Top Picks For You

The 12 Ways You Can Legally Live and Work in Europe

Living in Europe sounds nice. And though it's tricky to get a long-term visa, it's possible with one of these methods.

For millions of people around the world, living in Europe would be a dream come true. For those seeking extended stays from temporary to permanent residency or even citizenship, there are plenty of options to help you achieve your goal. Whether you imagine yourself sipping a cold beer or wine on the beach, learning a new language, exploring new cities, or becoming gainfully employed, this article will point you in the right direction.

Related: Countries in Europe Where You Can Gain Citizenship

1 OF 12

Teach a Language

One of the easiest ways to live and work within the European Union (E.U.) is to teach a language. Several countries have Language Programs/Conversation Assistants. For these programs, you’ll receive a monthly stipend in exchange for 12-20 hours of classroom time per week. Beautiful, sunny Spain has several options to become an Auxiliar de Conversación, including BEDA, North American Language and Conversation Assistant Program (NALCAP), and Meddeas. Other opportunities include the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) or the SITE program in Italy. For full-blown teaching opportunities, head to the Czech Republic or Georgia. You’ll need to have at least a four-year degree and TEFL certification to apply.

INSIDER TIPIt’s important to understand that you’ll be working part-time while you’re abroad and should have access to supplemental income/sufficient funds during your stay. Some assistants have reported delays up to three months before receiving their initial payment.


2 OF 12

Become an Au Pair

Are you a caring and patient person who enjoys working with young children and taking some pressure off parents? Becoming a live-in nanny can be a rewarding opportunity to shape young minds in a familiar, fun, and supportive environment while saving money on accommodations and food. General duties may include taking and picking children up from school, homework assistance, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and conversation practice. Lucky au pairs will accompany their host families on vacations and have enough downtime to enjoy a healthy personal life and tour your new home. Taking the time to interview prospects is integral to finding an optimal match during your stay. You can find more information about eligibility and what to expect on Au Pair World.

3 OF 12


It’s no secret that the cost of education is exorbitant and a leading cause of debt in the United States of America. Studying abroad is a wonderful way to access affordable education and achieve cultural enrichment. To narrow down your search, look into internships, bachelor, postgraduate, or study abroad programs. Other options include applying for internships, fellowships, and other grant opportunities like Erasmus and Fulbright. If studying abroad is something that interests you, head to the Study Abroad office in your university or search for programs, grants, and scholarships based on your educational aspirations and countries that interest you. Some courses may be offered in English, while others may only be available in the local language.


4 OF 12

Make an Impact Through Research

The E.U. Blue Card enables researchers, seasonal workers, international students, and vocational trainees from non-E.U. countries the opportunity to work, study, and train in Europe. This residence permit can put highly skilled workers on track to permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship. Core requirements for this permit include having a master’s degree (or E.U. equivalent), a work history in your field of at least five years, a work/research contract in your host country, and your salary must be at least 1.5 times the minimum wage in the country where you will work. Popular countries for research include France, Germany, Portugal, and Switzerland.

5 OF 12

Get Hired by an International Company

Companies and organizations seeking to grow their international reach constantly search for new talent. One way to get your foot in the door is to work from a company with headquarters or satellite offices within the E.U. Network on platforms such as LinkedIn or search for a job opening within a company you already work for. Already work at a company with a large presence like Amazon? Their European headquarters are in Luxembourg, and satellite offices are in Belgium, Germany, the U.K., Spain, and more. Some companies may even handle or reimburse your relocation expenses and provide visa assistance. Salaries in Europe may be less than what you can expect if you’re used to a typical American salary, but benefits like a lower cost of living and affordable healthcare can offset it.

6 OF 12

Apply for a Golden Visa

Creating job opportunities and boosting the local economy is another way to solidify yourself as a serious applicant for a long-term visa. Hiring locals will also help to build trust for your brand within your chosen country and new community. There are countries in the E.U. that offer visas for high investments, like Portugal’s Golden Visa Program. Benefits of this visa include visa-free access throughout the EU, the permission to work and live in Portugal after a minimum stay of seven days during the first year and 14 days during the subsequent years, and applying for Portuguese citizenship. Other countries that offer Golden Visas are Greece, Malta, and Spain. For a complete list of countries offering Golden Visas in the E.U., click here.

Related: Here’s How to Buy Citizenship in Another Country

7 OF 12

Play a Professional Sport

If you are an athlete or member of a sports organization, you could be eligible to play on a Class C temporary stay visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period for the purpose of participating in a sport. Participating in sports is an exciting way to see a new country, learn a new language, and meet a lot of people. For more information on this visa, click here.

8 OF 12

Apply for a “Sweetheart” or Family Reunification Visa

For many countries, those on student visas, for example, are ineligible to apply for permanent residency unless they convert to a long-stay visa. If you happen to fall in love while you’re abroad, one option is to apply for a civil partnership visa like the Pareja de Hecho visa in Spain. Under the terms of this visa, non-E.U. citizens need to provide proof of a committed (but both applicants must be unmarried) relationship with a Spanish citizen. Some regions, like Madrid, require applicants to live together for a minimum period of 12 months, while others have no minimum cohabitation requirements. Once your visa is approved, you’ll be allowed to live, work, and receive benefits in Spain for up to five years. For families (including spouses, parents, and children), search for “family reunification visas.” Other countries that offer partnership or family reunification visas are Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Portugal.

9 OF 12

Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa

As the world continues to embrace remote work and the freedom to work from anywhere with a stable internet connection, more and more people are heading abroad. Working from abroad can provide some with a much lower cost of living, affordable options for healthy food, education, and healthcare. The opportunity can also provide remote workers with a better work-life balance, such as access to beaches or traveling to another country on the weekends. To become eligible for this visa type, applicants must show proof of income stipulated by the country they are submitting their application to.

Portugal is the latest country to launch a Digital Nomad Visa, which will be available from October 30, 2022. European countries that currently offer a Digital Nomad Visa are Croatia, Germany, Greece, Estonia, Iceland, Malta, and more. Keywords for similar concepts are called: freelance, independent contractor, self-employed, or remote worker visas.

Related: You Can Move to These Countries With a Digital Nomad Visa

10 OF 12

Get Naturalized

Depending on the country, after you’ve been a permanent resident for a period of 1, 3, 5, or 10 years, you may be eligible to become naturalized in an E.U. country. You will need to pass an exam for citizenship, language fluency, and provide proof of financial means. Once naturalized, you’ll reap the benefits that are afforded to each citizen of an E.U. country, including access to affordable or free education and healthcare, social security benefits, visa-free travel through the E.U., and employment opportunities.

11 OF 12

Prove Your Ancestry

Descendants of E.U. nationals can apply for citizenship through ancestry. According to E.U. law, you may be eligible if you can prove that a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent is (or was) an E.U. citizen. Besides providing the supporting documents for your familial bonds, you’ll need to provide proof of citizenship and language proficiency to start.

12 OF 12

Volunteer Abroad

You can house or pet sit if you’re only interested in living abroad for free. It’s important that you research your eligibility for a visa which could vary depending on your citizenship, the duration of stay, and the requirements of your host country. You can also research social impact opportunities as a volunteer, such as the Peace Corps or government programs offered by the country of your choice.