Some one or two months ago, I got a comment by someone who reads my articles on this website.
One of the many tens of thousands of people who read me daily….
Am I right?!?!
In all seriousness, the comment was in regards to my contemplation about getting residency down here.
Somewhere in Latin America.
It has been a thought of mine as I have spent more time here…
Even though it is not necessary depending on the country you live in…
I do feel that most foreigners living in Latin America beyond a certain time point….
Not sure the exact time needed….
But let’s say 5 years more or less.
In which they spend enough time down here and essentially start giving more serious thought as to the long term plans down here.
Consequently, those long term plans tend to involve thinking about the legality of it all also.
To move beyond the tourist visa.
And get residency somewhere.
Maybe even citizenship!
Anyway, it is a question that should be asked…
“Do You Even Need Residency to Live in Latin America Long Term?”
Well, there are some thoughts I have on the subject.
So let’s get to it.
The first thing that comes to mind is what specific country do you want to live in.
For example, there are some countries down here that I definitely would not want to live long term in.
Fuckin’ El Salvador!
No offense to any of those countries….
I’m simply not interested.
Anyway, it’s not just a matter of what countries you would live in or not…
But also the tourism visa requirements in each of those countries.
I can only speak as an American…
But I know personally that Mexico is quite friendly to us Americans living here as we can simply leave for a few days every 6 months and that is it.
While in other countries, like in Colombia or Brazil from what I’ve heard, it can be near impossible apparently to do a visa run.
And that visa run is important.
Without it, it can be trickier as to living in a country down here long term.
Not impossible but trickier.
Anyway, it is something to consider.
In a country like Mexico, I get why most folks wouldn’t get the residency.
As it isn’t necessary to keep living here.
But that is not the same in every country.
Though there is another factor to consider….
Higher Residency Standards
It is generally agreed upon that countries tend to adopt higher standards for who can get residency over the years.
Especially as countries tend to get richer over the years.
As they get richer and more successful…
It’s not a surprise then that they will impose higher standards for who can get residency in their country or not.
So if you plan to spend specific time in a certain country long term…
Maybe even for decades…
Which is rare to see a gringo want to spend decades down here…
But assuming that is the case….
Well, it would be beneficial then to get through the residency process now.
Because, as I said, the standards for who can get into the process might get higher in the years to come for whatever Latin American country that you are considering.
Though maybe that isn’t your plan to begin with…..
Age & Long Term Goals
Outside of the legal aspect of getting residency down here….
We also have to consider the individual as well who is considering to get residency.
The truth is that most foreigners who spend time down here are not interested in spending time down here forever and ever.
Most do eventually go back home.
And that is perfectly OK.
But it’s part of the calculation…
If you don’t plan to spend decades down here….
Especially in a country where visa runs are possible…
Is it really necessary to get the residency?
Not really in my opinion.
Based on your long term goals, you’ll be leaving soon enough anyway.
And if you can live down here doing visa runs, then I’d personally opt for that.
Especially if my time down here was limited and not long term.
But not every gringo is only looking to spend a few months here….
Next, there is a deeper question many expats should face when dealing with their decision to live down here long term.
If they don’t get residency down here, how will that impact their ability to have a life down here in whatever country they pick?
For example, I could live in Mexico forever and ever on 6 month tourist visas.
However, that would be limiting for me.
Personally, I’d feel insecure about doing it that way long term.
Mostly because I wouldn’t have the legal right to live here.
Let’s say another Pandemic occurs that closers borders…
And the Mexican government decides to close its borders…
Well, now you are fucked as all your shit is in Mexico.
But you can’t get in as you don’t have a legal right to live here.
Consequently, if you have important things in Mexico like guitars, pets, etc in your apartment….
Well, if you can’t come in, you’re fucked.
And it doesn’t have to be a pandemic type emergency.
Governments all around change their migration policies every year and who they permit into the country.
Without residency or citizenship, you are more exposed in my opinion to being locked out of the country for a time period possibly.
Which can have very annoying or negative consequences.
And it goes from there….
By pursuing residency or citizenship, you obviously get more benefits that come with that.
For some countries, that could mean easier ability to set up a bank account or a business or whatever it might be.
But that depends on the country from how I understand it.
Either way, there are benefits that can come with having the legal right to live abroad beyond being a tourist that can be nice.
And going form there….
In the end, it all depends on your circumstances.
That is the easiest way to put it.
If you are a 20 year old kid who has no long term plans here but only wants to spend a few years in Mexico or Costa Rica….
Well, you can do that while doing visa runs….
So there is no need for residency unless you have formal employment here or something like that.
On the other hand, if you are getting older…
Perhaps you want to start a family.
Something much bigger than yourself that makes you want to live in the country beyond the superficial…
Well, I get why you’d pursue residency down here also.
And, in general, if you plan on living in Latin America long term for decades….
I’d see the point in pursuing residency eventually as you have decades left that you plan to live here and requirements for residency can get higher any year.
Anyway, that’s how I see it basically.
Short term time in Latin America? Only pursue residency if you need to where visa runs are not possible and where ideally someone like a formal employer is covering it.
Without a formal employer, consider doing half the year or whatever amount of time in one country and a good percentage of the rest of the year in another country.
But if you are planning on pursuing a life down here long term for decades…
Then pursue residency.
That’s just my opinion anyway.
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Thanks for reading.