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Why Americans Are Moving to Spain

Why Americans Are Moving to Spain

Living in Spain myself, I have noticed more and more Americans moving over, settling down, and living their best life yet. In years gone by, America was one of the least traveled nations – many people didn’t have passports and didn’t see any need to travel outside of their great nation. So what’s changed?

Europe Is Generally More Affordable

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Europe is generally considered to be significantly cheaper than the United States in terms of the cost of living. This difference can be attributed to various factors such as housing, food,  and transportation. 

Real Estate and Renting: According to data, housing in Europe is about 53% cheaper than in the United States. For example, the monthly rent for a furnished 85 m2 (900 sqft) accommodation in an expensive area in Spain averages around €1,323 ($1,453), compared to $3,111 in the U.S. This difference is even more pronounced in less touristy areas, with rents in some locations being around 59% lower than in the U.S.​​

Food: Food expenses in Spain are approximately 28% lower than in the U.S. A basic lunch in a business district is priced around €17 ($19) in Europe versus $20 in the U.S. In some local restaurants, a midday 3-course meal for less than $10 can be found. 

It might be rustic, but it’s fantastic value!

Public Transportation: Public transportation in Europe is generally more affordable and widely available compared to the United States. European cities often have extensive public transit systems, including buses, trams, and subways, that are typically well-integrated and frequent. 

For instance, a monthly public transport ticket in Spain costs around €30 ($33), significantly less than the average U.S. cost of about $78.

However, the cost of fuel is another story. 1 liter of gas costs about €1.64 ($1.80), which is a staggering 76% more than in the U.S. Can’t win ‘em all. 

Entertainment: Entertainment expenses like dining out or going to bars are also lower. American tipping culture is starting to have its influence, but luckily nowhere near to the level of the U.S. 

Tipping like you’re Jeff Bezos is not expected, but a little extra is welcomed if you enjoyed a meal and had great service. Tipping for takeaways or coffee? No chance. 

The Healthcare System Is Fairer

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As a working person, healthcare is free to access in Spain and has a great reputation. Healthcare is based on taxation, so this can save on insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. All residents are entitled to healthcare. 

For non-workers, healthcare coverage can be affordable. For example, a monthly premium with a well-known bank can start from $55 monthly. There is no extensive paperwork or approvals. Once you’re in, you’re in, and there is no such thing as top-up costs. 

From personal accounts I’ve heard, this is has lifted a huge financial burden from American expats moving to Spain. 

Enough of  U.S. Politics Already

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A lot of American expats I’ve spoken to have become disillusioned with U.S. politics due to increasing political polarization, dissatisfaction with government policies, and concerns over social issues like healthcare and gun violence. 

This discontent, combined with the desire for a different lifestyle, prompts some to relocate to countries perceived as having more stable political environments, better social welfare systems, and a higher overall quality of life. Spain’s becoming a haven. 

Americans Are Attracted to European Culture

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There are many attractions of European and Spanish culture. Here are some of them: 

A Rich History: Europe’s long, diverse history offers a depth of cultural experiences, from historic architecture to traditions. The landscape is diverse, as is the weather, so there is plenty to see and do. 

Amazing Food and Cuisine: European and Spanish cuisines are renowned for their variety and quality. Spain has everything from local fare to Michelin-starred cuisine and legendary seafood. 

Scenic Variety: Europe offers a wide range of landscapes, from beaches to mountains. Don’t just imagine the ‘Costa Del Sol’ with beers and sunburn – there is much more to it. 

A Better Feeling of Safety

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Americans often perceive Europe as safer than America due to factors like lower crime rates, stricter gun control laws, and a generally more peaceful political climate. 

This perception is influenced by the relatively lower incidence of gun violence and the stronger social safety nets in many European countries compared to the U.S. These factors contribute to a sense of greater personal and social security in Europe.

As of 2020, the intentional homicide rate in the United States was 6.52 per 100,000 people, significantly higher than in many European countries. For example, Spain’s homicide rate was 0.62 per 100,000. 

As an expat myself, walking out late at night often has a safer feel as families and residents are out on the streets, often until the early hours – safety in numbers, I guess. 

Seeking a Better, More Balanced Lifestyle

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Work-Life Balance: Europe is known for prioritizing work-life balance, with shorter work weeks and longer vacations. The Spanish are known for long lunches and working to live, not vice versa. Family and friends’ time is central although working hours are not necessarily shorter, there are definitely plenty of public holidays and celebrations to enjoy. 

Longer Vacations: In Spain, August is pretty much a right off. A common expression related to this is “en Agosto, todo el mundo está de vacaciones” (in August, everyone is on vacation). Little do they realize the rest of the world is functioning pretty normally despite the warm weather and time of year!

The expression reflects the widespread practice in Spain, where many businesses slow down or close for the holiday, and people take time off to relax and enjoy the summer, often heading to the coast or countryside. The Spanish…they sure know how to relax. 

Craving Adventure and the ‘What Else..?’

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The country offers a variety of activities like hiking, skiing, and water sports. Spain’s rich cultural heritage, evident in its architecture, festivals, and cuisine, provides an immersive experience. The warm climate and welcoming locals also enhance the appeal for adventure-seeking Americans.

The growing trend of Americans moving to Spain reflects a search for a more balanced, enriching lifestyle. The appeal of Spain’s lower cost of living, better healthcare system, rich cultural landscape, and safer environment, combined with a desire to escape the political and social tensions of the U.S., is drawing more Americans to consider life in this vibrant, easy-going country.

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