An English-speaking nation in Central America, complete with ultra-low cost of living and the sort of beaches you’d expect to see young David Hasselhoff running down in slow motion? Yeah, this is an actual Place That Exists, and its name is Belize. Wedged awkwardly between Mexico and Guatemala, this pint-sized slice of paradise is barely larger than Wales, and comes with a population smaller than Bakersfield, California, with the added advantage that it’s not actually Bakersfield, California.
So, what’s the trick to setting up shop in this land of palm trees and crystal waters? That’s the best part. You can apply for permanent residency in Belize after only a year there. To stay there for a year, all you have to do is arrive on a 30-day tourist visa, and keep renewing it every 30 days. When you hit the 50 week mark, pay $1,000 and, after jumping through some bureaucratic hoops, you should be in. Just be careful of the requirement some departments have that you leave the country for two weeks every 6 months. Doing so will reset your year-long countdown.
It might be a shock for those who remember 1980s Nicaragua as a place of leftist coups, civil wars and rightwing Contras, but Nicaragua is gorgeous. Nah, seriously. Just check out these pictures. It kinda looks like someone got hold of some leftover bits of paradise God had lying around, tossed them altogether in a big celestial bowl, and scattered the results between two pristine coastlines. Provided you can ignore the politics, Nicaragua is the place you always wanted to go home to.
So, now we’ve sold you on the whole idea, we’ve got some awesome news. Nicaragua runs a retirement program, just like Ecuador. And, just like Ecuador, they take their own entry requirements with a pinch of salt. Provided you can prove an income of $600 a month, you neither have to be old nor, technically, retired.
While most countries don’t let those on retirement visas to work, Nicaragua’s government defines work so loosely you kinda wonder why they bother at all. If you open a restaurant or small hotel, they don’t define it as work. If you get an income working digitally for a non-Nicaraguan company, they don’t define it as work. Wait, what? So… we guess that would include internet list writing? Huh. If you scroll down and the rest of the article is just gifs of us kicking back on golden beaches, you’ll know what’s happened.
Ah, dang, we’re still here. Well, we guess we should tell you about Panama, then. Technically an independent part of Central America, but in reality looking and feeling like a part of Florida that broke off and floated south, Panama is moving abroad for those who don’t want the hassle and inconvenience that moving abroad usually entails. It’s safe, well developed, a lot of people speak English, and it uses the US dollar. Know what else? Practically anyone can move there with effectively zero effort.
Most Americans that head to Panama do so on the retiree visa, which gives holders massive discounts on a ton of stuff, while only requiring a monthly income of $1,000. But the residency visa for younger workers is almost equally good. Basically, all you gotta do is deposit $5,000 in a Panamanian bank. Then, if you come from one of 47 ‘friendly countries’ (yeah, that includes USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Austria, and the EU), you can get the Friendly Nations Visa. All you need is to find a job or open a business in Panama and you’ve got long-term residency. Just beware that a load of people who get this visa are using it as a massive tax dodge.