Why You Should Not Get A Retirement Visa

In this report, I’ll explain why you should not get a retirement visa for the first three to five years of your international retirement.

Investigate Choices for 3-5 Years

No matter how much time you have spent investigating the best places in the world to retire early cheap, you have to go see it with your own eyes before making a final decision. You simply can not make a decision without doing an exploratory visit first. And even after you see it with your own eyes, you may get bored after a few months and want to investigate other nearby cities and countries. Like right now, we are in Dumaguete and we are thinking of visiting nearby Siquijhor Island again before we head north investigating other parts of the Philippines.

But that is just the Philippines. What if your perfect paradise is in some other hidden corner of Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, or Indonesia? Wouldn’t you like to date a few more countries before you marry one? What if you spend thousands of dollars setting up a retirement visa only to change your mind a few months or years later?

Now, I know what you are thinking, “That sounds expensive! Who can afford to travel all over the world before making these decisions.” But your assumption that seeing more places before making a final decision is much more expensive is not true.

Let me explain. In these retire cheap in paradise countries, it is not unusual to find buses and trains that transfer you between cities for $10 to $20. That means if you stay in cheap accommodations and eat cheap local food as we do, the only additional expense is the bus or train between cities.

Like when we toured Vietnam, we almost never flew between cities. We used buses and trains. Like now in the Philippines, we have only used ferries and minivans between cities. We haven’t flown once between cities in the Philippines. So assuming that seeing more places before deciding where to settle is expensive, is not true. It may only cost you another $50 to $100 per month to tour around before making that decision if you slow travel like we do.

Whenever possible, we even travel by land between adjacent countries. Our bus and ferry between Vietnam and Cambodia cost about $20 per person and that included the bus, the ferry, and the agent that helped us get our visa on entry into Cambodia.

Sometimes you need to fly into a country to get a preferred Visa. Like Thailand requires Americans to fly into the country to get the 30-day visa exemption. But even then, the regional flights are really cheap. It cost only about $50 USD to fly from Cambodia to Bangkok.

Plus, we have reports that teach you how to save money on transfers between cities, between countries, and even between regions of the world.

So many of you need to see more of the world before you confirm your favorite retire cheap in paradise location. Once you have seen many of your regional choices, you will rest more comfortably knowing that you dated a few countries and toured your favorite country before getting married to one. Plus by the time you have to make that decision, you will know enough expats that have already walked your path, that you are less likely to stumble walking behind them.  They can teach you all the possible visas that their friends have before you decide which one is best for you.  You will only learn that with feet on the ground.  Online information will not teach you this in 80% of the countries.

Retirement Visa Documentation Can Be Time Intensive

Retirement visas are a big waste of time. Many countries change their laws every few years and you have to submit more documents and pay more fees. Some countries make you get documents from your home country to prove you have enough money. Others require police records proving you are not a criminal. The good news is that many countries require very little or nothing at all. Like right now, we are in the Philippines and almost nobody we meet here bothers to get retirement visas. They just keep getting visa extensions. The guy next door to us just gets a 6-month extension every 6 months for about $280 USD. He has been here for 4 years so far. He visits nearby countries once a year or so, so he doesn’t have to do any visa runs.

You see, when you only read the official government website, you would think things are different. So you might apply for a retirement visa before you even come to a country. But by waiting and speaking to the local ex-pats, you’ll find out information about how the law is actually enforced locally. Internet information is rarely as complete as local expats will teach you. It is not just the Philippines. Every country has little quirks that you will learn when you speak to the local expats.

That is why you should not get a retirement visa your first few years outside the USA. Just go visit your target retire cheap country along with the countries in the region around it and confirm your decision first. Then only should you think about getting a retirement visa after you confirm it is a necessity with the local expats. You might find out that you don’t even need to go through the headache of a retirement visa. Why else should you not get your retirement visa too soon?

Your Retirement Visa Might Be Big Waste of Money

I have been to more than one country where the local expats have taught me that the retirement visa is a big waste of money. Some countries make you deposit thousands of dollars in their country bank to get a retirement visa. For example, both the Philippines and Malaysia require tens of thousands of USD in their official retirement visa programs. But you will meet people in both countries that are doing it another way.

You should not get so connected to a new country until you have spent at least a year or two on the ground there and in the surrounding countries. You should see the countries in the region before you decide to marry one. I thought I loved Thailand the most. But now I prefer Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

So why commit to one country until you have dated around. Plus, during that first year or two when you are confirming which country you want to spend the most time, you are likely to find out more quirks in the visa system for that country.

By the way, I am not suggesting you break the law here. These are lawful techniques people have figured out over time that you don’t typically see on the embassy web pages. Not all the lawful techniques are covered in detail on the country visa webpages.

The number of quirks you will hear over time if you visit the Facebook Expat page for each country and ask questions of other expats, might surprise you. Let me give you a few examples of stories I have heard around the world. I have heard variations of these in multiple countries.

Student Visas: One 70-year-old expat I met got a student visa that lasted 3 years and he just kept studying and renewing it. Just one class at a time. No deposit or proof of income was ever required. He loved studying the local language and history. He never missed class. The classes and books were even cheap.

Corporate Ownership: Another expat formed a local corporation to buy homes, fix them up, and sell them. He was able to pay cash for homes that were less than the downpayment would have been at home. He just lived in the places he was fixing up so he had no additional rents. He couldn’t own property in his own name (without a retirement visa), but a local lawyer taught him how to use the corporate structure to own land.

Teaching Visas: Many people come to teach English and other subjects in various countries around the world.

Business Visas: Many countries issue liberal business visas that allow people to enter and stay for months at a time for various business purposes.

So I am suggesting various reasons why you should not deposit large sums of money in local banks just to get a retirement visa during the first year or two. During the first few years, just go from country to country checking out the best cities. Chat and meet with other expats you meet walking around or on the Facebook Expat page for each city and ask questions. Just use local transportation and slow travel around each country and between cities in each country until you pick your favorite place.

At about the same time that you pick your favorite country and city, you will know whether a retirement visa is the best way for you to arrange your life in paradise.

Or, you could end up like me, just keep moving forward loving life as you slow travel around the world for 13 years and 65 countries. That is why you should not get a retirement visa for the first 3 to 5 years of leaving home.

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This is Dan of Vagabond Buddha. Have an amazing day.

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Not Get A Retirement Visa”

  1. Dan – I came across your blog by accident while investigating Las Terrenas on YouTube, and I am HOOKED. As a 65-year-old female International Construction Manager having lived on four continents and traveled to over 50 countries over the past 15 years, (and literally never living more than 2 years in any one place since I was born), my dream is to retire somewhere hot, humid, friendly, and cheap overseas, away from the tourist areas, preferably near a tropical beach, on about $12K/yr. The one question I have is where is the Facebook page where other fit, single, 60+ folks can find others with this same mindset so I don’t have to travel solo as I have been for my entire life? I want to live like you do…

    1. Hi Sharon, Qiang and I met on Tinder. Tinder is a hookup place in the USA. But in many overseas countries, it is more like a dating ap. 🙂 I would just put up my profile about a week before I go somewhere and see if you have any luck. Mostly it is kissing frogs, but hopefully you will find a keeper eventually. I did. 🙂 Dan

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