University fees and cuts protest
Protestors walk down The Strand during a march against student university fees Getty Images

It's difficult to know exact numbers, but many young US students are now living in Europe to avoid their student loan debt. New US graduates are often burdened with six-figure debts and a tight job market paying low wages. Altogether, US graduates owe some $1.3tn (£910bn, €1.2tn) in a combination of private loans or government-subsidized loans.

Taking off for Europe is a "phenomenon that I'm quite familiar with, actually," student loan lawyer and author Adam S. Minsky told Vice. "People leave because there's a sense of hopelessness and they see greater opportunities overseas, usually through a combination of higher pay and lower living expenses."

Graduates living abroad, not paying US taxes nor collecting any Social Security are safe from the long arm of the government and loan companies, as long at they stay in another country. But if loans were co-signed by family members who stay in the US, mom and dad can be on the hook for the full amount. The former student also faces the increasingly daunting task of obtaining legal working papers to get a legitimate job in the EU.

A group of former American students now living in Berlin discussed regrets about taking out the loans in the first place, and concerns about not being able to return home. "Mario," 34, who's working in the German film industry, said: "I encourage whoever I can to study abroad. It's so much cheaper. Starting your life even $50,000 (£35,000) in the hole is not a good hole to start in." Mario owes $160,000 (£112,000).