According to Google Trends data collected and analyzed by CNBC, search queries for “How to move to Canada” briefly spiked when President George W. Bush won reelection, in late 2004. They again rose dramatically after then-candidate Donald Trump won a series of state primaries and caucuses during the 2016 presidential campaign, cementing his status as front-runner for the Republican Party’s nomination.
Repulsed by Trump’s vitriolic statements about various religious, ethnic, and cultural minorities, and shocked that he’d become the odds-on favorite to become a major party’s standard-bearer, a not-insignificant number of Americans apparently began thinking seriously about packing up and heading somewhere else. Across the pond, The Telegraph observed a similar spike among Britons following the United Kingdom’s shock vote, in June 2016, to leave the European Union.
Political frustration isn’t the only force driving Americans to relocate abroad. Leery of rising education costs in their home country, many young U.S. citizens go to university abroad. Others take their job searches overseas, seeking out high-growth economies with relatively low living costs. Some seek low-cost countries in which they can stretch their savings further without compromising their laid-back lifestyles. And some move for personal or family reasons, such as reuniting with a foreign-born spouse or parent.
While some countries (such as Canada and Singapore) welcome outsiders, others require aspiring immigrants to submit to grueling tests and numbing bureaucracies. Many (such as Japan) more or less ban permanent immigration. It’s not always easy to tell which is which.
If you’re thinking seriously about making a long-term or permanent move to another country, you must consider the following:
What it means to live abroad
The best (and easiest) countries to immigrate to
General procedures and guidelines for moving abroad
General costs and timelines for moving abroad
Common considerations and restrictions for prospective immigrants
Pros and cons of leaving the United States and moving abroad on a long-term or permanent basis
In the following sections, we’ll cover each of these considerations.