A Plan B has never been more important than it is right now.
Your all-important backup plan starts with the legal right to live in another country.
It’s a simple strategy that can reduce your tax burden and make it easier for you to open an offshore bank account.
Most important in the context of our current circumstances, it also could be the only legal way to travel to another country in the event of another lockdown… meaning establishing residency overseas can be the key to real independence and ultimate control over your future.
The good news is that you have several easy and quick options for gaining the legal right to spend as much time as you want somewhere else.
Among the 200+ countries in the world, how do you choose where best to establish alternative residency?
Start with what kind of lifestyle you think you’d most enjoy.
Immigration law, tax incentives, available paths to citizenship, and potential investment return are all important secondary considerations. These opportunities, challenges, and restrictions can help you choose among a shortlist of places you think you might like to live, but they should not alone determine your course.
Thinking broadly, you have three options for how to establish residency in another country… by qualifying for:
- A retiree or pensioner visa,
- An investor visa,
- An entrepreneur visa.
Understand, as you’re shopping options, that not all residency visa programs allow you to work (that is, a residency visa is not the same as a work permit)… and, as well, that not all residency programs lead to citizenship. If a second passport is an agenda for you and you hope to acquire it through residency, make sure the residency track you decide on obliges in this regard.
Other practical considerations when choosing among the many available residency options are taxes (will you be liable for them in the country where you’re thinking about becoming a resident?); required time in the country (temporary residency permits in Colombia require you to be in the country at least once every 6 months, for example, and Belize requires you to spend at least 30 days a year in residence); and ease of access (this is especially important if you intend to divide your time between or among more than one country).
If you’re considering making a move overseas as a retiree, here are countries offering attractive pensioner residency options right now. In each case, I indicate the current minimum monthly income requirement to qualify:
- Belize (US$2,000)
- Colombia (US$700 at the current exchange rate)
- Ecuador (US$800)
- Panama (US$1,000)
- Portugal (US$1,400 at the current exchange rate)
If you’re shopping backup residency country options… not planning to make a move imminently but wanting an escape hatch should you decide you need one… following are your best current options. The physical presence requirement for each of these countries is nominal:
- Dominican Republic
If you’re hoping to acquire second citizenship and a second passport through residency, here are your best choices today:
- Dominican Republic
Note that, in each case, I qualified my recommendations as being the best available today.
These programs and options are not static; countries adjust immigration law all the time.
This is why I strongly recommend that, when you identify a residency visa that allows you to realize your objectives, act on it sooner rather than later…
Immediately, if possible.
This article was first published in 2019 and has been recently updated.