The US dollar and the euro are at parity for the first time in twenty years. The strengthening of the American currency means that imports from the United States are becoming more expensive, but it also makes Europe more attractive for American remote workers as their salary worth increasingly more in the old continent.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the population of popular big cities started to decline as curfews, lockdowns, and the compulsory home office made tiny apartments in the city center less attractive. Thus, in many places, rents have risen little or not at all in recent years, creating optimism among those who spend a significant proportion of their income on housing. But demand bounced back after the pandemic, and both the US and Europe tackles with high inflation now, leading to a sharp rise in rents. A monthly rent increase of 10-20 percent is visible to virtually everyone, and it is shocking to renters in cities where the monthly rent is as high as $2-3,000. According to Apartment Guide 2022, monthly rent in New York City equals an average Romanian household’s income in 2021. The average tenant in Chicago, the 10th most expensive city in the US, will also pay $3,000 monthly for rent.
The coronavirus pandemic led to the widespread proliferation of remote work, which prompted many Americans to ask: Can I work for my company from the other side of the Atlantic instead of America? This question has become even more relevant in recent months as the US dollar and the euro are at parity for the first time in twenty years. According to Bloomberg, many Americans are trying their luck in Europe mainly because of increased rents and property prices, the strengthening of the US dollar, and political hatred. So, Americans are coming to Europe for exactly the same reason Europeans went to America 100-150 years ago: the hope of a wealthier and better life.
Of course, Europe also has very expensive cities, but apart from these metropolises in Northwestern Europe, our continent is much more affordable. If a New Yorker wants the same lifestyle in Warsaw as at home, they can spend 72 percent less. Prague is half as expensive as Washington D.C., and if a Chicago resident moved to Budapest, the same life would be 62 percent cheaper. Coastal life is also much more affordable in Europe: Rovinj is five to six times cheaper than West Palm Beach.
Many European countries only grant citizenship or a permanent residence permit if the foreign national owns property. Buying a house is also a cheaper investment in Europe than in the US, with American homes in the first quarter of 2022 costing 18.7 percent more than a year earlier, while in Europe, property prices went up „only” 10.5 percent. The average price per square meter of property in Bratislava is $4,500, compared to $16,000 in New York. From one square meter’s price in Denver, you can buy two in Bucharest, and in Belgrade, you can buy a three times bigger house than in Austin with the same money.
An American may need to acquire a European country’s citizenship because, under US law, wherever in the world an American works, they must pay taxes to the US. However, if the worker can get citizenship in a country with more favorable tax conditions, it makes sense to invest in property-based citizenship. In the past five years, roughly 1,500 US citizens with assets of more than $2 million have left their home country.
Beyond financial indicators, Europe is outperforming the United States in several other areas too. If an American moves to Vienna, one of the historical and cultural centers of Central Europe, besides the advantages of the Austrian capital, they can also benefit from the relatively close other world-famous cities such as Rome, Paris, London, Warsaw, Budapest, or Prague.
Americans are coming to Europe for the diversity of art, cityscapes, and cuisine. US citizens say that Europe is much less stressful, people are not preoccupied with their work here, and they do not live in a constant rat race. Lunch is not just functionality; people make it and eat it with feelings here. European cities’ history is deeper and much more interesting than Americans’, where the top story is that once a famous person had a show there or a well-known individual is from the city. Each stone in Europe holds hundreds of years of history; castles and universities are still standing that were built or established much earlier than the United States was born.
In some cases, Americans moving to Europe fall in love with things they first feared. Car ownership is essential to the American dream, symbolizing freedom. In Europe, we have a different attitude to cars and a much more advanced public transport system, including trains, buses, and ships. If we want to go from A to B, there are other options than cars and planes. Another interesting thing is socialism, which is a bogeyman for most Americans. But Americans living in Europe tend to change their minds when they first use a medical service and do not have to pay thousands of dollars for it. Lastly, and interestingly for Europeans, socialist architecture, such as prefabricated panel houses and brutalist concrete buildings, is seen as unique, exotic things by Americans rather than ugly flaws.
Graphics: Réka Pisla | Hype&Hyper