Where can I retire abroad? (in South America)

by Rick on August 1, 2010

I consider a country to be a retirement destination for foreigners if they offer a formal retirement visa through their consulate. There are quite a few countries with formal retirement visa programs, but they are in the minority. Countries that are popular destinations for immigrants in general do not have retirement visa programs. The United States, the world’s most popular immigrant destination, does not offer retirement visas. Nor does the United Kingdom or Canada. However, some UK territories, particularly those where retirees from elsewhere make up a large percentage of the population, do offer retirement visas. In the next few days, I’ll go over, region by region which countries offer retirement visas. If you are considering retiring overseas, this quick guide will help get you started.

South American countries with formal retirement (or pensioner) visa programs:

1. Brazil

2. Argentina

3. Ecuador

4. Uruguay*

5. Colombia**

6. Chile***

7. Venezuela****

Be sure to check out my upcoming e-book The Financial Guide to Retiring Abroad. I give up-to-date visa requirements for most of the world’s retirement destinations, and I discuss which of these countries offer additional tax incentives for retirees. In addition, I’ll talk about which countries do not tax foreign income, something that can help your budget immensely. I’ll be done editing it and offering it within two weeks. Be on the look out for it!

*Uruguay does not have a formal retirement visa program. Instead they offer permanent residence status with similar qualifications to a retirement visa.

**Colombia offers a retirement visa, but because of that country’s seemingly endless civil war, I don’t think of it as a good retirement destination. However, for the more adventurous retiree, a visa does exist.

*** Chile does not offer a retirement visa through their consulates and embassies. Instead you arrive in the country on a long term temporary visa and then apply for a retirement visa. You also have to stay in the country for at least a year within a two year period before you can qualify for one. This is problematic for me, and for this reason, as well as the higher cost of living there, I don’t recommend Chile as a retirement destination. If you were to have your visa rejected, you would be forced to stay on your tourist visa indefinitely which would mean endless visa runs (I’ll talk about these at some point).

****Venezuela has a retirement visa program as well. However due to this country’s political instability, high crime and the possibility that it might declare war on Colombia, I can’t recommend it as a retirement destination. American retirees may also feel threatened by the government (though American passport holders are still allowed visa free entry)

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