New Figures Show Record Numbers of US Citizens Moving to Europe

The number of US citizens moving to Europe has vastly increased in recent years, according to new figures from Sotheby’s International Realty, with France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain among the most popular destinations.

Sotheby’s has reported that the number of Americans who have requested a move to Greece have risen around 40% in April to June of this year compared to the same period in 2021. Meanwhile, US citizens made up 12% of Sotheby’s Italian revenue in the first quarter, compared to just 5% in the previous year.

Additionally, Knight Frank real estate specialist Jack Harris reports that the demand for relocating to France and Italy is at its highest in at least 3 years.

While Americans do not currently need a visa to visit Europe for stays up to 90 days, they will be required to register for an ETIAS travel authorization by the end of 2023. To live permanently in Europe, it is necessary to obtain a visa for the relevant country.

However, recent changes in European visa policy have made it easier to obtain a resident’s visa for many countries and work in Europe, making the prospect of moving to the region much more palatable for many Americans.

For example, Italy has already announced plans to launch a remote-worker visa aimed at foreign nationals in late 2022. Portugal and Spain also offer “golden visa’ residency permits in order to attract foreigners, although at a price: an initial investment of 350,000 euros and 500,000 euros, respectively, is mandatory to register for the program.

According to the Washington Post, Americans are also taking advantage of lesser-known  visa schemes to relocate to European countries, including France’s ‘Passport Talent’ scheme. and the ‘Global Talent Visa’ for the UK.

Spain remains the preferred destination for Americans moving to Europe, with the number of US-born residents rising around 13% between 2019 and 2021, and a reported increase in demand in 2022. This is despite the fact that getting a permanent residency visa in the country requires the applicant to have a lease, a bank account, and health insurance in Spain.

Portugal is also becoming an increasingly popular destination among US expats, with the Portuguese government reporting that the population increased by 45% in 2021 compared to 2022. This is likely down to both the ‘golden visa’ scheme as well as the second passport program offered by the Portuguese government.

Aside from increased access to residence visa schemes, there are a number of reasons why Americans are choosing to up sticks and move across the Atlantic. Traditionally, retirees and the wealthy have been the prime buyers of real estate in Europe, but now a wider range of Americans are considering relocating, including a much younger demographic than previously seen.

Many Americans cite their reasons for relocating to Eruope to be increasing political divisions at home and growing crime rates in some US cities, but particularly the rising cost of living, and prohibitive housing costs in the USA.

The biggest motivating factor seems to be the fact that younger Americans are now finding themselves priced out of the housing market at home. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sale price for a home in the US reached $416,000 in June 2022, and mortgage applications are now at their lowest level since 2000.

Comparatively cheap housing in Europe, especially in smaller towns in cities, is making the prospect of taking out a mortgage across the pond much more alluring for young Americans. Bloomberg gives the example that a 800-square foot property in Sicily can be purchased for just €86,560 (around $88,500).

The fact that the Euro is now equal to the US dollar for the first time in more than 20 years has also made European home ownership vastly more attainable for US citizens who can afford it.

Another major factor that has made the continent alluring to a wider range of people is the rise of remote work, now an attainable reality due to increased flexibility regarding working hours and location since the start of the pandemic.

A growing number of Anericans are also more willing to leave their job outright and join in with the “Great Resignation”: more than 40% of US citizens are currently considering resigning from their current role, according to Fortune. In surveys conducted by Microsoft and McKinsey, these figures have stayed relatively constant over the past few months.

However, while it is now more feasible for Americans to move to Europe, this doesn’t mean it will be easier for US citizens to adapt to a European lifestyle.

The tax situation can also be tricky and costly to navigate for remote workers, as the US taxes all its citizens regardless of where they live.

Additionally, space in the biggest cities in Europe may still be prohibitively expensive,while affordable housing in smaller cities and villages may lack amenities such as air conditioning or high-speed WiFi that Americans are used to.

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