Best Countries for Expat Newbies

Are you planning to move abroad? If yes, you probably have many things on your mind. Whether arranging finances, finding a place to live, or anything else, you might feel overwhelmed dealing with a million things at once.

Learning a new language may be too much on top of everything else you need to do before your move.  If you want to find a place to spend your retirement without going through the hassle of learning a new language, then you have come to the right place.

We’ll discuss the top 10 popular expat destinations where you can speak English. You’ll learn about the pros and cons and the visa requirements for these destinations. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

10 Popular Expat Destinations Where You Can Speak English

The countries in this list have a lot to offer, and expats can find a community of English speakers. There are other factors that we have also covered to help you with the decision-making process.

10. George Town, Malaysia

George Town is a beautiful place situated on Penang Island off the west coast of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca. One of the best things about moving to Malaysia is that it is affordable. George Town is an ideal place for English speakers and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Malaysia offers a digital nomad visa for which you must show an annual income of $24,000 (109,799 Ringgits). It is valid for 12 months, but you can extend it for 12 months. Additionally, they have a 10-year permanent resident visa, but it has much steeper conditions.

You have to show a monthly income of $8500 (40,000 Ringgits) per month at current exchange rates. Also, you need to deposit $213,000 (1M ringgit) in the bank account.


The place is famous for its fantastic architecture, cuisine, and culture. It is a highly developed area with robust infrastructure, rich history, and beautiful scenery. Moreover, it has an optimal healthcare system and a large expat community, with many English speakers.


The weather is hot and humid and there are monsoons/flash flooding. Also, moving there can be a bit expensive, and the poor traffic can be a culture shock to many. It is best to learn some Malay since most people outside of George Town don’t speak English.

9. Cyprus

Cyprus is an Island on the eastern end of the Mediterranean, south of Turkey. A lot of people speak English since the island was a British colony. The best thing about Cyprus is its fantastic weather and high quality of life.


Cyprus offers a digital nomad visa for 1 year, but you must show a minimum income of €3500/$3500 per month. You can also get an investment visa by investing a minimum of €300,000/$300,000 in the real estate market or anything other than Cyprus investment.


It is said to be the sunniest place in Europe, with incredible history and culture. Also, the high quality of living, healthcare, and open-air markets for grocery shopping make it an optimal choice. Plus, it has a lower cost of living than the US and other European countries.


Although safe, there is a chance of tourist scams or pickpocketing. Moreover, there are issues with the bureaucracy and the transportation system, and the government confiscated money from depositors during the banking crisis in 2013.

8. Malta

Malta consists of 5 islands in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African shore. It’s called an archipelago and is a popular tourist destination due to its historical sites dating back to the time of the Romans and Moors. Additionally, the country has fantastic beaches and water activities, cafes, and a lot to offer.


The Malta Permanent Residence Program (MPRP) allows you to get residency in this country. However, it can come at a high cost since you need €500,000/$500,000 as an investment, out of which a minimum of €150,000 needs to be in assets.

Also, you should have a property valued at a minimum of €300,000/$300,000 or rent of €10,000/$10,000 to €12,000/$12,000 per annum. Additionally, you need to renew the MPRP every five years.


It has an excellent climate, weather, outdoor activities, and historical sites. English is the primary language, and you can find people from all over the world.


As a popular tourist destination, some areas are very crowded and the visa requirements can be a challenge. They eliminated their program to buy citizenship, but this wasn’t an option for most people.

7. Barbados

If you want to find a high-end place close to the US, then Barbados is the ideal choice. The region’s colonial past is the primary reason many people speak English. You’ll also find many UK and US people on this island.


As a US citizen, you can stay there for six months on a tourist visa. You can also apply for a digital nomad visa, allowing you to stay and work there for 12 months. However, you need to show an income of $50,000 per annum or have the same amount in savings.

It has 2 types of retirement visas to apply for a temporary residence visa. Additionally, the Special Entry Permit allows property owners with a property valued at $150,000 or more to come and go as they please.


The capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Additionally, it is famous for historic sites, active nightlife, incredible beaches, and much more! Furthermore, Barbados has the best healthcare infrastructure in the Caribbean.


The cost of living is higher over there, and it is also known for hurricanes. Flights are expensive, making it difficult for you to fly back and forth to the US.

6. Ireland

US Americans can find the idea of moving to Ireland quite fascinating. The nation is in the north Atlantic, just off the coast of England and Wales. Most people consider moving to this country because of the fantastic culture and benefits.


Ireland offers a retirement visa where you have to show a minimum yearly income of €50,000/$50,000. Also, you need to have additional funds to cover unexpected expenses.


You can find a fantastic culture and folklore with beautiful scenery (known as the Emerald Isle). It is safe and peaceful, with good public transportation. The country has affordable healthcare for permanent residents.


The cost of living is higher because of soaring rents. Weather is quite different from the US since there is rainfall throughout the year and the temperatures can be chilly.

5. The Algarve, Portugal

Portugal is an optimal location to enjoy your retirement. It has breathtaking beaches and is a popular choice to visit and relocate.


You can get a digital nomad visa by showing an income of €3000/ $3000 per month from working online. Also, if you make €740/ $740 in passive income, you can apply for the D7 visa.

The Golden visa is also an option, but you need to have €500,000/$500,000 in investment and can’t buy property in Lisbon or Porto.


Healthcare in Portugal is state-of-the-art and much less expensive. You can get various public and private insurance options. It is a family-friendly country with many outdoor activities, including boating and golf, and an excellent public transportation system.


Some areas are more  expensive due to the influx of expats from various countries. Also, utilities, cars, and appliances are more expensive. You should learn some Portuguese to mingle with the locals.

4. Belize

Belize is also a fantastic place in the Caribbean, bordering southern Mexico. It is just a 3-hour drive from Cancun and is famous for its tropical island living!


You can take advantage of the Retired Persons Incentive Program (QRP), which requires you to be at least 45 years old and earn around $2,000 a month or $24,000 per year.


The country has a small population of around 400,000 people and a lower cost of living. Local stuff such as fruits and vegetables are cheaper and are only 2 hours away from the US.

The Belize dollar is pegged to the US dollar, making it less volatile. It has a tropical climate and a beach and jungle, and you can get 12 hours of daylight in 2 seasons, wet and dry.


It can be buggy with a lot of hurricanes. Imported products are typically more expensive, and healthcare may be lacking. However, there are public and private facilities for healthcare services and the government is making improvements to their healthcare system.

3. Boquete, Panama

Boquete is a popular destination for expats because of the mountain ranges and other historical sites. It is as far south as you can go in Central America and just north of Colombia.


You can apply for a digital nomad visa, which gives you 9 months plus the option for an extension. However, you have to show a $36,000 income for a year.
They also have a retirement visa (Pensionado Visa) for people older than 18 with a monthly income of at least $1,000.


The best thing about this region is the low cost of living and good healthcare. It is also closer to the US and has a good infrastructure. They have a large expat community, and It is located in the mountains, making it more relaxed and cooler than other areas in Panama.


Political turmoil is a drawback for this region. Also, it is a cash-based society with less dependence on credit cards. The rainy season stays for around 6 months, and it lacks some services like an airport.

2. Ajijic, Mexico

Ajijic is located an hour south of Guadalajara and 30 minutes south of the GDL airport. The region has mountains of about 5000 feet and a captivating, tranquil lakeside town with excellent weather.


Mexico offers a temporary or permanent resident visa. For the temporary visa, you need to show an income of MX$48,384 or $2500/month or MX$812,850 or $42000 in the bank. For the permanent visa, you must show an income of MX$81285 or $4200/month or MX$3,251,400 or $168,000 in the bank.


The region has a beautiful view with perfect weather. It has many English speakers and US oriented goods and services which is why we call it “America Lite.” You can also find great locally grown food and other specialty items that are more affordable than in parts of the US.


You can find a lot of expats; almost 50% of the residents are expats. The cost of living, particularly housing, is on the rise. Also, the crime rate has increased, and the air quality can be poor at times.

1. Cuenca Ecuador

Lastly, Ecuador is located in South America, just below Colombia, and Cuenca is a fantastic place to be. It is a UNESCO Heritage site since it is one the oldest cities in the world with modern amenities.


There are a lot of different visa options including the retiree, professional, investor and digital nomad visas.


It is the oldest city in the world, with fantastic architecture and history. You can also find a large expat community that speaks English. It is an excellent place for food enthusiasts. The city has excellent and the most affordable healthcare in Ecuador.


Since it has a higher elevation (8400 feet), some people experience difficulty breathing and altitude sickness. The weather can be a bit cold and cloudy. The noise and increasing crime are also a drawback of this place.


We hope you now know where you can move to without learning a new language. However, learning a new language can help you blend in with the locals easily and quickly. Nevertheless, you now have a lot of information to help you determine the right place for you.

The dollar amounts are per exchange rates posted on November 11, 2022.

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