© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article extends understandings of circular migration among young migrants (aged 16–35) by focusing on the two key concepts of human capital and life satisfaction. Drawing on a large-scale quantitative primary data set, the YMOBILITY survey, key skills and competencies that facilitate circular migration are identified. It is widely assumed that achieving higher levels of subjective well-being is a primary motivational factor behind migratory decisions. However, there is little conclusive evidence to suggest that migration and mobility lead to increased levels of happiness. We argue that tacit competencies, defined as skills, ideas and experiences that people have but are not codified, are especially valued by circular migrants as facilitators of multiple migratory processes and are of importance to levels of life-satisfaction among young circular migrants. In order to assess circular migration as a life-strategy, the relationship between human capital outcomes and levels of life satisfaction among circular migrants is examined. Our analysis identifies important disparities in human capital and life satisfaction outcomes according to socio-economic and geographic background. It offers insight into the significance of life-course effects on the levels of life-satisfaction among young circular migrants and suggests new theoretical approaches to the study of contemporary migration in Europe.