America's turbulent past few years has seen more residents giving up their citizenship and hightailing it for other countries. More than 5,800 Americans gave up their citizenship in the first six months of 2020, a steep jump from the 2,072 who renounced their citizenship in all of the previous year, says Bambridge Accountants, a company specializing in preparing taxes for expats. The figure was only 1,534 a decade ago, when a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act went into effect. But relocating with a resident visa to another country is not as easy for some Americans as it is for others. Those over the age of 50 might find themselves shut out of residency in some of the world's most popular countries, such as Australia (unless of course you can meet strict criteria). Here are some countries still happy to become new homes to relocating seniors.
You can't be an Aussie; how about being a Kiwi? New Zealand, Australia's neighbor in the South Pacific, offers several visa options, including a Work to Residence visa for those 55 or younger. To qualify, you must have a skill that's on the country's "Long Term Skill Shortage List" and work with an accredited employer. The country's immigration website notes that many of its work visa options are available to applicants of all ages, just in case getting resident status is not a must and you simply want to live and work in a nation that went a milestone 102 days with no coronavirus cases (so, yes, it is possible) under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Known for political and economic stability and a pleasant climate to boot, the Dominican Republic has recently made residency visas essential for those planning to live there long term: Without one you can't get a driver's license, car insurance, a bank account, or a mobile phone contract. There's no age limit, but you must be able to comply with at least one of the country's residency visa conditions, such as employment, getting a monthly pension of at least $1,500 or monthly rental income of at least $2,000, or being prepared to invest $200,000 in the country in the form of a business or home purchase.
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Portugal is popular among relocating Americans thanks to its picturesque geography, well-respected health care offerings, and affordability. Residency visas are open to retirees, who must apply for a D-7 Residence Visa while still in their home country. Key requirements for eligibility include proving you can provide for your monthly living expenses through either work income or retirement funds (typically about $1,000 per person); retaining an international health insurance policy that has an expiration at least one year in the future; and having a clean criminal background.
The bureaucratic process can be daunting and is best handled by hiring an immigration lawyer, but there's no age limit for getting a resident visa for Ecuador, which lets you stay permanently and import household goods duty-free — in fact, if you're 65-plus, resident status entitles you to half-price bus transportation, half-price movie tickets, discounted airfare, a free landline (remember those?), and a refund on local taxes. If you're not retired but still hope to relocate, check out the Category 60-II visa that covers those with stable monthly income from sources outside Ecuador such as investments, rental properties, or wages.
Yet another warm weather option particularly popular among expats, Central America's Belize puts no age limit on resident visas. But if you want a visa, you must first live in the country for 50 consecutive weeks on a tourist visa, renewed every 30 days. After that, you can apply for permanent residence, paying a nonrefundable $2,000 and proving financial stability. You'll also need to undergo a medical exam and provide a clean police background check from Belize and your home country. As a former British colony, Belize's official language is English — but there are cons as well, including less reliable health care.
First things first: Malta is gorgeous. With its turquoise waters, sunny climate, and charming villages, English-speaking Malta is a nation worth visiting, and living there could be downright dreamy — and the country's immigration website says permanent residence is "open to everyone," without age restriction. To become a permanent resident, you'll need to buy or rent a property in Malta or Gozo (one of the Maltese islands) and pay a minimum annual tax liability on foreign income earned while in the country. A bonus? The country has done an exemplary job of handling the coronavirus outbreak, according to the World Health Organization, and has cheap but slow health care in general.
The Friendly Nations visa (officially called Permanent Residence for Nationals of Specific Countries) is your ticket to long-term residence in Panama if you're 50-plus. One of the countries that gets top marks from the International Living website for quality of life abroad, Panama offers the visa you want to those with a local bank account holding at least $5,000 and who own real estate or a business in Panama, or who have a job in the country. It courts qualifying retirees with perks on health care, utility bills, travel, and entertainment.
An eco-tourist mecca known for lush jungles and tropical climate, as well as an extremely high standard of living and peaceful government, Costa Rica is another welcoming option for those concerned about age limits for long-term residency. Available resident visa options here include the Rentista and Pensionado programs. The Rentista Program is a good choice for professionals who are not yet retired and thus unable to provide proof of a monthly pension; they must be able to show $2,500 in verifiable monthly income for the past two years. The Pensionado Program, on the other hand, requires having a minimum of $1,000 a month in lifelong income from either a pension, Social Security, 401(k), or an IRA.
Argentina offers everything from subtropical jungle to cosmopolitan cities comparable to Paris. This country is home to a significant expat population (many living in Buenos Aires). Known for welcoming, liberal visa policies, Argentina offers various relocation options: Its Rentista visa is open to people with a steady, guaranteed monthly income of 30,000 Argentine pesos (about $411); it is valid only for a year, but can be renewed up to three times — and after that you can apply for permanent residency. Under this visa you can be self-employed or start a business, but not work for someone else. The Pensioner visa also requires proof of monthly income of at least 30,000 pesos.
With its low cost of living and convenient proximity to the United States, Mexico is one of the most popular expat destinations. Professional, affordable medical care is a bonus, International Living says. A temporary residency visa — for people who want to stay in the country longer than six months but less than four years — is one of the best ways to approach a long-term stay and has no age restriction, while having lower income requirements, at about $1,620 per month. After four years, you can apply for permanent residency. Some of the perks of being an officially declared temporary resident of Mexico include being able to buy and register a car, open a bank account, and import household goods without paying duty. You'll also have unrestricted entry and exit rights.