Expat Essentials

‘EmigrateMe’: Do Trump’s Norway remarks reveal a new trend of fed-up Americans relocating?

Let’s begin this post with a big shout-out to Donald John Trump and his love for Norway. On 11 January, Trump asked congressional leaders why the United States takes immigrants from “shithole” nations such as Haiti.

America, he said, should try to attract more Norwegians.

When President Trumps talks, people listen … unfortunately for him; fortunately for Dispatches Europe.

Within hours, his absurd statement hit Dispatches like a bomb. A love bomb.

After someone tweeted it (wasn’t us), Americans literally from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon started flocking by the tens of thousands to our November 2016 post, “EmigrateMe: Norway reaching out to Americans looking for an alternative to Trump madness.”

Our post was about the Ringerike region north of Oslo creating “EmigrateMe,” an economic development recruitment effort which includes a website aimed at attracting disaffected Americans, especially those of Norwegian descent.

More than 600,000 page views later, we have some pretty convincing data that supports a hypothesis we at Dispatches formed when Trump was elected:

That we would see Americans start to consider alternatives; prosperous, peaceful and stable countries where they can ride out these tumultuous years.

While 600,000 page views is not huge in the grand scheme of things, let me point out that we’re a new Europe-wide expat site; 2017 was our first full year after going live in March, 2016.

Trump’s remarks, of course, did not escape the notice of Norwegians, who basically said “Thanks, but no thanks” to his generous offer of asylum.

That said, Norway – the sixth-largest country in Europe with only 5 million people – does have a significant labor shortage. Which inspired British dealmaker Lawrence Wintermeyer, who lives in Oslo, to post in Forbes his proposal that Norway double-down and go after American tech talent as well as Brits dreading Brexit.

From his post, “Norway Calling All U.S. and U.K. Tech Hipsters:”

My guidance to the Norwegian government is simple: (Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg), open up a tech visa scheme to attract global STEM talent to help pivot from the dependence on a carbon-based economy and position Norway as a global digital leader in 21st-century industry.

Tech entrepreneurs, investors and developers from around the world, this is Norway calling, consider notice given!

Most of the mainstream media hooted at Trump’s remarks, because who in their right minds would leave Norway – the happiest country in the world and one of the most affluent – for an America with countless problems from lack of access to health care to gun violence to infrastructure woes to the opioid crisis?

And where the president is Donald Trump ….

Of course, one post does not make a trend.

But consider this:

Of our Top 25 posts for January so far, 12 are about the hows-and-whys of moving to Europe including our 2017 and 2018 “Best Cities for Expats” posts.

Here’s the analytical data on “EmigrateMe” readership:

• No surprise, the people at least vaguely interested in moving to Norway as an option are mostly – but not exclusively – in liberal Blue State cities. “EmigrateMe” was most popular in New York (18,563 views), Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C. The Houston thing is puzzling, but we’re guessing the city is a bit more progressive than the rest of Texas with the exception of Austin. That said, “EmigrateMe” did well in Dallas (6,029 reads) and Austin (5,231).

• What we missed at first is “EmigrateMe” is especially popular in the Silicon Valley corridor from San Francisco to San Jose. Once we sifted through the analytics, we realized a lot of reads came from bedroom communities and suburbs that we didn’t realize were in Silicon Valley. So in aggregate, “EmigrateMe” got more views in this region – an estimated 30,000 –  than in New York and its surrounding metro area.

• The post got at least 1,000 page views in 55 cities, most of which (with the exceptions of No. 19 Madison, Wisconsin, No. 40 Ashville, N.C. and No. 54 Boise) have at least 1 million population metropolitan statistical areas.

• Here’s the amazing thing: “EmigrateMe” didn’t just get reads in the Top 100 cities. It got hundreds of reads in places we’d never heard of such as Cheektowaga, New York.

• This was a social-media phenomenon. About 60 percent of traffic came from Facebook even though a tweet was the trigger.

• This is a bit baffling: The No. 1 age group for EmigrateMe” was 55-to-64, historically our smallest demographic … and the demographic with the most Trump supporters. Also, this post blew up after a tweet, and we don’t think of older people as Twitter addicts, with the exception of President Trump.

The smallest reader slice was people 18-to-24 years old. Historically, our largest readership demographic has been 25-to-34 year-olds. With EmigrateMe, they were the No. 4 group behind 35-to-44 year olds.

• The largest category of reader interests was employment, according to Google Analytics.

Reader comments

Until “EmigrateMe,” our most-read, most commented-on post had been “Dear Brits: What it’s like to be a non-EU citizen,” a post by former Dispatches contributor Nina Avramovic-Trninic.”Dear Brits” has gotten about 400,000 page views and more than 100 comments over the course of 18 months.

In about two weeks, “EmigrateMe” has racked up about 150 comments on four or five major topic threads.

“Dear Brits” immediately attracted Russian trolls and incredibly angry Brexiteers who indulged in ad hominem attacks without ever reading the post.

In contrast, most of the comments for EmigrateMe have been civil and genuinely curious about the practicality of moving to a country such as Norway. Which again indicates to us there is the beginning of something new and interesting going on in Trumpmerica.

Here are a few highlights:

• Blake Baxendell · Wilmington, North Carolina
I was a tech conference recently and a few companies from Oslo were hiring. My biggest fear about going is would they pay you enough to have the same lifestyle as you can in America. Would it be enough for me to afford a 4 BR home with a yard? Or would I not get enough to afford the same things I could in the U.S.?

• Gary Leming · Trumpet Player at Freelance Musician
I’ve been to Norway several times. The big drawback is that it is expensive as hell! For $10 you can get a keychain that says “I went to Norway and all I could afford was this keychain!” Beautiful, well-run country, though.

• Scott Fagerstrom · Beijing, China
If cost is a factor, Ireland and Portugal (or both!) might be a better option. Ireland gives you a “retirement visa” (which basically lasts forever) if you can demonstrate something like $4,000 a month in steady income. and Portugal is Europe at a third the price of Norway.

• Tonnya Palmer-Rivera · Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at Accelerated Home HealthCare
I am a descendant. Where do I sign up? I’m ready to move now.

• Emil Churchin · Olmsted Falls High School
Norway, hook me up with airfare, a place to stay, and job prospects, and I’ll move ~

•  Jan Lee · Registered Nurse at Psychiatric Home Care Services
Absolutely wish my roots here were not so deep and I could leave. I’m ashamed of this potus who spews hatred and ignorance from his “anal” mouth and who has his rotund arse kissed by the unholy evangelicals. He is now giving power to discriminate against the poor, disabled, minorities, LGBT, immigrants, non-religious, and any who hate his dick swinging…he is a supreme narcissist. And sexual predator…Norway, take me away…

• Pat Askelson · Egan Senior High School
Yes, things are very expensive in Norway. I traveled extensively when I was there for three weeks several years ago. What really caught my attention was No slums or ghettos! The homes I was in were very comfortable. You are basically taken care of from cradle to grave. Everyone is required to work. If you lose your job they retrain you. All Norwegians get 6 wk vacations and travel all over Europe!! The childcare and education system, not to mention the healthcare are top notch. These are the things we Americans worry about the most!! Gone is the worry! I am too old to make such a transition now, and I didn’t know we would have such a horrible leader who thinks only of his rich friends and himself!

The replies and postings in this feed were great! It has been a good read.

• Henrik Peter Bruun
Do we get a free Ekornes chair to sit and relax in (p.s. dual citizen, so since I also come from Denmark, I already have my paperwork done, and just have to register when I’ve found somewhere I’d like to live.) (P.P.S. No Lutefish – I will escape back to the US again  🙂

• H Carl Sperr III · St. John High School, St. John, WA
Isn’t it odd I never thought about leaving the country when Nixon was president. The big thing is there are other reasons why I am planning to leave the country not just Trump.

• Annie Stenn · University of Dallas
Who would think that our grandparents emigrated to America? Through their hard work, honesty and resilience made their lives richer in every way. Now, as a third-generation Norwegian, who would like to emigrate to Norway for a more rational government and fulfilling life …all have to say is ooof ta!!!

• Maryanne Nilsen Kennedy
I am a descendant on both sides of my family and have been in contact with them. It’s a dream to go back.

• Bob Thornburg · Ocean View High
Do they need a plumber?

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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