One of the benefits of having a remote job is that you can work anywhere in the world. Or, can you? The reality is that it is a very complicated process to move to a European country even if you don’t need to work locally.
The lure of a more laid back lifestyle, and enjoying the local cuisine and sites is almost impossible to resist. You can learn another language and gain an entirely new perspective on the world. It would be nice if you could simply arrive and set up shop, but sadly, that is not the case.
There are not many EU countries that allow you to work remotely or freelance if you are not a citizen. There are a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through to make it a reality. Some people live as digital nomads and move on as their visa expires in a certain location, but what happens when you want to stay put?
If you are interested in living abroad and taking your job with you, then read on for the things you need to know.
You’ll need insurance
One of the reasons that EU countries simply don’t allow any non EU citizens to work in their country with a remote job or freelancing is because of health insurance or pension issues.
If your job doesn’t have an office in the country where you plan to live, then the social security taxes aren’t being paid so you would be a drag on the public health system.
At a minimum, you will need to have some form of Health Insurance for Travelers. For many EU countries this is not going to be enough. But, if you were to go to Southeast Asia or some of the countries in South America, this will be enough for you to stay there for a long period of time.
There is one EU country that recently added a digital nomad or freelancer visa so you can live and work there remotely for up to a year. It is a small Baltic country called Estonia that is one of the leading countries when it comes to the digital age. You are required to have a minimum salary of $3,530, however.
Try to get citizenship
If you are dead set on the European lifestyle then this makes things very complicated. As I mentioned in the last section, only Estonia will allow remote workers to live there up to a year. The other countries will not allow you to work remotely there.
Many Americans have some European ancestry and if your ancestors left Europe relatively recently, you may qualify for citizenship to the country they came from. It is a system called jus sanguinis that basically means that you are a citizen by blood. Countries like Italy and Ireland use this system, but your roots can’t go too far back and there needs to be an uninterrupted line of citizenship.
For instance, if your grandfather came to the US from Italy, but didn’t naturalize as a US citizen or did so after the birth of your parent, then you may qualify to claim Italian citizenship.
The beauty of getting your citizenship to an EU country is that there is freedom of movement within the European Union so you can live anywhere with that citizenship. So, for example, if you really want to live in Germany, but have Irish citizenship, you are free to move there. You may need to prove that your income is enough to live there and also pay taxes there, but it depends on the country.
Get a transfer
If you work for a company that has offices in the country where you want to live, this may provide an opening. What you could do is to ask for a transfer to that country and then try to work remotely while in that country.
Many EU countries require a business to have an operation within that country so that all of your taxes will be paid there and you won’t be a burden on their social programs. So, if your company already has an office there then this gets your foot in the door.
This may also be enough for you if you just want to work abroad and don’t mind having to work in an office. The downside of that is you are going to need to speak the local language well enough to work with other nationals even though your business work is done in English.
Unfortunately, working in the EU is not as simple as many think it should be. After all, you already have the job so you won’t be stealing one from a local so what’s the problem?
Whether it seems right or wrong, it is a challenge to move to the EU, but it is not impossible. Turn over every rock and you may just find a way in to be able to start living the Dolce Vita!
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.