Americans Who’ve Left the U.S. for Political Reasons Talk About What Made Them Finally Do It

©Unsplash,Jacek Dylag

In the aftermath of every presidential election, I always hear various people talk about how they’re moving away from the U.S. because they just can’t handle it anymore.


I’ve never met anyone who actually went through with this threat, but apparently it does happen.

People get so fed up with the politics and culture of America that they decide it’s time to move to a different country.

AskReddit users who’ve left the U.S. opened up and shared their thoughts.

1. A huge reason.

“Medical debt.

Paying 8k for a simple out-patient surgery even with insurance was so infuriating.

We left in 2012. We live in Taipei now, where a hospital visit is a couple of dollars and I can have a child without declaring bankruptcy.”

2. Much better situation.

“I wanted a master’s degree but didn’t want to accept more student loan debt. Applied to a few European universities and was accepted into my first choice, a well respected university without tuition fees.

But I guess the “moment” came while I was at my last job in the US. It was a decent job in tech paying 42k a year before taxes, located in a city with low living costs. I had been there for almost 2 years and my position was a permanent position but they refused to take me off a temporary contract. Because of this I received no health benefits, no paid time off, nothing…

Currently I work part-time at a restaurant but receive free healthcare, 24~ paid days off a year, paid sick leave, and double pay on holidays and Sundays. So I don’t think I’ll intentionally return to the US anytime soon.

I’m literally at the bottom of the work pyramid here but my work/life situation is so much better than everyone I know in the US. Recently my friend lost 40k from his retirement account due to the market drop but my pension is just fine.

I’m American for sure. From the middle of the country. Baseball occasionally makes me emotional. But the situation there is just so far behind everywhere else that I really can’t see my future children having a brighter future in the US than they would here. My parents did everything they could to give me a bright future so I intend to do the same for my children.”

3. Back and forth.

“In 2011. Lost job and house.

There were no engineering jobs in the US because of the recession. Got a job in Toronto and spent 6 wonderful years in Canada. Oil and gas crashed so I had to go back to the US. I wish I would of gotten my permanent residency and never left.

If anyone tells you Canadians pay more taxes its bull shit. I paid 27% down here and 27% up there plus healthcare, free prescriptions, barely any crime and the more I put in a tax free savings the more I got back on my taxes. I had my gal bladder out. It wasn’t an emergency.

From the time I went to the doc and had an ultrasound it took 4 weeks till I had the surgery and absolutely no bills. If I needed to see my doc I could get in the same day.”

4. Work/life balance.

“My wife and I left back in 2008 to experience the European lifestyle.

We have been living there ever since and one of the main reasons we are never heading back is the health care system. We have had two kids and we had to pay literally nothing for all the procedure (before, during and after) even with some complications for my wife.

Another good aspect is the cheap education system. When our kids are old enough to go to university they won’t have to go in debt to get a degree.

There is also a great work/life balance and the food is generally healthier.”

5. Home is where you make it.

“There really wasn’t a clear moment or answer. At first I went to Europe after university because I had the wanderlust that every 20-something feels. Then my grandfather, retired in the fatherland, got sick and needed a hand, so I stayed. By then, I had already done the hard work of losing close contact with my friends, plus finding a job and a loving boyfriend.

I don’t feel particularly attached to New Jersey, as most new Jerseyans can attest. So why bother to return? Home is where you decide to make it.”

6. O, Canada!

“Not me but my Dad.

This was in the ’70s. He left after his then wife had a miscarriage. He was a cop at the time and they had excellent insurance. Over a quarter of their income went into it. Their coverage did not extend to this. All expenses that this tragedy incurred had to come out of pocket.

Coupled with his growing uneasiness over the direction that the police force was going, which he saw happening Nationwide, they said fuck this and moved to Canada. He is now a Canadian citizen and remarried to my mom.

For the police, he said that they started focusing too heavily on punishment and not prevention.”

7. Good move.

“When Betsy DeVos became Secretary of Education.

I was in my last semester of college to become a teacher and began applying abroad.”

8. Had to leave.

“Working 4 part time jobs at once.

Had no healthcare.

Got hit by a car while on my bike 6 weeks before leaving the country to go teach debate at a private foreign academy.

Lucky all I got was a concussion.

Leaving was the best decision I ever made.

I still work crazy hard, but at least now I have something to show for it.”

9. North of the border.

“Moved to Canada about 15 years ago. Initially, I just came up here for school, but fell in love with the country within the first 72 hours and haven’t moved back since.

It’s pretty much everything. Healthcare is the single most important specific reason I won’t move back, but beyond that, the quality of life is just so much better – and people are just so fucking decent. It’s hard to put the importance of this last one into words.

Maybe I can sum it all up with an experience I had yesterday: I went to a few stores to stock up on some basics. I live in a very diverse city and the stores were packed with people from six continents, every imaginable shade of color. Everyone stocking up, everyone with heavy carts. The checkout line in one grocery store stretched across entire store.

And people were so. goddamn. friendly. Smiles. “Sorry”. “After you.” Patience. It was incredible. It was legitimately enough to bring a tear to my eye, and I’m an asshole.

And it put the bullshit xenophobia that so many Americans carry around into pretty fucking sharp relief. I know for a fact that the extremely diverse crowd in that store were far more civil than the extremely homogeneous crowd in the stores my family frequents back home.

For an American, living in Canada is like having these invisible straps loosened around your chest – straps you didn’t even know you had, but that are constricting most Americans every day they wake up. You can breathe. You don’t have the fear of losing it all at any moment. The fear of the person next to you. It just doesn’t exist up here, not remotely to the degree it does in the States.”

10. An American in Germany.

“American in Germany here, really, so many things. I came over with my German fiancee and I will possibly never go back. Work environment: 28 days paid vacation and pretty much unlimited sick leave, better work culture.

Cheaper groceries and services. Health care here is the same, but actually covered by my insurance. Public transportation is actually usable. Long maternal and paternal leave. You get a stipend per child to cover their expenses when you have them. I’m probably forgetting some key points, but yeah. I prefer it.”

11. Insufferable.

“I left because I speak a major European language, I had connections there to help me start, and I had grown sick of the ridiculous job market in the major American city I was living in. Also this is a controversial personal opinion, but I find my countrymen to be kind of insufferable. Even the good ones. I just think Americans are generally not very conscientious people.

I stayed for pretty much all the same reasons everyone else has listed. Near free healthcare, better quality of life, very straight forward interviews, and I’ve been able to get a master’s degree here for free. Even the dating scene is better. I have no plans on returning. I do miss doing outdoorsy stuff in the US though.”

12. Wanted an education.


I realized I could never afford it in the States and didn’t want to spend the majority of my adult life paying off a degree I wasn’t sure I wanted in the first place. Improved my foreign language, ended up switching my major at a European school twice and I’m on my way to graduating soon.

Will be the first one in my immediate family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and will have $0 in student debt when I am finished.”

13. A new life.

“Wow, a question I can answer.

My husband had two 3-year job offers: stay in the usa in a relatively progressive place, or move to Germany. Future unknown. This was in 2017 we moved, job offer in 2016. 2016 was a crazy year but before that, we always felt like things just were lacking in the usa.

We are very educated but wanted to live somewhere everybody has vacation days, not just us. Healthcare is a big draw. We want a family and we didn’t want to raise a child somewhere that there are so many ‘have’ and ‘have nots’ – or to pay that kind of college fee.

People here want everyone to have it, and they don’t mind paying for it. The retirement situation here is better, people are outside more often, and in general, in better health – minus the many, many Germans who still smoke.

It’s a slower pace of life with less strenuous job expectations. People here go on vacation for a month and its all good. Work life balance.

There are so many reasons, so we rolled the dice. We move to the Netherlands this summer….and look forward to more socialized and healthy living. It’s worth learning languages and making new friends. It’s worth me leaving my job. It’s worth less salary but more benefits/security. We just feel like people here ‘get it’ in a way that most Americans don’t, even people we love.”

14. Tremendous improvements.

“I had a kid.

I did the math on what it would cost to raise a child in the US and compared it against Europe.

Europe won.

While the decision was fiscal, I did NOT expect the tremendous improvements to my quality of life.”

15. Love the idea of America, but…

“Where do I even start?

I tried persuing the American dream, put myself through college, paid off that debt, worked hard for an insurance company in the same job for 10 years then moved to consultant for them while I built my own business. Got to about a million a year with 5 people, then Amazon comes along and took away 80% of our revenue overnight by removing our licensing…

This was when I had a 1 year old daughter at home, paying 1600 a month for “Child storage” where they fed her chicken nuggets and burritos and let her watch tv for several hours a day.

While being born in America, I had grown up in Sweden from the age of 6 to 18 and remembered what it was like to live in a socialist society where there where far fewer inequities and stress. I wanted my daughter to have that, I wanted her not to derive her identity from materialistic influences that seem so present in American society. It seemed the American mentality was that everyone was just temporarily poor millionaires.

I could go on and on, so I’ll just give a list of my motivations.

Trump is the personification of ignorance and greed, some of his supporters genuinely scare me with their level of hatred for others and their embrace of authoritarianism. And the ironic thing to me is that is so transparent that he goes against all of their interests yet they still love him.

Here in Germany daycare is incredible and free. I cried when we took a tour of the place, the contrast was so stark.

No more worrying about health care. When to the ER a couple of months ago with a nasty cut on my head. 15 minutes later I see a doctor that takes care of it and there was no paper work and the bill was zero.

I get 30 vacation days a year, 11 national holidays and 35 hour work week and I make almost as much as I did in the US.

Unlimited sick time with no judgement or pressure for using it.

Union to protect me and represent me in negotiations.

A real sense of community.

I have yet to see one homeless person.

No worries about the country being dragged into war.

Progressive politics that address issues I care about like global warming, non isolationaist politics, aiding refugees and so forth.

Rules are rules and seem to be enforced quite fairly, the society seems less corrupt.

Germany doesn’t have a foreign policy that I’m embarrassed and ashamed of.

Way fewer mass shooting.

Free college for my daughter.

I love the idea of America, I just don’t like its execution. Way to stressful of a place for me to live and raise my daughter. I’ll gladly pay 50% taxes and drastically reduce the chance of accumulating more money than I could ever need in exchange for a far more equitable and moral system.”

16. This is pretty interesting.

“My job.

The thing is, I am a tech worker. It is a relatively “cushy” job and I never felt like I was working paycheck to paycheck. But I preferred to be toward the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. I don’t want to manage a team.

I just want a stable amount of work coming in, I want to work a normal workday and leave at 5pm, and go home and do things I enjoy or just relax. Frankly, I don’t care about making a whole lot of money.

The problem is that every job I had, no matter my insistence, I was expected to go above and beyond, work overtime, constantly seeking promotions, etc. Basically, making work my life.

The expectations became exhausting. I knew from frequent trips and a network of European friends through studying abroad, that the work-life balance in many European countries is better. Legally, there is more stability in my work: In the Netherlands, where I now live, my company can only fire me for serious reasons that have to be justifiable in court. And even if I were let go, I need a month’s notice.

Many of my colleagues simply do not understand why Americans tolerate the fact that we can just be fired. Businesses are expected to financially plan for this security for their workers.

Personally, I enjoy that my company does not have the kind of “brainwashing” that I’ve seen at prior companies in the US. My last job in the US was for a major national online food delivery platform headquartered in Chicago.

The CEO once said during an all-company meeting that he “knew we would still come to work if we weren’t paid, because work gives us purpose.” While I’m sure there are similarly deranged CEOs here, I have not heard anywhere near that type of assertion here.

Moreover, I have more time off, I am encouraged to use it, and most importantly, I am not expected to “check in” when I’m out of the office. It’s incredible how many entry-level office workers who really don’t have a huge impact on their department’s work are expected to use their paid time off to continue working.

You asked for the “big” thing, and it was stress from work. I took one sick day at my last job after a terrible series of events on a Thursday. I never took an actual sick day before that because I could work from home. However, I really just needed the day off to clear my mind and de-stress.

After emailing my manager around 11pm and not coming to work the following day, I learned that his boss instructed him to have me come to work on Sunday to finish a project that was not at all urgent. Thankfully my boss told him I really needed the day off. I think learning that piece of information, even if just one small event, was the straw that broke this camel’s back. After that, I started looking for work outside the country.

While I was still employed I learned that my coworkers would gossip about me leaving work at 5pm every day (I worked full 8 hour days) despite having all my agreed-upon tasks complete.

I saw therapists and psychiatrists to deal with the stress and the physical effects of it, ended up taking anti-depressants and at one point beta-blockers because the manifestation of stress was causing my chest to tighten up every day. It was just too much.

Now I am much happier because my boss has very realistic expectations of work, and I am encouraged to take time away from work. Plus my commute in Amsterdam is 15 minutes by bicycle and I pay similar rent to what I did in Chicago with a 45-minute train commute. It’s much healthier for me. I’m lucky because I’m skilled in something that is in-demand over here.”

These people are definitely pretty serious about their principles, there’s no doubt about that.

Do you know anyone who’s left the U.S. for political reasons?

Perhaps that person is you?

Please talk to us in the comments and tell us all about it.

We’d love to hear your stories!