Expat Essentials

‘I’m outta here’: Trump is elected, and questions about escaping to Europe pour in

(Editor’s note: This post has been update with information about immigrating to Norway. Info we forgot to include. Sorry ….)

And so it begins ….

Since Donald Trump’s shocking victory last week, my wife Cheryl and I have been getting questions from friends in the States such as, “How hard is it to find a job in Europe?” and “Do you have a spare room for the next four years?”

Seriously, we’re getting real inquiries from our actual friends. Good people who woke up Wed., Nov. 9 to find they live in a country led by a man whose reality TV ethos vandalized the American political machinery with campaign rally brawls and puerile name-calling. Obviously, I’m not going to reveal their real names because their bosses, investors or business partners don’t need to know they’re shopping for a new country.

In a couple of cases, I thought the person was joking. And some were. But in most cases, the dread of living through a Donald Trump presidency is palpable.

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ST. BARTH’S

This one from Tim, a high-powered CEO:

I need a how-to book on immigration to the Bahamas.

My reply was, “Pick a different place … The Bahamas are part of the UK. When Brexit is official, they’ll say goodbye to a lot of tourism from the EU.”

Then I sent him the link to a $3 million house on St. Barths, an overseas territory of France, with the note, “(your wife) will love this place.”

This is from Jim, a media exec:

So where does one look for overseas job opportunities?  Asking for a friend ?

I thought he was kidding, so I responded:

“We always give food and shelter to friends on the run”?” It’s like Humphrey Bogart in the ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ ”

Turns out he wasn’t:

We are indeed talking about it in a serious way. I’ve been itching for a move and am not really sure this is an environment I want to live in for the next several years. Trump is one thing (and not trivial) but the (state) House flipping in a dramatic manner and a slew of socially conservative bills ready to pass …. I am done with the hate talk.

From Chris:

Terry, I am emerging from my first stage of grief, denial. I do not necessarily want to embrace the next stage: anger. I want to do something productive and be part of a movement that will learn from Hillary’s campaign (the good and bad) and move forward in a positive way. What do you suggest?

Dude, I co-founded an expat-focused business in Europe. We moved forward in a positive way … all the way to the Netherlands. Though in truth, we started planning our escape before Trump was even a GOP primary candidate.

From Jane, a health care professional:

So very scared right now. I want to take (my daughter) … somewhere else. Very serious and need help now. Help!

I can’t believe this … I want to run. Can’t believe the panic that has consumed me now. Seriously, could I get a healthcare job in the Netherlands? I want to bring xxxx and move there now!

We saw this whole thing coming, and did a considerable amount of research. We’ll have posts coming up detailing what we had to do to emigrate to the Netherlands. We chose the Netherlands for many reasons, not the least of which is its relative ease of immigration compared to my first choice, France, which is restrictive for non-EU citizens and not particularly business friendly.

We can give you a few quick tips now about moving to Europe:

Germany

If you want proof that Germany is a viable alternative for American expats, go to Berlin. Thousands of Americans attend university there or work at tech companies and startups. Americans get residence visas all the time. BUT, the requirements are more onerous than in the Netherlands, including producing a certificate of health and a certificate of good conduct.

Republic of Ireland

Students and the newly graduated can live and work in Ireland for up to 12 months. Who knew … we didn’t until we started researching the rules for this post.

You must be at least 18 years of age, and either currently a full-time post-secondary student (in an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate program) or have graduated 12 months or less before you apply. You have to prove you have at least $4,000 in the bank (which is pretty common across Europe), have a return ticket, and medical insurance. It costs $339 to apply.

Netherlands

If you’re a tech professional, accountant, physicist, engineer, researcher, corporate hotshot or entrepreneur with talent and capital, the Netherlands likely will grant you two years of residency under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty. Compared to the rest of Europe, it’s fairly easy to start a company here. But there are a lot of decisions to make, because your visa and your company structure impact one another. We found this out first-hand earlier this year.

Norway

Dispatches contributor Willeke van Doorn had an excellent post on Norway last month. A post that inspired us to research the gritty details of what it takes to move there. We found that like Sweden, Norway is relatively open to immigration because it’s under populated and short on skilled workers.

From our post accompanying Willeke’s:

Norway needs skilled workers. A survey last year found that more than half of 5,300 Norwegian companies surveyed reported skills shortages.

To meet demand, the number of work permits granted to skilled foreign workers went up by 17 percent in 2012 compared to the year before. Almost 10,000 people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were granted work permits in Norway that year.

Demand continues to grow, especially in engineering and IT. Other sectors including health care and elderly care are also short on professionally trained staff, according to various government recruitment websites.

The Norway Directorate of Immigration, or UDI, very helpfully provides a web portal in English to direct you to your various immigration options.

Sweden

As we’ve said before, if you’re gee-whiz tech talent, Sweden will find a way to get you a long-term resident status. The entire country has only about 9 million people, so there’s a talent and labor shortage. About 50,000 people — both Swedes and expats— move to Stockholm to work for tech companies, financial firms and multi-national corporations each year, according to promotional materials from Stockholm’s city government. The Economist reports that one-third of startups in Stockholm are launched by first- or second-generation migrants. Each year an estimated 2,500 Indian software programmers apply for visas to work in Stockholm. That said, housing – or lack of – is a huge problem in Stockholm, though Sweden has two other major cities.

Switzerland

Because Switzerland is the wealthiest nation on Earth (technically, it swaps back and forth with Luxembourg), the Swiss tend to be been pretty choosy about who they let in. Now, they’re even more so, with new employment tests and quotas for all countries (including the U.S.). Yet, foreigners make up something like 30 percent of the population, so it’s doable. If you’re a retiree or a student with resources, you can stay as long as your money holds out! Also, Switzerland – like most European countries –  has a clause in its immigration code that if you make it 10 years with your nose clean and finances intact, then you’re eligible for Swiss citizenship. And a Swiss passport is at least equal in value to American citizenship when it comes to global mobility.

Here’s a very detailed official website dedicated to entering and staying in Switzerland,

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