The Expatsi Report Says Who Wants To Leave the U.S. And Why

The Expatsi Report Says Who Wants To Leave the U.S. And Why

For the past two years, Expatsi has been hearing from Americans who want to move abroad. They take the Expatsi Test, which recommends the top 10 countries that might be a good fit for them based on their needs for weather, culture, cost of living, and more. We also publish the Expatsi Report, which outlines what kinds of Americans want to move abroad and why.

In January 2023, we updated the test to account for how people would move abroad—whether as a student, an investor, a skilled local worker, a digital nomad (remote worker), or a retiree. Those choices lead to different subsets of countries, especially for digital nomads and retirees. Not all countries will allow Americans to retire there or work remotely.

We also created new logic in the test for your budget. There’s no point in recommending Switzerland if you need to live frugally. Even if it’s the perfect home on paper, you probably won’t be happy paying $8 for the equivalent of a gallon of milk or $20 for lunch at McDonald’s. Likewise, we think folks with deeper pockets will be happier in countries where they won’t inadvertently create extreme income inequality.

Read on for the 2023 Expatsi Report, surveying 42,922 Americans who want to emigrate from the United States.

Here’s Why Americans Want to Move Abroad

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Without a doubt, Americans’ top choice for moving abroad is for the experience. With 29% of Americans still living in their hometowns, it’s impressive that these aspiring expats want to make such a huge change and spend time learning about other cultures beyond our borders.

Almost half of respondents are looking for more freedoms than they experience in the U.S. It’s tempting to think America is the most free country, but it’s actually ranked 59th in the world.

Many Americans also think the U.S. is too divided, as people take more extreme political positions and have a harder time finding common ground. Just over 40% of respondents say that they want to move abroad because the U.S. is too conservative, while the same number want to live in another country to save money.

The Freedoms They’re Looking For

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When asked what they want to be legal in their new country, here’s how Americans responded. Most said same-sex relationships, followed by abortion and same-sex marriage. According to our followers on TikTok and in our Facebook group, loss of abortion rights in many states has been a major factor for women who want to move. More than 40% of respondents are also looking for countries where you can choose your preferred gender or buy cannabis for recreational use.

The Largest Group of Expats Are Couples

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We can’t say whether the couples are romantic, family members, or just friends, but groups of two are the most common kind of people to take the Expatsi Test, followed by solo immigrants.

Very Few Insist on Moving to a Wealthy Country

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We ask respondents if they’re interested in countries with a low cost of living where they can stretch their dollars or highly developed nations that often cost more in taxes but offer tons of services and infrastructure. It’s no contest—more than a third only want to consider great values, while fewer than 4% are looking only at the bougiest of nations. Most are open to both.

Two-Thirds Have a Monthly Budget Under $4,000

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Respondents’ budgets—especially for solo and couple expats—are a good match for those great value countries. Almost 60% of solo immigrants want to spend $1,000-$3,000 per month, while a similar percentage of couples want to spend $1,500-$4,500. Larger groups have more money to spend: two-thirds of them can afford $2,000-$6,000 per month. Eight percent of respondents would fall below the poverty line living on their budget in the United States.

Here are the percentages for each budget threshold:

1 person 2 people 3+ people
< $1,000 11.0% < $1,500 5.8% < $2,000 6.9%
$1,000-$2,000 29.5% $1,500-$3,000 28.0% $2,000-$4,000 32.6%
$2,000-$3,000 28.5% $3,000-$4,500 29.3% $4,000-$6,000 31.8%
$3,000-$4,000 16.7% $4,500-$6,000 19.9% $6,000-$8,000 15.7%
> $4,000 14.3% > $6,000 17.0% > $8,000 13.0%

Most People Want to Be Gone Within Five Years

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If you asked our respondents where they see themselves in five years, their answers would be amazing. An incredible 78% of people taking the test expect to have made their move by then.

However, Some of Them Don’t Know How to Get There

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One wrinkle in their plans is understanding how to meet the requirements other countries have for immigrants. Aside from marrying a local or getting citizenship through ancestry, most Americans move by getting a job, going to school, working remotely, retiring, or investing—either in real estate, investment funds, or businesses. More than a third don’t know their best path or are choosing from multiple options. Many of our clients research whether it’s easier for them to get a job abroad or to get an American job that will allow them to work overseas. If you’d like to work abroad, some high-demand jobs include construction trades, nursing, and software engineering.

Almost Two-Thirds of People Choose Europe

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We ask people to choose the regions they’re most interested in based on the United Nations Geoscheme: a way of categorizing countries into groups based on geography. Using that system, a majority of people choose Western, Northern, and Southern Europe. This fact runs counter to users’ responses about seeking value countries or having modest budgets, since many countries in Europe are more expensive. However, it does explain the overwhelming popularity of Europe’s more affordable destinations like Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece.

Scroll over the countries below to see how many people selected that region.

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold

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We use the Köppen climate classification system to identify the kinds of weather that are just right. While almost no one wants it to be cold year-round, most people don’t want it to be too hot, either—although about a third of people will make an exception for tropical destinations. Almost half of people are looking for locations with warm summers in a temperate and/or continental climate. We often hear people ask for cities or countries with “eternal spring.”

Here’s Where People Picture Themselves

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A few people imagine tropical islands or big, vibrant cities, but most are seeking the simple niceties of coastlines and mountains. Sixty percent of Americans don’t live in coastal counties, so there are about 180,000,000 of us who’d probably love to upgrade.

For This Group, Infrastructure Trumps Healthcare or Safety

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We match people with recommendations based on their needs for safety, healthcare, and infrastructure. More respondents are fine with countries in the top 25% for healthcare and safety, but they prefer the top 10% for fast Wi-Fi, high-speed trains, well-maintained roads, reliable electricity, and more. This preference for top-tier infrastructure combined with budget needs is another factor that directs users to affordable European countries.

Here are the percentages for each preference:

Healthcare Safety Infrastructure
Top 10% 21.4% Top 10% 31.6% Top 10% 40.8%
Top 25% 40.7% Top 25% 39.4% Top 25% 37.0%
Top 50% 21.0% Top 50% 19.2% Top 50% 8.1%

Speaking of Healthcare, Got Any Universal?

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When asked how Americans expect to pay for healthcare overseas, almost 70% are hoping for a new home with universal healthcare options. It’s a good idea to research public health systems in the countries you’re interested in and make sure you qualify for benefits.

It’s Hard Out Here For a Monoglot

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Photo Credit: Expatsi.

Multi-generational Americans are notorious for only speaking English, a fact that presents a challenge for moving abroad. Some English-speaking countries, like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, are among the most expensive and hardest to migrate to. Good backup options are countries like Belize, Ghana, and a number of other African nations or Caribbean islands who speak primarily English. Otherwise, a large number of countries have sizable populations of English speakers, especially in larger cities or expat havens. We recommend learning the local language to assimilate and make friends, plus it’s a great way to keep your mind sharp and expand your horizons.

Many respondents say they’re open to speaking Spanish, which opens the door to 20 incredible countries.

Some Americans Are Seeking Freedom From Religion

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About half of people who take the Expatsi test report seeking a home to celebrate their religion, or lack thereof. More than twenty percent of respondents are atheists or agnostics who want to meet other non-believers.

People Are Seeking Countries That Empower Women

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We ask respondents if they’re seeking countries that are highly rated for different needs. More than 60% choose countries that are great for women.

Adults 25-54 Make Up the Bulk of Respondents

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About two-thirds of Expatsi test takers are in the influential demographic of adults 25-54. These working-age expats may take their valuable skills to other countries or demand work-from-anywhere opportunities.

Here Are Our Most Recommended Countries

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Photo Credit: Expatsi.

Based on the answers test takers give, these were our top 20 most recommended countries in 2023. Take the test to get your own recommendations, and follow along to see how expat needs change in 2024.

Jen Barnett Expatsi headshot
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen Barnett is an expat influencer and co-founder of Expatsi, a company that's helped thousands of Americans on their moving abroad journeys. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?

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Jen Barnett Expatsi headshot
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen Barnett is an expat influencer and co-founder of Expatsi, a company that's helped thousands of Americans on their moving abroad journeys. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?