Wondering how to move out of the US? You’re not alone. Between the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion rights, gun violence and other safety concerns, racial tensions, politics, inflation and more, many Americans have had enough and are thinking about moving abroad to places like Canada, Portugal and Italy. Following the US Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, the site International Living—a leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities—witnessed a surge in traffic with people searching for a number of “move to” terms. This included terms like “moving out of the US,” “I want to move out of the US,” “moving out of America,” “how to leave America” and “leaving America”—with the top search volume coming under the phrase “how to move out of the United States,” which spiked by a staggering 4,000%.
“Americans who perhaps had the idea in the back of their minds to look for a foothold overseas—if not a new home entirely—are taking this Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade as impetus to actually do something about it, and they’re looking for guidance,” says Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living. “As one visitor to our website put it, ‘My husband and I were just talking about this idea with our kids. They’re frustrated—we’re frustrated—it’s too much.”
And it’s not just abortion rights motivating people, says Stevens. “There’s a greater sense of urgency to put an escape plan in place now in part because people are worried about what this court ruling may mean not only for women’s rights, but for the rights of others as well, given that same-sex marriage, for instance, may also be at risk of being overturned,” she says. International Living also saw traffic swell this past weekend by more than 600% on its “Best LGBTQ+ Friendly Countries to Retire to” website page.
In addition, a number of attorneys and companies who help Americans obtain second citizenship have seen a huge spike in inquiries and applicants. Marco Permunian is the founder of Italian Citizenship Assistance, an Italy-based agency with offices in New York and Los Angeles that specializes in Italian citizenship law and immigration matters, as well as helping with the purchase of property in Italy. Permunian says that a desire to escape what’s perceived as growing domestic political instability, coupled with a broader acceptance of remote working arrangements, is driving this surge in interest. “The political instability, the social unrest and other political events have acted as accelerators in this process and sparked the desire in people pertaining to both sides of the political spectrum to have a plan B,” says Permunian.
The pandemic has also had an impact. “The health emergency brought about some sort of awakening in people who began to reflect on their life, their work-life balance more specifically perhaps and that feeling opened the doors to exploring potential avenues for reconnecting with their roots, which happen to be in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe,” says Permunian. “In this context, the idea of the American dream gradually started to fade and made room for an “Italian dream” instead—for the pursuit of the so-called ‘dolce vita.’”
Even celebrities are getting itchy feet. At a concert this week in the U.K., Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told the audience that he is planning to renounce his citizenship following the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. And in a recent interview with People, the actress Taraji P. Henson said she’s thinking about moving out of the United States. “I’m really considering getting up out of here, leaving and living in another country,” she told People. “You get tired of fighting. I’m tired.” Like many Americans, the Oscar-nominated actress says she imagines life in a foreign country to be much simpler. “I want to go where there’s neutral ground,” says Henson. “I want to just be. And be happy. I want to be called ‘Bella’ every day, drink wine and swat flies on the porch. Stress-free.”
Moving abroad also has a financial appeal. “People may be seeking information on moving abroad right now because they feel pushed to do so, but once they see how far their dollars can stretch, I predict they’ll feel encouraged and excited by the prospects they have,” says Stevens. “Americans will find great bang for their buck overseas in many places, not only because the cost of living is much lower than it is in the States, but because the US dollar is strong today.”
So where are Americans interested in moving? According to International Living, the biggest spike in interest for “move to” specific countries include Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and Italy. If any of those places are on your bucket list, here’s what you need to know.
This tiny European country has it all: cities with Old World charm, golden beaches, rolling hills, some of the best healthcare in the world, a low cost of living and high levels of safety. Plus, English is taught in schools starting at the sixth-grade level, so many people in Portugal speak some English. Where to move? Just an hour north of Lisbon, Caldas da Rainha is a mid-sized city with a cobbled downtown and a big expat population. Want something more rural? Check out the Alentejo region, which includes the cities of Beja and Évora. Don’t want to have a car? “Then city life in either Lisbon or Porto might be for you,” says Terry Coles, International Living’s Portugal correspondent.
Spain seduces 3,000 miles of coastline, a low cost of living, excellent healthcare, first-world infrastructure, superb personal safety and amazing weather. “Spain’s sun-drenched Mediterranean coast assures retirees that they will never need to shovel snow again,” says Marsha Scarbrough, International Living’s Spain correspondent. Sunny urban options include Madrid and Barcelona (home to world-class museums, opera and theater) or Valencia (which blends medieval and post-modern architecture). Then there’s “Green Spain,” along the northern coast, which offers a climate similar to Oregon or Seattle. The Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca promise more than 300 sunny days a year.
Mexico has been a popular expat spot for at least 50 years, thanks to low-cost, top-notch healthcare, great weather, good highways, reliable electric and water and good cellphone service and internet access. Another bonus: It’s easy to become a resident, thanks to reasonable income requirements. To get temporary residence in Mexico, you must have an income of around $2,100 a month or $36,000 in the bank. Permanent residence requires around $2,700 a month or $149,000 in the bank.
In Costa Rica, the national motto is “Pura Vida” (pure life). The appeal: a tropical climate, lower cost of living, friendly locals, affordable medical care, vast real estate options and, of course, its natural beauty. Costa Rica is safe and stable, with a progressive government. “LGBTQ same-sex marriage is legal and women’s rights are mandated,” says Kathleen Evans, International Living’s Costa Rica correspondent. There’s also a new digital nomad visa and an updated law to attract retirees that includes perks like a lower threshold for investors and the ability to import two cars and a shipping container of home goods tax-free.
With more than 200 pristine islands scattered along Belize’s coastline, it’s no wonder Belize is an expat pick. They’re attracted to the nature, the water-related outdoor activities, as well as the abundant inspiration that attracts a lot of artists, photographers and writers. One of the top place to move is Caye Caulker, a five-mile-long island off the coast of mainland that International Living calls “a charming Caribbean island where ‘go slow’ is the motto.” Here, a couple can live comfortably starting at $1,500 a month.
Italy has so much to offer. Expats are drawn to the art, culture, architecture, world-renowned food and a slower pace of life, plus everything from romantic cities to timeless hill towns. According to Permunian of Italian Citizenship Assistance, many people are pursuing Italian citizenship to give their children the possibility to study anywhere in the European Union—since university fees are much lower than in the US—and access high-quality universal healthcare, mostly free of charge. Plus, with Italian citizenship, you can reside anywhere in the EU without any time restrictions or limitations. “Many also look to invest in a property as the Italian real estate market is much more affordable compared to the one in the US,” he says.
According to International Living, outside the major cities, homes in Italy start at just $50,000—or less. Here’s something else drawing people to relocate: Many places in Italy are offering people money to move there. In fact, in 2020, one deep-pocketed village in Italy was offering people up to $52,500 in grants to move there and work. La dolce vita, indeed.