The American Exodus; More and more Americans are Moving To Portugal

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While the reasons may vary, the numbers tell one constant story, Americans are looking for other options elsewhere, and many are choosing Portugal.

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The American Dream isn't what it once was. The idea of everyone in the world dreaming of living in the US of A isn't remotely accurate, a fact supported by the numbers.

Current polls state that 25% of American expats are seriously considering renouncing their US nationality, while 6,700 US citizens have already renounced their US citizenship in 2021. 

What is more interesting is the estimate of 30,000 US expats who are trying to renounce their citizenship, but are caught in bureaucratic limbo and are unable to obtain appointments at US embassies to go through with the process. 

The reasons behind this mass exodus vary, stemming from the tough global income tax levied upon US citizens wherever they are through FACTA, a tax, incidentally, that 77% of respondents to a poll said they should not be paying, to other reasons such as recent political strain and inflation, among others. 

While the reasons may vary, the numbers tell one constant story, Americans are looking for other options elsewhere, and many are choosing Portugal.

The European California

Americans choosing Portugal isn't surprising. The climate of the Southern European nation is highly similar to the sunny beaches of California, albeit with much more forestry and rivers. 

The EU nation has pleasent weather all year round, a laid-back lifestyle, abundant activities, and a magnificent natural backdrop. The population of major cities such as Lisbon and Porto are highly fluent in English, and the cuisine is extremely diverse and sublime. Walking through central Lisbon, a person can find a Korean barbeque next to a Sushi joint, across from an authentic Sicilian restaurant situated beside an Iranian eatery. The diversity of Lisbon is akin to that in LA, albeit with no political-racial tension. 

Moreover, communication in Portugal is a joy, as its populace is adept at various languages other than Portuguese, mainly English, as the country ranks seventh worldwide for proficiency in English as a second language. Unsurprisingly, Spanish is also widely spoken, mainly due to Spain being Portugal’s only land neighbor and the similarities between the two languages, while the large expat community in cities such as Porto and Lisbon means that a large amount of people also speak French, Italian, and German. 

In 2020, SEF - the Government body responsible for immigration - announced that there was approximately 4,700 US nationals residing in Portugal, a sharp increase of over 30% from the year before that, and almost double that in 2016. This rapidly increasing number of American expats highlights the emigration trend from the US.

Another massive indicator is that a small private group named Americans Living in the Algarve (ALITA), which is a conglomerate of US expats in Portugal's Algarve region, saw its members grow from twelve to over 2,000 in the last years.

Visual Capitalist also highlighted that Portugal saw over 1,300 millionaires immigrate to Portuguese shores in 2022. This can be highly attributed to the nation's golden visa scheme, which is the simplest and most efficient residency route for high-net-worth individuals. Considering that the number of American golden visa applicants went up a staggering 32% in the last year, it becomes relatively simple to paint a picture of where wealthy US citizens are headed. 

Great attributes, affordable living

The reasons behind the mass exodus of Americans are complex and disputed, depending on who you ask. However, the reasons that bring them to Portugal are quite clear.

Other than the sunny weather and European charm of its cities, Portugal boasts amazing infrastructure, less traffic, an outstanding service sector, great banking, fast wifi, a diversified population, top-tier healthcare, splendid education, and a high level of safety and security within its borders. 

The idea of finding a home that meets all the expectations and living standards of a US citizen but that requires much less living costs in a safer environment is tempting. 

Add to that the various tax benefits of the Portuguese taxation system, such as the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) scheme, which lowers and fixes income taxes for newcomers, then it is understandable why many Americans would consider Portugal their new home. 

Atlantic-bound Portugal is also centrally located at the crossroads of the world, being the last stop of the Eastern Hemisphere and the first when coming in from the West, making it easy to do business, stay in touch with loved ones, and trot the globe.

Not to mention the significance of Portugal being a member of the EU, which opens a whole new set of opportunities for Americans and their families. 

One of the most important components, however, is the citizenship, as those looking to renounce their citizenship can rarely acquire one better than the Portuguese, which boasts the 8th strongest passport in the world in terms of global mobility, and constitutes as an EU citizenship, allowing its holders to take advantage of all of what the EU offers. 

To know more about immigration trends from the US to Portugal, and why Portugal is such an amazing destination, contact us today so we can answer all of your questions. 

Who are we ?

Optylon Krea is an investment management and real estate development company that caters to the needs of international Golden Visa investors, with €1.8 Billion managed to date from Portugal to Turkey.
We have been the first to explore the Golden Visa eligible fund route in 2018 and are currently leading that market segment with more than € 200M under our advisory.


Investors from more than 40 countries


million equity managed for Golden Visa eligible funds


active funds under advisory

We strongly believe that Portugal is shifting from a mass tourism destination to a luxury resort. That is why we are bringing momentum to the main cities by developing high street retail and prime serviced apartment projects.

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