Most celebrities find their fame in Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry. Once they find themselves on the silver screen or trending on Twitter, they don’t often venture far from Tinseltown, and those who do gravitate toward New York and other swanky US cities.
But there are a handful of celebrities who make a name for themselves and hightail it out of the States, venturing to far corners of the world in search of peace and quiet or maybe just to buy a castle, because why not when you have a few million to spare? Celebrities might bail out of America for any reason, sometimes because it’s simply not the place for everyone.
Europe seems to be the most popular choice among celebrities trying to escape the Hollywood lifestyle, followed closely by the USA’s northern neighbour, Canada. Many stars move to their ancestral homelands or have homes in multiple cities across the globe. You’ll find a few names on this list who even married into prominent foreign families.
Broaden your horizons by reading this list of 25 worldly celebrities who traded the United States for far-off places. With these extravagant foreign lives you’ll wonder why stars opt to remain in America.
25 Angelina Jolie- France & England
This Academy Award winning actress is famous for globetrotting, having spent time all over the world, whether as an actress or as a United Nations humanitarian. Three of her six children were adopted internationally and Jolie even holds Cambodian citizenship.
However, it’s probably her ownership of Chateau Miraval in southern France for which she is most known for. She purchased the castle with ex-husband Brad Pitt and the couple used it as their primary residence for a number of years. Since their separation, it’s unknown what will happen to the castle, though Jolie is known to spend time at another of her houses in England.
24 Johnny Depp- France
When you’re as rich as Johnny Depp, you may as well purchase an entire French village. The actor acquired the property outside Saint-Tropez in 2001 and lived there with the mother of his children and French star, Vanessa Paradis. The couple partially raised their two children in the 37-acre village, according to Variety.
After the split, the isolated paradise provided a quiet refuge for Depp, who could then turn the village into the ultimate bachelor pad. The facade must have eventually worn off, because the property was listed in 2016. Maybe Depp prefers the solitude of his private Caribbean island.
23 Madonna- England & Portugal
Madonna, the world’s most famous and everlasting pop princess, made England her second home. Over the years she’s bought many houses all across the country.
United Press International reported that Madonna initially felt like she didn't fit in across the pond, but quickly settled into her adopted country, picking up English driving, slang, and finding Brits charming. She married British director Guy Ritchie in 2000 and the couple purchased Ashcombe House, an 18th century country estate in Wiltshire.
Though her marriage ended, she retained her personal homes and still likes to hop back and forth to them, although her current residence is in Lisbon, Portugal.
22 Halle Berry- France & Canada
Halle Berry has lived abroad twice, both due to her foreign partners.
The actress began dating Gabriel Aubry, a French-Canadian model, in 2005, after which Berry moved part-time to Canada. The couple had a daughter together in 2008 before separating in 2010.
But France was the country that really captured her heart, and she tried to move there permanently when she began dating French actor Olivier Martinez. Berry was the subject of a hotly-followed custody battle when she tried to move her daughter there, and though she didn’t succeed, she spent a lot of time in her husband’s native country.
21 Gwyneth Paltrow- England
Gwyneth Paltrow probably isn’t the first person you’d expect to seamlessly settle outside L.A., but when she married Chris Martin, the frontman of English rock band Coldplay, she happily relocated to London.
Paltrow and Martin had two children together, who spent their early childhoods in England. The family travelled between the U.S. and U.K. during the couple’s 10-year marriage. Paltrow confessed her love for England to Harper’s Bazaar in 2011, saying that she felt safe and admired the country’s paparazzi laws.
Since the couple’s divorce, Paltrow often travels back to England with her children.
20 Tina Turner- Switzerland
The legendary singer Tina Turner loves Switzerland so much, she voluntarily renounced her U.S. citizenship in favour of the Alpine country. Before settling in her lake house outside Zurich, Turner owned homes in Cologne, London, the French Riviera, and Los Angeles.
In 1994, she bought Chateau Algonquin, overlooking Lake Zurich and has remained there ever since. The singer took a German language exam as part of her citizenship test and continues to pursue a fluent level of German. She recently married German music executive Erwin Bach in a small ceremony near the couple’s home.
19 George Clooney- Italy
George Clooney made Lake Como cool. The beautiful, but previously quiet, little resort area in Northern Italy has always been popular for wealthy tourists, but besides its upscale resorts, it wasn’t known until the award-winning actor moved to the area in 2002, bringing paparazzi and more tourism with him.
The villa is an 18th century mansion called Villa Oleandra in the town of Laglio, which Clooney fell in love with on a trip through the Alps.
At one time, Clooney spent most of the year in his lakeside villa, but it has since been relegated to the status of holiday home for the Clooneys.
18 Elizabeth Taylor- Mexico
Of course Elizabeth Taylor’s luxurious lifestyle included ownership of a beach house in Mexico at some point. As a massive figure during Hollywood’s Golden Age, Taylor was famed for her beauty, talent, and marriages. The actress was a collector of jewellery and husbands, though it’s said that her fifth husband, Richard Burton, was her soulmate.
Burton bought Taylor a house across from his in Puerto Vallarta, and connected the two by a replica of Venice’s Bridge of Sighs, reported the Telegraph. The house, called Casa Kimberly, has been converted into an upscale boutique hotel fit for Hollywood royalty.
17 Rihanna- Barbados
Contrary to popular belief, Rihanna is not from America. The singer, whose music has topped charts and broken countless records, was born and raised in the Caribbean nation of Barbados. She was discovered there in 2003 and subsequently moved to the U.S. to pursue music.
After a good run in L.A., Rihanna decided the tiny island was her home, and owns extensive property there. In September this year, she was appointed an ambassador of Barbados due to her impressive international success, and her diplomatic duties require her to spend a lot of time abroad.
16 Scarlett Johansson- France
Apart from being one of the most famous actresses today, Scarlett Johansson devotes her extra time to Paris, which she called her favourite European city, E! News reports.
Johansson also has a quirky side job in Paris that involves a famous USA snack and the chic Marais district. She is the founder of one of France’s first gourmet popcorn shops, Yummy Pop, in an attempt to popularise popcorn in France. Johansson says that she hopes the shop will bridge the culture of Paris and New York in a statement published in The Cut.
15 Lady Gaga- Scotland
Lady Gaga holds a soft spot for Scots, and the marvelously green country might provide a much-needed retreat for the Grammy Award-winning songstress. It was rumoured in 2010 that Gaga had closed on a sale of Yester House, an East Lothian mansion dating back to the 17th century.
However, this was never confirmed, despite the singer publicly saying she was in the market for Scottish property during the time, and again in November 2016, says Scottish magazine No. 1, when Gaga said she was looking to move to Stirling. “Stirling just feels like home to me and it’ll be a nice change from what I’ve been used to,” she said.
14 Ben Affleck- Canada
Canada is a top destination for celebrities opting out of America, and Vancouver is definitely the first choice for Canadian cities. Actor Ben Affleck has familiarised himself with British Columbia’s biggest city when he and ex-wife Jennifer Garner owned a house there together.
The couple were married for thirteen years and were a favourite couple for paparazzi, which may have been a factor in their decision to buy a hideaway far from Los Angeles where they could lead normal lives and shield their three children from the spotlight. Affleck has returned to California since the divorce.
13 Gwen Stefani- England
Gwen Stefani followed in Madonna’s footsteps, both musically and in her marriage and subsequent move to England. The No Doubt frontwoman married Gavin Rossdale of the English band Bush in Covent Garden, London in 2002 and a later wedding in Los Angeles would foreshadow the following years, with the couple often jetting back and forth.
Stefani and Rossdale bought a house together in London, where they lived together for 13 years until the marriage began to crumble. They divorced in 2016, and though Stefani no longer calls the English capital home, she travels often so her three sons can visit.
12 Pamela Anderson- Canada & France
Though Canadian born, Pamela Anderson shot to fame on the series Baywatch, produced, of course, in America. She became a naturalised US citizen in 2004 after working there for decades, though she never stayed away from her home country for long. She owns a five-acre home that once belonged to her grandparents in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, where she grew up.
As of 2018, Anderson has also been adopted by the town of Marseille, France, where she owns a vegan bakery. She moved to join boyfriend and World Cup soccer player Adil Rami in his native country.
11 Jennifer Garner- Canada
Actress Jennifer Garner has never been keen on being in the spotlight outside of formal events, which may be why she and ex-husband Ben Affleck bought property in Vancouver, Canada. With all the plush amenities of L.A., Vancouver is like the Hollywood of the north and fitting for stars who need just a little more privacy.
Garner values keeping her three children out of the watchful eye of the paparazzi, especially since the tumultuous split from Affleck. She now has her main home in L.A., but enjoys her escape when the tabloids are looking for their next target.
10 Grace Kelly- Monaco
Grace Kelly lived the dream life—copied almost exactly out of a fairytale or an old Hollywood movie. Born in Philadelphia, Kelly achieved fame at first through television and later in film, and even later as royalty.
She met Rainier III of Monaco at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival and the two were married one year later. She retired from acting to fulfill her diplomatic duties, as well as renouncing her official ties to the US. Her films were banned in Monaco due to legalities and she sulked at the end of her career, though it’s unknown if she ever harboured regrets, says Harper’s Bazaar.
9 Mark Wahlberg- Canada
There are few actors with such an eclectic collection of interests as Mark Wahlberg, whose hobbies range from restaurant operation to car salesman, but perhaps most curiously, Wahlberg has been engaged in a love affair with Toronto, Canada.
The actor has been known to pop into the Ontario capital for work and leisure and in 2011, he spent a considerable amount of time there throughout the process of purchasing a condo in a renovated Catholic school, according to Canadian publication, National Post. The renovations were completed in 2013 in the Yorkville neighborhood, and is the actor’s only other property aside from his Beverly Hills mansion.
8 Tom Ford- Italy
You might not know Tom Ford by name (unless you follow the fashion industry), but you’ll definitely recognise his designs for luxury brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. With a keen eye for fashion, Ford studied the business in New York before being appointed a chief women’s designer for Gucci in 1990. His new position moved him to Milan, Italy, where he became devoted to the brand.
In 2004, he left Gucci and developed his personal label, and his time in Italy dwindled. Ford now lives between Los Angeles and London.
7 Michael Flatley- Ireland
With so much of Michael Flatley’s life and career devoted to Irish culture, it’s no surprise that the US-Irish dancer has permanently moved to the Emerald Isle. Born in Chicago to Irish-born parents, Flatley began Irish dancing at age 11 and went on to re-imagine traditional Irish dance and create world-famous Irish dance shows.
Flatley bought Castlehyde House in County Cork in 2001 and invested much time and money converting the crumbling mansion into something livable. Along with his castle in Cork, Flatley owns property in the Caribbean, France, America, and England.
6 Sofia Coppola- France
As the daughter of celebrated film director Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola had been introduced to the film industry from a young age—she made her debut as an infant in her father’s production The Godfather. Following in his footsteps, she is now an acclaimed director and world traveller.
Coppola has a diverse history of residencies, ranging from a vineyard in California to an Italian villa to a New York townhouse, but her long-term home is none other than Paris, the home of her French husband, Thomas Mars. The patriarch of the Coppola family is known to frequent his daughter’s French villa from his own in Bernalda, Italy.
5 Jim Morrison- France
One of the pioneers of rock music, Jim Morrison was a force of nature during his tenure with The Doors. His unique baritone voice, poetic lyrics, and controversial stage performance made him one of the most hotly discussed figures of the 1960s.
Morrison didn’t take well to fame, and felt that the messages in his poetry were undermined by his looks. Just a few short years after reaching rock-star status in 1967, the singer left the band to join his girlfriend in Paris in early 1971. They shared an apartment in the picturesque Marais district, where Morrison enjoyed evening walks through the city until his untimely death later that year.
4 Renee Zellweger- Canada
Renee Zellweger’s title role in the Bridget Jones franchise has followed her around since the film’s premier, and her name alone elicits images of famous romantic comedies. However, the actress herself has stayed well out of the public eye, and even the paparazzi can’t track her down.
E! News reports that Zellweger has spent a long time traveling through Thailand and Cambodia, and volunteering in Africa in her time away from the big screen. When she’s not immersing herself in new cultures or helping to build communities, though, she’s likely spending time in her home in Vancouver, where she manages to slip beneath the radar of Hollywood.
3 Rita Hayworth- France
Dancer-turned-actress Rita Hayworth was already film royalty by the time she met Aly Khan, but that didn’t stop her from breaking from her contract and marrying him anyway.
At the time, it was the first marriage of an actress into royal status and was pursued tirelessly by the press, from the moment the two met in Cannes to their split in 1953. They married near Cannes in 1949 and lived primarily in France, while travelling around Europe and occasionally to the U.S. When the marriage came to an end, Hayworth took the couple’s daughter back to the States and resumed her career.
2 Joni Mitchell- Greece
Rising to fame in the hippie counterculture era of the 60s, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell embodied the movement in her folky acoustics. Born in small town Alberta, Canada, Mitchell rooted herself in the youthful state of California to write her hits, but it was a small cave in Greece where she drew the best inspiration.
In the 1960s, a number of hippies migrated to the Matala caves on the island of Crete to set up temporary homes in the Neolithic formations. Among them was Mitchell, who wrote her song “Carey” here, immortalising the isolated town in her lyrics.
1 Angela Lansbury- Ireland
Dame Angela Lansbury, whose career has spanned eight decades, is known for her iconic British accent and smooth vocals. She holds British, Irish, and US status, though British by birth.
She moved to the U.S. during the London Blitz, when she broke into film and Broadway, solidifying her status as a prolific figure in acting. She settled in Malibu, but a fire broke out in 1970 and destroyed the family’s home. In the midst of personal and familial issues, Lansbury decided not to rebuild the home and instead move to quiet County Cork, Ireland, where she has remained ever since.
References: Variety, United Press International, E! News, The Telegraph, Harper's Bazaar, National Post