Moving from the USA to Europe will make you experience a culture shock – to say the least. It takes some serious changes to adjust to the European lifestyle. Americans live life at a different pace, they even live in a different lane than Europeans. That being said, keep in mind that Europe is just a geographical term. Each of Europe’s 44 countries has their own language and customs. So, before you hire cheap movers in Florida (insert any other US state) to relocate you to your new home in EU, get familiar with the similarities and differences between the two lifestyles. And we’ll try to do just that – show you what life will be like after making this huge step.

The United States of America has close ties with the Old Continent

In case you haven’t skipped history lessons in high school and even middle schools, you probably know everything there is to know about the ties that bind the USA with Europe. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself that the USA is not that different from Europe. Although they certainly have their differences in some aspects.

We all share the same ancestors

Before declaring independence, America was settled by a lot of colonies which came from Europe. And even though times have significantly changed since then, one thing has inevitably remained the same – our ancestry. A huge portion of the people that settle today’s America has European ancestry. Do you know how much European is flowing through American genes?

  • German – 49 million
  • Irish – 36 million
  • English – 27 million
  • Italian – 18 million
  • Polish – 10 million
  • French – 9 million
  • Scottish – 6 million
  • Scotch-Irish – 5 million
  • Dutch – 5 million
  • Swedish – 4 million
  • Russian – 3 million

European ancestry in American genes.

Of course, plenty of people actually have mixed ancestry. That means that some people belong to two or more groups, which makes for an interesting life. Besides, it must be interesting to think about moving back home and realizing home can be a couple of countries.

The USA vs Europe in numbers

Average American

  • Median age – 37.9
  • Life expectancy for women – 81.9
  • Life expectancy for men – 77.1
  • Births per woman – 1.84

Average European

  • Median age – 42.7
  • Life expectancy for women – 82.4
  • Life expectancy for men – 76.6
  • Births per woman – 1.58

Average American vs average European in numbers.

The working culture

The USA and Europe may have had close ties in the past, but we can’t forget they are two separate continents. That means you are bound to go through a lot of adjustments when moving from the USA to Europe. Arguably, one significant change for the better will be the working hours. The USA is among the hardest working countries in the world, with employees clocking in over 60 hours a week. Of course, it all depends on your profession and how much overtime you are willing to put in, but chances are you will catch a break after moving to Europe.

People working in an office after moving from the USA to Europe.
If you are suffering from work burnout, then moving from the USA to Europe could be a change you so desperately need.

Another thing you will be pleasantly surprised about is the fact that, in Europe, you are allowed four weeks of paid vacation. That’s right, you heard correctly! Up to this point, there is no such law in the USA and everything depends on the employer. Whether you decide to use up those fours weeks at once or not is up to you – just use them wisely!

Understand the magnitude of this move – and start preparing for it on time

You do realize that you will be making an intercontinental move, right? You are not just moving next door where you can easily return in case you leave something behind. No, you are packing your bags and transporting everything in one go. Between handling fine art, relocating your furniture, and taking care of fragile items, you will have your hands full. And that will certainly make you second guess your reasons for making such a move. We all know they can be numerous:

  • The majority of people move from the USA to Europe because they think their quality of life will improve – 16%
  • A lot of people move because they got a new job or a job transfer – 9.9%
  • A sizeable number of people moves due to a change in the marital status – 5.1%
  • People also move because they feel the new location will be cheaper – 8.3%
  • Moving for college is one of the main reasons young people venture out to another continent – 3.0%

Reasons why people move from the USA to Europe.

Whatever your reasons are for moving, know that you’ll need to prepare for it in due time. In fact, there is no such thing as starting too early – the sooner you start preparing, the better!

Choose your mover carefully

This isn’t the question of whether or not you should hire a moving company when moving to Europe from the USA, but how to pick a good one. The answer is right in front of you – your phone, tablet, or desktop computer. Go online and search for the best companies in your area that specialize in international relocations. It’s very important that you:

  • Find a moving company with experience
  • Look for a company that can provide special moving services you may need, like piano moving
  • Find an affordable but not cheap moving company (low-ball offers aren’t a good sign)
  • Only hire a company that has a good reputation
  • See whether they can facilitate your winter or summer move

We are sure that with a bit of luck, you’ll quickly find a company that will meet all of your demands. It’s just a matter of putting in some work and finding it. But bear in mind that this process may take time, which is an additional reason for you to start looking on time!

A white alarm clock.
You don’t have as much time as you think you do – before you know it, it will run out.

Europe is a colorful continent. Here are just some of the cultural surprises you can expect after moving from the USA to Europe!

Consumerism

Americans who have lived in Europe claim that Americans are way more into buying things. Europeans simply don’t live their lives thinking what’s the newest hottest item to buy. The reason behind it could be that in the USA you usually have enough space to store everything, but the truth is that consumerism is the foundation of the American economy. In Europe, it is very common to own several appliances that belonged to your grandparents.

Distances

We’ve known some Americans drive 160 km/100 miles to spend a day at a local park. On the other hand, depending on where you are in Europe, you could cross 3 countries if you drove for 160 km. Speaking of the distance, you should learn how to evaluate long distance movers in order to choose the right one. Remember, your move is approaching with rapid speed.

Fashion

The style is important in Europe. It is not Fashion Week everywhere all the time, but even a Parisian worker can’t be caught without a fashionable scarf. The average worker wearing a plaid shirt and jeans is a monstrosity in France. Let’s not even talk about the cliché American tourist wearing khakis, sandals, and socks. Please don’t. Anyway, not all of Europe is France, but still, people pay attention to how they present themselves to the world.

Time

Europe is a very old continent. A new town in Prague is almost 700 years old. Therefore, Europeans have a much different relationship with time than Americans. They tend to think about a future where they will be long gone, compared to the American culture living in the here and now.

Louvre at night
Europe has a rich culture and old cities.

Work-life balance

If Americans live to work, Europeans work to live. Europeans go out for lunch and use this time to socialize. You will probably see the busy capitalist have his/her lunch behind their work desk in America. This is not a rule, but it is a fact that a European has an awareness of their social life being more important than work.

Food

In Europe, it is quality over quantity. You’ll get smaller portions in restaurants, but much more organic and flavored foods. Europeans even go a step further and often cook for themselves from scratch, gathering families around the dining table. In America, there is a strong preference for take-outs, order ins, and fast foods.

Miscellaneous

Washing machines in Europe operate only on cold water inlets and are loaded from the front. You can still buy the kind that loads from the top, but they are not so common. Holidays like Thanksgiving, baby showers, and Halloween are still typically American. In Europe, streets take their names from famous people, cities, or historical places/dates and not numbers (e.g. 5th Avenue).

Gas price

Gas prices are very affordable in the US. Filling a gas tank in Europe is a serious expense on a monthly basis.

A car toy on a world map.
Driving habits change when moving from the USA to Europe.

If you are just dreaming of moving with ease from the USA to Europe, but don’t really have a plan yet, we are here to help you. Good news is, you get to choose! There are 44 countries, including Russia, in Europe.

The language barrier

The first step should be narrowing down the choice to 5 or 6 countries. Know that every country will require you to eventually learn the language, otherwise, you will never really fit in. Some countries can be more attractive in that regard though. Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Scandinavia usually speak good English.

They could even tolerate you never learning their language in terms that their bureaucracy is almost bilingual. Other countries like Germany, Italy, France, or Spain require you to learn the local language. They don’t even like to speak English to tourists.

Start learning the language long before packing. The most difficult languages are Finnish, Dutch and Norwegian. Slavic languages could serve a problem for Americans, but none of them are impossible if you put your mind to it.

Generally speaking, Europe is affordable: you’ll get the best baguette you’ve ever had for just 80 cents and a good glass of wine is cheaper than orange juice. Petrol and subway are expensive, but insurance and healthcare are very cheap or even free. If you go to Europe, you will learn to enjoy life more, as experiences suggest. Here are some things to think about and advice to take before deciding to relocate.

Bureaucracy when moving from the USA to Europe

As your moving company will explain to you as well, bureaucracy is confusing and takes a lot of energy. It is boring, takes a lot of time, and it’s a frustration to get out of its maze. The problem with Europe is, its name is just a geographical term. In reality, every country has a different set of laws for each of its bureaucratic laws. Tax laws are not the same in Germany and Latvia. Immigration rules are not the same in the Balkans region or in Greece. Banking varies depending on the economic stature of the country.

European map with pins
Bureaucracy is a nightmare everywhere.

Tax system musts when moving from the USA to Europe

Remember to fill all the paperwork before leaving the U.S. This will ensure you don’t get double taxation. Be free to keep your banks and investment accounts open. When you get settled in Europe, apply for your personal tax ID number.

The process can take a few months, but most employers will let you start working without your number as long as you’ve requested it. Taxes will be higher until your number is issued, but it is refundable. Note that to get reimbursed, you’ll need to go through several additional forms.

Banking guide when moving from the USA to Europe

Before making a moving checklist leaving the U.S., arrange for your financial institution to issue a backup card for you in case you lose your current one. Banking fees in Europe are different than in the USA. The regulations will all be new for you as well. Be aware of fees that are charged for nearly everything aside from withdrawing money from an ATM, but even that depends on the bank and the country. Look into all the banks in your preferred country for best deals.

Bills of 50 euros.
Check banking requirements when moving from the USA to Europe.

Drivers license requirements when moving from the USA to Europe

According to European Union rules, a US driver’s license only qualifies for up to 1 year. In that first year, you are requested to complete written and practical driving tests regulated by the country in which you are residing. After you’ve obtained your new driving license, don’t expect to get a big jeep with automatic gear. European cars are usually smaller and with manual gears. But if you are fortunate enough, you can still drive whatever you want and pay for parking. Note that European cities are old, so they don’t have a lot of parking spaces as they were built for walking or carriages. You may not even need a driving license since most European cities have excellent public transportation.

Labor markets

One of the most lucrative yet competitive options is Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). You need to earn a TEFL certification, and you can either teach on a freelance basis or work for a language school.

For long-term positions, you’ll have to secure a work permit first. An employer will have to apply for one on your behalf. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to do this. A company has to prove to the government that they cannot find anyone in Europe to fill the vacancy. There can be a long waiting list in this process. The good news is that there are markets specifically seeking Americans, such as in English language magazines, tour companies or tech startups.

The bottom line

You will definitely have to go through an adjustment period after moving from the USA to Europe. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from making this relocation happen. Sure, it might be difficult at first, but plenty of good things will wait in the future. You just need to get used to it!

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