The 10 Most Popular Destinations For Americans Abroad

Leading the expat life, even for a short period of time, is like a dream for more than one-third of the US population. The Anchor Index survey conducted by TransferWise last year looked at how likely Americans would be to leave their home country if given the opportunity. More than 2000 adults participated in this online survey, and the results were surprising, to say the least.About 33% of the participants stated that they would like to take a break from their home country and move abroad; this figure was much higher for the millennial generation (18 to 34), at around 55%. However, no one seems to be in a hurry to pack their bags and leave. Only around 14% of the participants are likely to consider moving within the next 5 years.

A huge number of US nationals have already made their expat dream come true. According to the US State Department, more than 6.3 million Americans are currently living abroad and are settled in 160 different countries. These include students, working professionals, freelancers, businessmen, entrepreneurs and retirees as well as their dependants. While some of them have planned to relocate on a short-term basis, others intend to settle overseas permanently.

There are numerous reasons why Americans choose to live in another country. Very often, they choose a destination because of educational or career opportunities. However, some people take different factors into account, such as living standards, economy, cost of living, infrastructure, safety, culture and weather, before deciding to move. Based on these aspects, certain countries are favored more by Americans than others. Read on to find out which places have become the most popular destinations for US citizens overseas in the recent past.

London, United Kingdom

There are very few places in the world that can match London in terms of the excitement and grandeur it offers foreigners and Americans are not resistant to its charms. People are drawn to England’s capital because of its educational, career and business opportunities. This city has also become a magnet for people from around the world because of its high living standards, healthcare, benefits, infrastructure, security and nightlife.

While the Brits are known for their somber demeanor and stiff upper lip, they are quite tolerant of different cultures. Contrary to the recent uproar over immigration in the UK, the majority of the Londoners welcome outsiders into their home city.

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The expat population in London is, therefore, huge. In fact, the term “diversity” is one of the first words that comes to mind when talking about this city. You will come across large and well-established communities of South Africans, Australians and Asians. London is also home to a sizable American population.

Unlike other nationalities, Americans in London don’t really have the tendency to settle down in specific areas. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a place in a locality where you can socialize with other US citizens, you may want to consider Chelsea, Knightsbridge and South Kensington. These are the most exclusive and expensive areas in London, mainly because of their proximity to the best restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops. Bohemian Notting Hill is also home to many young Americans and Canadians.

Sydney, Australia

The city of Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan places, not just in Australia, but in the world. People of all nationalities believe it is an easy place to settle in, mainly because of its multicultural setting, high living standards, healthcare facilities, educational opportunities, career prospects, infrastructure and natural beauty.

Social life definitely has to be one of the best aspects of living in this city. There is so much to see and do in Sydney that many Americans claim to feel as awestruck and excited as tourists (especially on the weekends) even after having lived in the city for several years. Certain experiences, like visiting the Opera House, walking around the Rocks or whale watching, just never seem to get old with the foreigners. Several festivals take place during the year and the city’s residents get to participate in a host of free events. Meeting people and making friends with Sydneysiders and other foreigners is very easy. There are also a number of expat groups and forums for Americans living in this city.

Quite a few instances of racism in Sydney have been highlighted by foreigners in the last few years. However, Americans are almost never the target of such negativity. There are no specific areas in the city that are dominated by US nationals but you will find a majority of the city-dwelling expat population living in The Rocks, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay. Newtown, Surrey Hills and Paddington are popular suburbs and suitable for young professionals. Foreigners with families usually opt for Manly Vale, Waringah, Merrylands, Parramatta and Blacktown.

Toronto, Canada

For years, Canada has been regarded as one of the best places to live because of various factors, like its quality of life, friendly environment, healthcare, safety, infrastructure, economy and multicultural diversity. This country offers ample educational, career and investment opportunities to people from all over the world. Because of its proximity to the US as well as the similarities between the two countries, many Americans have made Canada their new home.

In the recent past, Americans have joked about moving to Canada because of the political situation in their home country. However, if Google searches are any indication, many of them are actually serious about it. A staggeringly huge amount of US nationals have been checking ways in which they can move to Canada for good. A small percentage of them have actually packed their bags and left.

Of all the Canadian cities, Toronto is the most popular and well-developed. It is the financial hub of the country, home to the largest number of commercial establishments. Both locals and expats easily find employment opportunities in industries like banking, finance, biotechnology, aerospace, media, information technology and telecommunication.

Since most forms of art are widely celebrated in Toronto, you will find plenty to see and do. This city is also one of the best shopping destinations in the world. Its nightlife is fairly quiet during the week but most social spots tend to get full on the weekends.

Downtown Toronto happens to be the most densely populated areas in all of North America. It is also very popular with expats, mainly because of its luxurious accommodation options.

Paris, France

From cobbled pathways to impressive boulevards, Paris, the City Of Love, is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. While it isn’t as romantic as outsiders believe, there are several factors that draw foreigners to this place, like its rich culture, unique lifestyle, robust economy, free public healthcare, pleasant climate and working environment. Many American students join exchange programs just to get the feel of living in the Fashion Capital of the World.

Paris is famous for its 35-hour working weeks and huge holiday time allotment. However, finding a job in this country can be a challenge for Americans who don’t speak French. Acquiring a work permit isn’t an easy task either. It is best for you to land a job where your employers are willing to process the paperwork before packing your bags and hopping on a plane.

You will never have a dull moment in this city as it is full of art galleries, museums, parks, cafes, restaurants and clubs. In fact, shopping in Paris is an experience of its own. Alternately, you could head over to the American Church of Paris on the Quai to meet other English-speaking expats.

When it comes to accommodation, Paris is very expensive. Don’t be surprised if you get nothing more than a studio apartment for the same amount that you could rent a 2-bedroom house for back home.

Shanghai, China

Often referred to as the “Paris of the East”, Shanghai has overtaken Hong Kong as the most popular Asian destination for American expats. China’s financial center has been the gateway for commerce between the Eastern and Western worlds for over a century now. This vibrant, dynamic city is home to many international businesses in the fields of finance, technology, biomedicine and education. Almost all major multinational companies have offices in Shanghai, attracting professional talent from all over the world, including the US.

Getting out and about in Shanghai is very easy, especially if you can speak some amount of Mandarin. From its cultural history to its bustling nightlife, you can always find something to keep you occupied and entertained.

Housing options in Shanghai are expanding, but vertically instead of horizontally. However, not all Americans settle for apartment-style housing. Those who are willing to pay more (or have their employers provide housing) usually opt for penthouses or villas. Most of the American and European expats living in Shanghai rent houses in Pudong and Puxi.

Madrid, Spain

This political and commercial capital of Spain can be best described as an Old City that is striving to get comfortable in its modern attire. In spite of its deep, traditional roots, it has a completely international look and feel. Madrid is so diverse in nature, it is considered an ideal destination for expats of all ages and kinds, from those who want a fast-paced life to senior citizens who would like to retire in this urbanized city.

You will find a lot of activities to keep you busy in Madrid. Culture vultures can learn a lot about this city of resplendent beauty and rich history by visiting its museums, theaters, universities, plazas and other tourist attractions. Madrid’s nightlife is happening, thanks to its cutting-edge bars and clubs.

A majority of the expats, including Americans, tend to live in and around the city center. Others rent apartments on the outskirts.

Tokyo, Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun still remains an enigma to westerners but Tokyo has recently gained popularity as an expat destination with Americans who are looking for good career opportunities and are interested in experiencing a different lifestyle.

No matter how much leisure time you have, you will never get bored in this city. Shopping happens to be a favorite Japanese pastime and you will, therefore, find lots of places to get great deals. Tokyo also boasts museums, art galleries, a lively music scene and plenty of tourist attractions. The nightlife in this city is second to none.

It is a well-known fact that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, especially in terms of accommodation. Finding somewhere to live is, therefore, a challenge for expats on a budget. Americans usually prefer renting accommodation in Akasaka, Azabu, Hiroo, Omotesando and Yoyogi Uehara.

Beijing, China

Moving to the capital of China can be an exciting and overwhelming experience for anyone, given its long-standing role in the country’s cultural, political and commercial scenario. Being the first post-industrial city in China, Beijing is home to numerous corporate bigwigs and dozens of Fortune 500 companies. Its financial sector plays a pivotal part in the overall economy of the country. Industries like pharmaceuticals, real estate and information technology have also contributed to Beijing’s domestic output. Since economic growth is only expected to continue, this city is ideal for those who are looking for excellent career opportunities.

Before moving to Beijing, bear in mind that it isn’t as accommodating as its international counterparts. Be prepared to make several adjustments if you would like to settle down and enjoy living in this city. Fortunately, there is no lack of culinary and cultural experiences. Make sure to visit the most popular tourist attractions, especially the Great Wall of China, during your stay.

Expat housing options are easily available in many areas but the eastern part of the city is preferred, particularly districts like Chaoyang, Dongcheng and Shunyi. Xicheng also offers a limited selection of high-end expat accommodation.

Melbourne, Australia

Nearly half of Melbourne’s residents were born in another country, making it one of the most multi-cultural cities in Australia. The median age of the population is fairly young, at 35, and Melbourne is, therefore, an ideal destination for younger expats like students and professionals.

The inhabitants of this city are extremely passionate about festivals, football and fashion. You will find a lot to see and do if these pastimes are of any interest to you. This urban hub also has several parks, gardens, art galleries, shopping malls, specialty stores, eateries and clubs to keep you occupied.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

There are more than 100,000 expatriates from various parts of the world studying and working in Amsterdam. Some of the main factors that attract foreigners to the capital city of Holland in the Netherlands are its culture, lifestyle, low crime rates, education, healthcare, work-life balance and entertainment.

Seeking employment in the Netherlands can be quite a challenge, mainly in terms of acquiring a work permit. The majority of organizations prefer hiring locals or EU nationals. Americans need to have exceptional qualifications and work experience to be able to get a job in Amsterdam.

Housing in Amsterdam is very expensive and most expats, therefore, prefer to rent accommodation in outskirts of the city.

Bear in mind that the places mentioned above are just some of the most popular cities that American expats tend to show a preference for. Many US nationals also settle down in countries like Mexico, Italy, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Malta, Portugal, Thailand, Panama, New Zealand, Luxemburg, Singapore, and the Philippines, just to name a few. Other nations that have a huge expat population from all around the globe include Switzerland, The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Denmark, Hong Kong, Belgium, Taiwan, Austria, and Sweden. You may want to look at any of these destinations when deciding on where to move next.

Sources: [1], [2]


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