Where In Europe Can You Live If You Only Speak English?

Scandinavian countries have long been known for their proficiency in English as a second language, but what other countries could you move to if you only speak English?

Of course, the United Kingdom and Ireland are obvious choices for many, but there are countries where English is not the official language, but the vast majority speak it on a high level.

Sometimes travelling can be quite inconvenient if you cannot speak the local language, or the locals cannot speak English. Moving to such a country is something most people dread. However, regardless of its cultural and linguistic diversity, Europe has an impressive number of over 370 million English speakers (out of around 450 million EU residents).

Research done by Statista in 2019 shows the percentage of people with knowledge of English in non-native European countries. Among the top five were Sweden (71%), The Netherlands (70%), Norway (68%), Denmark (67%), and Luxembourg (66%). The other five countries, also close in number, were Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium, and Austria.

However, another study conducted a few years earlier, in 2012, by Eurobarometer showed that 88% of Maltese people could speak English, which doesn’t come as a surprise given that it’s one of two official languages in the country.

If we move further south, there is Cyprus, where English language proficiency is much higher than in many other European countries, with the Eurobarometer reporting 76% of English speakers in Cyprus. This is because English was the official language of Cyprus until 1960, and nowadays, it’s used on road signs, public notices, advertisements, etc. So, even if you don’t speak Turkish or Greek, which are two official languages, moving to Cyprus with English only would be convenient.

Then, up north, Scandinavian countries are some of the highest-ranking countries in terms of English language proficiency. As Nordic Perspective reports, most young people nowadays find using English easier than neighbouring languages. They also posted a study done by the Nordic Council in 2021 that shows the use of English among the young people: Nordic region 95%, Denmark 96%, Finland 93%, Iceland 95%, Norway 95%, Sweden 95%, Faroe Islands 93%, Greenland 78%, and Aland 99%.

Another country in Northern Europe that has an overwhelmingly large number of English speakers is the Netherlands. According to PolyglotGeek, The Netherlands’ population is about 16.8 million people. Out of the total population, about 91% or 15.3 million people speak English. Those who don’t speak English tend to live in the countryside, with a lower level of education.

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Milica Sekulic

Milica Sekulic

In my career, I have tried many things, but writing has always been something I primarily aspired for. Both my BA and MA were in English language and literature, so I’m also passionate about reading and teaching.

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