Why Americans Are Moving to Europe

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Lately, an increasing number of Americans have been immigrating to Europe. Amid increases in the costs of living and tax incentives, Americans are packing their bags to places such as Portugal, Greece, France, and Italy.

According to Bloomberg, Sotheby’s International Realty reported that the number of Americans who wanted to move to Greece during the April-June period was up by 40% compared to 2021. Additionally, in the first quarter, 12% of Sotheby’s Italian revenue was from Americans, a 7% increase from last year.

When examining these increases, it’s clear that affordable housing in Europe is a major reason why Americans are immigrating to Europe. In June, the median sale price for homes in the US hit $416,000, making home ownership unaffordable for many Americans. “The rising cost of living has made it more expensive to live in any major US city than in European cities,” vice president of ECA international Michael Witkowski said. In tandem with the euro reaching parity with the USD for the first time since 2002, Americans have more purchasing power in Europe, meaning that European homes are more attainable for Americans.

This sentiment has been echoed by many, including 40-year-old Stephanie Synclair. Synclair, originally based in Atlanta, recently moved to Mussomeli, Sicily in Italy because of the soaring home prices in her hometown. “I would have never looked to buy in Italy if the market in the US hadn’t been so crazy,” she said. In Atlanta, Synclair paid $3,000 of rent every month for a four-bedroom house. In contrast, she only needed to pay 60,000 euros for a 3,100-square-foot house, a smaller house next door, and an 800-square-foot storefront in Italy.

37-year-old Jamie Nixon, who moved from Los Angeles to Portugal last July, also cited the cost of living as a factor to her emigration from the US. She previously lived with her husband and seven-year-old daughter in a two-bedroom mobile home in Malibu, California. However, after securing a remote job, her family was able to move to a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment with a private rooftop in Cascais for only 2000 euros a month.

Aside from housing, other cheaper living expenses such as food and healthcare in Europe have been a pull factor for Americans. In Portugal, for example, grocery staples such as rice, potatoes, and apples are far cheaper compared to the States; for reference, apples in Portugal are only 1.56 euros per kilo, while they are 3.87 euros per kilo in the US. And when it comes to healthcare, the US greatly lags behind Europe as well. While Americans have to pay hundreds for doctor visits and thousands for medical procedures, Europeans often pay nothing or minimal co-pay.

Meanwhile, other Americans, especially those who are wealthy, have moved to Europe for tax incentives. In Portugal, the government offers foreigners something called the NHR (non-habitual residency) tax scheme. It provides tax exemptions from non-Portuguese source income in areas such as foreign dividends and capital gains on property. The NHR also gives a flat rate of 20% tax on Portuguese sourced income for those who are in certain professions. Moreover, the IRS has exclusions such as foreign tax credits for those who live abroad.

Ultimately, it is a combination of the US’s rising living costs and tax breaks that have incentivized many Americans to move to Europe. The shift has raised questions on America’s long-associated identity as the best place to live in. Nonetheless, time will tell whether this trend will continue, as many political and economic factors continue to influence the US’s standing in the world.