International Politics And The Expat Retiree

International Politics And The Expat Retiree

“I have been reading your newsletter for a couple of months now, Kathleen, and it seems that you do your homework on each country you write about. However, maybe I’ve missed it, but you don’t seem to take into consideration a country’s current government structure or who is in power. Doesn’t this impact where you would want to retire? There are security issues in some of these countries you write about. I know you state that a retiree should plan on staying only up to 180 days in any one country due to visa issues, but, even then, a country can become dangerous to foreigners inside it. I am just wondering what your position is on this aspect of choosing a country to retire to.”

— Pete K., United States

We don’t report on politics or local government because that’s not our beat. We remain a-political until a government or a politician takes action that could have direct affect on foreign residents or investors.

We don’t mind that Daniel Ortega is in power in Nicaragua, for example, because Sandinista Danny hasn’t shown any signs of doing anything that’d have negative consequences for expats or retirees in his country. On the other hand, we’re not fans of Hugo Chavez. It’s nothing personal, simply that Hugo has indicated that he’s considering doing away with personal property rights in Venezuela altogether. That’d be super bad news, of course, for anyone who owns or who is thinking about owning real estate in this country.

Regarding the 180-day rule…I fear I’ve been unclear. My recommendation that you consider spending no more than 180 days in any particular country has nothing to do with security issues. If a place is unsafe, it can be unsafe from day one. Limiting your stay to six months likely wouldn’t be an effective strategy for avoiding trouble.

The 180-day rule has to do with residency. If you’re physically present in a country fewer than 180 days a year, you typically don’t have to worry about formalizing your stay with a foreign resident’s visa. This can simplify your life tremendously. But, again, it probably has no impact on safety or security issues.