Stars Who Permanently Left The U.S.

The United States of America is one of the biggest nations on Earth in terms of both population and area, and it's also a leading producer of many of the world's most lucrative commodities, including cars, pharmaceuticals, oil, and food, according to CNN. But America is also the land of plenty when it comes to something a little less quantifiable: celebrity. With arts and media hotspots in both Southern California and New York City, the United States produces a large amount of the world's entertainment, and it has for decades. With all the great and not-so-great movies, television shows, and music sent out around the globe, this also means that a relative handful of lucky, hardworking, and preternaturally talented Americans who make that entertainment attain global fame, and international celebrity.

For a number of reasons, some of those famous people decide to chase their household name status around the world, moving away from the United States to settle in unfamiliar, overseas environs. Here are American celebrities who said no thanks to living in the U.S.A. and decided to live in other countries... for good.

Tina Turner is a Swiss citizen

Tina Turner garnered worldwide attention in the early 1960s as one half of the married duo Ike & Tina Turner. As one of the most dynamic and compelling stage performers of all time, the howling, wailing, dancing, shimmying force of nature born Anna Mae Bullock combined soul, R&B, and rock n' roll to make a style uniquely her own, as heard on classic tunes like "Nutbush City Limits," "River Deep, Mountain High," and "Proud Mary." In her book Love Story (via The Daily Mail), Turner detailed the extensive and brutal abuse she suffered at the hand of Ike Turner, whom she split with personally and professionally in the mid-1970s, reinventing herself as a solo artist in 1984 with the Grammy-winning, #1 hit "What's Love Got to Do With It."

Turner further reinvented herself by moving away from the nation where she was born and raised. In the 1990s, according to The Washington Post, Tina Turner moved to Switzerland and stayed put. She liked it so much that she learned German, and in 2013, shortly after marrying her companion of 27 years, German music producer Erwin Bach, Turner made it official, relinquishing her American citizenship to become a resident of Switzerland.

Grace Kelly had to depart Hollywood for Monaco

After building up a resume with some appearances on early TV anthology series in the 1950s, Grace Kelly became a certified movie star when popular and influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock selected Kelly to headline two of his biggest movies, both released in 1954: Rear Window and Dial M for Murder. One of the most glamorous film stars in a particularly glamorous era of Hollywood, Kelly had major acting skills, too, nominated for back-to-back Academy Awards in 1954 and 1955, winning in the latter year for The Country Girl. Kelly followed her Oscar-worthy performances with the box office smash hits To Catch a Thief and High Society. And then, that was it — Kelly never acted in a movie or TV show ever again.

She lived for another two-and-a-half decades, but she did so thousands of miles away from Hollywood. According to The New York Times, back in 1955, while filming To Catch a Thief in France, Kelly attended the Cannes Film Festival, where she met Prince Rainier III, a member of the ruling family of the small, wealthy principality of Monaco. A year later, Kelly wed the Prince and became officially known as Princess Grace of Monaco, necessitating a retirement from show business and a move to Europe to fulfill her duties as a royal.

Jim Morrison lived and died in France

The Doors were at the forefront of the 1960s psychedelic rock explosion. Songs like "Light My Fire," "People Are Strange," and "Riders On The Storm" became big hits and classic rock radio standards thanks to the unique combination of guitarist Robby Krieger's expansive guitar work, the keyboard wizardry of Ray Manzarek, and the undeniable presence, darkly poetic lyrics, and shocking performance stunts of frontman Jim Morrison. Morrison was as controversial as he was charismatic, however, such as the time he used a drug reference on The Ed Sullivan Show when asked not to, or when he exposed himself during a Miami concert or the incident in which he was arrested on obscenity and indecency charges after a gig in Connecticut.

Morrison also struggled with addiction. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, he was drinking around a dozen beers a day during the recording of the 1971 album L.A. Woman and was too drunk to stand up for a cover photoshoot. Seeking a lifestyle reboot, Morrison moved to Paris in 1971 with his longtime companion, Pamela Courson. According to Biography, Courson found the 27-year-old singer dead in the bathtub of their home on July 3, 1971. Morrison truly never left Paris — he was buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where his grave quickly became one of the City of Lights' most visited tourist attractions.

Tim Burton resides in England

What do most of the films of director Tim Burton, which include Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd, Batman, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, and Beetlejuice have in common? They're almost all categorically dark (literally and thematically), vaguely creepy, slightly Gothic, and evoke Victorian England-era styles and sensibilities. Contrary to that singular unified creative voice, Burton grew up in sunny and vibrant Burbank, California, according to the Belfast Telegraph, close to numerous TV and movie production facilities and a major Disney animation hub.

When it came time to find his forever homes, the director opted to settle far away from bright and shiny Southern California. Per the Radio Times (via Daily News), when Burton was partnered with British actor Helena Bonham Carter in the 2000s, they lived in separate but "adjoining homes in London." Per Vanity Fair, Bonham Carter and Burton split up in 2014 after 13 years together, but the Californian remained in England. In 2019, he purchased and set about renovating a north London mansion, according to Daily Mail.

Janet Jackson left for Dubai and then London

Long known as the little sister of the members of the Jackson 5, and "King of Pop" Michael Jackson in particular, Janet Jackson broke out of the shadows and became a superstar in her own right. After first coming to prominence as a cast member of Good Times, Jackson became a major musical force in the '80s and '90s with albums like Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, and Janet selling a total of 26 million copies in the US alone.

Despite being one of the biggest pop stars in the world who is also a member of one of the most famous entertainment families, Jackson tries to keep her love life largely private. In February 2013, she told ET that she'd gotten married in a "quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony" to her boyfriend, Wissam Al Mana, the previous year. More than three years later, a source close to Jackson told HollywoodLife that Jackson and Al Mana had decamped to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, for personal reasons. "Janet Jackson moved to the Middle East years ago so she could keep her plans of starting a family a secret and a mystery," the informant said. 

According to The Independent, Jackson gave birth in January 2017 and then broke up with Al Mana a few months later. As of 2020, per Daily Mail, Jackson still lived overseas, as she was spotted driving a Range Rover around London.

Lindsay Lohan moved to Dubai

Lindsay Lohan first came to the attention of filmgoers in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, in which she played tween twins. In the mid-2000s, she'd re-emerge as a headliner of films geared at teens, such as Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Herbie Fully Loaded, and, especially, Mean Girls. Almost immediately after Hollywood and the general public proclaimed the former child actress Lohan a superstar on the rise, she reinvented herself as a jet-set, party-hopping scenester, frequently seen going into and out of nightclubs in the US and around the world with celebrity friends like Paris Hilton. In the 2010s, her movie career no longer on the up and up, Lohan landed, permanently it would seem, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, one of the world's most exclusive and expensive luxury playgrounds for the rich and famous.

"I came here in 2008 when they had just finished building the Atlantis hotel, and there was none of this here," she told David Spade in a Lights Out interview in 2020. "I've been here for about six years, but I go back to New York a lot." She couldn't return home to the US in 2020, however, due to coronavirus-related lockdowns in Dubai, during which time she sheltered in place in her home in the Emirate with her sister, singer Ali Lohan.

Michael Flatley bought an Irish estate

In the late 1990s, an almost inexplicable sensation took most of the western world by storm. People packed into theaters and tuned in to public television to watch traditional Irish step-dancing extravaganzas, led by Michael Flatley. After making the "Riverdance" troupe an international hit, Flatley went solo with his self-aggrandizing but not inaccurately titled show, "Lord of the Dance." According to Irish America, Flatley's shows, a celebration and demonstration of Irish art and culture, grossed a staggering $1 billion.

Flatley, who at the time was probably the world's most famous Irish person, was not actually born in Ireland. According to the Chicago Tribune, Flatley was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago. His parents immigrated to the US from Ireland years before the future superstar's birth. In 2001, Flatley took a chunk of the money he'd earned bringing Irish culture to the masses and used it to buy an estate in Ireland. According to Irish Central, Flatley paid around €3 million for the dilapidated Castlehyde, a dilapidated home in County Cork. He later tried to sell it, then took it off the market, deciding, in the end, to split his time between Castlehyde and Monaco.

Madonna lives in Portugal

Location has always been a big part of the ongoing life story of Madonna. According to Michigan Live, the "Material Girl" attended the University of Michigan for a year before dropping out to pursue her musical aspirations in New York, where, according to Vice, she lived on the Lower East Side and Queens until she had her first big, early '80s dance club hits like "Everybody" and "Burning Up." After essentially making good on her American Bandstand-stated ambition "to rule the world," Madonna had acquired the means to live wherever and however she liked.

Madonna owns homes in America, as well as a well-appointed townhouse in the Marylebone area of London, a city where she lived for about a decade. According to Hello!, in 2017, she spent the equivalent of about $8 million on a 16,146-square foot, 18th-century mansion just outside of the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon. The reason? "I wanted to get out of American for a minute — as you know, this is not America's finest hour," she told the Italian edition of Vogue. Additionally, her son, David, has aspirations of being a professional soccer player, and Madonna says that Portugal has better schools and coaches to serve that end.

Zac Efron relocated to Australia

Zac Efron has made a career out of playing prototypical, all-American guys. After his breakthrough role as teenage jock Troy Bolton in High School Musical, he played various (and often shirtless) hunks, dreamboats, frat guys, and doofuses in stuff like Hairspray, 17 Again, Neighbors, Baywatch, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

But according to a TMZ report, Efron slowly lost his taste for the United States. In August 2020, a source told the tabloid that he hunkered down in the Byron Bay region of Australia during COVID-19 lockdowns, theorizing that the area was safer than Los Angeles and that since he had to videoconference in for meetings anyway, he might as well live where he wants to live. 

Indeed, in his Netflix docuseries Down to Earth with Zac Efron, Efron expresses his wish to leave California, and by early 2021, he'd made plans to permanently relocate down under. According to People, he started dating Australian citizen Vanessa Valladares in June 2020, and then put his Los Angeles home up for sale in December. "He loves Australia and considers it his home," a source close to Efron said.

Terry Gilliam headed to England

Monty Python is arguably the most famous comedy troupe to come out of the United Kingdom — and inarguably the silliest. In the 1960s, the six-man group made ridiculous sketch comedy on TV with the worldwide hit Monty Python's Flying Circus and in the '70s, moved on to make some of the most highly regarded film comedies ever made, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Python projects set themselves apart with their use of animation, utilizing heavily manipulated illustrations and cutouts. That was all the work of Terry Gilliam, the only member of Monty Python who wasn't British — he was born in Minnesota. After the troupe started to disperse in the 1980s, Gilliam became a writer and director of live-action films, responsible for such cult classics as Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, and Brazil.

America seemed to like Gilliam just fine, but by the 2000s, Gilliam didn't like the American political climate anymore. According to an interview with the AV Club, Gilliam renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2006. "I thought I'd just simplify my life. I'm getting old. I'm gonna die," he said. "I'm not at all happy with what America has been in the last 10 years." And so, the only non-European Python resettled in England, in the Highgate area of London, which, according to Bonhams, was in close proximity to the homes of his old collaborators Michael Palin and Terry Jones.

John Huston left the U.S. for Ireland

By the middle of the 20th century, John Huston established himself as one of the great directors of American film. Among his works are unrivaled, award-winning and nominated classics like The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen, and The Misfits. He also occasionally acted, landing a Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Cardinal and portraying the particularly loathsome villain Noah Cross in Chinatown. One of his final films, before his death in 1987 at age 81, was Prizzi's Honor, in which he directed his daughter, Anjelica Huston, to her first Oscar nomination.

Huston made a lot of those big Hollywood movies while living far away from the big Hollywood movie-making system. According to RTE public radio, the Missouri-born Huston renounced his American citizenship in January 1964. Immediately after, in a ceremony in Dublin's Department of Justice, he officially became a citizen of Ireland, where he'd lived for the previous 12 years and raised his children, Anjelica and Tony. "I intend to make Ireland my home for the rest of my life," he said.