Today’s post comes from Jess Signut. Here’s a little bit about her:
“My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older! Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)”
I hope you enjoy her post, written for those who are thinking about moving to Europe for a while!
There are plenty of reasons nowadays for Americans to move to Europe—for jobs, relationships, a different style of living, or just simply for exploration. Although the move can be a bit challenging, it’s at least much easier to take that leap now—and to keep in touch with friends and family from back home—than it was for our ancestors to move from Europe to America! When you’re doing your planning, though, you have a few important things you’ll need to keep in mind:
- Visas and Regulations
As an American travelling to Europe, you can only stay on a tourist visa for a limited amount of time. Most of Europe falls under the Schengen Agreement’s visa jurisdiction, meaning you can only stay as a tourist for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Stay longer than that without a legal extension and you may be subject to fines, deportation, or even a lengthy banishment from the Schengen Zone—not something any traveler wants to be faced with. If you plan on working in Europe, you are legally required to hold a work visa, which can be difficult to obtain.
If you’ve found a job abroad prior to your arrival in Europe, see if they can help you with residency permits and visa paperwork, especially if you’re moving to a country where you don’t speak the language. If your future employer can’t help you, you might check out some online sources for information about getting visas, but know that the final decision on anything is going to come from the embassy! Get your paperwork together and submit it as soon as you can, as processing can take a while.
- Moving Your Things
The important thing here is to be strategic about what you pack. Shipping things overseas could be a frustrating experience, and you’ll only get so much luggage allowance on your flight. You can ship your things using any number of companies, but know that it’s going to be expensive and sometimes time-consuming. Interview various companies and select ones that are safe responsible movers. That said, you don’t need to bring everything you own with you when you move. Maybe you’re in love with your home the way it is now, but you can always buy new furniture when you arrive in Europe—and a lot of times it’ll be cheaper to replace things rather than have them shipped over. Same thing goes for clothes or books or nearly everything else.
When it comes to personal mementos, think about how much you want to ship with you and how long you plan to be in Europe for. If you plan to live in Europe for a few years and then move back to the States, it might be more economical to put your mementos in storage for the time being, either at a friend or family member’s house or in a storage unit. If you are moving to Europe long-term, you might try to do the same thing and pick up a few more things in your luggage each time you come back to visit.
- Figure Out Your Taxes
Believe it or not, Americans are still required to file taxes back home even while residing abroad. This can be a bit of a headache since if you’re legally working in Europe, this means you will likely have to file taxes in two different countries every year—your country of residence and your country of citizenship. However, there are a lot of resources online that can help you figure out just what you’re doing.Some Americans living abroad long-term decide to renounce their citizenship, in part so that they can quit paying taxes back home. This is something to think long and hard about, obviously, and the process might not save you anything in the end. However, this may be an option worth considering if you’re planning on living in Europe for the long run.
- Get Your Technology in Order
Communicating with friends and family back home is something you should think about before you even move abroad. Why? Some account set-ups are going to require you to have access to a US phone number. For example, if you set up Google Voice, you can have free calling to any landline phone in the US or Canada…but you have to first connect it to a US phone number. You’ll want to set up things like this prior to your departure.Google Voice is great for communication, and so are Skype or Facetime or Whatsapp. You may also want to set up a VPN so you can continue to stream Netflix and Hulu and anything else that might be restricted in your new country. And think about adding a GPS app or something like that to your smartphone so that when you arrive in your new city, you’ll be able to find your way around. There’s also a lot of great travel guide apps out there now—hey, just because you’re moving to a city, it doesn’t mean you can’t see all the sights there as well!
- Learn the Local Language
…Or at least some of it. We’re not all gifted in languages, but being able to say the basics (“hello”, “please”, etc.) will go a long way. Duolingo offers a lot of great free language courses for either PC or tablet/smartphone, or there’s always language schools or the traditional software like Rosetta Stone. With full immersion in the local language, you might be surprised at how quickly you pick it up!
Of course, if you don’t know the language, lot of people in Europe learn English in schools, so you won’t be totally out of luck if you don’t know any of the local language. But knowing something of the language might make getting around or grocery shopping a bit easier, and you’re bound to impress your new colleagues if you can pull out at least a couple phrases!
The main thing to think about when you’re getting ready to move is that you really should relax. Moving is always a daunting experience, but know that you’re going to be fine. And with the Euro exchange rate currently much more favorable to the dollar than it has been in recent years, now is the perfect time to be tackling this. With a bit of patience and a little research, you’re in for a fantastic future ahead!1