Living Abroad in Europe: What You Should Know
With more than 6 million Americans living abroad in over 160 countries, the expatriate lifestyle is clearly an adventurer's delight. 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'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.
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
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
Link Up With Expats
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.
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.
Plan ahead and see our list of best places to visit in April.