Europe

Living Abroad in Europe: What You Should Know

Filed Under: Europe

With more than 6.32 million Americans living abroad in over 160 countries, the expatriate lifestyle is clearly an adventurer's delight. Living in a new country long term doesn't just give an expat a solid understanding of a new environment; it is likely to provide an immersive and first-hand understanding of its cultural nuances as well. But if packing it all in, selling all of your belongings and high-tailing it to some fabulous land faraway for years at a time is merely a reverie and not in your immediate plans, considering a short-term extended stay in Europe might just fit the bill.

Europe -- a continent that boasts 50 independent countries and where over 1.6 million Americans call home -- is the perfect place for a short-term extended stay. Europe's countries are within reasonable proximity to one another and are easily accessible by train, bus, car or a short hop on an inexpensive local air carrier like easyJet or Ryanair. Make an advance reservation with Viator, for example, and hop an early bus from Paris to Bruges for the day and you'll be walking through a Belgian UNESCO World Heritage Site in no time. Buy a Eurail Global Pass and travel unlimited by train through up to 24 countries for up to 3 months. With easy access to so many European cities, it makes sense that so many Americans call Europe home. But before you hop the first plane smokin' to Europe, here's what you should know that will make your short-term extended stay a blast.

No Visa Required
No Visa Required
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As an American, entering most European countries for business purposes or as a tourist does not require a visa, although you will only be allowed to stay for 90 days at a time within a 6-month period. If you are traveling on an internship, as a student or as an employee, different rules apply and it is imperative that you perform the appropriate research with the US State Department before you depart American soil.

Once you arrive in your new home-away-from-home, feel free to store your passport a little deeper in your backpack -- but only if you are traveling within the European Union's Schengen Zone, which comprises 26 countries without internal border controls.
Finding a Place to Live
Find Suitable Place to Live
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Unless you can afford the cost of a 3-month hotel stay in Europe, one of the most important decisions you will make before you hop that plane will center on finding a suitable apartment or hostel. With popular accommodation rental companies like HomeAway, airbnb and HomeExchange, you won't have any problem at all compiling a list of prospects, although you might have to sharpen your research skills to get the job done.
Link Up With Expats
Link Up With Expats
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Connecting with the local expatriate community in your selected European country both before you get there and once you arrive can be an excellent resource and great way to find the right apartment in the right neighborhood, get questions answered about local medical care and emergency services, find a low-cost cell phone carrier or the best currency exchange rates, and possibly seek out an American breakfast, homesickness remedy or a place to get a good haircut. And while expats can be a great resource, don't forget -- meeting and hanging out with the locals is a big part of what makes living abroad so special.
Immerse Yourself
Immerse Yourself in Local Culture
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Europe boasts a spectacular history along with centuries-old architecture and iconic landmarks that, of course, are all an incredible part of its charm. Just as important, however, are the local people and families you are sure to meet and befriend as you make your way from country to country learning a bit of the local language, gaining knowledge about unique cultural practices, and getting personal insights from your new-found relationships.

To not immerse fully, during what most would consider an enviable experience, would be a travesty! Revel in the beauty of Europe's amazing cities and its people on your short-term extended stay. And if you aren't ready for the life of a long-term expat just yet but have become smitten with a short-term stay -- as many are known to do -- repatriate to the United States for a mere 6 months … and then just turn around and do it all over again.

About the Author

Tracey Friley is a Northern California-based freelance travel writer. She is the founder of The Passport Party Project, a global awareness initiative for teen girls, the recipient of a Leadership Award from the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs and an advocate for youth travel -- operating a teen travel abroad program and youth travel summit. She loves luxury, detests snobbery, is addicted to social media and is a self-professed Francophile and island beach bum.

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