5 Cheap & Easy Countries to Get Permanent Residency

For travelers and digital nomads wanting to live abroad long-term, gaining permanent residency in a foreign country can be a great asset. If you have the money, it’s actually very easy to get residency and citizenship in many countries around the world through investment. Others offer citizenship through descent or religion. But for those of us without hundreds of thousands in spare cash lying around whose grandparents were not born in descent-favoring countries, there are significantly fewer options. But there are options! I’ve put together a list of 5 countries in which it’s both cheap and easy to get residency. Plus, one bonus option for more hardcore travelers!

1. Guatemala

If you make US$1000 or more per month, you qualify for a residence permit in Guatemala. The process is relatively easy but may take a while to be approved. You do need someone in Guatemala to “sponsor” you (basically write you a recommendation). Your permit may be revoked if you spend more than one year at a time outside the country (with possible exceptions for medical reasons).

2. Nicaragua

Very similar to Guatemala, you only need to prove you make US$750 per month to gain residency in Nicaragua. Technically, this $750 should not be a “salary”, however, but income from stocks, bonds, or other investments. If you have social security or a pension, you only need to make $600 per month. Again, technically, you need to be 45 years old for that option but this requirement is often waived.

3. Paraguay

Simply depositing the equivalent of “35 minimum monthly wages” (usually the equivalent of US$4-5000) in a Paraguayan bank qualifies you for permanent residency there. After you get your residency, you can withdraw your funds again, no problem! So really, it’s a sort of temporary investment to show you’re financially stable by Paraguay’s standard of living.

4. Panama

If you are a citizen of one of 47 “Friendly Nations” countries (including the US), you can gain permanent residency in Panama by depositing US$5000 in a Panamanian bank account. Additionally, you must either buy property worth over US$10,000, open a business in Panama, or get a job with a Panamanian business. This is a no-cost requirement if you are planning to work there.

5. Belize

In order to apply for permanent residency in Belize, you have to live there for 50 consecutive weeks. Belize only has a 30-day tourist visa, but you can leave the country and re-enter immediately for another 30 days. So if you are willing to take a day-trip (and only a day trip!) across the border every month for nearly a year, you could easily get residency in Belize. There is a US$1000 application fee, however, and the application could potentially take a couple of years to be approved.

Noticing a pattern here? For easy residency without needing to spend or earn outrageous amounts of money, Central America is the place to go! There is one unique European option that isn’t strictly a residence visa but amounts to the same thing. Be warned, though, this one is not for the faint of heart!

Bonus: Svalbard

This chain of islands north of Norway doesn’t even require you to get a residency permit or visa. If you can support yourself, you can stay as long as you want! Of course, Svalbard is very small and expensive with a shortage of housing, not to mention the super cold and dark winters. Oh, and the polar bears. But for adventurous souls, this is by far the easiest option for “residency”!

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