Editor’s Note: Go World Travel Magazine is reader supported. If you make a purchase using a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
Have you ever thought about moving to Europe? Or wondered if it’s even possible to make the move as an American? I’m here to tell you that it is!
How I Made My European Dream a Reality
Originally from Houston, Texas, I have been traveling abroad for more than 20 years. I fell in love with Spain over a decade ago and finally moved to Madrid in 2015.
I’ve lived here on various visas—student, work and non-lucrative—and plan to stay here for the long haul. I’ve created an incredible life abroad, and along the way, I’ve helped many people make the leap from the U.S. to Europe.
Can Americans Really Move to Europe?
The simple answer is yes! U.S. citizens can travel to most European countries for up to 90 days (within 180 days) as a tourist. However, for those who want to live there, acquiring a long-term visa and/or residency permit is your ticket to calling Europe home.
Many Americans assume that they either need to be rich or work for a company that will transfer them abroad 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, income levels and interests.
With the right long-term visa, Americans 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?
Only a fraction of the 44 countries in Europe have viable options for the average American. Most European countries have difficult paths to residency but don’t worry, there are still plenty of countries with long-term living options. There are 16 European countries that are easiest 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 Americans that are renewable and lead to permanent residency. Spain also has an attractive option for Americans to teach English there.
If you’re an entrepreneurial type, 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.
Germany has a similar visa for freelancers and current or future business owners, which allows you to qualify for residency and renew your visa if your business is successful.
Estonia’s new Digital Nomad Visa is joining a growing list of countries that allow location-independent workers to live there while working remotely. In Estonia, you can live there for up to one year while working for an employer—or your own company—registered abroad.
While these are just some of the spots beloved by American ex-pats, there are other countries with viable visa options too. Learn more about the 16 easiest European countries to move to and their visa requirements in I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.
With over 50 visa options, you’re sure to find one that suits you.
What Should I Consider When Moving to Europe?
Moving to another country requires a lot of paperwork and patience. While the process might not always be smooth sailing, moving to Europe is possible and worth it! Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Finances. Can you afford to make the move? 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—both the move and the cost of living in your desired country. Try to pay off any debt, increase your savings and make a plan for earning income when you move. Don’t count on finding a job abroad from the get-go. Obtaining a European work permit is very difficult for non-Europeans.
- 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. Patience is key.
- Downsizing. It’s a good idea to declutter and downsize before your big move. Don’t underestimate how much time this can take. Give yourself a few months to go through your belongings so you can decide what to take, sell, donate or store.
- 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 entail and how to get set up once you arrive, the fewer surprises you will encounter. If you can, I highly recommend visiting a city at least once before moving to spend some time in your new home. If you can start learning a few basic phrases in the local language, even better.
- Community. Connect with fellow ex-pats 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 questions, connect with people who already live there and make virtual friends before you move. You can also find niche communities for women, LGBTQ+ and Black ex-pats.
Common Questions About Moving to Europe
- Do I have to pay taxes in both the U.S. and Europe?
As a U.S. citizen, your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, no matter where you live. 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 is well-versed in the particularities of ex-pat taxes.
- Is healthcare expensive?
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 at very affordable rates, some starting as low as €45 a month.
- Can I move abroad with the travel ban?
Many European countries are still accepting, processing and approving visa applications from U.S. citizens despite the travel ban. Given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. and European governments can change their application acceptance and approval at any time. It’s best to check with the local Embassy or Consulate of the country you plan to move to inquire about the current situation.
- Do I need to speak the local language?
English may be a universal language, but depending on where you move to, the English level can vary widely. In many places, especially those with more tourists, you can get by with English. But I strongly recommend learning the basics of a new language early on (please, thank you, how are you, etc.). It goes a long way with locals and is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture. If you’re staying long term, it’s a good idea to prioritize learning the local language. Learn the basics and get a strong foundation in any language with Babbel, which has lessons that are both fun and efficient.
Author’s Bio: Cepee Tabibian is the founder of She Hit Refresh, a global community for women aged 30 and over who want to break free from routine and start a life of travel—specifically moving abroad and traveling long term. She is the author of, I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe, your guide to the 16 easiest countries to move to in Europe, including over 50 viable visa options and detailed information on the 34 most popular cities for American ex-pats.
You'll need either a work permit (for a job in your target country), or another kind of residence visa. These include can investor residency visas (“Golden Visas”), passive income or retirement visas, or digital nomad visas (designed for those who work remotely).How can I move to Europe easily? ›
Move to Europe as a Student
The best way to move to Europe without a job is by getting a student visa and studying there. Whether it's for your Bachelor's or Master's or even just a language school, this is the most common and easiest entrance into a lot of countries in Europe.
As a US citizen, you do not have an automatic right to work in Europe. You need a valid Schengen work visa or a work visa for a specific non-Schengen country. Many Americans looking to work in Europe will use their 90 days per 180 days visa-free period to apply for jobs before obtaining a work visa.What is the easiest European country to move to? ›
Spain. Spain is one of the easiest European countries to move to as a US citizen. Since you are from an English-speaking country you can easily get a temporary visa via the North American Language and Cultural Assistant program.Can you move to Europe without a job? ›
That said, you can also move to Europe without a job contract in place. It may surprise some, but there are many other visa opportunities for you to get a taste of life in Europe. These include working holiday visas, job-seeker visas, freelancer visas, remote work visas, entrepreneur visas, and digital nomad visas.Can a US citizen move to Europe permanently? ›
Yes, Americans can move to Europe. There are a variety of options available, with Golden Visas, Digital Nomad Visas, and other residency schemes available.How can I move out of the US permanently? ›
If you're planning to move out of the US permanently, or even give up your US citizenship, then you need a second passport. You can move to certain countries for 5 years and then apply for citizenship, or you can buy a passport and have it in hand in 90 days to 8 months.Which citizen is easiest to get in Europe? ›
Portugal. Portugal is the easiest European country where you can get citizenship. The easiest way to become a Portuguese citizen is by obtaining a Portugal Golden visa; all you have to do is invest in a house, a business, or a property of €500,000 value.What is the hardest citizenship to get in Europe? ›
Austria is located in the heart of Europe and is bordered by eight other countries, making it one of the most difficult places to become a naturalized citizen. The process requires 12 years of continuous residency, including three years of marriage to an Austrian citizen, and passing a language test.
- The Netherlands.
Does the United States allow dual citizenship? Yes, the U.S. allows dual citizenship by default. The government does not require naturalized U.S. citizens to give up their citizenship in their country of origin.How can I move to Europe from USA without a job? ›
- Enroll in a university program. ...
- Work as a freelancer remotely. ...
- Find a job in your country first that can be done remotely. ...
- Go as a visitor while living off of your savings. ...
- Join a volunteering abroad program. ...
- Visit on a tourist visa and use a home swap service.
- Enroll in a European university to pursue a degree. ...
- Work remotely for your current job if possible. ...
- Work as a freelancer. ...
- Find a seasonal job in tourism. ...
- Find a job in a shortage occupation not requiring a degree. ...
- Join a volunteering abroad program.
Spain. There are numerous reasons why, for many American expats, Spain tops the list of best countries in Europe to live in. For a start, the country boasts a diverse and rich culture and quality of life, with something to offer everyone.What country are Americans moving to? ›
Mexico is the top destination for Americans moving abroad, followed by the U.K., Canada and Australia. So far in 2022, ~75% more Americans have moved to Mexico than Canada. Portugal has seen the biggest percentage increase in Americans moving in (+122% from 2019-2021)Which European country is least friendly? ›
Europe's least friendly countries
When it comes to finding friends, the Nordic countries perform badly too with Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland named as the worst of all European countries, followed by Austria and Germany.
In 2021, Taiwan ranked as the friendliest and most welcoming country for expats in the world. Not only are its people friendly and welcoming, but the language is said to be easy to learn—although a huge percentage of locals also speak English.What jobs can Americans get in Europe? ›
- Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). The classic profession for traveling English speakers is TEFL, which turns your key limitation — only speaking English — into a strength. ...
- Tourism. ...
- Digital nomadism. ...
- Any job in Ireland or Malta.
You are NEVER too old to move abroad.
Because whatever stage of life you're in, single or with a family, we strongly believe, that you should never let your age put your off fulfilling that dream of moving to another country. However, there are also some things to consider.
With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.Where is the best place for Americans to live in Europe? ›
If you can handle the cold, Germany and the Netherlands are two of the most popular countries for expats, both offering international communities and unique residency options. Switzerland: Although many European countries offer a better quality of life than the U.S., Switzerland takes the cake.Can I live abroad after becoming US citizen? ›
No Longer Can One Lose U.S. Citizenship By Living in Another Country. At this time, no penalties exist if a naturalized U.S. citizen simply goes to live in another country. This is a distinct benefit of U.S. citizenship, since green card holders can have their status taken away for "abandoning" their U.S. residence.Can Americans move to Italy? ›
Living in Italy as a US citizen is possible if you have the right permit. There are 2 types of residence permits in Italy: 1. Permesso di Soggiorno: a temporary, renewable residence permit with varying durations of validity.How long can a US citizen stay out of the United States? ›
Absences of more than 365 consecutive days
You must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) before you leave the United States, or your permanent residence status will be considered abandoned. A re-entry permit enables you to be abroad for up to two years.
While the normal limit is a year, you can stay longer and still preserve your US citizen if you are a military service member, Government employee, or meet any other criteria discussed above i.e., work for a US multinational or you proactively preserve residence.How many US citizens leave the US? ›
In 2018, the Federal Voting Assistance Program estimated a total number of 4.8 million American civilians lived abroad, 3.9 million civilians, plus 1.2 million service members and other government-affiliated Americans.Which country offers fastest citizenship? ›
Italian citizenship by descent is one of the easiest to obtain. You may be eligible for citizenship if you have Italian heritage. To acquire citizenship, you must have an ancestor who was a citizen of Italy on March 17th, 1861 or was born in the country after that.How can I move to Portugal from the US? ›
As an American, you need to get a Portuguese residence permit if you're planning to stay there for longer than three months. If you reside in Portugal with a proper residence permit for five years, you can then apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.Which country gives fastest citizenship by marriage? ›
Where and what's the fastest way to get a passport by naturalization.
|Country||How long you need to live|
No. 1 most powerful passport in the world: Japan
Japan topped the index as the country with the most powerful in the world for the fifth consecutive year.
- The United Kingdom – best across the board.
- Australia – best for education.
- Finland – the happiest country on earth.
- The United States – best for business.
- Switzerland – a great place to live.
- United Arab Emirates.
- San Marino.
- Brunei Darussalem.
Canada. Located in North America and sharing the longest binational land border of the world with the USA, Canada is undoubtedly the most desirable country in the world to immigrate to. The government is known for its welcoming attitude toward immigrants.What is the cheapest country to get permanent residency in? ›
Mexico is the easiest and lowest cost residency visa period. Mexico also the most popular country with about 10 times more visas issued to US citizens than any other.What country has the most American expatriates? ›
The top three countries for American expats are Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom, which are all popular for their proximity to the States and lower cost of living.What is the best second passport for U.S. citizens? ›
Some of the best countries to get a second passport are Portugal, Spain, and Caribbean countries like Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis.How many passports can a U.S. citizen have? ›
The USA allows its citizens to have as many passports as they need. They are not required to renounce their American citizenship. However, other countries can demand a person to renounce their US citizenship. The US citizens can have dual citizenship with 62 countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia.Do dual citizens have to pay taxes in both countries? ›
Being a dual citizen means that a person is considered a citizen/national of two countries at the same time, and is subject to both country's tax laws. Something to remember is that each country has its own laws dictating who qualifies as a citizen.How much does it cost to move from the US to Europe? ›
The average cost of international moving is approximately $1000 to $10,000 USD. Thought actual moving expenses vary depending on the distance, the number of boxes moved, the size of furniture (if any), and any additional services required.
Who needs a visa to work in Europe? Citizens of the USA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, as well as EU citizens do not need to apply for a work visa to Europe. However, upon arriving at the country where they will be working, they have to apply for their residence and work permit.Can I move to England from USA without a job? ›
Yes, you can move to the UK without a job if you have enough money to support yourself and if you are born to British parents or qualify for one of the following visa's: Tier 5 Youth Mobility (this is country and age-restricted) UK Ancestry.Is it hard for an American to move to Europe? ›
Yes, US citizens can move to Europe, but how easy it would be depends on which European country you want to live in. Every country has its own immigration rules. You'll need either a work permit (for a job in your target country), or another kind of residence visa.Are Americans moving to Europe for free degrees? ›
There are at least 44 schools across Europe where Americans can earn their bachelor's degree for free, according to Jennifer Viemont, the founder of an advising service called Beyond The States. All public colleges in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Finland are free for residents and international students.Is it cheaper to live in America or Europe? ›
Europe is cheaper than the U.S. based on variables such as prices of goods and services, exchange rates, and market conditions. Several quantitative indicators verify that Europe is cheaper, yet some important factors account for higher costs in some circumstances.What is the friendliest country in Europe? ›
1. Ireland. Countless global reports have continually dubbed the people of Ireland as some of the friendliest and most welcoming to visitors in the world, and our readers feel the same; voting it into the top spot for the friendliest countries in Europe.Where in Europe are Americans moving? ›
European countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy are considered the hottest areas for U.S. consumers to buy real estate.What is the best EU country for an American to move to? ›
If you can handle the cold, Germany and the Netherlands are two of the most popular countries for expats, both offering international communities and unique residency options. Switzerland: Although many European countries offer a better quality of life than the U.S., Switzerland takes the cake.Is it cheaper to live in Europe than US? ›
Overall, Europe has a lower cost of living due to lower healthcare expenses, a weakening euro currency, and low inflation. Europeans, however, tend to pay more of their income to taxes, and average wages tend to be lower than in America.How do I permanently move to another country? ›
- You can apply for a work visa.
- You can apply for an exchange program.
- You can move for your studies (short-term).
- You can apply for family reunification (if you have family members in another country).
- You can apply for an investor visa (if this is offered from your destination country)
|Country||2023 Population||Growth Rate|
Quality of life: European countries offer shorter working weeks, longer holidays, and a greater focus on work-life balance. This emphasis on quality of life is one of the biggest advantages that Europe has over the US.Are houses cheaper in Europe than America? ›
Home prices in certain countries are more affordable than in large U.S. cities, so it is affordable to rent a flat, buy a townhouse or condo, or purchase a single-family home in Europe. European countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy are considered the hottest areas for U.S. consumers to buy real estate.How much money do you need to live in Europe? ›
|City||Cost of living for a single person (USD)||Cost of living for a family of four (USD)|
It is best to have at least $5000 as a single person and $15000 if you have a family, that should cover your first three months while you get settled. But again, don't let this stop you. The goal is to get abroad and figure it out from there.What is the most common job in Europe? ›
1. English Teacher. Europe is a continent of many languages, however, English is always highly valued. One of the most common jobs for Americans looking to work in Europe is, naturally, being an English teacher.What countries can US citizens work in? ›
As an American, you can work in Australia, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea. If your visa requires you to get a background check first, National Background Check, Inc. can help with all the necessary background checks and travel paperwork you will need to safely and effectively travel abroad.