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Europe is an area of many contrasts and each country has different rules, regulations and requirements, but for your convenience we have provided a short check-list of items to think through before moving.
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Organising your visa
If you are moving to Europe from the US, the first thing you will need to organise is a visa.
As a US tourist you would not require a visa for many European countries, but if you are intending to live (or stay over 3 months) you will need to arrange a long stay visa. You will be required to do this before leaving your home country, and it should be one of the first things on your list to do as it may take several months to complete. The best way to find out the procedure for your chosen country is to visit the Embassy and apply.
As a basic requirement, most countries in Europe will require you to show them how you intend to fund your stay in their country before granting your visa application.
In order to prove this to them they will ask you to provide a proof of your income or existing savings which will allow you to live in the country.
If you are not supporting yourself through existing funds or income, most countries will want to see details such as a letter from your sponsor (relative, employer) with details of the amount(s) you will be receiving and any terms, for instance an employment contract.
The main elements of your living costs are likely to remain the same after moving to Europe, namely property rental, heating and electricity, and most people check these basic bills in advance, considering them the most significant and important. In addition to the basic costs of living, however, there may be other services and bills which you overlook, and some of these could be several times what you are used to in the US.
Common bills and costs which people fail to check before moving include transport, the cost of phone lines, internet service, satellite or cable television, the cost of which varies greatly from country to country.
Additionally, you may want to check the price of day to day вЂњluxuriesвЂќ including items like magazines, luxury brands, which may be hard to source, and restaurant or food costs, all of which could cost significantly more than you are currently used to paying.
These costs although seemingly small, could add up to thousands of dollars per year, and there is no point investing hard earned time and money into a move, then finding yourself unable to afford the lifestyle you expect in the country you have moved to.
Organise your finances
As with most things, you will be best planning your finances before moving to Europe, as you will find the practicalities of trying to access your cash or change your details become much more difficult after you have moved!
You will want to check your existing accounts to ensure you are aware of any existing outgoings, and also to organise internet or phone banking if you do not already have these. Internet banking is by far the easiest way to manage your accounts when you are abroad.
Prior to your move, it is advisable to organise a local bank account. This will save you a lot of charges in the long run, and will be required to pay household bills.
The documentation required varies from country to country, but usually includes your passport, local address and tax reference as a minimum. I would advise travelling to the branch you intend to use in person, rather than trying to open an account by post or over the internet. This way you have already formed a relationship, and it is a lot easier to smooth out any issues.
Change of address
Most people continue to require an address in their home country after moving, for instance to receive bank statements, bills and tax or government documents. As you will need someone to forward your mail to you regularly you have two choices, ask a friend or relative, or pay for a professional mail forwarding service.
If you are not going to take everything with you, you can get long term storage for your household possessions in the US until you are ready to organise their moving to Europe. Take time to pack everything securely and label boxes, speaking from experience it will make your life far easier when you are ready to move them or take them out of storage!
Insurance and Health Care
Your health is one thing you cannot replace, and if you are moving to Europe health insurance is likely to be a requirement of your visa.
Insurance cover is easy to obtain, and most likely you will want a comprehensive health insurance package. A medical may be part of the requirement, and it is a good idea to have one before leaving. This will allow you to sort out any issues before you move, including prescriptions, and will save you time and hassle, particularly if the health care system in the country you move to has a high level of bureaucracy, or you cannot speak the language fluently.
Renew your passport and documents
You will need to check your documents well before you leave in order to make sure they are all current. It is best to renew your passport as early as possible, and the same is sensible for credit cards and any other documents (like your driving licence) that you will use after moving to Europe.
As with all important documents вЂ“ take a copy! It will prove handy should you lose your original and need the details (for instance your passport!)
The policy on foreign driving licences varies from country to country. You will need to check in advance whether you can use your licence in the country you would like to move to. At best you will be able to use your licence (for instance in the UK) at worst it will be of no use at all and you will need an international driver’s licence or to pass a local test.
Europe uses a 220V system, but with a variety of plugs. If you are moving from the US some high-end electronic goods support the change between 110V and 220V via a switch on the power supply, but most will not. In these cases you will either need a voltage converter (especially if you have items you cannot bear to part with!) a new power supply (probably a good option for laptops) or to take the easy option and buy new. Check with the manufacturer to see what options you have.
If you are permanently moving to Europe, you might want to consider a local mobile phone for the short term. It can take several months to get a land line phone connection and internet etc. and in the meantime a mobile phone can let people get in touch with you for emergencies (or important gossip!)
If you are calling back home you will most likely find it cheaper to use an international phone card. These are available in large cities from most newsagents.
We can help make moving to Europe easy! We recommend you fill out the free estimate form which will allow you to specify details of the possessions you would like to take with you when you move. We will provide you with up to ten free, personalised quotes from pre-screened international moving companies.