Have you ever thought of moving to another country to retire, or simply want to live and work abroad? You’ll find a lot of great options outside the United States. Many countries are happy to welcome American expats and offer a favorable cost of living, rich culture, affordable healthcare, and many, many more benefits. Whether you’re seriously considering a move, or just “window shopping,” have a look below to find out which countries are the best places for American expats–and why.
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What is an “Expat”?
An expat is a short name for an “expatriate.” It’s someone who lives and/or works outside their native country. This may be a short term arrangement, say for several months at a time, or it may be a permanent relocation. In fact, in some cases, expats surrender their native citizenship or apply to become a citizen of another country.
Why Become an Expat?
There are many reasons why you might want to be an expat.
- If you are still working age, you may find the salary is better overseas. You may even get relocation benefits for expats, language training, and maybe even subsidized or free housing to offset costs of living.
- Or, perhaps you are seeking a nomadic lifestyle, where you itinerantly travel from place to place away from your country of origin.
- You may also become an expat if you’d like to retire to a foreign country. A lot of people do this because of a better cost of living, living conditions, or political climate. It all depends on how and where you want to spend your golden years. You’ll find countries that can be very cost-effective, especially those with a have a favorable exchange rate, can be among the best countries to retire.
Some countries, like Mexico, Argentina, Sweden, Canada, and China, make it very easy for US citizens to immigrate. And, don’t worry; you don’t always have to give up your US citizenship to live abroad–although you can.
Can American Expats Vote?
You might be relieved to know that American expats can vote in Federal elections, which includes voting for members of Congress and Presidential candidates. Some states allow expats to vote in state and local races, too.
It’s important that as an American expat, you vote while overseas, especially to weigh in on important issues that affect you like double taxation.
You’ll want to be sure to stay on the voting rolls while you’re away.
- Request your Absentee ballot at the beginning of every year you’re away or have an address change.
- Return your completed Absentee ballot according to the instructions in a timely manner.
- Contact your local election office to make sure they got it.
Taxes for US Expats
A quick word about taxes.
As a US citizen, it’s worth noting that if you live abroad, you still have to file your US taxes, assuming your gross worldwide income is over the filing limit. But, you may not have to pay anything due to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and Foreign Tax Credit benefits.
Secondly, you are eligible to receive stimulus checks, even while you live overseas as an expat. Of course, that also depends on your income limits, that you have a social security number, and you file US taxes.
For the most accurate tax information, you can read more from the IRS about taxpayers living abroad.
How to Choose an Country for Living Abroad
You’ll want to consider and prioritize a number of factors when you choose to live abroad as an expat. They may include:
- Cost of Living
- Safety / Political Climate
- Visa or Citizenship Requirements
- Employment Opportunities (if you plan to work)
- Distance from Home
- Accessibility for Family Visitors
- Taxes (US and the country abroad)
Best Places for American Expats
CONTENTS: In this article, you will discover insights to several of the most desirable countries, as well as the best places for American expats, including:
- Barcelona, Spain
- Bucharest, Romania
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Byron Bay, Australia
- Combria, Portugal
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Hong Kong, China
- Islamabad, Pakistan
- Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
- Lisbon, Portugal
- London, England
- Madellin, Colombia
- Merida, Mexico
- New Zealand
- Oaxaca City, Mexico
- Penang, Malaysia
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Saudi Arabia
- St. Kitts, Caribbean
- Tai Pai, Taiwan
- Final Thoughts
Which one is the best country for expats? Read on to learn more about each one before you decide.
Barcelona for Expats
By Lauren Covino-Smith of The Expat Chronicle | Instagram
Some argue it’s the weather. Others say it’s the food. Still some believe it’s the culture that draws expats into Barcelona. When you visit for yourself, no doubt you’ll attest to all three plus many more reasons why this city is an incredible place for expats to thrive. It may just be the best place to live in Spain for expats.
For one, Barcelona’s Mediterranean location offers the kind of laid back tranquil attitude that many cultures envy. Two hour siesta lunches, businesses closed every Sunday and more than 15 bank holidays celebrated throughout the year make for a delightful balance of work and life. Simply put, the Catalan people believe you work to live–not live to work. And it shows!
If you happen to crave the history and art that the European world offers, you’ll be thrilled to live in Barcelona. More than Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso (who both called Barcelona and the surrounding villages home for many years), the clear visionary most widely reflected in Catalan culture is Antoni Gaudi. His designs include the famous Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and Casa Batllo amongst many others. As an expat, you’ll be swept away by the mysteries that lie scattered throughout the city.
What to Expect as an Expat in Barcelona
From an expat standpoint, there is a very diverse and international population in Barcelona. You’ll have no problem finding “your people” and thriving in your life abroad. With more than 30 international schools to choose from, parents have more than ample variety from which to foster their children’s overseas education.
The cost of living for expats is significantly cheaper in Barcelona than many other cities around the world. The average city-center 3-bedroom apartment will cost €1,750/month (about $2,050 USD). The cost for a night dining out for two, around €60 (about $70 USD) including alcohol. It’s very easy to get used to this less expensive way of life!
While it is advised to learn Spanish (the second language in Barcelona – Catalan being the first), English speakers can be found. But do not assume everyone speaks English…because many won’t.
For more information on living as an expat in Barcelona, check out this helpful article Moving to Barcelona: Common Expat Questions Answered.
By Annick of The Common Traveler
Looking for an English speaking country with a tropical climate? Then you might find that Belize is the best place for expats to live. Located in Central America, this Caribbean country welcomes expats from all over the world. The country passed friendly income and tax policies designed to attract expats, making it an attractive option for both retirees and those desiring to start a new business.
The low cost of living in Belize for expats makes it an excellent choice, too. Medical care is good and inexpensive, though in some locations, it’s a bit basic. While many expats opt to settle in San Pedro, less expensive alternatives can be found in places like Placencia and all along the coast. If you prefer living in the jungle, and near historic Mayan ruins, San Ignacio is the place to be.
You can choose to lay on a beautiful sandy beach, snorkel or dive the world’s second-largest barrier reef, explore Mayan cave or ruins, or do nothing at all. There is so much to do in Belize! If you’re tired of relaxing, join the large expat community of those who opened a business in Belize. You’ll never be alone, because both the expats and locals will welcome you.
If you’re looking for a country that is a good base to explore other countries, then Belize fits that bill too. With direct flights to the US, Canada, and many Caribbean, Latin American, and South American countries, Belize will satisfy your inner explorer!
By Violeta of Bucharestinsideout.com | Facebook
There are a few good reasons to choose Bucharest, Romania as an US expat.
Bucharest is the capital of Romania, a city buzzing with life and social events; a place where classic and modern coexist in architecture, culture, and lifestyle. It’s one of the best cities for expats!
There are many things to do in Bucharest that will provide you with an excellent value for the money. Whether you want to visit museums and art exhibitions, to attend concerts, festivals, guided tours and open parties, to enjoy long walks in nature or to experience the local lifestyle, your US dollars will take you a long way.
Even though Bucharest doesn’t have any Michelin star restaurants, you’ll find many places where you can taste the delicious Romanian cuisine, as well as international foods at prices that are lower than in many similar cities in Europe.
The fairly low cost of living doesn’t involve giving up the comfort you’ve been used to. You’ll discover gated communities in Bucharest and around, where you can enjoy a wide range of amenities such as spas, gyms, swimming pools, and daycare centers for children. There’s even an American School in Bucharest, so you can rest assured your children will benefit from education in their native language. Plus, it’s one of the best places for expats to retire.
Life in Bucharest
If you’d rather mingle with local people, you can rent an apartment in one of the communist buildings and keep your housing expenses low. Although most people in Bucharest understand and speak some English, you’ll be better off living somewhere in the center or in the north, as they are the richest areas of the city, with higher levels of education than remote neighborhoods.
You’ll find a vibrant English-speaking expat community in Bucharest and locals are open and welcoming, so you’ll feel at home in no time.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Erin of Sol Salute | Instagram
One of the best places for American expats to live abroad in South America is without a doubt Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina’s capital city is a major hub for expats from all over the world. You’ll find living in Buenos Aires as an American is an exciting experience.
It’s important to note that working in Buenos Aires as an expat can be challenging. Local salaries are very low. Ideally, you’ll work remotely for a better income, or you’ve already retired with sufficient savings. Earning money from abroad will make your life in Argentina infinitely more enjoyable and affordable, and it’s one of the best countries for expats to retire.
Rent is affordable with furnished studio apartments as low as $500 a month. Base yourself in Palermo, Recoleta, or San Telmo to be closest to the action. These neighborhoods have the most restaurants, nightlife, and consequently, the most expats.
Among the Best Health Insurance for Expats
The healthcare system is a major attraction for Americans. You can contract a plan with only your foreign passport (no legal residency required) for $100-200 USD a month. Plans typically include complete coverage for dental, psychiatrists, and sometimes even one plastic surgery operation per year (just in case, you never know!).
A major benefit of life in Buenos Aires is having access to the best of both worlds. When at home in the city you’ll experience everything a metropolitan capital has to offer: nightlife, world-class restaurants, and culture. However, with just a short flight away you can find yourself in the jungle, in Mendoza’s wine country, or hiking in the mountains of Patagonia.
Argentina truly has it all, so it ranks high as a best place for expats.
Byron Bay, Australia
By Aaron Salyer of The Dharma Trails | Instagram
Byron Bay is an idyllic beachfront community surrounded by rolling green hills and subtropical rainforests. It is one of Australia’s favorite locations for both travelers and locals due to the abundance of healthy food options, artisan stores, relaxed atmosphere, and of course the amazing selection of beaches. It’s also considered one of the best places to live in Australia for expats.
The town is accustomed to expats and tourists which adds to the friendly and accommodating feel of the place. No matter your budget you can find all levels of accommodation from a beachfront Airbnb Byron Bay style to a budget campground, a suburban home, or a country cabin.
Australia has a great healthcare system, and permanent visa holders are eligible for public healthcare through Medicare. However, most temporary visas require you to have private health insurance.
Overall, Byron Bay is a beautiful place to live. The local council keeps their town clean and safe, while the local community has a big emphasis on sustainability and a push for locally sourced produce. If this sounds good to you, you might find Byron Bay to be the best country for expats to retire.
While the town itself is relatively quiet and small (the center of Byron Bay is only a few short streets), it is easy to drive an hour north to the Gold Coast (a larger beachfront city) or to the metropolitan city of Brisbane (approximately 2 hours north of Byron Bay).
Coimbra, Portugal is becoming a hotspot for expats, for good reason. It’s one of the best places to live abroad.
Property prices are considerably cheaper than in the bigger cities of Lisbon and Porto yet both cities, and their international airports are just a train ride or a motorway drive away from Coimbra.
The city transportation system is mainly by bus, and coverage is pretty good during the week. Intercity connections by bus and train are excellent and there are local services to outlying towns, again more frequent during the working week.
With a population of around 100,000, it feels neither too big nor too small, and has plenty of restaurants and cultural offerings for American expats in Portugal.
Featuring several hospitals, shopping centres, educational, and sports facilities, Coimbra has all the necessary infrastructure for most lifestyles, without an excess of tourists.
The Atlantic beaches are just a 30-minute drive away and the mountains and beautiful countryside are within easy reach by car or public transport.
As the original capital city of Portugal, Coimbra is bursting with history, which dates back to Roman times. The country’s first university, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is housed in the former royal palace atop the hill which overlooks the Mondego River and the attractive yet compact historical centre of Coimbra.
You’ll find several museums and other places to visit in Coimbra so that you can get to know what makes it such a special place–and one of the best places for American expats.
By Derek and Mike of Robe Trotting
Copenhagen Denmark is one of the best places in the world for American expats to call home. Living in Copenhagen is very comfortable for Americans, and while there are challenges, Denmark is an easy country to love.
One great thing about Copenhagen is that there’s a vibrant and active expat community. Like any European capital, the city is international and from food to cultural events you’ll notice an international influence everywhere. Unlike other European countries, Danes are almost all fluent in English which makes Copenhagen an easy city to live in. Expats in Germany, France, Spain and Italy don’t have that luxury.
Denmark is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to social programs and they apply to all residents, including American expats in Denmark. National healthcare is afforded to all expats as well as child and elder care with monthly caps at $300 USD. That’s unheard of in the United States, and it makes Denmark one of the best countries for expats.
Working in Denmark is also preferable to the US and five weeks of vacation and a 37.5 hour workweek is enshrined in law across every sector of the economy. The work life balance is also upheld at every level of work. Labor is valued and that means a lot to the people of Denmark.
On top of the ease of life, Copenhagen is a beautiful and innovative city to call home. Copenhageners bike everywhere, and almost every street has a dedicated bike lane. The architecture is stunning and perfectly melds medieval streets with modern design. And, it’s all set within one of the best retirement countries for expats.
Dubai for Expats
By Kay Kingsman of The Awkward Traveller
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), specifically Dubai, is one of the best places in the world to live as an expat. Even though it can be difficult to immigrate permanently, the UAE’s population is made up of over 88% expats. So you’ll have no trouble finding other like-minded individuals to hang out with.
One of the great things about the UAE being such a blend of different peoples and cultures is that you can celebrate all major holidays and festivals in Dubai. From Christmas to Diwali to Chinese New Year, they celebrate holidays with grandeur for all to enjoy and learn about.
And of course, that also means very diverse (and delicious!) restaurant choices. Dubai is the most populated emirate in the UAE.
There is always some kind of event happening in town to save you from boredom, such as visiting the Dubai Miracle Gardens. Plus, you’ll find almost all signs, menus, and directions written or spoken in both Arabic and English.
If you’re wondering, you’ll find the climate in Dubai to be just about perfect except for the months of June through September when it is quite hot. Even then, breezes from the Persian Gulf Coast help cool this amazing and lively city in the Arabian Desert.
Finally, one of the best reasons to live in Dubai as an expat is because of how central the Dubai Airport is to many Asian, Middle Eastern, and even African countries. For example, round trip flights to the Philippines are often under $150 USD. In Dubai, life for expats is good!
Related Article: Check out these Free Things to Do in Dubai
Ecuador for Expats
Ecuador is an expat magnet in South America for its perfect year-round weather because of its location on the equator. It’s one of the best places for expats to live. Cities like Cuenca and Quito nestled in the Andes mountains enjoy 65-75 degree weather year-round.
If you prefer the perfect seaside retreat, you will find one of the resort towns (like Salinas) or a village (like Canoa) with consistently beautiful beach weather make the best place for expats to retire. Expats seeking to trade cold winters for a temperate year-round climate have caught on—Ecuador is one of the most popular destinations for retirees from the United States.
Ecuador’s large population of American retirees means you’ll find a lot of the comforts from home, along with a community of expats to show you the ropes. However, that doesn’t mean Ecuador doesn’t have a lot to offer for younger expats, as well.
In a country the size of Colorado, you can find the Amazon rainforest, pristine beaches, and some of the world’s highest mountain peaks. This makes for some incredible travel experiences and activities to keep you entertained.
Another factor attracting Ecuador from the United States to Ecuador in droves? Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its national currency, making international banking a breeze and helping you avoid exchange fees.
All this combined with extremely affordable costs of rentals and real estate makes Ecuador living for expats easily within reach. Without any doubt, Ecuador is one of the best expat countries for Americans.
RELATED ARTICLE: Learn about the Galapagos and other Island Destinations for Wildlife Vacations.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
By Nick & Val Wheatley of the Wandering Wheatleys | Instagram
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has recently become a top spot for American expats due to its low cost of living and close ties with the USA. In fact, it’s one of the best places to live for expats from any country.
There are a lot of great reasons to live in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a major business hub for Southeast Asia which means there’s a thriving community of expats, an international airport with direct flights all over the world, and fast reliable internet. There is even an incredible craft beer scene!
The best thing about Ho Chi Minh City, however, is the food scene. Here you’ll find amazing, affordable food – and not just Vietnamese food (although there is obviously no shortage of that), which makes it one of the cheapest places for expats to live and eat.
There are outstanding restaurants offering every type of international cuisine imaginable – Italian, Mexican, Japanese, and more. Plus, everything can be delivered straight to your doorstep for just a few dollars thanks to a host of food delivery services like Grab, Baemin, and Vietnammm.
American expats in Vietnam will agree that while Ho Chi Minh City is not as cheap as the rest of Vietnam, it is still quite affordable for a city of its size. A month of unlimited internet will cost you less than $15, you can find a simple studio apartment for just a couple hundred dollars, and you can enjoy a bowl of noodles for as little as $1.
Hong Kong, China
By Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear | Instagram
Hong Kong has one of the largest expatriate populations in the world. You’ll find there are some great reasons for this! The lack of a language barrier, the culture, and delicious eats are a perfect fit for expatriates from the United States.
Though older generations may not speak English, as a former British colony, the city’s younger and middle-aged residents typically speak both Cantonese Chinese and English. This makes it convenient to get around. You won’t have to worry about not being able to find a bathroom or your way around the city!
Hong Kong’s unique mixture of east meets west makes its culture easy to get used to, and it’s so friendly for Americans. Finding your favorite western brands in Hong Kong is simple–many department stores and malls will carry them.
In general, the food is affordable if you’re down to try local fare. Western dining can be a bit more pricey as it tends to be finer dining. But, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a restaurant that will strike your fancy. Most food cravings are easily resolved in this city that loves to eat.
As far as higher costs go, expect healthcare and housing expenses to be on the higher side. Healthcare can be pricier for non-local folks as Hong Kong has a national healthcare system. However, most expats purchase local insurance. Also, rent is high in Hong Kong. As a rule of thumb, you’ll find living in Kowloon can be more affordable.
The best advice is to spend a few days in Hong Kong to see if you’ll want to stay long-term. Then you’ll understand why it’s one of the best places for expats. You may even consider it to be one of the best Chinese cities for expats.
Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan is a great option for expats as it is the political heart of the country. The city is home to many diplomats, embassies, and the seat of the government. In this vibrant city, you will find people from all over the world making it easy to acclimate no matter your origins.
You will experience the best of cosmopolitan living, international cuisine, and the finest Pakistani culture all in one city. The locals are laid back, well educated, liberal, and due to the political nature of the city, most locals are all well-informed about global affairs.
The city boasts the best of nature with stunning greenery and ample parks for those with little ones that need places to romp around and, well, be kids. The city is very well planned and very, very clean.
With the exchange rate being favorable to the USD at $1 equaling approximately 163 PKR, you can live a very comfortable life at a considerably lower cost than other countries.
The Pakistani culture also has a common trend of having house help; it is not at all unusual for someone to have one or two people in charge of cleaning the home, a cook, and even a chauffeur or two.
Plus, you will find all forms of cuisine from world-class sushi to decadent French fare.
If you are looking for a place that has a local culture with an international flare, Islamabad is the place for you.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
By Dean and Laynni at Routinely Nomadic
There are many factors you’ll consider when choosing your future expat home abroad, and everyone will prioritize those factors differently. However, it is safe to assume that “stunningly beautiful” would probably land somewhere on everyone’s list.
And spectacular Lake Atitlan definitely falls into that category. Surrounded by steep hills and featuring not one but three (!) volcanoes, Lake Atitlan sometimes feels like one giant photo op.
Of course, this wonderful highland lake has much more than incredible scenery to recommend it to expats. Located in the Guatemalan Highlands, it is predominantly and very traditionally Mayan, offering fascinating culture and traditions. And, while all the locals speak a Mayan dialect as their first language, you’ll find everyone understands Spanish and most in the tourist industry also speak some English.
Importantly, Lake Atitlan is also a very affordable long-term destination. While there is a wide range of accommodation options around the lake, you can expect to pay as little as $300 USD per month for a basic but fully equipped home. While restaurants are reasonably priced, the real bargains are Guatemalan fruits and vegetables. In the local markets, it is easy to stock up for an entire week for $10 or less.
Finally, boredom is never a concern on Lake Atitlan, as there is a seemingly endless list of activities to occupy your time. Great hiking, professional yoga classes, stand-up paddling, game nights, meditation retreats, local soccer and organic farming are just a few of the ways expats fill their time in this extraordinary area.
By Dan Bagby of CabinCritic.co
Portugal provides the European lifestyle without the price tag, and Lisbon is at the heart of the action. The city has a rich culture, beautiful geography, beautiful beaches, amazing food, and welcoming people with the majority speaking English. You will find a mix of old and new with historical castles, modern art museums, quiet streets, and lively nightclubs. Portugal is one of the best countries for American expats.
Perhaps the Best Place to Live in Europe for Expats
Choosing Portugal as a place to live will allow you access to the benefits of living in Europe, but with a lower cost of living. Even with Lisbon being one of the most expensive places to live in Portugal, American couples can easily live off of €2500, (just under $3,000 USD per month).
Portugal has been ranked as the 4th safest place in the world according to the Global Peace Index. Its healthcare system was ranked 12th in the world by the World Health Organization. A US Expat can get access to the national healthcare system, but can also get very affordable private health insurance. For less than $100 USD a month, you can expect amazing coverage unheard of in the US with copays to see a specialist for under $12 USD.
Portugal is very welcoming to foreigners. It is easy for anyone that can prove they have adequate income to receive a Visa and residency. There is also a taxation program that can allow for non-habitual residents to be taxed at a flat rate of 20%, potentially saving you money.
While you may spend most of your time enjoying your life in Lisbon and the surrounding areas, it makes for an easy home base while exploring the rest of Europe and even Africa.
London, England: American Expats in UK
By Dymphe of Dymabroad | Instagram
One of the best places for American expats to live is the city of London in the United Kingdom. It is the capital of the country and it is where a significant part of the population lives.
You will definitely enjoy going here, because the city is amazing! London is a city with a great vibe and there are lots of things to do in London. There are so many restaurants, sights, museums, events, shows and much more!
There is never a moment that to get bored as American expats in London. For example, you can easily visit the British Museum, see the London Eye, and walk across the London Tower Bridge.
Also, if you want to explore the rest of Europe, this is a great city to start from. London has several airports and a train connection that connect the United Kingdom with other European countries. Best of all, these connections are often very cheap. For example, you can go from London to Paris for about $60! Or you can fly from London to Rome for only $35.
Also, the city is very large and there are loads of job opportunities at both local firms as well as at large international companies.
Finally, the language in London is English, which makes a lot much easier for you if you go here. London is one of the best places to move to from the USA!
By Daniel James from Layer Culture | Instagram
When looking for the best places to reside as a US citizen outside of the states, Medellin in Colombia makes a great option, especially if you thrive in vibrant multicultural cities.
One great thing about Medellin is its unique positioning between the mountains, which allows for some of the most favorable weather conditions in Colombia. In addition, you’ll find cheap rent, top-notch dental care, and an upbeat social scene.
With so many things to do in Medellin, the city is becoming more popular with long-term travelers plus a growing digital nomad and expat community. If you position yourself in the right areas of the city, in neighborhoods such as El Poblado or Laureles, you’ll find many local businesses already cater to English speakers.
Also, if you are concerned about healthcare, you’ll find it easy to build long-lasting relationships with doctors and dentists, many of whom are happy to communicate via WhatsApp.
The US dollar goes a long way in Medellin, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. And, you can rent a luxury apartment in the most affluent neighborhoods for around $1000 USD per month. Internal flights are as cheap as $30 so you can easily transport yourself to Colombia’s Caribbean coast for a vacation or relaxing break on the beach.
These factors just scratch the surface of what Madellin offers, and why it may be of interest to you, so you’ll want to be sure to give it a closer look when you’re considering a new home outside of the states.
by Shelley of Travel Mexico Solo | Instagram
Merida, Mexico is certainly one of the best places to live out your expat dreams! You’ll find it’s one of the best cities for expats in Mexico. Here are just some reasons you’ll want to consider this beautiful colonial city in Mexico’s famed Yucatan Peninsula.
Merida has a large, thriving, active expat community. There are numerous Facebook groups for ease of networking, with a few digital nomad groups and weekly coffee group meetups. Merida has plenty of great coffee shops and co-working spaces, too.
You can get by without speaking Spanish, at least within the city itself. When venturing out into the pueblos (small towns), you’ll notice less and less English spoken. The good news is, Merida has several Spanish schools with year-round classes.
Speaking of venturing out, there’s no shortage of Merida day trip options; including the nearby beaches of Progreso and Chetumal, and the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.
Known as one of the safest cities in Mexico, Merida checks off yet another box here! The northern part of the city has several gated communities for those wanting added security.
Mexico makes relocation easy for expats. In fact, all visitors get a 180-day FMM visa upon arrival, so you can start with a 6-month extended stay to see if Merida is right for you. If it is, your next step is applying for a Temporary Residency Visa.
Add in the favorable exchange rate and great health care facilities, and it’s almost as if there’s no reason not to relocate to Merida!
By Maureen Spencer from “So Many Places! So Little Time!”
If you’re looking for quality of life, a good work-life balance, political stability, a high level of safety, and stunning scenery around every corner, New Zealand should be high on your list of places to live. It’s one of the best countries for an American to move to.
The locals are English speaking, very hospitable, and welcoming to overseas visitors. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler had Auckland, New Zealand in its list of Top 10 Friendliest Cities of the World in 2019.
You will have your choice of many excellent road trips to see “Lord of the Rings”-type scenes.
Best Place for Americans to Live Abroad
New Zealand may be one of the best places for Americans expats to live, because on any given day, you can choose from:
- Beautiful white or golden sand beaches and rugged black sand windswept surf beaches
- Rolling hills of green farmland and towering mountains and volcanoes
- Coastal rainforests and tundra covered deserts
- Geysers and bubbling mud pools
- Hot water beaches where you can dig your own spa pool
- Glow worm caves, and
- Stunning fjords
- and more.
Your biggest problem will be finding the time to see them all.
The cost of living is not cheap. It’s probably about 10% higher than the US, but they say you get what you pay for, and the quality of life is first class. New Zealand has a stable government and a globally admired young Prime Minister who has proven her leadership. In addition, there is a low crime rate and health facilities are state-sponsored.
The cafe and restaurant scene throughout New Zealand is innovative and world-class and reflects the multicultural population. You will have no difficulty in the big cities finding a cafe or restaurant to suit your needs.
And if you enjoy hiking, biking, scuba diving, and skiing, don’t forget New Zealand is the “Adventure Capital of The World.”
Oaxaca City, Mexico
When considering where to move outside the United States you’ll be hard-pressed to find a city better setup for expat living than Oaxaca City, Mexico. Located in the southern state of Oaxaca, the capital city shares the same name. Oaxaca City is located in a picturesque mountain valley that will leave you questioning why you didn’t move there earlier!
It’s one of the best places for expats in Mexico–especially if you’re a foodie. That’s because Oaxaca is considered the foodie capital of Mexico. Odds are many of your favorite dishes originated there. You’ll find not only delicious food, but every dining setting you could possibly want. From mouth watering street food to a rooftop five-star experience.
Oaxaca has a modest cost of living and long term apartments/AirBnb rentals are easy to find for as little as $600 USD a month even in some great parts of town.
While small-town prices are certainly one of the main motivators for expats to move to Oaxaca, don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll end up in the middle of nowhere. Oaxaca is the biggest small town Mexico has to offer! With a population of just over 250,000 the city has everything you could possibly want while still maintaining its super friendly “small town” feel.
If you’re ready to take the expat plunge and are looking for a city that truly has it all, don’t overlook Oaxaca City Mexico. But be warned, if you decide to move to Oaxaca you there’s a good chance you may never want to leave!
By Marco Ferrarese of Penang Insider | Twitter
The tropical island of Penang, off the coast of northwestern Malaysia, is one of the best places for American expats to relocate and live.
Best Asian Country for Expats
Why is Penang a good choice?
Well, for starters, there are many things to do in Penang and having been a British colony until 1957, Penang is practically 90% English speaking.
Plus, Penang has a year-round tropical climate that’s hard to beat. In fact, George Town, the island’s main city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that brings in a constant flux of foreign visitors.
Last but not least, you’ll find a large expatriate community in Penang, since the island is also home to a bunch of multinational companies.
The food is another of Penang’s selling points: nominated by Lonely Planet as the best location for foodies in 2014, Penang has a spicy blend of Indian, Malay and southern Chinese cuisines—not forgetting a smorgasbord of international restaurants, from Italian pizzas and pastas, to French food, German fondue and so on.
Real estate is expensive to buy, for sure, but you can rent beautiful and spacious townhouses or apartments in condos with all the amenities for a fraction of what you’d pay in the US. Think of starting at $400 USD/month for a fully furnished, sea-facing apartment in the expat-friendly area of Tanjung Bunga!
The thriving expat community is especially popular with the middle-age and pensioners. In fact, the “Malaysia My Second Home Program” is a 10-year-long visa dedicated to those who want to live or retire in Malaysia. Penang is one of the countries with the most desirable retirement destinations for those who want a quiet life filled with multi-ethnic culture.
Prague, Czech Republic
By Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery | Instagram
Prague is a great place to live and for both locals and expats. For US expats especially, it’s a wonderful city, having all the amenities of a metropolis yet still being quite compact. And all that for an affordable cost. You can rent a furnished 2-bedroom apartment near the city center for less than $1,000 USD/month.
If you’re still working, American expats can earn a high salary and live at an extremely low cost. While nearly everyone speaks English, you’ll want to learn a few Czech phrases, if for no other reasons, to break the ice in conversations with locals.
Prague is full of expats and it shows. From info portals catering purely to expats (expats.cz) to magazines in English such as the Prague Resident and Prague Visitor, to networking events – e.g. via Internations.
Many US expats live in the Vinohrady district, which is just outside the city center, yet nice and peaceful. The neighborhood is full of lovely cafés and restaurants. American food such as burgers is easy to get and there’s even a pure American restaurant to cater to the expats: Bad Jeff’s Barbecue aptly located on Americká (=American) Street.
Beer is cheap and plentiful, since the Czech Republic is a beer haven. From local big beer brands such as the Pilsner or Budweiser, to small mini-breweries, you’re sure to always have enough places to quench your thirst.
Healthcare is on a top standard and is free, providing you pay for your health insurance like everybody else. (It’s obligatory.) The rates are affordable, at around $70/month.
By Chisom Evare of The Awesome Traveler | Facebook
Saudi Arabia is popular with expatriates, and about 80% of its labor force consists of foreigners. You will also find it easy to communicate because English is a compulsory second language in all schools, and this has moved the percentage of literates to a pleasing 95%.
Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich nation that consists of 95% desert and no natural water bodies. However, the country created artificial water bodies and moved on to be a wealthy country.
One of the many artificial water bodies is the Half-moon Beach of Half-moon Bay. Half-moon Bay is a gateway to several other attractions such as:
- Prince Mohammed Amusement Parks
- Palm Beach Resort
- Half-moon Village
- and other intriguing places.
The impressive infrastructure of Saudi Arabia is evident in its mind-blowing superstructures. Whether you’re driving, walking, or pushing a baby stroller, Saudi Arabia will always dazzle you with its high rise buildings and impeccable road networks.
You’ll find the culture of Saudi Arabia emphasizes modesty, and this is obvious in its laws regarding public conduct. However, this does not rule out fun activities as there are creative ways to let off steam.
The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is nearly halfway cheaper than other western countries, while the exchange rate is at 1 US dollar to 3.75 riyals.
In the event of an accident or illness, the state of the art Healthcare system is free for citizens and expatriates, so it is acceptable to say you’re in safe hands.
Given these factors, it’s easy to see why Saudi Arabia ranks high as a best country for American expats.
St. Kitts, Caribbean
By Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go! | Facebook
St. Kitts in the West Indies is the perfect place for US expats. Not only does St. Kitts have beautiful beaches and lush jungle, it also has ample job opportunities for US citizens. St Kitts is home to two medical universities and a veterinary university, all offering fantastic career options for expats from all sorts of careers.
Due to this, St. Kitts has a great expat community with people from around the globe. Life as an expat on St. Kitts is a dream come true as you will also find no shortage of things to do, like visiting Brimstone Hill Fortress, hiking in the rainforest, and enjoying the beaches. With plenty of top restaurant choices, colorful cocktails, and cheap beers, you won’t miss much from home.
St. Kitts also has a sister island, Nevis, which is only an 8-minute boat trip away. It’s perfect for weekend breaks or even if you just fancy a change of scene. Nevis also has much to offer and is a slightly different atmosphere than St. Kitts, feeling more luxurious and laid back.
St. Kitts is an English-speaking country, and the locals welcome expats. This beautiful island is easy to reach from the US with reasonably priced direct flights most days. It’s one of the best Caribbean islands for expats. It is also easy to connect to other Caribbean islands by air for tropical island-hopping adventures.
Related Article: Love island getaways? Check out these Caribbean islands perfect for long-stay vacations.
Tai Pai, Taiwan
By Nick of Spiritual Travels | Taiwan Travel Planning group
InterNations, which rates life in different countries for expats, has more than once put Taiwan in the #1 spot. What makes Taipei, the vibrant capital of Taiwan, so suitable for expats?
To begin, it’s one of the safest cities in the world; and Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalize equal marriage rights. Second, Taiwan has an excellent national health care system. You only have to pay a nominal fee of a few dollars to see a doctor or dentist. Yet another thing Taipei has going for it is incredibly delicious (and cheap!) street food everywhere you look. The city is known for having the best night market scene in all of Asia. Finally, the locals are super welcoming, and most of them speak at least some English.
Besides these selling points, the one thing Taipei residents always boast about is convenience. There are 7-Elevens on every corner; these little miracle shops offer everything from ready-made meals and cold beer to package delivery, recycling services, train ticket sales, and more. Taipei also has one of the best metro systems in the world. It’s clean, air-conditioned, and goes everywhere, so there’s no need to drive.
There’s only one catch: if you want to stay in Taiwan, you’ll need to either come as a student or get hired as an English teacher. The latter requires a degree (any degree will do), and you can make enough to live comfortably.
For more information, see this detailed Taiwan visitor’s guide.
Can you see yourself relocating to one or more of these incredible destinations? If you’re hesitant, it’s always a good idea to try a long stay vacation before you take the plunge.
Final Thoughts on Best Places for American Expats
But as you can see, there is a wide-range of options for US citizens who want to live abroad. Now you know some of the top countries for American expats.
Which one or more of these best places for American expats might be the perfect fit for you? Is there a country you’re considering that’s not on our list?
Let us know in the comments below!
This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.
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