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Americans Increasingly Want to Move to Another Country

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More than three times as many Americans would like to live in another country now than half a century ago, new polling shows.

A survey of 902 U.S. adults by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which was released on March 26 and conducted between February 8 and 12, indicates that 34 percent of Americans would like to settle in another country—up from 10 percent of Americans asked by Gallup in 1974.

Successive polls on the same question found that in the decades following the end of World War II, only 5 or 6 percent of the U.S. population desired to live elsewhere, with sentiments toward emigration peaking at 13 percent in 1972.

The proportion of Americans looking to live elsewhere went from about 9 percent to 12 percent between 1991 and 1995. Across the second half of the 20th century, Monmouth University said, political independents were more likely to want to leave than partisans.

American travel
A stock image of a woman holding a suitcase and an American flag. The number of U.S. adults wishing to settle in another country has more than tripled in the past 50 years.

FTiare/Getty Images

Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the pollsters were unsure when the “huge jump” in the number of Americans who would rather live abroad had occurred, as there was a significant gap between when the two most recent polls were conducted.

However, he added, “I’d be willing to bet that the partisan rancor of the past few years has played a significant role in the heightened desire to emigrate.”

A Pew Research Center survey of 8,480 adults, conducted between July 10 and 16, found that Americans were more polarized than before, with 65 percent of respondents saying they felt exhausted and 55 percent angry with U.S. politics.

Polling conducted on behalf of Newsweek previously found that most Americans were concerned about a resurgence of political violence following the January 6, 2021, uprising on the U.S. Capitol. Political scientists said at the time that the likely Joe Biden–Donald Trump rematch in November “only exacerbates” fears of a potential upheaval.

The Monmouth University survey found that 41 percent of political independents said they wanted to resettle, compared to 35 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans. Fifty years ago, 13 percent of independents wanted to resettle, along with 10 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans.

More than half of those who wished to leave were under the age of 35, while 17 percent of those aged 55 or over were interested in moving.

While the successive polls did not ask what countries Americans wanted to move to, they did ask where they were most interested in visiting. In the past 50 years, many of the most popular destinations have endured, though they have expanded geographically.

In 1974, the U.K. and Germany were the most popular, followed by Australia, Italy, France and Switzerland.

Now, Italy is the clear favorite, followed by the U.K. and Japan—where 8 percent of respondents said they would visit, compared to 4 percent 50 years ago. Australia remains a popular destination, while Ireland now ranks among the top countries to visit.

France, Spain and Germany still feature as popular European destinations. However, the popularity of France and Germany appears to have declined since 1974, while Spain’s has increased.

Monmouth University said that while cooking remained Americans’ most popular pastime, interest in traveling had more than doubled in the past 50 years, overtaking gardening, which may explain the broader set of desired destinations on Americans’ minds.