Expat’s guide to living in Europe
Credit Miquel Fabre MOIÀ – MOYÁ
Europe is a collection of 50 countries with a fascinating range of cultures, landscapes, and ways of living. The proximity of one place to the next is part of what makes it such a popular destination for travel and expats – and with cheap transport and ease of movement across many borders, it’s never been more accessible.
There are so many industries across the continent, including some long-term players in the world of business, innovation, and engineering. To help you work out how to live abroad in Europe, we’ve go some general information about how to move to Europe and cover some of the main expat destinations – Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Moving tips and checklist
Moving to the EU
Russia, the biggest country in the world and Vatican City, the smallest country in the world are both found in Europe.
Credit Niccolò Caranti Europe Day
The European Union
The European Union is a group of 28 states, mostly based in Europe. The EU was formed in 1993 on the first of November in the Netherlands, the key goals being to promote peace across the many countries so close in proximity.
They have an internal single market and standard laws and regulations. The EU allows free movement of people, goods, and services across the countries, helping to increase opportunities and growth. It’s made a huge difference to the way cultures, companies, and individuals can interact. It’s also had a lot of benefits for tourists and expats. It’s easy to combine pleasure and work with a move to Europe.
Right to work
The easiest way to move to Europe is often by having a job offer. Before you get started though, it always pays to check what your rights are to work in a particular country in Europe.
If you have a passport for a country in the EU, at the moment you are entitled to live and work in any other EU country. There may also be other options available – UK passport holders, for example, are currently entitled to work in the EEA (European Economic Area) which includes some additional countries.
If you don’t hold an EU passport, you’re likely to need a visa. The options available will depend on your situation and your passport. Some countries have special agreements. You can find basic information about Non-EU Nationals (mainly European ones) on the European Commission website. However, the best thing to do if you’re not sure if get in touch with a local embassy for the country you’re wanting to move to.
Customs and importation
The great thing about the EU is there are no border checks or customs to go through between most EU countries (specifically those in the Schengen area). This means EU countries have the same customs duties and regulations on importation.
There are restrictions on animals and plants or their products, limits on items like alcohol and tobacco, and tight regulations on firearms and some chemicals. For details, you can look at Europa.eu’s pages on importation.
Recently many EU countries did a network-sharing deal. If you have a UK phone, for example, it’s likely that you’ll be able to use this in most EU countries at no additional “roaming” cost. This is especially great if you’re traveling between different countries (and why not, if you’re already over there?). Just check with your network first to avoid unexpected charges.
If you’re bringing a phone across you may want to check it works on your country’s network. It’s likely all you need to do is pick up a SIM card and put it in your phone. Most countries offer pay as you go and contract options. Some contract might come with a package deal – for example, a new phone, or with internet or a landline phone.
If you’re moving within EU countries, it’s easy enough to transport your dog, cat, or ferret as long as it has a European pet passport. However, for other types of animals, and if you’re importing from another country, you’ll need to check specific country regulations.
For importing pets from outside of the EU, have a look at Europa’s guidelines. In most cases you’ll need to microchip your pet, provide a bill of health, and show evidence of a rabies vaccination. There may also be a quarantine requirement. For animals other than cats, dogs, or ferrets some special requirements may also apply.
Decided to bring your beloved pet? Links Moving can help you make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible for your pet with our Pet Relocation Service.
Euro is the currency the European use, or €. It’s been around since 1999 and is now the sole currency of 19 of the EU’s member states. Some EU countries still have their own currency and don’t accept the Euro. There are also a few other countries out of the EU who will use the Euro, usually alongside their main currency and not always officially.
€1 will buy you around HKD$9.64, SGD$162, and USD$1.23 – but you can check the latest rates on XE’s website.
Europe is vastly connected with well-maintained rail system and great main centres that connects almost all public transportation. Furthermore, train and bus services go across countries and if booked in advance you can make some good savings. Flights are also a very common, cheap, and fast option – sometimes you can find a flight for just €20 that will cut out 10 hours of travel overland.
Individual countries have their own national transport systems, and the effectiveness really depends on the country. Also on the location – many large cities have extensive networks, and could have ferries, trams, and subways. On the other hand, some areas may only have a ferry and a local bus.
It depends on how and where you want to travel, but there are times when having a car in Europe can be useful. You’ll need to register your car to the country you’re in, have car insurance, and there will also be taxes to pay. You can find out about registration requirements here, and also read details about moving your car within the EU here. Regulations on traveling between EU countries in your car can depend on the country and the time you spend there.
There are plenty of rental options, but if you want something more permanent there will be no shortage of new or second-hand cars. If you’re importing a car to Europe, you’ll need to make sure you meet the specific requirements of the country you’re shifting to. This includes safety standards and emission levels. Links can help you transport your car should you decide to take it with you.