Here it is... our mega list of the best places to buy a house and/or live outside the USA. Each are listed for various reasons including cost, safety, beauty, economy and more.
Buying a home has been the bedrock of the “American Dream”. For a majority of Millennials, that dream never existed or quickly transformed into a nightmare after the financial meltdown of 2008. But given how much rents have spiraled out of control, 36% of Americans have been actively looking to buy a home, up 4% from NerdWallet’s prior home buyer survey. While the majority of homeowners surveyed–75%–feel that they are more financially secure upon buying a home, the very prospect of ownership has slipped out of a majority of Americans’ hands as high rents gobble stagnant wages.
When I dove into whether it’s worth it to buy a home or not, we found that younger would-be homeowners are far more mobile than previous generations. Most Millennials would get up and move for the right company, though personal factors come in like long-distance dating where one of you is going to have to cut that wire before the bomb goes off.
Ergo, a significant number of Americans are seeking a new home outside the country.
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Real estate costs an arm and a leg around the world, and problems like income inequality and wage stagnation aren’t totally unique to America. We’re witnessing a burning trash heap in real time, the only difference is you’re a lot closer to the smoke over here.
No less, it turns out a record-breaking amount of Americans want to become expats. 16% to be exact might not sound earth-shattering given the endless barrage of threats to move to Canada after the 2016 election. But that’s just the millions of people who’d like to leave permanently, not counting those who already packed their bags and said “Fuck this, I’m out!” or are perhaps only staying temporarily due to a job or digital nomaddery in countries with lax visa requirements for Americans.
Throw in our incredibly lax gun laws and the possibility of getting smacked with a bill equivalent to the cost of a modest 3-bedroom home by itself if you get hit by a car or diagnosed with an otherwise treatable disease, and it’s no wonder record amounts of people want to leave or already vamoosed. Especially since a majority of the ones who want to leave are younger and poorer, and it’s easier than ever for them to peer into other parts of the world thanks to social media and other aspects of online life.
So, why people want to leave is pretty obvious. But where is this new generation of expats headed, especially if they want to put down roots in their new country and get the deed they can’t afford in the contiguous 48?
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With its breathtaking coastal views, balmy weather, and having some of the lowest living costs in all of continental Europe, Portugal has become a hotspot for digital nomads, expats, and travelers alike. Home to a growing retiree community, Portugal also ranks 6th of 68 countries for the best quality of life and has attracted young families and people wishing to start them.
While rent in Lisbon and vicinity has significantly risen on account of the new influx of expats from both the US and UK, basic living expenses like food and transit are incredibly cheap. You can eat at most restaurants for around €10 ($11.08 USD at the time of writing), and get quality produce and other groceries for Dollar General prices. A monthly transit pass for a system that actually works is €35 ($38.78 USD), which is making this New Yorker cry buckets because that’s just about what I pay per week for a subway that is literally falling apart.
However, one of the biggest draws to Portugal is that Americans don’t face the same barriers to citizenship that many other countries impose so you don’t need to close up shop or quit your job right away if you want to buy a home there. Under the Golden Visa program, buying real estate in Portugal can fast-track you and your family to residency, and you only need to spend two weeks in the country every two years. The minimum investment is €350,000 ($387,817 USD) so if you were thinking of buying a home in that range stateside, you might want to consider going for a Golden Visa if you loathe harsh winters and HMOs alike.
Because job prospects and career advancement in Portugal can be sparse, the visa program was designed to attract affluent retirees and folks who make a living digitally. Americans are definitely taking it up given what $387K buys you in most metro regions.
Similarly to Portugal, Spain offers a Golden Visa program, pleasant climate, chillax lifestyle, and low living costs relative to the rest of western Europe. Provided that you’re not buying too close to a border, Americans can easily buy property in Spain and fast-track their citizenship upon buying a home.
Unlike Portugal however, foreigners are eligible for mortgages originated in Spain which has made the country an attractive destination for younger home buyers.
Spain is an epicurean dream because due to its long farming seasons and not needing to import several food products, $100 per week is an ample enough grocery budget for a couple, and produce that’s considered exotic in the states, like artichokes, is natively grown there. But if you’re not fond of cooking, you can go out to eat frequently and it won’t break the bank.
Apartments can be bought for $100,000 or less although they’ll be a lot smaller than what you’re used to in America. But unlike three people cramming into a 600 square foot apartment in Brooklyn where you’re still ponying up at least $1,250 a month each, a one-bedroom even in a hot pad like Barcelona or Madrid will run you about €400 per month ($492 USD). Excuse me while I scream into a pillow.
Mexico is a popular choice for American emigration given that English is a second language in most parts of the country. The environment also feels more familiar to Americans than other nations since you can easily find American products in stores.
Unlike what pundits and the mainstream media would have you believe, there’s more people leaving America for Mexico than the other way around. At least 800,000 American-born residents are present in Mexico as of 2019, propelled by both lower living expenses and lax immigration policy. They don’t care if your presence is authorized or not.
But given that the average home sale in Mexico in 2019 was 1.07 million pesos– or $56,133– it’s no wonder that retired expats and broke young Americans are flocking there. $56K wouldn’t even cover a down payment in many parts of America. If you want to rent while saving up to buy a home in Mexico, it’s only $575 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Mexico City, $730 or less for three bedrooms, and even cheaper when you stray from the capital and other major cities.
Millions of weebs around the world rejoiced upon hearing about that program where you can get a total wreck of a house for incredibly cheap, or even free. Akiya, however, is a little more nuanced than that. Akiya simply means “empty or abandoned home” and many broke Americans with zero hope of ever owning anything here perked up at the news of possibly getting a free house, even if it’s a rundown dump that would require lots of TLC.
Japan’s foreign-born residents make up only about 2% of the country’s population, and Americans don’t comprise a significant portion of this 2% just yet. However, as tourism has boomed in the last five years and visa requirements relaxed, the demand for labor to meet this mass influx of tourists has compounded the need for immigration and visa relaxation alongside the rapidly aging population. So while Japan is notorious for labyrinthine paperwork that will make the immigration process as difficult as possible, it doesn’t stop millions of Americans from trying to move there. Especially with the promise of a free or really cheap house and all the anime your heart desires in the heart of Akihabara.
But if you were hoping to get a cute small house in that gooch between Tokyo and Yokohama if you can’t afford digs in these highly desirable cities, best of luck to you. You have a higher likelihood of finding a good sports bra above a D cup that doesn’t cost as much as an American mortgage. Many gaijin are met with chagrin that most of the cheap or free abandoned homes are primarily in rural Japan, and it’s a lot harder to get by outside of Tokyo and other major metropolitan areas without a strong command of Japanese. All About Japan has a comprehensive guide on how to navigate akiya listings, where you’ll definitely need to enlist the help of someone who’s fluent in Japanese to find the best offerings and help you go from offer to closing if you don’t know the language. (You don’t get to refuse an English menu to have fun with your phrasebook like when you’re ordering breakfast at Doutur.)
If you’re super insistent on living in or near Tokyo and want to make buying an abandoned property happen, the Adachi Ward is probably your best bet. Most akiya properties in this area are for rent, but if you’re lucky you can still get a total shitshow of a home for less than ¥3,000,000, or $26,000! Similarly to what happens in America though, many of these homes get abandoned because the owners couldn’t afford the property taxes anymore.
Still, the homes available for free or incredibly cheap tend to be in sparsely-populated rural areas where the whole idea behind akiya programs is to revitalize them. You won’t be in or super close to a major job center, which is part of the challenge. If you’ve already cashed out of Silicon Valley and are seeking a simpler life, it could be the thing for you since it can be hard to get the telecom infrastructure necessary for freelancing and entrepreneurship, which is usually what gets people out of the “cheap home but no jobs” snafu.
If you don’t want to buy an abandoned fixer-upper though? Like in America, housing prices and rents vary throughout Japan depending on where you are and if you’re in the city center or in a less happening side of town. Osaka is light years cheaper than Tokyo and Yokohama, even if you’re in the midst of the action.
Overall though, according to Numbeo, expect to pay at least ¥106,134 per square foot ($977 USD) to buy an apartment in a major city, about ¥56,629 ($521 USD) when you’re farther from the city. So if you’re looking to buy a 1-bedroom condo in Tokyo that’s 550 square feet, that’s comparable to many major US cities at ¥58,373,700 ($537,190 USD). Whereas rent in a major city would be about $1,165 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment, outside of most cities around $714 per month.
Since you don’t need a car in most parts of Japan save for remote rural areas, you’ll get to give health insurance companies back in the US the middle finger, and there’s endless options for cheap eats? It’s no wonder that Americans are packing up and trying to get residency in Japan. (I still think about that veggie ramen I had in this hole in the wall in Osaka, so I totally sympathize.)
Thinking about leaving the US to put down roots? Where would you head?
The above are the 4 preferred countries Rachel Presser would choose to buy a home outside of the USA.
About Rachel Presser
Rachel Presser is a crazy toad lady from the Bronx who was exiled to New Jersey, spending a significant chunk of her youth where all the hideous 1970s couch covers and avocado shag carpeting went to die. Upon escaping the sea of brown and founding Sonic Toad Media, she decided to devote her time to writing from the fantastically-preserved Googie artifacts in LA and former speakeasies in Chicago, to forging new game worlds in the tea lounges of Taipei and Tokyo. She can be found at game jams, hardcore shows, vaporwave dance parties, and petting amphibians on a sensible corner loveseat.
Wait! There’s more…
Rachel sets out her 4 favorite picks above. However, we asked and received other suggestions (with reasons). Here are another 22 top countries to buy a house outside of the USA.
One of the best aspects about purchasing property in Italy is that you do not have to have a residency permit or Italian passport to do so. This is because the United States has a reciprocity agreement, making it possible for Americans to purchase properties with the precedent that Italians are able to do so in the United States.
Home prices in Italy area also very affordable when compared to a majority of U.S> markets. However, those looking to purchase homes in Italy should take into account that many Italian homes have more complicated costs associated with renovations and maintenance. Because of this, it is important to do your research into the things that could potentially go wrong so you are able to properly understand the true prices of homes. That being said, homes in Italy are still largely cheaper than a majority of properties in the United States.
Owning a property in Italy is also one of the best ways to have a quality vacation home to use in the event that you need to get away. Not only will you be able to have a home away from home that you can visit, but the value of your home will also increase due to the ever-expanding Italian real estate market. When purchasing a home, though, it is important to verify that you are not being taken advantage of by scammers and other types of criminals. For this reason, you should always be sure to use verified sites such as Lionard, Romolini, Toscana Houses and Viviun when looking for properties.
Healthcare in Italy is also free and considered one of the best healthcare systems according to the World Health Organization. This can greatly affect any budgeting you have, giving you more money to spend on food, vacationing, and other things you enjoy.
The overall cost of your life in Italy will greatly depend on where you want to spend your time. For example, living in expensive cities such as Rome will be much more expensive than a more affordable coastal town like Bari, with prices generally being three times cheaper in the latter. If you are somebody who doesn’t need to live near a city, though, rural Italy has many wonderful places and secluded areas to offer. Another benefit to living in Italy is that no matter where you are, you can always count on being surrounded by good food and wine!
If you are somebody who relies on public transportation to get around, you might not appreciate the consistency that is present in many Italian cities. While some expats might insinuate that Italy is “too slow,” it is simply a different pace than what many Americans are used to. For this reason, certain aspects of the culture might be less punctual than others, so it’s important to keep this in mind. Those who appreciate “going with the flow” will adore the calm aspects of Italian life, but others should factor that in if it might be a potential stressor.
If you’re looking for an affordable country to purchase property in as an American expat, you can’t do much better than Panama. Though it has a reputation for being a third world country, Panama has significant amounts of culture and natural beauty to offer anyone who visits this unique country. Healthcare is also very affordable in this country, making it incredibly accessible for those who are looking to get away from the expensive healthcare system in the United States. The low price doesn’t mean that the healthcare is lower quality, though—the healthcare system in Panama balances accessibility with quality! It is not entirely free, but significantly cheaper than other countries.
A major benefit of Panama for Americans looking to purchase property abroad is that it is very close to the United States. The country’s location in-between Central America and South America make it ideal for those who want to be completely surrounded by a tropical climate that stays consistent throughout the year.
For those interested in retiring in the country after purchasing property, Panama also has a variety of retiree benefits that make it incredibly easy to immerse yourself in the culture. This is because many entertainment venues and restaurants will offer significant discounts to retired people, giving great incentive for those thinking about moving to the country.
When compared to the other countries on our list, it’s clear that there are none like Brazil. Though it is technically considered a foreign country, there are some similarities shared with American culture that allow it to feel like familiar territory for expats. Possibly the most positive aspect about Brazil is that—just like the U.S.—it is a true melting pot, with an incredibly diverse population that represents a wide variety of different backgrounds, races and cultures. Brazilians are also usually very enthusiastic about their culture, being more than happy to share their history with newcomers.
Brazil also contains a wide variety of cultural celebrations and traditions that make it so there is always something going on. If you’re just looking to purchase a property to use as a vacation home, you will have plenty of options to choose from. The most notable Brazilian celebration is Carnival, a tradition that boasts an intricate history and beautiful ornamentation that is essential to see in person. In order to see the celebration in all of it’s glory, we recommend that you plan an entire vacation around it that allows you to take in all of its nuance.
Even if you’re planning to move permanently to Brazil, you can be assured that you will live a comfortable life. On average, life in Brazil is more affordable than in the United States, giving you more money to spend on excursions and nightlife. This country also boasts an incredible amount of natural beauty that makes it more than worth the investment. Though public transportation isn’t as accessible as it might be in other countries on this list, cars are generally very affordable and accessible. Because of this, you can plan a spontaneous trip to Iguazu Falls and not spend that much money in the process!
If you are somebody who enjoys eating meat, you will really enjoy Brazilian cooking. Brazilian style steakhouses (referred to as churrascarias) are incredibly popular in the country, offering a different type of dining experience than you might be accustomed to in the United States. A churrascaria experience typically involves waiters continually bringing dishes to tables for an all-you-can-eat experience. Once you are done eating, all you have to do is flip the green card on your table over so it is red, signifying that your meal is over.
In terms of countries in Asia, perhaps none are as extravagant as Thailand. Of course, metropolitan areas such as Bangkok can be quite expensive cities on par with London and San Francisco, but not every spot in the country is prohibitively luxurious. One of the most beautiful things about Thailand is that—no matter where you are—you’ll be surrounded by eloquent nature. Whether you’re in a rural mountain range or staying at a place alongside the water, you’ll be able to experience the beautiful weather that the area has to offer while also being able to eat some deliciously spicy food. The healthcare in Thailand is also very affordable and high-quality, making it a great destination for Americans who want to have premium healthcare without paying expensive prices.
Buying real estate in Thailand is a bit more complicated than other countries. For example, it is technically impossible by law for a foreigner to own land in Thailand. This includes any type of townhouse or home that is grounded specifically to the land. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were to purchase land through a business, you could still invest your money while the business retains 51% of the property rights. This procedure requires a lot of legal knowledge of the real estate market, though, so we recommend that you only invest under these circumstances under the guidance of a lawyer.
However, buying land does not mean that you can’t purchase a home in Thailand. For example, it is perfectly possible to purchase a condo in Thailand. These can range in size and be quite sizeable, leading to our inclusion of Thailand on this list. Though it can be difficult for foreigners to purchase a home in Thailand, finding the most suitable and legal way to invest your money is well worth it in the long run.
That being said, if you are an American who has dual citizenship with Thailand, you can easily purchase land. Thai property taxes are also pretty small when compared to other places in Asia, making investing in Thai real estate a good option for those looking to own property outside of the United States.
9. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is another one of those places where you might have vacationed, but never thought about owning property in. This is because many people are not aware of the vibrant culture that the Dominican Republic has year-round, making it a perfect place to live for those who want to escape the stress and intensity of modern-day American life. Though the country mainly speaks Spanish, there are enough people who are multilingual that you can get by speaking English.
Owning property in the Dominican Republic is also cheaper than you might think, only costing 1% of the property’s value. Though this will continue to rise year after year, it is still less significant than other countries with larger property tax percentages. If you are someone who is looking to move from the United States and find a job in the Dominican Republic, you’ll also appreciate the fact that the income tax is not too different than what you pay in the United States. In addition to this, the overall cost of living is cheap enough that you’ll be able to get a much greater value for your dollar. (Link: https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Caribbean/Dominican-Republic/Taxes-and-Costs)
Retirees looking to be athletic in their free time will also appreciate the sport culture of the Dominican Republic. Not only are water sports very popular in the area, but there is also a huge baseball culture. Those who like to run or hike will also appreciate the forests, waterfalls and beaches with trails that are perfect for exercising on.
Buying a home in Hungary is one of the smartest things you can do as an American looking to own a property outside of the United States. This is because the country itself is currently undergoing a significant change, with political and economic environments rapidly transforming. Because of this time of modernization, the real estate market is also growing, with prices rising across the country. Even with the growing prices, the average price for a home is still significantly cheaper than average homes in the U.S., with prices only expected to rise from this point onward.
If you’re looking to purchase a home in one of the major cities such as Budapest, you can expect to have significant growth with your investment. As of right now, Budapest is attracting artists from all around the world, with many people praising its open culture and music scenes for stimulating cultural growth. This is also one of the reasons that the city is becoming more expensive, with rent prices slowly rising. If you want to ensure that you make money on an investment, the real estate market in Budapest is a good option to look into.
However, this doesn’t mean that the real estate market is especially easy to navigate. In order to ensure that you’re getting the best deal for your money, you need to do research on the various factors that you should take into account when searching for property in the country. (Link: https://thehungarianguide.co.uk/hungary/why-buy-property-in-hungary/)
That being said, there are some wonderful deals to be found in the Hungarian real estate market. For example, it is quite easy to purchase a house in a rural part of the country for only 12,000EUR, an unbelievable price when compared to the American real estate market.
If you are someone who is looking into retiring in Hungary, you can also be comforted by the fact that there are many benefits to being a senior citizen in the country. Not only will you get discounts on various types of entertainment, but you will also get discounts on public transportation. In fact, traveling by train or bus is completely free for residents over the age of 65!
Hungary also has a significant exchange rate, with 1 Hungarian Forint only equaling .0033 of a United States Dollar. If you are someone who is planning to live off of money you’ve already saved up, you will find that your funds will last you a long time in Hungary. However, those looking to find a job and settle down might feel differently about the currency rate. The average income in Hungary is adjusted to the economy, forcing you to take a significant wage cut and making it difficult to travel outside of the country.
11. Turks and Caicos
Those who visit Turks and Caicos often don’t think of actually living there. After all, it’s mainly a vacation destination, right? Would it actually be efficient to live in such a decadent place all of the time? Though you might not expect it, Turks and Caicos is actually a wonderful place to purchase property. Regardless of whether you plan to settle or just have a second home, you can feel at home in the country and take in the beautiful sites while also taking it easy.
The real estate market in Turks and Caicos will largely depend on which island you decide to settle on. For example, if you decide to settle on South Caicos or Middle Caicos, the average price for a home will be significantly less than if you were to search on Providenciales. The taxes will also be cheaper, allowing you to save money in the long run. Keeping yourself informed on the tax differences between certain islands is essential for keeping yourself informed about the country.
If you plan to work here, though, what you must understand about this territory is that a majority of the business on the islands is centered around tourism. For this reason, you might have to adjust your career focus if you want to completely fit in with the local economy. However, those looking to retire full-time will find a great amount of enjoyment and fun activities to take part in.
Something uinque about living in Turks and Caicos is that there is a wonderfully diverse population that you don’t typically get to connect with due to the area’s emphasis on the hospitality industry. Because of this, you will be able to see a side of the territory that tourists don’t get to see!
For Americans who are looking to retire, going to Turkey is one of the best decisions you can make. With a vivid culture and wonderful selection of metropolitan areas, Turkey is a very unique country to own property in. The exchange rate is also quite significant, with 1 Turkish lira only amounting to .17 United States Dollars.
The real estate market is also continually rising in Turkey, making it especially lucrative for those looking to find a place to settle down for the longterm. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to live in Turkey to own property there, though. Unlike other countries that have residential requirements for owning homes, Turkey allows Americans to come and go as they please without consequence.
That being said, there are many reasons as to why you would want to live in Turkey. On top of the exchange rate being plentiful, the cost of living is also significantly cheaper than the United States. Turkey is also considered one of the largest countries in the world, making it a great place to explore.
Turkey has a reputation for being a country that is close-minded and not very welcoming to foreigners, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you stay near metropolitan areas such as Istanbul and Ankara, you will find that many Turkish people are more than welcoming to foreigners and are always interested in helping others integrate into the culture.
In the event that you need a break from the city life, there are also many different types of areas you can go within the country. For example, finding a peaceful beach is not difficult in Turkey, allowing you to completely unwind on the perfect day trip!
Belize is one of the countries on this list that does not have the most affordable real estate market. The prices have risen quite a lot over the past 10 years, making it difficult for those on a budget to break into the market. However, this country does have a remarkably stable economy, making it easy for you to not worry about losing your investment if you do purchase a home.
The property tax in Belize is also quite reasonable when compared with other countries in Central America, only being 8% of the price of the property. The first $10,000 of the property’s price is also exempt, making it more affordable for foreigners looking for a deal on a home. There is also no capital gains tax in Belize, making the real estate market open to foreigners who are looking to invest in the country’s market.
However, there are many complications to Belize’s real estate market that are important to keep in mind. For example, if you are someone who is looking to purchase a property before arriving to the country, it is recommended that you avoid doing that. This is because there are often scammers and criminals that make significant amounts of money off of expats who don’t know better, making it important for you to understand the real estate market thoroughly before diving in.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that criminals are out there giving leases to fake properties, though. Most of the houses on the market are legitimate, but might be considered overpriced or not well-maintained based on how cheap they look to Americans. For this reason, it is important to do your ressearch and only work with reputable real estate agents.
When looking for a home in Belize, you should also factor in time to go to the country first and check out the properties you are interested in. Though it might be tempting to find one perfect one online and then go to visit, there is a possibility that you might not know what to look for until you get there. Because of this, you should factor in travel time beforehand and make sure that you know exactly what you want.
Those who have seen the Mamma Mia film series are probably already familiar with the beauty of the area. Not only is Greece one of the most beautiful countries in the European Union, but it is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing countries in the world. With breathtaking views and gorgeous beaches, you will always feel like you’re on vacation while staying in this wonderful country.
When looking to purchase property in Greece, it is important to take note of the construction date of your desired building. This is because the property tax is affected by when the building was built. For example, if your building has a construction permit that was issued before January 1st, 2006, you only have to pay 3.09% in property taxes. If the permit was issued after the aforementioned date, you have to pay 24% in property taxes. This difference is big enough to deter someone from not moving to Greece altogether, but it is definitely worth it if you are willing to put in the effort to navigate the real estate market.
Though some areas of the country are more tumultuous than others, Greece is a safe country to live in. This is largely due to the reliable judicial system that gives courts the materials to process cases quickly and efficiently.
Greece is also a country that has a large percentage of English speakers, allowing Americans to feel like they fit in from the second they arrive. Though the people in Greece will appreciate if you speak the language, you don’t have to worry about being culturally exiled for not knowing it immediately. Because Greek can be a difficult language to learn for English-speakers, the overall culture is very understanding and welcoming.
Those who move to Greece will also appreciate the incredibly historic architecture and tourist sites that await them. Greek culture is also known for its cuisine, making Greece one of the most delicious places in Europe to live!
If you are someone who is familiar with France in any capacity, you likely know that is it a beautiful country. With a wide variety of different regions to choose from, Americans looking to purchase a home will have plenty of options. However, those hoping to become property owners in France should be aware of the fact that they will most likely have to learn the language. Though there are people who speak English in France, the percentage when compared to other European countries is pretty small.
There is also a cultural precedent in which French people prefer for foreigners to learn their culture, so you might have a difficult time if you are not willing to adjust. That being said, it is definitely possible to hire an English-speaking real estate agent while you are taking your initial French classes.
Most people from the United States who consider moving to France have a dream of moving to Paris. If you are one of these people, there’s nothing wrong with that! Paris is an incredibly beautiful city that not only has a lot of history, but also a vivid cultural background. It is multicultural, there are wonderful monuments and the restaurant scene is one of the best in the world! Those who are planning to move with family will also appreciate the fact that there is a nearby Disneyland resort!
However, Paris can be an expensive city for those looking to purchase houses. Like cities such as New York and London, Paris is becoming more and more gentrified, with prices rising significantly in recent years. If you are someone who can truly afford it, it’s a great investment, but those on a budget should definitely keep that in mind.
Being an expat in France is so much more than Paris, though! If you want a city that has a comparable amount of activity for a fraction of the price, Lyon is a great place to look for real estate.
A big detractor for many Americans is that France has high property taxes, often coming out to 33.33% for non-EU citizens. If you are one of those lucky Americans that has dual citizenship, though, your taxes will only be 19%! This reduced tax rate for EU citizens definitely makes France one of the best countries for Americans to purchase property in.
With a flat tax rate of only 10%, Bulgaria is one of the best countries to go to for those looking to live in a country where they pay less in taxes. This also makes the real estate market particularly accessible, allowing you to invest your money without having to worry about losing some in the long run. Though the Bulgarian economy is not as strong as other countries, the real estate rates are consistent enough that you shouldn’t worry about getting your money’s worth.
If you are somebody who is planning on retiring to Bulgaria, you will be content with the fact that it is affordable to live there and your currency will go a long way. On the other hand, if you are somebody looking to be employed there, you might want to consider the fact that you will likely receive significant wage cuts as a result of the different economy. Though real estate prices near cities such as Sofia will be more expensive than the rural areas, they are good investments for those looking to be closer to the culture.
Those who are enthusiastic about old Russian architecture will also appreciate the Soviet buildings and infrastructure that is still intact. Inner cities are almost identical to how they used to be before the fall of the USSR, making them especially interesting for history buffs who want to expose themselves to the nation’s past.
However, those looking for a more secluded experience should look into purchasing town houses in rural areas. Not only are the prices incredibly affordable when compared to the United States, but you will also be surrounded by natural farms and more traditional settings.
For those who are interested in moving somewhere that does not have the same industrialized culture as the U.S., Bulgaria is a perfect opportunity for a significant change in scenery. However, if you are somebody who would prefer to move to a bustling city, you should probably check out one of the other countries on our list.
In recent years, Croatia has become one of the rising stars of Europe’s tourist scene. This also means that many people are becoming enamored with the country, also leading to a rise in immigration. As a result, the real estate market has been booming, making property in Croatia a very wise investment. If you are looking to see the most profit with your financial investment, Croatia is definitely one of the best options you’ll find in all of Europe.
If moving to Croatia sounds like an appealing pursuit to you, you should be focused on learning the language. Though many Croatians speak English, your official documents likely won’t be, forcing you to either learn the language or hire a translator wherever you go.
Croatia is also filled with a large amount of wildlife and nature that truly must be seen in person to be believed. With eight different natural parks to choose from, visitors and residents can immerse themselves in a variety of different ways. The country is also small enough that you are never far from a forest or hiking trail. If you are somebody who is looking to engage yourself in lots of physical or athletic activities, Croatia is a perfect setting for you to work on your fitness.
Because Croatia is a relatively small country when compared to other nations in the European Union, its general make-up is also small. Though Zagreb is considered the big capital city, it is incredibly small when compared to other capital cities around the world. For this reason, those moving to the country might feel a culture shock of not having to move around a lot to travel. Many Americans overwhelmed by the size of their country might find this to be a complete relief, but some might feel claustrophobic. If you are open to trying new experiences, you will definitely enjoy exploring the vast amount of Croatian towns.
Though public transit in Croatia is not as punctual as it could be, the overall infrastructure is incredibly solid. The motorways are very durable and well-maintained, making them very accessible. The overall size of the country and design of the infrastructure also means that there is seldom any traffic, allowing you to not worry about whether or not you will be late to commitments.
As a country that is often known to have higher taxes than many Americans are used to, you might not have expected Germany to appear on this list. However, there are few countries that provide as much order and beauty as Germany does. In fact, Germany is frequently put on lists of the world’s best countries, with many citing its impressive quality of life as one of the main reasons as to why they have stuck around.
No matter where you live in Germany, you are guaranteed to be close to affordable and accessible public transportation. For example, even those living in smaller towns can be assured that there is at least a bus line ready to take them to a larger city, with many rural areas even having the support of train lines. On top of this, Germany’s major cities have incredibly well-designed public transit networks that makes visiting them feel like a seamless experience. Those looking to visit Berlin will find that the design of the BVG’s transit lines makes it easy to follow and use in a variety of different situations. Though each fare costs 2.80EUR, you can purchase monthly passes beginning at 60EUR that make getting through the city incredibly efficient.
On top of this, real estate in Germany is generally cheaper than it is in the United States. The value is quickly increasing, though, making a majority of properties wonderful investments for anyone looking to watch their money grow over the years. Moving to a city like Berlin, Leipzig or Dresden are all great ideas for those who want to have a property that is beautiful and easy to maintain.
As a whole, Germany also has a lot of social programs that increase the quality of life in the country. Even though you technically pay more in taxes, it is very easy to see where your money is going towards. For this reason, many people feel comfortable living in Germany and prefer it to other nations that allocate their taxes in different ways.
If you are someone who is interested in history, you will also find plenty of that in Germany. In general, the country is not afraid of confronting its past, allowing expats and visitors to visit extensive amounts of museums and other institutions dedicated to preserving the history of the country.
Many Americans who want to move to South America end up picking Colombia as the place where they want to settle down. This is not necessarily a coincidence—Colombia is frequently referenced as a country that has something for everyone, making it incredibly easy to integrate and find a proper home.
If you are somebody who is looking to permanently settle in Colombia, you will be relieved to know that the healthcare system in the country is at the top of its class, with a majority of Colombian hospitals being some of the best facilities operating in Latin America.
Despite the country’s reputation and depiction in popular culture as a complicated, tumultuous place, Colombia is a very safe country. Through governmental programs and societal initiatives, many people have learned to embrace the country’s new identity and crime rates have dropped significantly in recent years. For this reason, many Americans have been retiring in the country, citing affordable housing and a vibrant culture as two wonderful benefits to living there. Retiring in Colombia is also remarkably easy, with a majority of Americans being eligible for a retirement visa due to the low required income threshold.
In the event that you want to go back to the United States for visits, there are many accessible and affordable flights going between the countries, making it easy to find flights last-minute!
One of the most important things to keep in mind when searching for property in Colombia is that the culture is vastly different than the United States. The overall culture in Colombia is significantly more laid-back than American culture, causing some expats to feel frustrated. This change certainly isn’t for everyone, but those who are looking for something significantly more low-key will be grateful for the different chance in pace. This is another reason why Colombia is so often designated as one of the best countries in the world for expats to retire in!
Ecuador is a unique country on this list in the sense that it contains many different types of ecosystems that are important to factor in when you’re looking at new properties. For example, do you prefer a humid area or a dry one? Would you rather live near a city or a rural area? Would you rather be surrounded by the mountains, the Amazon or the coast?
These are all important questions to be asking yourself if you are considering moving to this country. However, something important to mention when talking about Ecuador is that there really are no bad areas in the country. Though there are different preferences you might have, Ecuador’s various areas are only a testament to the country’s overall sense of diversity. Because of this, you can definitely tailor your experience to your personal preferences and find a place that truly feels like home.
Those looking to move to Ecuador should become accustomed to the fact that the real estate system can be tricky to navigate. For this reason, working with a real estate agent is often not enough to protect yourself. To make sure that you are not being stolen from or scammed, you should also hire an attorney to help you with any legal questions about your contract. Home insurance is also not as thorough as it is in the United States, putting a lot of responsibility on the home owner to make sure that they are entirely covered.
Because real estate can be a tumultuous market in Ecuador, many professionals recommend that you visit the country before you purchase property there. This is because that Ecuador is one of those countries that truly must be visited in order to gauge compatibility, making it a more nuanced situation for Americans looking to have all of the papers signed before getting their residency permit. Though this might seem like a huge burden to take on when purchasing property to move to another country, it is well worth the effort. If you decide to go through with the difficult task of finding a proper home in Ecuador, you will be rewarded with delicious food, beautiful culture and a wonderful home.
As one of the hidden gems in Europe, Latvia is an incredibly affordable country to be an expat in. Property prices are very low, allowing you to purchase incredibly luxurious houses for relatively affordable prices. If you are somebody who doesn’t mind being close to a city center, your options grow even larger, allowing you to purchase entire homes for as little as 50,000EUR. However, this affordability is because of Latvia’s overall economy not being as strong as neighboring countries. Because of this, those looking to get a job in Latvia will see significant wage cuts compared to their home countries.
However, if you are somebody who simply wants to purchase land and live off of a retirement fund, you can’t do much better than settling in Latvia. There are plenty of options for metropolitan areas to be close to, but we recommend being Riga, Liepaja or Ventspils if you want to be closest to the vivid cultural scene. On top of this, public transit can be quite expensive, making the overall culture prioritize the use of cars.
Real estate tax in Latvia is relatively cheap when compared to other western European countries, making it a logical financial choice for Americans to purchase property there. In general, the real estate market is not growing a lot, but is consistent enough that you can be confident in your investment. In many ways, Latvia feels entirely like a country that is still caught in the 20th century, making it an incredibly wonderful place to surround yourself with history and pre-industrialization architecture. Those who are less interested in the modern-day technological aspects of American society will greatly appreciate the lack of noise present in most parts of Latvian society.
When considering purchasing property in a foreign country, it’s understandable that you might be worried about language barriers. For many Americans who are easily able to pick up new languages and adjust to different cultures, this might seem like a no-brainer, but others who only speak English might be more intimidated by the prospect. Malta is a perfect place for English speakers due to the language being one of the country’s two main languages. Because of this, expats won’t have to worry about grasping another language upon arrival in order to efficiently live life.
In 2018, the capital city of Malta (Valletta) was also selected as the European Capital of Culture, highlighting the many different cultural events that allow the city to have one of the most unique entertainment industries in western Europe.
Malta also has some of the cleanest water in the European Union, having a number of beaches and bathing areas for tourists and residents to visit. Those looking to settle down in the country will also appreciate that it is certainly possible to get a long-term residency as an American. The taxes for the area are also quite low when compared to other EU countries like Germany, making it an ideal spot for those looking to make an investment without taking a large risk.
Malta also has the unique title of being the second-safest country in the world according to the United Nation’s World Risk Report, making it especially desirable for those who want to avoid having a tumultuous lifestyle. Because Malta is both affordable and safe to live in, those looking to retire with complete security can be ensure that their retirement will be seamless and comfortable.
Those looking to completely escape cold weather will be comforted by the fact that Malta receives some of the most sun in Europe. Even the cold temperatures are not that harsh when compared to other countries, with Malta’s winter season typically reaching lows of 15 degrees Celsius.
If you are looking to purchase a home in Argentina, it is essential that you know where to go. Certain areas of the country can be expensive and inaccessible, but the areas that are worth purchasing property in are truly worth it. Those hoping to be close to a big city such as Buenos Aires will have to cope with more expensive prices, but ultimately will enjoy the hustle and bustle that surrounds them.
However, if you want to truly experience a part of Argentina that you won’t often see, you should look into purchasing property near San Rafael. The area surrounding San Rafael is very rural, meaning that your property options are surrounded by vast amounts of beautiful nature. The climate is also very consistently warm, allowing you to not have to adjust your expectations based on the season. House prices are also very moderate here, with luxurious houses selling for as little as $80,000!
Possibly the best aspect of living near San Rafael, though, is that you are completely surrounded by wonderful outdoor activities. For example, the amount of campsites and rivers around make it incredibly easy to spontaneously set off on a camping or white water rafting trip. In addition to this, those looking to find a different type of profession in retirement might even be interested in purchasing a vineyard and beginning a new career! If you want to experience a more lively atmosphere, though, there is always the possibility of driving into San Rafael and having a taste of the local nightlife.
24. South Africa
South Africa is one of those countries in which it is very easy to purchase property without much trouble. This is because people from foreign countries are allowed to purchase as much land as they would like, leading to a booming real estate market that has developed. On top of this, the house prices themselves are pretty stable due to a majority of the population also being homeowners. If you are somebody who is considering moving to South Africa, it makes more sense to purchase a home over renting one. This is because the rental market is pretty expensive and competitive, leading to a rise in cost of living that is beginning to affect the metropolitan areas.
The housing market can also be a bit tumultuous, though, with a good amount of scammers and other types of criminals rampant in certain areas. There are rarely any private sales occurring in the South African real estate market, making it essential for you to begin working with an agent if you want to make sure that you are not getting ripped off.
Those who are willing to put in the work to move to South Africa will be greatly rewarded for their efforts. With over 1,600 miles of coastline stretched across the country, there are plenty of wonderful ocean views to be had. If you are somebody who prefers land, you will also be impressed with the natural sights on land such as the Drakensberg Mountains or the Kalahari Desert.
The culture of South Africa is also significantly more relaxed than the United States, with those who live there encouraging others to slow down and lead more relaxed lifestyles. Because of this, South Africa is a great place for those looking to retire in an area that will accommodate them with a calm lifestyle. If you are somebody who prefers to have jam-packed days, though, you should probably look elsewhere.
Editor’s note: Saved the best for last (IMO). Vancouver is where I live and work.
When people consider purchasing property in a country outside of the United States, the most logical option is often Canada. This is because Canada is very close to the U.S., making it accessible to visit on a whim. On top of this, Canada is also a large country, giving home owners a variety of different regions and cities to settle down in. Crime rates in many metropolitan cities in Canada area also generally low, making them ideal places to visit or purchase a home in.
If you are somebody who prefers warm climates, though, you might want to look at another country. Because Canada is located so far up north, the general climate is pretty frigid. There are beautiful parts of the country that are wonderful to visit in both winter and summer (i.e. Nova Scotia), but the cold is enough for many people to look for somewhere with warmer weather.
Like the U.S., Canada has a lot of different rural and metropolitan areas to choose from when purchasing a home. If you’re hoping to purchase a home in or around a big city, you should be aware that there are required earning percentages for anybody looking to purchase property. This often changes depending on which cities you look into, so it is worth looking into.
In general, Canadian society is also very accommodating to a variety of lifestyles. Not only do they have a very progressive culture, but there are is also well-funded government programs that make it easy to not worry about spending excessive amounts of money on education and healthcare.
Many expats move to Canada because of the country’s commitment to excellence, something that parallels what is often referred to as the “American dream”. On top of this, Canada also boasts a stable economy with a banking system that helps keep a steady flow of money coming both in and out of the country. This stability is also very helpful for those who want to ensure the value of their home does not wax and wane depending on economic circumstances.