Chapter 22, Part 1
HOW TO EUROPE
The Complete Travelers Handbook
By John Bermont. Internet edition.
A page from
with photographer and author
Box it up, move it out, and don't look back.
Europe is a big place, but in truth it is many many places.
With about as many countries and languages as we have states in the USA and a
population greater than the United States by a good margin, it's
impossible to offer a definitive guide to every country in a small
chapter of a general introductory book. However, many facets of
life in different countries are similar, and they are different
from ours. The following observations will serve as an indication
of the kinds of things you will experience as an American moving to
and living in Europe.
I moved to Europe four times, maybe six or seven depending
on how you define "move." I lived in Holland for about
four years in three stints, lived and worked in Germany for two
and a half years, lived in France as a student for about six months
on two occasions, and lived and worked in Switzerland for two
months. Some of these have been do-it-myself efforts. The German
relocation was a company assisted family move.
Moving overseas is a lot more complicated than moving
across the country. You must decide what to bring with you because
you will find it virtually impossible or incredibly expensive to get
anything from home after you have moved.
Big decisions have to be made, probably in short order. If it is a job transfer
your company will be the unusual one if it provides more than
cursory guidance. Your company relocation specialist has probably
never gone through the process of moving overseas, and most likely
has never even been in Europe. So assume that you are on
your own. The best help and advice you will get is probably going to come
from "unofficial" sources.
If you are dreaming about studying or retiring in Europe then start early. Give yourself
a couple years of planning time. Study the books and websites on the subject
and the country you are heading for. Do not assume that any website,
including this short monologue, has all the bases covered.
There are thousands of Americans living in Europe.
Virtually every country has a sizable community of expatriates,
some of whom have been there for years. Most of these "ex-pat"
residents are working over there, or, at least one member of each
family has a job.
Spouses are not likely to be working because of official
restrictions. This has contributed to the establishment of American
Women's Clubs in many parts of Europe. These clubs can be extremely
valuable in providing information for new arrivals, and in helping
you get established in the community. As an example of the
information you can obtain, the American Women's Club of the Taunus
e.V. has published a 200 page book titled Living in the Frankfurt-Taunus
Area. This book goes into the nitty-gritty of so many things
that I can't even begin to list them here.
Before you move over, try to find out if there is an
American Women's Club in your area and get in touch. Order their
local guidebook(s) and pay for priority mail delivery. For me, one
of the important items in the AWC book is advice on bringing over
some foods, e.g. your favorite peanut butter. Holland is the only
country in Europe where I have found peanut butter that is not
saturated with sugar (in the USA the label calls it "high fructose
corn syrup" which is chemically modified corn starch).
Other things that I would bring over are heavy duty
aluminum foil and an assortment of your favorite Ziploc bags. Ziploc bags
are available in Europe but the selection is not as great as it is at home.
See chapter 6,
A Packing List for Europe, enumerating many other things you may want to bring over.
The biggest item you probably want to move is your
automobile. Just about eight months before my first move to Holland
I had bought a new car, a beautiful white Porsche 911S.
Selling it would have meant a large loss so
I shopped around for the best way to get it over there. Even if
your company will not pay for auto shipment, it may be best to ship
your personal car because cars are so expensive over there, and
you're going to be faced with buying another one when you get back
to the USA. I shipped my Porsche to Holland and I'm happy I did. The funny thing
was that the Dutch National Police also drove Porsches, but their's were Targas
with the tops off. The Dutch cops are so tall that they could not fit in the car with
their helmets on. They almost caught me speeding one time.
Before getting too deep into this please read chapter 18,
Driving in Europe.
Shipping Your Car
The procedure is rather simple. Contact an international
shipping company. Give them the weight, length, height, and width
of the car, make and model, serial number, and license. They will
quote a price for freight and for marine insurance. (Your auto
policy stops at the pier.) Pay up and then drive to the port on the
assigned day. This will be about three days before the scheduled
departure of the ship. Make a thorough inspection with the shipping
agent for existing dents and scratches, and itemize all accessories
on the insurance document. For instance, list the tool kit, spare
tire, car cover, and any other loose or easily detachable items.
You won't be allowed to ship items such as appliances and clothes
in the car because they will probably disappear. My car, shipped in
a container both ways, suffered not a scratch. However, a port
worker in Long Beach on the return stole my auto compass and
drained the battery listening to the stereo.
Retrieving Your Car
When picking up your car at the port in Europe, bring your
original bill of lading, passport, auto title, green card
(all-risk insurance), driver's license, International Driving
Permit, a few liters of gasoline, your keys, window cleaner, towel, and some
local money. You need them all.
The original bill of lading
will be mailed to you by the shipping agent some time after the
ship departs. You must give the agent an address in Europe or wait
at home until you receive it. The bill of lading is in triplicate,
but you only need the original to claim your vehicle.
Port authorities are supposed to disconnect the battery and
drain the gas tank before putting the car on the ship. However, it
is up to you to get your car going again. So bring a few liters of
gas when you go to the port. The car will be decidedly filthy after
weeks at sea, so clean the windows before driving out of the
And there is always one more tax to pay, so bring a
hundred dollars in local currency to bail it out. My fee was about
$17, but I have heard of much higher charges even though "door to
door" service was paid up.
There might be some problems vis-a-vis Customs, or perhaps
other tax collectors over there. You will get different stories
from different officials regarding these topics, all of which have
to do with prying money out of your pocket. After living in Holland
and driving an auto with California plates for two years, I still
didn't know whether I was legal or not. I kept my California
registration up to date and told the police each time they stopped
me (curiosity questions, not violations) that I was bringing the
car home with me when I left Holland. I had no inkling of trouble
until three weeks before I left when I heard from a third party
that the police planned to confiscate my car because I had not paid
Dutch road taxes. Wow! Panic! It took some Sherlockian efforts to
find out which policeman was going to do this to innocent me, and
after some discussion, he agreed not to take my car if I was going
to take it home to California in three weeks. Yes sir, it was on
Have Car - Must Have Garage
For my move to France, I decided that it wasn't practical
to bring a car since I planned to be in Paris for most of the time.
I used the public transportation system. A major detriment to
having a car in any major city is finding a place to park it. If
you bring your car to any major city you will need a private garage.
Besides having a parking place a garage offers security. The
youth mobs of Paris burned hundreds of parked cars in their riots for
jobs or whatever. I had no garage in Holland and parked my Porsche on
the street in Haarlem every night. It was vandalized three times in two years. Some idiot
ripped the antenna off my company Opel in Aschaffenburg, Germany. We had
a garage but I didn't use it for the car. It was for the bicycles and other stuff.
Another annoyance in bringing your car to Europe is that
the warranty will probably be invalidated. European cars are
normally warranteed by the American importer, not by the factory
over there. So if your car is still within warranty, make up a moan
list of squeaks and rattles to get fixed for free before shipping
it overseas. Check the owner's manual or phone an authorized dealer
to review your warranty rights.
For our move to Germany, the company I worked for refused
to ship our car but offered to compensate us up to "blue book"
value for it. I was given complete use of a company car while I was
over there. So we sold ours before we left. Nevertheless, we wish
that we had shipped the car over at our own expense. It would have
been very handy to have a second car in the city where we lived,
especially when you have a small child. We never got around to
buying one over there because of the high cost of cars in Germany.
The bottom line is the bottom line. If you have a
relatively new car and you are going for a couple of years it would
probably be best in the long run to ship your car over. That would
likely be less expensive than selling it and buying another one
when you get home, or of paying for storage and buying/reselling a
car while you are overseas.
Except for electrical items (more about that next), ship
everything you have and use. If your company is shipping you they
may have limits on the amount or types of items. For example,
they'll probably not pay for shipment of boats and horses and other
bulky pleasure items. Initially they told us we couldn't ship our
piano but I prevailed on that one. Ocean shipping costs are based
on volume, not weight, so it actually cost less to move the piano
than a couch.
Most of the important points on this subject are discussed
in chapter 11,
Electricity in Europe:
Travel Voltage Fundamentals.
Plug into that chapter again.
Major electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines,
dryers, ovens, and dishwashers are special cases. If you bring these with
you then you will need a transformer with enough power to get them running. You need a
220 to 110 step down transformer sized for at least twice the wattage of the applliance.
Actually, your oven may already be rated for 220 volts. It eats a lot of power.
European frequency is 50 Hz and ours is 60 Hz. Practically speaking, all items with a
motor will run slower over there due to the lower frequency. This generally applies to stereos,
tape decks, dial face clocks, and many other items. If the electrical nameplate
does not state 50 Hz you should be prepared for some kind of less than optimum performance.
A possible exception to the general rule is your hair blower. It might work satisfactorily over
there if it has a dual voltage switch.
I wasn't so smart when the company transferred the family to Germany. We left all our
appliances in storage in California. That meant buying all new ones in Deutschland.
The $3,000 which my company gave us for this expense covered only half the cost.
Everything is about twice as expensive in Germany.
You can buy 220 V 50 Hz appliances at a few specialized
stores in the USA. Many household items are basically the same as
in Europe, so the only difference is that a special retrofit
company changed the motor and attached a new cord with the European
Normally that is the end of it. There is an exception. If
you ship a washing machine you also have water to connect. American
washers have connections for hot water and for cold water. European
washing machines normally have only a cold water connection and an internal
electrical heater to give the exact temperature you dial in. So,
when you go to hook up your American washer in the
utility room of your European home, you might need to run some new hot
water piping also.
It might be better to buy a washer over there. The
downside of this is that it will be smaller and it will take much
longer to wash your clothes. The normal wash cycle in Europe includes an
hour or so of soapy soak time, which is probably more efficient
than the American way. We lucked out in Germany because the house had
a washer and the owner offered to sell it to us at a reasonable price,
"reasonable" for Germany that is.
Take all of the light bulbs out of your regular lamps, but
bring the lamps with you. European current is at 220 volts so all
your American bulbs will flash and burn out pretty darn quick on
the higher voltage. Most European bulbs will screw into the socket
so you will be able to use your lamps with European bulbs. The European
standard is an E-27 socket, meaning that it is 27 mm in diameter. American
sockets are E-26, 26 mm in diameter. They are close enough that they are
interchangeable. All you
need is a simple plug adapter. Buy a supply of these before you go.
You might want to buy a 220 volt power strip. Don't use American power strips
rated for a maximum of 110 volts.
Halogen lamps operate on a 12 volt direct current voltage.
They come with a small transformer brick which plugs into the wall
socket. Bring the lamp and bulb to Europe and buy a replacement
transformer brick in an electrical store on arrival.
Televisions, VCRs, and DVD players are special cases. The electrical
requirement is not the major problem. It's the broadcast system.
All American televisions operate on the NTSC system. (I don't know,
need to know, or even care to know what these and the following
acronyms stand for.) In Germany, the PAL system is in use.
In France, the SECAM system is in use. There are other systems in
other countries, sort of like different languages. The net effect
is that an American TV is nearly useless in Europe. You can tune in
to AFN, the American Forces Network, if you are living in the
vicinity of an American military base. Most of these bases have
disappeared since the Gulf War in 1991.
Dish or cable? If your area already has cable you have a decision to make.
Talk to others and find a deal that suits your interests. If there is no
cable in your neighborhood you will almost certainly want a dish. Of course it
must have a clear view of the satelite so this is an item you should consider
when chosing your domicile. There are many dishes hanging from the walls of
apartment buildings throughout Europe and they are aimed at a very low angle.
If you are forced to use an antenna you won't be seeing much.
Many of the televisions sold in Europe are "multisystem." This
means that with the flick of a switch they can be used in various
countries. We bought a multisystem TV and VCR in New York before
going to Germany. This was a very expensive TV but still it cost
only about half as much as the same model in Germany. There are a couple of flat
screen multisystem TVs advertised in the left column.
DVD players are also country or region specific. However multi-system
units for this format are available so you can bring your movies to
Europe and buy a multi-system DVD player.
Radios operate OK, so long as they follow the general rules
on voltage and frequency. Radios with digital tuning
will be an annoyance if the signal from your favorite station is weak.
You are better off with an old fashioned analog tuner. If you subscribe to
cable TV you will probably be able to plug your FM tuner into that.
Telephones are much more expensive in Europe so this would
be a good item to bring with you. We bought a phone in New York and
had no trouble with it in Germany.
Telephone dialing can be "tone" or "pulse." Pulse is the
old system where the number is sensed by the time it takes a dial
to turn back to stop. Tone uses a different frequency tone for each
number. It is much faster to dial tone.
Push button phones can be used on a pulse system. If you
are on a pulse system you will have a little bit of difficulty when
you dial a business and receive an automated response with a choice of menu
items. These systems do not recognize pulses. If you are on a pulse
system and connect to one of these businesses, switch your phone to
tone after you connect. Then you can use the menu. When you hang up
switch it back to pulse or you will not be able to dial.
Some of Europe is still on the pulse dial system, whereas
most of the USA uses tone dialing since the introduction of push-button
phones. Most phones sold in the USA have a "tone-pulse"
switch so they can be used almost everywhere. If you have a speaker
phone or a remote handset type, the phone will need an electrical
connection. Make sure it is rated for 50 Hz and then plug it in
with a transformer to reduce the 220 v to 110 v.
Fax machines are also more expensive in Europe so bring
yours over. If you don't have a home fax machine this would be a good time to
consider an investment.
Dialing is the same as telephones. A home fax machine
is particularly nice to have over there for speedy and cheap
communication. A whole typewritten page can be transmitted within
seconds at a cost way less than an airmail stamp from Europe.
If you use a discount phone system you can send a one page
fax for about ten cents. This may be cheaper than an email,
especially if you compose on-line in Europe. My fax machine runs on 110-220 volts and
50/60 Hz. It's actually a combination printer, faxer, scanner, and copier.
American desktop computers and peripherals may or may not operate properly
in Europe. Check the name plate to see if it will operate on 220
volts and 50 Hz. The frequency is the major problem. If it is not
stamped for 50 to 60 Hz you are taking a risk by bringing it to
Europe. If it accepts 50 Hz, but only 110 volts, you can use a
transformer to convert European current to 110 volts for your
machine. There is no cheap way to convert 50 Hz to 60 Hz. Most
computers operate at both frequencies and at both
voltages, but some monitors only operate on American 60 Hz
frequency. I bought a computer monitor in Germany which is rated
for both voltages. I operated my laser printer with the aid of a
750 watt transformer.
Laser printers are dinosaurs now and the newer ink-jet style printers
use much less power. Also they have a brick which is usually rated for 110-220 volts
and 50/60 Hz. Therefore all you need is a plug converter. On top of that
the geniuses at the computer printer companies have figured out how to make
a machine that does four jobs — prints, copies, faxes, and scans. Wow.
I have one of these, an HP Officejet J6480 All-in-One. It's a great device for
my home office. If you are moving to Europe this is a machine I think you
should consider bringing with you.
Laptop computers normally operate on 110-240 V and 50-60 Hz. Check the
electrical nameplate on the bottom. In this case all you need is
an adapter plug.
When buying transformers to operate
110 volt appliances in Europe, select one that is rated about twice
as high as the total power requirement for the devices which you
plan to use it on. That is, if you have a 200 watt stereo and a 100
watt computer, buy a 600 watt or higher transformer. The reason is
that all appliances use much more current during start-up. When you
turn it on the "in-rush" current can be five times as much as
operating current, though it lasts for only a fraction of a second.
If you have your computer running you don't want another device
sucking up all the electrons for even an instant.
Devices which operate on rechargeable batteries are no
problem, but the battery charger might be. Brands like Panasonic and Sony can
operate worldwide on 110 to 220 volts and 50 to 60 Hz. Check the name plate.
If you are moving to Europe there are several ways it can
be done. Those being transferred by their employer will find it
rather simple in most cases. Moving companies will be arranged and
you follow the directions. Single people are treated rather
off-handedly I found, while families are given better consideration
and benefits. Do-it-yourselfers can save thousands of dollars by
using freight forwarders. Pack your own and bring your things
directly to the dock.
My first relocation to Europe was on single status. My
company gave me a plane ticket and $240 and told me to report
for work in The Netherlands in a couple of weeks. I left almost
everything I owned with my brother. I packed my clothes and computer and
brought them to an air freight company. I drove my car to the dock
and turned it over to the freight forwarding company, took a taxi to the airport,
and flew to Holland.
On my self-made transfer to France, I sold most of my
household stuff, sold my cars, stored my books and computer in my
office, stored a few big items in a self-storage locker, filled a
couple of suitcases with clothes and flew over. I had done
something similar when I went over for six months while working on
the first edition of this book.
Our transfer to Germany was far more involved. With a wife, two year old daughter,
tons of furniture, and a three year stay expected, my
company provided just about everything they could to make it as easy as
possible. The transfer policy called for a professional moving company. Estimators came and
surveyed the job. The low bidder got the job and came back a few weeks later with
instructions on how we should prepare. The agent left a load of papers to
fill out. They showed up on schedule and packed it all directly
into a 20 foot ocean shipping container. We took the shuttle bus to the
airport and flew to Frankfurt. The moving company, German branch,
drove the container up to our house in Aschaffenburg about two
months later and unpacked everything.
Moving Day for a House Full of Furniture
Before the movers show up, you should have filled out your
inventory and insurance papers for the items which are going on the
ship and those that are going into storage.
The mover will show up with an ocean shipping container, a
truck full of wrapping paper, and four strong guys. Get ready for
The most important thing to do before the
arrival of the mover is to pack your suitcases, briefcase, and
purse and get them into a safe place out of sight of the four
strong men. Say, lock them in a closet. They must be convenient for
access, but not convenient for packing. My movers have told me
about incidents where air tickets and passports have been packed in the
If this stuff is on the boat, you are going to have one heck of a
problem when you get to the airport. You might think that the
packers will be thinking that he shouldn't pack a purse or
briefcase, but if your family is like ours there are a dozen
purses and a few briefcases laying around. How is he supposed to
know what is what? When you tell him that a room is ready to pack,
EVERYTHING gets packed. One of my souvenirs of Europe is the empty
box that our German telephone came in. It was carefully wrapped and
shipped just as it was found by the packer, and is now wall art in
my home office.
Also pack and get your valuables out of sight of the movers.
Packers and moving men can succumb to temptation and pinch items
they like. You won't know it until you are a world away months
from now so it is hard to catch the thieves and prosecute them. On
various moves in California and Germany I have lost some favorite
shirts, dust collectors, a book of beautiful Russian stamps
bought in Poland, and a credit card. I wasn't aware that the credit card had
been stolen because I have so many of the darn things. A year
after my move I started getting calls to pay my bill. They had
tracked me down at my new job. Someone had used the card to buy a set of
tires. I told them to call the sheriff, several times, loudly.
Eventually the calls stopped.
When the container gets
to the destination, you have an empty house that will quickly be
filled with your bulky wrapped stuff, and it's not Christmas. As
the movers bring things to the door they will want to know which
room to go to. Try to make sure that all boxes are adequately
marked when they are packed, i.e. "kids bedroom," not just
"bedroom.". You will be busy checking off item numbers on the
inventory list and it can get hectic with four guys nearly running
in and out with hundreds of boxes. For big and heavy items, they
will also want to know where in the room something belongs.
When everything is done, at both ends, it is customary to
tip the movers and packers. How much? The job is done, so you know
how things went, sort of. If you talk to the men about the tip, they will
brag about the thousand dollars they got from some company
president last week. Of course his family probably had an
expensive lot of furniture. We gave a couple of hundred dollars to
the packers at each end, and a lesser amount to the crews which
unloaded. The packers worked for three days while the unloaders
finished in a day. We also gave the German packers a beer during
their break periods. Germans love their beer.
FINDING A HOME
Finding a home is the most "fun" you'll have in moving over
there. I've done it several times. This section focuses on renting
since you are not likely to be buying a home or apartment for a
stay of less than five years.
A home can be a house, an
apartment, or a room. A furnished house is almost impossible to
find in Europe except for short term vacation rentals. A furnished
apartment is more likely. Renting a room usually means furnished.
Most rentals are offered by real estate agents. Agents have
window displays describing their listings, sometimes with a photo.
They also advertise in the daily newspapers. There are usually just
as many newspaper ads from people seeking apartments as there are listings
for available apartments. There is a large difference between the
prices of offered rentals and those requested.
When renting, you will be looking for furnished or
unfurnished diggs. Furnished places are not easy to find, and when
you find them, they are usually quite extraordinary in arrangement
Unfurnished places can be extraordinary in
another way unfurnished! In Germany a typical unfurnished
rental won't have a closet (Schrank) in the house, nor a kitchen sink, counter, or
cabinets. Light fixtures and switches are scarce. Moving in may
require purchase of stand-up closets for your clothes and
installation of a kitchen. Thanks to higher prices for nearly
everything in Europe, getting these essentials can easily cost you
several months salary. We were lucky that the owner already had a furnished
kitchen in the German house and offered to sell it to us. It was old but
functional so we took it.
I went to Holland as a single man at the same time as a half dozen other
people from my company. The company advised us to use a
makelaar (real estate
agent) to find a house. None of us could read the Dutch papers and
had no help whatever from our company, a major international
Three of us took a small furnished place
and temporarily camped in for a few weeks. Each of us had different
needs and different makelaars to locate a home. Mine showed
me furnished apartments and rooms, all priced about twice as much
as a Dutchman would pay. Some were rather unusual. One was in an
office building with the toilet and shower two floors below my
room. In another, in a private home, I would have had to walk down
some stairs and up some others to get to the kitchen. Dutch stairs
are similar to ladders.
I finally got lucky with a ground floor furnished apartment in the heart
of Haarlem for a reasonable price. The owners also had a
makelaar, so theirs
and mine got together to draft the contract and collect their fees.
The apartment had everything. The inventory list was three pages long. The
owners lived upstairs and insisted that I also use their maid on a
weekly basis. One remarkable thing happened as I moved out. My
makelaar could not find one of the items on the inventory
list, and in fact didn't even know what it was. The owner helped
out. The missing item was a plastic spoon. I had long ago
thrown it in the trash!
On moving to Paris I went over on my own and took a hotel
room while I looked for a place. I checked the postings at the
Alliance Française, Shakespeare & Company
bookstore, American Church, and newspapers. After looking at a
number of unsightly cheap places I got lucky on the Left Bank and
found a one room efficiency apartment in the Quartier Latin near the Metro
stop Maubert-Mutualité. The owner of the apartment,
an American expatriate, lived in another apartment in the same
building. She rented it monthly, rather a rarity in Europe. It was
fully furnished, complete with TV and kitchen utensils. The
utilities were all hooked up including the telephone. It was ideal
for a few months during my bachelor days in the summer of '86. That
was where Elizabeth came into my life.
Elizabeth went back
to Europe a few years later for more research on my book. She based
in Paris but had some difficulty finding a low cost apartment for
a short period. Finally she found a small place in Boulogne-Billencourt,
a suburb in the southwest skirts of Paris. It was not
furnished except for the stove and sink. She installed the
telephone, got the electricity hooked up, bought a refrigerator and
TV, pots and pans, and everything else. For six months it was
livable and cozy. From there we made our first expedition to
Budapest while the commies still ran Hungary.
My company's transfer policy for Germany included a house
hunting trip prior to our move. It didn't quite work out that way.
The trip became a week long series of presentations to the
"American delegation" by the German bosses and staff. The company
personnel office was to have helped us find homes, but it didn't
work out very well. The German personnel office was given totally
wrong information about our needs, thinking we were all single guys
who could live in just about anything while most of us were married
After a couple days of being led to oddly configured
apartments and rooms in private homes, I took matters into my own
hands. I bought some maps and daily newspapers from the surrounding
cities and went out on my own hunt.
Rentals are handled by a Grundstückservice
(real estate agent) in Germany. After selecting my city, it was
easy to view a few houses after work every day. A few days of
intense searching turned up a beautifully situated old house in
Aschaffenburg. My company signed the contract, paid the agent, and
gave us the keys. We contacted appropriate offices and had the
electricity and telephone lines transferred to our name with no
trouble. About every six months we had to order oil for the
furnace. Once a year the city chimney sweep in traditional black
came around to clean the exhaust pipe. When I first saw the guy I
thought for a moment that we were in a Dickens' novel he was
right out of the book.
Your lease will be in the local language. I couldn't read the Dutch contract but
I signed it. In Germany I couldn't read that one either but the company
personnel director signed it. When signing I recommend that you have
your lease translated into English so you know what the deal is.
We tried to get out of our lease in Germany after an
incredible storm flooded our lower floor. I love storms and was so
amazed that I made a video of the ominous black clouds and driving
sheets of rain. It was the mother of all storms.
Little did I realize as I filmed her upstairs
that she was giving us the works downstairs. Our lower floor was a
mess, but all we lost was the carpets. This was inexplicable
because we lived on a 100 foot high bluff overlooking the Main
The owner went from smiling nice guy to extreme nasty. He
fixed the immediate cause of the flooding, but the situation was
basically unrepairable unless a much larger storm drain would be
installed by the city.
This chapter is in two parts due to its large size. Now you can click to Part 2 to see what
it is like living in Europe.
This is Part 1
Moving to Europe
Moving to Europe. Getting prepared, ex-pat assistance, moving your automobile, household items,
electrical appliances, lamps, TV, telephone, fax machine, computers, single status, family status,
moving day, finding a home, furnished or unfurnished, the lease.
Living in Europe
Living in Europe. Getting settled, appliances, utilities, official business,
residence permit, good guy letter, health exam, financial fitness, student issues, mail,
shopping, metric system, banking, ATMs, checks, credit cards, bank routing number,
money transfers, television, internet, garbage, moving back home, you're fired.
NOTE TO READERS
I welcome questions and comments. If you have any concerns about your trip to
Europe that have not been covered well enough in this chapter do not hesitate to write and ask.
My email address is
When you write please include as much detail as possible. There are about 50 countries in Europe.
It will help me answer if you mention the countries and/or cities you plan to visit.
I will reply in a day or two.
Don't forget to scroll through the Table of Contents below. The other 29 chapters of
HOW TO EUROPE
are also available, free to read on line. In addition, the Google search box below can locate specific subjects
in any chapter or page on site.
For a check-off punchlist of everything go to The Finale,
Packing List and Last Call: For Travel
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Note: Italicized notations by the author.
You will need one or more of these plug adapters for your appliances and chargers.
For details on electricity in Europe see chapter 11,
Electricity in Europe: Travel Voltage Fundamentals
Plug Adapter (doubler)
Universal to Continental Europe "Europlug."
4.0 mm prongs
SIMRAN PLUG ADAPTER
Adapts grounded USA plugs to European "Shucko" plug.
4.8 mm prongs
This is a universal plug adapter for the UK and Ireland.
Grounded Adaptor Plug for Britain and Ireland
This series of "3-Pack" Ceptics brand grounded universal plug adapters is handy if you are carrying multiple
gizmos or if you have travel companions who also need a charge.
Britain and Ireland
This 110-250 volt power surge strip has three universal outlets and an American grounded plug
so it needs a plug adapter for the countries you are visiting.
Make sure your gizmos are rated for 110-240 volts.
SM-60 Universal 3 Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector for Worldwide Travel. 110V-250V with Overload Protection.
For charging up to six gizmos at a time use this 250 volt universal
power strip. It comes with a grounded Continental plug.
6 Universal Outlets
220/240 Volt 50/60Hz
If your gizmos charge through a USB port this can keep you going. European cars have the same
12 volt system as American cars.
Scosche Dual USB
Bausch and Lomb 2X Folding Lighted Magnifier
Absolutely the best battery for digital cameras which use AA batteries.
AA Lithium Batteries
Rechargeable batteries are expensive but pay for themselves over and over.
This charger is good for worldwide voltage and comes with 4 pre-charged batteries.
It requires a plug adapter for the countries you are visiting.
Sanyo SEC-MQN064 Eneloop 4 Pack AA NiMH Pre-Charged Rechargable Batteries
with Worldwide 110-240 volt charger
This kit includes a pair of rechargeable batteries with a USB powered charger.
SANYO NEW 1500 eneloop 2-AA Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries
w/ USB Charger
This is a stronger transformer rated for 200 watts.
Transformer - 200 Watt Non Grounded Heavy Duty
Here is the whale of transformers, 3,000 watts. With this you can bring your power tools and
all of your small appliances, but not your TV, to Europe.
Power Bright VC3000W Voltage Transformer 3,000 Watt Step Up/Down 110 Volt - 220 Volt
This digital volt-ohm meter can answer a lot of questions when you have electrical problems.
Sinometer MAS345 PC-Interfaced Digital Multimeter
Make sure that your electrical appliances are 110-220 dual voltage so they will work in Europe.
These appliances require a plug adapter(s), NOT a converter, for the countries you are visiting.
Vagabond Compact Styler
Conair's Dual-Voltage Ionic Hair Dryer
Conair Flat Iron 2" Ceramic Straightener
Travel Hair Setter
SteamFast SF-717 Home-and-Away Mini Steam Iron (dual voltage)
Braun Series 1 150 Men's Shaver with Automatic Worldwide Voltage Adjustment
For light sleepers here is an international "white noise" machine. Includes a Continental
Marsona TSCi-330 White Noise Travel Sound Conditioner For both USA and International Use
Look sharp and be comfortable.
Hot Chillys Women's Peach Skins Solid T-Neck Shirt
London Fog Women's Double Breasted Trench Coat
Weather protection and extra pockets.
Clarks Women's Wave.Run Slip-On
Tilley Endurables TH9 Women's Hemp Hat
I wore one similar to this on my early spring trip to London and Dublin.
Leather Bomber Jacket
My "standard" shirt for off-season travel in Europe.
Kingsize Big & Tall Turtleneck Long-Sleeve Cotton Shirt
My favorite T-shirt/undershirt has a pocket for securely carrying passport, cash, and credit cards.
Hanes Heavyweight Tagless Pocket Tee
New Casual Grey Herringbone Wool Cap
Rolling luggage sure beats lugging a pack on your back.
Delsey Luggage Helium Fusion Light 21 Inches Expandable Carryon
Day luggage for your walkabout.
Travelpro Luggage WalkAbout LITE 4 Deluxe Tote
Keep your stuff organized.
Luggage Packing Cubes
eBags 3pc Set
eBags Small Packing Cubes - 3pc Set
Wear a money belt under your shirt to protect your passport and valuables, especially if you are staying in hostels or dorms.
Victorinox Deluxe Concealed Security Belt
Who wrote this?
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