Have you ever thought of living in another country, at least for a little while? I have. Waking up and looking out at a quaint little village that was built centuries ago has been a dream of mine. I’ve always wondered what it would be like and recently met a woman who is living that dream. Her name is Leslie Ender and she is a European tour operator who lives in Innsbruck, Austria. We met in a Facebook group for other midlife bloggers and decided to set up a Skype session, so we could chat.
Moving to Europe from the U.S.
Leslie’s husband was transferred to Europe through his company, making the moving process easier. They did all the paperwork. It’s a complicated legal process to become an expat in the E.U. You can only stay in the Schengen zone – 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders – for 90 days without a special visa. Then you have to go outside of it for 90 days before you can come back. (non-Schengen areas have their own rules) You may be eligible for an extended Visa if you have plenty of money in the bank.
It makes for a transient life. If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you must have a good reason, like a job teaching English or computer programming.
Living in Europe
Leslie and her husband live in a lovely one bedroom/one bath apartment with a living room and patio that’s way less than half of what I pay for rent in Los Angeles. They also enjoy excellent health care through Austria’s one payer system, which was also arranged by her husband’s company.
One thing Leslie loves is that Innsbruck is an amazingly clean city. In fact, if a business has a dirty bathroom they will be criticized in the local news. She never sees trash lying on the ground. It sounds like paradise to me. Innsbruck is a storybook village located in Tyrol, which is a city in the Austrian Alps. It’s popular for winter sports and is a University town filled with students.
Starting her European Tour Business
Leslie decided to start a European tour business called Street View Adventure Travel for small groups of mostly women who want a deeper dive into local traditions and culture. She set up her LLC in Detroit, Michigan because Austria is not necessarily entrepreneurial friendly. That way she can continue to pay American taxes and Social Security.
Her groups are usually 8-10 people, and often include women traveling solo. She has created relationships with local vendors and provides a unique experience that sidesteps most of the high-traffic tourist sites. That way her clients can enjoy an authentic glimpse of the location they are visiting. Her tours have so far included Austria, Germany, and Italy. The group travels to destinations by train, do walking tours, and stay in small family run hotels. Many of the tour participants form bonds with each other that are long-lasting.
Unlike large tour companies, you won’t be saddled with a tight tour schedule, or have to travel with a large crowd. Leslie handles all your travel arrangements ahead of time and you have the same personal guide throughout. You’ll see things that most other tour companies do not cover like eating freshly made cheese at a 500-year old farm in Tyrol.
Immersion in the European experience
Leslie’s mission is to show Americans how to travel like Europeans. Europeans love to travel but don’t break the bank by staying in over-priced luxury hotels or eating at fancy restaurants. They know where to go to enjoy a destination as it really is, get to know some of the people who live there and become better infused with the culture.
She also doesn’t receive kickbacks from vendors like cruise expedition operators or large tour companies. You will never be taken on a tour of a diamond factory or be upsold to spend more than your initial cost.
If you’d like to find out more about Leslie and her tours, please visit her website, here.