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The Perks of Being a Part-Time Expat

Perhaps you’ve thought of moving abroad, but you’re not quite ready to make the leap. Or you want to experience life in another country, but you have strong ties at home. Or maybe you’re ready to spend your winters in a warmer climate. Living a few months abroad immerses you in a country’s culture and lifestyle without having to sell everything you own and make a huge life-changing commitment. And that’s not the only advantage of being a part-time expat.

A recent to the Château de Fontainebleau, the home to all French sovereigns from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
A recent to the Château de Fontainebleau, the home to all French sovereigns from the 12th to the 19th century.

Avoid the bureaucracy of moving to another country

To become a full-time resident of a foreign country involves a time-consuming visa application process, generally requiring an in-person interview, proof of financial stability and medical insurance paid for the first year. As an American, if you move to another country, you’ll have to file a tax return in that country as well as a US return. And, as a resident of a foreign country, you will be subject to that country’s income tax laws, banking laws, and inheritance laws and taxes (often on your worldwide assets).


As a part-time expat, you can slip easily into your new lifestyle without applying for a visa, setting up utilities and internet or dealing with local bureaucracy. Because you are not a resident of that country, you avoid all those obligations and can focus on enjoying your life in Europe. If you decide to buy a home in Europe vs. renting, you will need to pay property taxes, and you should create a will in that country. I’m not an expert in this area, so be sure to consult an expat tax specialist.


Enjoy the best of two worlds

By living a few months in another country, you don’t have to break any ties with your life at home. No need to sell your home or get rid of anything. You may decide to buy a home abroad, which is possible for Americans in most countries. However, there are plenty of short-term rentals through Airbnb, VRBO and local agencies. You may want to spend a few months in a different country every year.


Since you’re only going for a few months, you can choose the best time for living abroad. If you live in a cold climate, you may want to spend winters in Mexico or southern Spain. Or you can escape the summer heat with a stay in Sweden or Norway.


Create an affordable lifestyle by living like a local

Being a part-time expat is totally possible if you are retired, you can work remotely or you have summers off. And it can be affordable if you rent a house or apartment for a month at a time, not a hotel room, and shop like a local, not a tourist. I’ve received up to 60 percent in discounts on accommodations rented for 28 days or more on Airbnb. Part-time expat living can be even more affordable if you don’t mind renting out your home base or doing a home exchange.


Have a central base from which to travel

Hub and spoke travel is my favorite way to slow travel. You have one location as your base and then take day trips or short escapes to different locations. Once you’re in a European country, it’s easy to hop on a train or take one of the affordable, intercontinental airlines to another European country.

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If you’re thinking of becoming a part-time expat, check to see how long you are allowed to stay in the country you are considering without obtaining a special visa. In Europe’s Schengen zone, which includes most of continental Europe, Americans can spend up to 90 days in every 180 days. In other countries, like Mexico, the UK and Albania, you can spend up to 180 days a year. See the post, How Long Can I Stay in Europe.


I've found the greatest perks of being a part-time expat are experiencing life in another country, being a part of the local community and having the opportunity to meet people and make new friends. And, perhaps most importantly, I've gained a new perspective on my life and the world.

Comments


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Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.
 

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.
 

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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