Europe is an epicentre for expats, with 2.7 million foreigners moving to the EU only in 2019. There are several reasons internationals move to Europe, including better job opportunities, higher salaries, a higher standard of living, and better government support.
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When you plan your move, it’s important to remember that some countries may be better suited for you than others. For that reason, you should do extensive research and find out the European countries that are the best for expats.
Best European Countries for Expats to Live In
Some of the best European countries for expats are:
- The United Kingdom
These countries are the best when measuring the quality of life, healthcare, social, physical, and financial security they offer to their citizens and residents.
Known as the land of “Poets and Thinkers” and with its high standard of life, Germany is home to the most expats in Europe. Having one of the best economies and several routes for immigration, moving to Germany is more accessible than other EU states. Its capital, Berlin, is a social hub for those who enjoy going out and meeting new people, so adapting to the culture is no issue.
To move to Germany, you can apply for an employment visa if you have a skill in demand there. If your partner has German citizenship, you can move for family reunification. Additionally, Germany also offers an artist visa for those who wish to pursue a career in the arts.
>>How to Obtain German Citizenship By Investment?
Portugal is one of the best countries in Europe for expats. Its popularity stems from its favourable climate, economic development, excellent education opportunities, and outstanding quality of life. Portugal is relatively cheap for most expats, and the living expenses are significantly lower outside of Lisbon.
Additionally, Portugal is well known for welcoming foreigners and having plenty of social opportunities for cultural integration, making it one of the easiest countries to settle down in for expats.
If you don’t need a visa to visit Portugal, you can usually stay for 90 days and use this opportunity to explore the country. Afterwards, you have plenty of opportunities to move to Portugal with long-term visas or retirement visas; for wealthy expats, there’s even a Golden Visa option.
Right next to Portugal, Spain is another popular expat destination. It offers the same benefits as its neighbour with a high quality of life, a great health system, and low expenses. American expats can quickly move to Spain through the North American Language and Cultural Assistant program. But, this program is not a pathway to permanent residency; participants need to have a valid work permit if they want to make Spain their permanent home.
Expats from other countries can still use other opportunities to move to Spain. For example, individuals who prefer to work independently can apply for a freelance visa, or those with enough financial means can utilize Spain’s Golden Visa opportunity.
This small European country has one of the highest GDP per capita, and it was ranked the second-richest country in the world for several years. As a result, Luxembourg makes one of the best countries to move to. Especially considering that more than 40% of the population is foreign.
It offers an excellent quality of life, great opportunities for business technology and innovation, and it has one of the highest salaries in Europe. Plus, it’s bordered by Germany, Belgium, and France, which are only several hours away from Luxembourg, making it an ideal place for those who want to explore other countries in Europe. Moreover, Luxembourg also has three official languages, and most of the population can speak English very well, so communication is rarely an obstacle to settling down.
However, Luxembourg’s most significant disadvantage is that along with the highest GDP per capita and high salaries, living costs are also very high compared to other European states. Plus, immigration routes to Luxembourg are restricted, and in reality, it’s challenging to relocate there as a permanent resident.
The United Kingdom
The UK is the best European country for Americans to move to. Because there is no language barrier, Americans find it easier to transition into their new country, socialize, and learn the culture and customs. Moreover, the UK remains one the most economically developed countries in Europe, offering many opportunities for employment, start-ups, and freelance work, in addition to social and health benefits.
One of the most common ways to move to the UK is through an intra-transfer company visa if your work is relocating you there. But, there are also several options for work visas, family visas, and there is also an investor visa for potential investors in the UK.
The only disadvantage of the UK is that now with Brexit, it’s no longer a part of the EU which means its citizens do not enjoy the same rights as other EU nationals and freedom of movement is more restricted.
According to the World Happiness Report, Finland keeps scoring high as the happiest country in the world, so no wonder many expats are attracted to this Nordic country. It offers social and economic security and one of the best education systems globally, making it ideal for families to settle down.
Yet, many expats in online forums report that Finland is difficult to adapt due to a complicated language and a lack of social and leisure activities. If you are a social person who enjoys a lifestyle packed with activities, then Finland may not be the ideal place for you — especially if you don’t like cold weather.
Iceland is another Nordic country with a high GDP per capita and scores within the top 20 in healthcare, education, and economic development. Moreover, according to the Global Peace Index report, Iceland has ranked the safest place to live. Additionally, expats — especially those from large urban areas — are attracted to the mesmerizing nature and stunning views that Iceland offers.
To move to Iceland, you need to have a valid visa. For example, you have work lined up and you can apply for a work visa or have a partner with Icelandic citizenship that you want to join there. But, keep in mind that Iceland, like other Nordic countries, has been reported as more challenging to settle down due to the weather conditions and the reserved nature of the locals.
Ireland is another top European country for American expats, mainly because of the language. Ireland offers the same advantages as other European countries and has one of the highest GDP per capita, but unlike other countries, language is not a barrier which makes it easier to integrate.
Another advantage of Ireland for expats is that many Americans have ancestors who were previously Irish citizens and qualify for citizenship by descent.
>> Ireland Investor Visa
Switzerland is another excellent European country, between the chocolate, nature, and the high quality of life. Switzerland provides safety, stability, career opportunities, and financial security for many expats. Plus, it has an outstanding work-life balance allowing people to manage their professional and personal lives stress-free. However, it is still one of the most expensive countries in Europe, so if you plan to move there, you must be in a good place finance-wise.
Benefits of Moving to Europe
Moving to Europe comes with several advantages that include:
- The option to travel without a visa to other European countries.
- Access to affordable national healthcare plans.
- Access to high salaries.
- The opportunity to live in one of the most well-developed countries globally.
- The opportunity to live in a safe country.
- A better work/life balance.
- Access to famous historical sights and green spaces.
Tips Before Moving to Europe
No matter where or why you are moving, it’s always difficult to get used to your new environment. Follow these tips to make the move to Europe easier for you:
- Learn the language. Before you move, try to pick up some common words and phrases. This will help you long-term when you need help during the moving process, plus any local who sees you are trying to learn their language will be more likely to welcome you and assist you if you need it. Don’t assume that everyone in Europe knows English, even though multiple languages are common.
- Find accommodation. You must ensure that you have secured a place to stay when you transfer to Europe. You can choose from several options like renting a temporary Airbnb or staying at a hostel until you find a permanent place. Most expats recommend you visit the country first (if you have visa-free access to Europe) and meet with a real estate agent to find a place to stay in.
- Prepare health insurance. While most countries in Europe offer national health care plans, it takes a couple of months until your insurance is valid when you first move there. Before you move, purchase travel insurance and a basic health insurance plan that will cover you during that time. VisaGuide.World provides a detailed information about what are the best health insurance options for expats, information on how to get it, coverage, costs, etc.
- Read up on social customs. Every place has its customs and traditions, some of which may be entirely contradictory to those you are familiar with. So, try to read about some of the most common customs in the country you are moving to.
- Prepare for culture shock. Culture shock can still happen and take you by surprise despite your preparation. So, be prepared to deal with many changes at once and take one step at a time until you get accustomed to your new place.
Which European country is best for expats? ›
Portugal is the best destination for expats in Europe
Nine out of ten expats surveyed said they enjoy the climate and weather while 89 per cent were happy with the air quality. Expats like the opportunities for playing sport and 93 per cent said it's easy and safe to get around on foot or by bike.
What make Portugal the easiest country in Europe to gain citizenship is that there are no physical presence requirements. Meaning you only need to hold your resident permit in order to qualify for naturalization.
|Ranking||Country||Human Development Index|
Switzerland tops many lists of best countries to live in thanks to its excellent quality of life, picturesque countryside and excellent education and health care systems that apply to expats and locals alike.Where should I live if I only speak English in Europe? ›
While we have already discussed that Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland are some of the top English speaking countries, we shouldn't forget that Germany and Belgium are very high up the list, with over 62% of the population in Germany being English speakers and 61% in Belgium!Which country is the cheapest to live in Europe? ›
- Portugal. This country is famous for good food, beautiful beaches, a relaxed lifestyle, and affordable living. ...
- Slovenia. This Central European country became an independent country in 1999. ...
- Spain. ...
- Croatia. ...
- Bulgaria. ...
Which Country in Europe is Easiest to Get Citizenship? The most accessible country to get citizenship in the EU is Portugal. The country offers one of the most affordable investment options for citizenship, and after five years, you gain an EU passport.Which European country give residence permit easily? ›
Greece. The tourist-friendly destination offers golden visas to those who make investments in the country. These can be in various forms: Buying a property worth EUR 250,000 (Rs 2,04,22,479) minimum.Which country gives fastest citizenship? ›
Vanuatu is the takes only 50 days to process applications. These are the fastest countries to become a world citizen through citizenship by investment schemes. There is also a possibility for stateless to become a citizen and acquire passports through the investment schemes.What is the cheapest and safest country to live in? ›
- Costa Rica.
What is the safest country for climate change? ›
According to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), published by the independent monitoring agency, the top three countries leading in climate protection are all Scandinavian: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, while the United Kingdom is ranked fourth in climate protection.What is the cheapest and safest country to retire? ›
- Malaysia. ...
- Spain. ...
- Costa Rica. ...
- Panama. Cost of Living Index: 48.25. ...
- Peru. Cost of Living Index: 30.74. ...
- Slovenia. Cost of Living Index: 47.30. ...
- Austria. Cost of Living Index: 64.11. ...
- Australia. Cost of Living Index: 72.27.
Iceland. Opening the list of the safest countries in Europe is Iceland, which has ranked as the safest country worldwide for more than 10 consecutive years.What country is best for expats? ›
- United Arab Emirates.
- London. One of the largest cities in Europe, London has grown at such a fast rate over the past decade that it has become a bustling and highly energetic place in which to live. ...
- Edinburgh. ...
- Paris. ...
- Berlin. ...
- Vienna. ...
- Barcelona. ...
- Madrid. ...
- Portugal. Portugal has been deemed a secret hot spot for a European retirement. ...
- France. The close second to Portugal for retirees came to France. ...
- Slovenia. Making its way close to the top of the list for countries in Europe to retire went to Slovenia. ...
- Italy. ...
The Netherlands has emerged as the nation with the highest English language proficiency, according to the EF English Proficiency Index, with a score of 72.Where is the cheapest English speaking country to live? ›
Possibly the cheapest English-speaking country to live in is South Africa. Not only can you get by without having to go to language school, but most South African cities also have a high standard of living, similar to Western cities, which will make the transition much easier.Which country in Europe has highest job opportunities for foreigners? ›
Employment rate in the European Union in 2022, by country.
Which Country in Europe is Easiest to Get Citizenship? The most accessible country to get citizenship in the EU is Portugal. The country offers one of the most affordable investment options for citizenship, and after five years, you gain an EU passport.
What is the best country to live as an expat? ›
- United Arab Emirates.
Estonia is one of the easiest European countries to get a work visa for digital nomads. It offers an excellent visa program allowing you to stay in Estonia for a year as a tourist while working remotely.