Panama offers 10 different residency options for Americans looking to retire abroad. // (c) 2011 Drriss & Marrionn // Flickr.com
Panama offers 10 different residency options for Americans looking to retire abroad. // (c) 2011 Drriss & Marrionn // Flickr.com
Americans who wish to become a citizen of Singapore must renounce their U.S. citizenship // (c) 2010  Eustaquio Santimano / Flickr.com
Americans who wish to become a citizen of Singapore must renounce their U.S. citizenship // (c) 2010 Eustaquio Santimano / Flickr.com

Destinations from around the world actively promote their visitor attractions. Explore the sights, shop, visit the beaches and enjoy – and spend lots of money and contribute to our economy. Tourism is a leading economic engine.

These days some countries have also decided that having someone spend two weeks in their country isn’t quite enough. They want Americans to make their destination a permanent home. Many places – particularly in South and Central America – actively recruit American and Canadian residents. And many people are seeking out a life in someplace other than North America.

Why? Some want an adventure, to explore a different culture or learn a new language. Money is often a factor, it is possible to live better for less. The discounts and deals are numerous. Panama offers expatriates discounts from 15 to 50 percent on restaurants, movies, doctor bills and prescriptions. For others it is a statement: “I didn’t leave America, America left me.’’

Living in another country is not just about packing your bags and getting on an airplane. A basic tourist visa is usually good for 30 to 90 days. A residency permit takes diligence to obtain. Colombia has 17 different options for residency. In Panama there are 10 different options. Sometimes you need to apply for the residency visa outside the country. In other cases the application must be made while you are in the country.

Panama offers 10 different residency options for Americans looking to retire abroad. // (c) 2011 Drriss & Marrionn // Flickr.com
Panama offers 10 different residency options for Americans looking to retire abroad. // (c) 2011 Drriss & Marrionn // Flickr.com

“The rules are constantly changing,’’ said Lief Simon, global real estate investor and part of Live and Invest Overseas, a company that has made a business out of helping people to establish a home in a new county. He went on to say that in some valtrex online pharmacy countries, it is possible to apply for citizenship five years after receiving a residency visa. While U.S. citizens can hold multiple citizenships, that does not apply in Singapore, where citizens must renounce their U.S. citizenship, according to Simon.

Some Western European countries (Ireland, Italy, Spain and Germany) offer citizenship through ancestry. If your grandfather or grandmother or was a citizen you might be able to apply. How far into the family history can you go? It varies.

Lots of paperwork is always part of the process and chances are you will have to provide a copy of an FBI background check. Uruguay requires an Interpol check. All of the essential documents must be translated by a certified translator (usually in country). That means the documents that you have for a move to Mexico won’t work if your destination is Argentina. Yes, Spanish is the official language in both countries but there are differences.

The 400 people who heard Simon and others speak at the recent Retire Overseas Conference got an overview of the wheres, whys and hows in  living overseas. Although exact numbers aren’t available, more and more Americans are opting to live in another country especially after they retire.

For many at the three-day event retiring abroad is about selecting a place that is most welcoming.

And once you find your new home there are some rules about when you can leave. In Ecuador you cannot leave the country for more than 90 days in the first two years. If your new home is Columbia you must visit the country once every six months. Malaysia has no time restrictions on new citizens. So it is possible to come and go whenever. But as with many rules, that could change.

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Carol promoted Los Angeles as a vacation destination for 18 years while working for Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. Additionally, she did public relations for Australia and Guam as visitor destinations while working at Aviso Public Relations. Prior to entering the public relations field, Carol was a travel journalist. She received numerous Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers while she was Travel Editor of the Los Angeles Daily News. Also, she served as Managing Editor of The Black Convention, a magazine showcasing the meetings and convention industry. Her articles also appeared in Family Circle, La Opinion and Vacations Magazine. Her favorite international destination: Tahiti because it is beautiful and the country hasn’t (for the most part) altered customs and traditions to accommodate visitors. Her current travel goal: visit all 50 states. Most recent addition: Alabama. It is very close to her new home: Spring Hill,