First of all, contrary to popular belief, the majority of Americans abroad are not retirees. In fact, about three quarters of them are in economically active ages (18 to 54 years old), with the largest percentage being that of 25 to 34 years olds (americanwave.com).
Also, those Americans seriously or somewhat interested in international relocation tend to be the very youngest of the adult population: 18 to 24 year olds.
American expats tend to be highly educated. According to the Directorate for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs, the emigration rate is higher among the educated population than among the general population in developed countries (including the United States).
We can’t ignore that both the age and educational level of Americans abroad could have something to do with the current economic crisis in the United States. Experts estimate that more than half of recent college graduates under 25 years old are currently unemployed or sub-employed (working in a job that doesn’t require a college education), while the number of Americans under 25 with a college degree has increased 38% since 2000 (US Labor Department) (Weissmann, The Atlantic, 04/12). This situation has especially affected those with “less technical” degrees (in the arts and social sciences) which tend to fare worse in terms of employment levels and potential salaries than the more “technical” degrees in technology and science (Goudreau, Forbes, 10/12).
Politically, American emigrants tend to lean to the left.
Actually, being interested in other cultures and travel is more common among those that are not only educated, but also socially progressive. According to evidence, those that opt for the left and those that opt for the right have different psycho-social traits, and in general those that are more liberal are more likely to be open to trying new things and having new experiences, while those that are more conservative, on the contrary, tend to be less open to change and less exploratory, appreciating order and structure in their lives. According to Psychologist Robert McCrae, (who directed various studies on human personality during his time at the US National Institute on Aging) “open people tend to have more liberal values” (Mooney, Washington Post, 04/12).