When expats-to-be talk about their dream destinations, the places they would love to live and work for a few years or maybe even for good, European countries are always high up on the list. For some it is the idea of walking down medieval cobblestone streets on their way to work every day; others name the educational opportunities and reliable healthcare as their main reason to choose Europe. But no matter what draws people to join the expat community in Italy or throw themselves on the job market in Germany, there are considerable differences between European destinations.
Europe for Expats – The Pros and Cons
According to various surveys, European countries are mostly popular for their work –life-balance, low crime rates, and environmental awareness and innovation. Western European countries, such as Belgium, Switzerland, and France, rank particularly high when it comes to the overall satisfaction of their expats. The Netherlands, on the other hand, have the reputation of being a great place to raise your children while offering a stable economy. At the same time, most European destinations already have well-established expat communities with people from all over the world and all walks of life. This makes it usually easy to find support when settling in.
However, the popularity of the different European countries varies considerably, as does the stability of their economy. Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland are experiencing an economic crisis at the moment. This makes finding work for both locals and expats particularly difficult there. In addition, the cost of living is rather high in Europe compared to the average income. South Asian destinations are far more affordable and thus often preferred by expatriates living on a shoestring.
Europe for Retirees
Destinations such as India or the UAE often offer more luxury to their expats than European countries. However, when it comes to moving abroad for more than just a few years, other factors are crucial. Those who immigrate or retire in Europe, choose a stable economy, low crime rates, and an overall high quality of life over short-term luxuries.
Retirees who seek more reliability and stability, complete with a culturally rich lifestyle, keep choosing Europe as their new home. They often move to countries and cities which also offer a lot of green spaces and have an already established expat community. Vienna (Austria), Bruges (Belgium), and the Costa Del Sol (Spain) are just some of the most popular places for people to spend their remaining years. Others include Malta, Copenhagen (Denmark), Dubrovnik (Croatia), and Bratislava (Slovakia).
Italy, UK, and Germany in Comparison
Germany, the country of philosophers and poets, dark forests, fairy-tale castles, and vibrant cities, is quite popular among expats. Despite the reputation of Germans being rule-obsessed, serious, and deprived of any sense of humor, many expats find that Germany is actually a place that they can call a home away from home. Expats are usually drawn to Germany by the country’s vast historical and cultural heritage, but also by the dynamic German job market. Museum visits are just as popular as outdoor sports, such as hiking.
The UK, and particularly London, is very popular among expats. The city is the vibrant center of the country, where the old blends in with the new, combining the UK’s history with the cultural influences of its expat communities. The quality of life in the UK has significantly improved in recent years. Nevertheless, many expats decide against moving to the UK. After all, London is one of the most expensive cities to live in, taking a toll even on a well-paid expatriate.
Italy’s economy is currently struggling and jobs for locals and expats are scarce. Yet, foreign business people are not deterred from relocating to the Mediterranean country to enjoy la dolce vita. Unlike the rule-obsessed Germans, Italians are a little bit more relaxed, an aspect of the Italian life that many expats enjoy. Despite the economic crisis, the cost of living is still rather high. Expats who find employment with an international company do not have to worry about this too much. However, if you are trying to kick-start your career in Italy, you should consider the cost of living. If you are clever about planning your budget, you can soon enjoy the Italian sun and relax with your expat friends.
(In collaboration with Internations)