Yes, some Americans really did leave the country because of Trump. Here are 12 of their stories, and why most aren't raring to come back now that Biden's won.
iStock; Skye Gould / Insider
Insider recently spoke to 12 Americans who moved out of the United States because of President Donald Trump.
Ranging from 21 to 61 years old, they cited a number of reasons for moving abroad - from fears for LGBTQ rights to access to health care.
Some said they had received racial aggression from Trump supporters. Two women of color reported terrible incidents on the road.
They also discussed the difficulties and costs of moving abroad.
While many of the expats were encouraged by Biden's victory, most said they had no plans to return to the US anytime soon.
You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.
Weeks before the 2016 election, Michelle Dallochio was driving home when she had a scary encounter with an apparent Donald Trump supporter.
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A few blocks from her home in Las Vegas, the 39-year-old Iraq war veteran came across an SUV that had stopped in the middle of the street with Pacific Islanders and drove around the vehicle.
She said the driver stopped next to her, rolled down his window, called her a stupid b ---- and told her to go back to her own country. She is American.
While the man didn't wear Trump branded clothes and had no Trump paraphernalia on his car, Dallochio said he mentioned "the wall" at one point during his tirade.
After the encounter, Dallochio said she spoke to her Italian husband about moving abroad and said, "This is not the future I want."
"I've already given up so much for this country. I want to go," she told Insider in a recent interview.
After the interview, Dallochio and her husband moved to Los Angeles to get a job they hoped would lead to more international opportunities. After about a year in LA, her husband secured a job in London in 2019, where the couple moved in March 2020.
Michelle Dallochio is pictured while in the military. Provided.
Dallochio is one of a dozen insiders who were recently interviewed and said they left the US because of Trump.
Americans, who were between 26 and 61 years old, cited a number of reasons for their steps - from believing Trump encouraged white supremacists, to fears about LGBTQ rights, to access to health care.
The exact number of Americans who left the country after the 2016 elections is unclear as the US does not officially track emigration. However, the immigration figures published by other countries suggest a spike in emigration when Trump came to power:
Canada: More than 9,000 Americans applied for permanent residency in Canada in 2017, compared to 7,700 in 2016 and 6,800 in 2015, according to government data from CTV News.
Ireland: Following Trump's election victory in 2016, there was a nearly 30% increase in Americans moving to Ireland, according to the country's Central Statistics Office.
New Zealand: 6,204 people on work visas emigrated to New Zealand in February 2018, compared with 4,402 in 2015, according to the country's Ministry of Commerce.
A threatening atmosphere
While most of the expats we spoke to left the country for purely political reasons, some cited disruptive interactions with Trump supporters in their decision to move.
Devon Kitzo-Creed, left, with her husband. The couple moved to Ecuador this year and plan to stay abroad permanently. Provided
Devon Kitzo-Creed, a black woman, said she experienced more racism under Trump's presidency and that life in the US has become "unbearable". She and her husband moved to Ecuador this year.
The 29-year-old doula told Insider that she was returning from a job in Philadelphia one morning in the summer of 2019 when a driver with a Trump flag on his car started chasing her. She said the driver gave her the middle finger and his passenger waved his fist out of the window.
"We were going 60 miles an hour on a residential street, but I was just so scared and had to get away from him. There was a red light at the end so I could get away from him," said Kitzo-Creed.
"Racism was a big reason for our departure," she added.
Similarly, Patricia Baker, 61, cited her "rabid" Trump-supporting neighbors in Florida as the reason she moved to Austria in May 2018.
A married couple who lived next door decked their lawns with Trump signs during the 2016 election and could often hear raving about the president from their porch, Baker said.
The husband was "not stable at all," said Baker. About two years before the election, she said it crashed into a mailbox on her street. Baker also knew he had at least one gun because she once heard him shoot an alligator.
Patricia Baker and her husband Paul are hiking in Austria in June 2020
Baker said these events made her "uncomfortable", adding, "I just felt like this was a person I didn't want to get on the wrong side with."
Alice Englemore, 60, lived in Ireland when Trump was elected and said she felt a profound change when she and her family returned to the US in 2017.
"I heard people say things I hadn't heard before - sexist comments, racist comments - as if they were proud to say them," Englemore said.
She recalled an incident shortly after she returned to the United States when she was filling up her car at a gas station in the Bay Area of California. She said a man made a "very sexist" comment - the exact words of which she does not remember - and then said, "Yes, I am proud, regrettable."
Englemore and her husband made plans to move to Vancouver for their retirement but came across those plans during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We had two people on our block who absolutely did not believe COVID was real and took no precautions. My husband was working remotely and at one point I just asked him if you could work remotely, could you work remotely from Vancouver ? "Englemore remembered.
They moved in July.
Alice Englemore pictured left with her daughter Jaye Mindus (center), husband Shawn Mindus (right) and family dog Jed Barklet. Provided
"This guy will try to kill me"
Rick, a man in his forties from California, said he moved to Germany after Trump was elected because he feared the government would end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Rick is a pseudonym; he asked to speak anonymously for security reasons, but his identity is known to insiders.
Rick has suffered from irritable bowel disease, a chronic health condition that has made work difficult for him since he was a teenager. He's spent his adulthood moving from one temporary job to the next while living with his parents to save money and taking out massive student loans to pay for medication.
He said the ACA had changed his life.
"I finally didn't have to do the weird back and forth between temporary jobs ... I could get consistent health care. I could start building some kind of foundation," he said.
But when Trump won in 2016, Rick said the thought that immediately crossed his mind was, "This guy is going to try to kill me."
Fearing that Republicans would end the ACA, Rick made it a priority to move to a country with a social health system and eventually settle in Germany on a freelance visa.
Like Rick, 47-year-old Claudia Clark moved to Germany with her husband after Trump was elected.
Claudia Clark and her husband can be seen in Chamonix, France in July 2020. The Clarks currently live in Germany. Provided
She said while they moved mainly about Trump's policies, her personal battle with chronic migraines was another factor.
Clark said her migraines in the US were so bad that she couldn't work, but her health has improved dramatically since she was abroad.
Although she doesn't know exactly what caused the change, she said that if she doesn't have to constantly argue with her health insurance company about coverage, it could be a reason she feels better.
"What if I'm not always healthy?"
Christine, 26, also cited her struggles with the U.S. healthcare system as the main reason she left the country a month after Trump's election in 2016. She asked to withhold her last name to protect her safety, but this is known to insiders.
Christine, who now lives in London, knows how illness can change a life: she had a bad case of mononucleosis in 2015, and her mother, who has a delusional disorder, has been hospitalized several times in the past.
She thought it was important to move to a country with a better social safety net.
"Although I make enough money to feed myself, if I'm healthy, what if I'm not always healthy?" She said.
Christine, Mitte, and her British partner were pictured at their civil wedding in August 2020
Ayla Kremen Adomat, 32, said Trump was "a big push" for her and her husband to return to his native Germany.
She said they lived in New York City before moving to Berlin and were concerned about the cost of raising a family and the less generous maternity leave arrangements in the United States.
"I've heard from friends in the US that regular birth - no complications - can be over $ 5,000," she said.
"I had a more complicated birth - I needed a caesarean section and a hospital stay of more than a week. I received a bill for 300 euros."
Ayla Kremen Adomat (right) and her husband are pictured in Berlin when she was pregnant with their first child, a son who was born in July 2020.
Threat to LGBTQ rights
One of the expats we spoke to cited fears that the Trump administration would compromise LGBTQ rights as a reason for his move.
Chris Good said the Trump administration's removal of a LGBTQ rights website from the White House website within an hour of taking office made it clear that the president was not focused on his interests.
"Even though he had said during the campaign that he would be for LGBT rights and protection and all that, it was a dead giveaway that it obviously wasn't," Good said of the website's shutdown.
Good used his French citizenship to move to Europe with his husband in 2017. Both quit their well-paying consulting jobs to do so.
Chris Good (left) and his partner can be seen in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after moving to France in 2017
A difficult and expensive achievement
Some of the expats we spoke to recognized that being able to move abroad is a privilege. Moving internationally can be costly, considering flights, shipping, and visa applications - and is often only possible for people with highly skilled jobs.
Haylee Pearson can be seen in Florence after moving abroad. Provided
Haylee Pearson, a 30-year-old from Gaithersburg, Maryland who moved to Europe in 2016, explained some of the challenges.
"The process of leaving and moving to another country is a privilege. Nobody can just stand up and move to another country. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars," Pearson said.
Pearson pointed out that when she moved to Spain, and later to the UK, she had to prove that she had enough money to support herself for a year.
"That is a luxury in itself," she said.
Some of the sources we spoke to originally moved as students or were able to live abroad thanks to a foreign spouse.
Insider spoke to a man who had made a pact to move to Canada in case Trump won the election, but returned a few years later after facing challenges to obtain residency.
"At the time I was 53 years old and was considered older than the Canadian government mentions," said 56-year-old Peter Schink.
"I would only have contributed so many functional years to the system before I stressed the system."
Schink and his wife moved back to the United States in February 2019 and realized how long it would take to get to residence.
Peter Schink and his wife can be seen shortly after moving to their new home in Vancouver, Canada in 2017. The couple finally moved back to the United States in February 2019.
Many of the overseas Americans we spoke to were encouraged by the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
Patricia Baker, the American in Austria, was in tears when she described how the election result made her feel like she could finally return to the United States.
"I realized how much I didn't want to be gone forever," said Baker.
Haylee Pearson said Biden's win opened a conversation with her Spanish partner about a possible life in the United States.
"It's something he was really worried about ... just living in a country where he is considered a second-class citizen," she said.
But the majority of the expatriates surveyed, Insiders, said they had no immediate plans to return to the US.
George Feil, who moved to Canada in March 2017, said he is more concerned than ever about America's future.
George Feil and his wife Liza can be seen at the Peace Arch border crossing a few weeks after moving to Canada in 2017
He said he found it in relation to the more than 73 million Americans who voted for Trump this year - most for any Republican in history.
"I think a civil war is brewing to be honest," said Feil. Some right-wing fringe groups and personalities have circulated ideas of a conservative secession in recent weeks.
For others, moving abroad has offered the prospect of seeing the US differently.
Claudia Clark, who moved to Germany, said she felt like a stranger in her own country for "many years" and was not "thinking of returning as an option".
“My values don't match the Americans,” said Clark. "The 'I don't want to pay more taxes so people can get medical care' or 'I don't want to pay more taxes so that schools get better.' That mentality is just not me. "
Dallochio, the woman who was molested before the 2016 election in Las Vegas, said her first priority was the safety of her family. She said that she has felt a lot more secure since moving to London and that her ethnicity is not that important.
"If I never come back to the US to live, I'll never come back," she said.
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