(Editor’s note: This the first in a series looking at the best countries in Europe for American expats. See links below for information on moving to Italy, France and the Netherlands.)
We predicted about one year ago that the number of Americans coming to Europe would explode. Now, the American media are catching up, with a flurry of posts about this trend.
If Bloomberg is reporting it, it must be true.
In “Americans Who Can’t Afford Homes Are Moving to Europe Instead,” Bloomberg reporter Alice Kantor writes that an increasing number of Americans are “driven across the Atlantic by the rising cost of living, inflated house prices, a surging dollar and political rancor at home.”
All sort of true, but I think there are unsupported conclusions.
Wait … what?
First of all, if Americans are coming to Europe for a lower cost of living and less expensive housing, then they are – to quote Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” – “misinformed.” Housing is, generally speaking, more expensive here and virtually unattainable in innovation centers such as Stockholm, Berlin and Amsterdam. It’s not much better where we live in Eindhoven, a small city packed with expats because it’s a deep-tech industry hub.
Sure, you can buy a house for – compared to Boston or LA – next to nothing in the empty sections of Spain or Italy. But those areas are depopulated because everyone left for the cities where the jobs are. Remote working only works for a fortunate few. The rest of us have to move to opportunity.
Second, the surging dollar will make savings go further, but dollar/euro parity is a recent phenomenon, and probably one that won’t last if history is any guide. (When we lived in Germany back in the 2000s, 1 euro cost us $1.37. Ouch.)
My personal opinion is that the Great Resignation is playing a far larger role in the American exodus, followed by increasing gun violence and income disparity in the United States. And the recent U.S.Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and re-criminalizing abortion likely is the first of many that will return the U.S. to the 1950s, with efforts coming to ban contraceptives and same-sex marriage.
Finally, it’s not impossible that Donald Trump could get elected president again.
We saw this coming.
When we founded Dispatches back in 2016, we thought the Netherlands and Germany would be our largest audiences. Nope. It’s the U.S. by a mile, with double the traffic we get from the United Kingdom. Just one Dispatches post about 1 euro house deals in Italy and programs to revitalized Spain and other countries, has gotten more than 1 million views, with 70-percent of readers in the U.S. When we asked ourselves why, we could only conclude that it’s because a lot of people were at least fantasizing about living in Europe. Now, they’re starting to do it.
As we’ve written before, that move can make everything better.
Where are they moving?
The Bloomberg post ranks Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece and France as the most popular destinations.
In her post, Kantor cites:
• Spanish real estate agency Viva reporting the number of U.S.-born residents rose 13 percent between 2019 and 2021 and demand has continued to rise this year.
• Government of Portugal’s data that the number of Americans living in Portugal rose 45 percent in 2021 over 2020.
• Sotheby’s International Realty reporting requests from Americans looking to move to Greece rose 40 percent in the April-to-June period compared to a year earlier.
• Knight Frank real estate data showing that in Italy, demand for houses by Americans is the highest it’s been in at least three years.
• Sotheby’s reporting that Americans buying in Italy account for 12 percent of their revenue in the first quarter, compared to five percent in the same period one year ago.
Increasingly, we’re meeting Americans such as Will Fischer, an engineer with an MBA who relocated to Berlin during the Trump era. We’ll have an interview with Will next week.
Then there’s Carla Bastos, who documented her move to Italy for Dispatches. We’ll follow up with our American expat network over the coming weeks as we look at various European countries and discuss their strengths and weaknesses regarding American expats.
All the Americans we’ve met here in the Netherlands and have worked with across Europe have one thing in common – mindset: “The world is big and interesting and I want to go out and experience it.” The opposite of the Red State grievance politics – the attitude that the world is dangerous and I need to stay with my tribe.
That’s important because Europe stands to attract educated and energized Americans, who could change everything just as the great migrations of Europeans to the U.S. in the 18th- and 19th-centuries made America great.
You can read more here about our journey to becoming DIY expats.
You can see information on moving to Italy here.
You can see information about moving to France here.
You can see information about moving to the Netherlands here.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.