The Highs and Lows of Your Standard of Living vs Your Quality of Life
It’s the hot topic: “Destination: Europe, a haven of peace for Americans. More and more Americans are settling in Europe.” Article after article is touting how Americans are fleeing the violence and divisions in society and want to improve their quality of life.
As you already may know from past Nouvellettres®, we see this every day. I am booked daily with consultations with North American clients. The Canadians are basically happy, but love France and are looking forward to a European lifestyle. Americans, however, are frustrated, angry, and depressed over what’s happening in the U.S., particularly since Donald Trump was elected (but, as you know, it wasn’t by the popular vote) and the direction it has taken ever since. One client told me over the weekend that the moment Roe vs Wade was overturned, she decided to make the move.
Almost everyone with whom I consult says “Get me out of here,” some in those exact words.
I’m an American through and through and never intended or expected to want to denounce my American roots. It wasn’t the reason I left the U.S.—that move at the time was TOWARD France, without prejudice of the U.S. But now, you can bet that not only am I really happy to have made that move, but am even happier helping other people do the same.
According to the media, written in just about every language, more and more Americans are settling in Europe, and for many, it is an escape. According to The Courier International Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels, a specialist in the American diaspora and researcher at the University of Kent, “Americans once thought that their country was the ultimate nation of ultimate immigration, and leaving it seemed strange to them,” summarizes the magazine. Yet here is what appeals to them in Europe: “good health care, better transport, less armed violence, much less deadly racism.”
Over the span of a decade, the number of Americans residing in the Netherlands surged from around 15,500 to 24,000, witnessed a tripling in Portugal, and saw a 70% increase in Spain. And, according to the European Commission, the year 2022 saw 12,229 initial resident permits issued to American citizens, enabling them to reside in France. This contrasts with the 9,214 permits issued in 2021. That makes it an all-time high, even surpassing the number of permits granted to individuals from the United Kingdom.
While many Americans expressed a desire to leave their homeland when Donald Trump was elected, only a minority actually followed through. But, that has changed thanks to a deteriorating situation. A case in point is Caroline Behringer, a former aide to Nancy Pelosi, the former leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, who relocated to Amsterdam after Donald Trump’s victory. According to her, for most Americans who opted to move to Europe, “politics wasn’t the primary motive for leaving, but rather a significant deterrent to returning,” as highlighted by The Economist.
For African Americans, violence and racism serve as additional motivating factors. Sylvia Johnson, a psychiatrist, and her husband, Stanley, a lawyer, moved to Lisbon in 2022. It all began with Stanley’s realization: “If I have to reside in a country where I need a firearm to protect my family, then this isn’t the country for me.”
Quality of life is a major draw. Many expatriates point to a superior work-life balance in Europe, aided by the increased prevalence of telecommuting. This is a major factor for our clients who have gotten younger and younger, thanks to the ability to work remotely. Furthermore, the growing prominence of English as a language for education and employment works in favor of their resettlement. Some immigrants are lured by Europe’s robust social safety nets, as emphasized by the British magazine.
The installation and support services offered by various European Union countries are enticing. For instance, the Netherlands offers a 30% tax exemption on salaries paid to qualified foreign workers, while Portugal requires a residence visa to have an income of only 150% of the national minimum wage, approximately €1,100 per month, making it accessible to many Americans. Spain’s Beckham Law sets a tax ceiling, and other nations provide visa facilitation for tech professionals or tax breaks for corporate executives and affluent expatriates.
One thing I often hear from potential newcomers as a deterrent is the high taxation on income in France, but they forget that there’s an excellent tax treaty in place, and in many cases, living in France ends up reducing their taxes, not increasing them! On the other side of that, a high quality of life can be achieved for a whole lot less money than in the U.S. (about half!) balancing out any additional taxes one might pay with the high cost of living in the U.S.
The standard of living in the U.S. might be high (if you can afford it), but the quality of life isn’t…at any price.
So, what are you waiting for? Let us help you change your life for the better by escaping to France!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. To schedule your one-on-one consultation with me, just click here.
P.P.S. Retired diplomat William Jordan didn’t get to France in the usual way. In fact, he got here rather reluctantly, but never looked back. William’s story was unusual in certain senses, but followed most of our own appreciation of France in many ways. In this PowerPoint presentation at Après-Midi in Paris, he takes us from his beginnings to now, as someone who has lived all over the world and seen A LOT. He’s now devoted to the American community in France and helping others realize a similar outcome as an expatriate living the good life in France.
If you couldn’t be there, you don’t have to miss the session! Be sure to watch the video of the entire session.