American Expats

Many U.S. citizens live in foreign countries. Some of them have temporarily moved to work in a foreign country, whereas others have moved permanently. We don’t have the exact number of Americans living abroad, but according to the U.S. Department of State, this figure may be anywhere between 3,000,000 and 6,000,000.

Why Do Americans Choose to Live in Foreign Countries?

There are various reasons to move abroad. Most U.S. citizens leave the country for economic reasons. Some people want to experience different lifestyles and live in completely different cultures (most of them return to the United States). Some Americans choose to leave the country in order to escape the U.S. Government policies.

The decline of the U.S. economy may be one of the major reasons for Americans to seek job opportunities in foreign countries. Low cost of living in some countries is also one of the reasons.

Taxes for American Expatriates

Taxation is a big issue with the U.S. citizens living in foreign countries. Even Americans who live overseas are taxed by the U.S. Government. Many countries have tax treaties with the United States, but tax exemptions are only partially applied (in most cases).

If you are a resident alien or American citizen, you will have the same obligations, whether you live in a foreign country or in the U.S. This means that rules for filing estate, gift and income tax returns are the same, wherever you are. What you earn in a foreign country will be subject to United States income tax. American citizens living and working in foreign countries can mail U.S. tax returns to the  Department of Treasury.

Learn more about  taxes for U.S. citizens living abroad.

Countries with the highest number of American expatriates include Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia.

• Visit  Internations  to meet Americans who live in Canada.

• To find out more about the life of American expats in Mexico, read  Expat Interviews.

• The United Kingdom has a large community of American expats. To connect with other Americans in the UK, visit  American Expats.

Many Americans decide to retire to a foreign country. They usually choose to live in a country with good health care system, good climate and low cost of living. Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations for American retirees. Buying property in Costa Rica is not as difficult as in most other countries, which is another good reason to retire to this Central American country.

Leaving the United States

Most Americans say that moving to a foreign country is a good experience. However, there are certain things you should be aware of. Don’t expect every day to be perfect. You will need some time to get used to your new country. If you have moved to a country much different from the United States, you will need even more time to get used to the country’s legal system, language, culture, customs, dos and don’ts.

Americans who return to the United States after living abroad usually go through “repatriation shock”. This is commonly seen in people who have lived in the Middle East, Asia and some parts of Europe, because these countries are much different from the United States in terms of tradition, language, climate and culture.