I think I can safely say that a lot of you readers are drawn to freelancing to live out your dream of location independence.
Even if you love where you live (or have a house and kids that makes it a teensy weensy bit harder) having the option of location independence is still a major plus.
One of the most common questions I get from people online is, “How do you live in France?”.
Even if it’s not France, specifically, I know living in Europe can be a long-time dream for many.
So I thought I’d share a little bit about how I got here and some things to know about living in Europe.
It’s totally possible!
I always have a little chuckle when people say to me “I wish I could do that”.
All it takes is a little research and a little planning, and living in Europe is definitely an option for you.
First things first: Visas
France is part of what’s called the Schengen States. I don’t want to bore you with the details of what that means, but basically, the visa rules are similar and the borders are open between these 26 countries:
So, generally, you can take your pick from one of these and what I’m about to say below applies. But there are differences, that I have no experience with, so you are going to have to do some research on your own!
A tourist visa allows you to stay in Schengen countries for 90 days. In my opinion this is the perfect way to test out Europe and living abroad without needing to make too big of a commitment. My first foray in living in Europe 6 years ago was on a tourist visa.
Depending on where you’re from, getting a tourist visa is quite simple. If you’re from the US or Canada for example, you don’t even need to apply, it just happens automatically when you arrive and get your passport stamped.
A long-stay visa is a bit more complicated. But I went through the process as well and came out on the other side just fine. Usually it is valid for 1 year, but renewable. The catch to get a long-stay visa is that you need to prove you have enough funds/savings/income to support yourself while you are here so you won’t become a burden on the French (or other Schengen country) and try to take a job from any national.
They don’t give an exact amount you need for France, but the general minimum is around 2,000€ per month ($2600 USD).
So if you want this option, planning in advance and saving up or finding a friend or family member that has that in their savings account and are willing to write a letter of support is necessary.
Other Visa Options
There are several other types of visas, but you definitely have to be committed to living in Europe to make the process of getting one worth it. For example, a student visa. If you’ve been wanting to learn something new, like cooking, you could join a French culinary school and get the visa to go along with that. MMmm…cheese.
Of course, that might be too much of a commitment for you when the goal is freelance freedom. Same goes with trying to get a job here- not the location independent life-style were talking about at FTF so I won’t go into that.
Or, you can do it the Leah way and fall in love with a Frenchy. Cliché I know. But there are visas for that too 🙂 (and the visa that helped me stay here this long).
So you’d love to live in France (or Spain, or Germany), but you don’t speak the language? Don’t let that stop you! I could barely say Bonjour when I first arrived and I survived!
If you speak English, you can make it work. Especially in any major city or capital.
Of course, learning the language is a big part of the fun, so you’ll want to buy some books or play around on a site like Babbel before and after you arrive.
Where to live?
Another big block is finding a place to live when you come. No matter what kind of visa you get, having a temporary place to stay when you arrive is the only must. Whether that be a hotel/hostel for a week or an Airbnb apartment, you’ll want to have a place to stay before you find somewhere else to settle.
When I first came 6 years ago, I found a family that needed an au pair in exchange for having a place to stay. Of course, this was before I had my business, so the commitment of taking care of some French kiddos wasn’t a problem for me. Maybe not your cup of tea, but it is an option.
If you come on a 3 month visa, Airbnb is your best bet. They’ve got a TON of options, everywhere. Even in my little beach town of Biarritz, Airbnb is a happening marketplace. Of course, there are other smaller websites to find places, but they are country specific and not always in English.
You will find better deals once you arrive though, by meeting people and asking around. So if you are a bit adventurous, or plan on staying longer than 3 months, get a temporary Airbnb room or hotel to start and then research other options once you arrive.
If living in Europe (or anywhere abroad for that matter) is of interest you, start planning and make it happen!
If you already run your freelance business full-time, it’s just a matter of figuring out the details, saving up a bit and getting over the fear of leaving stuff behind.
If you’re still have a J.O.B. and are just dreaming about the possibilities of location independence, start taking the steps necessary to make it happen by signing up for Heather and I’s free ebook, “10 Things You Must Have in Place Before Making The Leap” or at least get on the list to find out when our comprehensive guide to quitting your day job comes available.