How much a 2-bedroom apartment costs in 13 of the best countries for US expats, including 4 nations that offer controversial 'golden visas'

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Dublin, Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland. Getty Images
  • As housing costs rise, more Americans are rethinking where they want to live. 
  • While many will relocate to a home within the US, others may consider a move abroad.  
  • Across the globe, there are several countries where Americans can live affordably. 

Some Americans are done with the US housing market — and they're looking for adventure.

As Americans grapple with affordability, a record share of homebuyers are now considering a move to a neighborhood that better suits their financial needs. For many, that could mean relocating to the next town or state, but for some of the 15.3 million households that typically move each year — it could be even as far as another country. 

To determine the 13 best countries for US expats to relocate as well as the housing costs for each market, Insider compiled data from three locations: the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and an analysis from financial site Finder. International Monetary Fund has the house price-to-income ratios for 58 countries. The Human Development Index from the United Nations Development Programme allowed us to look at citizen's likely quality of life for 57 countries that IMF had data for excluding the US.

An analysis from Finder measured the average cost of a 2-bedroom flat in the city-center of 106 countries, but we only focused on the 57 countries for which we had data from the IMF, excluding the US. After separately ranking the 57 countries by their house price-to-income ratio, their Human Development Index, and cost of an apartment, we took the average of the three ranks for each country. The country with the lowest average rank was then considered the top country based on the data we used.

In several countries on our list, Americans can expect to pay less than the US price of $256,645 for a 2-bedroom unit. Additionally, in places like Turkey and Cyprus — which offer buyers some of the lowest rates globally — wealthy foreigners can obtain one of the controversial golden visas, an immigration program that awards permanent residency or even citizenship with a real estate purchase, large donation, or investment.

Below are the 13 countries that had the lowest average ranks, sorted by the cost of a 2-bedroom flat in the city center among these 13 places. Although Finder's analysis was in pounds, the following costs were converted to dollars with conversions as of August 29. 

13. Finland: $270,700

Helsinki, Finland.

Helsinki, Finland. Getty Images

Known as the "world's happiest country," Finland is home to some of the most progressive policies on climate change, healthcare, and housing.

In 2022, its legislators passed what many are calling the world's most aggressive climate target into law — a declaration to be the first developed country to reach nearly zero gas emissions by 2035 and net negative by 2040.

Finland also has ambitious goals for its housing market. The country is the only member of the European Union that has seen its homeless rate decline and though its housing market is on the expensive end of our list — as Finder says the average 2-bedroom unit costs $270,699.66 — its Housing First policy offers a "zero homeless policy," providing a safety net for buyers.  

12. Ireland: $237,914

Dublin, Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland. Getty Images

Ireland's lush vegetation has awarded it the nickname of Emerald Isle. With scenic coastlines and colossal mountains, the country is truly a marvel of nature. 

Americans hoping to call Ireland home can expect a housing ecosystem similar to the United States. Like the US, the country is facing a housing shortage that has led to a rapid increase in home prices — however, its housing market is still more affordable.

The average price of a 2-bedroom flat in Ireland costs $237,913.97 compared to the US price of $256,645.00, according to Finder. 

11. Belgium: $201,582

West Flanders, Belgium.

West Flanders, Belgium. Getty Images

Despite volatility in the global economy, Belgium's housing market has remained resilient throughout the pandemic. 

Measures taken by the Belgian government have prevented some of the issues other countries in the EU are facing — like rapidly declining home and rental prices. In Belgium, demand and supply remain robust and it has kept the real estate market relatively healthy. 

A 2-bedroom apartment in Belgium costs $201,582.28, according to Finder. Although it is more expensive than most markets on our list, it's still more affordable than the US price of $256,645.00. 

To become a permanent resident, expats can take advantage of the country's golden visa program that extends citizenship with an initial investment of $409,850.

10. United Arab Emirates: $162,907

Dubai skyline

Dubai skyline. Owngarden/Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates is among the world's fastest-developing countries.

As the country leans towards liberalization, it has garnered the attention of investors, politicians and expats from all around the world. As of 2017, an estimated 88% of the UAE's population consisted of expats. 

Although foreigners can acquire freehold ownership rights over property, they are only permitted to purchase in designated areas. Expats hoping to purchase a 2-bedroom apartment in the UAE can expect to pay $162,906.61, according to Finder. 

If they wish to remain permanent residents, they can apply for the UAE's golden visa, which requires an investment of no less than $544,499.20.

9. Cyprus: $113,683

Townscape of Cyprus.

Townscape of Cyprus. Getty Images

Cyprus is well known for its crystal clear waters and award-winning beaches. Known as the "Island of Love," the country attracts millions of tourists each year.

Foreigners can purchase real estate freely in Cyprus — as long as they have no criminal background. Finder's data shows that a two-bedroom apartment will cost a buyer $113,683.03. 

If expats wish to become permanent residents of Cyprus they can apply for its Golden Visa program, which requires an investment of more than $2 million dollars to achieve residency or citizenship.

8. Romania: $106,651

Transylvania, Romania.

Transylvania, Romania. Getty Images

Although Romania's housing market was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, housing experts say it is regaining strength as its larger economy heals. 

"The initial reactions to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the real estate market have been extremely emotional, but after two years we can see not only that most of the somber predictions never materialized, but that some sectors have had a surprising evolution during the medical crisis," Ilinca Timofte, Head of Research at Crosspoint Real Estate, said in a housing study. 

As Romania's real estate market evolves, prices are rising — although moderately. According to Finder, a 2-bedroom unit in the country will cost a buyer $106,651.09.

7. Brazil: $97,275

Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Sao Paolo, Brazil. Getty Images

Brazil is one of the most populated and biodiverse countries in the world. As a top travel destination in South America, each year, millions of tourists visit it its beaches, cathedrals and museums. 

Many foreigners own homes in Brazil as non-residents are permitted to own property without citizenship. However, expats will need to obtain a tax registration code from the government to purchase a home or apartment. 

Foreigners interested in calling Brazil home can anticipate a cost of $97,275.17 for the average 2-bedroom flat, according to Finder. 

6. Peru: $96,103

Lima, Peru.

Lima, Peru. Getty Images

Located in South America, Peru is home to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World — Machu Picchu. As such, the country receives millions of visitors each year, driving significant growth in its tourism industry. 

Although Peru has one of the fastest-growing economies in South America, its housing market is relatively affordable for US buyers. Expats can purchase a 2-bedroom apartment in the country for $96,103.18, according to Finder.  

5. Bulgaria: $92,587

Sofia, Bulgaria.

Sofia, Bulgaria. Getty Images

Bulgaria has a bit of everything  — national parks, idyllic beaches, and hundreds of  monastaries that line its mountainsides.  

As the country's economy grows, its housing market is thriving. Despite a widening imbalance of supply and demand, wage increases and mortgage availability have kept housing relatively affordable in Bulgaria.

Although only citizens of the European Union or European Economic Area can purchase land in the country, foreigners are permitted to purchase buildings on land owned by the state, or purchase property if they create a registered Bulgarian company. According to Finder, buyers can own a 2-bedroom unit in the country for $92,587.21. 

4. Indonesia: $87,893

Jakarta, Indonesia.

Jakarta, Indonesia. Getty Images

Indonesia is an Eden of wildlife and nature. Home to more than 17,000 islands, the country's citizens speak as many as 800 different languages and dialects. 

As population growth soars in Indonesia, it's housing market is booming with real estate investment. However, foreigners are prohibited from owning freehold land in the country unless they work with a local partner. However, this is a complicated process and requires plenty of due diligence.

Expats interested in purchasing a 2-bedroom apartment in Indonesia are likely to pay $87,893.62, according to Finder.

3. India: $85,539

West Bengal, India.

West Bengal, India. Getty Images.

India's housing market is white-hot. 

Similarly to the United States, strong home buyer demand has led to rapid home price growth in the country. However, despite rising costs — and unlike America's real estate market — India remains affordable for most US buyers.

Expats hoping to purchase a 2-bedroom unit in the country will need to pay $85,539.21, Finder said. For those making the leap, India offers them a rich culture of some of the finest cuisine, art and music in the world. 

2. North Macedonia: $63,276

A city view of North Macedonia.

A city view of North Macedonia. Getty Images

North Macedonia is a mountainous landlocked country that is home to about 2 million residents. Known for its rich history, it is among the oldest inhabited regions of Europe. 

In recent years, the country has gone through a cultural shift. In 2019, it officially changed its name from Macedonia — despite uproar from its neighbor Greece — and in 2020 it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Foreigners who wish to live in North Macedonia can purchase a home or apartment without restrictions. For just $63,275.58, buyers can own a 2-bedroom apartment in the country, Finder said. 

1. Turkey: $55,073

Lycia, Southern Turkey.

Lycia, Southern Turkey. Getty Images

Located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Turkey is a melting pot of both oriental and European culture.

The diverse country is home to more than 80 million people and boasts the EU's largest demographic of young adults. 

In recent years, Turkey's housing market has been expanding as real estate investment soars in the country. Due to growth, home prices have also been rising — but still in a range most Americans can afford.

Finder says buyers can expect to pay $55,073.19 for the average 2-bedroom flat in Turkey, making it the cheapest market on our list. If expats want to make the country their permanent home, they can participate in its golden visa program, which grants citizenship with the purchase of a $400,000, property. 

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