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Expat Guide: Everything to know before moving to Europe from Saor the Blog

Hey! I am Aoife, also known as Saor The Blog, which is a travel/lifestyle blog and Instagram account where I share travel guides, moving to Europe tips and lifestyle bits.

In this guest post, I am going to give an ultimate guide on everything you need to know before moving to a European city as an expat. Over the last two years, I have moved to both Valencia, Spain and Budapest, Hungary, so this blog post will answer all those big moving questions from accommodation, to securing jobs, even down to making friends in your new home.

For more travel guides, tips, and lifestyle bits, make sure to check out my site and Instagram.

So, let’s get into it!

How do I pick where to move to?

Finance

European cities range drastically when it comes to the cost of living. If you are on a budget, or do not want to spend lots of money, lean towards inexpensive countries/cities. According to Worldpackers, the cheapest country to live in Europe is Poland. From someone who lived in Krakow, Poland for a summer in 2022 I can vouch for this. Other countries include: Romania, Portugal, Hungary, and Montenegro.

Ask yourself: What can I afford to spend on rent? Are other necessities expensive, such as food, transportation, and a social life? You don’t want to end up living in a country that is too expensive for you. 

Weather

If you want to follow the sun all year round, make sure to stay clear of northern/north-eastern Europe, where some countries experience freezing temperatures in the winter months. But if you’re a snow lover and want to experience a white winter, then parts of southern Europe will not be for you. I lived in Spain throughout the winter and still being able to wear shorts in December was a dream, but in contrast I lived in Hungary during the same time period and being caught in a snow blizzard was standard daily practice. It’s all about personal preference!

The Culture

Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, the culture of a country can really make or break whether you like it or not. Do you want to live among rich history? Or are you looking for a more modern lifestyle? Before making your decision, consider whether you want the relaxed nature of Lisbon? Or the fast paced lifestyle of Munich? Each city lives life differently, so make sure you find the right fit for you.

Language

It can be a good idea to move to a country where you speak the language or that you are familiar with the native language. Or move to a country where you are willing to learn the language. Thankfully, in a lot of major European cities the locals are relatively familiar, if not fluent, in English. However, we should never expect other people to speak our language when we are in their country. If you speak multiple languages you may want to move to a country where you can use your existing skills. If not, it is a good idea to learn the basics of your chosen country’s language, while you give yourself some time to learn.

Visa Requirements

If you’re moving to Europe from another continent, make sure you research your visa requirements. Not all countries in Europe have the same visa requirements, so ensure you look into this before deciding on a specific location. Obtaining residency is also different depending on where you want to go, some countries are easier for expats to gain residency than others.

How do I secure accommodation?

I would not recommend arriving in a new country without securing accommodation first, as if you have no alternative place to stay for free while you are looking for accommodation, you will find yourself spending a lot of money on AirBnBs, hostels or hotels.

Alternatively, here are 2 websites that I would recommend using to secure accommodation before you go:

SpotaHome

I used this site to secure accommodation in Valencia, and it hosts properties that are for rent all over Europe. You can rent anything from a full apartment, to a bedroom in a flat, to a beautiful studio. You can filter your preferences on the website and find the perfect place for you. Whether you are looking for a short-term lease or a long-term lease, SpotaHome has them all. 

HousingAnywhere

Another website I would recommend is HousingAnywhere, I used this to secure my accommodation in Budapest and I could move in the minute I arrived. This site is very similar to SpotaHome and offers rentals all over Europe. Booking accommodation through these websites is as easy as booking accommodation on AirBnb or Booking.com, at a click of a button you can secure your new home, avoiding viewings, wait-lists, and paperwork.

Expat story from Aoife on Moving to Europe

How do I get a job in a new country?

If you are moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, it can seem near impossible to secure a job there. However, this is not entirely true. Here are some options you can try if you are struggling to find a job in your new home.

Working From Home

Remote working blew up during the pandemic, and now thousands of companies around the world offer remote working positions. So, if your career allows you to work on a computer from the comfort of your own home then take advantage of that. I worked from home while I was living abroad, by applying for remote working positions on LinkedIn and Indeed.

You can work remotely in so many disciplines, but here are some of the most common. Some of these jobs don’t even require a degree.

  • Teach English – This can be done online or in person. Often you do not need a qualification, or you can do an online tefl course.
  • Freelance Writer 
  • Marketing 
  • Journalist
  • Personal Trainer
  • Copywriting
  • Travel Agent 
  • Transcriptionist
  • Translator 
  • Tutor
  • Customer Service 
  • Virtual Assistant 
  •  Social Media Manager 
  • Web Designer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Content Creator

Working Visa

You can also apply for a working visa in the country you are moving to, which can be relatively easy. I would recommend doing this before you go, as it can take a couple of weeks. All the information you need to apply for a working visa is usually on the country’s government website. Often, if you secure a job before moving, some employers will even do the whole process for you. This will allow you to work freely within that country.

How do I make friends in a new city?

Chances are that wherever you are in the world, there will always be someone else who is in your position. Whether you are travelling on your own, with your friends or with your partner, it is always a good idea to take part in activities to meet new people.

Hobbies

Moving to a new city/country is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, or just focus on something you already love doing. Joining a club or class is the perfect way to meet new people that share the same interests as you. While doing something you love you can build friendships in your new home in no time.

For some inspiration here are some examples of activities you can try (You can find these usually through Facebook groups):

  • Sports Teams –  If you are from Ireland, you can find a GAA club nearly anywhere in the world. This is a great way to meet people from your home country that have also moved abroad and usually these teams aren’t competitive, so there is no pressure to be good at the sport. You just need to show up and have fun!
  • Sea Swimming Groups 
  • Poetry Slams
  • Yoga and Pilates 
  • Book Club
  • Running Club
  • Music Lessons
  • Hiking Groups
  • Dance Lessons
  • Art Classes
  • Volunteering
  • Pottery Classes
  • Photography/Videography Classes
  • Enroll in a Course
  • Workout Classes
  • Language Lessons

Moving to Europe

That is everything you need to know before starting your new life as an expat in Europe. If you want more information, make sure to check out my blog and Instagram account, for weekly travel guides, tips and tricks.

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