Easier now for Americans to emigrate to Europe, than around 1980?

My stepdaughter and two of her close friends from college are all working in Europe. The SD is teaching English in Berlin, Friend 1 is in a dance troupe in Brussels (with a degree in math, go figure), and Friend 2 is an independent filmmaker in Romania. I’m a little astonished at how easily they seem to have worked it. When I was approaching college graduation, in early 1980, I knew nobody who was able to do that. And people did ask about it, but were generally told to forget about it unless there was no citizen of the country you wanted to move to, who could do the job you wanted to do. Or unless you were one of five people in the world with your skill level. Or unless you were marrying a citizen. Pretty much, you had to find some way to live in the country for months or years, without being able to earn a living, and then you could be considered for permanent residency, and the right to work.

But these young women just made it happen. Granted I don’t know all the details of Friend 1 & 2’s particular situations, or if they had some sort of special “in”, but I do wonder.


Trapped in the banality of SoCal.

Well, I don’t think its all that hard to get a work visa to teach English (there are entire websites devoted to English-Teaching work/trave – it is my impression that the school that ires you helps with the process) and many countries have special visas for people who work in the arts. Also, if you have a medical degree (incl veterinary in some countries), you can work whereever you like.

If you’re just “regular” and don’t want to teach English, I think it can still be challenging, though if you want to move to Ireland, it seems quite a lot easier – there are “Work in Ireland!” ads on the NYC subways! Maybe that’s just for people in IT though.

I worked in Hungary for 5 years, and it was just a matter of filling out some forms and getting a company to sponsor you. (I worked for an English-language business publication, so it was pretty easy to justify my presence there.) That said, it was plenty easy for anyone who wanted to pick up and teach English to just work there. Things have changed a little over the last ten years (when pretty much anyone who wanted to teach English could just settle in and teach.) The better schools are demanding actual teaching qualifications, for one, but you can still make a go of it on your own.

Eastern Europe, at least, did not and still does not keep very close tabs on visas. As long as you were freelancing or working in a cash economy, you only had to leave the country every few months to keep up on your “tourist” visa. I worked there 2 years with all the appropriate paperwork, and 3 years semi-legally (I was registered with the government press office, but did not have a residence permit, which was technically required.) It was not difficult at all.