#10 - Colombia
Colombia is a favorite for expats seeking a decent quality of life for a relatively low cost of living. You can live with about US$1,500 a month, which is very affordable for a modern town with a solid infrastructure. You can buy property at a great price and live a comfortable life without going broke.”
What's the average cost of living in Colombia for expatriates? Most self-funded younger foreigners or fixed-income retirees seem to live in Colombia on a budget of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 dollars per month, a fraction of what they were spending in their home country.
Colombia has 21 types of visas, but only a few categories apply to expatriates. Most expats will need the temporary work visa (TP-4), however if you’re willing to invest a minimum of $100,000 with the Bank of the Republic, you can qualify for a Resident Investor visa. For those with useful skills, an immigrant visa is available for up to three years. Expats can usually apply for a resident visa after living in Colombia for five years, if not before.
Most of its cities are welcoming enough with adequate social activities, comfortable climate, and much more. Also, Colombia is in the same time zone as Central Standard Time in the US which is a huge bonus for those working remotely. There is a great deal of natural beauty, modern big cities, beautiful coastal towns and there is easy access to other countries in Latin America. Also, there are direct flights back and forth to the US that take anywhere from 4 - 7 hours.
Colombians are friendly by nature, but not with a fake smile. They actually want to meet you and talk to you. The chicas are muy bonita (very pretty), muy sexy (very sexy) and el cafe, the coffee es muy delicioso (very delicious). Colombians take great pride in their coffee and it’s just one of the many reasons to consider becoming an expat in Colombia. Anyway, now you know a few words of Spanish.
While the work visa application process is painstaking, it has notably fewer requirements than some other EU countries and allows for travel anywhere in Europe’s Schengen area for one whole year.
While it may not be the top choice for career progression and increased salaries, Spain simply makes people happier and healthier. The land of siestas knows a thing or two about work-life balance, with vacation allowances of 30 days per year. And the country’s dietary emphasis on olive oil, fresh vegetables, lean meats, and red wine—not to mention excellent public healthcare—means you’ll be healthy and refreshed enough to actually enjoy your free time.
#8 - Vietnam
Vietnam has one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, with a rising middle-class, low crime rates, and a very low cost of living. Americans can thrive for nearly half the price of back home; spacious one-bedrooms in lively, culture-rich cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi cost less than $700, while a mouth-watering bowl of phở is just $2. Getting around the larger cities is a breeze; use your app and order an affordable and reliable Grab. If you enjoy walking, Vietnam’s cities are easy to navigate and there’s always plenty to see.
A flourishing community of digital nomads takes advantage of reliable high-speed internet to work remotely…some stick around to teach English and explore a laundry list of incredible domestic sights. Traffic, pollution, and ever-changing visa rules are the tradeoffs for eating ridiculously delicious food and connecting with Vietnam’s warm, welcoming culture. A whopping 85% of expats polled are happy with Vietnam’s cost of living.
American citizens can apply for visas that are valid for periods of one month up to one year. The six-month and one-year visas allow continuous stays for up to three months at a time, and traveling abroad and returning at any time after leaving the country is legal and permissible within the visa period.
#7 - Thailand
A tropical playground for nomads and wander lusters alike, Thailand has long been one of the best places for expats in Southeast Asia. Thailand attracts many young professionals looking for endless beaches, vivid cultural experiences, and unimaginably scrumptious street food.
The capital city of Bangkok is where floating markets and modern tech hubs collide, the island of Phuket has world-class coastlines, and the northern city of Chiang Mai offers the chance to slow down. Thailand is a perfect blend of the traditional and modern world has it all!
Pros for expats: Thailand is a highly affordable destination for those looking to decompress. However, your lifestyle choices can make a big difference on your budget. Sitting in beer bars all day and chasing women all night can take its toll on your wallet, not to mention your life so it pays to remain in charge of your faculties.
Cons for expats: If you’re living in Bangkok, traffic is a common complaint. If you’re living in Chiang Mai, the air quality during the burning season from January thru March, can reach the worst air quality levels in the world.
Another common complaint among Americans living in Thailand is the weather. A tropical paradise it may be, but Thailand is known for its humid heat and a prolonged rainy season that at times can put a damper on day-to-day life for longer visits. Despite the negatives, most Americans still find Thailand to be a great place to live.
#6 - Ireland
Whether you prefer the city streets of Dublin or rocky cliffs of Donegal, Ireland ranks as one of the best countries for expats. More than 544,000 expats of 196 different nationalities currently live in Ireland, soaking up the country’s distinct national pride and mingling with friendly locals at pubs.
There are other practical advantages to moving to Ireland, like falling real estate prices and high-quality private healthcare for a fraction of what you’d pay in America.
As well as the favorable cost of living conditions, Ireland offers "breathtaking views of nature” and is renowned for its wildlife and natural beauty. Each year, millions of foreigners come to the small island to visit its national parks and partake in its numerous festivals.
If you want to come to Ireland to live, you have to apply for a long stay visa (category D visa). You have to show that you have enough money to support yourself in Ireland.
If you’re considering residing in the country, you’ll have to apply for a Stamp O immigration permission. This permission can given to people who have:
If your parent was an Irish citizen when you were born. You can apply for Irish citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register. Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.#5 - Portugal
After the Americas, Europe is the next most popular destination for US expats. The jewel in Europe’s crown is sunny Portugal where the cost of living is among the lowest in Western Europe. With the average expat salary being around #102, 669 USD, there is bound to be money left over for enjoying the good life, so it’s proven itself as one of the best countries for American expats to move to.
Portugal is not known as the best place for single male expats and the majority of the American expats that move to Portugal tend to be retired or close to retirement. In other words, you single guys might want to look elsewhere.
Other big draws for moving to Portugal from USA as an expat include:
#4 - Costa Rica
Between Pacific blues and Caribbean coastlines sits Costa Rica, the Central American is the answer to your prayers. This peaceful nation of sprawling nature, friendly locals, and amazing coffee is a pristine getaway. San Jose is everything you could ever want in a city: cafes, attractions, and a lively art scene.
The city of Limon happens to be one of the most lush regions in Costa Rica and boasts a whole different type of food, language, and culture. Wherever you go, you’ll find the ‘Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica.
Pros for expats: The‘Pura Vida’ is the collective philosophy for most Costa Ricans. It’s the reigning philosophy that allows you to slow down, enjoy life, and relax. It’s probably the reason why Costa Rica is voted as one of the happiest countries in the world and the reason so many Americans love to live there.
Cons for expats: While ‘Pura Vida’ sounds really good on paper, this relaxed approach to life and work can become frustrating for the American abroad. Services and government operations are lax and prolonged power outages, unreliable transportation, and vague promises of manana ‘tomorrow’ can kill that vibe quick.
#3 - Canada
Canada is a consistently popular choice for American expats to move to from USA. It ranks very highly for quality of life, safety, health and environment – and it has a stable political landscape.
Over 10,000 American expats moved to Canada in 2019, and the number of US families moving permanently to Canada more doubled in 2020.
Some of the key advantages when moving from USA to Canada include:
Cons for expats: Canada has far less consumer choice than we’re used to in America. Seemingly insignificant, the average American may find it frustrating shopping without as many big box stores and having your usual Netflix choices cut in half.
#2 - Ecuador
As many as 10,000 Americans now live permanently in this South American country that’s famous for being on the Equator. Ecuador is consistently voted one of the cheapest places to retire and has an average expat salary of around $48,000 USD.
Ecuador is an affordable place to live and to move to from the United States. Better get there quick though as property prices are rising steadily, particularly in the popular city of Cuenca. The cost of living in the capital Quito is still cheaper than many expats imagine and as with Mexico, you’ll get more from your move if you commit to learning Spanish.
Some of the top reasons Ecuador is one of the best countries for Americans to move to include:
When making your decision about a permanent move from America to Ecuador, it’s worth considering:
Time and time again, Mexico has proven itself to be the best country for Americans to move to from USA. Mexico is a popular choice with Americans due to its close proximity to the US and climate. In fact, Mexico is home to more American expats than any other country in the world, with 1.5 million choosing it as their permanent home.
When relocating to Mexico from the US, there are three types of visa depending on how long you want to stay:
And there you have it, the top ten countries American expats are choosing to call their homes. What do you think? Where would you move if you had the chance or if you have already expatriated, where are you living now?