For many people, living life revolves around the pursuit of exploring the world. There is no obligation to confine yourself to the country of birth indefinitely, and a strong desire for adventure will propel you to seek new experiences by relocating to live and work in foreign lands.
Europe is an amazing continent with many fantastic destinations, all of which could be perfect for your next adventure. If you have been contemplating making a move abroad but are unsure as to what countries would suit family life and children, then we have put together this guide for you.
If you are looking for information on moving your household belongings to Europe, make sure to visit our European removals page. Now, here are the best ten countries to live and work in Europe for families.
Spain places a lot of emphasis on family and community bonds. They are very welcoming to newcomers, and there is a large expat community already in place. Children can be enrolled at public schools, and there are plenty of outdoor spaces, including beaches and parks, for them to play.
Spain is packed full of history and culture, from volcanic islands to mountains, so you can explore in your time off. It is also renowned for its stunning sunny climate, which provides the perfect base for the delicious Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables grown locally by organic farmers. People in Spain tend to eat seasonal produce, so you can enjoy everything this country has to offer.
When it comes to employment, Spain encourages business start-ups and freelancers to work and offers some of the best medical care ranking in the top 10 in the world. If you live and work in Spain, the healthcare is also free.
Portugal offers a laid-back and slow-paced life and again has a focus on the community and families. The weather is temperate, and there is a lot of outdoor living with access to gorgeous beaches and lots of nature.
Even during the winter months, you will enjoy a relatively mild time compared to more northern European countries. The Algarve, Porto and Lisbon are all good destinations for expats with children. Being such a popular tourist destination, it’s always easy to find work in hospitality and other industries that support holidaymakers.
Portugal has its own NHS-type system, so healthcare is mostly free, but there are a few small costs here and there. For example, GP appointments can cost up to €20, and some tests such as X-rays and MRIs could cost €40. You also have to pay towards your prescription medicine cost, which is similar to the UK.
Children are allowed to attend public schools, which are free for anyone who lives there, but may struggle with a language barrier, depending on how old they are. English-speaking schools tend to be private, and you would have to pay to send your children there.
Being relatively close to the UK, France is a popular expat destination. It’s considered a lovely family place to raise children and has slightly older style beliefs which mean compared to the UK, parents have remarked that children grow up slower and get more enjoyment from their childhood.
French is a very common language in UK schools, so if you are making a move, children will at least have a familiarity, and they are very welcome at French state schools and will soon absorb the language.
Property prices are a lot lower than those found in the UK, especially if you stay out of the capital and in one of the surrounding areas. France has an amazing cultural history, and there are certainly lots of places to explore during your time off. Gascony is a fabulous area in the southwest of France, which is well known for wine production, architecture and amazing food. It’s also a popular expat area, so you could find a very supportive community there.
Montpelier has two international schools and could be the perfect destination if you prefer city life to more rural living. There is some really stunning architecture located in Montpellier, and there is a strong expat community.
Germany offers a choice between a cosmopolitan city living in places like Munich and Berlin to a more rural picturesque town living in Bavaria or the Black Forest. It’s another country that offers really good healthcare systems, and children will be welcome at local schools.
Children in Germany tend to be fairly independent and self-reliant because they are treated like adults from an early age. Places at local childcare facilities tend to be fairly tricky to obtain, and you may have to wait several months if you need day-care provision. There is no state childcare available. Once a child reaches kindergarten age, they will enjoy a well-staffed and highly organised education.
As you explore Germany, you’ll soon realise that it is set up to be family-friendly and there is a lot to see and do for young people. It’s home to Legoland and other theme parks and also has some really interesting museums that will appeal to children and enable them to learn all about the amazing heritage and culture of the country.
The Netherlands is known for environmentally friendly bike riding, which is promoted in Amsterdam and other cities. They try and reduce the need for cars, and this pollution-free environment is a great place to raise children coming with a fantastic education system and plenty of child-friendly policies in place. A lot of Dutch natives are very proficient in English, which does make it a lot easier to settle into a new lifestyle.
Having health insurance is a legal requirement for living in the Netherlands, no matter what other policies you may have in other countries. Children are placed on their parent's policies until they are adults, and dental care is generally free for under 18s. State-funded education is available to all residents, including expats, and the children will quickly grow up to become bilingual.
Depending on where you live, a cargo bike is a likely source of transport, but there are also comprehensive tram, train, bus and ferry services. A bit like London.
If you are looking for a low cost of living, gorgeous beaches, and a fantastic Mediterranean climate, Cyprus could be a great destination for you. It has many comprehensive international schools and is a good place to raise a family.
Cyprus has a reputation for being family-friendly, and children are welcomed everywhere, including in pubs and bars. It’s another fairly outdoorsy lifestyle with access to gorgeous beaches and water sports with plenty of professional tuition on hand.
Healthcare in Cyprus is not free; although they have discussed implementing an NHS, nothing has materialised yet; paediatricians and GPs charge between 20 and €50 per visit, as do dentists. Most employers offer some form of medical insurance, but failing that, you need to take out your own as you do not want to be under-covered.
7. Canary Islands
Another laid-back, relaxed style of living can be found in the Canary Islands, and it’s perfect for families. Compared with living in mainland Europe, the cost of living is low, and it’s an outdoor lifestyle with beaches, water activities, and hiking to fill your leisure time. It’s a bit of a foodie Paradise, especially if you like seafood.
If you’ve been on holiday to the Canary Islands, you will know that Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are the most popular islands, but if you’re going to live there, have a look at other opportunities available in places like La Palma, La Graciosa and El Hierro which has a pleasant climate without extremes, so the summers don’t really get above 25°, but even into October, it stays in the 20s.
In terms of healthcare, because the Canary Islands are ruled by Spain, Spanish residents can access public health care, but expats will need international health insurance.
Brussels is known as the capital of Europe and is also home to a few international schools which have an excellent reputation. No matter where you live in Belgium, there is a high standard of living, and they have good healthcare, although this is not free, and health insurance is mandatory for expats. Three different languages are spoken in Belgium, so you will find a lot of English-speaking locals, although the most common languages are French and Dutch.
It's a relatively affordable cost of living with everyday essentials offered at good prices, and there is an excellent public transport network. Getting out and about, you will discover that Belgium has beaches, museums, and forests, which are perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors.
Belgium has very high tax levels, ranging from 25% to 50% and recovering Social Security contributions from the employee and employer.
Italy has many stunning and beautiful destinations, including Tuscany, Rome, Milan, and lake regions like Lake Garda. It is filled with history and architecture, and Venice is known as the romantic capital of the world. It’s not the cheapest country in Europe by any means, although compared to the UK, they are still lower.
It is perhaps known as a carb-based diet, with pasta and pizza being traditional Italian cuisine; long meals with a laid-back vibe for just relaxing and reflecting are very popular past times.
It can get very busy in the most popular tourist regions but do take time to explore the most stunning countryside. In Tuscany, the Cyprus-lined roads are a must-see, while Capri boasts crystal clear, azure waters, and don’t forget the Amalfi coast with it’s absolutely breath taking colours.
Malta is a small community and has an optimal climate with a relaxed attitude to life and plenty of gorgeous beaches to hang out on. It’s another great option for outdoor living and has a strong sense of family and community. English is one of the most widely spoken languages, which makes it easy to integrate.
The school system is very open and welcoming, with school being compulsory for children aged 5 to 16. There is a good provision with state schools, independent private schools and church schools, all a possibility depending on your preference. Those attending stator church school will find that learning Maltese is compulsory right up to GCSE equivalent level, but this could be an excellent skill for life.
Malta is considered to be one of the safest countries ever, there is some petty crime, such as pickpockets, but you can avoid this by ensuring your possessions are kept close or left at home. It’s another country that values family and community, and they are very open and welcoming to new people. There are plenty of different towns and cities to choose from depending on where you work and how you prefer to live. There are plenty of activities for families, including water parks, Malta National Aquarium, Funland Malta, and lots of water sports tuition.
Europe has several fantastic countries for families who are looking for a new life and adventure. The best location for you depends a lot on your family, but we are sure that you can find it!
If you are looking for an international removal company to ensure that you get to your new destination stress-free and safely, then why not consider the expert international removal services we offer here at Pinnacle Removals?