American retirees are a hot commodity worldwide. You may not realize it, but countries across the globe and especially nearby in Latin America are competing for your attention. An American retiree with disposable U.S. dollar income is a nice boon for any developing-world economy. That’s why many countries have created visa policies specifically designed for retirees and in some cases offering special benefits and incentives for relocating. The most attractive places to obtain a retirement visa, are usually found in Latin America… as follows:
Belize is a warm and tropical English-speaking country about a two-hour flight from the southern United States. It’s our top pick for a bona fide retirement escape, the best place on Earth, we’d say, to put the troubles of our age behind you.
It’s easy to set up life in Belize thanks to its retiree-specific visa. The Qualified Retirement Program (QRP), available through the Belize Tourism Board, is one of the most user-friendly visa programs in the world.
Here’s a snapshot of what you need to qualify:
- You must be 45 or older.
- You must have a monthly income of at least US$2,000 or annual income of at least US$24,000 and deposit this amount in a Belize bank.
- You must pass a security check.
- You must stay in the country for at least 30 consecutive days per year.
You’ll need to renew your QRP ID card annually. The downside of this program is that it does not lead to permanent residency in Belize.
Colombia is quietly becoming one of the world’s top overseas havens, especially Medellín, its euro-chic culture capital that provides a high quality of life (including excellent health care) at a low cost. The country’s growing American expat numbers are in large part due to its user-friendly retirement visa.
This is the main requirement for Colombia’s Retirement Visa:
- You must provide proof of monthly income of at least three times Colombia’s minimum monthly wage. This changes every year; in 2022, it’s equivalent to about US$800 per month.
As a type of Migrant Visa, the Retirement Visa is available for up to three years. After five years of living in Colombia, you can apply for a resident visa.
Ecuador’s diverse landscape creates a variety of lifestyle opportunities for expats, including everything from Miami-style Pacific beach cities to Spanish-colonial highland towns with strong indigenous influences. Life in Ecuador comes at a low cost for Americans, and the country uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, meaning retirees face no currency-exchange risk.
Ecuador’s Jubilado (retirement) Visa is a temporary residence visa that’s valid for two years and easy to qualify for.
Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll need:
- You must show monthly income of at least three Unified Basic Salaries—about US$1,275—and proof that this payment is guaranteed.
- You must provide a clean criminal record.
- You must show proof of health insurance for the same period as the visa.
The downside to Ecuador’s retirement visa is that it doesn’t allow you to be out of the country for more than 90 days per year.
Known as the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes, Nicaragua is geographically blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, as well as volcanoes, rain forests, and rivers. It has everything Costa Rica is famous for but offers it all at a much lower price. Its retiree-specific Pensionado Visa is one of the world’s easiest to qualify for and comes with special benefits, like no tax on out-of-country earnings.
These are the main requirements:
- You must be at least 45 years old.
- You must demonstrate monthly passive income of at least US$600.
- You must provide proof of good physical and mental health and of being in good standing with your local police.
This visa lasts for one year and is renewable so long as you continue to meet the income requirements. You can apply for permanent residency after three years of continuous residency.
Panama has long been home to big American expat populations, and friendly tax policies have made it one of the world’s most sought-after locales, for both retirement and investment. Its Pensionado (pensioner) Visa is the gold standard of retirement visas. It’s easy to qualify for and comes with a host of special benefits, including access to discounts at hotels and restaurants, a tax exemption on the import of your household goods, and the ability to jump lines at banks, to name a few.
This is what you need to qualify for Panama’s Pensionado Visa:
- You can qualify as young as 18 years old.
- You must provide proof that you receive monthly income of at least US$1,000.
- You must provide a police record check issued by the FBI.
- You must provide a health certificate issued by a Panamanian doctor.
You need to file your application with a Panamanian lawyer, but the residency permit that this visa grants is indefinite.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter