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As one gets older the idea of where one wants to settle arises and over the years retiring abroad has quickly become a new and exciting adventure for many. However, the legal and practical aspects of completing the adventure are important and depend on the choices you make and can determine how easy or difficult the journey will be to achieve your goal.
The destination is of course important, as are the pros and cons of each location, including weather and food, but that’s not the only consideration. Here are some points to consider:
- What type of visa is best for me?
- What are my rights and obligations as an international retiree?
- Can my family freely come and visit me?
- Do I have to pay local taxes?
- Can I buy a property?
- What rules apply to my estate?
- Do I need a will in the destination country?
At Harvey Law Group (HLG), we have 30 years of experience advising private clients on their international mobility options, and we have developed unique expertise in overseas retirement.
1. Choose your destination
The first and most exciting decision to make is knowing exactly where you want to retire.
The world is your oyster and there are so many amazing options. Currently, the most popular locations are Portugal, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia. These are based on objective factors including health care, climate, cost of living and ease of obtaining a visa. Asia is also another top destination as it also offers many great options, especially when it comes to affordable private healthcare and weather.
2. Choose your immigration or long-stay visa route wisely
The destination could expand the options available to you and the route you take to get where you want to go, whether through citizenship by descent, citizenship by investment, nomadic visa or a retirement visa.
For example, some countries offer citizenship by descent, which means that as long as a parent or grandparent was born there, you can apply for full citizenship and receive all the associated benefits. Ideally, this country will also allow you to retain your nationality, that is, to have dual nationality, so that you do not lose the possibility of easy travel or return home. Countries that allow dual nationality by descent include Australia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and several others.
In other countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey, and Vanuatu, citizenship-by-investment programs are the most efficient way to obtain an alternative citizenship and passport. with all its benefits and pension rights, in exchange for a dedicated investment.
An increasingly popular trend emerged a few years ago and now many countries have launched nomad visas as a means of tourism and economic stimulation. These visas (often called digital nomad visas, distance visaWhere freelance visa) is a booming visa stream that combines the benefits of remote working with the bonus of living abroad and is currently available in over 25 countries such as Bahamas, Iceland, Mauritius, Taiwan, etc.
If an alternative citizenship or travel visa is not what you are looking for, it is important to consider destination visa requirements. The type of visa and the requirements vary considerably: a temporary residence permit can be time-limited or renewable and will naturally come with red tape and renewal fees. You will often need to live in the country for a number of years before you can apply for permanent residency if that is your end goal.
Some countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia and Panama, have specific visas for retirees who can demonstrate a minimum monthly income while other countries offer residency to foreigners who purchase real estate.
3. Choose your accommodation option
Your first instinct might be to buy a property in your adopted country; however, it should not be assumed that the property market or home buying standards are the same abroad as in your home country. Some countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines have significant restrictions on where — and what — foreigners can legally buy and own.
If you are determined to buy, it is important to first explore your options with the help of a qualified lawyer who understands the local market and can advise you on both immigration and property angles. . A reputable solicitor can advise you on any restrictions you will face, assess potential legal complications for the properties you are interested in, and help you open a local bank account and the possibility – or
impossibility – to secure the local financing of your purchase.
Renting might be a safer option, at least when you are first arriving in the country and exploring where you might want to settle, but again, the rental process in other countries is often very different. and may include the provision of a substantial security deposit, a requirement to pay an entire year in advance, or unique terms tied to the rental of a furnished property.
4. Choose your lawyer carefully
In most countries, immigration is reserved for a licensed immigration attorney to guide and advise you and your family. Retiring abroad has an immigration component, so it is highly recommended that you do your own research and due diligence on the type of professional you seek assistance from. Unlike unlicensed agents or firms, a professional immigration attorney has an obligation to advise you on the best destination and program that best suits your goals and lifestyle.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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