Countries That Welcome U.S. Expats (and the Realities of Moving there)

In light of the current political and economic situation in the United States, many people are contemplating the idea of moving abroad.

With so many options available, the decision of where to relocate can be overwhelming and confusing.

An article from The Travel, 10 Countries Welcoming US Expats, popped up in our news feed and we were intrigued. There were some countries on their list that we hadn’t researched yet.

We dug into the specifics of these 10 countries to learn what types of visas they have, the pros & cons of living there, and how realistic it is to move there.

Note: The visa information in this article is current as of November 2023. Visa requirements change often and are open to interpretation so do your research and consider working with a local immigration attorney.

Spain: A Blend of Culture and Affordability

Historic building in Toledo SpainVisa Options: Spain offers multiple visa options, including the Digital Nomad Visa, Non-Lucrative Visa, and the Golden Visa.

For the Digital Nomad Visa you’ll need to prove your income is at least 2,334 euros per month or 28,000 euros per year (equivalent to 2 times the Spanish minimum wage). You can show bank statements, invoices, and contracts as proof of income.

You’ll need to show proof of income in the amount of 30,000 euros/year to qualify for the Non-Lucrative visa and you can’t work.

To qualify for the Golden Visa you need to invest 500,000 euros.

Pros: The country is known for being both affordable and culturally rich, offering a deep historical background and excellent infrastructure.

There are a wide variety of places to live depending upon your lifestyle and you can get permanent residency.

Cons: You will become a tax resident if you live in Spain for 6 months of a year so make sure you understand the tax laws. (Spain does have tax incentives in place for visa holders.)

Be prepared to learn the Spanish language, and navigate bureaucratic processes.

If you are interested in obtaining a second passport, Spain is not a good option because they don’t allow dual citizenship.

Realistic: Moving to Spain is a realistic option, but potential expatriates should be mindful of potential tax laws and implications.

Italy: The Charms of Italy Amidst Bureaucratic Challenges

Colorful mountain town with ocean view in Liguria ItalyVisa Options: Italy provides visa options such as the forthcoming Digital Nomad Visa, the Self-Employed Visa, and the Elective ResidencyVisa.

The Digital Nomad Visa was announced in 2022 but it hasn’t become available yet.

The Self-Employed Visa is tricky because they set a limit on how many visas they will issue. The income requirement is a minimum of 8,500 euros/year and it is good for 2 years.

For the Elective Residency Visa you need to have at least 31,000 euros/year in passive income. You must live there full-time, (you can’t be out of the country for more than 6 consecutive months), and you can’t work.

Pros: Italy boasts a dreamlike ambiance, offering exquisite wine, fashion, food, and shopping opportunities, along with a rich cultural heritage.

Italy also has tax schemes in place to help reduce your burden. If you have passive income and move to Southern Italy you may qualify for their 7% flat tax rate, which is valid for 10 years.

Cons: Italy is known for its bureaucracy so you’ll need a lot of patience. The country has a lot of taxes on a variety of goods and services.
Southern Italy can get really hot in the summer and northern Italy can get really cold in the winter. You may have to move around the country to avoid extreme temperatures.

The popular tourist areas can be extremely crowded during the high season.

Realistic: Relocating to Italy is feasible, although it might involve navigating through visa complexities and administrative challenges.

Grenada: Tropical Paradise with Investment Requirements

Coastline of GrenadaVisa Options: Grenada offers a Digital Nomad Visa, while investors can take advantage of the Investor Visa program.

The Digital Nomad Visa is valid for 1 year and you need an income of $37,000/year to qualify. The country launched this visa to increase business and boost the local economy.

For the Investor Visa you need to buy property valued $220,000 plus you’ll have to pay an additional $50,000 in administration fees.

Pros: The island is known for its Caribbean allure, English-speaking population, stunning beaches, and good healthcare services. Plus they don’t tax worldwide income.

Cons: The island is in the hurricane zone, there are limited options for goods and services, and island life has higher living costs.

It is located just north of Venezuela in the Caribbean so it isn’t as easy to get there compared to other countries on this list.

Realistic: Moving to Grenada is a realistic option for those with sufficient financial means.

St Kitts and Nevis: Citizenship through Investment in Island Living

Port Zante in St Kitts and NevisVisa Options: Expatriates can obtain citizenship through investment in St Kitts and Nevis by participating in the Sustainable Island State Contribution or investing in real estate.

The investment for the Sustainable Island State Contribution program is $250,000 and the real estate investment is $500,000. You have to purchase real estate from a government approved development.

There are no residency requirements so you can make your investment and spend as much or as little time there as you’d like!

There are additional fees which are rather large but, if this fits in your budget, your investment provides you with citizenship and tax benefits.

Pros: The islands offer breathtaking beauty, English as the official language, they have excellent healthcare facilities, and a strong passport with access to 257 countries. The passport is ranked 25th in the world.

It is close to Puerto Rico, so it’s not too far from the United States or Canada.

Cons: This path can be quite expensive, cost of living is higher, and there’s a risk of hurricanes due to the islands’ location.

Plus you may not like island living. Some people feel claustrophobic or trapped.

Realistic: Relocating to St Kitts and Nevis is realistic for individuals with substantial financial resources.

Türkiye: Vibrant Culture with Investment Opportunities

City view of Istanbul TurkeyVisa Options: Türkiye offers a Golden Visa program, allowing expatriates to gain citizenship through investments in real estate or business. To qualify you’ll need to invest $400,000.

Pros: Vibrant cities like Istanbul, world-renowned markets, cultural diversity, a rich historical background, and friendly people await in Türkiye.

Cons: Moving to Türkiye may require expats to learn some Turkish, adapt to cultural differences, and become comfortable with the practice of bartering.

You should expect to experience culture shock.

Realistic: This option is only realistic for those with significant investments, as it does not provide a pension or digital nomad visa.

Portugal: Safety and Diversity in Popular Expat Destination

View of Porto from Douro river in PortugalVisa Options: Portugal offers several different visa options, including the D7 and D8 visas, catering to various situations such as working or retiring.

There are 2 types of D8 visas: a 1 year Temporary Stay visa and a 2 year Residence visa. Both require a minimum income of 3,040 euros/month.

If you choose the 2 year residence visa you’ll need to obtain a NIF number, open a Portuguese bank account, and provide proof of accommodation. Plus you’ll no longer benefit from the NHR (Non-Habitual Residence) tax regime (as of December 31, 2023) meaning you could end up paying a lot more in taxes.

The D7 visa is a passive income visa. You’ll need at least 760 euros/month to qualify and you’ll need to obtain a NIF number and open a Portuguese bank account. You’ll also need to provide proof of accommodation.

You can’t be out of the country for more than 6 consecutive months, regardless of which visa you have (this rule applies to the D7 and D8 visas). You will become a tax resident and will be required to pay taxes in Portugal.

(The NHR tax scheme doesn’t tax foreign sourced income and reduces the tax rate on Portugal-sourced income. It also taxed foreign-sourced pensions at a flat rate 0f 10%, instead of the progressive rate which vary from 14.5% to 48%. Assuming they do cancel this program at the end of 2023, new residents – those who aren’t already participating in the NHR scheme – will be paying more taxes!)

Pros: The country is renowned for its safety, the prevalence of English in urban areas, and a wide range of activities, whether it’s enjoying nature, culture, history, or the beach life.

It also has good healthcare, solid infrastructure, and a low cost of living.

Cons: Housing prices have increased a lot, especially in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve region, and there are a lot of tourists.

Realistic: Portugal remains a realistic choice for a variety of expat circumstances, but consult a tax professional before making any decisions.

Mexico: Diverse Opportunities with Some Safety Considerations

Street view with colorful building in Campeche MexicoVisa Options: Mexico offers several visa options, including resident, work, pension, and investor visas, with specific requirements depending on the consulate.

The residency visas requirements have changed, but they are still accessible.

You can also visit Mexico on a 90 day tourist visa. Some customs agents are issuing the 6 month tourist visa again, but the time is not guaranteed.

Pros: Mexico is a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes, ranging from mountains to beaches. It offers a wide variety of options for places to live, from bustling cities to tranquil towns.

It is close to the United States and Canada, you can order from Amazon, and you can find places to live for every budget.

Cons: Unfortunately, certain areas in Mexico are not safe, prices can be higher in popular expat destinations, and dealing with tourists may be a part of everyday life.

You can’t drink the water in most of Mexico.

Realistic: Moving to Mexico is a viable option, though obtaining certain visa types may pose challenges.

New Zealand: Limitations on Age for Work Opportunities

Coastal City View of Auckland New ZealandVisa Options: New Zealand provides a working holiday visa for individuals aged 18-30, while also offering various other visas for working, studying, or owning a business.

The country wants skilled workers. If you have a specific skill set that is in demand you may qualify for a visa that leads to permanent residency.

The investor visa is out of reach for the majority of people. You need $15 million to qualify!

Pros: New Zealand consistently ranks high for quality of life, boasts natural beauty, offers plenty of adventure activities, and provides excellent public services, all in an English-speaking environment.

Cons: New Zealand is expensive and far from the United States and Canada.

Resident visas aren’t accessible to most people.

Realistic: This option is only realistic for young individuals or those with substantial financial resources.

Japan: Diverse Opportunities for Working Professionals

City with mountain view in Kagoshima JapanVisa Options: Japan has a variety of visas, including work, study, highly skilled, or entrepreneur visas.

Japan offers excellent opportunities for teaching English. In most cases you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification.

Pros: Japan is known for its amazing culture and history. There is so much to do and experience.

The country has it all, natural beauty and a modern infrastructure, all in a safe environment.

Cons: Cities can be crowded, living spaces may be small and expensive, and the cost of living is high. Be prepared to experience cold and snowy winters.

Japan does not offer a pensioner visa.

Realistic: Moving to Japan is realistic for younger individuals seeking professional opportunities.

South Korea: Embracing K-Culture and Learning Opportunities

Water view of high rise buildings in Busan South KoreaVisa Options: South Korea introduced a K-Culture visa for young teens and adults interested in exploring Korean culture and the K-Pop scene. There’s also a Workaction visa and other work and study visas.

The Workaction visa is their version of a digital nomad visa and it is valid for 2 years.

They offer a Working Holiday visa but you must be between the ages of 18 and 30 to qualify.

If you are Canadian you can visit visa free for 180 days.

Pros: South Korea is known for its technological advancements, cultural richness, efficient public transportation, and diverse range of activities.

The country is famous for its K-Pop music and K-beauty as well.

Cons: The cost of living in South Korea is relatively high, air pollution can be a concern, and they don’t offer a retirement visa.

Realistic: Relocating to South Korea is a good choice, particularly for young individuals seeking cultural immersion and learning opportunities.

Final Thoughts…

This list of countries that welcome American expats offers diverse experiences and opportunities. Each country presents its own advantages and challenges, catering to different demographics.

Understanding the nuances of each destination, along with individual preferences and circumstances, is essential before choosing a destination.

While some of the countries won’t work for us, we enjoyed doing the research and now we are adding a few of them to our list of places to visit.

Watch Our Video About 10 Countries that Welcome US Expats

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Countries We Eliminated From Our Plan B List for Residency

A couple of weeks ago, we shared our top 10 countries on the Plan B List for second residency. We’re US citizens and permanent residents in Ecuador, and now that our dogs have passed, it’s time to expand our list of places we call home by adding a third country to the mix.

Selecting a third destination isn’t easy. There are lots of incredible options to choose from, so we had to eliminate some countries that you might think are perfect for us.

In this article, we share our criteria for choosing a 3rd residency and explain why we eliminated some very popular countries that might still work well for you.

Criteria for Choosing Our Third Home

First, let’s start with the list of criteria we used to choose our top 10 countries:

Visa Options: Being neither retired with a pension nor wealthy enough for a substantial investment, we turned our attention to digital nomad visas as our best bet for securing residency.

Safety: Ideally, our third home should be safer than our first two. Safety is a top priority for us, given the current conditions in our first two home countries.

Tax-Friendly: As US citizens, we’re aware that Uncle Sam expects his cut, even if we reside on the moon. So, we aim to minimize our tax burden by choosing a territorial tax country or at least a nation offering tax incentives for foreign residents.

No Brutal Winters: Having enjoyed the mild Ecuadorian climate year-round, we aren’t eager to embrace heavy snowfall or frigid temperatures. Our goal is to find countries with more temperate winters, nothing akin to the chilly Chicago or Kansas winters.

Proximity to the US: Given our responsibilities, including aging parents and Amelia’s part-time job with a Colorado-based company, we need to stay relatively close to the US. Long-haul flights at odd hours won’t work for us.

Geographic Diversification: We already have citizenship in North America and permanent residency in South America, so we would like to have a little more geographic diversification with another residency on a different continent.

Watch Our Video About the Countries We Eliminated

17 Countries We Eliminated from Residency Consideration

Some of the countries we eliminated from our list of residency options may really surprise you, but we had to eliminate several of them simply for visa reasons. If we can’t get a visa, we can’t live there.

However, that doesn’t mean YOU can’t get a visa or live there. You may be at a different place in your life with different priorities than us.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the countries that didn’t make our list and why.

Ireland

Ireland stands out due to its exceptional safety, ranked #3 on the Global Peace Index, and its acclaimed healthcare system, ranked #6 by CEO World.

However, Ireland doesn’t have  a digital nomad visa and the cost of living is high. Plus, we’ve heard from several sources that both safety and the quality of healthcare are heading in the wrong direction. And there is a severe housing shortage due to an increase in immigration, mostly from Ukraine.

If you want to move to Ireland as a retiree, you’ll need an income of 50,000 euros/year for an individual and 100,000 euros/year for a couple to qualify for their retirement visa.

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam, with its #41 ranking on the Global Peace Index, is popular for its food, safety and cultural richness.

However, the lack of a  digital nomad visa or official retirement visas, combined with the considerable distance from the United States, means the country won’t work for many people, including us.

Uruguay

Uruguay is one of the safest countries in Latin America, coming in at #50 on the Global Peace Index and offering European-like development and healthcare, which is ranked #63 by CEO World.

However, the income requirements for digital nomad visa applications may pose difficulties for us since we have a single-member LLC and that business structure prevents us from paying a spouse as an employee. We would have to apply separately and the income requirement is $1500 each per month.

Uruguay’s retirement visa requires at least $1500/month from social security or pension, making it a good option for retirees who want a European vibe in Latin America.

Argentina

Buenos Aires

Argentina offers a blend of safety, ranked #54 on the Global Peace Index, commendable healthcare, at #67 by CEO World, and affordability.

However, the taxing of worldwide income and updated income requirements for visas could impact long-term feasibility for some.

The adjusted requirements now stipulate a monthly income of around $1800, five times the monthly minimum wage, for rentista and retirement visas.

Chile

Chile, ranked #58 on the Global Peace Index, is attractive due to its safety and adequate healthcare system, which is ranked #86 by CEO World.

However, the absence of a digital nomad visa and unspecified income requirements for retirement visas might cause difficulties for prospective foreign residents.

Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia with a perfect reflection in the nearby lake.Cambodia, with its #73 ranking on the Global Peace Index and the convenience of an e-visa, is a great option, especially since the income requirement for the retirement visa is only $800/month.

However, the distance from the U.S. is a challenge; it is too far for us.

Thailand

Thailand has a retirement visa, requiring at least $1800/month income or $22,400 in savings deposited in a Thai bank account.

However, its #92 ranking on the Global Peace Index and #83 ranking by CEO World in healthcare made it less appealing to us, plus it is also too far  from the U.S.

Georgia

Country of GeorgiaGeorgia allows up to a 365 days stay without a visa and ranks #51 by CEO World in healthcare.

However, specific income requirements for retirement visas are not stated.

Plus, the proximity to politically tense regions (Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan) and #94 ranking on the Global Peace Index makes it concerning to us.

Guatemala

Guatemala has the Pensionado visa for retirees, requiring at least $1000/month in income.

However, it ranks lower than Ecuador for safety and healthcare, coming in at #103 on the Global Peace Index and #87 by CEO World

The Philippines

The Philippines is set to introduce a digital nomad visa in 2024 and offers a retirement visa, requiring a monthly income of $800 and a deposit of $10,000.

However, because its lower standings, #124 on the Global Peace Index and #87 by CEO World for healthcare, and the significant distance from the U.S., we removed it from our list.

Nicaragua

NicaraguaNicaragua has a Pensionado retirement visa, requiring $1250/month to qualify.

However, it doesn’t have a digital nomad visa and its #123 ranking on the Global Peace Index makes is less appealing to us.

Brazil

Brazil, has a variety of visas and excellent healthcare (#38 by CEO World).

It requires passive income of at least $2000/month for their retirement visa, and offers several other types of visas.

We took Brazil off our list due mainly due to its #132 ranking on the Global Peace Index. There are parts of Brazil, especially in the south, that are considered safe, but in general, safety is a concern.

Türkiye

IstanbulTürkiye offers a short-term residence visa, with specific income requirements unstated and it doesn’t lead to long-term residency.

The investor visa leads to citizenship, but it requires a $250,000 investment in real estate or $500,000 in a business, which is well beyond our current financial means.

Türkiye is known for good healthcare, ranked #60 by CEO World. However, it ranks lower in safety, at #147 on the Global Peace Index.

Belize

Belize, an English-speaking country, provides a 6-month digital nomad visa and a QRP retirement visa requiring a $2000 monthly pension.

It isn’t ranked by Global Peace Index or CEO World, but the murder rate in Belize is similar to Mexico and healthcare is limited with most residents flying to another country for serious medical conditions.

Peru

Peru has a retirement visa that requires a monthly income of $1000 and has a low cost of living.

However, it ranks #103 for safety and #80 by CEO World for healthcare, which is worse than Ecuador.

Peru would be a lateral move for us since we already have permanent residency right next door in Ecuador, and both countries are similar in terms of safety and healthcare.

Colombia

The country offers both a digital nomad visa and a retirement visa. However the government is rejecting applications so you may have difficulty getting any type of visa other than the tourist visa.

Colombia is ranked #140 for safety by the Global Peace Index and it cannot be considered a safe country. Colombia is the main source of drugs entering Ecuador, which is driving many of the safety issues in Ecuador.

The healthcare is adequate, ranking #80 by CEO World.

Colombia and Peru are both next to Ecuador so it doesn’t make sense for us to get another residency in either country when we can easily visit.

Mexico

San Miguel de Allende MexicoIt is close to the U.S., which is a big plus for us in case we need to go back to see our families in a hurry.

Mexico also has a variety of residency options, but the requirements vary by consulate and residency visas must be obtained from your home country.

The country is well known for its excellent healthcare, ranking #45 by CEO World, and a lot of people from the U.S. go to Mexico for medical tourism.

The country ranks the worse than Ecuador for safety, coming in at #136 by the Global Peace Index and nearly half of the states in Mexico are on the State Department “Do Not Travel” list. We know that some areas are safer than others, especially Mérida, but overall, Mexico is no safer than Ecuador or Colombia.

We also took Mexico off our list because we’ve been there multiple times and we want to explore new places. Plus we can visit for several months with a tourist visa.

Final Thoughts…

While none of these countries fully met our criteria for a third home, they aren’t necessarily bad choices for you.

Digital nomad visas or passive income visas work for us because we aren’t retired and don’t have the money for a large investor visa. A lot of countries on this list are great options, especially with the availability of retirement visas and the low cost of living.

Ecuador is still our second home and we will miss it, but the adventure continues!

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Finding a Plan B: Top 10 Countries to Consider for Secondary Residency

Ecuador has been a favored destination for years in the expat community, but for many, the rising crime rates since the pandemic have put a damper on its appeal.

If you’ve crossed Ecuador off your list, any of the 10 countries we cover here could serve as a good Plan B, especially if you’re not retired yet. They each have a variety of visa options and a lot of great things to offer, including higher safety ratings.

Why a Plan B Country?

Even if you love your current country of residence, it’s an unstable world so it’s a good idea to have geographic diversification, or multiple places you can call home.

Since we decided to leave the United States and move to Ecuador, it has always been our intention to get an additional residency once our dogs were gone and we obtained permanent residency in Ecuador.

After the passing of our beloved dog, Daisy, on August 30th, 2023, we now have the freedom to start that exploration. Thank you to everyone for your heartfelt condolences over the last few weeks.

For us, Ecuador will continue to be our home base, but now that we have permanent residency, we only need to be inside the country one day every two years to maintain it.

That means we have a lot more flexibility to take extended exploratory trips to our Plan B countries.

The Criteria We Used

It wasn’t easy to narrow down our list to a manageable number, so we decided to apply some criteria to help get it down to ten.

  • Visa Options: Qualifying for a visa was the first criteria. Since we’re not retired or rich, we immediately crossed a bunch of countries off our list.
  • Safety: Now that Ecuador has fallen so much in the safety rankings, we want a Plan B that is still considered safe. It wouldn’t make sense to choose a country that’s just as dangerous or even more dangerous than Ecuador.
  • Tax-Friendly: As U.S. citizens, we have to continue paying taxes even if we live on the moon. That means we would like to minimize our tax burden as much as possible by choosing a territorial tax country or at least a country with tax incentives for foreign residents.
  • No Brutal Winters: We’ve been spoiled living in Ecuador with mild weather year round. Neither of us like the snow or overly cold temperatures so we chose countries with winters that are a little more mild.
  • Closer to the US: We have aging parents and may need to return to the US on short notice so we eliminated most of Southeast Asia for this reason. Also, Amelia still works part-time for a company in Colorado so it’s better if she doesn’t have to work in the middle of the night.

Watch Our Video About Other Countries We’re Considering

The Top 10 Countries for Secondary Residency

With that criteria in mind, here are 10 countries that might be a good option for a second residency:

10. Paraguay

View of a colorful park and old buildings in Asunción Paraguay.Paraguay offers a blend of natural beauty and affordability, making it a strong contender for those seeking an alternative home base. With easy residency options and a territorial tax system, it’s worth considering despite its developing status.

  • Visa Options: Easy 2-year temporary residency; Investor residency with a minimum investment of $70k.
  • Tax System: Territorial tax.
  • Pros: Affordable, beautiful landscapes, safe.
  • Cons: Developing, distant from Ecuador, hot summers and wet winters with bugs and humidity.

9. Malaysia

View of a river and colorful buildings in Malacca Malaysia.Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, boasting a unique blend of modern cities and natural landscapes. Its Digital Nomad and MM2H visas offer flexibility for various financial situations, but its distance from family and hot climate may be drawbacks for some.

  • Visa Options: Digital Nomad Visa requiring a minimum income of $2k/month; Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) 10-year visa with significant financial requirements.
  • Tax System: Territorial tax.
  • Pros: Culturally diverse, English-speaking, developed infrastructure, beautiful beaches, and nature.
  • Cons: Distance from family, hot climate, crowded cities.

8. Costa Rica

Tortuga Island Costa RicaKnown for its “Pura Vida” lifestyle, Costa Rica offers a mix of natural beauty and a relaxed pace of life. While it may be on the expensive side and has seen a rise in crime rates, its variety of activities and scenery make it an attractive option.

  • Visa Options: 12-month Digital Nomad Visa, extendable for another year.
  • Tax System: Territorial tax.
  • Pros: Pura vida lifestyle, natural beauty, and varied activities.
  • Cons: Increasing crime, rainy season, relatively expensive.

7. Malta

View of Marsaxlokk Harbor, Malta with colorful boats in the foreground and old buildings in the background.An island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta offers excellent weather and a developed infrastructure. Despite its population density and some environmental concerns, its Digital Nomad Visa and English-speaking population make it a convenient choice for many.

  • Visa Options: Digital Nomad Visa with minimum gross annual income of $35,200, valid for 1 year and renewable up to 3 years.
  • Pros: Great weather, English widely spoken, developed, safe.
  • Cons: Crowded, pollution, lacking public transport, island isolation.

6. Albania

Main city promenade in Saranda, Albania.Albania provides an affordable and safe environment, coupled with a stunning array of locally grown food and natural beauty. Although it’s still developing and has somewhat of a language barrier, its strategic location in Europe adds to its appeal.

  • Visa Options: 1-year tourist visa; Long-term stay visa valid for 1 year, renewable up to 5 times.
  • Pros: Very affordable, safe, locally grown food, natural beauty, good European location.
  • Cons: Developing, lacking services and infrastructure, language barrier.

5. Croatia

Dalmatia region of CroatiaCroatia combines rich history with a convenient European location. While bureaucracy and language could be challenges, its affordable living, safety, and robust healthcare system make it an attractive destination.

  • Visa Options: Digital Nomad Visa with income or savings requirements, valid for 1 year.
  • Pros: Affordable, great location, historical architecture, good healthcare, safe.
  • Cons: Bureaucracy, economic challenges for locals, language barriers.

4. Spain

Panoramic View of Gran Via, Madrid, SpainSpain offers a vibrant culture, excellent healthcare, and the added benefit of being Spanish-speaking. However, frequent changes in Digital Nomad Visa requirements and a higher cost of living may deter some from making it their Plan B.

  • Visa Options: Digital Nomad Visa with $2,500/month income, valid for 12 months and renewable up to 5 years.
  • Pros: Spanish speaking, safe, excellent healthcare, vibrant culture, efficient transport.
  • Cons: Changing visa requirements, higher cost of living, high taxes, bureaucracy.

3. Greece

Beautiful panoramic view of Assos village in Kefalonia, Greece with vivid colorful houses near blue turquoise colored and transparent bay lagoon. Greece is a land steeped in history and natural beauty, from its islands to its mainland. Despite its bureaucratic nature and the difficulty of learning Greek, its variety of visas and cultural richness make it a strong contender.

  • Visa Options: Need at least $3,800/month; retirement visa with low tax rates.
  • Pros: Delicious food, rich history, friendly locals, beautiful beaches and islands.
  • Cons: Higher cost of living, language barrier, bureaucracy, wildfires.

2. Panama

Panama City, Panama at night.Panama offers the advantage of being close to both the U.S. and Ecuador, along with good healthcare and solid infrastructure. While it has seen a rise in prices and political protests, its territorial tax system remains a significant draw.

  • Visa Options: 6-month tourist visa; Digital Nomad Visa valid for 9 months, extendable for another 9 months.
  • Tax System: Territorial tax.
  • Pros: Close to the U.S. and Ecuador, good healthcare, solid infrastructure.
  • Cons: Rainy season, rising prices, political protests.

1. Portugal

Streetcar in Porto, Portugal.Portugal emerges as a top choice for many, owing to its safety, excellent healthcare, and pathways to permanent residency and citizenship. Learning Portuguese and navigating housing prices could be challenges, but its overall benefits are compelling.

  • Visa Options: D8 Digital Nomad Visa; D7 passive income visa.
  • Pros: Excellent options for permanent residency and citizenship, excellent healthcare, safe.
  • Cons: Need to learn Portuguese, expensive housing, bureaucracy, many foreigners.

Final Thoughts…

For us, Portugal emerged as the standout option, but the beauty of earning online income gives us the flexibility to explore multiple countries before making a decision.

The future holds a lot of exploratory trips for us, and perhaps for you as well. Whether you’re looking for a temporary getaway or a permanent change, these countries offer a broad spectrum of possibilities.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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10 Retirement Visas with Low Income Requirements

Have you ever dreamed of retiring in an exotic location where the cost of living is so low you could enjoy a lavish lifestyle for a fraction of what you’d spend back home?

In a previous article, we explored 10 countries where you could live on less than $1,000/month. However, some of you commented that these countries often have retirement visa income requirements that are higher than $1,000.

So, in this article, you’re going to read about 10 countries with affordable retirement visas, having income requirements of $1350 or less per month, and several are under $1000/month! Plus, none require a hefty deposit into a local bank.

Keep in mind that these visa requirements often fluctuate. They may have changed already! The income requirements also vary based on currency exchange rates, which fluctuate quite a bit.

We highly recommend working with an immigration attorney who’s up-to-date with all the latest laws and can assist you in navigating the process.

Watch Our Video About 10 Cheap Retirement Visas

Common Visa Requirements

Before we delve into the details of the 10 countries, there are seven common requirements for most of these visas.

You’re going to need:

  1. A valid birth certificate
  2. A passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay
  3. Federal criminal background checks, state police reports, and possibly background checks in your new home country
  4. Proof of funds, typically in the form of bank statements or income statements
  5. Potential proof of health insurance that’s valid in the new country
  6. Potential taxation on your global income, including social security (consult with a qualified tax professional before committing to any country)
  7. Translation of your documents into the local language plus an apostille or legal certification

Each country has slightly different requirements so do your research and check with a local visa agent for the specifics.

10 Countries With Cheap Retirement Visas

Now, let’s explore the ten countries offering affordable retirement visas, starting with the highest income requirement and moving to the lowest.

#10 Ecuador

Parque Calderon in Cuenca EcuadorThe Ecuadorian Pensioner Visa requires a monthly income of at least three times the monthly minimum wage, which currently stands at $450. So, you’d need a monthly income of at least $1350.

The visa is fairly easy to acquire and valid for two years. Plus, Ecuador doesn’t tax social security income, unlike some other countries.

If you have a university degree, you might qualify for the Professional Visa, which doesn’t have any income requirement.

See Also: Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas

Why Ecuador?

Ecuador is a paradise for retirees, thanks to its stable weather, low cost of living, and excellent healthcare system.

The country’s economy operates on the U.S. dollar, which eliminates currency conversion hassles and offers more stability. There’s no hyperinflation like some of the other countries on this list.

Ecuador’s varied landscape, ranging from the Amazon rainforest to Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands, is simply captivating.

See Also:

#9 Paraguay

Aerial view of a church in Villarrica Paraguay.Paraguay offers a Pension-Based Temporary Residency Visa. You’ll need to demonstrate that you receive at least 100 times the current minimum wage or about $1300/month.

The visa is valid for two years, and there’s no physical presence requirement. However, you’ll need to go to Paraguay to get the visa and to renew or convert it to permanent before the 2-year expiration so you’ll need to plan a couple of trips.

Why Paraguay?

Known for its safety, Paraguay is one of Latin America’s more secure countries.

Its capital, Asunción, is a colonial city with a European vibe. The country boasts a myriad of natural attractions, including lakes, forests, waterfalls, and wetlands.

Plus, Paraguay isn’t overrun with tourists, offering a peaceful lifestyle amidst nature. It’s about the geographical size of Germany but with about 10% of the population.

#8 Guatemala

Colorful street view of Antigua City Guatemala with a volcano in the background.The Guatemalan Pensionado visa requires you to be retired in your home country and you must be able to prove a monthly income of at least $1250.

This visa is valid for five years, during which you can be out of the country for up to one consecutive year.

Why Guatemala?

Guatemala is the “land of many trees,” with over a third of the country covered by forests. Its biodiversity, jungles, lakes, black sand beaches, and incredible scenery offer retirees a tranquil life close to nature.

The country’s rich Mayan culture and affordable cost of living add to its appeal.

#7 Nicaragua

Yellow and white colonial style building in Granada Nicaragua.In Nicaragua, the Pensionado visa requires proof of $1250/month income.

The minimum age to apply is just 45 years old, and the visa is valid for one year, renewable for an additional two.

Why Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is a nature lover’s paradise with 78 reserves, parks, and wildlife sanctuaries. The country is known for its stunning rivers, lakes, and colonial cities.

Add to this mix the world-class surfing opportunities and affordability, and you have a compelling retirement destination.

#6 Panama

Aerial skyline view of modern buildings in Panama City Panama.The Pensionado Visa in Panama requires proof of a monthly income of at least $1,000.

This visa is permanent, so you never need to reapply once you’ve got it.

Why Panama?

Panama offers direct flights to the U.S., making it a convenient location for retirees with family back home.

Known for bird-watching, Panama has lush forests that invite you to reconnect with nature.

With beautiful beaches and the use of the U.S. dollar as its currency, Panama presents a hassle-free and serene retirement.

#5 Costa Rica

Picturesque waterfall in La Fortuna Costa Rica.Costa Rica’s Pensionado Visa mandates a letter from your bank stating you have a monthly pension or retirement income of at least $1,000.

The visa is valid for two years, and you must be present in Costa Rica for at least one day per year.

Why Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s laid-back lifestyle, famously called “pura vida,” is perfect for a relaxed retirement.

The country is a nature lover’s paradise with stunning beaches and rich jungles.

Plus, direct flights to the U.S. make travel back and forth easy and convenient.

#4 Peru

Llama photobombing a picture of Machu Picchu Peru.Peru offers the Rentista visa for retirees, where you need to prove a minimum monthly income of $1000. It must be from a pension or social security; rental income, interest, dividends, etc. do not qualify.

The visa is indefinite, but you have to spend at least six months each year in Peru.

Why Peru?

Peru offers retirees a glimpse into rich history and culture, with attractions like Machu Picchu.

With 28 individual climates, there’s a spot for every retiree, whether you prefer mountains or beaches.

Peru’s world-renowned cuisine and low cost of living make it an ideal retirement haven.

#3 Colombia

Skyline view of modern buildings surrounded by trees in Medellin Colombia.Colombia’s Retirement M Visa requires 3x the monthly minimum salary, which currently equals around $900/month.

The visa is valid for three years, and you can be absent for up to six months.

Why Colombia?

Colombia is a warm and friendly country known for its festive culture and mouth-watering cuisine.

With a wealth of biodiversity, the country has attractions ranging from mountain ranges to the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, along with dense jungles. If you’re a birdwatcher, this is the place to be!

See Also:

#2 Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia with a perfect reflection in the nearby lake.Cambodia’s new retirement visa, the ER visa, requires a monthly pension or retirement income but they aren’t specific about the amount. You’ll need to prove you have sufficient monthly income to support y0urself.

The visa is valid for one year and can be renewed, but you can only be out of the country for a total of 90 days per year.

Why Cambodia?

Cambodia, known as the “Kingdom of Wonder,” boasts incredible history, culture, and natural beauty.

The country is home to wonderful markets, delicious food, and friendly people.

From the mystic ruins of Angkor Wat to the bustling city life of Phnom Penh, Cambodia has something for every retiree.

#1 Bulgaria

Colorful aerial view of a resort on the Black Sea in Arkutino Bulgaria.Bulgaria’s Pensioner D visa requires a monthly pension or retirement income of at least 700 Bulgarian Lev (around $400 at the current exchange rate).

The visa is valid for one year and is renewable, and you can be away for up to six months each year.

Why Bulgaria?

Bulgaria is affordable and safe, ranking 30th on the Global Peace Index.

The country’s rich history, diverse culture, and great location in Southeastern Europe make it an attractive retirement destination.

Whether it’s the golden sands of the Black Sea coast, the grandeur of the Bulgarian Revival houses, or the snow-capped peaks of the Rila Mountains, Bulgaria has a beauty that captivates.

Final Thoughts…

There are certainly more countries offering retirement visas, but these ten are among the most affordable options we’ve found, without the requirement of a large deposit into a local bank.

Do note that these requirements are subject to change, so we recommend doing your research and contacting a local immigration attorney for the most current info.

Each of these ten countries has its unique charm and appeal, offering affordable retirement options that cater to diverse preferences.

So, pick the one that resonates most with your retirement dreams, and embark on your next exciting life chapter!

See Also:

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10 Countries with Great Weather: From Mountains to Beaches, There’s a Perfect Place for Everyone!

They say records are meant to be broken, but I don’t think “they” were talking about temperatures.

The United States is experiencing the worst heatwave on record, as is much of Europe and Asia. Records are being broken daily in many countries around the world, but there are a few places where it’s still nice and cool, even when they break records.

In this video, you’ll learn about 10 countries that have great weather and cooler overall temps throughout the year than the US and southern Europe. Several have 4 seasons, but others have mostly the same cool temperatures year-round.

You can get a 90-day tourist visa to wait out the hot summer in all 10, and you can apply for residency in several so you can stay longer if you wish.

You don’t have to suffer through the heat. You can escape to better places!

Perfect Places if You Love Four Seasons

If you still prefer 4 seasons and don’t mind cold winters, these first 5 countries are for you.

#10 Chile

Santiago Chile

Chile, a long and narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, is a destination with an incredible variety of landscapes and climates.

With over six thousand kilometers of Pacific Ocean shoreline, Chile has everything from the driest desert in the north to the icy expanses of Patagonia in the south, including the Chilean Antarctic.

Visitors to Chile can explore the mountainous Andes, enjoy the Mediterranean climate of Santiago, or embark on outdoor adventures such as hiking, skiing, and relaxing on beautiful beaches.

Santiago, the country’s modern capital, remains cool during the North American summer, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s (around 10-15 C).

Chile’s diverse geography is matched by its reputation as one of South America’s safest countries, making it highly popular with tourists.

One unique experience to be had is visiting Isla Magdalena, where you can see penguins, or trekking through the iconic Torres Del Paine National Park for breathtaking views.

Beyond the natural beauty, the cost of living in Chile is relatively low, and the water quality is excellent for drinking. These factors combine to make Chile not just a place for short-term exploration but a viable option for those considering a longer stay.

From its vibrant cities to its diverse ecosystems, Chile offers an unforgettable experience that draws travelers from all over the world. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the Andes or relaxation on the Pacific beaches, Chile provides endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.

#9 Uruguay

Montevideo Uruguay

Uruguay, a South American country known for its vibrant culture and high-quality lifestyle, enjoys four distinct seasons, though they are not as extreme as in some other countries. Winters in Uruguay are mild and don’t get cold enough for snow.

During the North American summers, temperatures in Montevideo, the capital city, are refreshingly cool, ranging in the 50s and 60s (around 10-15 C). This makes it a perfect destination for those looking to escape the heat.

Uruguay is well-regarded for its tranquility, affordable healthcare, and “live and let live” mentality. It has even taken progressive steps in recent years, such as legalizing marijuana. This creates a unique atmosphere that many foreign residents and tourists find appealing.

The country’s art, culture, and history are diverse and fascinating. From exploring the eclectic streets of Montevideo to relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay offers a rich experience for all visitors.

The relatively low cost of living, combined with a high quality of life, makes Uruguay a popular destination, whether for a summer getaway or a more extended stay.

#8 Ireland

Kinsale Ireland

Ireland, affectionately known as the Emerald Isle due to its lush greenery, enjoys a climate of four milder seasons.

The hottest month in Dublin is July, with temperatures in the 60s (around 15-20 C), while in the south, Cork experiences slightly warmer temperatures in the 70s (around 21-26 C).

Though it does snow in winter, the snowfall in Ireland is seldom heavy. The country’s weather is often gray and rainy, which lends to the lush landscapes that have made Ireland famous.

Beyond its weather, Ireland is a land filled with rich folklore, culture, modern cities, and incredible scenery.

Whether you’re seeking to kiss the Blarney Stone, a legendary act that bestows the kisser with eloquence and skill at flattery, or enjoy the thriving arts scene in cities like Galway, Ireland offers a blend of myth and modernity.

Though the cost of living can be on the higher side, the quality of life and the warmth of the Irish people make Ireland a highly popular destination with expats.

From the rugged cliffs of Moher to the bustling streets of Dublin, Ireland’s charm lies in its vibrant culture, historical landmarks, and breathtaking landscapes that offer a unique and enchanting experience for all who visit.

#7 Germany

Rostock GermanyGermany, a country renowned for its cultural heritage and natural beauty, experiences four distinct seasons, with winters that can be particularly cold.

Summer, on the other hand, provides a cool and pleasant escape. Visitors can take advantage of the average temperatures in the 70s F (around 21-26 C) in Berlin, making it an ideal time to explore the bustling capital.

Germany’s reputation for safety and structure extends to its excellent healthcare system, making it a comfortable destination for travelers.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities year-round, from hiking in the Black Forest to skiing in the Bavarian Alps.

Known for its rich culinary traditions, including a variety of foods, beers, and wines, Germany offers something for every palate.

The country is also famous for its contributions to classical music, literature, and art, with iconic figures like Beethoven and the Brothers Grimm hailing from this country.

Whether you’re taking a scenic drive along the Romantic Road, exploring historic castles, or enjoying Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany’s blend of modernity and tradition makes it a captivating destination.

The blend of cultural festivals, natural landscapes, and historical sites offers a rich and varied experience that appeals to a wide range of travelers.

#6 Czech Republic

Prague Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, a landlocked country in Central Europe, offers a blend of modernity and history that is appealing to both tourists and expats.

With all four seasons, the Czech Republic can have harsh winters with temperatures dipping below zero (-15 C), while summers in Prague are moderate with temperatures in the 70s (around 21-26 C).

What makes the Czech Republic stand out is its excellent public transport system, allowing easy and cheap travel within the country. This accessibility opens the door to explore beautiful parks, mountains, the rich history of cities like Prague, and the many other hidden gems scattered throughout the country.

Attractions such as Podyji National Park, with its ice caves, vineyards, incredible views, and medieval ruins, are a must-see.

Prague Castle is another significant landmark. It’s almost a thousand years old and one of the largest in terms of area.

The cost of living in the Czech Republic is also attractive, averaging around $2,000 per month per person. This affordability, coupled with the country’s rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and vibrant art scene, makes the Czech Republic a compelling destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Central European charm.

Whether you’re exploring the ancient streets of Prague or hiking in the scenic countryside, the Czech Republic offers a diverse and enriching experience.

Countries for Mountain and Beach Lovers

If you want both the mountains and the beach, consider these 2 countries (although, the mountains will be cooler).

#5 Mexico

San Miguel de Allende Mexico

Mexico, often thought of as a destination to escape the cold winters of North America, has much more to offer than just its beautiful beaches.

Along with its tropical coastline, Mexico is home to a variety of mountain towns, where temperatures often linger in the pleasant 70s and 80s (around 21-27 C).

Cities like Lake Chapala and Ajijic, elevated at 5000 feet (1500 meters), and the colonial cities of Guanajuato (6600 feet / 2000 meters) and San Miguel de Allende (6200 feet / 1900 meters), offer cooler climates. Their locations, close to major urban areas like Guadalajara and Mexico City, provide convenient access to more bustling locales.

Mexico is not just about its climate. It’s a country rich in history and culture, with large and welcoming expat communities. The affordability of living in Mexico adds to its allure, with many tourists finding themselves tempted to extend their stays.

Whether you’re exploring ancient Mayan ruins, enjoying vibrant street festivals, or relaxing in a mountain town with a local cup of coffee, Mexico offers a multifaceted experience. From the coastal beauty of Cancún to the artistic charm of Mexico City, every visitor can find something to love in this diverse and enchanting country.

#4 Panama

Boquete Panama

Panama, a country known for its tropical allure, offers a climate that is divided into two primary seasons: wet and dry.

While the coastal areas can get hot, the mountain towns provide a moderate refuge during the summer with temperatures often in the 70s (around 21-26 C).

One such town, Boquete, is very popular with both tourists and expats. While rainier during the summer months, it doesn’t rain all the time, and the rainiest months are typically September and October.

Panama’s appeal goes beyond its weather. With a variety of visa options and an overall affordable cost of living, it’s a welcoming destination for both short-term visitors and those looking to settle down.

Whether you’re drawn to Panama’s stunning beaches, lush rainforests, or vibrant urban areas, you’ll find plenty to explore.

From the cosmopolitan Panama City with its iconic canal to the serene islands of Bocas del Toro, Panama offers a rich blend of cultures and environments.

Its unique combination of natural beauty, modern infrastructure, and friendly locals make it a standout destination for those seeking both adventure and relaxation.

Countries with Spring Temperatures All Year

Want to enjoy spring temperatures year-round? Spend your hot summer months in the Andes mountains of these 3 countries.

#3 Colombia

Medellin Colombia

Colombia, the second-most biodiverse country in the world, offers a range of climates and landscapes that has something for everyone.

Whether you prefer large, modern cities or small, intimate towns, Colombia’s mountains and beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts are sure to captivate.

The weather in Colombia is varied, with great weather in cities like Bogota & Medellin, where summer temperatures range in the 60s to low 80s (around 15-27 C).

Though it can get rainy in the mountains and humid on the coast, the overall climate is appealing and affords many opportunities for exploration.

Colombia is also known for its affordability. The pensioner visa, for example, has a low monthly income requirement, making residency an option for many.

Whether you’re wandering through the historic streets of Cartagena, dancing to the rhythms of salsa in Cali, or exploring the lush coffee plantations in the Coffee Triangle, Colombia’s rich culture and diverse landscapes offer a vibrant and colorful experience.

Colombia’s transformation over the past few decades has turned it into a sought-after tourist destination. With friendly locals, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking natural beauty, from the Amazon Rainforest to the Andean peaks, Colombia is a country that invites visitors to discover its many hidden treasures.

#2 Ecuador

Cuenca EcuadorEcuador, a country known for its diverse ecosystems and two distinct seasons – wet and dry, offers an “eternal spring” in the mountain regions of Cuenca, Cotacacchi, Loja, Vilcabamba, Baños, and Quito. While it can be rainy in spring and summer, there’s often more sunshine, brightening up the lush landscapes.

In the capital city of Quito, the high elevation can cause the weather to feel surprisingly cold during the winter. What’s attractive about Ecuador’s climate, especially in the mountainous regions, is the lack of need for air conditioning or heating, thanks to the consistent and moderate temperatures.

Ecuador’s weather isn’t its only appeal. The country also has a variety of visas that make it easy to get residency. With breathtaking mountain vistas and rich cultural heritage, Ecuador has something to offer every traveler, from adventure seekers to those looking for a serene and affordable retirement destination.

Whether exploring the Amazon rainforest or walking through the historic streets of Cuenca, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere and a variety of experiences to enjoy.

#1 Peru

Cusco PeruPeru offers a climate similar to Ecuador but with its own unique charm and attractions.

Lima, the coastal capital, provides a comfortable escape during the North American summer months, with temperatures resting in the 80s F (25 to 30 C). Nights in Lima are cool during the summer, offering a respite from the day’s warmth. However, visitors should be aware that it can also be foggy during this time, corresponding with Peru’s winter months.

In the more elevated regions of the country, such as Cuzco and the world-renowned Machu Picchu, the weather is dry from June to September, and temperatures hover around the 70s F (22 C). Due to the high elevation, the sun can feel intense, making it feel much warmer than the temperature would suggest. While this period marks the dry season in Peru, unexpected heavy rain is not uncommon, so travelers should be prepared.

One of the greatest attractions to Peru, aside from its rich cultural history and stunning landscapes, is its affordability. As the most budget-friendly option among the listed countries, Peru is an enticing destination for those looking to escape the heat without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re exploring ancient Incan ruins or enjoying the vibrant city life in Lima, Peru offers a wide range of experiences for every traveler.

Final Thoughts…

There is no need to suffer through a hot summer or cold winter when so many countries offer incredible weather and lifestyle options.

From Chile’s diverse climates to Peru’s affordable living, there’s sure to be a place that fits your preferences.

Pack your bags with cool weather clothes and explore these amazing destinations!

Watch Our Video About Countries w/ the Best Weather

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Safest Countries in Latin America for 2023

We get a lot of questions about safety abroad so we’re going to talk about the most popular countries in Latin America for foreign residents and discuss how safe they really are, from worst to first.

It’s important to note that safety can vary within a country, and certain regions or cities may be safer or more dangerous than others. While news reports often exaggerate the overall safety situation in a country, it is crucial to consider specific locations and local conditions.

So, let’s dive into the rankings of the most popular countries in Latin America for foreign residents, based on the 2023 Global Peace Index and the US State Department Travel Advisories.

Watch Our Video About the Safest Countries in Latin America

Ranking of Safest Countries in Latin America

Here are the safest countries in Latin America for 2023 ranked from worst to first:

#18 Venezuela

Venezuela holds the unfortunate position of being the least safe country in Latin America. With a global rank of #140 and a level 4 travel advisory (“do not travel”), it faces significant security challenges and hyperinflation.

#17 Colombia

Colombia shares the same global rank as Venezuela at #140 on the Global Peace Index. The US State Department currently has a Level 3 Travel Advisory, meaning reconsider travel plans to Colombia due to increased crime, kidnappings, protests, and anger directed at digital nomads.

Common crimes include moto robberies, muggings, purse snatching, and pickpocketing.

While safety has improved since the 1980s, Colombia remains the largest producer of cocaine and drug trafficking a persistent issue.

It is advisable to avoid the areas bordering Venezuela and Ecuador, where drug trafficking activities are more prevalent.

#16 Mexico

Ranked at #136 on the Global Peace Index, Mexico’s safety situation varies significantly depending on the region. The US State Department issues travel advisories by state within Mexico due to this disparity.

While tourist areas are generally safe, petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching are common. More serious concerns, such as drug-related violence and gang activity, are concentrated in specific areas.

In Mexico City, neighborhoods like Polanco, La Condesa, Roma Sur, and Roma Norte offer a relatively safe experience. Playa Del Carmen and Mérida are also regarded as safe places to visit.

#15 Belize

While Belize is not listed in the rankings, its safety situation is similar to that of Mexico, with a comparable murder rate. The country currently has a Level 2 Travel Advisory, indicating the need for increased caution.

Crime has seen an increase, particularly in gang-related violent activities. To stay safe, it is recommended to avoid the south side of Belize City and opt for safer places like Corozal and San Pedro.

Belize is not technically considered part of Latin America because the official language is English. However, it’s a popular destination for expats and it’s surrounded by Latin American countries so we decided to include it in our list.

#14 Brazil

With a rank of #132 on the Global Peace Index and a Level 2 Travel Advisory, Brazil faces challenges related to theft, robberies, gang violence, and murders, particularly in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Brazil holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest total gun deaths per year globally (the only country with more total gun deaths than the United States).

It is advisable to avoid the favelas (informal housing developments) and exercise extra caution in red-light districts. However, cities like Florianópolis and Belo Horizonte offer comparatively safer experiences.

#13 Nicaragua

Nicaragua ranks #123 on the Global Peace Index and carries a Level 3 Travel Advisory. Limited healthcare availability and arbitrary enforcement of laws contribute to this advisory.

While crime and wrongful detentions are concerns, places like Granada and Leon are relatively safe.

We often receive messages from expats living in Nicaragua who appreciate its low cost of living, natural beauty, and laid-back lifestyle, and they challenge the notion that the entire country is dangerous.

#12 El Salvador

El Salvador ranks #122 on the Global Peace Index, and it has made significant strides in improving its safety situation. However, the US State Department still has it at a Level 3 Travel Advisory – reconsider travel.

The authorities in El Salvador have the power to arrest individuals suspected of gang activity without cause, which has led to concerns regarding personal freedoms. The right to a speedy trial is no longer guaranteed.

Harsh prison conditions and reports of arbitrary arrests further contribute to the travel advisory. Freedom of speech is also questionable, emphasizing the need for careful consideration of one’s words when discussing the government.

It’s too soon to tell what the long-term ramifications are to the more authoritarian approach to crime in El Salvador, but 9 out 0f 10 El Salvadorians approve of the measures taken by the president to make the country safer.

Just a few years ago, El Salvador had the highest murder rate in the world so it’s easy to see why the people are happy with the changes.

#11 Honduras

Ranked at #120 on the Global Peace Index with a Level 3 Travel Advisory, Honduras faces common issues such as violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, and kidnapping. Violent gang activities, extortion, rape, and drug and human trafficking are widespread.

I’ve been to Roatán Island twice and felt very safe there. However, cities on the mainland present different safety challenges.

#10 Guatemala

Guatemala ranks #103 on the Global Peace Index and has a Level 3 Travel Advisory.

It is important to exercise caution due to the prevalence of violent crimes such as extortion, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

Certain parts of the country should be avoided altogether for safety reasons.

#9 Peru

Tied with Guatemala at #103 but with a Level 2 Travel Advisory, Peru faces street crime issues like muggings and theft, particularly in tourist areas. Reports of credit card fraud, express kidnappings, and carjackings have also been noted.

Political unrest has affected the country in recent times, causing temporary disruptions to tourism activities.

However, areas like Cusco and the neighborhood of Miraflores in Lima are generally safe and offer rich cultural experiences.

#8 Ecuador

Ecuador’s safety ranking dropped from 79 to 97 on the Global Peace Index this year due to increased crime since the pandemic and political turmoil. The US State Department has assigned a Level 2 Travel Advisory for the country, while certain areas carry level 3 or 4 advisories.

Petty theft, pickpocketing, and more serious crimes such as robbery, assault, home invasions, and express kidnappings have been reported.

Most murders in Ecuador are linked to drug and gang activities, with domestic femicides also being a concern.

Expats generally feel safe in many parts of the country, particularly in areas like Cuenca, Cotacachi, Baños, Mindo and Loja.

#7 Bolivia

Ranked at #78 with a Level 2 Travel Advisory, Bolivia’s main concern revolves around civil unrest and frequent protests.

While it is a beautiful country, the process of obtaining a long-term visa can be challenging.

#6 Panama

Panama ranks #68 on the Global Peace Index and holds a Level 2 Travel Advisory.

Petty crimes like pickpocketing and theft occur in urban areas, while more serious crimes like drug trafficking and gang violence are primarily limited to certain low-income neighborhoods.

It is advisable to avoid parts of the Mosquito Gulf and the Darién region due to safety concerns. Panama City, Coronado, and Boquete are recommended as safer choices.

#5 Paraguay

Tied with Panama at #68, but with a Level 1 Travel Advisory, Paraguay presents common crimes such as muggings, purse snatching, and pickpocketing.

Asunción and Concepción are safe and popular places for residents and visitors alike.

#4 Chile

Chile ranks #58 on the Global Peace Index and has a Level 2 Travel Advisory. While street crime, including muggings and theft, remains a concern, certain precautions can ensure a safe experience.

There have been occasional reports of express kidnappings, where victims are temporarily kidnapped and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs.

Santiago is very developed and diverse and has a lot of English speakers making it easier for tourists and new residents.

#3 Argentina

Argentina ranks #54 on the Global Peace Index and has a Level 1 Travel Advisory, reflecting a relatively safe environment.

While the country faces some challenges, such as street crime and petty theft in tourist areas, it is generally considered safe for visitors and foreign residents.

Buenos Aires, the capital city, offers vibrant cultural experiences, and neighborhoods like Palermo and Recoleta are known for their safety and charm.  Mendoza also is a popular choice.

#2 Uruguay

Uruguay holds the rank of #50 on the Global Peace Index and has a Level 2 Travel Advisory, making it one of the safest countries in Latin America.

With a low crime rate and a welcoming environment, Uruguay attracts expats and tourists alike.

Montevideo, the capital city, is known for its safety, and coastal towns like Punta del Este offer serene and secure experiences.

The country’s emphasis on social welfare, education, and political stability contributes to its overall safety.

#1 Costa Rica

Claiming the top spot as the safest country in Latin America, Costa Rica ranks at #39 on the Global Peace Index with a Level 2 Travel Advisory.

The country enjoys a stable political climate and a low crime rate compared to many of its regional counterparts. Petty theft, car break-ins, and purse snatching are common types of crime.

Known for its natural beauty and commitment to sustainability, Costa Rica has long been a popular destination for travelers seeking safety and adventure. Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo are considered safe, as are parts of San Jose.

Unfortunately drug trafficking has increased resulting in an increase of violent crime, including homicides. They’ve seen a spike, just like Ecuador.

Missing Countries

The definition of “Latin America” is not clearly defined and does not have a commonly accepted meaning. However, it generally refers to countries where the Romance Languages of Spanish and Portuguese are spoken. Some definitions also include French.

For the purpose of our analysis and knowing the interests of our audience, we decided to only include Spanish speaking countries, plus Brazil and Belize, in Central and South America, plus Mexico.

We’re saving the Caribbean Islands for a future list since several of the islands speak English and are not considered part of Latin America.

The official language in Suriname is Dutch, the official language in Guyana is English, and the official language in French Guiana is French, so we excluded those as well. They’re also not popular expat destinations for our audience.

Final Thoughts…

We live in one of these “unsafe” countries (Ecuador) and we’ve visited others (Mexico and Colombia), but we felt mostly safe in the areas we visited (although we did get Moto Robbed in Guadalajara, Mexico).

While some countries face significant challenges related to crime and social unrest, others have made commendable progress in ensuring security for residents and visitors.

It’s important to remember that these rankings provide a general overview and that safety can differ within specific regions or cities.

Whether you choose to explore Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, or any other Latin American country, staying informed, taking precautions, and embracing cultural experiences will contribute to a memorable and secure journey.

Disclaimer: The Travel Advisories are current as of July 5, 2023. Please check with the US State Department for the most current information.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Medellín vs Cuenca: Comparing Two Popular Expat Destinations in Latin America

Medellín, Colombia and Cuenca, Ecuador have become increasingly popular destinations for expats, digital nomads, and retirees.

Both cities offer a unique charm, vibrant cultures, and an array of attractions that cater to various lifestyles and preferences.

In this comprehensive blog post, you’ll learn about the many facets of living in these two amazing cities, including the pros and cons of each, comparing aspects such as living conditions, cost of living, infrastructure, and safety.

Hopefully, this will help you make an informed decision about which city might be the ideal destination for your next adventure or new home abroad.

Medellín, Colombia: A Jungle With a City In It

Medellín ColombiaMy first impression of Medellín, Colombia was that it’s a jungle with a city in it.

Medellín is nestled in the Andean mountains, but the elevation is low enough that it has lots of tall trees and tropical greenery, which provides an amazing backdrop for the bustling city life.

Pros of Medellín Colombia

Medellín is a fascinating blend of modern comforts and jungle-like surroundings. It has a lot of great things going for it, such as:

  • Scenic beauty: Surrounded by mountains and lush greenery, Medellín offers a stunning landscape.
  • Pleasant weather: With a year-round spring-like climate, Medellín is known as the “Land of Eternal Spring.”
  • Lower elevation: While still at 4,900 feet / 1,495 meters, it’s much lower than Cuenca so it’s warmer and the air is easier to breathe.
  • Vibrant culture: The city is known for its colorful murals and diverse population of Colombians and other South Americans, plus tourists, digital nomads, and expats from around the world.
  • Cleanliness: In the neighborhoods we visited, streets were well-maintained, and dogs were on leashes.
  • Modern infrastructure: Medellín has drinkable tap water and a wide variety of restaurants catering to all tastes and dietary needs.
  • Transportation: Affordable taxis, buses, and a metro system are available throughout the city, along with Uber.
  • International airport: Direct flights to some locations in the United States and other countries make Medellín easily accessible.
  • Affordability: Housing, food, and restaurant prices are comparable to Ecuador and much lower than the United States or Canada.
  • High-quality healthcare: Colombia is known for its excellent healthcare facilities and is consistently ranked high by CEOWorld Magazine.
  • Housing options: While high-rise living is popular in Medellín, townhomes and single-family homes are available if you’re willing to venture further out. Check out our Medellín Colombia Real Estate Tour for more about housing in Medellín.
  • Kaime Medellin ColombiaExcellent restaurants: We ate at a variety of amazing restaurants in the Zona Rosa tourist area of El Poblado. You’ll find everything from street vendors to high-end gourmet restaurants, and the prices are very affordable compared to the US.
  • Service culture: Compared to Ecuador, Colombia has a high-quality service culture. Restaurant servers, drivers, tour guides, cashiers, etc. are attentive and care about the quality of service you receive.

Cons of Medellín Colombia

We enjoyed our time in Medellín and plan to go back, but a few things make it less than perfect:

  • Crowded city: With a population of more than 2.5 million people, Medellín can feel quite congested.
  • Colombian Peso: Conversion rates may be tricky for those used to the US dollar and the value fluctuates a lot.
  • Heavy traffic: The city has heavy traffic and swarms of motorcycles, which might be concerning for some. After getting moto-robbed in Guadalajara, Mexico, the swarms of motorcycles had us constantly looking over our shoulders.
  • Safety concerns: Moto-robberies, pickpocketing, kidnapping, and other safety issues are a significant concern. It’s important to be cautious and avoid certain areas, especially at night. It’s also common for sex workers and Tinder daters to lure foreigners to a restaurant or hotel room where they are roofied and robbed.
  • Tax residency: Staying in Colombia for more than 183 days per year might make you a tax resident, so consult a tax professional before moving there long-term.
 

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Cuenca, Ecuador: A South American Gem

Cuenca Ecuador View from Mirador Turi

Cuenca, Ecuador is a charming UNESCO World Heritage city with a rich history and stunning architecture. Like Medellín, it is also known as the “Land of Eternal Spring” for its pleasant weather.

While much smaller and about 1,000 miles / 1,600 kilometers south of Medellín, Cuenca shares some similarities with its Colombian counterpart in terms of cost of living, quality of life, and available amenities.

However, they differ in population size, safety levels, and currency (Ecuador uses the US dollar).

Comparing these two cities is a valuable exercise for those considering a move to Latin America.

Pros of Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca offers a slower pace of life, a welcoming expat community, and a unique blend of culture and nature that make it an attractive destination. It’s also much smaller than Medellín with a population of roughly 500,000 people.

Here are a few things we love about Cuenca:

  • Cuenca Ecuador New CathedralUNESCO World Heritage Site: Cuenca is rich in history and architecture, with Inca ruins right in the city.
  • Beautiful rivers and linear parks: The city has 4 rivers running through it, and numerous parks that offer scenic trails and relaxing spots to sit and read a book.
  • Land of Eternal Spring: Known for its mild temperatures, Cuenca offers pleasant weather throughout the year.
  • Walkable city: Most of the city can be explored on foot, with taxis required only occasionally for longer distances or heavy loads.
  • Incredible restaurants: Cuenca boasts a wide array of affordable, delicious, and beautifully plated food options. Check out Popular Expat Restaurants in Cuenca Ecuador for our recommendations.
  • Diverse expat community: The city is popular among retirees, families, and singles of all ages from around the world.
  • English speakers: Cuenca has a larger population of English speakers compared to Medellín, and a large number of Ecuadorians who speak English, making it easier for non-Spanish speakers to settle in.
  • Quality healthcare: Ecuador (especially Cuenca) is known for its excellent and affordable healthcare; CEOWorld Magazine consistently ranks it higher than the US. It’s easy to schedule appointments with high-quality medical professionals, and many speak English. Check out Our Ecuador Healthcare Experience for more details about healthcare in Ecuador, including costs and quality of care.
  • Affordable living: Housing prices in Cuenca are comparable to Medellín, with the overall cost of living being similar and about one-third of the cost in the United States.
  • Drinkable tap water: The tap water in Cuenca is safe to drink and tastes better than in Medellín (it’s not so heavily chlorinated)
  • Ecuador's Unique USD CoinsEcuador is on the US Dollar: The official currency in Ecuador is the US dollar, making it convenient for US American expats. It’s the exact same currency (except for a few special coins minted in 2000 that are not legal tender back in the US). Check out Money and Banking in Ecuador for more on this topic.
  • No tax on foreign income: Foreign residents do not pay tax on their foreign income, although it’s essential to consult a tax professional for accurate and up-to-date advice.
 

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Cons of Cuenca Ecuador

Like any place, Cuenca is not without its challenges:

  • High elevation: Cuenca is located at 8,400 feet / 2,560 meters above sea level (almost twice the elevation as Medellín), which can result in cooler temperatures and thinner air.
  • Limited international flights: While there is a semi-direct flight to Miami, Cuenca’s airport is small, and all international flights require a connection in Quito or Guayaquil.
  • Increased crime rates: Petty theft and robberies have become more common in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador, so it’s essential to be cautious.
  • Laid-back service quality: Ecuadorians have a more relaxed attitude toward service, which can be both a blessing and a challenge for expats adjusting to the local customs. At restaurants, you may need to find your server to take your order or bring the bill. And we often find that they deliver the courses in the reverse order (entree, appetizer and then drinks) so we have learned to order one thing at a time so we get things in the proper order.

Final Thoughts

Both Medellín and Cuenca are beautiful cities with their unique qualities.

Medellín may be better suited if you’re seeking a larger, modern city with great service, lower elevation, and direct flights to the US.

On the other hand, Cuenca might be the right choice if you prefer a smaller city with a slower pace of life, great restaurants, cooler temperatures, a higher safety level, and the convenience of spending in US dollars.

And remember, visiting each city before committing to a move is always the best way to get a true feel for what life there would be like.

Watch Our Video Comparing Medellín Colombia to Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Are We Moving to Mexico? Comparing Mexico and Ecuador for Expats

Lately, we’ve been getting tons of questions asking if we’re moving to Mexico since we started sharing videos from our adventures there.

So, we thought it would be a perfect time to compare Mexico and Ecuador head-to-head and see which one comes out on top for factors that matter most to us (and maybe you as well!).

Mexico VS EcuadorThe Allure of Mexico

Mexico has a lot going for it, especially for expats from the United States and Canada. It’s super close, making traveling to and from home a breeze, with multiple international airports and even the option to drive there!

Pros of Living in Mexico:

  • Developed infrastructure (highways, housing, internet, etc.)
  • Cheaper goods and more variety (Amazon Prime!)
  • Delicious food
  • Friendly locals
  • Diverse housing options
  • Good healthcare (ranked 29th globally by CEOWorld Magazine)
  • Rich culture and plenty of things to do

The Not-So-Great Side of Mexico:

Of course, no place is perfect, and Mexico has a few drawbacks too:

 

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Ecuador: An Expat Paradise?

Ecuador, a hidden gem tucked away in South America, has been gaining popularity among expats over the past 10+ years. But is it truly an expat paradise?

In this section, we’ll dive into the various aspects that make Ecuador a fantastic destination for those looking to start a new adventure abroad, as well as some of the challenges that come with living in this beautiful country.

Pros of Living in Ecuador:

Ecuador also has a lot going for it, particularly for those from the United States:

  • The US dollar is the official currency
  • Fantastic climate
  • Walkable cities and towns
  • Amazing fruits and veggies (high quality and low cost)
  • Affordable, high-quality healthcare (ranked 25th globally)
  • Low cost of living
  • Reliable internet
  • Safe drinking water in some metro areas
  • Outdoor activities galore
  • Friendly locals
  • Easy to obtain visas (we have permanent visas!)

Ecuador’s Imperfections:

Ecuador isn’t without its flaws:

  • Farther from the US (flights are more expensive and longer)
  • Expensive and limited international travel options
  • Increasing crime/drug activity (Ecuador ranked #79 on the safest country list in 2022)
  • Smaller expat communities compared to Mexico
  • Not-so-great beaches (more like the Pacific side of Mexico, not the Caribbean)
  • Expensive imported goods and limited variety

Our Verdict: Are We Moving to Mexico?

So, what’s the verdict? The main benefit Mexico has over Ecuador for us is its proximity to the US and our families back home.

However, we think Ecuador ranks higher on a few aspects that matter more to us than a shorter plane ride, like high quality healthcare, better air quality and drinkable tap water (where we live).

Plus, we have permanent visas in Ecuador so we don’t have to worry about being legal or making visa runs!

Although we love to travel and may consider applying for a visa in another country at some point, we’re not moving to Mexico. We’re staying in Ecuador.

Both Mexico and Ecuador are fantastic options for expats and have a lot to offer. If you’re looking to escape the daily grind and try something new, you can’t go wrong with either destination.

Watch Our Video Comparing Mexico and Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Redefining Retirement: Pursue Your Passion and Live a Life with Purpose

Far too many people spend their entire lives working hard to make someone else rich, only to find that when they finally cross the finish line to retirement, they’re bored and aimless.

Sadly, this is the reality for many who retire, leading to deteriorating health, depression, and early death.

And now, according to recent studies, more baby boomers than ever are becoming homeless. It takes just one crisis, like a job loss or medical bills, to push someone nearing retirement onto the streets!

The traditional concept of retirement is outdated, but you can redefine your retirement to make it more fulfilling and purposeful while protecting yourself from the dire consequences of unexpected hardships.

The Problem with Traditional Retirement

Redefine RetirementWith traditional retirement, you spend your whole life saving as much as possible, work to a certain age, and then stop working. A lot of retirees stop doing much of anything.

If you live in the United States, the rising cost of living and healthcare may eat away at your retirement savings faster than you expected, and that could lead to financial disaster later in life.

However, according to an article from MarketWatch, the retirement mindset is changing. People are beginning to realize that saving enough money for retirement is important, but having choice, autonomy, and agency matters even more.

Redefining Retirement: Live Life on Your Terms

Retirement doesn’t have to be a death sentence. By ditching the outdated concept of traditional retirement, you can create a life that revolves around your passions and interests.

Today’s retirees are redefining what it means to retire, with many continuing to work on their own terms or pursuing delayed dreams.

Here are some suggestions for how to redefine your retirement:

  • Try something new – Explore new hobbies or interests that bring you joy and a sense of purpose.
  • Turn your passion into a business – Utilize your life experiences and interests to create a meaningful, purpose-driven venture.
  • Create passive income streams – Although passive income is not entirely passive, it can allow you to live life on your terms and prioritize what truly matters to you. Check out our Online Income eCourse for ideas and quick start checklists.

We’ve seen it ourselves – people living unconventional, freedom-based lifestyles that they thought were unattainable.

Moving abroad, for example, has provided us with the flexibility and freedom to shape our lives in ways we never thought possible.

If you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s and don’t have enough investments or income to retire yet, you’re not alone. Neither do we.

But it’s never too early or late to take control and redefine your retirement, which might mean retiring early (with the right plan).

Overcoming Retirement Obstacles

To break free from the constraints of traditional retirement, and possibly retire early, consider these strategies:

  • Reduce expenses – Cut back on unnecessary spending, such as retail therapy or buying things you don’t need.
  • Downsize – Consider moving to a smaller home or relocating to a more affordable area.
  • Move to a low-cost country – Many countries offer a lower cost of living, allowing your retirement savings to stretch further.
  • Pay off debt – Use the Debt Snowball Method to pay off your debts and free up more money for saving and investing.
  • Earn more money – Start a side hustle or find online income opportunities.
  • Save and invest – Look into financial strategies like the FIRE movement to boost your savings and investments.

It seems cliche to say you need to spend less and earn more, but it really is that simple.

You can reduce your expenses starting today by cutting out things you don’t need. For most people, housing and cars are the biggest expenses, but it might take longer to downsize those.

We sold our house in the suburbs of Denver and moved into a one-bedroom apartment downtown. Then we sold one of our cars. When you factor taxes, insurance and maintenance into the equation, the savings was well over $2,000 per month!

It might take a little longer to start a side hustle to earn extra income, but that’s probably easier than you think, too.

It took us almost a year to earn income from our YouTube channel, but that was due to a lack of knowledge. If we were starting over today, we would be able to earn income within the first two months because of the lessons we’ve learned.

 

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Discovering Your Ideal Retirement Destination

If the idea of redefining your retirement and moving to a new country sounds appealing, we’ve compiled a list of 5 popular countries to work online or retire early according to World Population Review (2022).

These countries offer a blend of affordability, excellent healthcare, and beautiful landscapes, making them perfect for anyone looking to embrace a new way of life.

Panama

Panama is known for its lower cost of living (compared to the US), large expat community, and excellent healthcare (#56 CEO World ranking).

Its proximity to the US and the use of the US dollar make it a popular choice for expats. Many locals speak English, although learning basic Spanish is recommended.

Panama offers a 6-month tourist visa, a 9-month digital nomad visa (with extensions available), and a pension visa with a requirement of $1k/month.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is famous for its “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” lifestyle, focusing on simplicity and well-being. With stunning mountains, beaches, and incredible wildlife, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.

Costa Rica ranks #50 for healthcare (CEO World) and offers digital nomad and long-term visas, including a 1-year DM visa (renewable with a requirement of $3k/month) and a pensioner visa with a $1k/month requirement.

Mexico

Mexico offers more than just beautiful beaches! You’ll also find great places to live inland like Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende, boasting pleasant weather and rich culture.

With its affordability, large expat communities, and good healthcare (#29 CEO World ranking), Mexico is a popular destination for those seeking an “America Lite” experience.

Mexico offers 2-year temporary visas that allow you to work but doesn’t have an official digital nomad visa.

Ecuador

Ecuador is a birdwatcher’s paradise with more bird species per square kilometer than any country on earth. Plus, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest are waiting for you to explore them.

The country is known for its culture, excellent healthcare, dental tourism, and affordability, with the US dollar as its official currency.

Ecuador offers a digital nomad visa with a 2-year term that can be converted to permanent residency. To qualify, you’ll need a monthly income of $1,350 (as of April 2023). Other visa options include pension, investment, and professional visas, making Ecuador one of the easiest places to relocate.

 

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Malaysia

Malaysia is an extremely developed country with solid infrastructure, a rich history, and high-quality healthcare (#34 CEO World ranking).

Kuala Lumpur was voted the best city for expats in 2022. With its beautiful scenery and affordable cost of living, Malaysia is an attractive destination for digital nomads and retirees alike.

The country offers a new digital nomad visa requiring $24k/year, valid for 12 months with a 12-month extension available. Additionally, Malaysia has a 10-year permanent resident visa and the MM2H visa, a 10-year retirement visa with investment and monthly income requirements.

Final Thoughts

As the concept of retirement evolves, so too should our approach to it. By redefining retirement and focusing on our passions and purpose, we can create a life that’s truly fulfilling and rewarding.

Don’t be afraid to break away from the conventional retirement mold – embrace the possibilities of a freedom lifestyle, location independence, or early retirement.

The choice is yours and there are lots of amazing countries and cities to choose from if you really decide to embrace the unconventional life and move abroad.

Watch Our Video About The NEW Retirement

Videos We Mentioned in the Video:

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cotacachi Ecuador vs Ajijic Mexico (Pros & Cons)

Are you considering a move to Mexico or Ecuador and wondering which expat destination to choose? Both countries have plenty of options, but two towns that stand out are Ajijic in Mexico and Cotacachi in Ecuador.

These two picturesque mountain towns have a lot in common, but also some unique features that may sway your decision. In this article, we’ll compare the pros and cons of living in each town.

Ajijic Mexico Pros & Cons

Ajijic Mexico Centro ChapelAjijic is a picturesque mountain town on the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. The town is located about an hour south of Guadalajara and is close to major cities and airports.

The area is popular with expats because of its incredible views, walkability, variety of restaurants, and outdoor activities.

The town is home to a large number of foreign residents, which means there are many perks available to them, but also a few downsides caused by its extreme popularity.

Ajijic Mexico Pros

  • Beautiful, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Lakeside location
  • Comfortable year-round climate with lower elevation at 5,000 feet
  • 30-minute drive to the international airport in Guadalajara
  • Lots of expat amenities and English-speaking locals
  • Great for retirees
  • Plenty of shopping options, including Walmart and grocery stores
  • Nightlife options available

Ajijic Mexico Cons

  • Housing is expensive
  • Very populated and touristy
  • Can feel like “America-lite”
 

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Cotacachi Ecuador Pros & Cons

Cotacachi is a picturesque mountain town located about 90 minutes north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It has a population of around 9,000 people, and a lot of them are expats. Cotacachi is also close to major cities and airports and has incredible views and a variety of outdoor activities.

Situated between two inactive volcanoes, the town is small, clean, and quiet, making it feel more authentic than Ajijic. The town is also close to world-famous shopping at the Otavalo market and has a supportive group of expats. However, it doesn’t have major medical facilities, and the full grocery store is 30 minutes away in Ibarra.

Cotacachi Ecuador Pros

  • Small, clean, and quiet
  • Located in a picturesque mountain setting with incredible views
  • Close to world-famous shopping at Otavalo market
  • Hiking and outdoor activities available
  • Supportive group of expats
  • One of the most affordable cities in Ecuador
  • Weekly organic market
  • Quito is 1.5 hours away

Cotacachi Ecuador Cons

  • High elevation can be a challenge for some
  • Cool temperatures and rainy climate
  • Major medical facilities are not available in town
  • Airport is 1.5 hours away
  • Longer, more expensive flights back to the US
  • Not many nightlife options available

Conclusion

When deciding between Ajijic and Cotacachi, it comes down to your personal preferences and priorities. If you’re looking for a small community with cooler temperatures, Cotacachi may be the right fit for you. The town is more affordable than Ajijic, and it feels very authentic. On the other hand, if you have a larger budget and want to be closer to the US with a warmer climate and plenty of expat amenities, Ajijic may be the perfect fit.

Watch Our Comparison Video About Cotacachi and Ajijic

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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