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Let me start this by making something perfectly clear:
I’m not American.
But a lot of those who read my blog are Americans who either live overseas or are looking at moving overseas. They end up here because they’re doing some research on Poland.
So I thought I’d create a little something to help those Americans looking to make a move ‘across the pond’ to Europe, not just to Poland.
I reached out to American friends, American friends of friends, and the general American public to get insights into the best places for Americans to live in Europe and asked:
What are the best European countries to live in?
There are a lot of cities and countries mentioned, so here are the countries that you’ll learn about in this article:
Jump to a specific country here:
Being an expat
But before we dive into the exact locations, take a read of the following.
Ron and his wife have moved ‘over 41 times’ in their life and have been in Europe for the last 16. They’ve lived in Rome, Copenhagen, Vienna, and a few other places, but there was one part of his story that really struck me:
…But the reason we live overseas is for the pace of life, the food, the opportunity to travel an hour and be in an entirely different culture. People are here for different reasons – and different situations – and that often impact where they choose to live.
I think Ron perfectly sums up the beauty of being a foreigner overseas. So if you’re reading this and sitting on the fence about moving your entire life overseas, take the chance. You’re about to read the stories of over a dozen people who packed up and moved and have no hesitations about leaving the US for Europe.
You can read about Ron and his wife’s story at the end of this article.
Best place to live in Europe as an American:
Bulgaria offers an incredibly affordable place to live and doesn’t fall short on offering outdoor adventures from skiing to hiking to mountain biking.
No matter the season, there are beautiful spots for mountain lovers and beach lovers. It also has a growing number of co-working spaces and digital nomads, so it’s a wonderful place for meeting like-minded individuals.
Some of my favorite towns are Bansko for skiing, Plovdiv for a bit of hipster city life, and Sinemorets for a quiet beach town. It’s a great place for Americans as you can easily get by with English and the dollar travels pretty far here.
If I asked if you knew which European city has been named ‘Best City Break’ for the 3rd time in a row, would you know the answer?
It’s the Polish city of Krakow, and I believe that a week in this beautiful historic town is enough to cover everything in and around it. A city that was once the capital of Poland has a beautiful ‘Old Town’ square in its heart, with millions of tourists visiting every year.
What makes it great is the cheap but cheerful restaurants, affordable and stunning hotels, bars, and entertainment complexes; with these located around every corner, you can be sure to be fed and entertained for a fair price. Make sure to visit the many museums and cultural attractions, from war museums to the local zoo.
The locals are friendly, and the majority of the population speaks English, so even if you don’t know the local language, you’ll be able to communicate in English. The architecture is stunning and is definitely one reason I moved to Poland; I’d recommend American expats to do the same.
Also worth mentioning is the low to non-existent crime rate in Polish capital cities.
Greece is a fantastic place for Americans to live and work because the country offers so much to explore, from the major cities to the off the beaten path islands.
With a thriving expat community, you’ll be sure to meet plenty of fellow Americans, and English is spoken widely.
I spent 3 months exploring Thessaloniki, Sparta, Lefkada, and the Peloponnese. Without ever setting foot on the major islands we all know so well, I could have easily stayed longer.
I would like to talk about my experience in 2020, where I discovered an equally stunning area of the world to live in, where I could save money and avoid hordes of tourists at the same time. I chose to spend my time in Eastern Europe, particularly Serbia, which in my opinion, is currently one of the best places to live overseas if you are looking to save.
What worked for me is that I always kept my income in US dollars, as my website and clients are based in the US. That is the primary advantage of living in Serbia, for example, since the exchange rate is favorable to begin with. So the first thing to keep in mind is BYOJ, or rather, “bring your own job” when you decide to move there.
The cost of living is extremely low in Serbia. For example, you will be hard-pressed to spend more than 300 bucks on rent for an apartment in downtown Belgrade, Serbia’s capital and largest city. If you cook your own food, there are plenty of local markets with fresh produce that is home-grown and costs very little compared to other European countries. As Serbia isn’t part of the EU, the food is more natural and devoid of GMO’s, which is an added plus.
If you chose to eat at one of the several grill houses and fast-foods, burgers with real meat cost a couple of bucks and are hard to finish in one sitting. Basically, Serbia’s culture is big on their food, and you can have a meal for just a few dollars in most places. Of course, you can also go to Starbucks, get sushi, and get your “western fix,” which will cost you more.
Combined with the internet’s low price, my living costs when I was in Belgrade didn’t exceed $500, including internet, food, and all utilities. As a digital nomad, the internet is important to me, and I was happy to find plenty of co-working space, cafes, and places with high-speed internet. Overall, it was a perfect combination for saving money while still enjoying myself, as I could even afford to eat out every day and still stay under my budget.
There is plenty to do in Belgrade in terms of entertainment, which historically is one of the most important cities in Europe. There are plenty of fortresses, catacombs, monuments, and outdoor patios to give you the sense of being in a European capital, without having to spend an arm and a leg as you would in Paris. The nightlife is bustling with “clubs” that are actually boats parked on the Danube river. Serbs are friendly people and speak really good English, which made my life easier as well.
Finally, hot summers are not made to stay in capital cities, and there are tons of lakes and mountains to explore in the country. If you need beach time, Croatia is a few hours away by bus and home to some of the world’s most incredible beaches. Alternatively, Greece is nearby, and you can get extremely cheap all-inclusive travel packages that depart from Belgrade.
Overall I spent about 9 months in Serbia, and I save a lot of money, so I would recommend it as a great place for digital nomads, freelancers, ex-pats, and retirees. I also forgot to mention that it is very safe compared to other developing nations around the world and great for families.
Living in Budapest for two years was without question the best and most transformative two years of my life. Budapest offers the perfect mix for American expats: it’s off the beaten path in so many ways without completely overwhelming you with culture shock.
Living there isn’t exactly “easy,” but the small challenges that accompany its inevitable challenges, difficult language, and pervasive cultural disparities are what make expat experiences much more rewarding to me.
I personally connected with the city, its culture, and its people. Though more popular in recent years than it has ever been, Budapest is totally an unexpected goldmine of a European capital: stunning unique architecture, beautiful scenery, vibrant culture, and fast-paced energy that always offers something to do.
The English level in the center is more than comfortable to get by, and almost everyone under the age of 35 is fluent. The city has a top-notch foodie and entertainment scene, which also seems to grow by the day.
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Budapest is also home to the best (in my humble opinion) budget airline Wizzair and has dirt cheap flight routes everywhere you can imagine, making it an ideal home base for exploration. While a bit pricier than its central and eastern European counterparts, Budapest is still very affordable compared to the west. For expats making American salaries, the world is literally your oyster. An American expat who is willing to put themselves out there will fall in love with the city, its culture, and its people (both Hungarian and international), but they also must be willing to put in the work.
Moving there from the United States was a culture shock when it came to the prices, but I found that to be the toughest challenge.
The language is fairly easy if you dive right into it, but the locals speak incredibly good English so that never presented a problem as large as I had anticipated.
Films and TV are not dubbed, and you will find a lot of knowledge about US culture in Norwegian society. The daylight can present a problem for many people moving there as the winters are dark and the summers are very light!
But, it is nothing you can’t get used to- as long as you learn to ski or pick up a hobby to make the winters pass by a little quicker.
Taxes, banking, healthcare, and many other things are far simpler in Norwegian society, and the government does a good job looking out for residents and expats there.
Norway consistently ranks as one of the happiest places on the planet, and after four years of living there, I definitely know why! Nature, a good system, and people taking care of each other all play its role in this Scandinavian society.
It’s centrally located in mainland Europe. London, Amsterdam, and Paris are all within a 1-2 hour train ride. That makes day trips possible and is especially nice if you have to regularly go to 2 or more of these major cities for business meetings.
Trains are a lot easier to take than planes and will drop you in a central location instead of an airport outside the city.
You can get by in English. Brussels is the political capital of Europe, and so all 26 other European Union member states have embassies and diplomatic staff in the city, all of whom speak English.
French is what you will hear in the Brussels streets, but because of the influx of people from all over Europe, most people you will come in contact with will speak English (and some will speak it better than you!) And if you need some help with the local languages (French or Dutch), for example, to decipher a parking ticket, there are always friends standing by to help.
Brussels has a really laid back lifestyle compared to most American cities. There isn’t much hustle and bustle here. Many people work shorter workweeks of only 35 hours, and 5 weeks of vacation and paid days off are often standard.
There is a lively bar, cafe, and restaurant culture, so you might gain a few pounds. Belgium is famous for beer and chocolate, but the locals are quite the foodies all around.
I’ve lived in France (Tours), Morocco (Rabat), Japan (near Osaka), and Turkey (Istanbul) for 6 years total. (I am partial to France and Morocco, but I speak French, so that helps. Great quality of life in both areas: health care is great in France, adequate in Morocco, food markets are everywhere, and fresh produce brings so much joy. Plus, because public transport is so good, it isn’t necessary to own a car when I can also rent one. I walked more, and quite frankly, the pace of life is different, so I let go of my “American stress level.”
I taught English in Rabat, Morocco, at the American Language Center for a year and lived in a beautiful apartment in the Kasbah des Oudaias, an old whitewashed fortress along the Atlantic. Every day I walked through the medina to get to work (about 40 minutes walking).
I passed rug shopkeepers, the vegetable markets, the old women selling mint. I speak French (and some Moroccan Arabic), so I could get around and converse. French and Arabic, while not necessary, definitely will enhance your living experience. As an American, I crave a slower pace of life without the expectation that everything will be done “right now.”
Once, I was going to have lunch with some family friends. They showed up the next day at 5 pm. (So, letting go of “right now” is a must.)
Morocco is so hospitable; it is impossible not to meet people. Once I was in the south near Tafraoute and taking a walk on my own through various villages. Not once, but three times, women invited me into their homes for tea. That would rarely happen here in the U.S.
As a woman, there are challenges for sure (constant cat calling and men following on occasion), so bring sunglasses and earbuds. Also, it helps to know the word “Shooma,” which means “shame on you.” Generally, though, I felt safe.
Mike was working at their Philadelphia headquarters at the time, and I left my job as a teacher to move to Denmark.
We love living in Copenhagen, and it’s a great city for Americans. It’s easy to live here because Danes are fluent in English, and the government provides Danish lessons for free. We took a few months for them to learn basic phrases, but the best part was meeting other expats.
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One of my #favorite squares in #copenhagen even prettier in the #snow . . . #winter #snowfall #snowflakes #denmark #kobenhavn #danmark #scandinavian #europe #eu #robetrotting #worldtraveler #travel #postcard #tourist #tourism #gaytravel #blog #travelblogger #blogger #instagood #instagay #instagood
Besides the ease of language, daily life is simple to navigate with superior public transportation and a social safety net that we could never have imagined in America. As soon as our paperwork was filed, we had healthcare cards and a doctor.
I was able to take a course for foreigners finding a job in Denmark, which is a bit unique, and I was hired at a startup – Denmark has a thriving startup scene. Even with the higher taxes, we take home more money than we did in the States because salaries are higher. The required 5 weeks of vacation and strict work-life balance are also perks. Overall, our standard of living is higher in Denmark, and we couldn’t be happier.
One of the most underrated places for American expats is Lviv, the cultural capital of Ukraine. I’ve been living in Ukraine coming up on my third year now, and I’m still in love with the city like it was my first day.
I originally moved here because it was a cheap place to live while I figured out where I wanted to base myself and decided not to leave. I’m a simple food blogger, and this place is a haven for foodies and travelers alike.
Not to mention the fantastic cost of living. In my time, I’ve met plenty of Americans who thought as I do, and we know that this undiscovered gem is only going to get more popular.
With the current exchange rate, anyone making an American salary, such as digital nomads, can have an excellent life here. My favorite thing about this city is that it is also the youngest city in Ukraine.
In fact, as it is a “college town,” an entire third of the city is under 25 years old. And because of that, there are plenty of people that speak English.
I spend my days sitting at outdoor cafes and people watching, eating, and drinking delicious food and beer for cheap (the craft beer scene here is amazing) and otherwise enjoying some classic European culture.
I found Portimao, Portugal (where I stayed for 2 years) to be one of the best places to live and work as an American. What I loved about it there?
– Affordability: Living 5 minutes from the beach in a fully-furnished 2-bedroom-condo with lots of amenities (heated pool, tennis courts, etc.) only cost me 800 Euros per month(including utilities).
– English: It’s very easy to get around with English, and even though I speak Portuguese, I felt I was better received by speaking English, so I typically defaulted to doing so.
For 7 of those years, I’ve educated foreigners (predominantly Americans) on how to move to and live in Croatia on my site.
I moved to Split because I wanted to live someplace in Europe with a low cost of living. At the time of my move, I was launching my own freelancing business. The low cost of living (and great internet) helped me get on my feet both with my business and in a new country with less risk than if I’d chosen a western European country.
Split substantially increased my quality of life. Croatians place a very high value on in-person socializing, getting out into nature, and moving your body. Additionally, Croatia has great affordable health care, and it’s very easy to live here without a car. These are all things that are hard to achieve as part of daily life in the US.
There are a number of expat communities where Americans can connect with other foreigners as well as Croatians, which vary by interest. The Croatian community is very welcoming and is deeply honored when Americans move to their country.
The Netherlands was my home for 3 years. Its charming cities and towns are comfortable for expats for a variety of reasons—English is everywhere, everything is unnervingly well organized, and there are loads of foreigners in cities—there’s one particular aspect of living in the Netherlands that I found dreamy as an American: transportation.
After growing up in the United States, where cars are mandatory, and public transport is but a dream in most parts of the country, transportation accessibility in the Netherlands was magical.
You can easily take a train from virtually any town in the country and travel all the way across the country in less than 3 hours.
Cycle paths are ubiquitous, well-marked, and respected by drivers—unlike the United States, where cycling is a death wish—meaning you never have to set foot in a vehicle to run errands.
Buses and trams are clean and timely, and all public transportation is linked to one card that you can reload online.
For Americans tired of having to drive everywhere, the Netherlands is the place to be.
Interested to see more about the relationship between Poland and the Netherlands? Learn more here!
For Americans, Finland is a good place to live in Europe because it is a monochronic culture like America.
Other European countries with polychronic cultures such as Greece or Italy are nice vacation destinations; however, the culture shock from moving from an extremely monochronic culture such as America might not be pleasant.
If you’re looking for job opportunities in Finland or any other monochronic European country it, will be based on your education, skills, and attitude. Whereas, in polychronic European countries finding a job will be based on who you know and what family ties you have.
Living in another country requires you to work to support your stay. The best advice I could give to my fellow Americans who are considering living in Europe is to move to a country that is a monochronic culture.
This way you can achieve security with a job, and then you are free to travel around Europe!
Amanda is an American who’s been living in Scotland off-and-on since 2015. She’s also lived in Malta, in Northern Spain, and in Ireland but swears that Scotland takes the cake!
I’m originally from the Boston area of the US but have been living abroad since 2012. After meeting my husband in Honduras and deciding to move together back to the country where he grew up, I now call Scotland home.
He’s not Scottish (he’s actually Irish-Colombian), but his immediate family and all his friends are here in the Edinburgh area.
Leaving the US for Scotland is one of the easiest transitions an expat can make. That doesn’t mean the two countries are exactly alike, however. I’ve had my fair share of language mix-ups, cultural missteps, and downright confusion since I moved here in 2015! But adjusting to the accents and learning the local cadence of life is easy enough for most Americans.
Overall, life in Scotland is a much happier balance for me. Work is not all-encompassing like it is in the US; there’s a very healthy balance here. You can absolutely take your vacation time (which is plentiful) without feeling guilty or checking emails during your break.
There’s also a lovely devotion to socializing in Scotland. It may coincide with that better work-life balance, but we often chat with our neighbors and see our friends, so we have plenty of quality time to connect.
Finally, there is an extensive network of US expats in Scotland who are welcoming and very helpful as newcomers try to navigate everything from visas to office culture to finding elusive US labels folks miss from back home. It’s effortless for Americans to adapt to life in Scotland. I know I’m fortunate to call this country home.
What makes Spain great for Americans?
For young professionals, the Spanish government’s English Language and Culture Assistants program is a wonderful opportunity for college graduates to work part-time as an English teaching assistant and make enough money to experience life in Spain.
Because that’s the real draw: the Spanish lifestyle.
Working to live instead of living to work.
Americans who find work at a Spanish company can enjoy perks like daily coffee breaks with colleagues, Friday afternoons off, and a summer schedule that gets you out of the office by 3 p.m. every day.
Employees are also entitled to at least 22 paid vacation days per year, and they happily use every last one of them with absolutely no hesitation.
When you tell people here that around half of Americans do not use all their paid vacation days, they don’t believe you.
Social connections, family life, and having a good time are important priorities in Spanish society.
It is a true joy to live this way, and moving back to the States is not a temptation.
Madrid is a vibrant and international city with a magical magnetism. It isn’t showy, and it isn’t touristy, so it’s easy to get into the heart of it and find where you belong.
Art, culture, food, sports, Madrid’s got them all in spades. Plus, living in another language provides endless possibilities for learning and surprises.
Cepee Tabibian is the founder of She Hit Refresh and relocated from Texas to Madrid in 2015 at the tender young age of 35! She’s even written an entire book on this subject. Check out “I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.”
Spain is a warm and culturally rich country, and Madrid’s vibrant energy and social scene were all a big draw to moving here. The cost of living is much more affordable than most major western European capitals, allowing me to live well and work part-time on a U.S. salary. I moved here on my own and was drawn to the city’s abundance of singles in their 30s and up! This was important not only from a dating perspective but also from making friends and finding a community of like-minded people who were living a similar lifestyle.
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It was five years ago that I quit my full-time office job in Austin, Texas to make the move to Madrid, Spain!⠀ ⠀ I eagerly leapt into the unknown with a one-way ticket to Madrid to teach English in a secondary school. As much as I didn’t want to teach I knew it was the first step to making my Spain dreams come true. And I just had this feeling that once I got here I could hustle my way to a new life.⠀ ⠀ But how? I had ZERO idea of what I wanted to do. And I wasn’t even sure what I could do. You see, as a serial job hopper whose priority in my 20s was travel, not the climbing the career ladder, I had to start from scratch at age 35 and figure out what my skills were and value I had to offer….and as the story goes, I figured it out! ⠀ ⠀ If you would have told me then that future me would be: ⠀ ⠀ ✨ working remotely⠀ ✨ working part-time on a full-time salary⠀ ✨ running a community of over 5,500 members⠀ ✨ helping companies build online communities⠀ ✨ building my own business⠀ ✨ writing a book⠀ ✨ launching my first online course⠀ ✨ …and having free time to enjoy life ⠀ ⠀ I would have smiled with glee and disbelief! There is no way I could have imagined this for myself. Even though I had big dreams when I moved here, looking back, my dreams weren’t big enough to imagine this reality! When I try to trace how I got from A to B, the one consistent theme is 💫IMPERFECT ACTION💫. Planning, plotting, researching, thinking about, wanting to do, saying I was gonna do…<—all of that played an extremely minor part in my story….the one BIG thing that changed my situation was IMPERFECT ACTION. Imperfect action is how I created new opportunities in my life, and imperfect action is what propelled me forward at a speed I had never experienced before. ⠀ ⠀ Now that I know this, practice this, and reap the benefits of it, I’m ready to teach this in my first ever online course!⠀ ⠀ MAKEITHAPPEN is a LIVE 6-week course that’s based on one of the workshops from our annual retreat. If you’re looking to find clarity, gain momentum, and take IMPERFECT ACTION in the direction of your dreams sign-up for my BETA COURSE and let’s #MAKEITHAPPEN!⠀ ⠀ Link in bio for more info.
Spain is the perfect country for Americans who want to move abroad because there are multiple visas to choose from that make long-term living here a viable option. Qualifying for a visa is the biggest obstacle for U.S. citizens who want to move to Europe, and most people are unaware that there are at least 6 viable visa options for Spain!
Marco is an American that also has a great deal to say about Spain:
The best country in Europe for Americans is Spain because Spain makes it easy for us to live there legally long term. For Americans, the 90 day Schengen rule makes “living” in Europe difficult.
Sure, you can spend 90-days in Schengen, then move to Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, or another EU, but non-Schengen country for 90-days. But to me, being an expat is living in a country without the hassles of visa runs.
If you have passive income through investments, rental income, pension, or similar, Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa is ideal for Americans. As long as you meet minimum income requirements and pass some health and background checks, you can access a long term stay visa that eliminates the need for visa runs.
Living in Spain as an American is a refreshingly high quality of life for a low living cost. Outside of Madrid and Barcelona, Spain offers a lower cost of living than cities in the US, but with EU levels of infrastructure, access to inexpensive healthcare, and public transportation.
As an example, my high deductible health insurance in the US costs me close to $500 per month. My private health insurance in Spain with no deductible and no co-pay is close to $50 per month.
The cost of a 1-bedroom city center apartment in a medium-cost city in the US is $1,500. In a medium-cost city like Granada, Spain, the apartment would be $650.
Germany’s cost of living will pretty much be a huge stress reliever to any American. The price of living is incredibly fair. I’m talking about rent for 150-400 euros a month in big cities like Berlin. What I also realized about Germany is that there’s a giant American expat community. Join some. It’s an easier way to make friends abroad and a place to reference when you have questions. You can find these groups on Facebook and meetup.
Let’s take note of how AMAZING their public transportation is. I’m talking about one of the most efficient in the world. Germans aren’t late, ever. It is just a thing there. They are not late, and for them to get to places on time, of course, they need their public transportation organized all the time.
In addition to cheap rent, Germany has one of the best economies in Europe. This means it is much easier to find a traditional job there in comparison to Spain or Italy.
People also speak very good English in Germany, so if you haven’t learned German just yet, don’t fret; you can take affordable classes when you arrive and get by in the meantime.
After living abroad for more than five years – in Italy, France, Spain, and China (plus stints in Nicaragua and New Zealand), the place I recommend for American expats may surprise you. Most Americans view Italy solely as a vacation destination, but I think it’s a perfect place to stay and discover a culture we all think we know.
My first move abroad was to Spain, then China, where I began TiltedMap, my travel blog about sustainability, food culture, and life abroad. China was the most exotic place I’d ever lived – and that’s exactly what I expected it to be before moving.
But when I met an Italian man and moved to Milan, I didn’t expect as much culture shock. Back home in the US, I grew up eating lasagna and spaghetti for dinner, had friends who had visited the Colosseum, and knew countless people with Italian last names. What could there be to truly discovering Italy?
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New blog post is up… all my favorite restaurants in Italy! Skim it now for the gratuitous Italian landscape pics (like this one). Then bookmark it for a trip later. There are about 50 wonderful, mostly small, local businesses on this list, including many in random tiny towns. (But also featuring some of my favorites in Milan and Rome, including @sottosottomilano @pasticheri @labuttiga @cinemateatrotrieste @nerinodiecitrattoria @laravioleriasarpi @pizzium @estartigianidelgusto @le_carre_francais ) . . . . #nomadicnetwork #expatgenius #expatblog #italyblog #italianfood #cinemateatrotrieste #ciboitaliano #italiancuisine #italianfoodblogger #italianfood #borghiitaliani #visititaly #italian_places #great_captures_italia #italianlandscapes #herwanderfullife #wanderwomeninc #femaletravelbloggers #travelbloggersofig #totravelistolive #travelbloggervibes #findyouradventure #discoverunder4k #youmustsee #traveltagged #itravelbecause
But after living there for three years, learning the language, going to graduate school, and marrying an Italian, it turned out most of my assumptions about the country were wrong. Knowing it as a vacation destination had masked just how little I really understood Italy and how different it was from what I expected and from US culture. This juxtaposition – this departure from the expected – is what makes Italy an ideal place for Americans to slow down and discover the diversity of European culture.
I have been living in the UK with my British husband since 2015. I was working full-time as a clinical psychologist in California and now work full-time as a travel blogger and writer.
My husband also works full-time as a travel blogger (he has his own site Finding the Universe) and travel photographer. We moved to a village outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2015 and lived there for a few years before moving to Bath, England, about 1 year ago.
Since my husband and I were from different countries with different passports, we had to decide between the U.S. and U.K. if we wanted to work towards sharing the same citizenship.
We decided to start our married lives together in the UK. Since we both work remotely and travel a lot, the UK’s specific location was not that important to us, but we have enjoyed living in different parts of the UK.
It has been easy to live and work here as an American as there are no language barriers (just tricky accents!), there is a large number of Americans living in the UK, and the cultures are fairly similar.
The two countries also have a tax treaty, allow for dual citizenship, and generally have a good political relationship, which also helps make it easier to live and work here. I think that the UK is probably the easiest place for Americans to live and work within Europe.
I’m an American expat turned travel blogger who moved from Texas to London in 2018. My childhood dream was to live in Europe, so when my husband was offered a transfer to his company’s London office, we sold nearly everything we owned and hopped across the pond.
London is a fantastic choice for Americans who want to live abroad without the challenge of learning a new language. Tasks like opening a bank account or shopping for groceries are hard enough in a new country. Being fluent in the local language makes it far easier to get settled and feel confident in unfamiliar territory.
If your expat dreams include frequent travel, London is the perfect home base. We’ve taken dozens of trips to Europe in the past 2 1/2 years, including Eurostar train journeys to Paris and budget flights to Stockholm. When you can get a round-trip ticket to Italy for $50, every weekend is a chance for a short getaway.
Americans worried about driving on the left will be pleased to know you can get around London without a car. The city is well-connected by train, bus, and the famous Tube. You can go from home to work to drinks at the pub with your bank card tap.
Caroline is an American living in the food capital of France, Lyon. In keeping with all things French, she has a fantastic blog about wine tasting.
I LOVE living in Lyon. I’ve been here for 3 years and am totally living up my French fantasy. Lyon just won #2 in Conde Naste Traveller’s best cities in the world, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s awesome for many reasons, not just because it’s the gastronomic capital of France.
I’m a wine teacher, so it’s a natural choice for me, in between Burgundy and the Rhône. It’s stunningly beautiful, an ancient city full of Roman ruins and Medieval secret passageways.
We’re a stone’s throw from the Alps, and on a clear day, you can see Mont Blanc. Unlike Paris, this city isn’t saturated with Americans, and the locals don’t hate us.
Maybe I shouldn’t recommend it! People are nice here, and the size of the city is perfect. We call it “human-sized”; it’s big enough to have everything that a big city could want but small enough to be intimate. I’m obsessed. I’ve never been happier.
At the very top of this article, you read a short summary of life as an expat from Ron and his wife. Here’s the rest of their story:
After working in the Restaurant Industry for 25+ years, my wife and I decided to move to Europe. We’d traveled to Europe often when we needed to getaway. Working 80+ hours a week, I said to my wife… there must be more to life than this. And thus, without much planning, we decided to relocate.
Because she is a teacher, she can teach at International Schools around the world. We sent out our resumes. As a former officer in a 2+billion company, mine was multiple pages with VP, Ownership, and Director positions. My wife’s CV was one page.
I got ZERO hits – she had FIVE!
We settled on Rome; she interviewed while on vacation there, the school loved her… and we’re off to Rome. And that started our odyssey in Europe.
As this was rather a spontaneous decision… we made ALL the mistakes ex-pats make! But we loved Rome… and even today, for us, it’s where we would return to.
Copenhagen the highest standard of living, the best medical coverage, but was incredibly expensive, and the winter weather was brutal.
Vienna is regarded as the best place to live by multiple surveys, and it was great, No doubt the most beautiful city we lived in. And like Copenhagen, everything worked (not like Rome!). Vienna had great transportation, larger apartments, but we found the medical system lacking, and the Austrians were rather aloof.
I loved living there, but we got bored! Then came The Hague, by far the smallest European city we’ve lived in. It’s an international city, everyone speaks English, the AMS airport is close by, and we bike everywhere! It’s a relaxed culture, and if we could move it to the Med, I’d probably live here forever.
But one of the great things about being an ex-pat -if you can get the paperwork – is that you can live anywhere. And our hearts will always take us back to Rome. Our head says anywhere but Rome, but the friends we made, the food, the history, the culture, the weather… it was simply magical. Well, magical at times.
We had to renew our Visa annually, our medical card annually – both of these took MULTIPLE attempts. Salaries were low, banking practices archaic, strikes happened weekly, graffiti everywhere (A Roma “right,” I was told), and things would break down and not get fixed (Took my 3 weeks to get my toilet fixed).
But despite that, whenever people ask my wife and me, “What was the best placed you’ve ever lived (and we’ve moved 41 times)?” We smile, look at each other, and simultaneously say, Rome.
But the reason we live overseas is for the pace of life, the food, the opportunity to travel an hour and be in an entirely different culture. People are here for different reasons – and different situations – and that often impact where they choose to live.
We do not have an EU passport – and no chance to get one – so we have to have work or long-term residence visas. And thus, we’re limited.
In each city, we’ve lived IN THE CITY CENTER, and so we’re urbanites now. Thus, returning to the USA will be a challenge. We have a few years left and treasure our “cafe time” and the chance to learn a new culture. (Denmark’s “rules” were SO much different than Italy!)
I love living in the Netherlands. It’s an amazingly proud, independent country.
And there’s no political correctness here – the Dutch are straightforward. It’s a great compromise between Italy and Denmark(The heart vs. the mind)… Here, we can have a car, the train system is great, and we travel to Antwerp (another country) in less than 60 minutes. But we miss Rome… and money, paperwork, bureaucracy, and medical care were not issues…we’d be back there tomorrow!
Throughout my life, one thing I’ve learned about America is that each and every one of the 50 states is unique and has their own way of life. It’s said that the only thing shared by someone from Seattle and someone from Miami is the president, language, and currency.
And the truth is that Europe is a little bit like that, too. But the languages are different.
So are the people.
And the currencies. And the leaders.
Even more than the U.S., every part of Europe is different.
That’s what makes it a fantastic place to live for Americans, Australians, and well, just about anyone.
If you’re interested in learning more about Poland, be sure to check out the rest of my blog. If other parts of Europe look like a place that you want to live, be sure to check out the sites of the bloggers mentioned in this article, and reach out to them if you want any more advice!