Best Places for Expats to Live

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Planning to move abroad? Seeking increased global mobility and a better work-life balance? This guide aims to present you with some of the best places for expats to live abroad. Whether you elect Europe or the Caribbean islands as your chosen destination, we will walk you through several of the best places in the world to live and also the best places to start a new life.

In this guide, you will find out more about the best places to live as an expat.

Why do expats move abroad?

Many expats who choose to move abroad to a different country seek qualities that may not be available to them in their home countries. These include a better quality of life and work-life balance, low costs of living, attractive tax benefits to save on personal finances, incredible landscapes, and a slower pace of day-to-day life. Many of these qualities, and more, are available in some of the best expat locations to live in.

Where to live overseas?

Europe

Drawn by a mild climate in some countries, and diverse cultures, history, and entertainment in others, it’s no wonder that Europe has some of the best countries to live in overseas. Not only will you be taken aback by the rich history, culture, and weather of European countries, but you’ll have access to a cheap cost of living and be able to enjoy numerous delicious cuisines, and the incredible scenery that you’ll find across Europe.

European countries like Portugal, Spain, Malta, and Cyprus are among the best places to live in Europe for families. Their heavy focus on community, low rates of crime, and inherent family-friendly nature provide an environment for children to flourish.

The Caribbean 

If you are seeking pristine waters, world-class beaches, a tropical climate, a calm social life, and lush rainforests, the Caribbean islands are another popular destination that American expats choose to relocate to. It’s easy to enjoy a relaxed style of living and boost your mental well-being, while admiring the wonders of nature in some of the best places to live in the world.

The Best Places to Live in Europe for Expats

Benefits for an expat living in Europe

Expats living in Europe benefit from a number of things. A high standard of living, job security, borderless visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Area, which makes international weekend trips a breeze, access to a world-class healthcare system and education, affordable retirement plans, as well as the security of a second residence in a politically and economically stable country, are just a few of the benefits available.

The Best Places to Live in Europe for Expats

Portugal

Why live in Portugal?

Portugal is rated as one of the best countries to live for expats. It scores highly on quality of life surveys, cost of living, personal safety reports, and friendliness of locals towards expats. Its mild climate, beautiful beaches, innovative tech sector, and slower pace of life, make Portugal one of the best places to live overseas.

portugal - best places to live

Advantages of living in Portugal as an expat

There are many advantages to living in Portugal as an expat. Its incredible weather and beaches are not the only reasons for expats to move to Portugal.

Best places for expats to live in Portugal

Whatever you are looking for, there are plenty of places to live in Portugal. These are among the most popular spots for expats:

Portugal’s Golden Visa program

Portugal’s Golden Visa program – also referred to as the Residency-by-Investment Visa – is an attractive residency option for non-EU nationals. Investing in the country — such as buying property worth at least €500,000 ($542,600) in Portugal — can make you eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa. This government-sponsored program offers several benefits for expats in Portugal. These include:

  • The right to family reunification
  • A waiver of the general residence visas for Portugal
  • A visa exemption for Schengen Area travel
  • Permission to live and work in Portugal, as long as you spend at least one week in the country during the first year, and at least two weeks during each year after that
  • The right to apply for permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship, as long as you fulfill the program requirements

Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Spain

Why live in Spain?

Famous for its food, culture, quality work-life balance, friendly locals, and celebrations, Spain is one of the best European countries for expats. You will not be disappointed by its diverse sceneries and various pockets of natural wonders to discover.

Spain has many qualities which other countries don’t have that make life abroad a blast, and its low cost of living, growing population of young professionals, digital nomads, and remote workers is why it’s one of the best places to live in Europe for young adults.

Advantages of living in Spain as an expat

One of the main advantages of living in Spain as an expat is the rich quality of life it offers. These advantages include: 

  • Fantastic beaches
  • Great healthcare system
  • Amazing food and cuisine
  • A rich and diverse culture
  • Comfortable climate year-round
  • High-quality schools
  • Friendly locals
  • World-class museums

The Best places for expats to live in Spain 

With Spain being the second largest country in western Europe, you will find plenty of options to settle down in. Whether you prefer living in a large or small city, or in a picturesque villa on the Mediterranean coast, all of the options are there in Spain. Some of the best places to live in Spain as an expat are:

  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Valencia
  • Granada
  • Bilbao
  • The Canary Islands

Spain’s Golden Visa program

The Golden Visa scheme in Spain is a type of residency-by-investment visa program. Established by the Spanish government in 2013, the program is geared toward non-EU foreigners. There is a range of investment options, with the minimum investment being €500,000 ($542,000) in real estate. Qualifying applicants and their immediate family members are issued with a residency visa, as well as a possible pathway to permanent residency, and Spanish citizenship.

Take a look at our Spain Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Cyprus

Why live in Cyprus?

Known as the jewel of the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a beautiful laid-back island located between Greece and Turkey. With its breathtaking coastal atmosphere, exotic cuisine, and rich culture and history, it is no wonder why it has become one of the best places to live overseas.

Advantages of living in Cyprus as an expat

Year-round sunny weather and affordable living costs are some of the main advantages of living in Cyprus as an expat. Low crime rates, a number of tax incentives to save on personal finances, and a reputation as one of the best places to live in Europe for English speakers – due to widely spoken English – are other considerable benefits. 

cyprus - best places to live

Best places for expats to live in Cyprus 

This beautiful island offers many wonders to discover, but here are some of the best places to live in Cyprus:

  • Paphos
  • Limassol
  • Nicosia
  • Larcana
  • Famagusta
  • Kyrenia

Cyprus’ Golden Visa Program

The Cyprus Golden Visa program allows individuals to obtain Cypriot residency by making an investment in the country’s economy, usually in real estate or government bonds. In Cyprus, you can acquire residency through a qualifying investment of €300,000 ($325,500) in real estate purchases, shares in a Cypriot company, or in units of a Cyprus Collective Investment Organization (e.g. AIF, AIFLNP, RAIF).

Interested in Cyprus’ Golven Visa? Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions for more information on how we can help you secure Cypriot residency in no time.

Malta

Why live in Malta?

Steeped in history and culture, Malta is a beautiful Mediterranean island nation that has some of the best diving spots in the world. Do not be deterred by its small size, as Malta offers many kinds of entertainment and historical wonders, from dancing the night away on the Isle of MTV, to gazing at the Ggantija Temples, and drifting through the eerie remains of the HMS Maori in St. Elmo Bay. 

Advantages of living in Malta as an expat

Living in Malta as an expat has many benefits. You can limit the culture shock due to the absence of language barriers. Since 88 percent of the population speaks English, It’s one of the best European countries to live in as an American expat. The health care system is also excellent, living costs are very affordable, it’s politically stable, the economy is booming, and the weather is incredible all year. 

Best places for expats to live in Malta

Malta is a small island. However, it offers a great variety of places along the coast, in the countryside, or in the urban areas, to discover. Here are some of the best places to live in Malta:

  • Valletta
  • St. Paul’s Bay
  • Victoria
  • Mdina and Rabat
  • City of Birgu

Malta’s Citizenship-by-Investment 

The Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program (CES)– provides a quick and efficient journey to a European passport. Maltese citizenship can be obtained after 12 months with a minimum investment value of €600,000 ($651,000), and after 36 months with a minimum investment value of €750,000 ($814,000). In total, three payments need to be made before citizenship is granted. 

The three investments that need to be made are: 

  1. A direct, non-refundable investment: An exceptional direct investment of a minimum value of €600,000 or €750,000 for the main applicant, depending on the residence period selected: 12 or 36 months (an extra €50,000 fee is required for each dependent).
  2. Real estate investment: A lease for residential real estate for a minimum value of €16,000 per year for a period of five years or the purchase of real estate for a minimum value of €700,000 that must be kept for at least five years.
  3. Philanthropic donation: A donation of €10,000 to a registered sport, cultural, scientific, philanthropic, the welfare of animals, or artistic non-governmental organization or society as approved by the Community Malta Agency (CMA). 

There are some other costs that you will also need to consider, such as due diligence and the administration fee.

Take a look at our Malta Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Living in Europe as an Expat

Before you begin your journey to Europe, it’s always best to work with reputable professionals to ensure you’re making the right choices for your personal situation. Make sure you find a trusted advisor who can help guide you through the process – and save you time and money!

If you need advice on property investment or residency in Portugal, Spain, Malta, or Cyprus, our specialists are here to help.

Get in touch today to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.

The Best Places for Expats to Live in the Caribbean

The Best Caribbean island to live on as an expat

More and more American expats are moving to the Caribbean, due to its tranquil lifestyle options, world-class beaches, stunning scenery, political stability, and close proximity to the US.

Caribbean countries are very popular for American expats looking for a second passport. The St Kitts and Nevis passport, for example, offers visa-free travel to 149 countries globally, while the passports of other Caribbean countries, like Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, offer visa-free travel to over 140 countries around the world. All of these passports include visa-free access throughout the EU Schengen Area.

Thanks to Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programs, many investors can now settle down in the Caribbean permanently. Dominica has consistently been rated as the best place to live as a US expat. Here’s why:

  • Safe and stable lifestyle
  • Geographical proximity to the US
  • Visa-free travel to over 140 countries
  • Tax incentives

Dominica

Why live in Dominica?

A tropical paradise in the Caribbean, Dominica has plenty to offer for expats. Its waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs, and beautiful beaches create the ideal setting for an adventurous and relaxing life as an expat. It’s also a very sustainable destination with the government putting a lot of effort into conservation and preservation, as well as green energy.  With a very affordable cost of living, this unspoiled paradise will give you a phenomenal daily life.

Dominica citizenship-by-investment program

Dominica’s citizenship-by-investment program offers individuals the unique ability to obtain citizenship in Dominica by investing in the country’s economy, usually in the form of real estate or a government donation. With its breathtaking scenery, luxurious national parks, friendly locals, and gorgeous beaches, Dominica’s citizenship program is one of the most popular ways to obtain citizenship and a second passport, within 3-4 months. 

With qualifying contributions starting from $100,000, you can acquire a Dominica passport-by-investment by either investing in real estate or donating to the Government’s Economic Diversification Fund (EDF).

Take a look at our Dominica Citizenship by Investment Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Other Caribbean countries to live as an expat 

Antigua and Barbuda

Why live in Antigua and Barbuda?

Blessed with some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, crystal clear waters, and a year-round warm climate, as well as low crime rates due to strict laws for crime, Antigua and Barbuda is one of the best countries for safety in the Caribbean islands to live a pure life as an expat.

Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship-by-Investment program

Antigua and Barbuda established its own citizenship by investment initiative in 2012, as a means to promote economic growth sustainably, by attracting developments, and by increasing foreign direct investment in the nation. You can acquire an Antigua and Barbuda passport-by-investment by either making a charitable contribution, investing in real estate, or establishing a business. 

In just 3-5 months, you and your immediate family can acquire Antigua and Barbudan passports, starting from a qualifying investment of $100,000. 

You can find out more about the program in our article: Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Ultimate Guide.

st kitts & nevis - best places to live

St. Kitts and Nevis

Famously known and appreciated for its stunning scenery, clean city streets, white sandy beaches, and tropical climate, St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the top places to settle down in and live a relaxed lifestyle.The St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship-by-investment program gives qualifying investors the opportunity to obtain dual citizenship, and keep more money in your bank account by earning a tax-free worldwide income, in the beautiful twin-island nation.

Grenada

Known as ‘The Spice of the Caribbean’, Grenada is a beautiful island and cultural melting pot with a large expat community. Popular for its white-sandy beaches, coral reefs, and unspoiled landscapes. Although an expensive country, you’ll enjoy a simple lifestyle among warm and welcoming locals, in addition to modern amenities like fast internet speeds. Grenada’s citizenship-by-investment program offers you the unique ability to obtain citizenship by investing in the country’s economy, usually in real estate or through a government donation.

grenada - best places to live

saint lucia - best places to live

Saint Lucia

One of the world’s number one countries to live a laid-back culture and island life. Saint Lucia is an incredible island in the Caribbean, made up of picturesque beaches, lush rainforests, and volcanoes. You will be welcomed by its hospitable people and enjoy peaceful social life in this piece of tropical paradise. Saint Lucia’s citizenship-by-investment program offers you the unique opportunity to obtain citizenship by investing in the country’s economy, usually in real estate, the National Economic Fund, government bonds, or enterprise.

How can I move to the Caribbean?

We work first and foremost for our clients, providing unique tailor-made solutions to each individual.

Making an investment and moving abroad may seem daunting, we know this from first-hand experience. At Global Citizen Solutions, we guide our clients through each step of the citizenship process, with 100% success rates.

Contact us to learn more about the Caribbean citizenship programs, or to learn more about other residency and citizenship programs we work with.

The Best Expat Online Communities

Intimidated by the prospect of leaving your home country and moving abroad to start a new life in a new country? Do not worry. There are plenty of expat community groups available, which will ease the transition to a new chapter abroad and introduce you to the local expat communities.

InterNations allows you to connect and exchange directly with other international people who live, or work abroad. Easily get in touch with other like-minded expats, attend events and activities, and build a network of expat friends.

Meetup helps you find and create local social support groups. Use Meetup to encounter new people and international workers, try new activities, learn expat essentials, visit different places around the world and find new affordable countries, and build new friendships.

How can Global Citizen Solutions help me?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship-by-investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients from around the world acquire residence permits or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments.

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency-by-investment application.

Get in touch

Frequently Asked Questions about The Best Places for Expats to Live

What is the best place to live in the world in 2023?

Portugal has been ranked in numerous global studies as the top country in the world for expats. A warm climate, fresh seafood, and stunning beaches make Portugal a popular place for expats looking to move abroad. Portuguese residents also benefit from a remarkably consistent low cost of living, as well as excellent public services and infrastructure.

What is the cheapest and safest country to live in?

Portugal is the cheapest and safest country to live in. It was rated as the best country for expats to retire abroad, scoring highly on quality of life, the low general cost of living, clean air, and low crime rates. Portugal is a favorite destination for many expats looking to relocate who are concerned about personal safety.

Where can expats live permanently?

Expats have many options to choose from when thinking about permanently living abroad. Portugal’s Golden Visa and Spain’s Golden Visa schemes allow non-EU citizens to move to Europe and obtain residency, provided that they meet the program’s investment requirements first. The Caribbean islands are also popular options for expats, because of their geographical proximity to the US, high standards of living, as well as minimal bureaucracy when applying for residency.

How can a non-EU citizen move to Europe?

Non-EU citizens have many options on the table when considering moving to Europe. Malta offers a relatively straightforward way to obtain EU residency, such as through their Golden Visa program, with citizenship possible by naturalization. Its citizenship-by-investment policy allows foreigners to gain Maltese citizenship, provided that they make a qualifying investment in the country’s real estate, government fund, or make a philanthropic donation. In return, they receive citizenship, and an EU passport. 

Meanwhile, Spain and Portugal’s Golden Visa programs permit foreigners to temporarily reside in the country, provided that they make a qualifying investment in the country’s economy – usually in real estate – and maintain this investment for a minimum of five years. Eventually, you can gain permanent residency – and thereafter – citizenship in Spain or Portugal too.

What is the Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a permanent residency visa issued to individuals who invest – often through the purchase of property – a specified sum of money into the issuing country’s economy.

Which country in Europe is easiest to get citizenship?

Portugal is the easiest overall option for expats seeking EU citizenship. After you meet the Golden Visa program requirements and maintain your investment for five years or more, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship. Meanwhile, Spain offers the fastest way to get EU citizenship if you come from one of the former Spanish colonies. 

Italy will fast-track citizenship-by-descent on the condition that you can prove that your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were Italian citizens. Malta offers the opportunity to acquire a second passport within a relatively short timeframe, but the investment requirements and investment thresholds are higher and more complex.

Which country gives citizenship by buying property?

Countries that give citizenship through investing in real estate are Malta, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada.

Can a non-EU citizen live in Spain?

Yes, a non-EU citizen can live in Spain, thanks to Spain’s Golden Visa program. There are also a number of residency permits that allow non-EU citizens to live in Spain, such as a student visa, business visa, and non-lucrative residency visa, which allows foreigners to live in Spain who don’t want to study or work abroad.

Which countries offer Golden Visas?

Golden Visas are offered by Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Vanuatu.

How can I get permanent residency in Spain

To obtain permanent residency in Spain, you just need five years of residence in the country, and the main condition is that, during those five years, you will have not been out of the country for more than ten months at a time. You must also hold onto your investments during the five-year period, and have a valid temporary residency permit throughout. To obtain Spanish citizenship, you must have legally resided in Spain for ten years.

Do US citizens pay tax in Spain?

If you are considered a tax resident of Spain, you will be obligated to pay tax. However, a US–Spain tax treaty was originally signed in 1990  with an additional protocol signed in 2013, but only ratified in 2019 that reduced withholding taxes on dividends, interest, and royalties, as well as increased tax information sharing between the two countries.

Where do most expats live in Spain?

Most expats in Spain live in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and San Sebastian. There are also large expat communities in Marbella, and the popular vacation islands of Ibiza and Gran Canaria.

Can an expat buy a house in Portugal?

There are no restrictions to buying a home in Portugal as a foreigner, and the real estate sector is well developed. Many foreigners have settled in Portugal, or invested in a second home there already.

What is it like to live in Lisbon as an expat?

Lisbon is a beautiful city, with lots of green public spaces, rich local culture, surrounding beaches, an excellent health care system, vibrant nightlife, and so much more. Living costs in Lisbon are also affordable, with large swathes of your digital nomads arriving, due to cheap costs of living, networking events, and the economic possibilities of this modern hub. This makes Lisbon amongst the best European cities to live in your 20s.

Where do most expats live in Europe?

Germany is home to the highest number of expats in Europe, due to its excellent healthcare, education, infrastructure, and consistently high ranking on the OECD Better Life Index, which assesses a country’s quality of life, inequalities, well-being outcomes, as well as future well-being predictions.


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