Have you been itching to live abroad or start working towards a second passport, but one thing has been stopping you?
“Do you speak English?” – asking this over and over again and fumbling for the right words to order a coffee or even register at your new address in your new country has little appeal.
While some will find the total immersion in a foreign language enticing, romantic even, plenty of others, shudder just thinking about it.
And that’s why they keep putting off moving abroad and lessening their tax burden.
It can certainly feel isolating not knowing the language that the majority of people speak.
Sure, you can get by with English at touristy spots and hire a local to help you navigate finding a property and the bureaucracy, but it’s not quite the same as connecting with a place on a more personal level.
Yet, if not being able to speak a second language is stopping you from living overseas and gaining tax advantages, don’t let it.
Are you someone who wants to leave your home country and either settle in one place or have multiple bases while maintaining a tax-friendly setup? Become a Nomad Capitalist client, and we will combine all your needs in a holistic tax, immigration, asset protection, and investment strategy.
What’s in a Language, Anyway?
Before moving to a new place, the number one fear expats face is the language barrier.
It comes before the fear of being too far away from friends and family and way before things like culture shock or healthcare and infrastructure standards.
The team at Nomad Capitalist knows this all too well, having lived and worked in many new countries.
There is nothing like the feeling of isolation that comes with being unable to understand the news, the shop vendor, or the taxi driver.
A kind smile and hand gestures go a long way, but that’s not really a fulfilled life, is it?
There is so much value in these micro-interactions that there is little wonder that people who don’t speak a second language hesitate to move abroad.
But with so much to gain, both personally and financially, don’t let it become the reason you’re missing out on life.
The great news is that you can decrease your tax burden and move to a new place without having to make compromises on your quality of life.
There are a good number of English-speaking countries that are great for you tax-wise.
Which one you go for depends on your outlook, financial goals, and offshore strategy.
14 Expat English-Speaking Countries (And Make Sense Tax-Wise)
We’ve gathered up the ultimate list of expat-friendly countries where you can get by with English perfectly fine.
Not just get by, but adapt to a new culture without speaking a foreign language, create relationships with expats and locals too, and thrive.
Here are the 15 best English-speaking countries to move to if you want the tax advantages of living abroad without having to learn a new language.
Obtaining a residence permit for the Bahamas is easy, and living in the Bahamas is tax-free.
Considering millions of tourists and an endless number of cruise ships head there each year, it doesn’t sound like a bad life. Beyond the beaches, 87% of Bahamans speak English well.
So, if the island life appeals to you and you’re unphased by the potential devastation that tropical storms can cause, it could be a good choice.
And if you want to do business in the Bahamas, it’s a well-recognized tax haven with favorable tax laws that welcome foreign investment.
If you want to comfortably enjoy the beach and Mayan ruins while speaking English with the locals, head to Belize.
You might want to move there yourself as the country’s official language is English, and around 63% of the population speaks it.
Sure, there are pockets where Belizean Creole or Spanish are used more often, but English should be enough to go about your affairs and social life.
It’s a beautiful paradise along the coast of the Caribbean Sea: you can explore Mayan ruins or go snorkeling, fishing, sailing, and caving.
It only makes sense that Bermuda, as a British Overseas Territory, would be among the list of countries where people speak fluent English.
Bermuda is one of the most livable countries with no income tax, although living there is extremely expensive (think $14 for a gallon of milk). Finding a property will also be a tall order as it’s in short supply and relatively expensive.
Yet, if you have the cash and want to live on a highly developed island with close travel connections to the United States, Bermuda may be for you.
It is also an excellent offshore banking hub. And at 97%, more Bermudans speak English than mainland Americans.
Please note, this bit is about the island of Dominica and NOT about the Dominican Republic – two separate countries.
As home to one of the world’s most affordable citizenship by investment programs, Dominica isn’t just a place to get a second passport; it’s also a Caribbean paradise where over 2,000 Americans live. These are mostly retirees and sunbirds, so if you’re after an upbeat lifestyle,
Dominica is possibly not for you.
Unlike Saint Kitts and Nevis, where English is also widely spoken, Dominica has an income tax, so be careful spending too much time there.
Gibraltar is one of the English-speaking countries in Europe that has long been a tax haven and the perfect place to set up shop whether you’re incorporating a business (no capital gains tax) or deciding to become a tax resident (maximum effective tax rate of about 25% with the possibility for a lump-sum tax).
Being a British Overseas Territory, although on the southern coast of Spain, Gibraltar’s official language is English, so you would have no problem getting by.
Residence permits are easy to come by, and the overall culture is rather welcoming. Plus, if you feel bored, you can always pop over to Andalusia for the wines, cured meats, and flamenco.
It will be quite easy to keep a pulse on life in Ireland because, although Irish Gaelic is recognized as the official language, just 5% of the population speak it regularly.
And while it’s not exactly a recognized income tax haven, it is an offshore paradise.
Companies such as Apple and Google have long recognized this and established businesses in Ireland decades ago – the 12.5% corporate tax is the main appeal there.
Sure, there is some vocabulary that will be different, and the accent will take some getting used to, but Ireland ticks many boxes:
- a highly reputable country on the international scene
- member of the EU, it’s very close to the continent
- modern infrastructure, high-standard health care, and education
- a great quality of life enjoyed by both expats and locals alike
Personal income tax ranges from 20%-40%, but with some smart planning, your decreased corporate taxation could make up for the relatively high-income tax.
7. Isle of Man
Could you see yourself living on a tiny island between Ireland and the United Kingdom?
It’s well-connected to both and Europe too.
It’s a self-governing territory of the British Crown, featuring sleepy fishing towns, medieval castles, and vast rural landscapes.
Needless to say, everyone there speaks English, so if you’re after an island that’s a bit closer to where life is happening (as opposed to, say, Mauritius), then the Isle of Man could be a good choice. London, Dublin, and Edinburgh are all just a quick plane ride away.
Income tax operates in two bands of either 10% or 20%, so it’s not too high in exchange for an English-speaking country with all the amenities a low-key island life could require.
Don’t be fooled by the town names on Jersey – St Helier, St Ouen, and La Pulente all sound suspiciously French.
However, Jersey has two official languages, and one of those is English.
Located between the UK and France, it’s a so-called ‘channel island’ that offers stability, a relatively high quality of life, and a booming finance sector.
Jersey has no capital gains tax, and the income tax is a flat 20%.
While not that low, you can opt to pay a lump-sum tax that may make it worthwhile to gain access to the Jersey infrastructure and the countries nearby.
If you have a base in Malaysia, learning Malay does not necessarily need to be a high priority.
In Kuala Lumpur, practically everyone speaks English to some degree, and if you stay in the city, you don’t need to learn Bahasa Malay. English is the de facto official language.
There are also some islands where you can immerse yourself fully in the local culture and speak only English, for example, Langkawi and Penang – and both offer a great quality of life.
Malaysia also has a reputation for being tax-friendly and is an attractive English-speaking destination for entrepreneurs, businesses, and retirees alike.
While it is closer to Italy than Britain, English is the language of choice in Malta.
Malta may well be the best place to live in Europe when it comes to countries that speak English.
And it certainly helps that it’s a tax haven, allowing offshore companies domiciled there to claim a huge credit on taxes they pay and get their corporate tax rate as low as 5%.
Setting up a company in Malta also allows non-EU citizens to obtain residency there. Plus, the territorial tax system means that foreign income will not be taxed unless it is remitted to Malta, at which time it will be taxed at a rate of just 15%.
If living on an island that’s said to be quite traffic-ridden gets boring, you’ll have access to all of Europe without having to do the ‘Schengen Shuffle,’ which is great.
On top of Malta’s benefit as an offshore hub for easy banking, low taxes, and openness to industries like gambling, 89% of all Maltese speak English.
All of this makes Malta more than just a Mediterranean paradise.
If Mauritius is an English-speaking country, why isn’t it on more people’s radar?
This petite Indian Ocean island that’s one of the best English-speaking countries in Africa surely packs a punch.
Yet, what caught our eye was the ease of doing business there. Its favorable tax laws and expansive banking system allow you to take your offshore incorporation to Mauritius easily.
Income tax rates stand at 10-15%, and laws say that only income remitted to Mauritius is taxable. In other words, not all of your worldwide income would be affected.
Finally, in 2018 Mauritius became the very first country in the world to introduce custodian services to digital assets such as Bitcoin. Want to keep yours away from prying eyes?
12. The Philippines
We bet you’ve never thought of the Philippines as your English-speaking country of choice, have you?
Because of historical ties, English has been the unofficial language of the Philippines for decades. It is widely taught in its schools, although we’d say you should stick to mainly urban areas to experience the 64% of the people who speak English in the country.
As a nice bonus – only income derived from sources within the Philippines is taxed, so this would be exempt if you have foreign income.
Retirees especially love the Philippines for the relatively low cost of living and the low-key island lifestyle, feet in the sand.
Singapore is a place where so many nationalities and cultures intermingle that it’s hard to imagine it as a place where English is widely spoken.
But forget the preconceptions – most Singaporeans are native bilinguals. If you want to do business, English is also the de facto language of banking, hand-shaking, and contract signing.
You should know that one in five of the expats in Singapore is a millionaire; it’s an extremely pricey place to live, and you’ll need some good capital to make the move.
It might make sense for New Zealanders or Australians to move there because it’s relatively close to them. But for everyone else…?
Imagine visiting family back in Los Angeles every Christmas – a logistical nightmare at worst and an extremely long journey of 3+ flights at best.
However, if you want to take the plunge and give Vanuatu a chance, you’ll be glad to know that 62% of the population speaks English.
Plus, it’s one of the easiest places on earth to pay zero income tax and get a second passport in a matter of months.
Other English-First Scenarios
If you’re not so concerned about lessening your tax burden or simply looking for the best English-speaking countries to live in for a part of the year (thus not becoming a resident as per my Trifecta Strategy), here are some more setups.
While on one of his first solo trips, our founder Andrew Henderson, owing to his partial Norwegian heritage, traveled to Norway, and he took a few months before the trip to learn Norwegian.
But all his efforts seemed to have been for nothing, as no one in Norway wanted to speak Norwegian with him. As one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Norway has encouraged learning English, and most of the population speaks it fluently.
So, there is little surprise that you’ll find Norway first among a few of the other English-first scenarios we have listed below.
Just to be clear, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend becoming tax residents in the following countries, although a place like Lithuania, with a rate starting at 15%, might seem appealing.
1. Scandinavia – Norway, Sweden, Denmark
These Viking lands are economic powerhouses, where the adopted common language is English. So, while it might not be an obvious choice, you should give them a fair chance.
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are rated as some of the happiest places on earth, so you know that the quality of life there is through the roof.
What they are not, however, are tax havens. With some of the highest rates of income tax in the world, it won’t be suitable for everyone to move there permanently.
However, if you plan it out carefully and don’t become a tax resident, Scandinavia is an amazing place to live.
High-quality food, top public services, unspoiled nature – this could be all yours, and you’d get to enjoy it in English too.
2. The Netherlands
The Dutch were named the most adept at speaking English as a second language in the world.
Amsterdam, the Hague, and other Dutch cities are not that far behind, making the Netherlands one of the biggest English strong-holds in Europe (outside of the UK, of course).
If you have ever dreamed of spending your days strolling along the romantic canals of Amsterdam, you’ll be happy to know that over 90% of Dutch speak English.
While becoming a permanent resident of the Netherlands may not be the best move for tax purposes, Western citizens can easily spend half their year in Europe’s Schengen area, giving you plenty of time to enjoy a second home in Amsterdam.
Bonus point, the Netherlands has some favorable corporate arrangements in place, thanks to its 2copious tax treaties and tax participation exemptions (e.g., dividends and capital gains realized are exempt from corporate tax).
It’s a highly stable country with access to Europe and extremely modern health, transport, and educational facilities.
What’s not to like? The income tax is the stinger, so watch out and don’t overstay your non-resident welcome.
3. The Balkans – Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and More
Depending on where you are in the Balkans, you might have some luck with Italian or German. However, the main second language of the younger generation is English.
Sure, the older generation might still be monolingual or speak Russian as their only foreign language. But stick to bigger cities like Zagreb, Sofia, or Belgrade, and you shouldn’t encounter problems assimilating into the community as an English speaker.
Some Balkan countries also have favorable tax regimes with flat income tax rates and are extremely grateful for foreign capital by way of incorporating a business or an investment.
So, if you are looking for an English-speaking country that’s expat-friendly and a bit under the radar, the Balkan countries might be a good choice for you.
4. The Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
The Baltics are usually skipped over in favor of someplace else, usually with richer cultural history, better food, or a milder climate.
And if you think this way, too, you’re doing yourself no favors. These three countries have been experiencing some of the fastest growth rates in the EU over the last few years.
There’s loads of investment potential, and the programs for foreign capital and some terminated tax exemptions are generous.
With more and more foreign investment and tourism, the Baltics can provide quite a comfortable life that comes at a fraction of the cost of Scandinavia but with many of the same amenities.
Especially in Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn, you can work towards lower tax rates and fully immerse yourself in social life by speaking English only.
And The Very Best English Speaking Country for Expats in the World Is…
… the one you move to after you do your due diligence.
We’ve given you lots of food for thought as to which world country you can call home and still go about your daily life solely in English.
Yet, as we always say, “go where you’re treated best.”
Choosing one of the English-speaking countries is a puzzle that needs to be picked apart:
- Will it make sense for you to become a resident of the country?
- Would you want to invest there too?
- Are you going to take your business there?
Where you choose to live is all part of a holistic strategy. You can use this strategy to create a life of greater personal and financial freedom. If you want help finding the best route for you, taking into consideration your assets and income, you can apply to work with the Nomad Capitalist team and our dedicated network of professionals, taking you where you’re treated best.