Working in Europe as an American – How to Find a Job and Start a New Life!

Posted Country Guides / February 18, 2020
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

Are you done with pursuing the American dream, and you are looking to turn a new leaf somewhere overseas? Perhaps in a new continent with a different culture and history? If the issue of working in Europe as an American is what’s bothering you, know that you have nothing to worry about. We’ve prepared this brief guide with a couple of simple steps on how to land a job in the old continent and start living your European dream as soon as possible.

Do You Need a Work Visa for Working in Europe as an American?

As a US citizen, you won’t be needing a visa to enter the member-states of the European Union and most non-EU countries, if you are planning on staying for up to 90 days. However, from 2021, a new law will change that, and US citizens will have to get an ETIAS visa for short stays under 90 days. It will be a multiple-entry visa, valid for three years.

But if you’re planning to study, work or live somewhere in the EU, for example, you’ll need a valid visa issued by the specific country you’re interested in. That means that once you obtain a proper long-term residency visa, you can start looking for jobs after your relocation or apply for positions online from home.

There is no such thing as a universal work permit for the entire old continent. Every country has its own regulations, and especially the UK, Ireland, and other states that are not a part of the Schengen Area. If you are moving to Germany as an American, for example, you can apply for a work permit once you find a job there. On the other hand, to start working in the UK, you’ll have to secure a position and obtain a valid work visa before you enter the country.

The New First Step – Decide Where You’re Going

Forget about finding a well-paid job abroad for a minute, and take a good look at the map. There is a big difference between the European Union and Europe because not all European states are members of the EU. And Europe itself is not a country. It is a continent with 44 countries. And also, the states of the European Union do not have the same rules. So research thoroughly, and narrow your choice to several states. It is not the same if you are moving to Italy from the US or to Greece. Terms of employment and required language skills differ throughout the old continent.

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What Are the Best European Countries to Find a Job?

Many would like to know what are the best countries for Americans in Europe, and there is not a single answer. First of all, wherever in the old continent you move, expect to go through a culture shock and periods of adjustment.

You will also probably have to learn a new language, because, for certain professions, English is not enough. And all that while you are looking for jobs or trying to adapt to your new routine. But you can always find employment in tourism, as an English teacher, work online as a digital nomad, or go to Ireland and the UK where English is the official language. However, certain countries that are more popular among Americans than others, and those are:

  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • The Netherlands
  • The United Kingdom

Frequent Work-Related Questions

As we’ve seen, you can find a job without a work visa in certain European countries and then apply for your work permit. But the rules are not the same for all the states. One thing that is different everywhere in comparison to the US is the resume form, so make sure you update it before you send your applications.

How Much Money Do I Need for Living in European Countries Before I Find a Job?

Generally speaking, life is cheaper than in the US, but it all depends on your expenses and lifestyle. If you are relocating to a capital city in Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, or France, you can expect that life is not quite cheap over there. On the other hand, any smaller town will be significantly more affordable. But you still have to balance your finances when moving abroad because you don’t know when you will start working.

For example, excluding rent, an average monthly cost per person in Berlin would be $841, while in Madrid, it is $713, Lisbon $612, and so on. In case you are working online, you can easily support yourself and work as a self-employed person in some countries. If you can, find an expat community online and get all the information about the cost of housing, home market, breaking the language barrier, job opportunities abroad, etc. Also, language can be an obstacle in smaller towns, so before you apply, make sure you are able to communicate on a bare minimum, at least.

The Method of International Moving

Make sure you inform yourself on time about international moving by sea, if you are looking to transport some of your belongings or even ship a car overseas to another continent. Will you rent storage, or look for boxes and packing supplies to pack and ship all your belongings to your new home? It is crucial to secure a stress-free international move, especially if you are relocating with your pet overseas.

Feeling Ready to Move to Europe?

The old continent has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, and the overall quality of life. But it is a completely different lifestyle, which is why it is always better to visit it first, before relocating. Seek options for internships or exchange programs that will give you enough time to get familiar with the European lifestyle, small apartments, and big opportunities.

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