How to make your move to Europe as stress-free as possible

June 4, 2014


Moving to Europe to teach is an exciting prospect. The continent is modern, vibrant and steeped in unique history. There’s plenty to see and do across a wide range of very different countries, but before you make the big leap it’s important to plan, plan and plan some more. Take heed of the most common challenges people can face when moving overseas, and how they can be avoided.

Moving to Europe to teach?

1. Not every state is a member state

It’s smart to understand that the EU isn’t present in every country in Europe. Whereas an EU citizen can move about freely inside the union, there are restrictions in countries like Turkey that can place a barrier between professionals and their jobs. The Schengen Area takes up most of mainland Europe, and the access that nationals from around the globe have to it differs, so have a look before you make a move.

2. Don’t let currency burn a hole in your pocket

The Euro is one of a variety of currencies in Europe; among the others are the British Pound Sterling and the Polish Zloty. It’s mindful to take a look at which currencies are strong in and outside of the Euro zone and just how much or how little you’ll need to exchange before you move. Be aware of regional differences – such as higher prices in northern Europe and lower prices in the east. For example, a pint of beer can cost £5.00 in Sweden, and only around £1.50 in Poland. Similarly, exchange rates become important if you’re planning on bringing some of your money back home with you.

3. Be mindful of cultural and political differences

Southern Europe has a more relaxed, friendly attitude to new people, while in the west, things tend to be a little more formal (stiff upper lip and all that!). Not only should you be aware of how different European countries offer varying levels of hospitability, you should also know about what political issues are appropriate to discuss and which ones should be left alone. Racial tolerance, attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender equality can also be an issue; most of Europe is generally tolerant, but there are exceptions.

4. Work ethics can vary

France has recently set limits on after-hours emails and Spain has its famous mid-day siesta. Work is more flexible in some parts of the continent, but other parts are more formal. In Germany, for example, there is a growing ‘long hours’ culture. This impacts on the culture of the respective country and on the education sector too, meaning it’s something you’ll have to bear in mind while applying for jobs.

5. Be aware of the EU and its rules

EU labour law is extensive, so it’s good to know if you’re working inside the union exactly what your rights are and what you’re entitled to as an education professional. The aforementioned Schengen Area affects visas – and therefore work – but don’t be too worried! Free movement is encouraged across the union and this is a major benefit for jobseekers in all sectors.

6. One continent: lots of climates

Despite being in the same continent, countries like Russia, Spain, Poland and the UK have certainly got different climates to each other, and the weather is shifting all the time. So when you’re packing remember to make space for sunscreen, scarves, or both! For example, the UK’s summer months see temperatures averaging around 20 degrees yearly but it also has 3.6 millimetres of rain on average in October and 3.5 millimetres in November. Conversely, Spain can reach the 30’s in summer, with a fraction of the rain.

7. The language barrier

This may seem obvious, but that thanks to its stance on immigration and freedom of movement, the EU has plenty of citizens whose first language isn’t the native tongue of the country they happen to live in. That means certain countries are much more suitable if you can only speak English; natives of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark in particular, generally speak English to a high standard. Conversely, countries such as France or Turkey are less accommodating, so watch out!

8. Pack your gear up the right way

Be sure to take your essential items with you – including important paperwork – when you move. For less urgent, or bulky items, use a professional shipping service. It’s important to properly protect and pack any items you are shipping to avoid breakages. Check out 1StopShip which provides a cost-effective and easy shipping service for professionals moving abroad.

Ian Brown is head of international moving at 1StopShip, and a specialist in the challenges faced by emigrants as the relocate to a new country. 


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