What is it like to settle abroad and live in Europe (England, France, Germany) from the US? Is it hard/scary/expensive?
So one day this American living in Australia was at a conference in Argentina where she met a Spaniard... A few months later, she moved to Spain. That's my current story. :)
I have not moved to England, France or Germany. I have moved to Ireland, Slovakia and Spain.
Was is hard? Yes. No. Maybe. This wasn't the first country I lived in. It was my fourth, fifth or sixth depending on how you count. Visa wise, this was not particularly hard compared to others. It certainly was cheaper. The paperwork, for permanent residency, wasn't that much more difficult than my Aussie student visa. It just needed translating.
I've always been pretty lucky in that in moving my housing situation has more or less taken care of itself. This can be a huge stress if others don't assist in making it possible based on your needs. Student accommodation, work arranged accommodation, friends who let me live with them.
Ireland? That was my first time abroad, and the culture shock was so bad and I just was not ready. I had never really been abroad much. It was hard. Hard to make friends. Hard to understand the accents. The food was different. The markets were very different. It was so hard that I went back to the USA. Talk about humiliating and depressing at the time.
Slovakia a few years later? Awesome. On the other hand, I knew I would be living there for only a few months. I had an out : I could wait out a few months. I had a network of contacts through the place I was working. It was easy enough because the length of time meant I did not have to learn the language. I also did not have to pack up and move everything like I had done fore Ireland. This was less hard.
The CNMI and Australia in between, I moved to Spain. This was the easiest and hardest culturally. Easiest because I had the contacts and cultural guides. Hardest because the cultural differences, language and food differences were the most extreme. (Also, I was going into what turned into a year of winters with no real summer.)
So much of the hard to adapt part really depends on who you are at the moment of your move, at who you have to support you in the place where you go, and your experience moving abroad before.
Is it scary to move to Europe? Yes, no. The first time it was a terrifying trip into the the unknown for me. The second time? It was not so scary. The third time? Love was involved and so it was terrifying for different reasons other than Europe. It wasn't scarey as I more or less knew what I was doing. It became just one more move.
So Ireland? The scariest part was I had finally gotten what I felt like was my dream. I didn't want to blow it. I had no idea what I was doing. Also, Ireland was so different. At. Patrick's Day, all those holiday ideals? Yeah. That image is not the same when you get there and have to figure out all these strange and alien things that were like back home but I had to do them without a safety net.
Slovakia? Scariest part was getting everything I needed for four months into a carryon. Would I be able to find everything else I needed locally? Also, how do I get cash and a mobile? Everything was an adventure. Not particularly scarey, even with the language issues.
Spain? I was living in Australia, and packing was its own fear again. I had not been planning to move, and had pretty much settled. Downsizing is scarey. What if I want that shirt? What if I need that book for my PhD? Shipping costs Au$$$$ and I was running cost benefit analysis in my head. Could I do without this for months as I shipped it? What if things go south again? It would be a huge pain in the ass to move back this time, and doing so would have burned professional contacts I had worked to build. Also, very real language issues this time that would interfere with an ability to get a job locally. Starting over is scarey. That was some of Spain and some of where I was in life.
Hard and scarey go hand in hand.
Expensive? This get challenging. It all depends on how you decide to go abroad, how it is facilitated, where you want to live, and your lifestyle.
The act of moving to Ireland cost me the visa, the plane ticket, a rental car and a few nights in a hotel before I could move I to where I was living, and then about US$200 I used to buy special things I did not think I could buy in Ireland.
Slovakia? A plane ticket to Frankfurt, a few days worth of costs in a hostel, a train ticket to Bratislava. I had a salary. It was pretty easy and cheap. Lots cheaper than Ireland.
Spain? The visa, the health insurance, and the plane ticket? Pretty cheap. The PR visa process (marriage for the win) probably cost about €1,500 after all the associated costs at the end of the day. Housing? Arranged and cheaper than Australia. AU$350/week to €300/month. Sweet. I paid about AU$300 to ship 3 boxes.
If I had been looking to make things more expensive, I could easily have done it. I've mostly tried to do things as cheaply as possible. So that all really does depend.
I like it. If you get the chance to settle in Europe as an American, if you're in the right place in your life to do it, if you'll have a support network, go for it. I don't think most people who did the same regret it. :)See Questions On Quora