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Top Picks – The Easiest European Countries to Move to From the USA

Posted Country Guides / December 8, 2023

Thinking of exploring a new life across the Atlantic? Our guide on the easiest European countries to move to from the USA simplifies your quest. We’ve carefully curated a list of destinations where American expats can transition smoothly, taking into account factors like visa policies, language barriers, and cultural adaptability. Discover which European nations offer the most straightforward and welcoming experience for Americans seeking new adventures.

What Are the Easiest European Countries to Move to From the USA?

The best European expat destinations, based on various factors such as visa policies, language barriers, and overall expat-friendliness, include Portugal, Spain, Malta, Greece, and The Netherlands. These countries offer a range of residency and visa options catering to different lifestyles, making them attractive destinations for expat communities. Whether it’s for their welcoming culture, affordable living, or scenic beauty, these European nations provide a relatively smoother transition for Americans who plan on moving overseas.

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Portugal – A Top Destination for US Expats

Portugal has emerged as one of the best countries for Americans to move to thanks to its warm Mediterranean climate, affordable cost of living, high quality of life, and welcoming atmosphere. Offering over 300 days of sunshine a year, Portugal is particularly appealing to those seeking a relaxed, balanced lifestyle away from harsh winters.

The country’s attractive visa and residency programs, excellent healthcare system, and status as one of Europe’s safest countries further enhance its appeal for Americans looking for a new home in Europe​.

Visa and Residency Options – Non-Habitual Resident Regime (NHR), Golden Visa, Digital Nomad Visa, and the D7 Visa​​

Relocating to Portugal is possible thanks to a variety of European residency programs, including the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program, which provides tax incentives for new residents. The NHR regime taxes personal income at a flat rate of 20% for those engaged in high-value activities of a scientific, artistic, or technical nature.

Another popular option is the D7 Visa, which is ideal for those looking to retire in Europe, remote workers, and digital nomads. D7 Visa requires proof of stable income, such as a pension or salary, and no investment is needed. Applicants must spend a minimum of 16 months in Portugal during the first two years and meet certain income thresholds. The D7 Visa also allows family members to join the main applicant with the same residency rights​. All you need to do is apply and choose an overseas shipping company, and it’s time to go!

Spain – A Blend of Culture and Convenience

Spain, with its blend of rich culture and modern conveniences, offers an enticing environment for American expats. Its relaxed lifestyle, pleasant weather, and great cuisine contribute to a high quality of life. The country’s cultural richness is evident in its world-renowned museums and historical sites, which provide an engaging backdrop to everyday life.

Spain’s varied topography and coastal communities along the Mediterranean Sea offer a diverse range of activities, from skiing in the Sierra Nevada to snorkeling in the Canary Islands. The Spanish lifestyle, characterized by leisurely meals and socializing, reflects a slower pace of life that many expats find appealing. Moving to Spain is a decision you won’t regret!

Additionally, Spain is one of the more affordable European countries for Americans – Spain’s cost of living is generally lower than in the United States, and its excellent public transportation infrastructure makes traveling and doing business in the country convenient and efficient.

Exploration of Residency Options – Digital Nomad Visa, Non-Lucrative Visa, and the Spanish Golden Visa​​

Spain offers several residency options for expats, including the Golden Visa and Non-Lucrative Visa. The Golden Visa program allows individuals to gain residency through a financial investment in the Spanish economy, such as real estate purchases or business investments. This visa is initially valid for two years and can be renewed every three years.

The Non-Lucrative Visa is ideal for individuals with a stable passive income, such as retirees. It requires proof of sufficient income from foreign sources and offers a pathway to permanent residency and eventually citizenship, subject to meeting specific criteria like language proficiency and an understanding of Spanish customs and traditions.

Malta – Scenic Beauty and Simple Residency

Malta, a Mediterranean gem, is a popular destination for Americans, including remote workers, retirees, and investors. The country’s year-round sunshine, stunning beaches, and relaxed lifestyle make it an ideal retreat from the hectic city life. Malta is among English-friendly European countries – one of Malta’s official languages is English, which simplifies daily interactions for Americans.

Additionally, Malta’s strong economy and burgeoning high-tech industries are attracting more American expats. The country is a great place for those looking for digital nomad opportunities in Europe.

Visa Options – Malta Permanent Residence Programme and Citizenship for Exceptional Services​​

For Americans moving to Malta, the Malta Permanent Residence Programme and the Maltese Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services (investment-based) are two primary options. These programs facilitate the acquisition of residency and citizenship, with the possibility of obtaining Maltese citizenship in as little as 14 months, depending on individual circumstances. This provides an efficient route for Americans seeking to live in this scenic country with its rich cultural heritage and conducive environment for both living and working.

Greece – Affordable Living and Diverse Landscapes

Greece offers an enchanting blend of rustic islands and vibrant urban landscapes. Known for its temperate climate, the country has mild winters and hot summers, making it a year-round destination. Its property market is among the most affordable in Europe, appealing to those seeking to purchase a home.

Greece’s picturesque beaches and delicious cuisine add to its charm. The country also recognizes dual citizenship, which is a significant advantage for those considering long-term residency and eventual citizenship after moving to Greece. After seven years of residency and achieving a B1 level in the Greek language, citizenship application is possible.

Visa Programs – Golden Visa Programme, Greek Digital Nomad Visa, Residency by Independent Means​​

Greece offers several visa options tailored to different needs. The Greek Golden Visa Program allows residency after investing €250,000 in real estate, making it Europe’s cheapest real estate residency pathway. For digital nomads, the Greek Digital Nomad Visa is an ideal choice, catering to salaried remote workers.

There’s also the option of Residency by Independent Means, which is best suited for retirees or those with passive income. These programs not only facilitate residency but also pave the way for citizenship after seven years of living in Greece, offering a straightforward path to making Greece a permanent home​.

The Netherlands – Ideal Place for Entrepreneurs

The Netherlands stands out as a top destination for working expats, especially entrepreneurs, due to its advanced and diversified economy with a strong focus on international trade. Home to numerous multinational companies, it offers ample opportunities for career advancement and networking – you won’t have any trouble finding a job abroad if you choose this country.

Another thing that contributes to a high-quality lifestyle is the fact that the locals are known for their tolerant attitudes towards different lifestyles and cultures. The country boasts top-notch healthcare, efficient public transportation, and excellent infrastructure.

The Netherlands is also an especially attractive destination for female professionals and entrepreneurs, as it is one of the safest countries in the world for women. The Dutch government offers tax benefits for highly skilled workers and expat entrepreneurs, adding to its attractiveness for business-minded individuals​.

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty and Its Benefits​​

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) is a unique program that facilitates American entrepreneurs and investors to gain residency in the Netherlands. Under this treaty, US citizens can obtain residency by investing at least €4,500 in a Dutch business or as freelancers.

This residency is renewable every two years, and after five years, individuals can apply for permanent residency. The DAFT is particularly beneficial for those setting up a business in the Netherlands, offering a straightforward path to residency and eventually citizenship, reflecting the country’s welcoming attitude towards American business professionals.

Encouraging Words for Those Who Plan on Moving Internationally

If you’re contemplating living in Europe as an American, it’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension. Remember, embarking on this journey is not just about changing your location but also about embracing new opportunities and experiences. Here are some encouraging points to consider as you plan your adventure:

  • Relocating abroad is a journey full of new experiences and personal growth.
  • It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, languages, and histories and experience culture shocks.
  • You will get to enjoy high standards of living, healthcare, and safety.
  • You can utilize the thriving business environments and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • This is the perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the world and expand your professional and personal networks.
  • You’ll have access to top-notch education systems for you and your family.
  • You will live amidst some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes and historical sites.
  • This is a chance to learn new languages and skills and adapt to different lifestyles.
  • You may gain permanent residency and citizenship in a new country.
  • It’s easy to find communities of fellow expats and locals to help ease the transition.

Reach Out to I Love International Moving for Assistance When Moving Abroad

If you’re planning an international move, I Love International Moving can be your go-to partner. Our international moving company specializes in shipping overseas, offering a comprehensive range of relocation services to ensure a smooth transition. From packing assistance to safe shipping of your belongings, our experienced team handles every aspect of your move effortlessly, making it a stress-free experience for you.

With a focus on customer satisfaction and efficient logistics, we tailor our services to meet your specific needs, whether you’re moving your home, office, or just a few items. Our expertise in navigating the complexities of international moving makes us a reliable choice for anyone looking for an overseas moving company. Contact us to get your free quote, and let’s embark on this exciting journey together!


What Are the General Requirements for Obtaining Residency in These European Countries?

In countries like Portugal, Spain, Malta, Greece, and the Netherlands, obtaining residency often involves financial investments (as seen in European Golden Visa programs), proof of stable income (like the Non-Habitual Resident regime and D7 Visa in Portugal), or setting up a business (such as under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty). These programs are designed to cater to different groups, including remote workers, retirees, entrepreneurs, and investors.

How Does the Cost of Living Compare Between These Countries and the USA?

The cost of living in these European countries is generally lower than in the United States. Spain and Greece, for instance, offer more affordable housing and daily expenses. This makes them attractive destinations for Americans seeking a high quality of life at a reduced cost. However, the cost can vary significantly depending on the region and lifestyle choices.

What Are the Language Barriers for English Speakers in These Countries?

While English is widely understood in these countries, especially in Malta, where it’s an official language, there are varying degrees of language barriers. In countries like Portugal and Spain, knowing the local language can be essential for deeper integration into society. However, in urban and tourist-heavy areas, English is commonly spoken, easing the transition for English-speaking expats.

Can I Work in These Countries With a Digital Nomad Visa?

The Digital Nomad Visa, available in Greece and Portugal, allows individuals to work remotely for non-local companies. This is ideal for digital nomads who can maintain their employment outside the host country. These visas offer flexibility and the opportunity to experience living in Europe without committing to a local job.

Hannah Michaelson

Hannah is a freelance relocation writer from NYC that has become an expert on packing and unpacking.

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