Record Breaking Number of Americans Want to Become Expats

A new Gallup poll is has shed some interesting light on the demographics of the United States. It seems that a record-breaking number of Americans want to be expats. If you’ve been curious about living the expat life abroad, then you’re not alone.


Record-Breaking Number of Americans Want to Become Expats:


Perhaps it’s because of high medical costs, or because of the current polarized political climate, but many Americans are looking to live the expat life in another country abroad. A Gallop poll recently discovered that in 2018, a record number of Americans wanted to leave the United States forever and begin their life abroad as expats.


The data does seem to follow an escalating trend in people seeking to leave the United States—beginning in 2017. The latest data has found that 16% of people want to live the expat life. This increase to 16% is a stark rise when compared to a steady 10% – 11% since the year 2000. This means that of the 290,000,000 million Americans in the United States (the total population is 327,000,000 but 37,000,000 of those are immigrants and not American citizens), 46,400,000 American citizens wish they could become expats.


Who Wants to Leave the United States to Become Expats?


– Gender of People Who Want to Become Expats –

The new Gallop Poll seems to indicate that a sharp rise in women has led the charge for the most part. Where 13% of men want to leave the United States, a shocking 20% of women want to leave the US and begin living the expat life abroad. It seems as though gender gaps decline and finally disappear after the age of 50.

– Age of People Who Want to Become Expats –

Age seems to also be a defining factor in this new Gallop Poll. Even more shocking is that younger people seem to want to leave the United States to become expats:


  • From the ages of 15 – 29; 30% of people want to become expats.
    • 40% of women under 30 say that they would like to leave the US.
    • 20% of men under 30 say that they would like to leave the US.
  • From the ages of 30 – 49; 19% of people want to become expats.
  • From the ages of 50+ ; 8% of people want to become expats.


– Finances of People Who Want to Become Expats –


Another factor seems to be the financial situation of people who want to become expats. It seems that the lower the income, the more likely that people want to leave the United States for a better life abroad as an expat. This could be because of the rising costs of rent in the United States. In the last two years, rent in the United States is rising at the fastest pace it ever has. Many of these individuals are younger, and thus they often still carry with them debt from student loans—which in turn has become a $1.5T USD crisis. With limited funds and increased competition for limited resources, many Americans are seeking less expensive economies where they can live a higher quality of life.


Where Are Americans Going When They Become Expats?


There are no exact figures as to exactly how many people live abroad, though the United States State Department estimates that it is between 3 million – 6 million. It is difficult to determine an exact number because many Americans live abroad in other countries illegally—such as the million undocumented Americans that the US State Department has recently confirmed are living illegally in Mexico.


However, rough estimate figures can offer a list of where Americans are moving when they decide to become expats:

– Most Americans Become Expats in Mexico –


The number one destination for American expats living abroad is Mexico with 899,311 legal residents. However, it is estimated that 1 million Americans are undocumented expats who are attracted to the relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, and rich culture situated so close to American borders. Many Americans find the inexpensive rent and lower cost of living to be a breath of relief as prices escalate in the United States.


Mexico has not only become popular with youths looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced American life, but it has also become popular with aging Baby Boomers hoping to retire to an idyllic beach for a fraction of the price of what it would cost in the United States. Mexican healthcare is modern and affordable. From the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, this welcoming country invites you with its warm and friendly people.


*To learn more about how to become expats in Mexico, click here.


– Second-Most Americans Become Expats in Canada –


Coming in second place for the country that houses the most American expats is Canada. With its pristine natural beauty, friendly people, and similarity in culture to the United States, it’s no wonder why Canada is home to at least 400,000 Americans—though some figures put that even up to 1 million.


Canadian socialized healthcare is universal and affordable, and it is available for citizens and permanent residents. Becoming a permanent resident of Canada as an American is not a difficult process compared to other nations.


*To learn more about how to become expats in Canada, click here.


– Many Americans Become Expats in Costa Rica –


Costa Rica is becoming a huge hotspot for Americans who are looking to benefit from the tropical climate, sunny beaches, and friendly people. Over 130,000 Americans live in Costa Rica. Many who make the move to Costa Rica are seeking their terrific healthcare system, which ranks among the best in the world—all for a substantially lower cost than in the United States. From the Central Valley to the Caribbean, to the Arenal northern region, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica.


*To learn more about how to become expats in Costa Rica, click here.


– Many Americans Become Expats in the UK –


The United Kingdom is a perfect balance of old-world Europe and the modernity, making it a wonderful transition for Americans looking to live abroad. No wonder that almost 200,000 Americans make their permanent home in the United Kingdom. It is just near enough to Europe to make travel to much of Europe available with a short flight. Whether you are attracted to the fast-paced lifestyle of London or the scenic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, the United Kingdom could be a wonderful solution for those people looking to move from the United States to a new country.


*To learn more about how to become expats in the UK, click here.


– Some Americans Become Expats in Thailand –


Over 2.5 million foreigners live in Thailand. With 1.8 million of them from neighboring countries like Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar. The other 700,000 are largely Westerners. Over 40,000 Americans lived in Thailand in the 2010 census, and that number has only increased.


It has quickly become one of the fastest-growing expat destinations for Americans. The ancient culture, idyllic landscapes, and incredible food have made Thailand much more than a tourist destination. Many American expats are deciding to extend their O-A visa each year to make Thailand their home.


*To learn more about how to become expats in Thailand, click here.


– Some Americans Become Expats in Panama –


Panama is another country that has drawn a sizeable community of expats. As of 2016, only 25,000 Americans were living in Panama, but that number has been sharply rising. Many expats are drawn to the low cost of living, welcoming culture, and the safety of the country. Also, there are no taxes on overseas income, which appeals to many pensioners. It is quite easy to get a retirement visa in Panama, which also increases its appeal to Americans.


*To learn more about how to become expats in Panama, click here.


– Some Americans Become Expats in the Caribbean –


With retirement in the Caribbean costing as little as $24,000 per year, many Americans are choosing the expat life in the Caribbean. The laid back atmosphere, turquoise waters, and the sounds of Jamaican reggae music appeal to American expats across the many islands of the Caribbean. Discover for yourself the rich history and lovely scenery that the Caribbean has to offer.

*To learn more about how to become expats in the Caribbean, click here.

*To see a full list of where Americans have to chosen to live abroad, click here. 

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Comments (12)

  • Michael Kincaid

    Many of the Expats that did live in Thailand are leaving as a result of the new retirement laws.

    • Raf Bracho

      You don’t say Michael! Well, we hope you find somewhere that you feel at home. . .

    • nick athens

      i am in thailand..nobody i know leaving but more traveling to vietnam cambodia and philippines..but overall thailand and healthcare still wins.

  • Steven Alan ODell

    They would be better off just visiting then returning. They’ll come to regret it.

    • Raf Bracho

      Why do believe so Steven? For example, all of us at WeExpats live the expat lives ourselves, and we are very content doing so. We very much believe in what we do.

  • biLLy

    did I miss it? Nothing about the Philippines MAN we have a ton of expats from the USA, UK, Australia and Germany

    • Raf Bracho

      We can add that to the content. 🙂 Thanks for your input!

  • Lee Smith

    Lived and worked in the United States for 72 years, but now living in the Philippines. It’s a much better climate and Much cheaper to live here than the U.S. AND, the women are Beautiful and dedicated.

    • Raf Bracho

      Nice Lee! We’re happy that you’re enjoying the expat life. All of us at WeExpats are expats and proud. 🙂

  • e

    never before have so many poor people wanted out (expats)
    never before have so many poor people wanted in (immigrants)


  • Davd Hoefler

    No mention of the EU nations or did I miss them?

    • Raf Bracho

      Hello Davd, alas, we cannot mention all countries, but you’re very right! Many expats are seeking to move to Europe. 🙂


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