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5 Best Places To Establish Residency Overseas

Live and Invest Overseas’ annual Retire Overseas Conference is in full swing here in Orlando as I write.

This is primarily a lifestyle event; the focus is on where and how to live or retire overseas. 

However, the number of people at this year’s event asking questions about opportunities for back-up residencies and second citizenships is significant… many more than at any other Retire Overseas Conference in our history.

Fundamentally, many of the folks in the room are looking for options. Some aren’t planning on actually moving overseas but want to be prepared should things back home (that is, here in the States) turn in a direction that makes them uncomfortable. They want to know about the best places to establish residency that don’t require you to be physically present in the country… as well as options for picking up another passport.

Never before have attendees at one of our retirement events been so interested in the idea of a second citizenship.

The winners in the residency discussion (that is, the best places right now to shop for a “back-up residency,” as we call it) are the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama. These countries offer pensionado programs that come with minimal requirements for time in the country, as well as low retirement income thresholds. Portugal is a strong runner-up and your most user-friendly option for residency in Europe (and the EU).

If you aren’t yet collecting Social Security and don’t have other pension income, residency through investment could be your best option. If that idea interests you, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia are countries to consider. 

You could obtain residency in Ecuador with an investment of as little as US$25,000. The downside to Ecuador is that you can’t be out of the country for more than 90 days either of the first 2 years after you’ve obtained residency… meaning this isn’t an ideal option for a back-up plan but is appealing if you’d like to live in Ecuador.

woman wearing a colorful national dress stands in front of a yellow house
The Dominican Republic has many factors that make it an expat haven in our books

The Dominican Republic is the hands-down winner right now, as we are explaining to attendees at this week’s event in Orlando, for a second passport if you don’t have or don’t want to invest the money (at least US$100,000 plus fees) for an economic citizenship. 

You can qualify for residency in the DR by showing a guaranteed minimum income of as little as US$1,500 per month. Once you have obtained residency, you could have your DR passport as quickly as one year later.

Other countries featured at this week’s Retire Overseas Conference require at least five years of residency before you can apply for naturalization. That said, five years isn’t bad. Some countries—Andorra and Switzerland, for example—require 20 and 12 years, respectively, of residency before you can qualify for citizenship.

a beautiful old church and rooftops next to the ocean in Portugal
If you have your sights set on Europe…we suggest you head to Portugal

The best option for European citizenship right now is Portugal. Residency is relatively easy to obtain in this country, and you are eligible for naturalization after just six years. Additionally, Portugal offers a residency program that comes with important tax breaks.

When considering and comparing various residency options, remember to factor in the total costs (beyond minimum monthly income requirements). You’ll have attorney and government fees up front plus the costs of any required renewals. And, if you’re applying with a spouse or other dependents, you may have additional income requirements and fees.

When choosing among second citizenship options, pay attention to the travel value of each one, especially if your intent is to give up your current citizenship. In this context, the Dominican Republic is not a super-star option. A DR passport is cheap, quick, and easy to obtain but allows for visa-free travel to fewer than 60 countries, not including any European countries at the moment (though our in-country sources tell us that the DR government is negotiating for visa-free travel status with all EU member countries).

Day one of this week’s Retire Overseas Conference featured a panel discussion on the topics of residency and citizenship. In addition, our preferred and recommended attorneys from the Dominican Republic, Portugal, and Colombia are giving detailed presentations on specific residency and citizenship options in those countries. 

Lief Simon

Make a Profit And Have The Adventure Of A Lifetime

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