Benefits of an EU Citizenship
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Benefits of an EU Citizenship

We are very excited to reveal that one of us got an EU citizenship last week. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t me. Mrs. RRR had a much easier path to get an EU citizenship than most Americans would. We have flirted with the idea of perpetual travel once we hit financial independence and using her grandparent’s guest house as a base, but knew that we would be playing a counting game of days. Making sure we weren’t staying over 90 days here, without taking a week or so there, but you can’t spend more than 90 days within a 180 day period in the Schengen area, but which countries are outside the Schengen area? It just seemed like a little bit of a hassle.
So, after a little research, and shuffling through the bureaucratic yellow tape, we realized she could apply for a Cypriot citizenship because her father was born there. After a couple of helpful calls to the Cyprus Embassy, we found out all she had to do was fill out a couple forms, send over copies of her dad’s birth certificate, her parents marriage license, her birth certificate, all their passports, and pay a small fee. They said the wait time could be 1 year to 18 months. So, it was pretty surprising that we got it back in less than 8 months. Anyway, now that it’s official, and I’m married to an EU citizen, we can go over some of the perks.

Can we get a +1, please?

With Mrs. RRR getting her Cyprus and EU citizenship, she now makes it easier for me to obtain one through our obvious marriage. If I were to try to get a citizenship without her, the quickest and “easiest” route would require me to purchase real estate worth €2,000,000 (or $2,300,000), and keep it for 3 years. Once the 3 years is up, I can sell the property, but I have to maintain to hold a property worth €500,000 indefinitely. On the other hand, since I’m hitched to the coolest chick on the planet, all we have to do is be married for three years (√), and live in Cyprus for 2 years. Or, if the Cypriot citizen lives abroad, we have to be married for 3 years, and I write-up a letter explaining why I’d like to become a citizen of Cyprus. Do y’all know any good writers…? But, now that we can get two EU citizenships, what good does that do us?


Geoarbitrage is a fancy way of saying “move to cheap places”. With an EU citizenship, we can travel to and from 28 different countries and stay as long as we’d like without visa requirements28-eu-european-union-countries-name-list. To give you an idea of exactly how much this could save us, we will illustrate some numbers.
We currently live in a very low-cost of living area in the US, according to The Earth Awaits (one of our favorite websites, which shows cost of living world-wide and lets you filter dozens of criteria) it would cost the average couple on a “lean” lifestyle $1,736 a month to live in Huntsville, AL. Comparatively, the lowest cost of living place in the EU is Varna, Bulgaria at $807 per month. Literally less than half the cost. So, we could afford to retire there in half the time that it would take us here!
I know what you’re thinking though, “Who in the hell would work to save money and retire to Bulgaria.” I’m with you. What about Croatia at $962, Portugal at $1,044, Greece at $1,067, or even Italy at $1,349. Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and the UK (still currently part of the EU, even after Brexit) all come in under budget compared to the low-cost of living area we are in. These are places people vacation to that we are talking about. So, having practically all of Europe on our list of available places we can move to is definitely a benefit.


The bloated system we have in the US doesn’t work very well, and when it does work, it’s grossly expensive. But for some reason, people love it. Us….not so much. And, there’s not a clear way for an early retiree to get coverage because typically healthcare is tied to your employer, and coverage through the Marketplace is notoriously expensive.
Cyprus, on the other hand, has a multi-payer healthcare system: the private sector, and the public sector (the infamous Socialized Healthcare). If you choose to go with private coverage to avoid waiting for appointments, it’s still very cheap. For inpatient, outpatient, and dental coverage anywhere worldwide (excluding the US) it would set us back $183 a month with a $1300 deductible, for both of us. Under the public program there is a small charge in Cyprus for treatment, although they are looking to revamp the system into a more efficient universal program in the near future.
The current charges are €3 for a visit to a general practitioner, €6 for a specialist, and €0.50 for each prescribed medication. Translated to the dollars of freedom that we use here in the US of A, it’s $3.45 for a general practitioner, $6.89 for a specialist, and 57¢ for medication. Those are some killer numbers. But Wait! There’s More! Being an EU citizen entitles you to any medical treatment in other EU countries that can’t wait until you get home. Drink too much wine and suffer from dehydration on the beach in Spain? Covered. Sprain your ankle skiing in Sweden? Covered. Forgot to get a refill of your prescription medication before you left on your vacation to Italy? Covered. We will definitely sleep better at night knowing that if something happens to us, we won’t be forced to go bankrupt just to stay alive.

Work, Taxes, & Other Shit

Work would be a bigger bullet point if our goal wasn’t to move there to “retire”, but it still gives plenty of options if we come across something interesting that would be worth taking time out of our day for. As an EU citizen, you can work in any EU country without having to jump through hoops. Employers also prefer EU citizens because they won’t have to fill out any extra paperwork or sponsor someone’s visa.
Taxes are another fun aspect of the EU citizenship, as you can move money from country to country. The US has individual tax treaties with each EU country, so you can find the one that best suits your needs and move there, or just move your money there. And each country themselves have wildly different tax rates. For instance, Cyprus’s income tax has a personal allowance of up to €19,500 (around $22,500) of earned income completely tax free, and then it goes up to 20% over that amount. Ireland on the other hand has 2 tax brackets: €0 – €33,800 is taxed at 20%, and €33,801+ is taxed at 40%. There are also varying rates of corporate tax, so if you are looking for a business headquarters, Europe will be hard to beat.
Other various smaller benefits include:

  • Cell coverage and no roaming charges within the EU.
  • Ability to move goods from country to country without having to deal with overbearing customs agents and policies.
  • Drivers licenses are recognized throughout the EU.
  • If you are abroad and your home country doesn’t have an embassy, you can use the embassy of any EU country.
  • Safety. Sometimes the United States actions and foreign policy make it unsafe, or uncomfortable to travel to certain areas as an American, but having an EU passport can keep you off the radar when it comes to these areas.

Having an EU citizenship gives you options. Options to live in different locations whether the motivation is quality of life, cost, taxes, culture, health, work, or a combination of all of the above. Options to explore a continent, 28 different countries, hundreds of cities, and thousands of locations without restriction. We strive for a life of options. One where money, and time are no longer limitations. A life where the world is at our fingertips and the hardest part of our day is deciding where and how to spend our time.


  • Shlomo

    So, I have an EU citizenship as well as my daughter. We traveled to Portugal where she needed a treatment and there was no option getting a treatment there without paying (we had travel insurance). So, what did we do wrong?

    • James Lowery

      Thanks for reaching out, Shlomo. You should have an EHIC (European health insurance card) issued from your home country that will cover your treatment abroad in the EU. Occasionally, depending on the country and the treatment, they expect you to pay for it and then you’re supposed to submit it to your health system in your home country that should reimburse you, and that would be connected with your EHIC. That is an excellent question though! You can read more info on the rules of the healthcare and other things within the EU here: Europa. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.

  • Captain DIY

    Man, my mother dropped the ball when I was a kid. I could have had dual citizenship with both the US and the Netherlands, but there was a window of opportunity that closed a long time ago. Maybe it’s worth looking into again though…

    • James Lowery

      That’s definitely worth looking into, Captain. You never know, that door may never fully close. It’s worth mentioning that in our case, if I was of Cypriot descent and was getting my citizenship to live there, I’d have to serve in the military, a shorter stint, but I’d still have to serve. But because I’m not of Cypriot descent I won’t have to serve. My brother in law would have to though. Something worth exploring if you are interested in getting it.

  • Peter Sbashnig

    James, I really like this article and your research. When you do move abroad to Cypress and you are waiting the two years to become a citizen, how will you be covered for healthcare while you are in the non-citizen category? Is it safe to assume that your wife would have to have a private sector policy which would cover you? Even if that is the case, the private sector healthcare is still inexpensive.
    Pete @ BlendedFI

    • James Lowery

      Pete, I appreciate the kind words. You bring up some interesting questions. About waiting to become a full fledged citizen, I could choose to write a letter now while we are abroad explaining why I want a citizenship and if my explanation is sufficient, I would get one before we even move there. But, if I moved there as a non-citizen, I would personally have to get the private healthcare option, but my wife would not have to. The private healthcare cost are the same for citizens of the EU and non-citizens, so the cost of $183 a month could cover the two of us. If she chose to go on the public plan, my cost would be around $100 a month for the same coverage. Thanks again for the question and the positive feedback!

  • Margaret

    Hi there,
    Thanks for a very interesting article.
    As a little amendment/watch out regarding the comment above that “the UK (is) (still currently part of the EU,EVEN AFTER BREXIT)”. Unfortunately that is not the case. Brexit is the shorthand for Britain’s Exit from the EU. So by definition, the UK will NOT be part of the EU once Brexit has been put in place.
    That exit date is currently still set for the end of March 2019.
    Choosing to live in the UK on the assumption that this would provide access to EU privileges won’t work I am afraid. (Unless the UK changes it’s mind about leaving the EU).
    It remains a great place to live of course, so don’t be dissuaded about moving here. But I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately there remains some uncertainty around what precise changes there shall be post-Brexit with the UK’s current enjoyment of freedom of people/goods and services across EU borders.

    • James Lowery

      Margaret, thanks for the reply. You have brought up some interesting points. You did leave the operative word in my statement uncapitalized though. “Currently” was the most important word in there. Which, like you said, will remain true until March 2019.
      There is a provisional agreement in place where U.K. citizens can remain in the EU (and vice versa) where they are resident in the Union on the day of the UK’s withdrawal. I haven’t read through the whole agreement, but I assume if you change countries of residency after that point, you are no longer eligible to remain without a visa of some sort. Unfortunately, as you said, there is uncertainty about the changes that will happen upon Brexit, so it becomes difficult to give suggestions on how to navigate it yet.
      Another interesting fold in the story of Brexit is the surge of applications of citizenship elsewhere in the EU. With the U.K. including Northern Ireland, people born in that area are automatic citizens of Ireland, and still eligible for EU citizenship. Also, there is an estimated number of 5 million people in the U.K. who will be eligible for EU citizenship through Irish descent either through any parent, or grand parent that was an Irish citizen either by birth or naturalization.
      Again, thanks for your reply. I’m hopeful that there are clearer plans and regulations regarding the U.K. and the EU because I loved my time in England, and look forward to going again in the future (hopefully without too much difficulty.)

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