Top Famous Expats: Celebrities who found success outside of their countries

All posts, Working Abroad & Expat Life

Success is not always easy to achieve, and neither is fame. Many famous expats we currently know as superstars had to work hard before getting that status.

Others didn’t have the luck or the opportunity to succeed in their own countries, so they had to leave them to follow their dreams. Moving abroad is always a possibility to keep in mind when you want to develop your career -even when your goal is to become a star! The following stories show us that, when you do it well, leaving your comfort zone is good for your prosperity.

Here are seven examples of famous expats who reached the top after moving from their homeland :

Freddie Mercury found success when he moved to London and his career exploded.

Freddie Mercury

Zanzibar, Tanzania → London, United Kingdom

We kick off our list of famous expats with Queen’s unforgettable frontman was born under the name of Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Though it used to be a British Protectorate, Zanzibar Island belongs to Tanzania.

He spent his childhood and teenage years between Zanzibar and India. At the age of 18, Mercury moved to England with his family because of the Zanzibar revolution and it was there, in London, where Queen was formed in 1970. Along with fellows Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, they completely made rock music history in becoming one of the most legendary bands of all time.

Mercury became not only a British icon, but also achieved recognition based on his origins, being named one of the “most influential Asian hero of all time” by Times magazine.


Audrey Hepburn moved to London to work

Audrey Hepburn
Brussels, Belgium → London, United Kingdom

One of the brightest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age was born in Brussels and spent her childhood between Belgium and the Netherlands. It was at the age of 19, after taking dancing classes in Amsterdam and having performed some minor roles, when she moved to London and her career blew up. Even though she’s known for her roles in Hollywood movies, her career bloomed in London.  The rest is history.


Arnold Schwarzenegger moved from Austria to work in the USA

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Thal, Austria → Santa Monica, California, US

We may not be able to write his name without Googling it, but we all know who he is and are aware of many of the things he achieved and he’s probably one of the most obvious and famous expats there are.

This actor and bodybuilder became California state governor in 2003 without being born in the US. He was born and raised in Austria, and came lifting to the States at the age of 21. There, he developed his career as a bodybuilder becoming one of the most important of all time, but also made it into cinema industry. We’ve all heard of the Terminator, right?

As Arnold said himself, it wasn’t easy to begin in the US, but it was completely worth it.


Mila Kunis moved with her family to live and work in the USA

Mila Kunis
Chernivtsi, Ukraine → Los Angeles, California, US

Even though she’s known as one of the most popular actresses in America, her origins are European. Concretely, she was born under the name of Milena in Chernivtsi, a Ukrainian city that was part of the USSR back then.

Mila’s career started very early. Along with her family, they moved to the States when she was 9, and she was already modelling and acting as a child. She slowly gained more and more popularity and recognition, till she became the successful woman she is nowadays.


Loe Messi moved from Argentina to find his home in Barcelona

Leo Messi
Santa Fe, Argentina → Barcelona, Spain

It’s hard to believe that such an acclaimed football player had gone through difficulties to find his spot on the mainstage, isn’t it?

After unluckily trying to make it into some Argentinian clubs, Leo came to Barcelona in 2000 with the aim of becoming a huge football player. He was given an opportunity in Barça’s junior team. After five years playing on the minor divisions, he officially became a part of the first team in 2005. It was in that position that he shook the entire world with his talent and got the status he has. Nowadays, he is often cited as being the best football player ever.


Ricky Martin found success in Mexico

Ricky Martin
Ciudad de San Juan, Puerto Rico → México D.F., Mexico

The great Latin pop star we know also took time to establish and find his big break. After being part of a band as a child in Puerto Rico and starring in an Argentinian soap opera, it was when he moved to Mexico in 1990 that he got his first record deal as a solo artist. After that, success came to him not only in his new country but worldwide.


Tina Turner was a famous expat born in the USA

Tina Turner
Nutbush, Tenessee, US → Küsnacht, Switzerland

We close the list of famous expats with Tina Turner. We saved this special case for last since it’s actually the opposite situation to the previous ones. Tina didn’t have to leave his country to success, but after having succeeded she decided to move to Switzerland looking for calm, tranquillity and pure air. She has lived in Küsnacht since 1994 and she achieved Swiss citizenship in 2013. Your decision was simply the best, Tina!



These few examples of famous expats give us the conclusion that sometimes great opportunities are far from the place we’re at, but it does exist. Maybe after reading this, you feel ready to become an expat and find new experiences out there. Maybe you still have some fears. Whatever you choose, make sure you always follow your dreams as they did. Who knows? Maybe you’re destined for stardom!

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