Author Topic: Expats in Europe?  (Read 9329 times)

fuzzed

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Expats in Europe?
« on: February 15, 2013, 11:27:54 AM »
We are always looking for an "better" way of life and have enjoyed Europe and the lifestyle.

I am curious if any of you out there who are or have lived in Europe and had a legal job?  I have noticed a few forumites mentioning they had lived and worked in Europe and am very curious (and envious)
 
How did you find a job?
Was getting the proper work "visa" a tough job?
Any strategies for finding a job?
Our preference would be Germany or the Netherlands, are either of those countries realistic, any other countries you would suggest?
We are in our 40's, no children, one in IT, and the other in Medicine, is this even a realistic goal at our age?
In reality, we are probably 5-10 years to being comfortably FI, so should we just wait until then and be happy with travelling there?
The plan would be sell 2 North American properties, put that money aside along with our regular savings, and hopefully make enough money to live and travel, but not necessarily have to add to our savings.

I realize "anything is possible" if you want it bad enough, but is this even realistic at our ages?

I have read about this on other expat forums but they invariably degrade into a xenophobic rant.  I figured the Mustache community may have a more adult approach to this question.

Ok, this is starting to ramble a bit, any feedback is appreciated and feel free to flame away. :)

psychomoustache

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2013, 02:51:36 PM »
Hi to you,
We live in France. My husband is French and we have been here 15 years (after 9 years in the States together first).
I think that the countries you have picked are not cheap ones, first of all. If you want to live well here, I would try one of the countries that are actually economically challenged right now because it's much cheaper to live there - think Portugal, Spain, Greece or one of the eastern European countries.

Remember the euro right now is worth around 1.30$ - it's pretty expensive to live here.

I would VERY STRONGLY SUGGEST you research the diploma equivalency question. This has been a HUGE problem for me, and is a problem for every expat from every country that I meet here. That being said, this is France and the French are very particular (very very anal) and this is not the case, from what I gather, in other places in Europe. I think it's entirely possible to make this move at your age (I myself am 47) but you need to do your research.

In your shoes, I would go to the consulates of the countries that you may consider living in, and research how your American degrees would or would not allow you to work in those places. Depending on the need in that country, it may be more or less difficult... that being said, I am especially thinking about the medical degree - being in IT may translate over here much more easily without an equivalency.

Again - the two countries you cite are quite expensive. If you are 5 to 10 years from FI, I would go for it (moving to Europe) but aim for a less expensive place. Another thing - in a less expensive place, you may need to speak the language (though this may not be the case for the Eastern European countries- where in the cities anyway English is the business language). I live out in Brittany - and I live completely in French (so if my English is a bit weird sometimes you'll be understanding).

Maybe this could be a 2 to 3 year research and language-learning project while you work on FI? Good luck to you, I actually love living here though I complain a lot too, though on the other hand means I fit right in with the French  ; )

psychomoustache

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2013, 02:54:45 PM »
oops noticed you're in Canada...ça change la donne...
But everything else still applies (et peut-être que le français est tout de même acquis, qui sait..?)

Jamesqf

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2013, 03:43:35 PM »
How did you find a job?
Was getting the proper work "visa" a tough job?

This probably isn't going to be much help, but in my case I was "headhunted" by a Swiss research institute because work I'd been doing happened to be something they needed.  Getting a visa was not really tough (and the hiring institute basically handled all the paperwork), but it took a few months to go through.

happy

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2013, 05:34:18 AM »
In IT, if you work for a European company in your country of origin, there can be opportunities to  work in Europe.. however the" legalities" are handled by your company: for example I know of someone who lived in Australia but worked in IT for a Belgian company who was offered the opportunity to work there for  6 months. A few years later, landed 3 months in Paris to do something the employer wanted.  A lot of couple/families don't necessarily want to re-locate, especially with 2 people working, so sometimes OS opportunities are not as popular as you might think.

As far as medicine goes, European medical schools/education/ certification is quite different to a British based system and so you would really need to check out whether  your credentials will be acceptable, as psychomoustache says.  I think medicine in Canada is probably quite similar to Australia (since we seem to have oodles of Canadian medical students here) which is a based on the British tradition/structure. Maybe however the French would be more accepting of a Canadien/ne...

fuzzed

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2013, 08:06:42 AM »
Thank you for your replies so far.   I thought Germany or Netherlands as their economies seem to be thriving, and would probably actually have jobs available vs a country with 20%+ unemployment.   In reality France would be "easier" from a language perspective as was pointed out, I am Canadian, and should be able to ramp up my French in a reasonable amount of time.  My thought against France was the bureaucracy fetish they seem to have.  We have spent quite a bit of time in France, Paris a couple of times, but mostly in Nice.  (5 times over the past 7 or so years).   

I chose Germany as I really like the feel of the places I have visited, very efficient, well organized, and people seem to be doing well financially.  I am very keen on learning the language.  The Netherlands, same as above, but forget learning Dutch, that language seems to not make sense lol...

I work for a very large financial institution, which has offices in the UK and Asia, but nothing in Europe.  That is a dead end for now.

Australia (and New Zealand, yes, I know they are different ;) ) seem to be the easiest to move to for Canadians, but from what I gather, we may need 2-3 jobs per person to afford to live there.  Everything thing I have read, and heard seems to point we would need more money than we make in Canada just to survive, let alone enjoy life.  Is that true, or is it one of those media things?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 08:45:14 AM by fuzzed »

Lex

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2013, 11:20:14 AM »
Speaking for the Netherlands: the economy is still in a recession and unemployment is peaking (at about 12%, I think). It will be very hard to move there job-wise if you are not from within the European Union, unless you have some very special skills or you can use some international organization that hires you.

If you were a US citizen, you could use the US-Netherlands friendship treaty, I think you might have to start a business or somehow support yourself financially. There are quite some Americans living in the Dutch West Indies (where I'm currently living) that use the treaty to set up residency here.

The easiest way, but it's a very long shot, is to check whether you or your spouse have a European citizenship without knowing it (Where were you parents and grandparents from?). There are certain countries that keep passing on their citizenship, even if you have been born abroad.

Oh, and Dutch is actually one of the easiest languages to learn for English-speakers. There are tons of similarities!

Lex.

fuzzed

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2013, 06:09:06 AM »

The easiest way, but it's a very long shot, is to check whether you or your spouse have a European citizenship without knowing it (Where were you parents and grandparents from?). There are certain countries that keep passing on their citizenship, even if you have been born abroad.

Oh, and Dutch is actually one of the easiest languages to learn for English-speakers. There are tons of similarities!

Lex.

I had the grandparent thing checked out, i thought my grand father was born in Germancy, but no luck, he was born in Canada...  And with my spouse, no chance of that.

Dutch? Easy?  Hmmm...  I guess having a bit of French in my education, German, Italian, Spanish appear to be easier.  Too many AAAA and OOOOO stuck together in Dutch :)

Mountainman75

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2013, 06:46:07 AM »
I'm in Austria as a trailing spouse for my overseas deployed wife. I work remote for a company in the US, for now...

Couple of things to bear in mind:
1) several countries have language requirements for immigrants as well as employment verification
2) I know Austria has "Kassa" for each medical practice, essentially a licensing program to limit the providers in any one area. It is very difficult to obtain one for a private clinic (ordination) unless the bureaucracy deems it so. Also, most of the hospitals are associated with the Universities, so look at doing an exchange with them, might find some openings.
3) Taxes. You pay a lot, but you get a lot. Sort of... Compared to the US its insane how high the taxes are, but compared to Canada its not that bad.

Spain and a few other more beleaguered countries are trading citizenship for home purchases.  Might be worth evaluating. The farther down the distressed list, or the farther east you go, the cheaper everything is. Croatia and Slovakia are relative bargains compared to the north of Europe. The farther north, the more expensive. Sweden and Norway are insanely expensive.

Australia and New Zealand are both actively recruiting professionals with skills to move there. More so than in Western European countries.

happy

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2013, 04:47:20 AM »
Quote
Australia (and New Zealand, yes, I know they are different ;) ) seem to be the easiest to move to for Canadians, but from what I gather, we may need 2-3 jobs per person to afford to live there.  Everything thing I have read, and heard seems to point we would need more money than we make in Canada just to survive, let alone enjoy life.  Is that true, or is it one of those media things?

Well ?maybe??  but most Australians I know live on one full-time job per person and I live just fine on half a job. I haven't made a detailed comparison but from what I know, housing in the big cities especially Sydney is expensive. ( but so are Auckland and Toronto, London and Paris) A lot of "stuff" is more expensive than US, but then who needs "stuff"? Taxes are higher than US, but then we are more"socialist"(not a term many Australians would warm to necessarily) than US with regard to provision of healthcare, education and other such things. Having previously lived overseas - some things are more, some things are less... you figure it out and adapt. (see http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/15/high-cost-of-living-its-a-state-of-mind/.) And the weather is conducive to lots of low cost non-snowy outdoor activities all year round :) .

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2013, 05:33:13 AM »
Australia (and New Zealand, yes, I know they are different ;) ) seem to be the easiest to move to for Canadians, but from what I gather, we may need 2-3 jobs per person to afford to live there.  Everything thing I have read, and heard seems to point we would need more money than we make in Canada just to survive, let alone enjoy life.  Is that true, or is it one of those media things?

Depends where you move to, and how frugal you are. The amount needed to live in the middle of the Sydney CBD is going to be a wee bit more than in a regional city. We're just over an hour outside of Melbourne, doing ok on one part-time salary (last year it was 24hrs/wk, this year it's 32).

fuzzed

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 07:06:38 AM »
Well ?maybe??  but most Australians I know live on one full-time job per person and I live just fine on half a job. I haven't made a detailed comparison but from what I know, housing in the big cities especially Sydney is expensive. ( but so are Auckland and Toronto, London and Paris) A lot of "stuff" is more expensive than US, but then who needs "stuff"? Taxes are higher than US, but then we are more"socialist"(not a term many Australians would warm to necessarily) than US with regard to provision of healthcare, education and other such things. Having previously lived overseas - some things are more, some things are less... you figure it out and adapt. (see http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/12/15/high-cost-of-living-its-a-state-of-mind/.) And the weather is conducive to lots of low cost non-snowy outdoor activities all year round :) .
I watched a show the other day "Living Abroad" where they profiled American Families who lived in Sydney.  I realize it is TV, but the least expensive place was 1.5 million and required 600k worth of upgrades to make it liveable.  So in my mind 300k must buy me a used cardboard box...  Yes, I realize it is TV, and actual results may very, but I have "heard" things like that before about living in Austrailia.  I am Canadian, so I understand the concept of paying taxes, and you get what you pay for so to speak. 


Depends where you move to, and how frugal you are. The amount needed to live in the middle of the Sydney CBD is going to be a wee bit more than in a regional city. We're just over an hour outside of Melbourne, doing ok on one part-time salary (last year it was 24hrs/wk, this year it's 32).

Where would the proverbial "sweet spot" be?  Key criteria, would be proximity to jobs, close to an airport and "affordable" living (IE a 1200 sq foot home under say 300k in local currency).   You had mentioned Melbourne, what other smaller urban areas would you recommend?  I find that numbeo is pretty good for doing cost of living comparisions, but I am very naive when it comes to cities in Austrailia.


« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 07:15:52 AM by fuzzed »

happy

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2013, 09:29:10 PM »
Spend some time looking on realestate.com.au. (1.5mill plus 600k on upgrades is beyond the reach of most Aussies. )

acj

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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2013, 08:37:10 AM »
regarding living and working in europe, id look into switzerland. its very expensive but taxes are lower and salaries higher than in other european countries - so it ends up being a good deal in my view. biggest advantage to me would be that lots of multinationals are there where the business language is actually english (like my company - english is the language they require for most jobs). unfortunately ive no idea about visas though as i have a german id which makes things easy.
other than that i imagine youll get a visa for the uk fairly easily(?), although i find the cost of living/income ratio pretty bad (compared to switzerland and germany). germany is cheap in terms of rent for european standards.

maybe this helps a bit making a decision :)

kiwi

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2013, 12:33:43 PM »
Our family (husband and I, 2 boys in elementary school) moved to Geneva about 18 months ago.  This was only possible because I have dual US/EU citizenship (Austrian parents).  Otherwise, the company I work for (and for which I also worked back in the states) would not have hired me, because of the additional costs and hassles of applying for visas. 

However, all things are possible.  Geneva is godawful expensive, but we lucked out in terms of livings situation (walk to everything, including 6 minutes to work), and it's an amazing hub for travel.   The kids are in public school here and have learned French.

In case you're interested in Switzerland, there's a website called EnglishForum.ch which has buckets of information on getting a job here.  Not all of it is necessarily encouraging, but certainly useful.  I'm sure there's similar expat forums for Germany and the Netherlands with loads of info.

Best of luck.  We're headed back soon and I regret not being able to stay longer!



fuzzed

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2013, 06:42:20 PM »
Thank you for the suggestion on Switzerland, i had kind of written off that option due to the costs (perceived and real).  I will do some digging.  Thank you.


In case you're interested in Switzerland, there's a website called EnglishForum.ch which has buckets of information on getting a job here.  Not all of it is necessarily encouraging, but certainly useful.  I'm sure there's similar expat forums for Germany and the Netherlands with loads of info.


That is a great forum suggestion.  Quite a bit of great information, and friendlier tone than the German one i read occasionally.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 06:59:53 PM by fuzzed »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2013, 07:04:22 PM »
The girlfriend and I looked at having her move to Europe should my US work visa have not gone through. The odds of her being hired straight out of school and petitioned for a visa without getting being married to an EU citizen were next to nil. Britain especially has been tightening things recently.

LSK

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2013, 09:50:02 AM »
One thing you could look into is teaching.
My wife moved to Denmark from the US, and she didn't plan on becoming a teacher here, but there are international schools (IB or Cambridge based ones for instance) everywhere. These schools have a hard time attracting qualified teachers, so they can in people with a higher education that doesn't necessarily have a teachers education. Plus everything is done in english, so the language is not a problem.
For instance my wife came with a background as a hydrogeologist and ended up teaching physics & math.

Also since you mentioned medicine, I would say that doctors have a fairly easy time getting employed here in Denmark. I work in health too and I've seen plenty of doctors from outside the EU in our university hospital, plus I know that they actually staff that takes care of the whole process for the foreign doctors coming in, so that the doctors don't have to spend time trying to deal with all the bureaucracy.
I don't know how it is in Germany or Holland, but I can't imagine it being much worse in terms of bureacracy than it is here in Denmark.

If you want to read about the procedure of moving to Denmark and getting employed and so forth, the goverment made this website that should have most info on it:
http://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/frontpage.htm
I can't imagine that Germany & Holland doesn't have something along the same times too.

fuzzed

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2013, 06:06:28 AM »
Thanks for the Denmark suggestion and link LSK.   
Are either of you EU/Nordic citizens? If not, how did you end up choosing Denmark?

LSK

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2013, 09:31:38 AM »
Thanks for the Denmark suggestion and link LSK.   
Are either of you EU/Nordic citizens? If not, how did you end up choosing Denmark?
I'm Danish, but I met my wife on one of my trips to the US.

Also I'm not sure I would recommend Denmark - If it were me, I'd go for a warmer climate, but since you're from Canada, perhaps the weather here is not a problem :-)

Ary

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Re: Expats in Europe?
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2013, 03:06:35 PM »
I am German and have studied in the Netherlands for a while. My thoughts on this:

If your husband works in IT, he might benefit from the German equivalent of a green card which was introduced in 2000 to attract IT specialist. Immigration laws would probably require you to learn German once you have settled here.

We have a shortage of doctors here in Germany and we rely on foreign doctors to fill the spots. As already indicated, you are not an EU citizen so you would have to check with the respective embassies for the formalities. Unless you find a job in a private clinic, you would be required to know German in order to communicate with the patients. (And I agree, Dutch should be way easier for an English speaker than German.) 
However, one of the reasons for the shortage is the German doctors who are leaving because the working conditions are not very attractive (a lot of bureaucracy, very long shifts and OT, not very attractive salaries). Their favorite destinations: Switzerland and Scandinavian countries, UK and sometimes the NL. German doctors are the worst paid in Western Europe (except Portugal and maybe Spain). Things are changing though and I have several job-happy doctor friends who are not planning to leave.

Remember that Switzerland is a trilingual country (actually four) and English often serves as the unofficial lingua franca. The German-speaking part is economically the most successful, but if you can brush up your French you should be fine. Having had several summer jobs in the Swiss mountains I must say it is a truly beautiful country, especially if you enjoy any outdoor activities. Although it is very expensive to live here, the higher salaries and taxation system would allow you to save more compared to Germany.

Have you considered:
Luxemburg- French-speaking, very expensive but very high salaries, and squeezed in between Germany, Belgium and France.
Belgium- French and Flemish (like Dutch) and a small German-speaking minority.

 
“We are Canadian, we understand the benefit of taxes” :-) 
This made me smile..but...I think the biggest benefit is when you are younger (good public schools for your kids, free universities, student support). 
Maybe you could relocate to a European country where the salaries/ taxes are in your favor (Scandinavia, Switzerland, UK, maybe the Benelux countries: don't forget Luxemburg) and then, once you want to stop working, to a European country with a lower cost of living? (Portugal, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic,...).



Finding the right European country is rather a technicality. The main question is: Do you want to hit FI  asap or do you go for a more risky (as in FI might be postponed and other surprises, positive and negative ) journey? How important is it for you as a life goal to walk the path towards FI as efficiently as possible and how many detours do you allow yourself to discover the new/unknown?
As everyone on this forum would agree, the sooner we achieve FI the better. However, to most of us it is not an end goal in itself but it is just a means to do sth you value more. If you want to achieve FI in order to immerse in a new culture/language than why not combine both? I have always tried to work or study abroad because I enjoy it more than random travel. 

Without knowing your financial details, I would maybe stay in Canada and work towards a figure where FI can be only postponed to a certain extent when relocating.

Feel free to post any further questions!