- If you’re looking to leave the United States – for whatever reason – this list could help you find a welcoming country that isn’t too expensive to live in and has good weather.
- Business Insider ranked the best countries for Americans to move to – once travel from the US to other countries is permitted and the coronavirus is under control.
- To identify the best places, we looked at five metrics we think are important to consider when looking for the next best country after the pandemic.
- Australia and Uruguay made the top of our list.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you’re looking to move out of the United States once the pandemic travel bans are lifted, you might want to consider one of the following countries that we’ve rounded up.
Among other things, they have good weather, are welcoming to newcomers, and aren’t too expensive to live in.
Business Insider recently reported that there has been an increase in Google searches related to moving to Canada after last night’s presidential debate. NZ Herald also reported that during the debate, there was a rise in searches related to moving to New Zealand.
Additionally, the US has one of the highest numbers of cumulative coronavirus cases per capita, has had a major spike in unemployment, and is already feeling the negative economic impact from the pandemic.
Based on five metrics, Australia ranked at the top of the list because it’s close to the ideal temperature, has a low average number of new coronavirus cases per capita, and has a higher welcoming-of-migrants score than other countries on our list. You can read more about the metrics we used and our method below.
Read on to see the 20 best countries to move to once the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Sweden has a Migrant Acceptance Index score of 7.92, making it part of the top 10 of the 140 countries Gallup surveyed. This contributed to its high overall score in our ranking.
The average annual temperature in 2016 was lower than that of many of the other 20 best countries on our list at 37.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re thinking about moving to Sweden, make sure you check out the qualifications for non-EU citizens. The permanent-residence requirements for work were recently updated, so it’s important to check which visa or permit is best for your situation. You might be granted long-term residence if you’ve lived in Sweden continuously for five years, the Swedish Migration Agency says.
19. United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has a democracy score of 8.52 and has a cost of living 5.9% lower than the US’ cost of living, contributing to its high ranking on our list. According to US News & World Report‘s latest best-countries list, the UK is also good for entrepreneurship and cultural influence.
The average annual temperature in 2016, however, was one of the lower temperatures out of the 20 best countries on our list at 48.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Different visas are necessary to visit or stay in the UK. If you want to see if you’re eligible for an “Indefinite Leave to Remain” visa, you can take a quick survey on the UK government’s website.
If you hold a retirement visa, you can apply after living in the UK under this visa for at least five years, along with other requirements. A general tier-1 work visa, however, will not be eligible for settlement as eligibility closed in April 2018.
The country’s closeness to the ideal temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July contributed to its high score. But Malta scored low on Gallup’s’ Migrant Acceptance Index at 4.95, below the global average score of 5.34.
Americans can visit Malta for 90 days without a visa, but will need to look for proper permits for work if they want to stay longer. People outside the European Union can apply for permanent residence according to Malta’s government website but not ordinary residence because it is only available for EU citizens. There is also the Malta Global Residency Programme where you will need to buy or rent property, along with other necessary requirements.
Closeness to the ideal annual average temperature, low average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July, and low cost of living contributed to this country’s being one of the best on our list. It scored above the global average Migrant Acceptance Index score of 5.34 at 6.77, tied with Uruguay. This country’s cost of living is 45.4% lower than the US’ cost of living.
If you’re looking to retire abroad, you can apply for the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa in the Philippines with a time deposit, according to the Philippines Embassy. That is, you have to put money into one of the banks in the country where the required amount varies by age and pension status. One benefit of this deposit is that you can use it to invest in a condominium unit afterward.
Iceland had the second-highest democracy score at 9.58 and the highest Migrant Acceptance Index score of any country Gallup surveyed at 8.26. This country, however, is colder than many of the other 20 best countries at 37.8 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016.
Certain residence permits may lead to an indefinite residence permit, such as those for athletes or humanitarians. You must have also lived in the country for four years on a residence permit, according to the Directorate of Immigration in Iceland.
This country has one of the best democracy scores at 9.22.US News & World Report ranked this country second in terms of its quality of life in its best countries of 2020 list. However, Denmark’s cost of living is 22.1% greater than the US’, the sixth-highest index in Numbeo’s overall ranking of countries’ costs of living.
If you want to work in this Nordic country as someone from outside of the EU, you’ll need to get a residence and work permit before coming. That usually takes about one to three months, so it’s important to plan, the employment service Workindenmark says.
If you meet certain requirements, you can apply for permanent residence after holding a temporary residence permit after eight years – and in some cases four – according to the Danish Immigration Service and the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration’s New to Denmark website.
Cyprus had an annual average temperature of 68.5 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016 and had a cost of living 14.1% less than that of the US. Additionally, the country has had a low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July, and its largest number of new cases was at the beginning of April.
But a Gallup survey found that only 66% of respondents in Cyprus said the area they lived in was a good place for immigrants. The country has a Migrant Acceptance Index close to the global average score of 5.34 – at 5.41.
Although this European country is not part of the Schengen Agreement that allows US citizens and others to travel to certain European countries for up to 90 days without a required visa, you can still visit Cyprus without a visa for up to 90 days. You would then need to get a temporary residence permit if you plan to stay longer. If you want to become a permanent resident or citizen of Cyprus, it’s one of the countries that have a Golden Visa program in which you can get residency through investments in real estate.
This country’s cost of living is 57.9% lower than the US’. Paraguay also had an annual temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016, close to our ideal temperature of 70 degrees.
According to the US Department of State, you need a valid passport to enter this country and will need to get a visa on arrival at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asuncion. This multiple-entry visa is valid for 10 years.
Malaysia’s low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July and its low cost of living, at 47.1% lower than the US’, contributed to the country being part of our top 15.
The country’s average annual temperature in 2016 was higher than that of many of the other countries at the top of our list at over 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
You do not need a visa if you plan to visit the country for up to 90 days, according to the US Department of State.
Germany has a democracy index of 8.68, making it one of the top 15 countries among the 76 democratic countries measured by The Economist. The average annual temperature in 2016 was lower than that of many of the other 20 best countries on our list at 49.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to a Gallup poll, 75% of people surveyed in Germany said they thought that where they lived was a good place for immigrants. The country had a Gallup Migrant Acceptance Index score of 7.09.
According to the US Department of State, you can visit this country without a visa for up to 90 days. Otherwise, you will need to get a residence visa. The German Missions in the United States website has information on when you should apply for your visa and which one you should apply to given your situation, such as if you plan to work in the country.
Portugal’s cost of living is 29.1% lower than the US’ and the country has a Migrant Acceptance Index score of 6.65. Portugal’s average annual temperature is a little bit lower than the ideal temperature at 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to the US Department of State, you can stay without a visa for up to 90 days in the country. A “Tech Visa” is available for “highly qualified immigrants recruited by companies active in the area of technology and innovation,” according to the country’s immigration website. Portugal also has a Golden Visa program where you can get a visa through real-estate investments.
This country’s annual average temperature in 2016 was 73.3 degrees Fahrenheit, close to the ideal temperature.
Botswana’s high rank is also due to its low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July. Overall, this country has had a low number of coronavirus cases per capita compared to other countries.
If you’re looking to move here, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit to stay in the country. You can, however, visit the country for “90 days total within a 12-month period without a visa,” according to the US Department of State. To become a permanent resident, you must have lived in Botswana continuously for at least five years and made contributions to the country, among other criteria, according to a government website.
The Netherlands seemed to have flattened the curve of daily cases of coronavirus since its peak in April, although a larger number of new cases has been reported in the past few days than in mid-July. The country had an average annual temperature of only 51 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016.
Some 78% of people surveyed in the Netherlands by Gallup said the area they lived in was a good place for immigrants to move to. The country had a Migrant Acceptance Index of 7.46.
According to its Immigration and Naturalisation service, you can apply for permanent residence after living in the country for five years.
Ireland is a great place to move if you’re looking for a reasonable cost of living and a welcoming country to migrants.
According to a Gallup poll, 84% of people surveyed in Ireland thought their area was a good place for immigrants to live. The country also had a Migrant Acceptance Index of 7.74, making it one of the 10 most welcoming countries based on these scores.
The country’s average annual temperature was also just below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016.
If you’re looking to retire or work in this country, the US Embassy in Ireland provides the necessary requirements. The site says that recent changes to Irish immigration law affects Americans who want to retire in Ireland. For retirees, one requirement is you must have permission to stay if you’re planning to stay longer than three months and proof you have the means to support yourself.
The country’s low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July and annual temperature of 74.7 degrees in 2016 contributed to this country’s high ranking on our list. The country reported almost no new coronavirus cases recently.
If you’re looking to move here, you should visit the government site for more information on residence permits. For instance, if you’re a noncitizen who’s planning to work in Mauritius, you’ll typically need a work permit.
People who are eligible – such as self-employed workers who have held an occupation permit for three years and made a particular income each year – can apply for a renewable permanent residence permit allowing them to live in the country for 10 years, according to information on the government‘s website.
Daily new cases in Spain have been mostly declining since April, although a larger number of new cases has been reported in the past few days than before mid-July. For instance, the country reported 4,600 new coronavirus cases on July 20.
In a Gallup Poll, 81% of people in the country said where they lived was good for immigrants. Additionally, the country had a Migrant Acceptance Index of 7.44.
If you’re planning to stay for more than 90 days in Spain to study or work, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa. You should refer to the government website for eligibility and how to obtain a visa.
This North African country ranked high on our list because of its ideal annual temperature of 70 degrees in 2016, low cost of living, and low number of average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July.
Tunisia also has a Migrant Acceptance Index of 6.47, higher than the global score of 5.34.
You will need to get a residence permit if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, otherwise you can travel without a visa, according to the US Department of State. If you are looking to become a permanent resident in this country, you’ll have to live there for five continuous years with a temporary residence, according to the Ministry of Development Investment and International Cooperation’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency for Tunisia.
3. New Zealand
New Zealand ranked high on our list for its low average new coronavirus cases per capita in mid-July and its welcoming of migrants. New Zealand’s Migrant Acceptance Index of 8.25 is only 0.01 shy of the top spot of the 140 countries Gallup looked at.
To move to this country, you’ll need to find the right visa for your specific situation. According to New Zealand Immigration, “resident visas such as the Skilled Migrant Category let you stay indefinitely.” Many young people choose to apply for the working holiday visa, according to the government website, where you can work in the country for up to 12 months.
This South American country’s cost of living is 34.8% lower than the US’. The country also has nice weather, with an annual temperature of 63.8 degrees Fahrenheit in 2016. Uruguay also has had a low number of reported daily cases throughout the pandemic relative to other countries.
According to the US Department of State, you can travel to Uruguay without a visa for 90 days. If you are looking to live in the country either temporarily or permanently, you can visit the country’s official website for the varying requirements and eligibility.
Australia was close to the ideal average annual temperature, but its cost of living is 7.7% higher than the US’. It also was one of the top 10 countries on Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index with a score of 7.98. Three Australian cities also made the top 10 most livable cities from the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Global Livability Index in 2019.
If you’re thinking about visiting or moving to Australia, you’ll need to look at which visa best fits your needs. According to the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, there are different work visas depending on skills and duration of stay that also have different criteria. Certain work visas may lead to a permanent stay, including investor and business visas.
Methods and sources
For our list, we looked at five metrics for democratic countries, including average temperatures, living costs, how welcoming a country is to migrants, the country’s score on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, and declining daily coronavirus cases.
We then rescaled each metric to a five-point scale so that we could determine a total score across metrics and find our best countries. You can read more about our methods and data sets used here.
It is important to note that the coronavirus data used in this post is from mid-July when we first calculated our figures for this ranking, and the pandemic has continued to unfold across the world.
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