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.
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, 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 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 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, 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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, 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 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.
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.
It 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.
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!
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I grew up in the Chicagoland area and spent most of my career working as a sales rep in the commercial lighting industry. I still work online for a company in Denver doing sales CRM administration. YouTube is my part-time gig, but I'm so happy we can share our Unconventional Life and hopefully inspire you live yours!