Make no mistake: moving to Europe is at once an exhilarating and stressful endeavor. Whether you plan to spend your retirement in the Old World, just got a new position at a European corporation, or simply want to expand your horizons, the excitement of this adventure is quickly replaced by worrying that you won’t get everything planned out in time or in the right way so that no surprises await you in your new home.
So we'd love to help! Any big move like this should be driven first and foremost by excitement. To keep the worry at a minimum, here are 4 things you should be aware of before moving to Europe.
1. The Legalities
First and foremost, you should know about the exact laws and regulations that enable you to stay legally in your country of choice. If you are moving for a job, your employer may be able to help here; but if not, you're on your own.
If you are a U.S. citizen with a valid U.S. passport traveling for tourism or business, you can apply to enter the Schengen area without a visa for a period of three months within each six-month period. If you spend three months in the Schengen area during any six-month period, you must wait another three months before you can apply to enter the Schengen area again without a visa. The Schengen visa enables tourists to stay in Europe past the traditional 90-day period.
It may be worth investigating other opportunities unique by each country within the Schengen zone (yes, another layer!). For example, Germany offers an "Aufenthaltserlaubnis" (residency permit) that you can apply for at German embassies.
Another regulation you should be aware of is just what happens in your home country as you move to your new residence. For example, as a U.S. citizen, you will still be subject to paying American taxes. Knowing what awaits you legally, both in your home country and in your new home country of choice, is crucial for a smooth transition.
2. The Shipping Process
Next, you should make sure that your belongings—or at least the ones you're taking with you—arrive in Europe swiftly and intact. Starting to plan the shipment process early can be helpful, especially considering that it can take weeks and even months for your items to arrive at your doorstep. That means you should first decide just what needs to be shipped, and second find a reliable international moving company that helps you through the process.
3. The Language
At the risk of sounding too obvious, language skills are crucial when moving to a new country. While most European residents will be proud to show off their English skills to tourists from around the world, they might not be so accommodating to new residents in their neighborhood.
In some highly international cities such as Frankfurt, you will be able to get away without learning your host country's language for a while. But in most other cases, you should come prepared to integrate yourself into the language and culture of your new home.
4. The Transportation
Finally, you should know ahead of time just how you will get around in Europe. It's true that the continent has excellent public transportation options and that in many cities you can commute to work and get around in your daily life using only the bus, subway, and commuter trains. But if you're planning to expand your horizon beyond your immediate area, you may want to consider getting a car.
Many expats moving to Europe ship their car over but in reality, doing so is often more trouble than it’s worth. While most European countries grant temporary tax exemptions if you use your car for 6 months or less in your European country of choice, anything longer will require a long trail of paperwork and—in most cases—endless trouble.
If you're in Europe for a limited amount of time, such as a job assignment, you may want to consider a long-term car rental instead (aka the famed Peugeot lease). It can even be a nice alternative while you wait for your car to be imported!
In fact, if you fall in love with your Peugeot in the interim, there is no need to give it back at the end of your contract. Many folks take advantage of the "other side" of the Peugeot buy-back lease contract, which essentially allows you to purchase the vehicle you've rented directly from Peugeot at a deep discount. But more on that another time, you can see some documentation here if interested (Peugeot Purchasing Guide).
Moving to Europe, above all, should be exciting. By making sure you have the above four issues cleared up long before your final move, you can ensure that your troubles remain at a minimum and you can truly enjoy your European adventure. For more tips about traveling through Europe or the Peugeot Open Europe program, contact us!
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