Best Countries to Emigrate to

If I have the chance to leave my residence in the US and venture abroad, what are the privacy implications of immigrating to various new countries? I’d like to leave the grasp of American surveillance if possible, but want to be sure I’m not just jumping into another low-privacy country.

Practically anywhere in the EU is okay, but inform yourself about governing parties of different countries and what they stand for. For example, Spain is very pro-ChatControl and thus would be a worse future target for privacy reasons than say Germany (although Germany has it’s own political problems at the moment)

I believe Iceland is also good in this regard, despite being quite a small country

Reporters Without Borders has a list of how much freedom the media have in each country. I assume if reporters are treated fairly so would the population in general.

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I definitely won’t move somewhere reporters aren’t treated well. However, a country’s surveillance may still be invasive even if they go above and beyond to ensure freedom of press.

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I would be sure to choose a country that is not part of NATO. The USA increasingly forces other member countries to adopt laws that increase the state’s surveillance powers. We have one such case here in Portugal with the now infamous metadata laws. The main argument for its passage despite all the constitutional roadblocks presented is that other NATO members will throw a tantrum and not share data with us if we dont up our level of surveillance

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Being a foreigner in general is not very privacy-friendly. You might want to reconsider. Immigration procedures could very well mean you have to share a lot of details about your life with that country’s public institutions. Touristic travel also has similar implications, but not as severe. If your goal is privacy, both should be avoided. And if by American surveillance you mean state surveillance, hardly any non-shithole country will make a difference. That being said, still many good reasons to leave the US, just not sure if privacy is really the big differentiator. Much more important is if you actually have ties with or interest in that country. The world does not need the average ignorant so-called “expat” spreading their world view around. Definitely not saying that is you, everyone is like that to a certain extent, as we all have our own view and biases, but it’s important to never think that our own are more valid just because they fit with our idea of what makes a good society. For example I have nothing particularly against American ideals, just saying every country’s people should have the right to choose for their own and be actually self-determined.

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Basically I see it this way:

In the EU you get a lot more privacy by default and by choices. But you are also limited hy the laws in how far you can go. Americans seem to sometimes think that everything is going sound here. But while privacy improved massively by GDPR still quite many do not take it serious at all and many companies do not give fucks.

In the US you have more feeedom to actually obtain privacy, but it’s expensive and far more of a hassle. If you do it well you could probably obtain more privacy in the US because of lacking regulations of various legal loopholes to hide your identity.

I prefer the EU as it is a more social way of looking at rights and liberties. But be aware that this quite of a different way to look at issues between the US and EU.

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I dont think theres any single way of looking at issues in the EU. Were talking about dozens of countries with different culture and history. For instance, here in Portugal we have a constitutional right to resist the government. Thats not something youll find even in the USA, which many people seem to believe is some kind of especially free country


What kind of privacy are you looking for? I mean how is rural america any different from a rural southeast asia or elsewhere?

I have so much question that needs answering:

  • Do you intend to live in a city?

I’ve just moved into a rural province and while there is significantly less CCTVs and state surveillance here, everybody knows everyone. You absolutely have no anonymity here in a way.

  • How do you intend to move around (vehicle needs?)

Public transport is bad here, especially at night where pretty much all activity ceases past 7pm. No vehicles to hire and pretty much a private transposrt have to be registered.

  • How do you intend to manage your financials?

There is no escape from financial surveillance as banks like to intimately know people. You could live off cash basis near completely, theoretically speaking but you’d still have to pay taxes. Evading them is far riskier.

  • What about healthcare needs?

Insurance is less of a thing here and that loops you back above into the financial issues. Also the “free government healthcare service” is starting to digitize. Unsure if it is as widely spread as it is in the US.

I intend to live either inside or near a city. My threat model does not require hiding information from healthcare providers whom I visit every now and then. I just want a place without as broadly over-enforced digital surveillance. For example, Switzerland is touted as a privacy paradise so maybe living in or near Zurich would be desirable (assuming I procure a stable income there)?

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I have updated the post above (accidentally pressed reply. Anyway…)

Switzerland is a mature western civilization. You want to move to a place with less civilization and immature infrastructure. So that sort of rules out the West (EU, NA, AU/NZ) It all pretty much boils down to South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. You’d risk crazier governments but that is the price of anonymity and privacy as an expat.

That means absolute bare/spartan living. You may want to look for Argentina to at least look the part.

Healthcare providers seem to log your data into a shared database:

Not sure if youll find a country in central or western Europe that doesnt either have a shared government healthcare database or the government itself directly runs healthcare facilities.

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As I said, my threat model doesn’t require privacy for healthcare which I’ll only occasionally use anyways. I’m more concerned with digital privacy either via ISP snooping or security cameras. Using a VPN from within the US might partly handle the ISP snooping but I’d like to be protected by laws like GDPR which companies must follow for EU residents.

Why not California?

They sort of have better than average consumer protection (including privacy) that most US states? Maybe live somewhere in a more rural/suburban region?

Which GDPR? Portuguese GDPR is not the same as French GDPR, for example… Also, as youll know, Switzerland has no GDPR at all. Enforcement also varies by country, and compliance as well

edit: btw, Switzerland, along with other central European countries, has some of the highest CCTV camera densities in the world


Switzerland is not part of the EU.

The European Parliament and Council of the European Union adopted the GDPR on 14 April 2016, to become effective on 25 May 2018. As an EU regulation (instead of a directive), GDPR is directly applicable with force of law on its own without the need of transposition. However, it also provides flexibility for individual member states to modify (derogate from) some of its provisions.

The GDPR actually is a binding law for all EU countries with only some national modifications.


I dont want to get us sidetracked but Portugal doesnt regard as “law” any document issued by the EU to begin with, let alone it being in any way binding. This to say that each member country has its own framework for how they deal with different documents that emanate from the EU. In central Europe youll find countries that more closely stick with what the EU would want them to do

I don’t want us to get sidetracked either but that is not how the EU legal system works. As apparent from the quote above

It’s a law in Portugal. Your country signed a contract when they joined the EU to play by these rules.


CNPD, the entity tasked with enforcing the GDPR in Portugal considers that the Portuguese GDPR law significantly differs from and conflicts with the EU issued GDPR document: PARECER N.º 20/2018 – Conselho Regional de Lisboa da Ordem dos Advogados

The bottom line is that each country will enforce it how it decides to. Dont think its pertinent to this topic to discuss whether thats fair or not based on this or that “contract”, as you put it, or to pretend that the EU’s view as to how such things should work is how it in fact works. Thats just misleading

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According to the European Commission’s site you can actually escalate beyond the national DPAs if you’re unsatisfied with the result, so it seems like “differences” in national GDPR implementations wouldn’t matter that much?