TheUS government doesn’t officially track thenumber ofemigrants. But theUS Department ofState estimates that there are around nine million American expats worldwide. This includes Americans who chose residence permits or citizenship byinvestment programs.
Inthesecond quarter of2022, 580 Americans notjust relocated toanother country, but also renounced their citizenship. It is three times more than last year, says theUS Internal Revenue Service. Over thepast five years, 1,473 citizens withanet worth ofatleast $2,000,000 have left theUS.
Best countries tomove fromtheUSA
Close proximity totheUS makes theCaribbean countries appealing toAmericans. Thelocal sunny tropical climate, warm azure ocean, and developed infrastructure make it aperfect place toraise children or retire.
English is widely spoken in18 Caribbean territories outof26. Eastern Caribbean Dollar is pegged totheUnited States Dollar: ECD 2,70 = USD 1.
Citizenship byInvestment are offered byfive Caribbean nations— Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.
Apassport fromone ofthose Caribbean countries provides:
- Tax optimization. There are nocapital gains or inheritance taxes. Withtheexception ofSt Lucia, three are notaxes oninterest, dividends, and royalties. InSaint Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Barbuda, there is noincome tax;
- Profitable real estate market. Theaverage price for1 m² ofproperty is $7,500. Real estate can be rented foran average yield of3,5%. Investors participating inCaribbean citizenship programs don't have topurchase alandholding licence forforeigners.
Caribbean citizenship byinvestment programs: acost comparison
|Country||National Fund contribution||Real estate purchase|
|Antigua and Barbuda||From$100,000||From$200,000|
|St Kitts and Nevis||From$150,000||From$175,000|
Contributions tonational funds are non-refundable. Thereal estate options are refundable: investment properties can be used forprofit, and sold infive years.
Investors and their families can use an individual Caribbean citizenship cost calculation.
Portugal is the6th safest country intheworld, according totheGlobal Peace Index. Thecost ofliving inPortugal is almost 35% lower than inother Western European states. Thecountry has amild climate withan abundance ofwarm, sunny days, beautiful beaches and resorts, and rich culture. English is spoken by27% ofPortuguese nationals.
Education inPortugal is ofhigh quality. There are international schools aimed atexpat children, as well as American international schools withtheUS academic system.
Diplomas ofPortuguese universities are recognized globally. Fourteen local universities are placed intheTimes Higher Education World University Rankings.
Taxes inPortugal are lower than intheUS. New residents can be given aNon-Habitual Resident (NHR) status. Withthat status, skilled professionals who receive salaries fromPortuguese companies or are self-employed inPortugal can pay income tax atalowered rate of20%. Forthose receiving pensions fromother countries, theNHR status provides thepension tax ataflat rate of10%.
Best options forrelocating toPortugal
- Portugal Golden Visa byinvestment. Applicants invest from€280,000 and choose outofseven options, including thepurchase ofthereal estate, or investment fund, starting acompany, or making acapital transfer.
Investors can get aspecial Non-habitual Resident status. Afterthat, they don’t have topay global income taxes inPortugal for10 years, and thetax rate fortheincome earned inPortugal is 20%.
- TheRetirement Visa, or thePortugal D7 Visa. Applicants need toprove apassive income outside ofPortugal ofatleast €760 amonth.
- In5 years, residents can apply forPortugal citizenship.
If you're planning onmoving toEurope fromtheUS, note that Malta Citizenship forExceptional Services Regulations is one ofakind intheEuropean Union. While Malta doesn’t have direct citizenship byinvestment program, it has anaturalisation program forexceptional services, including direct investment.
Healthcare inMalta ranks better than intheUS one. Environmental initiatives are robust: forexample, thecountry is transitioning toagreen economy, and local beaches get Blue Flag awards every year.
Safety inMalta is high: thecountry is among the20 safest ones intheworld. Interms ofcrime rate, it’s safer here than inDenmark, Ireland or theNetherlands. Malta is also the2nd safest country intheworld forwomen.
Theclimate inMalta is theMediterranean, withhot summers and mild winters. Theaverage annual sea temperature is 68 °F— thewarmest inEurope.
Tax system inMalta is favourable. Forinstance, shareholders ofMaltese companies can return up to100% ofthecorporate tax. Malta’s VAT is below 20%. There’s noproperty tax, except forthetime theowner sells it, and notaxes ongifts or inheritance.
Theeducation level inMalta is high, withanumber ofpublic and private international schools. Most schools follow theBritish curriculum. University diplomas fromMalta are recognized intheUK and theUS. TheUniversity ofMalta is included intheQS World University Ranking.
Speaks English inMalta
Options forrelocating toMalta fromtheUS:
- Malta Residence Permit. Investors spend atleast €30,000 and either rent or purchase real estate.
- Malta Naturalisation forExceptional Services byDirect Investment regulation. Investors fulfil three conditions: contribute totheNational Development and Social Fund, donate toanon-governmental organisation, and buy or rent residential real estate. Theminimum investment amount is €690,000.
Spain has thelargest American population inEurope. It is asafe country withaGlobal Peace Index of1,603, while theUS has 2,337— thelower theindex is, thebetter.
English is notwidely spoken inSpain, withapproximately 12% knowing thelanguage— mostly duetothevast number ofAmerican expats. But this isn’t an obstacle when it comes tosocial services, banking, or thehospitality industry. Education and healthcare quality inthecountry is onaEuropean level, withpublic and private options. Thecultural and social scene ofSpain is flourishing.
Theclimate inSpain is perfect forthose who don’t like either cold or hot weather. Summers here are relatively cool, but sunny, and winters are mild.
One oftheways torelocate toSpain fromtheUS is toget aPermanent Residence byInvestment. Options include investing atleast €500,000 inreal estate, atleast €1,000,000 incompany shares or bank deposits, and atleast €2,000,000 ingovernment bonds. Residents can apply forSpanish citizenship in10 years.
Greece is rightfully praised forits beauty, heritage, culture, lovely Mediterranean climate, and lay-back lifestyle. Thecountry has one ofthelowest costs ofliving intheEuropean Union. It’s also one ofthesafest European states.
Education inGreece is globally recognized forits high quality. Expat children can attend bilingual and international schools— especially if residing inAthens. Athens is home tosome ofthemost prestigious universities inGreece.
Thetax system inGreece has benefits aimed atexpats and high-net-worth foreign investors. Shipowners, entrepreneurs, and retired foreign investors receive a15-year tax break and pay aflat tax of€100,000.
Greece Golden Visa is aprogram that grants permanent residency byinvestment. Investors contribute from€250,000, and use one outofseveral options:
- purchasing real estate;
- purchasing aplot ofconstruction or agricultural land;
- purchasing bonds;
- purchasing atimeshare;
- opening adeposit;
- renting atourist accommodation;
- inheriting real estate.
In7 years investors can apply forGreek citizenship.
TheRepublic ofCyprus is an island country and apart oftheEuropean Union. English is spoken by76% ofthepopulation. Cyprus is thethird largest island intheMediterranean Sea, and one ofthemost beautiful ones.
Climate inCyprus is amix ofSubtropical Mediterranean inthelowlands and Continental inthemountains. This means that you can enjoy hot summers bythewarm sea, and go skiing or snowboarding duringwinter.
Education inCyprus is available both inprivate and public schooling forms. American expat children can attend international English schools. There are more than thirty well-respected colleges and universities, withtheUniversity ofCyprus being thehighest-ranked one.
Cyprus Permanent Residence byInvestment is aconvenient way tosettle ontheisland. Applicants invest atleast €300,000 inone ofthe3 options: residential or commercial real estate, company shares, or investment funds.
Permanent residents ofCyprus don’t pay global income, or inheritance taxes, and theCorporate Income Tax is 12,5%, which is one ofthelowest inEurope. Citizenship can be obtained in5 years.
Switzerland is inthetop 3 most expensive countries intheworld, as annually confirmed byagencies like Eurostat. But thecost ofliving is justified byahigh quality oflife. TheBetter Life Index ofSwitzerland is 7,5, which is higher than theglobal average of6,7.
English is spoken byhalf oftheSwiss population. Themost common language ofSwitzerland is theSwiss German dialect.
Climate inSwitzerland is continental: you can experience all four seasons without much weather harshness.
Education inSwitzerland consists offree public schools and paid private schooling. American expat students can also attend bilingual, or international schools. Public universities inSwitzerland are among theworld's best, and Swiss citizens don't pay tuition forBachelor's and Master's degrees.
Taxes inSwitzerland can be linked totheSwitzerland Residence Permit Program. This program is away torelocate toSwitzerland fromtheUS. Applicants pay alump sum tax ofatleast ₣450,000 per year.
Switzerland Residence Permit must be renewed every year or every 5 years. Residence permit holders can live inSwitzerland, but notwork. However, they manage capital or business inanother country. In10 years they can become full fledged Switzerland citizens.
Austria is one ofthemost livable countries intheworld. It's also great forUS expats who value privacy: Austrians are genuinely friendly, yet respectful when it comes toboundaries.
Climate inAustria is mainly continental, withhot summers and cold winters. Thecountry has one ofthebest landscapes intheworld, including nature preserves withlakes, mountains, and forests.
Cost ofliving inAustria is moderate tohigh, but is approximately ten times lower than inneighbouring Switzerland. Austria is also an extremely safe country. Forinstance, it has ahomicidal rate of0,61 per 100,000 population, one ofthelowest rates intheworld.
English is widely spoken inAustria especially inurban areas, as well as acrosspublic, hospitality and business sectors. Theofficial language ofthecountry is aspecific dialect ofGerman, known as Austrian German. If you want topermanently reside inthecountry, you will need toeventually learn thelanguage.
Healthcare inAustria is one ofthebest intheworld, withadeveloped two-tier system. Both public and private healthcare services are quality.
Education-wise, Austria is inthetop 30 countries intheworld, according totheUnited Nations Development Program. Public schools mostly teach inGerman, but it is possible tofind bilingual or international public schools. US expat children can attend one oftheEnglish-speaking private schools that teach theAmerican Curriculum.
Universities inAustria are globally recognized, and public ones offer tuition-free options forcitizens.
When relocating toAustria fromtheUS, expats can participate intheAustria Residence Permit program. There are nodirect investment options, but renting ahouse inthecountry is one ofthemandatory options. In5 years expats can apply forlife-long residency inAustria.
Andorra is asmall, but thriving South-European country, bordering Spain and France. It has one ofthelowest crime rates intheworld and alife expectancy ofup to83 years.
Healthcare inAndorra is intheworld’s top 5. Theinsurance covers 75 to90% ofall healthcare expenses.
Education inAndorra, especially children schooling, has astrong system that leaves students witha100% literacy rate. Public schools have three systems tochoose from— Andorran, French, or Spanish— but there are bilingual and public schools.
Tax rates inAndorra are among thelowest intheworld. There are notaxes ondividends, inheritance, wealth, or profits.
Andorra Residence Permit byinvestment is aconvenient way torelocate toAndorra fromtheUS. Applicants invest atleast €400,000, either purchasing real estate or bonds, investing inabusiness, or opening an interest-free deposit.
Why do Americans move toanother country?
Excluding reasons like job relocation, marriage, or reuniting withthefamily, what drives US citizens tomove abroad is thebetter quality oflife. Themain reasons torelocate are below.
Growing real estate prices. US housing prices grew by18,7% inthefirst quarter of2022 compared tothesame period in2021, says theUS Federal Housing Finance Agency. IntheEuropean Union, housing prices grew only by10,5% over thesame period.
Indeveloped non-European countries, such as theCaribbean states, average real estate cost doesn't exceed $7,000 per 1 m². IntheUS theaverage real estate cost can reach $17,000 per 1 m².
Plummeting euro. Inthesummer of2022, theeuro fell toatwo-decade low against theUS dollar. This made real estate and thecost ofliving inEurope more affordable forAmericans.
Heavy tax burden. Tax rates intheUS are high, and taxes are imposed onincome, payroll, property, sales, capital gains, dividends, imports, estates and gifts.
American citizens must file and pay their US taxes even if living abroad. This results insome Americans renouncing their US citizenship.
American expats consider renouncing their citizenship in2022
Safety and healthcare concerns. TheUS has thehighest rate offirearm deaths compared withother high-income countries. Additionally, therecent overturn ofRoe v. Wade bytheUS Supreme Court put female reproductive rights indanger. These two precedents are among themain factors that make Americans concerned fortheir and their families' safety.
Climate change. 64% ofAmericans said climate change intheUS and better weather inanother country was their reason torelocate in2022, claims theFibres survey.
What toconsider when moving toanother country fromtheUSA
Ease oftravel. TheUS passport is one ofthestrongest intheworld. However, it doesn't grant visa-free access everywhere. Forexample, Americans need toobtain visas toenter China, Turkey, India, and Vietnam. But they can get asecond passport fromastate withavisa-free agreement withone or several ofthese countries.
Travel freedom is also essential forthose who want torevoke their US citizenship. Withapassport fromaEuropean Union or aCaribbean nation, Americans will be eligible fortourist and business US visas. Thus they will retain global mobility.
Taxation requirements. TheUS tax system is notoriously complicated. If an American citizen moves toaforeign country, they still need topay US taxes onworldwide income.
TheUS has tax treaties with66 countries. Thetreaties allow foreign residents nottopay taxes or pay them atareduced rate onincome they receive within theUS. American citizens residing abroad can also file aForeign Earned Income Exclusion, which allows themaximum tax exclusion of$112,000 per person, as of2022.
Americans withdual citizenship can also revoke their US citizenship and pay taxes inone country only. They will have toconduct business withtheStates as aforeign entity, which can be convenient withadeveloped country passport.
Moving withthefamily. Make sure your country ofchoice will welcome your relatives as well. Permanent residence, or citizenship byinvestment programs usually provide this. Theinvestor can add their spouse, children, parents, and siblings totheapplication.
When relocating withkids, research, and possibly apply forakindergarten or aschool beforehand. Explore thetuition options: most developed countries have afree school education, but free university education is only available forpermanent residents.
If you're looking forthebest and safest country tolive inwithchildren, UNICEF regularly publishes thePlaces and Spaces ranking ofstates like that.
Climate and environment. Research theaverage seasonal temperatures, thepossibilities ofnatural disasters, thequality ofair and water, and thelike. Rankings like theEnvironmental Performance Index will help.
Work and business permissions. Notevery country allows residency permit holders toget ajob, or own abusiness within thestate borders. When applying foraresidency permit inyour country ofchoice, evaluate your options.
Expats who obtained permanent residency or citizenship ofanother country are usually allowed towork permanently or start acompany.
Language and cultural characteristics. Learning thelanguage and customs ofacountry you reside inis notjust politeness and theway tomake day-to-day life convenient. There are states where residence permits or citizenship applicants must pass language and history tests.
Living expenses. Includes real estate, utility, food, clothing, gas, healthcare, education, and other necessities. There are also residence permit programs— like digital nomad or retiree visa programs— that require proof ofregular income ofacertain amount.
How tomove legally fromtheUS toanother country
Alot ofcountries have residency permit programs and naturalisation laws, and expats use them tolegally relocate. This includes thecountries we listed above.
Foreign countries can grant permanent residency or citizenship based on:
- descent. Some countries give citizenship tothose born ontheir territory, also known as theright ofsoil. Others give citizenship tothose born fromatleast one oftheir citizens, also known as theright ofsoil. There are countries that combine both theright ofsoil and theright ofblood policies;
- exceptional merit. Includes skilled professionals and specialists inscience, business, art and other fields, as well as investors;
- refugee status, which includes political asylums;
- investment. Applicants invest inthecountry’s economy. Options include making national fund contributions, purchasing bonds, buying or renting real estate, supporting government initiatives and more. Inreturn, investors can be granted residency or citizenship.
You can’t relocate fromtheUS toaforeign country withstudent or foreign visas. Your first step needs tobe joining aresidency, citizenship, or naturalisation program, depending onwhat your country ofchoice offers.
Residency visas grant along-term permit forliving inyour chosen country. There are two common types:
- Residence permit. Allows theholder tolive inacountry forapproximately five years. Afterthat, thepermit can be renewed, or theholder can apply forcitizenship. Aresidence permit gives theright tolive, study, seek healthcare, and buy real estate inthecountry. Travel mobility is acommon advantage ofsome residence permits. Forexample, aresidence permit ofaSchengen Zone country allows theholder tospend 90 days outofevery six months inother Schengen countries, visa-free.
Digital nomad visas are aresidence permit type that has been gaining popularity. Aresidence permit commonly doesn’t allow theholder towork or conduct business inthecountry. But adigital nomad visa allows them towork remotely foraforeign state and earn foreign income.(Video) 15 Safest Countries to Live in the World 2023
- Permanent residency. Allows theholder tolive inacountry indefinitely. This status is often given automatically totheresidents who have spent 5—7 years inthecountry. Permanent residency holders are usually allowed toapply forcitizenship. If they opt out, they can still use thesame benefits as thecountry’s citizenship— but they will have toperiodically renew their permanent residency status.
Citizenship can be obtained insome countries byskipping aresidency permit step. Caribbean citizenship byinvestment is agood example.
Frequently asked questions
What is theeasiest country tomove tofromtheUSA?
South American countries like Caribbean states, or Mexico are theclosest totheUS and are also theeasiest forrelocating.
Where should I move toif I want toleave theUS?
Western Hemisphere, South America, and Europe are among theclosest options territory-wise but explore global options. Look forcountries withahigher quality oflife and robust ways towelcome expats. Some countries will grant your naturalisation bytheright ofblood if you were born fromone oftheir citizens. Others give residency forexceptional meri— forinstance, toskilled professionals.
Most residency permit or citizenship programs offer different options forrelocating toanother country, including investing inits economy.
Which is thebest country tomove tofromtheUSA withfamily?
If afamily wants toget second citizenship faster and relocate toawarm country that neighbours theUS, they can choose one oftheCaribbean states. If afamily wants torelocate toasafe European country, Malta offers naturalisation policies byexceptional services, including investment. Other European options toconsider include getting aresidency permit inPortugal, Greece, Cyprus, or Andorra.
What are thebest European countries tomove tofromtheUSA?
Malta is one ofthesafest European states withgreat quality oflife. Cyprus is abeautiful and highly developed nation withalow cost ofliving and acomfortable tax system. But there are many more: check our Best countries tomove fromtheUSA list.
Top countries forAmerican citizens forrelocation
Greece, Cyprus, Andorra, Portugal, theCaribbean and Malta are among themost favourable places forUS expats. Thechoice depends ontheexpat’s demands: forinstance, having a“Plan B” country, aplace toretire, better taxation and business opportunities, or access toEuropean education. Immigrant Invest has achecklist forrelocating fromtheUS and choosing acountry.