Many people who live in the United States have at least considered moving to another country. There are several valid reasons why an American might choose to permanently move to a foreign country, from job opportunities such as teaching abroad, to study overseas or launch a business, or simply to live more affordably and/or retire somewhere more scenic.
Technically, there is no official list of which countries are most eager to welcome American immigrants. However, it's easy to compile an unofficial list of countries that stand out from the rest thanks to their warm and gregarious culture, favorable views of Americans, and/or user friendly immigration policies.
Countries who welcome American immigrants
With an English-speaking population as laid back as they are friendly, a developed economy), gorgeous natural attractions, and a fantastic quality of life, it's no surprise that Australia is frequently voted one of the world's best places to live as well as a top immigration destination for Americans. Obtaining a work visa that enables internationals to stay 1-3 years is relatively easy, though true permanent residence requires a bit more paperwork (and a job or Aussie family connection).
The United States' neighbor to the north, Canada is another country to consider. Canada has a rich culture, low crime rates, a stable economy, and excellent education and healthcare systems. Popular activities in Canada include skiing, kayaking, hunting, and hiking. Outside of Quebec, nearly all Canadians speak English. Canada has several programs for Americans seeking to live or work in the country, and those who do so can be eligible for full citizenship in 3-5 years.
This tiny South American country boasts 1,200 miles of coastline, terrain ranging from the Amazon jungle to the Andes mountains, an active volcano, and the Galapagos Islands. Despite its often rugged natural splendor, Ecuador is also one of South America's most developed countries, with plenty of modern amenities such as high-speed internet and top-notch medical care. The country is particularly appealing to retirees, but the affordable cost of living appeals to potential immigrants of all ages. Ecuador also uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, though the official (and most-spoken) language is Spanish rather than English.
Many of this European country's positive features are well known: world-class cuisine and wine, scenery, and culture. Additionally, France is quite affordable compared to many countries, and its healthcare system is ranked as one of the best in the world by the World Health Organization. Tech workers are particularly sought after, and although the national language is obviously French, a fair portion of the populace knows a bit of English as well.
Germany is another nation that is very welcoming to Americans. Over half of the population speaks English, and approximately 110,000 Americans already reside in the country. Cities like Berlin boast business opportunities, a low cost of living, and a thriving nightlife. Getting a three-month visa is easy, and permanently relocating to the country is a straightforward process—though it may require the usual leg work, such as visiting government bureaus to provide documentation.
Nearly 15% of this Mediterranean island country's residents are expats, and because the British once ruled Malta, English is one of the country's national languages. Opportunities for hiking, sightseeing, scuba diving, and other water activities are plentiful, and the culture offers a unique mix of British, Italian, and Arabian influences. Cost of living in Malta is comparable in many ways to the U.S. (housing in particular), and the country is known for its high quality of healthcare. Permanent residency is easy to establish, though it will require either a sizable up-front investment or proof of ongoing income.
The most popular destination for American expats, Mexico offers a low cost of living, great food, modern conveniences such as high-speed internet and reliable utilities, and a wide range of climates and lifestyles from which to choose.
Mexico's residency requirements are quite accommodating and easy to meet. Another benefit is that so many expats have already emigrated from the U.S. that the glitches have been worked out of the system. The locals are accustomed to expats and there's a sizable community of expats ready to help newcomers with the transition. Also, as with many other high-ranking destination countries, Mexico boasts a comprehensive, low-cost (often completely free) national healthcare system.
Most Americans would likely have trouble finding Montenegro on a map—but those looking to emigrate from the U.S. would do well to overcome that limitation. Located just north of Greece and just east of Italy, this scenic seaside country is the most biodiverse in all of Europe and features a culture that blends Italian, Greek, and Turkish elements. Cost of living is typically approximately 50% of costs in the U.S., and roughly 40% of the population speaks English. The process of becoming a permanent resident is straightforward, versatile, and comparatively affordable.
One nation to consider moving to is New Zealand. In this country, you'd be joining approximately 20,000 Americans who reside in this foreign country. Nearly all New Zealanders speak English, it's easy to obtain an emigration visa and work permit, and there are plenty of exciting things to do – think scuba diving, skiing, or even winemaking. The primary drawback of moving to this nation is that the cost of living in New Zealand is higher than in the United States.
This Central American country is located just a few hours form the United States by plane and offers a tropical environment marked by a mild climate and high biodiversity. Cost of living is much lower than in the U.S., and Panama's quality of life and level of human development are among the highest in Central America. Healthcare is excellent, the economy is strong, and both the native Panamanians and the sizable expat community are known for their welcoming natures. The official language of Panama is Spanish, and the country's monetary system uses U.S. dollars and coins (as well as Panamanian balboa coins).
Positioned right next to Spain at Europe's western tip, Portugal blends ample greenery and beaches with excellent healthcare and a low cost of living roughly 30% less than that of the U.S. The Portuguese people are known for their friendliness and warmth, and many speak at least rudimentary English (which is taught in schools), especially in the more populated areas. The government often offers free Portuguese language classes for non-speakers, and Portugal frequently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. Finally, the relocation process is both streamlined and simple.
Portugal's neighbor to the east boasts a similarly appealing climate (300-320 days of sun, for example), relaxed lifestyle, and easy-to-navigate residency system (including as a 12-month visa extendable for up to three years). Spain's healthcare system is both affordable and among the best in the world, its cost of living is 20-30% lower than the U.S. (especially housing), and its cuisine is world-renown. Roughly 40% of the population speaks English, a percentage that is expected to rise now that the language is taught regularly in schools. Spain is also a first-world country with all the expected comforts, such as 24-hour electricity, high-speed internet, and quick-and-clean public transportation.
One of the easiest countries to immigrate to in the world, Thailand combines first-rate cuisine with impressive natural attractions and a remarkably low cost of living (40%-60% lower than in the U.S. in most cases). Tourism is a large enough part of the Thai economy that many residents speak at least rudimentary English—particularly in the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, which also boast sizable expat communities—but newcomers will benefit from learning a bit of Thai as well.
Additional countries that welcome American immigrants:
|Anguilla (U.K. territory)||Greece||Saint Lucia|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Grenada||Singapore|
|Barbados||Ireland||Svalbard (Netherlands territory)|
|Bermuda (U.K. territory)||Israel||Sweden|
|Cayman Islands (U.K. territory)||Japan||Switzerland|
|Costa Rica||Netherlands||United Arab Emirates|
|Czech Republic||Saint Kitts and Nevis||Vanuatu|