How Americans Can Move to Europe

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Did you know that there are approximately 9 million Americans living abroad? That's the estimate provided by the US State Department, and trends seem to suggest that even more Americans are looking to Europe as their new home. The reasons for this are as multifaceted as you might expect — from lifestyle changes, new adventures, better cost of living. If you're among those dreaming of walking down cobblestone streets and past ancient architecture, relocating to Europe might just be on your horizon.

And if you're part of the growing number of tech workers who are being laid off by American tech companies, we don't blame you for seeking out greener pastures. But there are a few things that you'll need to come to grips with if you'd like this move to be successful.

Understanding the essentials of making this significant life change is crucial. From navigating the European job markets to the myriad immigration laws that differ from country to country, your potential journey to Europe needs to be well-planned. Here's all you need to know about how Americans can move to Europe.


Relocate to Europe: The Basics

If you think moving across states is hard, moving across the Atlantic is much harder. Relocating to Europe requires careful thought, detailed planning and, most importantly, an open heart ready to embrace new cultures and experiences. Europe's rich diversity means that cultural norms can vary dramatically from one country to another, sometimes even within different regions of the same country. You'll have to be ready to adapt to new ways of communication and ways of life.

The first step to relocating to Europe isn't booking a flight but choosing your new home from the variety of countries that make up the continent. A whopping 44 countries make up the continent of Europe, each boasting its unique blend of culture, language, job opportunities and lifestyle. Your top choice should align with your personal and professional aspirations, climate preferences and lifestyle desires. Do you want to wake up to the sounds of church bells in Zurich or live in the action of the bustling streets of London?

The impact of your choice cannot be understated. Moving to Europe can definitely mean accessing world-class, affordable healthcare and education, a different way of working and maybe even a more relaxed pace of life. However, it might include career shifts or even starting fresh. Either way, it goes without saying that getting a job offer is key to your European adventure.


Securing a Job in Europe

Before you even consider buying that plane ticket and moving to Europe, you need to make sure you can afford to live there — which means securing a job. This isn't just about ensuring you have an income; it's also about easing the video application process and setting a solid foundation for financial stability in your chosen European country. A job offer can significantly streamline the application process in many European countries, especially the bigger economies.

Plus, having an employment contract in hand means that you can plan your move with more confidence and security, knowing that you have financial stability waiting for you.

Where do you start looking for jobs in Europe? It's really no different to if you were looking for jobs in the US. Companies big and small post jobs on LinkedIn and Indeed, but if you're working in tech, you might fare better looking at specialised tech job boards.

Hot tip: Make your life loads easier by finding tech roles with relocation support.


Sort Out Your Visa

The next step to securing your move to Europe is to get a long-term visa. A long-term visa allows Americans to live in Europe for over 90 days, open a bank account and rent a house. But acquiring a visa isn't a simple process.

Remember, there are 44 countries on the European continent, each with their own immigration laws and visa regulations. For some countries, a work visa is the best way to start your life in Europe. However, other visas might apply to your needs. It's crucial to look at your preferred country's embassy or consulate website for the right visa information.


General Work Visa

A general employment visa is the primary route into Europe for many aspiring expats. But, as you might imagine, securing a job offer from a European company is key to this process. Once you have that in hand, the process is relatively straightforward.

The application process typically involves proving your job offer, showcasing your professional qualifications and providing personal documents to the respective embassy or consulate. This process is collaborative, requiring you and your employer to provide the necessary paperwork. Sometimes, this includes the company needing to prove that no local candidate could fill the position through a labour market test — which is the case in most EU member states.


Talent Visa

Highly skilled professionals — including scientists, artists and tech experts — may find that a talent visa is their most direct path into Europe. This visa recognises the unique contributions an individual can make to their host country. But not just any person can apply for it.

Criteria for a talent visa often include recognised qualifications (sometimes a PhD), a job offer in the list of qualified fields and, sometimes, endorsements from professional bodies. The application process for this visa can be rigorous, focusing on how you and your skills will benefit the country you're moving to.


Self-Employment Visa

If you're a tech entrepreneur or freelancer dreaming of setting up shop in Europe, you might consider going for the self-employment visa route. Some countries across Europe offer this type of visa to attract innovative minds and boost their economies. 

But this is by no means the easiest route to take — you'll have to prove that you have sufficient income to survive and any professional qualifications or licences that mark you as a professional in your field.


Digital Nomad Visa

A relatively new addition to the visa portfolio the world over, the digital nomad visa is designed for those who work remotely but wish to live in Europe. This visa caters to the modern workforce's flexibility, allowing individuals to work for companies or clients outside of the visa-issuing country while still enjoying the local lifestyle.

Eligibility criteria tend to include proof of steady income (usually from a contract or bank statements), health insurance, and sometimes meeting a minimum income threshold. Only a handful of countries offer this visa option, so be sure to double-check with your preferred European country's embassy website before diving in.


Moving to Europe: Practical Tips

Once you've secured your job and visa, it's time to focus on the more logistical aspects of relocating to Europe. If you want to ensure a smooth transition and a successful set-up, then listen up.


#1: Find Your New Home 🏠

Searching for a new home abroad is no easy feat. You'll need to navigate a completely different real estate market compared to the US, full of hot and cold rentals. When it comes to deposits, lease length and included utilities, local rental agreements can vary from country to country and sometimes even city to city. The best thing is to be there in person.

To start, consider renting a short-term rental off of Airbnb or seek out a house-sharing opportunity. From there, explore different neighbourhoods within your new home city and find out where vibes best with you. Then, seek out rentals within your preferred neighbourhood on local rental marketplace websites.


#2: Healthcare 🚑

The healthcare systems across Europe are renowned for their high standards, but accessing medical services as an expat requires some navigation. In many European countries, registering for health insurance is mandatory and is interlinked with your legal residency status. However, again, the process differs from country to country, with some countries like the UK offering free public healthcare, while others require you to pick up private insurance.


#3: Learn the Local Language 🇪🇺

Integrating into your new community and fully experiencing what European life has to offer often hinges on your ability to communicate in the local language. While many Europeans have a decent grasp of English, learning the local language will open doors to deeper cultural understanding, smoother daily interactions and even better career opportunities.

Hot tip: Once you've decided on a country you'd like to move to, start doing some lessons on Duolingo. Once in Europe, practice with your neighbours, local shopkeepers and new work colleagues. Immersion is key!


Relocate to Europe With a Job

Americans moving to Europe will need to take a number of steps before they can even consider booking their one-way flight ticket — from securing employment to getting the right visa and finding a new home. Each phase plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition and setting the foundation for a more fulfilling life in Europe.

Keen on starting your journey to Europe? Start by finding developer jobs abroad here.

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