As someone who has lived abroad in 8 different countries, I’ve learned quite a few different ways to make this your reality. The first two questions I ask anyone who asks me how to live abroad are: “How long are you planning to live in X country?” and “What is your long term plan?”.

The answers to these two are sometimes the same, but other times they’re not. That’s why it’s important you start off planning your potential move, having the answers to these clear. Everybody will have different visions of their futures and none are right or wrong. It all depends on how you see your future.

Every country has different laws in place for accepting foreigners. For this reason, the different ways for how to live abroad mentioned here are specifically for Americans. I will do my best to add ways from other countries as I can, but for now these are the ones I know best. Some can be adapted for other countries as long as one has the financial means, but that’s not possible for all the ways mentioned. 

brunette woman wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans standing next to a blue large suitcase with a neck pillow and light pink carry on suitcase Moving Abroad Costs US to Portugal
Everything I brought with me to Portugal

Once you have your answers, continue reading to find the best way for you to live abroad.

Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is one of the simplest ways that someone can live abroad. This can be a short term or long term plan depending on how you go about it. In the United States many people opt to do a semester or year abroad during their undergraduate. 

Did you know you could actually do your whole undergraduate degree abroad? It’ll actually be cheaper than doing it in the United States and it gives you a reason to live elsewhere for multiple years.

With the connections you can make while studying abroad, after your degree you could find a job. That job could lead to permanent residency and depending on the country, you could eventually apply for citizenship if that’s your goal.

Do keep in the mind that some countries view being on a student visa as a stay and not as residency time. This makes a difference if citizenship is your long term plan. 

If you’re only looking to live in the country temporarily, then going only for a semester, year or the full degree is the way to go for you.

brunette in a gray turtleneck holding a white envelope. How to Live Abroad - Studying Abroad
Holding my Master’s in Travel Journalism Diploma

Working Holiday Visa

The Holiday Working Visa is the best option for people who want to work and live abroad without the hassle of getting a full on work visa. At the time of this post, Americans have the possibility of applying for a holiday working visa in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Other nationalities have access to similar or different countries. For example: Chileans have access to a holiday working visa in Portugal. 

Things to note if you’re planning to apply for either of these visas:

  • Age limit (need to be 18, for some you can’t be over 30)
  • Application fee (varies)
  • Time limit (1-2 years)
  • Proof of sufficient funds (to be able to settle in and leave at the end)
  • Need a college degree

This is not the route to go if you want to stay in the country long term. It is only a short term visa that won’t last longer than two years. It’s a great way to see if any of these countries are ones you could see yourself living in.

Work Visa

You can get a work visa in a few different ways. Two of the ways you can get one are: an international company in the United States sends you abroad or a company in another country vouches for you to help you through the princess of obtaining the visa.

In every country a work visa will have a different name. The requirements will also vary. Many companies might have to prove that no one else in the country could do that job to be able to offer you a work visa. This might be easier to work around especially if it’s more of a professional position.

Golden Visa

This is widely known as the real estate visa. Many countries have offered it for a long time as the fast track way to permanent residency or citizenship. It does require a large investment depending on the country. You need to purchase the property outright and not with a loan that could be provided by the host country. The lowest Golden Visa amount I’ve seen to date is around 100k. There are countries, like Portugal, that have ended their Golden Visa program with others potentially following suit.

yellow apartment building in Lisbon with a church at the end. Golden Visa How to Live Abroad
Lisbon, Portugal


If you have parents, grandparents or even great grandparents that were born or have citizenship in another country then it’s possible that you could get it too. My parents are both Peruvian citizens, so I was able to get Peruvian citizenship myself. This allows me to live and work in 8 countries due to Mercosur.

I’ve had cousins who were able to get Italian citizenship due to one of their great grandparents. It took them 10 years to get it though. They had to find birth, marriage, and death certificates for multiple generations. It is possible, but it can take a while to get all the necessary documents.

Digital Nomad Visa

Digital nomad visas are on the rise worldwide with many countries wanting to take advantage of people who work remotely. Currently Americans have access to 58 different countries where we can live abroad. There are requirements to keep in mind if you’re planning to apply to one:

  • Annual Income Requirement
  • Visa cost varies per country
  • 1-2 years validity with possible extensions
  • Work must be done remotely
  • Taxes depends on the country & length of stay

Some countries have adapted short term and long term digital nomad visas for people who do want to stay somewhere for many years. This is where knowing what your long term goals are comes in handy. Based on what you want to do in the future will have you applying to one visa or another.

I got a visa in Portugal and share everything you need to be able to apply for it yourself.

Additional Info

Once you decide you want to live abroad, then I definitely recommend you talk with a tax professional both in your home country and in the country you want to move to. This way you will know what you’re getting yourself into before you move. I’ve had lots of friends and acquaintances regret not looking more into this before deciding where they were going to move to.

If you are planning to live abroad, then I suggest you join my Life Abroad newsletter that I send out every other Friday. In there I share personal tips, stories, and resources related to living abroad. I hope that it inspires a future move abroad for you!

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Viaja more y live más,

Latina Traveler

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