

Student visas are the easiest way to move to Europe, providing you have a college or university acceptance, and proof of funds. Retirement and entrepreneur visas are slightly more complicated and require a much, much higher proof of funds.

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Finally, you can move to Europe using a remote worker or digital nomad visa. These are growing in popularity and more countries are adding visas every month. For the most part, these kinds of visas only last a year, but some can be extended for up to three years.

Another way to work with them is to bounce around Europe from one remote visa to the next. For example, you can spend a year in Portugal, and then just hop the border to Spain for the next year, and so on. 

There is a minimum income requirement for these remote working visas, with some – like Iceland’s – much, much higher.

One of the lowest requirements in Portugal, which makes sense as it’s also got one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, despite being in Western Europe and having a great scene for young people. 

All in all, it can be hard to move to Europe on a permanent basis, but if you have family connections or can find a job with sponsorship opportunities, it becomes a lot easier.

Plenty of US expats move to Europe every day, so even if it’s difficult, it’s definitely possible – and it’s certainly worth it!

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