Some of the easiest countries to relocate to as a U.S. citizen include Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Malta, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain. The best country to move to for one person may not be the same as for another; which country will best meet your personal needs and wants depends on your financial means, as well as your priorities and goals in moving abroad.
These days, it is fairly common to hear about or even personally know people who have moved to another country from the United States. In fact, according to the Association of Americans Resident Overseas, there are currently 8.7 million Americans living abroad in at least 160 countries (not including people in the military). Many of those who move to another country are retirees looking to reduce their cost of living, young professionals seeking a more relaxed lifestyle, and digital nomads taking advantage of their freedom to experience new places and cultures.
Moving to another country can seem daunting, and you will need a good understanding of the country’s visa and permanent resident requirements. Fortunately, American passport holders have a significant advantage because a U.S. passport provides visa-free travel to many countries, giving it one of the top mobility scores in the world, according to the Passport Index‘s ranking.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know before moving abroad and some of the easiest countries to move to from the United States.
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What to consider before moving to another country
Which are the best and easiest countries to move to from the United States? The answer depends on your individual priorities and reasons for living abroad. For example, young families tend to be more interested in safety and the quality of local education systems, while retirees may be more inclined toward places with large expat populations and a quality healthcare system. Remote workers, in turn, will likely take an interest in countries with a low cost of living and reasonable rent prices.
How “easy” it is to move to a new country will also depend on your willingness to take on new challenges, such as learning a new language, adapting to a different climate or standard of living, or fitting into a new culture. That being said, if you’ve been thinking of moving abroad, there are a few options that are widely considered some of the best countries to move to.
DID YOU KNOW? The term “expatriate,” or “expat,” refers to individuals who live outside of their native country, often temporarily or for work reasons. They also often maintain cultural ties with their country of origin, such as their language.
Canada is an especially appealing destination for Americans looking to move abroad because, like the United States, it’s a North American country whose official language is English. Canada has been ranked as one of the most livable countries in the world, and some of its major cities (Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary) have often ranked as some of the most livable cities in the world. This is thanks to Canada’s accessible healthcare and quality education systems, immigrant-friendly policies, and diverse employment opportunities. For those who love nature, Canada also boasts several natural wonders.
The cost of living in Canada is similar to that in the United States (or, in the case of the top cities, a little higher), but the country has a thriving economy, and the gain in quality of life makes the move worthwhile for many American expats. Canada is also considered one of the safest countries in the world and ranks high in political stability.
Canada offers a variety of immigration programs. The Express Entry program (which allows skilled workers to live and work in Canada) and the work visa require the applicant to have a job offer. Some Canadian provinces — such as Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia — have their own immigration programs that are simpler, but they generally require the applicant to already reside in the respective province. Aside from these main options, there are several smaller immigration programs as well, so if Canada is a country you’d like to call home, it’s worth researching the areas you’re interested in moving to and seeing what immigration options are available.
Interested in Canadian citizenship?
“Canada is one of the easiest countries to immigrate to and become a citizen,” says Riva Jeane May Caburog, PR/media coordinator at Nadrich & Cohen. “Through Express Entry or other immigration processes, other nationalities can obtain a permanent residence visa. You can ultimately apply for Canadian citizenship after holding the residence visa for two to three years. The cost to apply for Canadian citizenship is around USD 472 (CAD 630), which is less expensive than the USD 725 fee to get U.S. citizenship.”
If you’d prefer to move to another country where English is the official language, Australia and New Zealand are also favorite destinations for American expats. However, a common drawback of these countries is their higher cost of living compared to the U.S.
Moving to South America can offer many benefits for U.S. citizens, including a low cost of living and an easier process for obtaining residency. Ecuador is one of the easiest countries to relocate to due to its proximity to the United States, the fact that English is widely spoken, and the use of the U.S. dollar as its official currency.
Rent prices are low and the Internet is reliable, making Ecuador one of the best countries for American expats working remotely. Many parts of Ecuador also boast beautiful landscapes and weather, warm and welcoming locals, and some of the lowest restaurant prices in the world.
U.S. citizens can visit Ecuador visa-free for 90 days and can seek permanent residency fairly easily. The two most common temporary visas sought by foreigners are the investor visa and the retirement visa. To qualify for the investor visa, an applicant must purchase real estate or invest money in a bank CD, while the retirement visa requires proof of a fixed monthly income (either from a pension or personal savings).
Greece is one of the best countries to move to in the Balkan region. This sunny Mediterranean country has stunning islands and beaches, a rich and ancient history, and delicious food. It is also relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries: the cost of living is around 30% lower than in the United States. Although it does not currently have a thriving economy, Greece has attracted investors with the Greece Golden Visa Program, which grants a five-year residence permit to anyone investing 250,000 euros in real estate.
While about half of the population speaks English (mostly in the capital city of Athens), there is a language barrier due to many signs being in Greek. Because of this, English-speaking expats will find it beneficial to learn some Greek. Greece also has several international schools, making it an interesting candidate for young families with children.
For anyone wishing to stay longer than the 90 days allowed by their American passport, Greece offers several categories of residence permits. In most cases, U.S. citizens will need to obtain a visa from the Greek Consulate or Embassy that has jurisdiction over the area where they wish to reside.
For those thinking of moving to another country with young children, it is helpful to know that several of the countries listed here have numerous international schools that offer multilingual instruction (including in English) and have multinational student bodies.
Also in the Mediterranean, the small country of Malta is made up of three islands located in the South of Europe, close to Italy. It is another popular country for U.S. citizens, mainly because of the nice climate (more than 300 days of sunshine per year!) and because it offers a similar incentive to the Greece Golden Visa Program to investors. Malta’s Golden Visa grants you permanent residency and the right to live and work in Malta. Malta citizenship is also one of the easiest to obtain — plus, Malta allows dual citizenship, so you will not need to give up your American passport.
Other reasons to consider moving to Malta are its laid-back lifestyle, free health insurance, lower cost of living, and appealing tax benefits, including tax-free crypto regulations. Since English is an official language, English speakers won’t have a hard time adjusting to the culture. And since Malta is part of the Schengen Area, you can visit the Schengen countries and the European Union (EU) countries visa-free.
DID YOU KNOW? The Schengen Area is composed of 27 European countries that no longer require passports or other types of border control from one another. The area is named after the 1985 Schengen Agreement and the 1990 Schengen Convention, both of which were signed in Schengen, Luxembourg.
Not only is Mexico a top tourist destination, but it’s also one of the easiest and most affordable countries to move to from the United States. In fact, as of 2022, an estimated 1.5 million Americans are living in Mexico. Most expats living there were drawn by the country’s low cost of living (which averages between $700 and $900 per month), pleasant climate, affordable healthcare, and good work-life balance.Mexico also has a rich history, modern cities, and beautiful natural diversity. U.S. citizens can arrive in Mexico on a renewable six-month tourist visa, and applying for a temporary resident visa is fairly easy.
Another benefit of moving to Mexico is the fact that the country shares a border with the United States, which makes it easier to frequently visit friends and family members still in the U.S. Mexico also offers many familiar comforts that help expats to feel “at home”: it is easy to find American stores and brands, there is a large expat community, and English is commonly spoken (though it’s still a good idea to learn some Spanish). Mexicans are also very welcoming and familiar with U.S. culture, and many service providers — restaurants, real estate and rental agencies, relocation services that help you set up a bank account, etc. — cater to the needs and language of foreigners moving to their country.
One drawback to keep in mind is that Mexico does have a higher crime rate than the United States — several Mexican cities ranked among the most dangerous in the world in 2022 — but it is possible to find safe areas to live in the country.
Maybe you’re thinking about moving abroad, but you want to stay only as long as your tourist visa allows to get a taste for life in the country first. In that case, consider getting a vacation loan to cover the expenses of your first trip!
Portugal is a popular destination for U.S. citizens due to its pleasant climate and beautiful beaches, but also because of the country’s special visa programs, including the Portugal Golden Visa program. There are several ways to get a Portugal Golden Visa, but the most common is by purchasing real estate (expect to invest between 280,000 and 500,000 euros). It’s also possible to qualify for a Golden Visa by owning a business.
Aside from the Golden Visa, Portugal offers a retirement visa and a digital nomad visa, making it an attractive option for retirees and for those working remotely. The country also offers a temporary-stay visa, valid for a year or less, which requires that you make at least 705 euros per month, and it is not difficult to qualify for permanent residence.
The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low compared to many other European countries, and health insurance is available through the national healthcare system for foreign residents and employees alike. Even though many Americans already call Portugal home, English speakers who don’t learn some Portuguese will likely experience a language barrier. However, its beautiful beaches, relaxed pace of life, and proximity to other countries in Europe still make Portugal one of the best countries to move to from the United States.
As of 2022, Portugal is listed as the #1 easiest country in the EU to get citizenship and is one of only a few countries (along with Malta and Spain) that allow American dual citizenship.
Spain is another one of the easiest countries in Europe to move to as a U.S. citizen. Temporary visas are available to English speakers via the North American Language and Cultural Assistant program, which gives you a monthly stipend for teaching English in Spanish schools. A two-year residency permit is also available through Spain’s own Golden Visa program, and you can continue to renew the permit every two years.
More recently, Spain has started offering a visa for digital nomads that allows you to work remotely and live in the country for up to 12 months. After living in the country for five years, you can apply for permanent residence, and after 10 years, you are eligible for Spanish citizenship and a Spanish passport.
Spain’s warm climate, quaint beach towns and villages, rich culture and history, and relaxed lifestyle also make it one of the best countries to live in. The general cost of living and day-to-day expenses in Spain are relatively low, and many locals speak English. Spanish food is beloved by people from all over the world, and restaurant prices in Spain are among the lowest in Europe.
A possible downside of moving to Spain is that the country has one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU, and the economy saw a significant downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic. With tourism picking back up, however, these statistics are expected to improve over the coming years.
Honorable mentions: other countries worth moving to
If none of the countries listed above appeal to you, here are a few other options worth considering:
Croatia has been attracting more foreign residents by offering a temporary residence permit for people who work remotely. The Croatian language will likely present a challenge, but the country’s picturesque towns and beautiful beaches may more than make up for the language barrier.
Consistently a top tourist destination, France has always had an undeniable appeal. For the past few years, France has been offering a tech visa that allows investors, entrepreneurs, and tech workers to live and work in the country for four years. However, Americans moving there may encounter a significant language barrier, as only about 20% of French people speak fluent English. Of course, being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and the only language other than English to be spoken on all five continents, fluency in French is certainly worth acquiring anyway!
Germany boasts a high-quality education system (including tuition-free universities), economic stability, universal healthcare, and almost double the vacation days that Americans are used to. The cost of living is also generally lower in Germany than in the United States. However, learning German will be necessary, as only about half the German population speaks English.
What country do most Americans relocate to?
Mexico currently has the most Americans living abroad: approximately 1.5 million.
What is the easiest country for an American to get citizenship?
That depends on which citizenship route you plan to take (income, investment, etc.), but some of the easiest countries for which an American can obtain citizenship are Malta, Portugal, and Spain.
What is the easiest country in the world to immigrate to?
Canada is often listed as the top country for immigrants, followed by New Zealand and Mexico.
Which country gives quick citizenship?
Malta offers one of the quickest paths to obtaining citizenship. Countries with even quicker processes include St. Kitts and Nevis, Vanuatu, and Turkey.
What countries offer citizenship to U.S. citizens?
Less than 50% of countries allow dual citizenship, so if you plan to become a citizen elsewhere, you may need to give up your U.S. passport. The Migration Data Portal has a helpful graphic depicting the countries that allow dual citizenship.
What is the easiest country for an American to get dual citizenship?
Portugal, Spain, Malta, and Australia offer easier paths to citizenship than most other countries, and all of them allow dual citizenship for Americans.
Which country gives free citizenship in Europe?
Free citizenship in Europe is only possible through ancestry or descent. Some EU countries — like Poland, Italy, and Ireland — allow you to apply for citizenship if you have parents or grandparents (or in some cases, even great-grandparents) who were born in that country.
For which country is it easier to get citizenship: the United States or Canada?
Canada is easier to immigrate to than the United States, and it also offers a simpler path to citizenship.
- Some of the most common reasons Americans choose to move abroad include a reduced cost of living, a more relaxed lifestyle, and the chance to broaden one’s horizons by experiencing new cultures.
- The easiest countries to move to from the U.S. are Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Malta, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain.
- Which country is best for you to move to will depend on your individual priorities, financial means, and personal reasons for wanting to live abroad.
- Every country offers a different path to gaining permanent residency and obtaining citizenship, so make sure to research the process for each of your countries of interest before deciding where you will ultimately move.
Whether you’re planning to travel to another country for vacation or to “test the waters” of a potential new home, you’ll need to save enough money to prepare for the trip. Use SuperMoney’s comparison tool to find the best travel credit cards that can earn you rewards toward travel. And don’t forget to invest in travel insurance before you go!
View Article Sources
- 8.7 Million Americans (Excluding Military) Live in 160-Plus Countries – The Association of Americans Resident Overseas
- Global Passport Power Rank 2022 – Passport Index
- Easiest Countries to Move to From USA – VisaGuide.World
- Best Countries To Move to From USA: The Ultimate Guide – Get Golden Visa
- Citizenship and Migration – Migration Data Portal
- Why French Matters – Rutgers
- How Widely Spoken is English in Germany? – How Widely Spoken
- Easiest Country To Get Citizenship – 2023 Update – SuperMoney
- How To Find The Best Deals On Travel: 12 Tips – SuperMoney
- Immigration Help – What Are The Legal Costs of Immigrating to the U.S.? (And How to Pay For Them) – SuperMoney
- SuperMoney Guide to Property Value: 4 Critical Factors that Determine the Value of Property – SuperMoney
- Vacation Loans – SuperMoney