Easiest European Countries to Immigrate to
Ready to get out of the country? With the rat race, declining quality of life, political turmoil, and growing divisions, it’s no wonder more Americans are eyeing Europe for a fresh start. But, hold on – moving abroad isn’t just about packing your bags and jetting off.
There’s an endless list of logistics and countless micro-decisions to navigate. One of the biggest changes to moving to Europe is figuring out what the easiest European country to move to is. And in the world of European immigration, not all countries are created equal.
Don’t sweat it! We’ve got your back. We’ve scoured the continent to unveil the four easiest European countries to immigrate to if you’re a US citizen. If you’re itching to ditch the US for a long-term European adventure, keep reading!
4 Easiest European countries to move to
When we talk about the easiest European countries to move to, what do we mean? Easiest means places where the average American can relocate with minimal hassle. These are countries with a variety of visa options, or better yet, no visa requirements at all!
Yes, you read that correctly. While we initially claimed that moving abroad wasn’t as simple as hopping on a plane tonight, we may have fibbed a bit. There are indeed a couple of countries where you can do just that. Discover them below, along with two nations boasting so many visa choices that you’re bound to find one that suits you!
Not that Georgia—the country Georgia! This small nation at the crossroads of Europe and Asia couldn’t be more different from the U.S. state, but one thing they do have in common is that you can enter both without a visa! US citizens can go to Georgia without a visa or residence permit—and stay for up to one year—to live, study, or work remotely for a company located outside of the country. That means no paperwork to worry about – just pack and go!
So why Georgia, of all places? This underrated Eastern European country—which locals call Sakartvelo—is known for its natural beauty, warm hospitality, religious locals and get this: for being the birthplace of wine. You’ve got that right! UNESCO has listed the country’s 8,000-year-old wine-making process as a notable piece of cultural heritage. Located at the eastern end of the Black Sea, Georgia is home to rocky beaches, sweeping forests and the highest mountain range in Europe, which makes it a great destination for outdoor activities. If that’s not your thing, you’ll find plenty of rich culture, monasteries, architecture and fusion cuisine to explore—all with an affordable cost of living.
It’s important to note that before the Russian war in Ukraine you’d be hard pressed to find somewhere as inexpensive as Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi; it used to rank as one of the least expensive cities in the entire world! However, one of the side effects of war has been the record highs for housing, food, utilities and more. Most expats who live here have a foreign source of income, so if you’re earning USD, your money will still go far but it’s important to be aware of the struggle locals face.
When people ask what’s the fastest way to move to Europe, I say—Albania! A European country that is still under the radar but not for long. If you’ve never considered Albania, just know that it has been called the new Croatia and the Maldives of Europe due to its golden sands and turquoise sea.
While it has become an increasingly popular summer destination, the expat population here is still very small. And what most people don’t know is that US citizens can live in Albania for up to one year with just a passport, no paperwork needed! Making it one of the easiest countries in Europe to move to. But if you’re looking put down some roots here there’s more to learn about Albania than its summer vibes.
Albania boasts a low-cost lifestyle–for now-even in Tirana, where most foreigners choose to live. Catering to the rise of newcomers, from locals, tourists and expats, the city is going through a development boom and the government is trying to concentrate new developments in the city’s core to stop urban sprawl.
A relatively safe country, Albania offers both majestic mountains, and breathtaking beaches, but you will need a car to get around. The country is not well connected by public transport, plus even when it does exist it can be unreliable. An odd fact—for 40 years Albanians weren’t allowed to own cars. In 1991 the ban was lifted but the consequences still remain: there’s a lack of infrastructure and many of the roads that do exist are still in poor condition. If you’re ok with a country that is a little rough around the edges, then Albania may the the place for you!
Call me biased, but Spain is the absolute best and I think the many pros outweigh the cons! A southern European country with distinct culture, Spain brings to mind images of tapas, warm beaches and siestas—which is not far from the truth. It’s a country where people live life outdoors, with a vibrant social scene in neighborhood plazas and on restaurant terrazas into the wee hours. And in terms of easiest European country to move to—Spain offers 7 different types of visas, giving you plenty of options to make this dream come true.
- Student visa: A student visa allows you to live in Spain for the duration of your studies, either by enrolling at a university or certain approved language academies.
- Digital nomad visa: Spain’s newest visa, the digital nomad visa allows you to live in Spain while working remotely for a company or client located outside of Spain.
- Work visa: A work visa is extremely difficult for Americans to obtain but if you’re lucky enough to land a job offer and visa sponsorship from a Spanish company, this might be your ticket in to living in Spain!
- Entrepreneur visa: This visa is for entrepreneurs who want to launch a startup in Spain.
- Non-lucrative visa: This visa allows you to live in Spain as long as you aren’t seeking work and have proof of financial means to support yourself. This is a popular option among U.S. citizens.
- Freelance visa: This option is for freelancers and self-employed individuals who want to work in Spain or set up their own business.
- Golden visa: This visa is available to those who have at least €500,000 to invest in real estate.
Spain is almost the size of Texas which means there is so much to explore. With more than 17 diverse regions to choose from, this dynamic country is sure to capture your heart. While many Americans are drawn to Madrid and Barcelona—and rightly so—others opt for regions like Valencia and Andalusia for their coastal climates and laid-back lifestyles.
Spain is also a great option for Americans to get their feet wet abroad. If you know someone who has taught English in Spain, it’s most likely through the popular North American Cultural and Language Assistant program, which sponsors native English speakers to work in public schools. I first moved to Madrid on a student visa with the program, then I switched to a work visa, then a non-lucrative visa and finally Spanish citizenship.
Learn more about living in Spain as a US citizen.
Europe’s best kept secret is no longer a secret: Portugal is all the rage among US citizens (and everyone else), and it’s easy to see why. Its beaches, surfing, delicious food, Port wine and manageable size make Portugal an ideal place to call home. Like its neighbor, Spain, this southern European country is warm, welcoming, affordable* and beautiful. And Portugal has 6 different visa options making it one of the easiest countries to immigrate to in Europe.
- Student visa: A student visa allows you to live in Spain for the duration of your studies, either by enrolling at a university or certain approved learning centers.
- Work visa: A work visa is extremely difficult for Americans to obtain but if you’re lucky enough to land a job offer and visa sponsorship from a Portuguese company, this might be your ticket in to living in Portugal!
- Entrepreneur visa: This visa is for entrepreneurs who want to launch a startup or small to medium-sized business in Portugal.
- Startup visa: This visa is similar to the entrepreneurship visa, but for early stage business that may qualify for one of Portugal’s incubators.
- Retiree/non-lucrative visa: This visa allows you to live in Portugal as long as you have proof of financial means to support yourself. This is a popular option among U.S. citizens.
- Digital nomad visa: This visa was launched in 2022. See the next section for more details.
Another enticing advantage of Portugal was its Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) attractive tax incentive for the first 10-years of residency for foreigners, however it’s worth noting that changes are on the horizon. Portugal’s Prime Minister announced plans to discontinue the NHR tax breaks in 2024.
Lisbon and Porto are where you’ll find the largest communities of US citizens, both cities boasting rich history and charm without the hustle and bustle. Saying that, it would be remiss of us to not mention the soaring housing prices that locals are facing–a challenge not exclusive to Portugal–and we’d need a whole other blog post to address the root cause.
But Portugal is more than its two largest cities, it offers many other alluring locations worth considering. Check out Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, and Lagos, to name just a few.
Learn more about living in Portugal as a US citizen.
Easiest immigration countries in Europe
Turn your European dreams into reality with ease! Moving abroad isn’t rocket science, and these four countries make it a almost a breeze.
For more information about European visas check out my digital book I’m Outta Here! An American’t Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe. Discover the 18 easiest countries to move in Europe based on viable visa options. Dive into the specifics of Spain and Portugal visas mentioned above and 50+ around Europe.
Not sure exactly how to move abroad and where to start? Join my Move Abroad After 30 Masterclass!