American expats

Germany is top destination for American expats

by Ray Clancy on December 26, 2017

Germany, Mexico, and Costa Rica are the top three destinations for American expats, with many moving because they want a change in lifestyle rather than to earn more money, research suggests.

Indeed, some 48% of American expats report that they earn less than they did when living in the United States, according to the latest analysis from InterNations.

Germany United States Flags

(By Lano4ka/Shutterstock.com)

This may be because a fifth of American expats are retired and therefore less likely to have to earn if they have pensions and savings. Both Mexico and Costa Rica are known as having lower living costs than the US.

The report suggest that they are also drawn to these countries by the culture and new experiences with many expats putting lifestyle at the forefront of their list when deciding where to move.

Figures from the US State Department suggest that about 8.7 million US citizens live abroad. Some 9% of those who took part in the survey live in Germany, 5% in Mexico and 4% in Costa Rica. Mexico is rated in the top five best places to live by InterNations overall and top in the personal happiness subcategory and Costa Rica is in the top 10 for quality of life and ease of settling in.

The research also found that and one in 10 US expats has been living overseas for less than six months. Despite this lack of experience, they seem to adjust to live abroad relatively quickly with 21% saying they felt at home nearly straight away and 67% stating that they feel at home in the local culture.

Some two fifths plan to stay abroad forever with the research showing that 15% of respondents have even acquired the citizenship of the country where they now live.

Despite the high number of retirees, three fifths of American expats abroad do work with 76% working full time. Some 66% are happy with their jobs, higher than the global average of 64% and 66% say they have a good work/life balance.

Some 65% are also happy with their working hours even though this is 43.7 hours compared to the global average of 44.3. They point out that they work significantly shorter hours than they would back home. They fell less stressed and find they have more time for family.

But one thing American expats do struggle with is learning the local language. Two fifths said they can only speak a little of their host country’s local language and 11% don’t speak it at all. This is despite the fact the official language of both Costa Rica and Mexico, two of the most popular destinations among US Americans, is Spanish, which is considered one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.

Before moving Americans do take language into account and 26% recognised a lack of language skills as being a potential disadvantage and after arriving 56% still believed the local language is difficult to learn.

Despite language barriers, 62% said they found it easy to make friends abroad. But having local friends does not always mean they feel comfortable abroad, however. Although 61% believe that it’s generally easy to settle down in their country of residence, 36% say they have felt unwelcome due to culture difference and 41% have felt the same way because of their nationality, some 6% higher than the global average.

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