How To Live In Europe As An American

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
June 2, 2023
Table of Contents

Live Abroad In Europe As An American

Currently, a total of 8.7 million American people live in Europe. Every year, millions of U.S. citizens move out of the U.S., hoping to make a better living in Europe. Europe is one of the most common options for Americans moving and focusing on discovering new qualities of life.

When it comes to healthcare costs, taxes, and jobs, Europe has its own unique opportunities to offer. However, depending on your budget, you can freely choose reasonable life goals and language skills. If you're unsure what the best option is based on your specific circumstances, we're here to guide you on all the information you should know before getting ready to live in Europe as an American.

Europe Vs. United States

It isn't easy to make any clear conclusions when it comes to sorting out the similarities and differences between European nations and the U.S. Still, you can say that both regions have their own distinctive cultures, traditions, languages, and food. These are just a few of the key differences between the two. But when you have moved to Europe for better living conditions, here's what you can expect.

Tax comparison

You should know that taxes in Europe are generally higher. Value-added tax is about 21 per cent, 6 per cent higher than the standard VAT rate. Still, you will find many goods and services that are much cheaper in Europe than in the United States of America. Some Americans who pay U.S. income tax don't need to pay it in a European country, even if they live abroad forever.

A more detailed comparison of taxes will be determined mainly by the state from which you are moving and the country you decide to live in. To confirm whether you'll be considered a tax-paying resident after moving, get all the information by visiting the official E.U. website.

Consumer products and their costs

Some consumer goods, such as gasoline and designer clothes, are more expensive in Europe. There are two primary reasons why gas prices are higher in a European country, and they are as follows:

  • Many European cars have twice the gas mileage as American models.
  • Inflation rates and estimated costs keep on increasing.

Differences in climate and seasons

When it comes to climate, you need to know that much of Europe has a mild climate due to the presence of the warm Gulf Stream current in the Atlantic Ocean. The weather in the Western region, which includes northern Spain, and a significant part of France, remains mild both in summer and winter.

Some regions have cool summers and cold winters with plenty of snow. The climate in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia is like western Alaska, with long and cold winters and short and cool summers.

However, if you're looking for a moderate climate, there's no better place to go than Greece or Italy. Winters in these two southern countries are mild to warm. Summers can be hot, while you can expect autumn and spring to be enjoyable.

Healthcare options

Most E.U. countries provide free healthcare to their citizens, which is funded by income taxes. So, you need not worry about co-pays, deductions, or health insurance premium requirements. You can also rely on private health insurance.

Remember that to receive these health benefits; you first must become a citizen or a permanent resident. According to certain studies, healthcare services in the (E.U.) produce better results when compared to America.

Working duration

Many European countries have more worker-friendly employment laws than the United States. So, not many Europeans have the habit of working more than 40 hours per week. Some countries have even shorter working weeks. On this basis, it's easy to conclude that Americans are more stressed and have less time to spend with their loved ones after work.

Vacation time

If you're considering moving to Europe, you'll appreciate that their residents get a yearly holiday of a minimum of four weeks. They also have the choice of taking them whenever they want. So, many of them may use it according to their convenience, which is not common in the United States. As a citizen of Europe, you may have the opportunity to travel more and spend more time with your family.

Driving and commuting time

Europeans drive less as public transportation is also very efficient in Europe than in the United States. If you move to France or Germany, you can travel by train, bus or other means. And one thing that is sure is that you will spend less time taking the train.

Less food and drinks

Food portions may be one of the most surprising aspects of Europe for you, as European meals are smaller in size than American meals. Not just meals, but also drinks, coffees, and cakes. But the positive aspect is that living on this continent can benefit your overall health.

Documents For Living In Europe As An American

Although U.S. citizens do not require long-term visas to travel to Europe, they must have the following documents to travel abroad and enter the Union's visa-free zone:

  • U.S. passport: No more than ten years old and valid for at least three months beyond the intended departure date.
  • Documents giving evidence for the purpose of moving.
  • Documents demonstrating that the traveler has sufficient financial resources.

If you decide to live permanently in any European country, you must consider the visa option. You will also require an appropriate residence and work permit if you work as an expat. However, the procedures and requirements for obtaining these documents vary significantly from state to state.

Finding Employment In Europe As An American

There is no straightforward formula for finding a job in Europe, just as there isn't any formula for finding a job anywhere else in the world. It depends on who you are, what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at. You can increase your opportunities of getting a dream job by carefully considering these things. Nonetheless, here are some tips to guide you.

Choose your destination

Choosing a new European home is the first step when getting a job. Europe has the fast-paced internationalism of London right up to the peace and quietness of Greek islands.

If you want to heighten your opportunities of finding work but don't yet have an ideal place, then start with the big cities. That's where you'll find the most job opportunities and vibrant expat communities, just like in the U.S.

Determine your course of action

Jobs in Europe vary in terms of salary. They can be low-paying or high-paying, skilled or unskilled, permanent or temporary. You may discover that you are qualified for jobs like those in the United States.

Two big things will make a difference. The first is language. If you can't communicate in the language of your new home country, you'll have fewer job opportunities. The right to work is the second factor. You will not have the same employment rights as a native or foreign citizen. So, long before you pack your bags, you should thoroughly research what you are and are not permitted to do.

Adapt your resume to European requirements

Typical European C.V.s are brief and are no longer than two pages. They will typically include a concise personal statement highlighting your career objective or the type of role you seek, your qualifications, and your work experience in reverse chronological order.

You do not need to include information about your interests or hobbies unless they are directly related to your profession. European countries have different expectations regarding the amount of personal information you include on your CV. So, it would help if you double-check the norms wherever you choose to go.

British CVs do not typically include a photo or any information about your age. However, C.V.s in Southern European countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece usually have a picture and a set of personal information such as your nationality, age, and mailing address.

Job hunt

Whether you're a digital nomad or want to be a cocktail waiter, the internet is always the first place to look for work. But how do you find work when you are not physically in Europe? No need to worry, as the internet is your friend! Look for openings in your field on platforms like LinkedIn, Fiver, or Upwork for freelancer jobs.

Industry-specific job boards, such as TEFL for English teachers, are also worth a look, particularly if you're willing to move. If you're particular about your field, this method may be best for landing the perfect job. If you already have a company in mind, check their websites for available positions. Some companies are wise enough to create a job alert for you.

If you are already in the E.U., you can look for a job center. It is advised that you personally visit the local language schools, bars, and hotels to learn about job opportunities. But just don't underestimate the diversity of each European country. Try to find the job boards that the locals use as an early test of your language skill needs.

Popular English-Speaking Jobs In Europe

If you only speak English but want to work in a European country other than the U.K. or Ireland, you'll have more success in some fields than others. Here are a few professions where you might have a better chance.

Teach English as a foreign language

The traditional profession for traveling English speakers is teaching English. This will transform your main issue of only knowing English as a language into a strength. Get a TEFL certification and choose your location carefully.

Unlike many other expat jobs, teaching English abroad in less developed areas is easier. English teachers face huge competition in large Western European cities. In smaller towns and less wealthy nations, there is still demand for English teachers but only fewer native speakers.


Tourism or hospitality jobs are another way to turn a lack of language skills into a strength. As English is the most famous global language, its demand for tourism is never-ending.

You can choose other options, such as finding work in a bar or a resort. If you know some basic cooking skills, then perhaps you'll be able to find a job in a restaurant. However, many of these positions may be temporary or seasonal.

Electronic and digital life

Thanks to the internet, working while sitting at home is now possible. Some people even work full-time in foreign countries from their home offices. Alternatively, you can go freelance and look for work in fields such as journalism or programming, where you can often work from home.

The digital world of job opportunities is getting advanced with each passing day. Most positions in places like Ireland could work best for you. One significant advantage of looking for work in Ireland is that there will be no language barrier to compete with.

So, if you haven't decided on a location yet, this could be something to think about. If you plan to live abroad, it is best to learn the native language of your preferred country. Begin learning as soon as possible. When you reach a specific level, you will find that more job opportunities come to you quickly. More than that, your overall quality of life will improve.

High-Paying Overseas Jobs For Americans

Finding a high-paying job in Europe will allow you to live comfortably and make the most of your time there. The availability of well-paying jobs will vary greatly depending on where you go and what field you work in. If you already work for a multinational firm, see if you can move to Europe within your current company.

This facilitates you to make the most of your experience while settling into your new home. If you are unable to transfer with your current employer, you will need to conduct some research on average salaries in your field and then choose the location accordingly.

Websites such as Numbeo and Teleport, which provide statistics on wages and costs of living in many European cities, are excellent places to look for resources. Top jobs are in management consulting, medicine and research, finance, and technology. Still, you'll be able to see how salaries vary by location easily, which will help you decide where to move.

Exciting Places For Overseas Relocation In E.U.

The most challenging questions before you decide to move may be how to choose the best country to move to and how to move abroad. When crossing international borders, there are several factors to consider. It is best if you think about the language barrier, living costs, and even the general sociability of the environment.

So, before you hire professional movers and pack your belongings, consider this list of the most popular countries to move to as an American:

  • Ireland: The very first reason for choosing Ireland is the fact that the Irish speak English (although with a different accent). The island nation also has a visa program with no age restrictions.
  • Germany: This country has a good work-life balance rate and the continent's strongest economy.
  • Sweden: Sweden is a generous welfare state with a strong economy. They can offer you excellent job opportunities, a high salary, and a fantastic quality of life.
  • Switzerland: The Swiss are proud of their world-class healthcare facilities and magnificent natural beauty.
  • Greece: Greece has its famous, most beautiful beaches in the world with plenty of sun. They have delicious food, friendly people, and, most importantly, a low cost of living.
  • Czech Republic: The Czech Republic is just one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with an excellent education system and incredible ancient architecture.
  • Italy: Italy has some of the most affordable housing options in Europe.
  • Portugal: Portugal has low hotel and food prices, beautiful sandy beaches, and friendly people.

Enjoy Your Ideal Destination In Europe

Whatever your main reason for moving to Europe is, whether it is to study abroad and get a new job or to buy your ideal home, living in Europe as an American can offer you a high quality of life, better job opportunities, and tastier food options. You may get to experience a slower-paced lifestyle and more time for your hobbies, such as traveling.

Do remember that the region you choose to move to depends on your desires, goals, and financial resources, as well as being able to access your mail from wherever you choose to go. As such, it is important to get in touch with the services you need, like mail forwarding or a health insurance provider, before traveling.

Sign up for Residency in South Dakota