Gen Z Doesn't Just Want to Travel Abroad, They Want to Move There

Between the cost of living and access to social programs, young people are making plans to leave for good.

Young people love to travel—it is why they are studying abroad, asking for travel for Christmas presents, and going into debt to go on trips. But some young people aren't packing up their bags for vacation. According to a new study, one in four Gen Z Americans want to move to a different country, in order for better access to healthcare and other social services.

Preply, an online language program, surveyed 3,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 in October 2023 about whether they envisioned their futures in the US or in another country. In the Preply study, 25.6% of respondents shared that they would be interested in moving abroad for universal healthcare and other social programs like affordable higher education, housing support, and pension programs. Notably, these are areas that the US falls short on. In fact, according to a report from the World Economic Forum, the US is behind nine other countries on how much of its GDP is spent on social programs. France, Finland, and Belgium spend the most.

Courtesy of Statista

This data supports a lot of sentiment that has gone viral on TikTok about moving abroad. In one TikTok, which has been liked more than 800,000 times, a woman named Rachel who left the US to live in Portugal details how much more affordable her life is, and how much happier she is.

Rachel isn't alone. "We moved abroad almost a year ago and it low key irritates my soul when I have to go back stateside to handle business for a few days at a time," one commenter on the video wrote.

In another video that has been liked over 80,000 times, a man named Austin details that he's leaving Florida to head to Bali, describing his general unhappiness living in the US. "There's gotta be something better out here than how it's going here," Austin says.

"I'm stuck between trying to succeed in the USA or leaving for my well being," one TikToker commented on Austin's video.

It's important to note that in the Preply survey, less than one percent of respondents said that social media has acted as an influence for them to leave the country. While the most popular motivator for wanting to move was wanting access to better social programs like healthcare, other top motivators included having new experiences and finding a better cost of living than in the US. Rounding out the top four reasons were respondents disliking the US political environment.

Courtesy of Preply

The top five countries that young people want to move to, over the US, are the UK, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, and Singapore. It bears noting that Singapore has some of the highest costs of living in the world, but also more economic opportunities than many other countries listed as desirable destinations to move to.

Courtesy of Preply

If you were to leave the US, where would you go?

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for seven years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.