Short-term visits in Europe


As I’ve researched where my next home will be, a primary issue is how long, and how easily, I can stay in any given country. My initial plan was to live in a country for a year and then try someplace new. With my research on possible European countries for relocation, however, I’ve come upon a common fact – you can only stay up to 90 days in any European country on your U.S. passport. There is no running to the border to get your passport stamped so you can stay another 90 days, like you can do in Costa Rica.

Virtually all the countries I’ve looked at in Europe that have a relatively low cost of living do allow you to “apply” for an extension up to a year. The process, however, usually is difficult, with multiple documents needed, all translated into the language of the country you are applying to. Often, these extensions are specific to having work or family in the country, or are affected by immigration limits. Usually, the paperwork needs to be started in the U.S. before you move to the country in question, so you incur the paperwork and translation expenses without knowing if you will be approved for an extension.

There had to be a better way.

My solution is to use the 90-day restriction to my advantage. Instead of living, for example, in Croatia for a year, which was my preferred choice, I will live there for 3 months. Then I will spend 3 months in Greece; then 3 months in Sicily; then, if I’m not exhausted, 3 months in Portugal or Spain.

One disadvantage of this plan is travel expense. For each move, I will need to arrange round-trip flights; however, I can redeem the return flights once I reach my new destination. (NOTE: Later experience showed I could not get refunds on the return portion of my airplane tickets.) Another problem is that several of those countries are not much cheaper to live in than the U.S.

On the positive side: I was budgeting to purchase a few expensive items with each move, such as a TV and furniture. Since I will not be staying in any place long enough, these purchases can go toward air fares. Also, while my expenses may be higher than anticipated, they will still be within my budget parameters. And if I had stayed in Croatia for a year, I would have wanted to travel to other European countries anyway, so the air fare costs might have evened out.

Finally, as my experience in Costa Rica has shown me, I can’t stay in one place too long before getting bored. Three months just might be the right amount of time to have the experience without getting bored. And if I really like one of the countries I live in, I can always go back, after, of course, first going back to the U.S. to start the extensive paperwork.

So, here’s my new plan: mid-September – travel to Croatia, probably Sibenik (look it up); mid-December, probably Nafplio, Greece; mid-February, Sicily, near Catania; mid-May, probably Sines, Portugal.

Each of these locations is a relatively small town/city. Sibenik is the largest, with 50,000 population. All are on the water. All are scenic, with lots of new culture and stuff to see, and nearby countries that can be visited.

And, if for some reason travelling every three months is a problem, I can always adjust.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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