First of all, Europe is not a country, even though it is roughly the same size as the United States. It is actually made up of 44 different countries. They are all different from each other and offer a variety of different things. Take into consideration their languages, job opportunities, culture and lifestyles before you decide where you want to go.
Which languages do you speak?
You will obviously need to communicate with the locals, so this assumes the utmost importance. People understand English in several European countries, but because it is not their first language, they may have difficulty expressing their thoughts / ideas in English.
If you speak only English, your options are limited to the United Kingdom (this actually comprises of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Ireland.
If you speak Spanish, look at Spain. If you are fluent in Portuguese, you need look no further than Portugal. For French, there is more than just France – you could consider Monaco, Belgium or Luxembourg. Speakers of German can hope to migrate to Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein, apart from Germany. German is also spoken in Belgium and Luxembourg, more than French. Dutch speakers can look at The Netherlands, as well as Belgium. Sixty percent of the people in Belgium speak Dutch. If you speak Italian, Italy is undoubtedly the best place to move overseas. Speak some Greek? Greece is your destination.
If you speak a foreign language that is not listed here, you need to check if there are any countries in Europe where it is the predominant language spoken.
Are you retiring to Europe? Or hoping to pick up the rest of your career there?
If it is the latter, you need to find a place/city where you can find a job. This depends on your skills. If you have experience in banking and speak German, Zurich might be a good place to start exploring opportunities. Germany is a dream destination for those with an Engineering background, while those with a medical degree can hope to get a job just about anywhere.
Once you have zeroed in on a country (or a list of countries, for that matter), check which cities have jobs that match your qualifications and skills. You might also want to check how much these jobs pay, and also factor in the costs of living.
Jobs in Europe generally pay lesser than in the United States, but because these states are ‘socialist’, a lot of things are free – like healthcare and education. And they are no lesser in quality than the United States. In some countries, they are actually better.
If you can’t find a country which speaks a language you are familiar with and offers jobs relating to your area of expertise, it makes sense to do it the other way around. Find a country which offers jobs in your domain, and learn the language spoken there.
In case you are retiring, you might need to look at whether there is affordable housing in the country you plan to move to, as well as access to healthcare. In the cities, rents are regulated by the Government and thus not high, but the dwelling units tend to be extremely small in area.
Before you make the move
Visit your destination city and see for yourself if it is indeed all that it is made out to be. You should ideally visit during summer/winter and see if the weather is to your liking. It can be very different from Boston. Europe has all kinds of weather from the warm climate of the Mediterranean to the ice up north in Scandinavia.
You might also find that because the public transport systems are so good, very few people own cars. Some who want the convenience of private transport opt for bicycles.
Definitely make the trip to explore before you decide where you’re going to relocate to. For more information, contact one of our relocation experts.