How Americans Move Abroad: 13 Secrets Revealed

How Americans Move Abroad: 13 Secrets Revealed

“How the heck are so many Americans moving abroad?”

Questions like this come up frequently when Expatsi hosts its TikTok Live streams. People of all ages are looking for ways to leave the U.S. We’ve had teenagers considering college; single mothers looking for safer schools; retirees hoping to settle down somewhere warm and friendly. It seems like more Americans than ever before are becoming expats. But how do you actually leave?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all option in the world, Americans do have plenty of paths open to them. Here’s how Americans move abroad:

Digital Nomad Visa

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The newest option on our list, the digital nomad visa allows remote workers to establish residency in another country while working from their phone and laptop. Estonia created the first digital nomad visa in 2020, welcoming expats to live and work there for up to a year. Canada and Malta also have friendly visa programs for people working remotely.

Student Visa

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Student visas are the most accessible option because nearly every nation offers them. Move abroad to expand your worldly experience. Even older students returning to university can qualify for this. We recommend Germany and Finland for their free college tuition, though expats 18-30 years old may consider a 6-month study program under New Zealand’s working holiday visa.

Start a Business

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Got a business plan and a few thousand bucks? Go launch a startup overseas! Estonia’s startup visa welcomes your tech-based startup; they require an in-depth business plan and about $850 per month in living expenses while you’re there. The Netherlands also offers the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) visa, where Americans can start a business and invest about $5,000 in a Dutch bank. If you want to take your Twitch stream or Etsy shop to the next level, the DAFT may be for you.

Skilled Worker Visa

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The global workforce took a hit during the COVID pandemic, leaving most countries scrambling to find qualified workers. Each countries’ worker openings vary widely, though medical professionals like nurse practitioners are in demand everywhere. Austria’s got quite the open market for jobs ranging from engineers to restaurant staff.

Just Go

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Most countries require some sort of visa to let you come in. Albania and Georgia, on the other hand, hold the door wide open. You can spend up to a year in either country with just your passport—no visa required.

Buy a House

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Some countries grant you a residence permit for buying a house. Greece’s Golden Visa Program lets non-EU citizens obtain residency by buying a house worth at least €250,000. There’s no limits on how long you stay, and you even get access to public healthcare.

Retiree Visa

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Contrary to what some news sources may tell you, plenty of countries welcome retirees on non-lucrative visas. Retired expats bring their dollars to a new country without taking jobs or political power away from locals. Panama’s got a pensionado visa that grants discounts on everything from restaurants to home loans. You just to have to show at least $1,000 in residual monthly income and be at least 18 years old.

Be an Artist

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France offers an artist visa, allowing foreign artists to live and work in the country for up to four years. Known as Visa de Long Séjour – Passeport Talent – Artiste, it allows you to work freelance or as an employee.

Invest Lots of Money

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When it comes to moving abroad, money speaks the language everyone can hear. Investing in government programs or making huge deposits in local banks grants residency for people with the scratch to pay for it. Investor visa thresholds vary widely, too: Latvia’s  investor visa sets you back €40,000, while Slovakia grants citizenship if you’ll give them €100,000,000.

Border Runs

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Expats do border runs when they’re living in certain countries without a long-term residency permit. They stay overnight in the neighboring country every 90 days or so, resetting their tourist visa when they return. Countries like Costa Rica, Uruguay and Argentina see expats taking this approach sometimes. It’s a risky solution, since these countries can change their visa laws at any time.

Citizenship by Ancestry

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This option varies across the countries that offer it. Spain offers one of the easiest paths to citizenship by ancestry. Known as jus sanguinis (right of blood), people from Spanish-colonized countries like Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico may qualify for this citizenship after living in Spain for two years.

Look for a Job

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You’d usually need a job offer before you can move to another country as a skilled worker. Germany’s job seeker visa lets you move to the country for six months and find a job.

Fall in Love

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Isn’t it romantic to meet someone in a foreign land, fall in love and get married? While we don’t recommend getting married just for a visa, it’s certainly a possible path to Happily Ever After. Tinder Passport is one option for this.

5 Easy Ways to Find the Best Country to Live In

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How do you find the best country to live in?

With nearly 200 countries to choose from, picking your top countries gets tough quickly. Here are a few ways to find the lifestyle that suits your needs:

5 Easy Ways to Find the Best Country to Live In

Is the US Driving You Insane? Consider These Countries for Mental Health

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Over 40,000 people have taken the Expatsi Test in the last 18 months. Here’s their best countries for mental health, based on test data:

Is the US Driving You Insane? Consider These Countries for Mental Health

Want to Move to Europe? Here Are 16 In-Demand Jobs and How to Apply.

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Can you guess the most in-demand jobs in Europe? At least 15 countries reported shortages in these 16 fields, and there are more than four and a half million jobs listed on this portal.

➤ Want to Move to Europe? Here Are 16 In-Demand Jobs and How to Apply.

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Co-founder at Expatsi | + posts

Brett Andrews is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps expats discover how to leave the U.S. Brett and his partner Jen developed the Expatsi Test to recommend countries to move to, based on factors like budget, visa type, spoken languages, healthcare rankings, and more. In a former life, he worked as a software developer, IT support specialist, and college educator. When he's not working, Brett loves watching comic book movies and reading unusual books.

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bed49dc5d4263d6d37b46cb09574d411?s=150&d=mp&r=g
Co-founder at Expatsi | + posts

Brett Andrews is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps expats discover how to leave the U.S. Brett and his partner Jen developed the Expatsi Test to recommend countries to move to, based on factors like budget, visa type, spoken languages, healthcare rankings, and more. In a former life, he worked as a software developer, IT support specialist, and college educator. When he's not working, Brett loves watching comic book movies and reading unusual books.