Can a move to Europe work?
April 3, 2011 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Another moving to Europe question. Is it possible.

There have recently been some changes in my life, and I am now seriously considering moving out of the US to Europe. However, I am not sure if it is realistic or just a pipe dream.

I recently graduated from college and had a job in sales/marketing. All of my other job experience is in retail. I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to work an office job for my entire life. Would it be possible for me to move to Europe and find some sort of job?

Relevant info:
-Early twenties
-Will be going alone
-Only speak English
-Have an EU and US passport
-Do have some student loans and minimal savings

Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by mtheshark to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Holding an EU passport means you would be able to work informally until you figure out where adn how you want live. If I was in your shoes I'd take six months and work/backpack my way across Europe. I didn't get to see it till I was almost 40, go for it.
posted by infini at 12:31 PM on April 3, 2011

you have the two most crucial aspects covered: the european union passport, which gives you the right to work and live anywhere in the european union, and the will to start over. I don't see what's holding you back. pick a place and go.
posted by krautland at 1:31 PM on April 3, 2011


This is the sort of thing that lots of Australians and New Zealanders do - although they often only have UK work visas. Additionally lots of British and Irish people work ski season in the Alps and the summer season in the Med, (and there's always au pair work or English language teaching). It would be fair to say that they generally manage without having any great language skills.

It would be advisable to have more savings if possible. Setting yourself up is always more expensive than you think. It would be handy to have access to emergency flight home money as well. You might want to start in London because there are cheaper flights there from the US, cheap flights out, and people speak English. OTOH, why not jump in at the deep end.
posted by plonkee at 1:35 PM on April 3, 2011

Sure. You have an EU passport. A big chunk of the world is your oyster.

Since you speak only English, one thing you could do is say, move to Cork, get a part-time retail or full-time marketing job here, and take intensive French at our local outstanding French-run language school. That way you could sort of ease into Europe before heading off to a country like France that requires a different language if that's what you wanted to do. Sure, you'll be broke, but broke with health care!

But things like jobs, flat shares, etc are all pretty easy to sort on the ground here. I do not think this would require a massive amount of forward planning. I did it with one big duffle bag, two nights booked into a hotel, my US ATM card, and a local paper with job and room listings. Never went back.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2011

You have an EU passport! So many would kill to be in your shoes (like me.) I can't really say much about jobs as you didn't mention your educational background, but I will take the chance to plug my current location - Berlin. For a pretty damn cool city, one thats culturally up there with NYC/London/Paris, its astoundingly cheap and young-people-friendly, and generally easy to get into. There's a huge flat-sharing culture, the streets are wide, sunny, and relaxed, there's a lot of trees and parks, and at night you can actually see stars. English is also very widespread, so this is a good place to pick up another language without spending that first year being completely lost and isolated.

The jobs situation here isn't great, but if you have some education and creativity you can probably swing something.
posted by tempythethird at 2:58 PM on April 3, 2011

I would like to say once again what everybody else has said: once you've got an EU passport, you're pretty much good to go.

However, there are a few things:

1) If it happens that your passport is Romanian or Bulgarian, you should hold up and check that you have the right to be employed as transitional rules are in place in some states.

2) If you have only limited savings or no job, some states may be less welcoming (officially, but unofficially it seems to be okay).

3) If you lack any other language than English and/or portable health insurance, definitely make sure you go somewhere that meets your individual needs.

I suppose the important thing is that you have 27 states to choose from (more, in fact!) but some have quirks and characteristics that make them less good for you. You have the choice, but choose wisely.
posted by Jehan at 3:06 PM on April 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for their answers.

tempythethird- I have a liberal arts degree from a large public university. How does not knowing German influence my prospects at a job in Berlin?

Jehan- I am an Irish citizen. I would need to secure some type of job key to my decision. I'm not sure how my health insurance would be affected if I left the US...
posted by mtheshark at 3:10 PM on April 3, 2011

Oh, also, you may not have full voting rights in other EU states. But I doubt this bothers you massively.
posted by Jehan at 3:26 PM on April 3, 2011

mtheshark: "I would need to secure some type of job key to my decision.

Why? You're a young recent college grad, right? You're like... 25? You are going to have a very difficult time securing a job from abroad; you're not here to interview, while plenty of candidates are. On the other hand, you likely have the kind of lifestyle (no mortgage, no kids, an affection for ramen) that can be supported by shared housing and the kind of casual work (retail) that can only be obtained when you're here. That would allow you to search and interview for a more career-oriented job while here.

If you have some savings, just pick up and move! I get that this sounds big and scary to you but it would be more preductive to really look at the answer to the question: what is the practical risk?

I'm not sure how my health insurance would be affected if I left the US...

If your current insurance is provided by your employer, it will discontinue when you leave work. Any private US health insurance is very unlikely to cover you if you are resident outside the US. If you are an EU citizen you will be covered in Europe by inter-country health schemes.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

How does not knowing German influence my prospects at a job in Berlin?

A few weeks of German classes will suffice to get you a job waiting tables, behind a bar, babysitting, standing around in a museum, etc. I would guess its also possible to get a job in media/publishing/the arts without much German, but don't expect it to happen fast, there's a lot of English-speaking competition here. If you do anything related to the internet, technical or design, Berlin is very much the place to be.

You can find very cheap German classes at city-run schools, feel free to message me if you want more details.
posted by tempythethird at 4:30 PM on April 3, 2011

You could also very cheaply and relatively speedily get TEFL certified, if you're at all interested in teaching English. I did this in 2008 and moved to Prague, where I was able very quickly to find a job (or three) teaching. Plenty of people want to learn English, and being a native speaker is a huge boon to your job prospects.

Plus, being an EU citizen you won't have to go through the absurd hassle of getting a residency visa, for which you should already be thanking your lucky stars.

Good luck!
posted by davidjmcgee at 5:54 PM on April 3, 2011

This is the sort of thing that lots of Australians and New Zealanders do - although they often only have UK work visas.

Australians and NZers are eligible for the Working Holiday Visa in the UK. Other nationalities aren't. (I realise this doesn't apply to mtheshark, as s/he has Irish citizenship, but I'm posting this in case anyone else without an EU passport thinks they can follow this route).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:47 AM on April 4, 2011

I came to the UK from Canada with an EU passport, CAD$1000 in savings and a six-week contract teaching ESL, with nada lined up after that. So I temped. The jobs weren't anything special but, whoa, every single place I worked for tried to hire me full-time. And gave great feedback to the temp agency, which in turn generated more work.

All this merely because I showed up on time, answered the phone promptly and politely whenever it rang, replied to emails and generally did what I was asked to do competently, cheerfully and in a timely manner. Which was the bare minimum expected of me in every job I'd ever had in the US and Canada, but made me a minor superstar here. So yeah, I'd say go for it. There's a recession on, but a keen, well-mannered graduate may have unforeseen advantages.

Also, a degree counts for more in the UK, where only 50% of people attend university, than in the US. So better job options may be available to you right off the bat.
posted by stuck on an island at 4:47 AM on April 4, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the encouragement. This is looking more and more like something that is going to happen.
posted by mtheshark at 10:34 AM on April 4, 2011

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