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January 5, 2024
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Best countries to move to from the USA: a complete list

Around nine million Americans are expats living in other countries. By moving abroad, they can maintain a high quality of life with more favourable conditions.

We go over the best and easiest countries to relocate from the US, based on expat preferences and expert advice. The options include obtaining a residence permit or citizenship by investing in the country’s economy.

Albert Ioffe
Albert Ioffe

Presents the best countries for USA expats

Best countries to move from the US: a complete list

Best countries to move to from the USA: a complete list

The US government doesn’t officially track the number of emigrants. But the US Department of State estimates that there are around nine million American expats worldwide. This includes Americans who chose residence permits or citizenship by investment programs.

As of May 15th, 2023, 5,315 Americans have renounced their US citizenship in 2023. It is more than twice as much as the number of people who renounced their citizenship in 2022.

Best countries to move from the USA

🌴 The Caribbean

How to move from the US and get second citizenship

The Caribbean is one of the best places in the world for boating and yachting enthusiasts

Close proximity to the US makes the Caribbean countries appealing to Americans. The local sunny tropical climate, warm azure ocean, and developed infrastructure make it a perfect place to raise children or retire.

English is widely spoken in 18 Caribbean territories out of 26. Eastern Caribbean Dollar is pegged to the United States Dollar: ECD 2.70 = USD 1.

Citizenship by Investment are offered by five Caribbean nations — Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.

Caribbean citizenship by investment programs: a cost comparison

Country

National Fund contribution

$100,000+

Real estate purchase

$200,000+

Country

National Fund contribution

$100,000+

Real estate purchase

$200,000+

Country

National Fund contribution

$100,000+

Real estate purchase

$200,000+

Country

National Fund contribution

$150,000+

Real estate purchase

$220,000+

Country

National Fund contribution

$250,000+

Real estate purchase

$400,000+

Contributions to national funds are non-refundable. The real estate options are refundable: investment properties can be used for profit, and sold in five years.

Aside from the main investment, the applicants should pay a Due Diligence fee, a state fee in case of real estate purchase, and other fees. The total expenses depend on the number of family members included in the application.

Individual cost calculation of the Caribbean passport

Individual cost calculation of the Caribbean passport

A passport from one of those Caribbean countries provides:

  1. Tax optimization. There are no capital gains or inheritance taxes. With the exception of St Lucia, there are no taxes on interest, dividends, and royalties. In Saint Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Barbuda, there is no income tax;

  2. Profitable real estate market. The average price for 1 m² of property is $7,500. Real estate can be rented for an average yield of 3,5%. Investors participating in Caribbean citizenship programs also don’t have to purchase an Alien Landholding Licence for foreigners.

  3. Second home. Obtaining a passport by investment is a way to retire comfortably. The Caribbean countries are popular among American retirees who want to spend their free time in a warmer climate. Additionally, living in the Caribbean is more hassle-free than in the US.

pt-flag Portugal

Ways to relocate or retire in Portugals if you’re American

Portugal is one of the “greenest” countries in Europe: 63% of its electricity comes from renewable sources

Portugal is the 7th safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index. The cost of living in Portugal is almost 35% lower than in other Western European states. The country has a mild climate with an abundance of warm, sunny days, beautiful beaches and resorts, and rich culture. English is spoken by 27% of Portuguese nationals.

Education in Portugal is of high quality. There are international schools aimed at expat children, as well as American international schools with the US academic system.

Diplomas of Portuguese universities are recognized globally. Fourteen local universities are placed in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Taxes in Portugal are lower than in the US. In some cases, Portuguese residents can be given a Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status. With that status, foreigners can pay income tax at a lowered rate of 20%. For those receiving pensions from other countries, the NHR status provides the pension tax at a flat rate of 10%.

Citizenship prospects. In 5 years, residents can apply for Portugal citizenship.

Best options for relocating to Portugal are the following:

  1. Portugal Golden Visa by investment. Applicants invest from €250,000 and choose out of five options, including a purchase of investment fund units, starting a company, or supporting arts and cultural heritage of the country.

  2. The Retirement Visa, or the Portugal D7 Visa. Applicants need to prove a passive income outside of Portugal of at least €705 a month. In 2024, the income requirement is €820 per month due to the increase in the minimum salary in Portugal.

  3. The Portugal Digital Nomad Visa. This option is available to foreigners who earn at least €3,040 per month while working for a foreign company remotely, as well as freelancers, self-employed and individual entrepreneurs.

mt-flag Malta

How to move from US to Malta: naturalisation paths to the EU

Malta is the only European Union state with naturalisation policies for investors

If you’re planning on moving to Europe from the US, note that Malta Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations is one of a kind in the European Union. While Malta doesn’t have direct citizenship by investment program, it has a naturalisation program for exceptional services, including direct investment.

Options for relocating to Malta from the US are the following:

  1. The Malta Residence Permit. Investors spend at least €30,000 and either rent or purchase real estate.

  2. The Malta Permanent Residence Program. Investors can receive permanent residency in Malta for life after purchasing real estate in the country or renting it for at least 5 years. The minimum investment is €150,000.

  3. The Malta Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment regulation. Investors fulfil three conditions: contribute to the National Development and Social Fund, donate to a non-governmental organisation, and buy or rent residential real estate. The minimum investment amount is €690,000.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Healthcare in Malta ranks better than in the US. Environmental initiatives are robust: for example, the country is transitioning to a green economy, and local beaches get Blue Flag awards every year.

Safety in Malta is high: the country is among the 20 safest ones in the world. In terms of crime rate, it’s safer here than in Denmark, Ireland or the Netherlands. Malta is also the 2nd safest country in the world for women.

The climate in Malta is the Mediterranean, with hot summers and mild winters. The average annual sea temperature is 68 °F — the warmest in Europe.

Tax system in Malta is favourable. For instance, shareholders of Maltese companies can return up to 100% of the corporate tax. Malta’s VAT is below 20%. There’s no property tax, except for the time the owner sells it, and no taxes on gifts or inheritance.

The education level in Malta is high, with a number of public and private international schools. Most schools follow the British curriculum. University diplomas from Malta are recognized in the UK and the US. The University of Malta is included in the QS World University Ranking.

es-flag Spain

Relocating to Spain from the US: Permanent Residency by Investment

Spain has a well-developed entrepreneurship infrastructure and low levels of bureaucracy and corruption

Spain has the largest American population in Europe. It is a safe country with a Global Peace Index of 1,603, while the US has 2,337 — the lower the index is, the better.

English is not widely spoken in Spain, with approximately 12% knowing the language — mostly due to the vast number of American expats. But this isn’t an obstacle when it comes to social services, banking, or the hospitality industry. Education and healthcare quality in the country is on a European level, with public and private options. The cultural and social scene of Spain is flourishing.

The climate in Spain is perfect for those who don’t like either cold or hot weather. Summers here are relatively cool, but sunny, and winters are mild.

One of the ways to relocate to Spain from the US is to get a residence permit via the Spain Golden Visa program. Options include investing at least €500,000 in real estate, at least €1,000,000 in company shares or bank deposits, and at least €2,000,000 in government bonds. Residents can apply for Spanish citizenship in 10 years.

gr-flag Greece

Moving to Greece from the US: Greece Golden Visa

English is either spoken or understood by half of the Greek population

Greece is rightfully praised for its beauty, heritage, culture, lovely Mediterranean climate, and lay-back lifestyle. The country has one of the lowest costs of living in the European Union. It’s also one of the safest European states.

The Greece Golden Visa is a program that grants residence permits by investment. Investors contribute from €250,000, and use one out of several options:

  • purchasing real estate;

  • purchasing a plot of construction or agricultural land;

  • purchasing bonds;

  • purchasing a timeshare;

  • opening a deposit;

  • renting a tourist accommodation;

  • inheriting real estate.

In 7 years investors can apply for Greek citizenship.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

Education in Greece is globally recognized for its high quality. Expat children can attend bilingual and international schools — especially if residing in Athens. Athens is home to some of the most prestigious universities in Greece.

The tax system in Greece has benefits aimed at expats and high-net-worth foreign investors. Shipowners, entrepreneurs, and retired foreign investors receive a 15-year tax break and pay a flat tax of €100,000.

cy-flag Cyprus

How to relocate from US to Cyprus: Permanent Residence by Investment

Paphos is a perfect city for US expats who want a more relaxed lifestyle. It has low traffic and low crime rate, combined with clean air, high safety, and low cost of living

The Republic of Cyprus is an island country and a part of the European Union. English is spoken by 76% of the population. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the most beautiful ones.

Climate in Cyprus is a mix of Subtropical Mediterranean in the lowlands and Continental in the mountains. This means that you can enjoy hot summers by the warm sea, and go skiing or snowboarding during winter.

Education in Cyprus is available both in private and public schooling forms. American expat children can attend international English schools. There are more than thirty well-respected colleges and universities, with the University of Cyprus being the highest-ranked one.

Cyprus Permanent Residence by Investment is a convenient way to settle on the island. Applicants invest at least €300,000 in one of the 3 options: residential or commercial real estate, company shares, or investment funds.

Permanent residents of Cyprus don’t pay global income, or inheritance taxes, and the Corporate Income Tax is 12,5%, which is one of the lowest in Europe.

ch-flag Switzerland

Best countries to move to from the US: how to relocate to Switzerland

Snow in the Swiss Alps rarely ever melts, and most ski resorts, like Zermatt, are open all year

Switzerland is in the top 3 most expensive countries in the world, as annually confirmed by agencies like Eurostat. But the cost of living is justified by a high quality of life. The Better Life Index of Switzerland is 7.5, which is higher than the global average of 6.7.

English is spoken by half of the Swiss population. The most common language of Switzerland is the Swiss German dialect.

Climate in Switzerland is continental: you can experience all four seasons without much weather harshness.

Education in Switzerland consists of free public schools and paid private schooling. American expat students can also attend bilingual, or international schools. Public universities in Switzerland are among the world’s best, and Swiss citizens don’t pay tuition for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Taxes in Switzerland can be linked to the Switzerland Residence Permit for financially independent individuals, which allows relocating to Switzerland from the US. Applicants pay a lump sum tax of at least ₣450,000 per year.

The Switzerland Residence Permit must be renewed every year or every 5 years. Residence permit holders can live in Switzerland, but not work. However, they manage capital or business in another country. In 10 years they can become full fledged Switzerland citizens.

at-flag Austria

How to move from the US to Austria and get permanent residency

Austria is a highly developed country, but it’s important to remember: most shops here are closed on Sundays by law

Austria is one of the most livable countries in the world. It’s also great for US expats who value privacy: Austrians are genuinely friendly, yet respectful when it comes to boundaries.

Climate in Austria is mainly continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The country has one of the best landscapes in the world, including nature preserves with lakes, mountains, and forests.

Cost of living in Austria is moderate to high, but is approximately ten times lower than in neighbouring Switzerland. Austria is also an extremely safe country. For instance, it has a homicidal rate of 0,61 per 100,000 population, one of the lowest rates in the world.

English is widely spoken in Austria especially in urban areas, as well as across public, hospitality and business sectors. The official language of the country is a specific dialect of German, known as Austrian German. If you want to permanently reside in the country, you will need to eventually learn the language.

Healthcare in Austria is one of the best in the world, with a developed two-tier system. Both public and private healthcare services are quality.

Education-wise, Austria is in the top 30 countries in the world, according to the United Nations Development Program. Public schools mostly teach in German, but it is possible to find bilingual or international public schools. US expat children can attend one of the English-speaking private schools that teach the American Curriculum.

Universities in Austria are globally recognized, and public ones offer tuition-free options for citizens.

When relocating to Austria from the US, expats can obtain a residence permit for financially independent persons. There are no direct investment options, but renting a house in the country is one of the mandatory options. In 5 years expats can apply for life-long residency in Austria.

ad-flag Andorra

Ways to relocate to Europe from the US: Andorra Residence Permit by investment

Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra, is surrounded by the Pyrenees Mountains — and so is the entire country

Andorra is a small, but thriving South-European country, bordering Spain and France. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and a life expectancy of up to 83 years.

Healthcare in Andorra is in the world’s top 5. The insurance covers 75 to 90% of all healthcare expenses.

Education in Andorra, especially children schooling, has a strong system that leaves students with a 100% literacy rate. Public schools have three systems to choose from — Andorran, French, or Spanish — but there are bilingual and public schools.

Tax rates in Andorra are among the lowest in the world. There are no taxes on dividends, inheritance, wealth, or profits.

Andorra Residence Permit by investment is a convenient way to relocate to Andorra from the US. Applicants invest at least €600,000, either purchasing real estate or bonds, investing in a business, or opening an interest-free deposit.

ca-flag Canada

How to move from the US to Canada and get permanent residency

Toronto is Canada’s most populous city and one of the major financial hubs in North America

Just across the north border, Canada is arguably the easiest country to move from the US. It is the ninth-largest economy in the world and a country that is very welcoming to immigrants, who make up about 23% of the population, according to the 2021 census.

The Canadian passport is one of the strongest in the world. Its holders can travel without a visa to 167 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Australia.

Canada offers publicly funded healthcare for all citizens who can receive necessary hospital services free at the point of use. However, some services covered by the insurance may vary depending on the province.

US citizens don’t need a visa to visit Canada for less than 180 days. If they want to stay in the country for longer, they’ll require a visa or a residence permit.

The Quebec Investor Immigration Program is relaunched on January 1st, 2024. Applicants must prove they have a net worth of CAD 2,000,000 (just under $1,500,000) and invest $1,000,000 (just under $ 750,000) into the province’s economy. They also must be prepared to permanently reside in Quebec and prove their proficiency in the French language to obtain permanent residence.

In three years, the investor will be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

th-flag Thailand

How US citizens can relocate to Thailand: obtaining an investor visa

Bangkok is one of the most dynamic cities in Asia

The Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia that was among the ten most visited countries by tourists prior to the pandemic.

Travelling to Thailand is especially enticing in winter when the average air and water temperature is about 82°F.

Tourism makes up 6% of Thailand’s economy, but the long-term residents can also benefit from a developing service industry.

The Thailand Elite Visa is a program that allows foreigners to obtain a long-term tourist visa and reside in the country for 5 to 15 years. The minimum investment for a five-year visa is $25,500, but obtaining a 15-year visa would cost at least $71,000.

Highly qualified professionals and remote workers can move to Thailand without the need to make an investment. They will need to prove they have the required minimum annual income, $40,000 for specialists and $80,000 for remote workers.

Why do Americans move to another country?

Excluding reasons like job relocation, marriage, or reuniting with the family, what drives US citizens to move abroad is the better quality of life. The main reasons to relocate are below.

Growing real estate prices. US housing prices grew by 18,7% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, says the US Federal Housing Finance Agency. In the European Union, housing prices grew only by 10,5% over the same period.

In developed non-European countries, such as the Caribbean states, average real estate cost doesn’t exceed $7,000 per 1 m². In the US the average real estate cost can reach $17,000 per 1 m².

Plummeting euro. In the summer of 2022, the euro fell to a two-decade low against the US dollar. This made real estate and the cost of living in Europe more affordable for Americans.

Heavy tax burden. Tax rates in the US are high, and taxes are imposed on income, 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 in some Americans renouncing their US citizenship.

Safety and healthcare concerns. The US has the highest rate of firearm deaths compared with other high-income countries. Additionally, the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court put female reproductive rights in danger. These two precedents are among the main factors that make Americans concerned for their and their families' safety.

Climate change. 64% of Americans said climate change in the US and better weather in another country was their reason to relocate in 2022, claims the Fibres survey.

What to consider when moving to another country from the USA

Ease of travel. The US passport is one of the strongest in the world. However, it doesn’t grant visa-free access everywhere. For example, Americans need to obtain visas to enter China, Turkey, India, and Vietnam. But they can get a second passport from a state with a visa-free agreement with one or several of these countries.

Travel freedom is also essential for those who want to revoke their US citizenship. With a passport from a European Union or a Caribbean nation, Americans will be eligible for tourist and business US visas. Thus they will retain global mobility.

Taxation requirements. The US tax system is notoriously complicated. If an American citizen moves to a foreign country, they still need to pay US taxes on worldwide income.

The US has tax treaties with 66 countries. The treaties allow foreign residents not to pay taxes or pay them at a reduced rate on income they receive within the US. American citizens residing abroad can also file a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, which allows the maximum tax exclusion of $112,000 per person, as of 2022.

Americans with dual citizenship can also revoke their US citizenship and pay taxes in one country only. They will have to conduct business with the States as a foreign entity, which can be convenient with a developed country passport.

Moving with the family. Make sure your country of choice will welcome your relatives as well. Permanent residence, or citizenship by investment programs usually provide this. The investor can add their spouse, children, parents, and siblings to the application.

When relocating with kids, research, and possibly apply for a kindergarten or a school beforehand. Explore the tuition options: most developed countries have a free school education, but free university education is only available for permanent residents.

If you’re looking for the best and safest country to live in with children, UNICEF regularly publishes the Places and Spaces ranking of states like that.

Climate and environment. Research the average seasonal temperatures, the possibilities of natural disasters, the quality of air and water, and the like. Rankings like the Environmental Performance Index will help.

Work and business permissions. Not every country allows residency permit holders to get a job, or own a business within the state borders. When applying for a residency permit in your country of choice, evaluate your options.

Expats who obtained permanent residency or citizenship of another country are usually allowed to work permanently or start a company.

Language and cultural characteristics. Learning the language and customs of a country you reside in is not just politeness and the way to make 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 of regular income of a certain amount.

Health insurance. The United States does not provide health insurance for their citizens living abroad, meaning that Americans will have to find out on which terms they can receive health insurance in the country of their choice.

Safety. Most of the popular destinations for the US migrants are normally quite safe. However, it is always the right thing to be aware of local customs and norms and do research on which areas might be dangerous to visit in the country where you want to relocate.

Laws. Leaving the United States for another country means living under another legal system. Before choosing a new place to live in, it is vitally important to get acquainted with the laws and decide whether you need and want to change your lifestyle in accordance with them.

How to move legally from the US to another country

A lot of countries have residency permit programs and naturalisation laws, and expats use them to legally relocate. This includes the countries we listed above.

Foreign countries can grant permanent residency or citizenship based on:

  • descent. Some countries give citizenship to those born on their territory, also known as the right of soil. Others give citizenship to those born from at least one of their citizens, also known as the right of soil. There are countries that combine both the right of soil and the right of blood policies;

  • exceptional merit. Includes skilled professionals and specialists in science, business, art and other fields, as well as investors;

  • refugee status, which includes political asylums;

  • investment. Applicants invest in the country’s economy. Options include making national fund contributions, purchasing bonds, buying or renting real estate, supporting government initiatives and more. In return, investors can be granted residency or citizenship.

You can’t relocate from the US to a foreign country with student or foreign visas. Your first step needs to be joining a residency, citizenship, or naturalisation program, depending on what your country of choice offers.

Residency visas grant a long-term permit for living in your chosen country. There are two common types:

  1. Residence permit. Allows the holder to live in a country for approximately five years. After that, the permit can be renewed, or the holder can apply for citizenship. A residence permit gives the right to live, study, seek healthcare, and buy real estate in the country. Travel mobility is a common advantage of some residence permits. For example, a residence permit of a Schengen Zone country allows the holder to spend 90 days out of every six months in other Schengen countries, visa-free.

    Digital nomad visas are a residence permit type that has been gaining popularity. A residence permit commonly doesn’t allow the holder to work or conduct business in the country. But a digital nomad visa allows them to work remotely for a foreign state and earn foreign income.

  2. Permanent residency. Allows the holder to live in a country indefinitely. This status is often given automatically to the residents who have spent 5—7 years in the country. Permanent residency holders are usually allowed to apply for citizenship. If they opt out, they can still use the same benefits as the country’s citizenship — but they will have to periodically renew their permanent residency status.

Citizenship can be obtained in some countries by skipping a residency permit step. Caribbean citizenship by investment is a good example.

Best countries for Americans to obtain second citizenship by investment

Country

Minimum investment

Processing time

$100,000

3—6 months

$100,000

4+ months

$100,000

4—6 months

$130,000

1—2 months

$150,000

4—6 months

$250,000

6+ months

$250,000

6+ months

$400,000

6—8 months

€690,000

14 months or 3 years

Key things for US citizens to know about moving to another country

  1. An increasing number of US citizens choose to leave the country and settle somewhere else for a multitude of reasons, such as the growing cost of living, the tax burden, and even climate change.

  2. American citizens willing to relocate to another country need to make a well-informed decision about it and get acquainted with the most important aspects of the chosen state, including laws, taxes, work conditions, healthcare, and safety.

  3. There are multiple ways to obtain citizenship, permanent residency or residence permits in another country, with rules varying depending on the state laws.

  4. Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Greece, Malta, Switzerland, Austria, Cyprus, Canada and Thailand are some of the most attractive places for US citizens to move to.

  5. Countries around the world offer programs that allow US citizens to obtain citizenship or residency by investment.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the easiest country to move to from the USA?

    South American countries like Caribbean states, or Mexico are the closest to the US and are also the easiest for relocating.

  • Where should I move to if I want to leave the US?

    Western Hemisphere, South America, and Europe are among the closest options territory-wise but explore global options.

    Look for countries with a higher quality of life and robust ways to welcome expats. Some countries will grant your naturalisation by the right of blood if you were born from one of their citizens. Others give residency for exceptional meri — for instance, to skilled professionals.

    Most residency permit or citizenship programs offer different options for relocating to another country, including investing in its economy.

  • Which is the best country to move to from USA with family?

    If a family wants to get second citizenship faster and relocate to a warm country that neighbours the US, they can choose one of the Caribbean states. If a family wants to relocate to a safe European country, Malta offers naturalisation policies by exceptional services, including investment. Other European options to consider include getting a residency permit in Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, or Andorra.

  • What are the best European countries to move to from the USA?

    Malta is one of the safest European states with great quality of life. Cyprus is a beautiful and highly developed nation with a low cost of living and a comfortable tax system. But there are many more: check our Best countries to move from the USA list.

  • Top countries for American citizens for relocation

    Greece, Cyprus, Andorra, Portugal, the Caribbean and Malta are among the most favourable places for US expats. The choice depends on the expat’s demands: for instance, having a “Plan B” country, a place to retire, better taxation and business opportunities, or access to European education. Immigrant Invest has a checklist for relocating from the US and choosing a country.

  • What country do most US citizens move to?

    The State Department does not keep track of the number of US citizens living abroad, so every estimate is approximate. However, according to the Association of American Residents Overseas, around 40% of American citizens leaving the country choose to stay in the Western Hemisphere. It includes Canada, which, due to its close proximity, may be the easiest country to move from the US.

  • What countries can US citizens live in without a visa?

    US citizens can reside in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau due to a Compact of Free Association with these states. All in all, they can visit 169 countries without a visa, but they usually need documentation to reside there permanently.