What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE?

europe_13741541What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? expands the conversation to the European continent Do you have comments/insights/tips to share with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in EUROPE? Please do! TELL us your thoughts: International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

What is the BEST & the WORST of living in EUROPE?
Do you recommend living in EUROPE or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? JOIN the Conversation HERE!

—————————————————————————————————————-

See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / the Americas / Europe /
Middle East

—————————————————————————————————————-


42 Responses to What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I lived in Germany and Spain. My school in Germany was structured and organised but there was no social life like I had in the middle east. I loved the diversity of food there. Spain was great in summer but I was shocked that it rained and was cold in the summer since I took a flat with a pool.. Teachers did not socialise and it became quite lonely living there. My flat was gorgeous and I tried to be sociable with staff but they did not reciprocate. Middle east was not easy with male attitudes towards single females but I am so glad to be back in the uk, I liked living overseas for a while but missed the family too much and way of life in the UK.

    Like

  2. Online Slots says:

    I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining,
    and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something which not enough people are
    speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something regarding this.

    Like

  3. Byatt says:

    Anyone have thoughts on Tallinn or Estonia in general?

    Like

    • Suze says:

      Nobody has commented on Russia so allow me to add a few lines. We are sort of in the crossroads of Europe and Asia, but having lived in Asia, I would identify Moscow as definitely more Euro so I’ll post here. Moscow–large, modern city with a huge variety of things to do. The arts are big–museums, ballet, concerts, symphony. And the more modern entertainments of shopping malls, restaurants, amusement areas, lots of city parks. Fast and efficient public transport. I’m working in one of the major schools here and very comfortable housing, fully furnished, is provided. Excellent salary–the savings potential is great. Ah yes, but we need a balanced view so of course there are some cons. First off, the Russian people are not exactly the friendliest. They rarely smile on the streets, so if the sight of dour-looking folks depresses you, not the place for you. However, once you get to know a few Russians they can be as nice as anyone else. They are also fairly Xenophobic–probably not the place for people of color unless you don’t mind the risk of possibly being beaten up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Secondly, the weather. Love winter and snow? Then you’ll love it here–we have about 6 months of it. Don’t forget to factor in the dark–you will go to work in the dark and come home in the dark for at least 3 months of the year. I know several folks who purchase SAD lamps to cope. Third–the food. Yes, as a major Euro city you can find just about anything–for a price. A typical restaurant meal with 1 main course and 1 drink will set you back at least $40. And that is for exceptionally average food–the Russian palate is quite bland and they don’t tend to use a lot of spice in their food. I tend to cook my own a lot because I can make it better and cheaper. While there are some cons, I have found life here to be very rich and rewarding and it’s definitely worth a look for a 3-4 year posting.

      Like

  4. Alissandra says:

    I have spent the last year in Baku, Azerbaijan in Eastern Europe. Pros: the people are very friendly to foreigners, the food is great an the staff is awesome. Cons: life here is very expensive, traffic is a nightmare.

    Like

  5. Byby says:

    I loved Portugal, so beautiful, the school I worked for, not much positive to say there!

    Like

  6. I lived in Ukraine for two and a half years.

    There were times I loved it and times it was a real struggle. The history of the place is so fascinating, and it is a country experiencing many changes – not all positive either. Drop all concepts of Western European/American etc democracy and rule of law – they don’t always exist. Also the local people were very wary of foreigners to start with.

    The kids I taught were mostly the children of rich Ukrainians who have done well since the fall of the Soviet Union. They could be arrogant, but were mostly good. Very sheltered and lacking much knowledge of what goes on outside the borders of Ukraine.

    Go if you want a really different experience.

    Like

  7. Hi Elizabeth,

    We removed your post because it is not within the thread of the blog.

    Please use our forum to ask your question. I think you’ll also get your best response on the forum. You can reach the forum from the link in the yellow navigation bar on the home page at http://www.internationalschoolsreview.com You’ll need to register at the forum. Be sure to go to your email and click the activation link.

    Best and thanks for your understanding,

    Forum Admin

    >________________________________

    Like

  8. Sue says:

    Thank you for the comments everyone. After many years teaching in Asia I would love to try Europe. How do Australians fare getting work without having an EU passport?

    Like

    • Phil says:

      Depends on the country. Don’t even bother trying for Switzerland, but I worked in Hungary and there were no problems. You need to check with the schools or ask the embassies.

      Like

    • Bel says:

      I’m an Aussie, have lined up a job in Prague no problems. Don’t bother with France, Italy, Spain, portugal as they all want EU passport holders. Try Germany, Belgium, and the eastern European countries.

      Like

  9. Big Aaron says:

    I absolutely love living in Germany. It has been a great change from working in China and Kuwait. People are friendly here in Dusseldorf and I can actual communicate with them. In China I rarely was able to communicate and it was very difficult to learn Chinese as Aaron Thompson pointed out in the blog about Asia. Working conditions are great. There are actually workers rights and teacher organizations. I never experience the Wasta effect like I did in Kuwait. Sometimes I miss the chaos of Kuwait and China but the rules and order here in Germany makes for a high quality life. Money is decent but don’t save nearly as much as I did in Asia, but money isn’t everything… The school is good and the students are great.

    Like

    • Marie says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I also spent time in Kuwait and China. So far, Munich is my favorite. The quality of life is amazing, transportation and medical care are reliable, I don’t stand out in a crowd, and my dog is welcome almost everywhere🙂
      I have only been here since August, but after getting over the startup costs (apartment deposit, furniture and light fixtures), it has been fairly smooth sailing. The money is also not as terrible as most seem to suggest. It doesn’t compare with China, but then, I can breathe easily here🙂 I DO miss good Chinese food though…🙂

      Like

  10. Jim says:

    If you want a great Eastern European country check out Latvia. It has been called the best kept secret in Europe. Low crime rate, very affordable, English is spoken by the young, and there is actually a social life. I lived her for five years and worked at the International School of Latvia. The package was good and travel in and around Europe was great and affordable.

    Like

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Jim! I just accepted an offer from ISL! I would appreciate you letting me pick your brain on the school and location! Let’s start with the school…it seems small but fabulous!
      How do we switch to email rather than bore everyone on the blog with our discussion?
      Thanks!!
      Elizabeth

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Jim,
      Latvia sounds great. I am considering a position in Warsaw, Poland and hoping to travel to Latvia should I get the job.
      Could you give me some idea of what I should expect in terms of salary in that part of Europe? The school I am looking at does not include housing as part of the package, although they will contribute to relocation costs and help with finding accommodation . I’m just trying to find out what is a fair salary.
      Thanks
      Jade

      Like

  11. eslkevin says:

    Germany is a nightmare for Americans and Canadians wishing to get a salary for family and get the visa to keep a job. Mostly, they want contractors–forever, with little chance to bring your families. It is odd because they need immigrants from places like the Americas and Philippines or East Asia but they seem to allow only a few German-ancestored folk from South America and cut out the Catholic and Christian Philippines totally–in leu of allowing Easters from the Former Soviet Union and mainly Arabs or Turks from the Middle East.

    I had lived in Germany 3 times in the last 3 decades. It has gotten to be worse and worse for American and Canadians who do not have a well-paid International School contract to survive in–and those contracts are often tough to get with EU laws focusing on internal hirings and refugee peoples.

    Like

  12. Bel says:

    Anyone with experience living in Prague? I’m moving there in august, would love advice, tips etc.

    Like

    • Liza says:

      We love living in Prague and have been here for 5 + years now. It is a charming city that still amazes me with the gorgeous architecture. Lots of expats and services that cater toward expat needs- international churches, diverse restaurants, moving companies, medical centers. However, at least at our school, teacher tend to be friends with coworkers in a close knit circle.

      We lived well when we had two salaries. Nothing as extravagant as how we lived in Thailand, but with money for traveling, entertainment, shopping and everything we needed easily…as well as enough extra to pay off college loans. Now we have kids and are on one salary. Much tighter with money but still fine for a basic comfortable lifestyle. Eating out is still very cheap here (for Europe), drinking- especially beer- is super cheap. Clothes and electronics are more expensive and we tend to shop in the States when we are home visiting.

      The Czech people are (for the most part) not friendly or talkative. For example – we just started getting smiles and hellos from our neighbor (of 5 years) a few months ago. However once you have a Czech that you can count as a friend, they are the most generous, caring and wonderful people imaginable. I imagine that the initial coldness is simply a cultural relic of the time of Soviet spying on everyone.

      You can get around fine without speaking Czech. Public transport is awesome- efficient, timely and frequent and none of my coworkers without kids have considered buying a car.

      My main complaint with living here is the weather in the winter. Very cloudy, short days and lots of rain/snow even though it isn’t actually very cold.

      Hope you enjoy it here as much as we have!

      Like

      • Bel says:

        Thanks for all the info Liza! Prague sounds amazing! I’m wondering, when u say basic comfortable lifestyle on 1 salary, do u have enough to travel a bit as well? We will be on 1.4 FTE, with 3 kids, but am hoping we will have enough to live comfortably in Prague & see a bit of Europe too. What do u think?

        Like

        • Liza says:

          We are able to travel some, but not every holiday like our coworkers with less people per salary. Our kids are quite small and hard to travel with though, so I don’t mind too much. We have done quite a few closer and cheaper trips around CZ too- there are some lovely places to visit that are close to home.

          Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Hi Liza,
          It’s great to hear how much you love Prague. I was there last month for a holiday and thought it was like a fairy tale city and how beautiful it must be to live there.
          I’m considering a position in Warsaw, Poland, which is not far away from you.
          Hope you don’t mind me so direct, but could you tell me what salary your school offers for experienced teachers? I am just trying to get a sense of what is a fair offer.
          Thanks,

          Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yes, likewise, thank you all! Been in the Middle East for too long, have my sights on Germany or Austria..trees!!! Real ones!!!

    Like

  14. Tanzy says:

    Thank you to all those who commented, it’s been very helpful for me as I am thinking of looking for a posting in Europe. Very informative.

    Like

  15. Sofie says:

    I worked in Italy for two years. Although it was beautiful and the weather was great, it was one of the most challenging living situations I have ever faced (and I spent time in Pakistan). The salary was only barely livable for the first two years on a tax free status. Half my salary went to pay rent on a furnished apartment, where I was not allowed to move the furniture “one iota” per the rental contract. The school was fine. I loved the kids and had good relationships with the parents. Teachers were each other’s social group for the most part. I loved the opportunities to explore the local area, but I couldn’t afford the trip to Rome or Venice during my two years there and still pay my bills.

    On the flip side, I’m now on my fifth year in Berlin and loving it! It was financially the most expensive place to get settled into (think no light fixtures or kitchen cabinetry, no furniture and three months’ rent deposit up front), but once you get over that hurdle. Berlin is awesome! There is so much to do. Others have already mentioned the night life and the museums, but there is so much more. Many of my friends who running enjoy the regular races that anyone can sign up for. There are lakes and forest trails galore for the outdoor enthusiast. Biking is easy and fun (favorite trip so far – biking the path of the Berlin Wall). It is safe and child friendly. Public transportation is fantastic! The international schools all have their unique issues, but people stay for a long time and they’re not married to Germans. Finally, nothing beats a Berlin New Year’s Eve – the fireworks in 360 surround are amazing and go on for hours. I definitely recommmend trying to get a job here.

    Like

  16. Helen says:

    I work in Spain. I moved here after working in a school in Mexico for 2 years. In Spain you can trust the police and the health service is one of the best in the world (though it might be privatised soon) Spain is like some developing countries in that the paperwork is a Nightmare and very slow. It is on the grip of a massive recession so companies take advantage of their employees as there are so few jobs. Read contracts very carefully and get someone to translate for you. I had an interview for a school that only declared minimum wage to the tax man and paid teachers the difference cash in hand. This effectively removes your rights as there is no proof of your actual salary! Basically if you move to Spain read the small print and remember it is not as developed as the US or UK. I do live the lifestyle here, living outside and much nicer weather obviously!

    Like

  17. Michelle says:

    I lived in Romania before it was part of the EU, but I highly recommend the Eastern European nations (even though I understand that it’s quite a bit more expensive to live there now).
    The culture and lifestyle is one of beauty and interest in every alley and avenue and still is affordable.
    Some things I enjoyed: train travel, proximity to Western nations for travel, higher pay to living expenses ratio, newly discovered treasures rather than those that have been around forever (think: art auctions and antiques from when Bucharest was “the Paris of the East”…still affordable), people who lived thru the dark years and have extreme depth of character, revitalization of the city, and more.
    I, personally, enjoy the discovery of a country’s history rather than doing the usual “tourist route”, so the Eastern nations of Europe were much, much more interesting to me. Plus, I was able to really save financially while also traveling extensively.

    Like

  18. jane says:

    Worked all over, and in what would be considered hardship posting in the strictest middle eastern countries. Switzerland has been the hardest international placing of my life! Unless you are a skier I would not recommend it. Also unless the school DEFINITELY provide accommodation- not make vague statements like we will help you look for it, we will advise you- DO not go. Staff who joined in September are still homeless now – living in expensive serviced apartments- other teachers have ended up camping. The Swiss are not friendly people, and they do not like renting to foreigners. There is the lowest stock of rented accommodation in the world in many Swiss cities. It costs a fortune. I found myself living in an apartment that most students would turn down and paying huge amounts- but I had to take it.and it was a sublet ( only for 6 months). Most housing contracts are for 2 years- and they hold you responsible- and you have to find a replacement or pay- so no flexibility either- if you do not like the school – or family circumstances demand a move there are major issues. The salaries look amazing- BUT I live like a monk to save, and cannot really afford to do anything. It is the best paid in Europe, and you can save if you do not do too much, but the hardest place I have ever had to live. Getting basic stuff like internet, a washing machine ( mostly not provided) you get a 2 hour slot a week in communal ones, is really hard. To get a place to live you need a work permit – which can take about three months. You have to provide a file with contracts etc- and then be “selected” by the owner.
    I would say go if the school has apartments or you live in the school. Do not accept temporary apartments from the school as you will still have the same problem finding somewhere to live.
    Good base for travel. Lovely and clean, great trains for travel, safe etc. BEWARE- you have to get medical insurance or the authorities chase you. It feels a bit like big brother is watching you, and you have to register with the canton population control. This cost me on the cheapest option about 450 chf a month- a big dent in your salary- and most schools do not tell you this. As an EU passport holder- basically it is worth less.
    Switzerland sounded glamorous, and I thought it would be good, but it is the worst place ever- even though I am at a good school.

    Like

  19. Phil says:

    I worked in Budapest, Hungary, for three years and really enjoyed it. The school I was at had a good package and was small and friendly. Hungarian people are a bit miserable and unfriendly, but when you appreciate that they have been the doormat of Europe/Asia conflicts for hundreds of years and trashed by both, you can understand it a bit! I have four kids and they loved it as well. I love the outdoors and you can do a lot of this in Hungary. The winters are a bit miserable – cold, damp, foggy – but spring to autumn is great. Easy access to the rest of Europe via train, air or by driving a car. Three hours on the train to Vienna meant you could have a weekend in that beautiful city. We went skiing in Slovakia and had driving holidays in Slovenia and France. Loved it.

    Like

  20. Domhuaille says:

    Lived in Stuttgart and loved Germany, the quality of life and the access throughout Europe to fantastic cities and sights. It is very safe and affordable IF your salary and compensation package is elevated like in Germany. Most everything is available in stores and the qualityis better than the North America usually. Europeans are sophisticated and erudite and rarely as boorish as some North americans can be.

    Like

  21. Bronagh says:

    If you want an authentic experience then it has be Madrid, I was there for 2 years and everyday I miss it more (I believe I will retire here). Vibrant nightlife, socialising to be sociable at anytime. Shopping is fantastic, so is the fashion and culture! You can’t get better public transport, seriously. The Madrilenos are a tough bunch to break, believe me it can take a while, but once you do that’s you! YOU ARE IN!
    And lets not even get into how cheap the flights are to every destinations in Europe you can imagine, tube it to the airport for a couple of euro and explore!
    Downside – Pay isn’t great and hours are longer but you will work to live and not live to work!

    Like

    • SilverHoops says:

      Enticing, to be sure! Can you tell me a little more about the money part, taxes, etc. please? I am considering a position that pays $40, 000/yr and am concerned that it be enough to make ends meet, save some, AND travel to all those tempting destinations. What’s your take? Many thanks!

      Like

  22. Anonymous says:

    I lived in Switzerland. Loved it! Beautiful, clean, safe, close to the rest of Europe. Can take a train just about anywhere and easy access to the rest of Europe. Expensive, but many salaries make up for that depending on the school. If you like skiing, this is the place for you

    Like

  23. anne says:

    Lived in Berlin and loved it. A great city with so much to do and great travel opportunities. You can hop off to Prague for the weekend easily. The weather or darkness is what did it in for me. I am a sunshine girl and going to school by moonlight and coming home by moonlight was hard. If you like the cold Berlin is fantastic. Summers are amazing no need to go home. Sunshine, long days and beer gardens.

    Like

    • houseonfire says:

      Berlin is a fantastic city (Im living there now). If you dont like cold dont come here, but if you like a really fantastic art and music scene then do come here. The health care is amaying, the travel posibilities are lovely, the quality of life is high, and the cost of living is low. If you get an oppertunity to live here I say go for it. Its also like living in a history museum! Good luck with your choices.

      Like

  24. hunnicub says:

    Denmark is a nice place to live, although it’s very expensive. But health care is free, holidays are nicely spaced in the school calendar, and (unlike many schools back home) I have been able to take sick days when I really needed them. The people are friendly enough but…not sure how to say it… my Danish husband is offering the word “closed,” which is a good way to put it. They are nice people, but they want people in Denmark to be as “Danish” as possible, and they tend to socialize with the same people they grew up with. Frankly, though, the international community kind of spends most of its time with other expats, so most of our school community doesn’t find it a big problem.
    Most people speak English, and many at our school have been here for years without being able to speak any Danish. Public transportation is pretty good, and the cities are very bike-friendly, which is good because cars are incredibly expensive to buy and maintain. Health care is free and fine. It’s not for everyone, and definitely not a place to save money, but a lot of teachers here end up staying.
    One warning if you are a sunny weather person: It is gray and rainy here almost all the time; on average, it rains every other day of the year. A common joke for locals is: “When is summer in Denmark?” “I think that last year it was on a Thursday.” That’s a pretty good indication of how much we get to see the sun.🙂

    Like

  25. annonymous says:

    Don”t think of working in Malta. It is a 7 day holiday place with absolutely nothing new to do after that period. It is so small there isn’t a decent supermarket or coffee shop. Maybe because it is an island that the locals are completely insular and arrogant. They like foreigners bringing their money but they definitely don’t like foreigners taking their jobs. One comment was ‘how can anyone from Malta teach the history of Malta’, What do they do when the Egyptians are on the SoW? Even the Maltese have to leave the island and go to Sicily for relaxation.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s