When it comes to internationalization, it is important to consider two recommendations:
The main recommendation is to first move part of your assets out of the country where you live.
The second recommendation is to acquire a legal residence in another country. This strategy has many benefits and can be incredibly economical.
These benefits can include:
1- The possibility of living abroad if the social, political, or economic conditions of your country become intolerable. Obtaining a second residence is, in effect, like an insurance policy that you can use if circumstances demand it.
2- Greater access to the legal and financial system in the new country. Once you acquire legal residency, it will usually be much easier for you to open bank accounts, acquire real estate, and perform other formalities.
3- Confidentiality and asset protection. The funds you move to the second country will effectively disappear from your home country’s radar. For example, while U.S. citizens must disclose to the IRS most of their non-U.S. assets of origin, if you acquire a second home these funds will be much less visible to U.S. asset tracking services.
4- Tax incentives. Most countries levy taxes on the global income of any person residing there more than six months of the year. However, few countries levy taxes on local income, exempting income from external sources. Panama, Costa Rica, and Georgia are examples of nations with these “territorial” tax systems. This advantage is less significant for U.S. citizens than for those of other nationalities, since the U.S. government taxes their overall income, wherever they live. However, U.S. citizens living in a country with a territorial tax system can generally run their businesses in a manner that qualifies them for exclusion from the FEIE, eliminating or significantly reducing their tax obligations to the U.S.
5- Access to low-cost health services. The United States has the highest health care costs in the world. Obtaining legal residence in a country like Mexico, for example, allows you to register with the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the national health system of this country. Your premium will depend on several factors, but the maximum rate is approximately 360 USD per year. Even if you are uninsured, you will notice that medical care in Mexico (and many other countries) accounts for between one-third and one-half of the cost in the United States
6-Increasing mobility. Having a second home also gives you the possibility to improve your access to other countries. For example, a residence visa from a European country belonging to the Schengen Area, allows you to travel without a visa to any other country in that area. This is a very valuable benefit for citizens of countries that do not have access to the European Union without a visa.
Here are some criteria you may want to consider when deciding where to obtain your second residence:
- What are the requirements to qualify? To obtain a residence visa in some countries, you may only need to demonstrate a minimum level of income. Ecuador, for example, offers several visas that require only an income of 800 USD per month. Other countries require a guaranteed pension or a one-time investment. Some countries, like Panama, offer you the option to qualify for residency based on your income or by making an investment.
- Is there a minimum stay requirement? Many countries require that legal residents stay there a specific amount of time. For example, to maintain your status as a permanent resident of Canada, you must live there for at least two years within a five-year period. On the other hand, Belize requires that persons who have a “Qualified Retiree” (QRP) visa, be within the country for at least 30 days a year. Ecuador requests that holders of most of their residence permits remain in the country for 90 days or more per year. Some countries, however, such as Mexico and Panama, have much more permissive requirements.
- Can you enter and leave the territory whenever you want? In many cases, you are allowed to leave and re-enter the country that issued the visa without any formality. However, some countries require that you first obtain an exit visa or re-entry permit before traveling. Most visas in Thailand, for example, have this requirement.
- Can you work or start a business? Most countries do not make it easy for new residents to work for a local employer. Often, there is a separate process for obtaining a work permit in addition to a residence permit. Some classifications of residents, such as pensioners in many Spanish-speaking countries, do not allow you to work at all. However, in virtually all countries, you will be able to work from home, developing an internet business, as long as you are not competing with local residents.
- What is the cost of living? In many countries, you can live at a low cost if you are willing to adopt the lifestyle of the local people. But if you expect to maintain the same amenities as in your home country, you may have to pay a high cost for them.
- How efficient is the infrastructure? You should consider everything from the health care system, public and transportation services, broadband internet access, to the availability of ATMs. For example, many residents of St. Kitts and Nevis have their own generators to deal with power outages.
- Is English widely used? If you are able to shop, order food services, ask for directions, and have a basic conversation in the local language, you will find it much easier to get around. If you choose the second country of residence where you are not fluent in the official language, you will have to rely on other immigrants and/or anyone who speaks English.
- Will you eventually qualify for citizenship and a passport? In most countries, you will qualify after living there for an extended period, usually five years or more. However, some visa categories may not qualify for citizenship at all. For example, people who hold a Belize QRP visa may never be eligible for this right. Instead, they must apply for habitual residence and live in the country for five years on that visa (or less in some cases) before they can apply for citizenship.
Finally, obtaining a second home is, without a doubt, a success. If the country in which you live should fall into crisis, at least you will have an escape alternative, not to mention many other benefits.
Crises can occur in any country, even in the most advanced ones and those with the most developed economies. The world is changing very quickly, economic crises are occurring more frequently and there are more and more instruments of citizen control in many countries