Are you a citizen of the United States of America? Thinking of moving abroad from USA? According to the State Department, millions of Americans are actually doing it. These days, it is easier than ever with the increased freedom of remote working. Moving abroad from USA can appeal to just about anyone, whether you’re an individual expat, a digital nomad, a family relocating for a new job, or a future retiree aiming to make the most of those golden years.
While there are many places to consider for your new home, we’ve narrowed down this list of the best countries for Americans to move to looking into cost of living, tax, safety, friendliness, quality of life, healthcare and job opportunities. These aspects are major to consider when you move from USA. So, which are the best countries for American expats to move to?
The best countries for Americans to move to from USA
There are over 8 million Americans currently living abroad, which for scale is one New Jersey’s worth of us out there roaming the world. Whether a country has a lot of English speakers, a favorable cost of living or an immigration process that’s easier, some are more navigable for Americans to move to than others.
Luckily, in Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, and beyond, these countries make a pretty compelling case to leave everything behind. Living abroad is a great way to gain a new perspective not just on a new country, but your home country as well.
Although the United States offers a world class healthcare system, educational, business and work opportunities, there’s been a rise in Americans looking to move abroad, and politically stable destinations with accessible and affordable healthcare are popular choices. Moreover, moving abroad also gives you an opportunity to diversify your passport portfolio.
This list covers some of the best destinations for Americans and their families to move to in 2023. It’s based on the latest available data on things like potential expat earnings, quality of life, healthcare and more. However, please remember to always do your own research into local COVID-19 restrictions.
Cost of living
Cost of living for expats is definitely something to consider when you move abroad. It includes the price of accommodation and utility bills, transportation, tax. Choosing a smaller city rather than a capital could help saving.
Remote working and work-life balance
Working remotely is not going away. However, you may be putting in longer hours to stay in touch with colleagues and clients in different time zones. This can lead to isolation and mental health challenges.
Look into co-working spaces, community events, clubs, gyms, and access to serotonin-inducing activities—like running groups, cooking classes, and language courses—all of which can help you keep the balance and mingle with locals and fellow expats.
The best countries for Americans to move to from USA
It makes sense that due to geography, the vast majority of North American expatriates choose to base themselves within the Americas – that is South America, Central America or Canada. However, Europe and Asia are also popular with US expats.
Time and time again, Mexico has proven itself to be the best country for Americans to move to from USA. Mexico is a popular choice with Americans due to its close proximity to the US and its climate. In fact, Mexico is home to more American expats than any other country in the world, with 1.5 million choosing it as their permanent home.
When relocating to Mexico from the US, there are three types of visa depending on how long you want to stay:
- a 6-month holiday permit
- a temporary working permit
- a permanent visa
As Mexico is such a big country, expats recommend staying for 6 months on a temporary visa first. You can then try out different locations – both cities and coastal towns – before committing to somewhere to live.
The pros of being an American expat in Mexico include:
- A lower cost of living – Investopedia estimates that a single person or retiree can live in Mexico City for less than US$1,000/month. This will be higher for families. Bear in mind that wages are lower in Mexico than in the US.
- Good work opportunities in the tech industries – There is an emerging tech scene in Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. It’s home to small and medium companies bursting with innovation, creativity and engineering talent. Big names such as Oracle, Intel, IBM and HP are based there.
- Friendly people – The Mexican people are said to be very friendly and welcoming. Even so, it’s a good idea to learn as much Spanish as you can before your move.
The cons of moving to Mexico from USA as an American expat include:
- Safety – This is always a consideration in Mexico, although places like Querétaro and Sayulita tend to be safer options.
- Tax – If you’re a US citizen, you will continue to pay tax in the US.
- Health insurance – You will need health insurance when you move to Mexico. Make sure you check that it covers you for being flown back to the US if that’s something you would like included. Not all companies include medical evacuation as standard.
Around 9,000 Americans live permanently in this South American country that’s famous for being on the Equator. Ecuador is consistently voted one of the cheapest places to retire and with an average expat salary of around US$48,000, it’s a very affordable place to live and to move to from USA.
Property prices are rising steadily, particularly in the popular city of Cuenca, but the cost of living in the capital Quito is still cheaper than many expats imagine. As with Mexico, you’ll get more from your move if you commit to learning Spanish.
Some of the top reasons Ecuador is one of the best countries for Americans to move to include:
- Inexpensive, efficient healthcare – Ecuador provides high quality, affordable healthcare. This is a draw for many Americans, as the Ecuadorian healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the US. Dental care is also very reasonably priced.
- Cultural heritage – Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and full of rich sights and experiences.
- Wellbeing – Ecuador is famous for its ‘buen vivir’, levels of wellbeing in Ecuador are comparatively higher than in countries of a similar size with a similar GDP.
When making your decision about a permanent move from America to Ecuador, it’s worth considering:
- Ease of finding employment – Ecuador is best suited to people with specialist skills and/or who work for a big international company. Otherwise, jobs are not overly plentiful and often tend to go to locals first.
- Security concerns – The bigger cities, including the capital Quito, still have some issues around personal security including street robbery and assault.
Canada is another consistently popular choice for American expats to move to from USA. It ranks very highly for quality of life, safety, health and environment – and it has a stable political landscape.
Over 10,000 American expats moved to Canada in 2019, and the number of US families moving permanently to Canada more doubled in 2020.
Some of the key advantages when moving from USA to Canada include:
- Good expat salaries – The average expat salary in Canada is an impressive US$111,000.
- Universal healthcare – The healthcare system in Canada is world-famous and a definite draw for American expats.
When weighing up both the pros and cons of moving your family to Canada from the USA, it’s worth noting that:
- Cost of living – The cost of living is high in the major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.
- Private healthcare – There are restrictions over private healthcare. Certain Canadian provinces have banned private healthcare, although there is some debate as to whether this is constitutional.
After the Americas, Europe is the next most popular destination for US expats. The jewel in Europe’s crown is sunny Portugal where the cost of living is among the lowest in Western Europe. With the average expat salary being around $102,669 USD, there is bound to be money left over for enjoying the good life, so it’s proven itself as one of the best countries for American expats to move to.
Other big draws for moving to Portugal from USA as an expat include:
- Accessible healthcare – In Portugal, healthcare is high quality and a fraction of the cost in the US. And if you become a permanent resident, public health care is free.
- Safety – In 2017, Portugal was ranked the third safest country in the world, 156 places ahead of the US. Overall crime is low and politics are stable.
On the other hand, it’s important to note that:
- Moving process – There tends to be a lot of paperwork involved for Americans moving to Portugal, which can be a laborious process. There are a variety of visa options and it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a relocation expert.
- Burglaries – Unfortunately, home burglaries are common in Portugal. Although overall crime is low, burglaries are common, particularly among tourists and expats.
You’ll be in good company as an expat in Singapore, where almost a third of the population are foreigners.
With tens of thousands of these expats from the US, it’s no surprise that Singapore has made the list as one of the best countries for American expats.
Although salaries tend to be lower in than they are in North America, as an expat you may be eligible for a relocation package. And while taxes are low in Singapore, do check whether – as an American citizen – you will need to continue to pay into the US tax system.
Some clear benefits for American expats in Singapore include:
- World-class education – If you’re moving from USA to Singapore with your family, education will be an important consideration.
- Universal healthcare – Singapore’s healthcare is among the best in the world. Residents are expected to contribute towards their treatment. Many expats in Singapore choose to have private healthcare insurance for emergencies and more complex issues.
- Safety – Violent crime is very low, and it’s also one of the cleanest cities in the world. This is a huge draw for Americans looking to relocate to Singapore.
Other factors to take into considering include:
- High cost of living – Prices are high in Singapore, including groceries and property prices. This is because Singapore is a small island where goods have to be imported and space is at a premium.
- Becoming a citizen – It is possible, but only after living in Singapore for two years.
The UK is more popular now with American expats than ever before. As of 2021, a record 166,000 American nationals were living in the UK.
With a common language, a highly advanced economy, and many American companies maintaining European headquarters in the UK, it’s no surprise Britain is one of the most popular destinations in the world for American expats.
But be aware: despite everything the two countries have in common, Americans get no special treatment when moving to the UK, and American expats will need to apply for a visa if they intend to work in the UK.
What are the benefits of moving to the UK from the USA?
- World-class education – The UK offers some of the best schools in the world, in both the state and private sectors. UNESCO’s 2018 Education Index ranked the UK 7th in the world for education, while The QS World University Rankings 2022 lists 17 British universities in the top 100.
- Excellent state healthcare – The NHS (National Health Service) was one of the world’s first universal healthcare systems, and still consistently ranks as one of the best. As residents and taxpayers in the UK, American expats can benefit from state healthcare, with most services provided free of charge.
- Four countries in one – Moving to the UK means you become a resident of all four countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each country has its own unique culture, opening up a lot of opportunities to travel and explore.
What should American expats be aware of before moving to the UK?
- Living isn’t cheap – While the cost of living in the UK is slightly cheaper than in the USA, American expats may find they receive lower salaries and pay more in tax after moving to the UK.
- The visa system is a minefield – You’ll need a valid work visa before you’re allowed to work in the UK, but beware – applying for one is notoriously difficult (not least because there are dozens of different types). Many also involve a long application process, lasting up to six months.
- Brexit – Brexit has had quite an impact on the United Kingdom, and has made life especially challenging for expats. As an American expat, you may encounter shifting sands beneath your feet as the UK updates its policies about foreign nationals living in the UK. Stay up-to-date on the situation with our Brexit Hub.
Germany is making a name for itself as the working capital of Europe, and for good reason. With the fourth largest economy in the world, valued at over US$4 trillion, Germans bring home the highest salaries of any European country, with a GDP per capita of US$50,801.
Germany is home to many world-famous brands, including several of the world’s top automobile companies. Its strong engineering sector is even attracting American manufacturers, notably Tesla, who are constructing a ‘gigafactory’ in Berlin.
American expats will find it easy to settle in to Germany, with more than half of all Germans fluent in English, access to the EU Schengen Area included with their visa, and lots of social benefits too.
What are the best things about moving to Germany from the USA?
- Best in the world for education – UNESCO ranked Germany the best country in the world for education in their 2018 Education Index. Germany is known for its clean classrooms, excellent teachers and high graduate employment opportunities. Find out more about education in Germany here.
- Top medical technology – As well as having an outstanding healthcare system, Germany boasts some of the most advanced medical technology in the world outside the USA and China, thanks to its world-class universities and research institutions.
- Excellent public transport – Germans are well-known for their efficiency. One of the reasons is their superb public transport system, which is constantly innovating and improving. And better still, Germany is even taking steps to make travel by train cheaper for residents.
What are the downsides about life in Germany?
- High taxes – Top-earners in Germany will find they pay considerably more income tax than they do in the USA. While Americans pay a maximum of 37% of their earnings in income tax, many Germans find themselves paying more than 42%. The pay-off is subsidized healthcare.
- Expensive housing – The price of property in Germany is very high, meaning the rate of home ownership in Germany is the second-lowest in Europe (ahead of only Switzerland) and declining year-on-year. Renting has become normal in Germany, but even this can be very expensive, especially in big cities.
- Conservative working culture – Foreigners may find working culture in Germany to be based on strict, perhaps even stuffy hierarchies. Having said that, young Germans are gradually starting to push through radical change, especially in Berlin.
Its sun-swept coastlines, glittering cities and trendy culture may betray the fact Australia is now the 13th-largest economy in the world.
So, while on the one hand it’s a great place to move to as an expat from USA, Australia is also a great place to work! That is, if you can make it through the lengthy visa application process.
What do people love about living down under?
- Relaxed culture – Life in Australia can feel very different to America. Australians don’t care much for the work-comes-first lifestyle. Instead, they value time with friends over a good coffee, getting out and about to go hiking, surfing and cycling, and – most of all – sports (think cricket, rugby and Aussie football).
- Incredible food – As anyone who’s watched MasterChef Australia will tell you, Australia is a rapidly up-and-coming destination for foodies. Mixing all the best parts of Eastern and Western cuisine, expect to find nothing but great food in any Australian restaurant.
- Top 10 for healthcare – According to CEOWorld Magazine Healthcare Index, Australia ranks 6th in the world for quality of healthcare. Plus, because it’s state-funded, most medical services in Australia are free for residents.
But what else should you be aware of when moving to Australia?
- Very expensive – Australia consistently ranks near the top in lists of most expensive countries to live as an expat. Salaries are also lower than you would expect in America, with the average full-time worker earning US$68,000 a year.
- Complicated visa system – Applying to live in Australia is a long, tedious and often expensive process. Many workers will need to find employment and have their visa applications sponsored before they can apply for residency.
- Culture shock – Just because Australians and Americans share a common language, don’t expect to find many home comforts down under. Life in Australia can be very difficult to adapt to – and remember, you’ll be a long way from home.
Surely France needs no introduction? From insatiable food to world-renowned art, chic lifestyles, bustling cities and incredible landscapes on your doorstep, there’s a long list of reasons why you should absolutely move to France as an American expat.
France is also one of the world’s leading economies, making it a fantastic place to live, work and raise a family. Here are some of the reasons we recommend France to expats from America.
Reasons to move to France as an American expat
- World leaders in education – According to the 2021 Best Countries Report, France is one the best countries in the world for education. The state education system is very strong, with only 1 in 5 students going to private school in France, and France is home to several of the world’s top universities too.
- Strong and growing economy – France is the world’s 7th-largest economy, and is on track for considerable growth in the next decade. The French economy is diverse, producing everything from world-class wines and cheeses, to automobiles and airplanes, and it boasts a robust professional services sector.
- Unrivaled culture – Life in France is a culture-junkie’s delight. French cuisine is world-renowned for a reason, and as an American expat in France you’ll find oodles of culture to indulge yourself in. No wonder the French have one of the highest average life expectancies in the world!
Are there any ‘mal’ (bad) parts about life in France?
- Language and culture barrier – Even though they’re just next door to England, the French are not widely fluent in English. Only two-fifths of French people speak English, so you and your family will need to learn French to survive. French people are also very different to Americans – indeed, many accuse the French of being unfriendly to foreigners.
- High cost of living – Life in France comes with a price tag. France is the most expensive country to live in Western Europe – and salaries can be much lower than in America too.
- But on the plus side… – Applying for a visa to live in France is relatively easy. You can even travel to France visa-free for 90 days, giving you time to settle in before you start your visa application process.
India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Right now, it’s the 5th-largest in the world, but by 2027 Morgan Stanley expects it to overtake Germany and Japan to become the third-largest.
This makes India an attractive place for expats to live and work. As an American expat in India, you’ll discover no end of opportunities, set within a country that blends incredible culture with a rapidly modernizing landscape.
Top reasons to become an expat in India
- Super affordable – As an American living in India, you’ll find the country to be incredibly reasonable. You could easily find a furnished apartment in the nice part of a metropolitan city that costs a mere US$600 a month to rent.
- Utterly intrepid – India is a vast and bustling country that mixes ancient tradition with modern thinking. As an American expat living in India, expect to find yourself wowed every single day, as you adjust to India’s deep history of religion, culture and customs.
- Friendly people – Indians are very friendly and accommodating people who will go out of their way to make you feel at home. As an American expat in India, expect to be invited to many festivals, dinner parties and social gatherings.
The cons of life in India for American expats
- Extreme weather – It should come as no surprise that India can be brutally hot and dry, especially in the summer. The latter half of the year then brings monsoons, while in the north of the country the temperatures can plunge below freezing in the winter.
- Hustle and bustle – India is a country of 1.4 billion people, but its public infrastructure is simply not cut out to deal with this many citizens. Sanitation, transport and even energy systems can often break down, making India a somewhat stressful place to live.
- Behind on tackling sexism – Indian culture is very divided between men and women, with women still facing numerous issues in the workplace and around personal safety. While the country has made significant strides over recent years, there is still a long way to go to address this issue.
Brazil has the third-largest economy in the Americas behind the USA and Canada, and the 12th-largest worldwide. Combining all the best parts of life in Latin America, Brazilian culture is noted for its passionate approaches to food, dance, soccer and – perhaps most of all – festivals. Living in Brazil as an American expat is a never-ending adventure, a journey head-first into another world.
Reasons to move to Brazil as an American expat
- Modern living without the price tag – Brazilian cities are very advanced and modern, having been based on the European cities that came before them. As such, you’ll find everything a Westerner could ask for. However, the cost of living is significantly lower. A nice apartment in Rio de Janeiro costs just US$900 a month to rent.
- A sports-fan’s delight – Brazilians are incredibly sporty people, and sport plays a central role in the Brazilian way of life. Living in Brazil, don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking part in a few of these activities yourself – whether that’s soccer, volleyball, basketball or capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.
- An action-packed festival calendar – Brazilians live for parties, and barely a week goes by that you won’t find a festival to go to. The Carnival of Brazil involves several weeks of preparation and build-up, with no shortage of singing, dancing and bright colors.
What should you look out for when moving to Brazil from USA?
- High crime rate – While the crime rate in Brazil has gone down in recent years, Brazil still ranks in the top 10 countries worldwide for crime. Street muggings and drug peddling are especially common in Brazil’s big cities, where organized crime also flourishes.
- Poor healthcare infrastructure – While Brazil provides healthcare free of charge, its health system is often overwhelmed. Hospitals can be crowded, waiting lists for surgeries are long, and gaining access to high-quality doctors can be hard. For this reason, you may want to turn to the private medical sector.
- Economic inequality – As an American expat in Brazil, you will have to come face-to-face with the sometimes shocking inequality. The poorest Brazilians can barely afford basic housing, and infrastructure can be non-existent in poor areas. Many claim that the key driver of this inequality is racism.
China is truly the country that has it all, from breath-taking landscapes to cosmopolitan ultra-cities to millenia-old archaeological sites right before your eyes.
Living in China is not for the faint-of-heart – as one of the few remaining communist countries, you must be prepared to adapt to a completely different way of life. However, the reward is the opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most extraordinary and unique cultures.
And of course, China is the world’s 2nd-largest economy behind the US, meaning expats can expect to be paid well for their valuable skills.
What can you look forward to about life in China as an American expat?
- It’s super safe – China is one of the safest countries in the world. That’s not to say crime doesn’t happen in China – pick-pocketing and petty theft are actually quite common – but generally speaking, China is far safer than other corners of the world.
- A fantastic education system – The education system in China is highly advanced. China has six universities within the top 100 in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2022. No wonder China has become one of the top countries in Asia for international students.
- A great stepping stone to Asia – Living in China gives you unrivaled opportunities to travel in Asia. China has the busiest airports in the world outside of the US. Living in China, you’ll be only a few hours away from countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
What are the downsides to moving to China from the USA?
- A significant language and culture barrier – Many American expats find it hard to integrate in China. Working culture can be stressful. The Chinese draw a distinction between themselves and ‘foreigners’, which can seem alienating. Less than 1% of the population speaks English, so you’ll need to learn Mandarin, Cantonese, or perhaps both.
- Extremely difficult to get a visa – You can stay in China for up to 180 days, after which you will need a residency visa. But getting one can be difficult. If you have a criminal record, you can forget about it. Make sure to visit an American Embassy for help with your application.
Poland is Europe’s hidden gem. As an up-and-coming tech center for Europe, Poland has risen to become the world’s 21st-largest economy. While average salaries are low, the cost of living is very reasonable in comparison, meaning a family can live in Poland quite comfortably. Polish cities are rapidly modernizing and drenched in history, and there’s no shortage of cultural activities to take part in.
The best bits about life in Poland as an American expat
- Low cost of living – Compared to other countries in Europe, Poland is a very reasonable country to live as an expat. A nice apartment in a city like Warsaw or Krakow will cost around US$1,000 a month to rent.
- Good working conditions – Poland is a work-hard, play-hard culture. As an American expat, you’ll fit right in. The key benefit is that Poland has a high degree of rights and benefits for workers – it’s in the top 10 countries in Europe in the Labour Rights Index.
- Excellent healthcare – Polish healthcare runs on a public-funded, insurance-based system. As an American expat, you may want to choose private healthcare, which is very affordable and also offers you access to the best doctors and medical technology you could ask for.
The down-sides of moving to Poland from the USA
- The incredibly cold winters – Make sure you’ve packed your winter woolies before jetting off for Poland. Winters in Poland can get incredibly cold and dry. Rent may be cheap, but you can expect high heating bills in the winter.
- The bureaucracy – Americans who are used to order and structure will find Poland to be quite a culture shock. Many expats highlight bureaucracy as one of the major disadvantages of living in Poland – starting a business can be a particular challenge.
- Low salaries – The average monthly salary in Poland is one of the lowest in Central Europe, at just over €1,000 (US$1,040). As an expat, you can expect to earn more, especially if you’re working for a multinational country, but your wages may still be much lower than in other European countries.
Wherever you move, move with total peace of mind
In this article, we took you through the best countries to move to from the USA – in terms of the standard of living, cost of living, language barrier, economic opportunities, lifestyle and more.
At William Russell, we have over 30 years’ experience of helping expatriates settle into their new lives overseas by providing world-class international health insurance. We also have lots of expert resources to help you and your family choose a country to move to and adapt to life abroad. As always, make sure you do your research before you relocate or retire abroad. It’s a good idea to read and watch as much as you can about your intended destination before you commit, especially on international job opportunities.
We hope this list of best countries to move to from USA has been helpful to you as an American expat. No matter where you move to from USA, you can take one thing off your mind. William Russell offers international health insurance that covers you for everything from minor injuries to long hospital stays. We can even offer medical evacuation to patients who require treatment in other countries. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.