I have now attempted twice to move from Australia to Europe, first Dublin and now, Dusseldorf in Germany. With what I believe to be somewhat expert knowledge on being an expat in the EU, the one thing I have came to realise is how amazing it is to be in such a cool region of the world.
No European country is more than 6 hours away
Yep, you heard me, you can get to over 40+ countries within 6 hours of flying. Even the trains tend to be short journeys. Europe is by far the best region of the world for flight patterns, you can literally get everywhere!!
Deals on flights are so good- 20 euros to London!
Dominated by budget airlines, the EU airline market is very strong. Ryanair, Air Berlin and Aer Lingus are perfect examples of airlines pumping out below-average fair pricing to gain market share, in fact I just booked a return flight, London to Dusseldorf with Ryanair for 19.95 euro! CRAZY cheap! My favourite thing to do is putting ‘everywhere’ into the Skyscanner search engine as a destination, you will find the CHEAPEST flights and might book somewhere you never thought you may go!
Christmas is authentic and exciting
Two words. CHRISTMAS MARKETS.
As an avid Christmas enthusiast, nothing excites me more than gingerbread houses, hot chocolate and snowy back gardens. Christmas in Europe is completely unforgettable. Ice cold nights, mulled wine (gluhwein in Germany) and carols chiming down cobbled streets. I highly suggest setting yourself in a German town, such as Cologne or Munich for a perfect winter experience.
Most people speak 2-3 languages (English is usually one of them)
It is incredible how diverse the cultures are in Europe. Just over half of Europeans (54%) hold conversational abilities in another language and a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages. Coming from Australia, where we barely touch the surface of languages in school, these numbers are incredible. The best part? Most of the second languages are, ENGLISH! You won’t find it very hard to get through the week with minimal foreign language skills, just know how to politely ask if they speak English, you will be surprised how many people turn around and say, “Yes, I do!”
You can jump ship to another country at any time
The place you chose to ‘move’ not suiting you very well? Then leave! Once you’re eligible to live in the EU it is fairly easy to move to other countries. Just remember, you didn’t move from hope to be unhappy, happiness is the key to loving where you live.
Visas are usually valid everywhere
You will need a Schengen Visa if you are not a citizen of Europe. Here’s a list of the twenty-six (26) Schengen countries that you can visit if you have Schengen visa- it is easy to get for most foreigners:
Austria, Belgium, Czech republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland (not E.U), Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway (not E.U), Poland, Portugal, Slovakia. Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (not E.U),
KEEP IN MIND, THESE ARE NOT INCLUDED: United Kingdom AND Republic of Ireland. They will need a separate visa.
The best part, if you are an EU citizen, you can live and work in all of these places too!
You will make friends in many cities, in many countries that you can visit.
I love doing group tours. It is my favourite way to travel. If you are looking at moving to the EU, start with a 7-14 day group tour, such as Contiki or Intrepid tours and you will meet some life long friends, find yourself free accommodation across the globe and learn a little more about Europe. Getting yourself a job also opens up big friendship opportunities. Bars and Nightclubs are great ways to meet people short term, but WORKING at one is better! You will make money and usually the staff demographic is very multi cultural.
Majority of the people you meet are expats
As I was saying above, you can meet expats everywhere. There is something about us, we all tend to attract to one another. If you are struggling out on your own, try connecting to a Facebook group, there is usually one for every country, just try “Expats in__” or “English Speakers in __”. You can be even more specific, finding ones such as Aussies in London, which you don’t even need to be Aussie for- it is just a great place to see activities, meetups etc in such a big city!
Bikes are cool
Compared to Australia and the US, people do not care how you get there, there is no ‘cool factor’. This means bikes are genuinely cool to use, so get biking- fit and fun!