If, like me, you truly love life down south, you'll eventually want to obtain residency in Latin America.
Why, you ask?
Well, because border hopping gets tiresome - jumping in and out of a country every 3 or 6 months just to renew your tourist visa is a pain.
And that's assuming that your chosen country's laws even allow for that. If you want to live in Colombia or Brazil, for instance, you'll have to spend 6 months outside of the country for every 6 months you spend in the country.
Inconvenient, to say the least.
Not to mention, without residency, you won't be able to open a bank account, you won't be able to work and you'll have to jump through more hoops if you want to start a business.
Fortunately, there are a few Latin American countries where it's relatively easy to get residency.
I'd like to share some of those countries with you here today.
If you're serious about starting a new life south of the border, read on! This article may prompt you to finally take that leap.
My Personal Top 3 Choices
Best options for residency:
Pensioner visa - A pensioner beneficiary letter proving a guaranteed, recurring income of at least $800 USD/month
Investor visa - Deposit $27,000 in an Ecuadorian bank account, or invest in any Ecuadorian real estate property with a tax accessed value of $31,000
Professional visa - Anyone who has a bachelor's degree from any university on the approved list of SENESCYT is eligible for the Professional visa (most big universities in Canada, the USA, Australia and Europe are on this list). Applicants also have to show a recurring income of at least $400 USD a month from any legal source.
I like Ecuador for a few reasons:
First of all, the pensioner income and investor requirements for residency is extremely reasonable - other Latin American countries will require you to show a recurring income of around $2000 USD, or require an investment of close to $100,000 USD.
Second, the professional visa is incredible. It ultimately means that anyone with a bachelor's degree from Canada, the United States, Australia or Europe can obtain temporary residency in Ecuador. You don't even have to have a job offer in the country! The process is relatively simple. A handful of documents, a criminal record check and BOOM! You're good to go. Proving that $400 each month can be as simple as opening a company in your home country and paying yourself every 30 days.
Third, Ecuador is quite a pleasant place to live. It's one of the most geographically diverse countries in Latin America, and it uses the US dollar, so you won't have to worry about pesky currency devaluations.
Best options for residency:
Retirement/Income visa - Proof of monthly recurring income (no specific figure is defined, but it's suggested that you're able to show more than $1000 USD/month).
If you can prove a recurring income of four-figures or more, you can become a temporary resident of Chile. The country is fairly flexible on the source of that income, as well as the required amount (hint: if you want to live in rural Chile, they may accept a lower income figure).
You could do a lot worse than Chile. It's one of the more developed and safer countries in Latin America. Also, it's a great place to start a business (by Latin American standards...).
Best options for residency:
Permanent Residency Permit - Deposit $5000 USD in a Paraguayan bank.
Paraguay has - by far - the easiest residency solution in Latin America. Simply deposit $5000 in a Paraguayan bank, fill out some papers, submit some documents, do a health check, visit the country at least once every three years to keep your status as a resident...and that's about it!
Although it's the easiest residency program I've come across, I've ranked Paraguay 3rd simply because it's...well, Paraguay. The country is landlocked, not very developed and not very accessible. Which means it isn't the first choice for many perspective expats. That said, it's one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. This may be a good time to make some inroads in the country.
But Vance! I Don't Want To Live In These Countries!
Every country in Latin America has some route to residency, although some make things more difficult than others.
Let's look at some other decent choices:
Proving a monthly income of about $1200 USD, or savings/investments of about $22,000 USD will make you eligible for temporary residency.
Proving a monthly (non-salary) income of at least $750 USD a month will qualify you for temporary residency.
Proving a monthly income of $2000 USD a month (to be deposited in an Argentine bank) will qualify you for temporary residency.
Remember...There's Always A Way
The above options are mainly investor visas. Generally, that's the easiest route to obtaining residency in Latin America.
In fact, if you have enough money to invest, you can pretty much get residency in any Latin American country of your choosing.
Money talks, as they say.
But, if you're not flush with cash and/or you don't have a guaranteed, location independent income source that you can report, what can you do to gain residency in LATAM?
Well, there's always alternatives, my friend.
The way things generally work down here is that you must have your temporary residency for a certain amount of time (around 3 years or so) before you can apply for permanent residency. Once you have your permanent residency, you'll ultimately have the same rights as a citizen of that country.
So, if you don't meet the investment requirements for temporary residency or, for whatever reason, you don't want to go that route, another option would be to get hired by a local company. If it's a big enough organization, it should have no trouble sponsoring a work visa for you. After a few years on a work visa, you'll be eligible to apply for permanent residency in most Latin American countries.
If you can't get hired, another option could be to take classes at a university or an accredited Spanish language school. Again, do that for a few years and you'll be eligible for permanent residency in most LATAM nations!
Although these aren't the two quickest or most efficient options, they are options nonetheless.
Final Musings on Residency in Latin America
Alright, folks. I hope this has served as a good primer on obtaining residency in Latin America. My main goal here is to show you that it's not as hard as you may think to make Latin America your new home!
If you're seriously thinking about relocating, here are a few tips.
1. Don't pursue residency in a country unless you're actually interested in living there
This sounds obvious...but I often fall into this trap. For instance, every 6 months or so, I debate getting residency in Ecuador, since I meet all the requirements for the professional visa. It's close to Colombia and Peru! I tell myself. But then I remember: I don't particularly want to live in Ecuador. Don't get me wrong, it's a great country, it's just not for me.
Don't be enticed by an easy residency program unless you want to live in the country. You'll set yourself up for disappointment.
2. Be VERY careful when hiring local lawyers or consultants
Hiring someone to guide you through the residency process is usually a good call. It can expedite matters and take the headache out of sorting out exactly what documents you'll need to provide. That said, for every honest lawyer and consultant in Latin America there are two dishonest ones.
You must be careful.
If you need help finding a trustworthy lawyer (or anything else regarding residency processes/relocating to Latin America) I can help. Shoot me an email through my consulting page.
And there you have it!
I hope to see you all down here soon.
Until next time,