What are the easiest countries to move to? Well, it’s not as simple as it sounds because everyone’s circumstances are different. Although there are thousands of immigration options to choose from, there are places that are easier to live in than others.
Moving to a country is more than a holiday, you’re planning on being there for a while. We’re looking at ways to live for a year or more in one country legally.
In this article, we’ll show you your best opportunities to move abroad, no matter your circumstances. And, many of these options are pathways to permanent residency, citizenship, and a new passport.
The only place that doesn’t require a visa or residence permit
After World War One, the treaty of Svalbard (the Spitsbergen) made Norway sovereign over this Arctic archipelago. One of the clauses was that anyone could live and work on the island, regardless of nationality. In practice, there are three significant hurdles.
- The Governor of Svalbard will only let you live there if you can support yourself.
- You need a SCHENGEN visa to transit through Norway to reach the island.
- You are in the Arctic circle. Outside of Longyearbyen, there is just snow, polar bears, and Arctic ice.
If you can get past those three things, then some Arctic splendor awaits!
The easiest countries to get a work permit
There is not just one type of work permit, with each country offering a range of ways to work. For example, Spain has ten different work permit programs.
If you are a freelancer or plan on owning your own business there are specific work permits in many countries. And, we’ll check these out below. For anyone looking to be an employee in a company, the process is different.
Most countries offer a standard work permit. Find a job that qualifies, meet the requirements, and you can get one. However, the hoops that companies and candidates have to go through can be difficult.
Skilled migration programs
Skilled migration programs offer a more accessible pathway. Governments encourage the immigration of people with skills that they need for their economy and society. If your experience meets these requirements, skilled migration can be the easiest way to get a work permit.
And, the lists don’t just contain the jobs you’d imagine. Sure, information technology, finance, health, and education often feature, but that is far from all. Here’s a taste of the wide range of skills that are currently on in-demand occupation lists (alongside the more common jobs).
- Austria: Black topper, roofer, mechanical engineer, train driver.
- Australia: Aeronautical engineer, acupuncturist, electrician, and dressmaker.
- Ireland: Radiographer, prosthetist, animator, web designer.
- New Zealand: GP, veterinarian, chef, spatial scientist.
- South Africa: Sheep shearer, architect, geochemist, forestry technician.
- UK: Biological scientist, dancer, chef, welder.
And, countries often have even simpler pathways if you are prepared to work outside major cities. Regional and rural demand lists are usually wider than popular Expat cities and many have fewer restrictions. Importantly, you can always move after a certain period.
Our Skilled migration guide has details of these programs and more.
Opportunities for entrepreneurs and founders
Small businesses boost economies. Many governments see the value in attracting entrepreneurs and startup founders for the energy and ideas they bring. The scope is endless; it could be opening a restaurant, an online business, or creating the next Facebook.
All you need is an idea for a new company or business and some financial backing. What’s more, the immigration programs often offer more than just a residence permit. Government support and funding, access to incubators and investors, and help with markets are all available.
These countries all have excellent startup immigration.
Checkout our Startup Visa article where we look at each program in more detail.
Golden visas and investment opportunities
Golden visa programs trade residency for investment. Some programs offer a direct path to citizenship, but these are often expensive. Many cheaper programs offer residency, which can later be a pathway to citizenship. There is also a wide range of investment opportunities; a house to live in, a company, shares, bonds, investment property, and many more.
Some of the best Residency by Investment programs include:
- Antigua & Barbuda
All of these countries have reputable Residency by Investment (RBI) programs. And as little as USD $50,000 can get you in the door.
Our Investment Visa article has all the information you need to choose the perfect program.
The easiest countries to immigrate to for students
A student visa is an excellent way to get a taste of life abroad. There is a wide range of courses, levels, languages, and qualifications on offer.
Language classes, degree courses, and vocational training are all popular with international students around the world. And, many students find opportunities to live and work in their new home once their studies are complete.
Some of the best student immigration programs include:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
Check out all the details in our Student Visa article. We cover these ten programs and many more around the world.
Post-study work visas
A Post-Study work visa gives you time to find a job after your studies. Just a few countries offering this opportunity include:
- New Zealand
While these programs don’t guarantee residency or a work permit, they do give you the best chance of success.
The easiest countries to move to for young people
Working holiday visas are another option for those under thirty-five years. From Argentina to Vietnam, sixty countries offer these opportunities. Popular programs include:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
Each program is different, but there are some standard features.
- Your work should be to support your visit, not advance your career.
- You’ll need a new visa or residence permit after the working holiday.
- You’ll need funds to cover yourself and appropriate health insurance.
Explore all your options in our Working Holiday Visa article.
Income visas are a great way to move
Remote work and retirement visas are part of a larger family of immigration programs. Many places offer residency to people who can show a steady income. And, if you have an income these can be the easiest countries to immigrate to.
There are three standard requirements:
- Meet the income requirements to support yourself while living in the country.
- Have sufficient health insurance.
- Be of good character.
From there, the programs vary enormously.
- The annual income requirement can range from USD $7,000 in Nicaragua to USD $150,000 in the Cayman Islands.
- Working is treated differently. A program may:
- -allow any work.
- -forbid any work.
- -allow only remote work.
- -allow freelance working for clients outside the country.
Sources of income
- All programs will accept passive income. That is income from pensions, annuities, investment income, etc.
- For money earned through work, programs differ widely.
Look at for immigration programs with names like:
- Passive Income
- Person of Independent Means
- Freelancer, remote work, or digital nomad
Check out our article with details of our favorite income visa programs. Our recommend programs include:
The easiest countries for remote workers and freelancers to move to
A job that allows you to work from home opens doors. In general, you need to show that you have enough money to support yourself while you are living abroad. Remote work moved front and center during the COVID-19 pandemic, and remote work visas have become popular.
Some of our favorites are:
- Czech Republic
See our comprehensive article on remote work visas and remote work abroad.
The easiest countries to move to for retirees
For those a little older, there are many retirement visa programs. Some have a minimum age, but many do not.
For all, you’ll need to show that you can support yourself and have international, national, or Expat health insurance.
The amount you need to show varies greatly. However, if you have these amounts in pension, annuity, or investment income, you could be eligible. Here are some examples of the amount of income you’ll need.
- Argentina pensionado visa – USD 6,000 per year.
- Ireland Stamp 0 – USD $60,000 per year.
- Portugal D7 passive income visa – USD $15,000 per year.
- Philippines special resident retiree visa – USD $20,000 per year.
- Spain non-lucrative visa – USD $30,000 per year.
- Thailand retiree visa – USD $24,000 per year.
We’ve written a guide to retiring abroad and the best retirement visas. We explore these options and other popular retirement programs.
Countries with treaties
Your passport may be all you need to live and work in another country. International treaties give special rights to citizens of certain counties and regions. If you are lucky enough to have one of these passports, moving to another country is easy!
The European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland
These citizens can all live and work anywhere in the region. You’ll need to register as a resident, but for you, the door is open.
Citizens have the right to free movement and employment in the five member and four associate states. This treaty covers the citizens of:
- Argentina (Full MERCOSUR member)
- Brazil (Full MERCOSUR member)
- Paraguay (Full MERCOSUR member)
- Uruguay (Full MERCOSUR member)
Australia and New Zealand
Citizens of these two nations can move freely between the two. Australians are automatically granted a residence permit, and New Zealand’s an SCV – Special Category Visa.
Panama Friendly Nations Visa
Panama has many of friends; the citizens of fifty nations qualify for the program and can move to Panama. This program offers accelerated residency and you can apply for a Panama work permit.
Some countries on the list are:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea (South Korea)
- South Africa
- The United States of America (USA)
To see if you qualify, and for more details see our Panama Friendly Nations Visa guide.
Other cool residency options
Montenegro yacht owners and crew
This Adriatic nation has special recognition for yachts berthed in a Montenegro marina for more than 90 days. The owner and crew are entitled to a one-year residence permit. This makes Montengro our easiest country to move to for boat crew.
South Korea English teachers
The K-2 visa allows native English speakers to stay in South Korea and teach English. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) is another excellent option for English teachers looking for an easy country to move to.
Thailand Elite Residence Program
This program offers you residency in Thailand for up to twenty years. There are seven levels to this program, available from as little as USD $20,000 payment. As well as a residence permit, this program comes with some cool perks. Complimentary airport transfers, fast-track immigration, and a 24-hour concierge service are all included.
German Berlin Artist Visa
German has a program for artists, writers, and more who live in Berlin. You must be self-employed and able to support yourself and have a home in Berlin.
Nicaragua Reforestation Residency Visa
Nicaragua’s residency by investment program is targeted at reforesting land. Your minimum investment is USD $35,000 and should generate some profit. A huge advantage is that it offers permanent residency from day one. There’s no restriction on nationalities who can apply, and it is a pathway to citizenship.
The easiest countries to get citizenship
Moving for a year or two is one thing, but what if you want to settle down? Eventually, many Expats hope to get citizenship in their new home for themselves and their children.
But, many people are eligible for a second citizenship they may not know about. And, for them, a second citizenship may be the easiest way to live in another country.
If this is the path you want to follow, we’re got the guide to the easiest countries to get citizenship in 2021.
The easiest countries to move to from the USA
American citizens are welcome in most countries. You don’t have to go far to find countries that rank highly in surveys of American Expats. Some of the easiest countries to move to for Americans are right next door.
Canada has a wide range of immigration options. Their student visa and work permit program are both excellent for Americans looking to move north.
Mexico is also home to many American Expats, where cost-of-living and climate are big draw cards. And, there are easy immigration programs for people of all ages and stages.
Argentina is also drawing increasing numbers of Americans. Their rentista, pensionado, and investor visas are all popular options.
All the European countries below are also great options for Americans looking for easy immigration.
The easiest countries to move to in Europe
Europe is home to millions of Expats from around the world. The lifestyle and security are big draw cards. From the sunny Mediterranean to the beautiful Scandinavian nations, Europe offers a wealth of choice. Here are our top three easiest countries to move to in Europe.
Spain is our best pick. It has accessible visas for many people. Work, study, investment, and retiring are all covered by Spain’s immigration program.
Portugal is a close second. With everything from working holidays and golden visas, to starting a business, Portugal’s welcoming immigration policy is the first pick for many.
The Czech Republic is famous for many things, including the Zivno. This option for a work permit is excellent for many freelancers and remote workers.
For skilled workers, Germany, France, and Ireland are all achievable.
Which is the easiest country to move to?
The easiest country to move is different for each person. And, the easiest country to move to is not necessarily the best country to live in. However, we hope that this article highlights some of the easiest ways to move abroad.
Weather you are working remotely for six months, or selling up and starting over we wish you all the best!