Most U.S. expats don’t move abroad for financial reasons, survey finds — they’re looking for love

May 22, 2024

By Rob Mason

Contrary to an apparently widespread belief back in the U.S. – and especially, it sometimes seems, among certain lawmakers in Washington – most American expats are not rich, and don’t live abroad in order to avoid their U.S. tax obligations, a new survey has found.

Just 33% of some 1,602 American expats living in 47 countries who participated in the survey said their annual household income was more than US$70,000, and just 10% said they enjoyed more than US$150,000 in income a year.

Rather than to avoid tax or experience a new culture or language, meanwhile, the No. 1 reason given by survey participants for living abroad was to find love.

The online survey, the results of which are contained in four separate reports was carried out between late September and early November of last year by a Paris-based American expat named LeAnne Snyder, who, as reported here earlier this year, was named the overseas representative for the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, which exists to help identify tax issues of importance to taxpayers.

According to the survey, 39% of expats said they moved abroad to find new love partners or to strengthen existing relationships.

Snyder conducted her research, using the open source LimeSurvey software, in association with an American expat organization that subsequently decided not to remain involved with the project.

She decided to see the project through to completion on her own, with the help of two similarly-motivated colleagues, explaining that she felt she “owed it to the expats who took the time and trouble to respond to the survey to find a way to put the results into the public domain.”

Snyder told the American Expat Journal that her report will be the subject of a presentation in early December at a conference in Prague, on the subject of diasporas.

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