The Sexiest Countries In Europe :: Where To Visit...Or Move
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schengen countries

The Sexiest Countries In Europe

The position I have held for most of my career has provided me with some amazing experiences and insights. In that role, my primary responsibility is growing the business by screening and hiring new, productive people for the company.

One of my greatest epiphanies has come from interviewing thousands of people over the years. When you interview that many people, you learn a few things.

I have a list of standard questions I ask that give me some perspective and help me get to know the interviewees. My standard set of questions work just fine for hiring purposes, but they grew a little stale for me after a while. I developed a second set of questions that would keep the interviews interesting. (Interesting for me, anyway. The candidates might not have liked them.)

One of my favorite questions because of the variety of answers is, “If you woke up tomorrow morning and had all the money you’ll ever need for the rest of your life, what are you going to do with your time?”

Can you guess the answer I get nine out of ten times?

Travel.

It’s a bit sneaky of me because I know what most people are going to say. They’re going to say “travel.” The follow-up question is where it gets interesting. My response is always, “That’s great! I love to travel. Where would you go first?”

There are two types of answers to this. One is when the person immediately names a place, or starts rattling off a list of places. Those are my people. The second type of answer is something that’s non-specific and wishy-washy. They don’t have any specific place they’d go, they just like the “idea” of traveling. I don’t learn much from those people so I move onto my next question when I get a wishy-washy answer.

Knowing that 9/10 people would choose traveling as the dream way to spend their time, why not arrange my life to live that way NOW? There’s no reason to delay amazing life experiences until a pot of gold appears in my living room because I know a pot of gold is never going to appear in my living room. And life is short.

Which brings us to my current state of affairs, where I never need to be at an office. Never, never, ever. That’s not an accident. I’m a lousy employee and not very well suited for office work, anyway. (I made the “lousy employee” comment to the CEO of a previous company where I worked for 14 years. He immediately responded with, “Good. Me too!” and then we were friends.)

My primary source of income is through real estate. There are a few different ways I get paid, but the #1 source at the moment is connecting buyers and sellers of real estate with high-quality real estate agents. Not all agents are the same and it’s harder than ever to find a GREAT agent these days because a gazillion people are getting real estate licenses right now. That happens every time the market is hot (they disappear when the market shifts and it takes skill to sell houses again). Lots of inexperienced folks are out there slinging houses right now, and they make huge mistakes that cost their clients money because they simply don’t know any better. Experience matters!

The real estate brokerage where I work is 100% cloud-based. That means we are tech savvy folks and we don’t have offices. I can work from anywhere in the world that has wifi. It’s lovely, and about 16,000 other agents agree with my assessment here. Follow this link to learn more about the Amazon of real estate.

Because I can work from anywhere I please, I travel quite a bit. One of my favorite places to visit is Europe. I’m a history buff and I love the rich and extensive history on the European continent. The US is a baby country with only a few hundred years of tyranny and oppression. Europe has been at that game for all of human history.

My French friends like to remind me that they all have mailboxes older than the United States. Thanks, froggies! At least we win wars from time to time.

french bulldog

Not all of Europe is arranged the same way for visitors, though. There are visas to consider and alliances between European countries that can make travel between some easy, and travel between others difficult.

There are also time limits for tourists that can ruin your future plans if you violate them. For example, staying for longer than 90 out of every 180 days the Schengen zone without a proper long-term visa is against the law and will get your passport stamped with ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT if you get caught. That means no more visiting Schengen countries for a long time, or maybe ever.

So, the Schengen zone is something you should understand before you make a trip to Europe. This is especially true for long-term travelers and those who are looking to partially relocate to Europe, like those who want to semi-retire in Italy or the south of France.

Schengen (an agreement between various European countries) and Shenzen (a geographic area in China) are obviously different things. The pronunciation of both words is similar, so ask for clarification when you can’t tell which one is being discussed in a conversation. I embarrassed myself on several occasions before I figured out that bit.

The Schengen countries got together in 1985 and came to an agreement with each other that allows for easy travel across borders with the other member countries. This is akin to how you can freely move across state borders in the US without showing your passport every time. The original five Schengen countries were Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. Today, there are 26 countries in the Schengen zone.

List of Schengen zone countries:

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. Hungary
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Latvia
  14. Lichtenstein
  15. Lithuania
  16. Luxembourg
  17. Malta
  18. Netherlands
  19. Norway
  20. Poland
  21. Portugal
  22. Slovakia
  23. Slovenia
  24. Spain
  25. Sweden
  26. Switzerland

matterhorn
The requirements for each of the Schengen countries are related to security at their borders. Every Schengen member has rules and procedures at their borders that meet minimum requirements matching the security at the borders of the other member countries.

Some Schengen countries are not part of the European Union, and that has some interesting political consequences. They have to follow certain laws adopted by the EU because the EU recognizes the Schengen zone as an official entity. I won’t bore you with the complexity, just understand that there’s some weird overlap in a few places.

A few European countries will likely join the Schengen zone in the near future. The list of likely candidates are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. All of them are working on security and/or corruption issues that are taking some time to resolve. All the bad actors in the corrupt states seem to have Russian accents and Russian names, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess where the problems originate. Our buddy Vlad certainly has a nice collection of puppets, doesn’t he?

putin puppets

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