How to Move Out of the U.S.
One of the most searched terms right now is “How to move out of the U.S.”. It doesn’t surprise me at all, but then again I’ve been escaping the U.S. for several years now, with an official move to expat-life in early March of 2020.
According to several surveys, many Americans are seeking a better life abroad for several reasons right now. For some it’s safety from the continuously spreading contagion, for others it’s for cheaper living options, and for most, it’s just to escape all the chaos and find a better quality of life.
As someone who has been traveling full time for over eight years, four of which I was a nomad living in other countries, I can tell you that you will get all of the above if you move out of the United States.
I know the majority of people think the US is the best country in the World, and maybe it is for job opportunities and “freedom”. But not right now. Now people want to know how to move out of the United States.
Right now you’re better off starting a digital business or side-hustle, and living in a country where housing is a fraction of what you pay now, and so is healthcare.
I can tell you right now, living in Spain, I pay 1/5 of what I was paying to live in the United States. If I really tried, I could get away with only spending $1500 per month to live here.
Of course there are the technicalities like visas, insurance, and tax that I’m sure are the real reasons you’re here, so lets jump into that:
Where Can Americans Move Abroad Right Now
Here’s the trickiest part about moving out of the United States right now; your options are limited. Due to the EU travel ban on US citizens, that takes away many peoples’ top picks, including where I currently am in Spain. (Sidenote: I am allowed here because I got here before the lockdown, and spent 3 months in their strict home confinement).
Another popular cheap and awesome place to live also isn’t currently accepting foreigners; Bali. However according to the news there, they should start September 11th.
Right now your best bet are places like Mexico and Belize. Below is the full list:
Getting the Courage to Move Out of the United States
I remember the first time I put all of my belongings in storage in California, and made the terrifying yet awesome decision to travel around Asia for a month. It was very scary, it seemed extremely risky, but it ended up being so great, that I never came back to live in the US for four years.
I quickly realized that the quality of life is much better in many other countries, and it was insanely cheaper to live in them as well if done right.
Leaving stability, familiarity, physical belongings, friends, and family can seem really scary. But just remember; you can ALWAYS just fly back! Your friends and family can always be easily contacted, and I highly doubt much will have changed when/if you go back eventually!
Figuring out what you’ll do for work
Full honesty here, getting a job in another country is unlikely unless you plan on teaching English or getting an unofficial serving/bartending job. Most countries, like Spain, prioritize their own citizens when it comes to the job market, so they make it very hard for anyone else to get a job.
If you have a specialty, like event planning, you can try to do research on companies looking specifically for event planners who speak native English for their English speaking clientele.
But, your best bet is remote work. And there’s a lot of it, that you can do from anywhere in the world!
Here are a few posts I’ve written about finding digital jobs:
Figure Out What Visa You’re Eligible For and Apply
This is one of the most difficult hurtles for those who want to move to another country permanently. Each country is different, but I have the information for Spain and most of Europe:
- Non-Lucrative Visa: Meaning you make your own money and won’t be taking money away from the country you move to. You must be able to prove you have a solid savings, private healthcare, and a few other things.
- Work Visa: Again, super hard to get unless you find a job that specifically needs you.
- Student Visa: If you’ve ever wanted to go back to school, do it now and do it abroad! Taking courses abroad will get you a student visa which is good for 6 months at a time!
- Find a Lover: Half joking, half not! If you happen to meet someone abroad and want to stay with them, you can get a domestic partnership visa! …Or just get married.
- Tourist Visas: If you don’t qualify for any of the above visas, you can go the nomad route and live in different countries depending on the length of their visa. For most of EU it’s 3 months, so you can do that, then go live somewhere like Bali or Mexico for a few months each, then head back to EU after 6 months for another 3 months!
Finding a Place to Live when you Move Out of the U.S
Finding places to live in other countries is honestly of the my favorite things to do. I get so excited scrolling through listings of cute properties, and even more excited when I see the cheap prices!
You’ll first want to figure out the area you want to live in — a quick google search for “best areas to live in ____” will help you out with that.
Once you find your area, I usually recommend getting a one month airbnb, even though it’s a bit more expensive than a longer term lease, just to make sure you like the area. You can also ask for a monthly discount, or try to negotiate the price with the host.
If you know the area, don’t want to bother with airbnb fees, and are ready to commit to a longer lease, try to find the local rental website for where you’re moving. For example, Idealista is a popular one for Spain. A quick google search can help you find it, or by joining expat groups in Facebook!
Getting Nomad Health Insurance or Local Coverage
While many countries offer cheap or even free (yes, FREE) healthcare, it is mostly for their citizens, so try not to take advantage of that. You can get nomad insurance (check out Safety Wing), or even really cheap private local health insurance! You may be required to show you have it for your visa anyway!
Downsize, Store, and Pack Your Belongings!
Another hard part about moving abroad is that you have to get rid of wherever you’re currently living. Which also means, most of your stuff. If you live in a furnished place, or your parents place, GREAT! This will be a lot easier for you!
But for those (like me) who had furniture, you’ll need to either sell, store, or give it away.
The same applies for your clothes and things you don’t want to take. I gave away most of my stuff, but I use Clutter for storage (highly recommended), and Parking Spot for storing my car!
I’d highly recommend trying to only bring two big suitcases with you. Trust me when I say it’s a pain in the ass to travel with a ton of luggage. Plus you’ll want to buy new local items when you arrive!
Figuring Out Taxes While Living Outside the U.S.
Taxes, EW. I don’t have much to say about them besides if you move out of the US, you may be eligible to owe less (if you’re a digital worker) if you don’t live in the US for the majority of the year.
I used HR Block’s Expat Tax services and they did a REALLY good job!
How to Meet New Friends in Another Country
One of the biggest misconceptions that I love to hate about moving abroad is that you won’t know anyone. Newsflash: A LOT of Americans live abroad. In fact, I’ve only been in Barcelona a few months and already have a girl’s group of about eight expat women who I hang out with regularly!
You can meet friends simply just by being social, or joining one of the many expat groups on Facebook! Meeting locals is great too, and can easily be done through groups, or by signing up for language exchange sessions!
Adjusting to Life in Another Country
Yet another misconception I love to hate is when people are scared to go abroad because they “don’t know the language” or simply because they think adjusting to another culture will be difficult.
Newsflash: the majority of the countries in the world speak English as a second or third language.
While it’s good manners and travel etiquette to at least attempt learning a little of the local language, the truth is that you will likely still speak mostly in English.
In fact, I have to specifically ask my waiters sometimes to speak in Spanish so that I can practice, because they’ll automatically start speaking in English!
Adhering to new Post-Covid Rules and Safety Measures
Ah yes. The “new normal”. Sad, frustrating, and annoying to all, but there’s no getting out of it anytime soon so you might as well just adapt.
I’m looking at you — any American who puts up a fight about having to stay home or wear a mask.
Let me say this loud and clear for the people in the back — I willingly chose to stay in Spain’s strict home confinement lockdown for 3 months, and I wear a mask outside every day — and I am now one of the few Americans allowed to travel freely in Europe because of it.
Follow the rules and you’ll be free to enjoy life too.
New covid measures may include getting a test done before you fly, definitely wearing a mask on the plane, and in some places, wearing a mask in public.
If you hate the look of surgical masks, just order a cute Maskshion mask from my Boutique!
Do you have any questions about moving out of the United States? Comment below and I’ll be happy to answer! Or if you’re interested in one-on-one consulting for making a plan and getting everything ready to move abroad, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!