We are ready to retire from our current jobs and would like to explore an opportunity to live and work abroard for a 2-5 years. I have done some research however it will take forever to dig through all of the data on the net.
Does anyone have any suggestions? We are in good health and are pretty open to location.
Any thoughs to share?
If you want to legally work in Europe, you have a few options. But none of them will be easy:
- You told me that your grandfather was born in Switzerland. You can call the Swiss embassy and see if this might help you to obtain a Swiss Passport or working documents. I strongly doubt that it will, but it is worth a shot.
- You can find a company to hire you. If you do get a job offer, a large company will usually have the ability and resources to get you a permit. They can do this based on the fact that you have skills to offer that they can not find locally. Problem: At 60, many European companies will not be interested. Ageism is not dead or illegal in Europe. In fact, if you read the jobs classified in the newspaper, you will often see ads for people of a certain age range. Rarely do jobs get offered to people in their 60s. So, it may be difficult for you to find a company to offer you a job. This does not mean you will not get a job offer. I just think it is a very long shot.
- You can start a company. If you are serious about living in Europe on a long-term basis, this is your best shot. Every country has different requirements for granting residency permits for company owners. For example, in Switzerland, your company will need to hire 1-2 Swiss people. In Germany your company will need to hire up to 10 German citizen and invest huge amount of money (forget Germany). I am told that it is fairly easy in the Netherlands for US citizens to obtain residency permits due to an age old "US-Dutch Friendship act". You probably will not need to hire anyone there. But you will be required to conform to Dutch Business Requirements. Also, it can cost quite a bit of money and time to establish and run a company abroad. But once you have your company in place, it may be easier to market your IT skills to local businesses.
If the latter is the route you want to go, explore several countries where you have an interest in living and find out what the requirements are to obtain a permit for a company owner. Your best bet is to reach out to local attorneys.
I do not know how well you know Europe. As a US citizen, you can live in any European country for 3 months without a visa. I suggest that before taking any of these steps, just move here for a few months and see if the life appeals to you. Many people find after a few months that they are not cut out for expat life.
In Germany your company will need to hire up to 10 German citizen and invest huge amount of money (forget Germany).
Sorry, but that is complete BS.
Sure that is what the regulations say, but that is only 30 % of the truth. Aside from this rule there is also the option of becoming self-employed or going freelance. Germany has a distinctive division between intellectual and manual labour.
First the restriction that you need to hire 10 German citizens applies to manual labour companies, ie carpenters, cleaning business, logistics, etc. Second: Even then you don't have to hire people upfront - if you are just starting up your company nobody will require you to hire staff you don't need. But then a lot more will depend upon upon the goodwill of the clerk. If you hire 10 people the law says that you should be given a residency permit - if you don't, you can be given a residency permit at the discretion of the clerk handling your case and provided there are no other obstacles. Clear?
Third: Depending upon the type of company you want to start up you can work as free-lancer or self-employed. An example of such company would be if you were retired teachers and intended to open up a school teaching English to Germans. You two could be the only employees until the dawn of time, nobody would care. There is a catalogue of all the jobs that fall under "possible freelance", drop me a line with your qualifications and I'll check.
Finally, in Germany it is just as easy to get residency permit for a US-citizen as it is in the Netherlands. US-citizens do not need to apply in advance at the embassy, they can apply locally. Their requests are usually granted if they have enough money in the bank. The only possible problem I see with your application is your age if it is 55+. You would need to pay a small fortune in health insurance fees, making Germany less desirable to live in.
Know what, I would personally check out Egypt or another developing country that has significantly lower cost of living than Europe. It costs only 10,000 USD to buy a 4-bedroom house in Egypt and only 500 USD per month to live there for a couple. In Germany you would pay 600,000 USD for a similar house and 2000 USD per month for the a similar livestyle. Go figure.
I have no facts or figures for you, but it seems to me a lot of people are moving off to Dubai. It's a very up-and-coming place, with lots of employment opportunities. A girl at work just moved there, and they seem to be hiring from all over the world.
Plus there's the heat and the beach!