Posts tagged with "International Living"

Marita Kelly for use by 360 MAGAZINE

PANAMA RANKS AS NO.1 RETIREMENT DESTINATION

In accordance with International Living’s 31st Annual Global Retirement Index, Panama has been named the world’s #1 destination for 2022. This Index, produced in accordance with numerous statistics and on-the-ground input from in-country correspondents, ranks and rates the world’s leading retirement locations. The index surveys 10 major categories that include cost of living, retiree benefits, healthcare and more.

Panama snatches the top spot in InternationalLiving.com’s 2022 Annual Global Retirement Index. Panama capped the categories of opportunity, visa/ residency and benefits/ discounts, while scoring at the top amongst the fitting in and healthcare categories.

For such a small country, Panama is truly emerging – this marks the 11th time that Panama has dominated in International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, for all the right reasons.

In 2022, Panama ranks as one of the simplest retirement destinations for travel from the United States or Canada. Panama City, the capital of Panama, is the one true First World city in Central America. Easy access to Panama from all over the U.S. increases the flexibility for travel, with several one-way flights available across the U.S., and cities in Canada and Europe. The modernity of Panama is only a short three hours from Miami, and five hours from New York. Not to mention, the currency is also the U.S. dollar!

Jessica Ramesch, the International Living Panama editor reflects on her experience in the country, stating, “as a single woman I feel safe and free to live my life here, whether I’m going out to dinner and Ubering home late at night or driving cross-country to visit friends. Perhaps that’s because this is truly a land of opportunity, home to thousands of hard-working, upwardly mobile locals and immigrants.”

Ramsech continues her advocation for Panama, touching on the accessibility, indulgences, and credibility of the country. She states, “My favorite spot right now is Coronado, a happening beach town just an hour’s drive from the capital. In fact, I like it so much I bought an apartment there, and am packing up to move. Coronado is home to one of Panama’s most active and welcoming expat communities. I’m not even there yet, and I’m already getting invites to potlucks and happy hours.”

No matter where retirees choose to live in Panama, Ramesch says, they’re likely to be only an hour away from hospitals. In Coronado there’s access to the San Fernando facility. It’s a satellite of the San Fernando in Panama City—a JCI-accredited hospital affiliated with the Miami Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health International of Miami, and Tulane University Health Services Center and Hospital Clinic.

“Panamanian doctors make patients feel truly cared for,” says Ramesch. “They don’t rush through appointments, and they’ll often give you their cell phone number so you have direct access to them while you’re going through treatment or recovery.

“In fact, I’d say Panamanians in general are the best part of living in Panama. I have made so many wonderful friends here. People who are welcoming and fun and have a wide range of interests, so the conversation is always engaging.”

According to International Living, one of the most attractive features of living in Panama stems from the Pensionado program suitable for retirees.

Ramesch declares her support for the program, declaring, “the Pensionado program is, hands down, the best retirement visa program in the world. It’s a big reason Panama has taken the number one spot on International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index so many times.”

Part of the reason for why Panama continues to steal those number one spots is due to the discounts that retirees with this visa have access to. The program makes it exceptionally simple – and inexpensive – to become a permanent legal resident. All of Panama’s legal residents are permitted to 20% off prescription medications if they’re of “pensioner” age. The base age is remarkably low, too – just 55 for women, 60 for men.

The Pensionado advantages expand to other discounts on dental care and transportation. Other leisure’s such as entertainment and hotel stays are available at low-cost rates, too.

Applicants with income of at least $1,000 a month qualify for the Pensionado program, and once you’re approved, you can appreciate all of the reductions.

“If you’d like to apply with your spouse, you can qualify with less than $1,000 each. You can even include dependents if you need to,” says Ramesch. “You just need a pension of at least $1,000 plus $250 for each additional person on your application.

“The $1,000 pension requirement reflects the low cost of living here in Panama. While it’s true that most of the North Americans who’ve chosen to retire here spend upwards of $2,000 a month, there are expats living here on far less.”

There are great areas in Panama that have rent prices as low as $300 to $500 a month, leaving extra money for retirees to spend elsewhere.

For those not 100% ready to make the permanent move just yet, Panama has a variety of alternatives for legal residency.

“The country has just unveiled a new extended-stay visa for digital-nomad types: The Temporary Telework Visa,” Ramesch says. “It allows you to come down and stay here—not for three months or even six, but for nine months. And you can extend for an additional nine months. That’s a generous total of 18 months, and the main requirements are simple: you must have medical insurance and an external source of income (at least $3,000 a month).”

Panama, too, has a “Foreign Professionals” Visa that has been available for over eight years. It allows foreign nationals to work in Panama, with easy requirements; you need a university education and a job arranged in Panama.

Though Panama ranks at the top in this year’s Annual Global Retirement Index, there are 25 other countries that were evaluated in the 10 categories used for judging, including; housing, benefits/ discounts, visa/residence, cost of living, fitting in/ entertainment, healthcare, development, climate, opportunity and governance. The full index country rankings for the year of 2022 can be found HERE.

travel illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Route 66: A Road Trip Through Portugal’s Heartland

Road trips offer a rewarding way to explore and create memories in a new country. The editors at International Living have just released an eight-day itinerary for hitting the road on Portugal’s ‘Route 66’ through the nation’s heartland — a worthwhile and rewarding expedition.

It’s hard to beat the slower pace, the backroads options, the pleasant surprises found off the beaten track in a country – especially today in Portugal. From north to south, and from the Atlantic west to the Spanish east, this country’s gracious people, brilliant sun, tantalizing beaches, and verdant valleys provide a varied landscape, historic points of interest, delightful towns, and a worthwhile adventure.

“Most everyone who visits or lives in Portugal stops at hotspots like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve but far fewer venture beyond,” says Terry Coles, International Living Portugal Correspondent. “There is the road less traveled that cut through the center of the country for those looking for more adventure.”

The Estrada Nacional 2, or just N2, is the longest national road in Portugal at 739 kilometers. In fact, it’s one of the longest national roads in the world, outdistanced only by Route 66 in the U.S. and Route 40 in Argentina. The N2 begins in the far north, below the Spanish border in the city of Chaves, and ends at the city of Faro in the Algarve. It passes through rugged mountains, the exquisite, terraced vineyards of the Douro, historic villages, and ends along the impressive coastline.

“Driving the N2 without stopping along the way takes between six and seven hours but offers little to no enjoyment,” Coles advises. “My husband Clyde and I allowed ourselves a full eight days, stopping briefly in some towns while lingering longer in others.”

In the just-released itinerary, Coles outlines the best way to navigate Portugal’s ‘Route 66’ in eight days. Here are the highlights of the first three:

Day 1: Chaves, Vidago, Pedras Salgadas, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Castelo, Vila Real

Chaves is the place to start. This charming city with a population of about 42,000 retains its old town center, complimented by a medieval castle with gardens offering mountain views in the distance. Historic churches, tiny shops, and restaurants dot the city while a well-preserved Roman bridge crosses the Tâmega river.

“Pick up an N2 passport at the nearby tourist office and have it stamped, officially marking the start of this iconic road trip,” says Coles. “The passport book includes a map and suggests 35 stops along the route, with indications of places to have the passport stamped as a nice keepsake.”

“Vila Pouca de Aguiar was by far one of our favorite stops along the N2 and a highlight of our first day. Dating back to Roman times, one of the must-see’s here is a castle situated in the mountains, accessed by a craggy, unpaved road.”

“Upon closer look we realized that the castle was nothing more than a small, ruined tower and decided it was not worth hiking up to. As Clyde pulled the car over, looking for a spot to safely turn around, we stumbled upon a tiny village of granite homes where time had seemingly come to a standstill. A small community of mostly elderly farmers lived in this village called ‘Castelo,’ aptly named for the castle that once stood nearby. Since we were in their private space, we asked permission in Portuguese to take photographs and all happily obliged, even including themselves in a few.”

Day 2: The Alto Douro Wine Region and Peso da Régua

The city of Porto is a popular destination for those who desire to see the spectacular views of the Douro Valley and river by the same name. Yet, the lesser-known area called the Alto Douro sits virtually unnoticed in the center of the country, near the city of Peso da Régua.Tourists here can take day trips along the Douro River. Some offer round-trip voyages while others offer train rides back from Porto.

“This was another favorite stop on our road trip,” Coles says. “Breathtaking views of lush vineyards climbing the impressive hills that surrounded the area. Jaw-dropping scenery as far as our eyes could see. I could almost taste the fragrant wines that filled the air, but that indulgence would need to wait until later.

“We spent an extra night in Peso da Réguaa city of 17,000 that sits alongside the Douro River. The city once served as a vital component in the country’s wine production and the sale of port wine. It was here that the wine was put into barrels and shipped to Vila Nova de Gaia, near Porto, where it was left to age in wine cellars. Today the area is dotted with elegant mansions perched on hills, surrounded by impressive, terraced vineyards bearing signs with the names of the families who own them.”

Day 3: Lamego, Castro Daire, Viseu

Lamego, Coles, reports, was a highlight of Day 3. This ancient city of about 12,000, sits nestled among the terraced vineyards of the Douro. It has retained its historic city center, characterized by steep, rocky streets leading up to its medieval castle. A few handsome churches still exist nearby, while locals mingle with friends at nearby cafes.

The stunning Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedios, erected in 1750, is where tourists climb the imposing baroque staircase (which has 686 steps). Those who make it to the top are rewarded with a panoramic view overlooking the area.

The full eight-day itinerary of Portugal’s ‘Route 66’ can be found on International Living.

Working From Home illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

The Pandemic x Freelance and Remote Workers

A side-gig in retirement can help pad a nest egg, keep a retiree engaged, and provide wanted structure to days post full-time employment. But rather than settle for part-time work for somebody else, in greater numbers, boomers are using their skills and expertise to earn a side income freelancing online from home, according to a new report from the editors of International Living.

Source: InternationalLiving.com

The “freelance economy” is booming today, and that’s a benefit for expats eager to gain a remote income they could take with them abroad, according to a new report from International Living.

“As we come out of the pandemic, many doors have closed,” says Winton Churchill, founder of Barefoot Consultants, author of the book The “New” Retirement: The Rise of the Gig Economy and How You Can Profit From It, and a contributor to International Living. That poses real challenges to folks who found themselves forced to take an early retirement or laid off a few years shy of a planned retirement, says Churchill.

“But in this sea of bad news, there is the proverbial silver lining,” says Churchill. “The big winner in the post-pandemic world is the freelancer and the remote worker.

“Much has changed for the good, and those who realize it quickly will have an advantage.”

If you’re a baby boomer with some work and life skills, “you’ve never had more options,” Churchill argues.

“Many more companies and organizations are hiring freelancers and remote workers now than they ever had in the past because they are confident that they can successfully have people working remotely” he says.

“Going forward we see a much-increased appetite for freelancers, especially those with deep knowledge, well-honed skills, and lots of experience rebuilding after a big economic shift.

“At the same time, we are seeing millions of job openings go unfilled. Looks like a great opportunity for those age 50+ who learn how to thrive in the world of freelancing and remote work.”

More than 400,000 seniors are now doing gig work through online platforms, according to a recent study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Moreover, a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows the sharpest rise in “alternative work arrangements” was among workers aged 55 to 75.

In the International Living report, Pandemic Boosts Freelancing For Baby Boomers, Winton Churchill identifies three ways the pandemic has changed the freelance climate and three trends for the immediate future.

  1. Resistance Gone

“For the better part of 20 years that I’ve been on freelance networks, there has always been resistance among hiring managers in companies, non-profits, and governments,” Churchill says.

“They felt as if the freelancer, especially if working remotely, would be much less productive than the employee sharing the same office building as the manager.

“But this was demolished during the lockdown as managers discovered freelancers and remote workers were even more productive when working from home and proved capable of keeping their organizations rolling along.”

  1. Employees Working From Home Are Productive

According to workplace benefits consulting firm Mercer, 94% of 800 employers surveyed indicated that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic.

“It is amazing how removing a long commute, removing the distraction of irrelevant meetings and office gossip, bad lunches grabbed on the run, and all the other distractions of office life that your remote worker can be even more productive,” Churchill says.

  1. Cool New Tools

“One of the great things that happened during the pandemic is a number of tools came online for people working remotely,” he says in the report. “Some of them were already out there in the marketplace but they’ve been terrifically enhanced for freelancers and remote workers because of the pandemic and lockdowns and people working from home.”

The four tools Churchill mention in his report are Zoom, Slack, Trello, and Asana.

Trends in Freelancing that Benefit Boomers

His trends for the immediate future:

  1. Employers Will Seek More Freelancers in Their Staffing Plans

“Organizations everywhere want more flexibility in their staffing plans. In the past a company may have had 20 employees. Now they will have 12 to 15 core employees and six to eight freelancers that come in during seasonal peaks or to handle very specialized projects.

“This will give organizations better flexibility in controlling their staffing cost while being better able to afford more specialized talent when needed.”

Baby boomers, Churchill argues, are ideal for this sort of employment because they bring expertise, work experience, and professionalism to the table.

  1. Hiring Trends Favor People That Have More Experience

“The ability to build an organization up after a trauma like the pandemic must rely on people who have experience coming back from economic upsets.

“Baby Boomers (and really anyone over age 50+) have faced these kinds of economic upsets many times in their career and met the demands of rebuilding after any economic crisis,” Churchill says.

“Employers are looking for wisdom beyond what we would call ‘book learning’ experience but practical experience seasoned over those decades.”

  1. No More Late Nights (or Long Days) at the Office

“Organizations are taking a long, hard look at what we call ‘the office,’ Churchill says. “They are rethinking how much they really need it, or at least if they need that much of it.

“Some companies have already informed employees they can work from home for the foreseeable future.”

This increased flexibility can be a benefit to people who are eager to earn part-time in retirement, make their own schedules, and have control over where they live and when they work.

The full report can be found, here: Pandemic Boosts Freelancing For Baby Boomers.

For information on his upcoming Online Portable Income Masterclass with Winton Churchill, see here.

Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to Internationalliving.com

Filmstrip illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Best Places to Live × Work

The Best Places to Live and Work Abroad in 2021—InternationalLiving.com

While just about every country is willing to provide a tourist visa that lets visitors hang around for a few months, most will not grant permission to live and work within their borders without a job offer from a local employer. Some offer long-term residence visas that let expats legally live in the country, but they don’t typically allow for work. A new report from the editors at International Living highlights four countries where it’s possible to find easy access to a residence visa—and the permits that allow for work as well.

Source: International Living

It’s clear that an increasing number of Americans want a different life and are looking for countries where they can live and work legally. But the options are limited without a local employer willing to provide a job.

Expats able to earn from anywhere do have a few good options, however, according to International Living’s report. While a small collection of countries welcomes outsiders, who can qualify for the necessary visas, four in Latin America and Europe stand out as the best options in terms of cost, ease, and timing.

Panama

If your goal is to live and work remotely overseas, but remain close to U.S. borders, Panama is your best bet. Direct flights land in Panama City from at least nine U.S. cities and take between three and seven hours, depending on where you’re coming from.

Beyond proximity, Panama offers what it calls the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, a special program whereby nationals of certain countries (including the U.S. and Canada) can apply for permanent residence, which comes with a Panamanian cédula, the local ID card. That cédula is permanent, allowing holders to come and go as they please, as would a born-and-bred Panamanian. Separately, the program also allows holders to request a work permit through the Ministry of Labor, though that’s part of a different process.

Obtaining a temporary cédula takes about eight days. It will take another two days to obtain a multiple-entry visa that’s necessary so an individual can come and go as they wait out the roughly five-month process for the government to issue a permanent cédula. Once a cédula has been obtained, a person can then apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor, which will take about a month.

To start the cédula process, you’ll need basic documents—passport, proof from the FBI that there is no criminal record—and $5,000 in a Panamanian bank account, plus $2,000 for each dependent. And to obtain a work permit, then you’ll need to set up a Panamanian corporation (which can be disbanded after a year).

Uruguay

If speed is more important, then Uruguay is a great choice. Here, expats can land at the airport with the correct collection of documents, and if they already have a pre-scheduled filing date with the immigration office that day, they can file their paperwork and have a temporary cédula that afternoon or the next day. All that’s required is a birth certificate and an apostilled police record (meaning it has been authenticated and is acceptable across international borders). They will also need to show that they have the financial means to support themselves with a provable stream of income from anywhere in the world.

With a temporary cédula, they will also have immediate access to the state healthcare system, or they can immediately buy access with a local, private healthcare plan, which will cost about $70 to $350 a month, depending on the bell and whistles they want.

To manage the process themselves, expect to pay about $600 to $700. But they will also need to have a proficient level of Spanish, as none of the paperwork is in English. Otherwise, hire an attorney. It will be quicker and more efficient and will cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

­Portugal

Portugal has two visas that would apply to someone wanting to live and work on the Iberian Peninsula: D2 and D7. Technically, the D2 is for independent workers and entrepreneurs, while the D7 is for those who are retired or earning passive income. In practical terms, the D7 will make sense for most people, even if they’re not retired, because it’s based on income. The D2 requires proof that an expat can support themselves as a freelancer and can begin issuing Portuguese invoices on which the business will be taxed, though the tax rate is fixed at 20% for 10 years.

With the D7, instead, a person will need only to show that they have €8,000 (about $9,700) per person in a Portuguese bank account and that they have the equivalent of €30,000 ($36,400) in a bank account back in their home country.

To apply for either a D2 or D7 visa, an expat must enroll in the Portuguese tax system and become a tax resident. That requires obtaining a Portuguese tax number before they can even apply for a visa. And for that, they will need a sponsor, which can be a law office, accounting office, or migration office.

For that reason, they’ll need to hire a pro to walk them through the process and be their sponsor for the tax number. All in, that will cost you between €1,000 and €2,500 (about $1,200 to $3,000). The process will require two to four months to complete.

As a freelancer, an expat will also want to apply for Non-Habitual Resident status, or NHR, which is issued to people who’ve never lived in Portugal before and move to the country. With NHR status, income earned outside the country is exempt from taxes. They will have to file a Portuguese tax return and declare the income, though they’ll owe no taxes on it. The other benefit of this is that it shows Uncle Sam they’re a tax resident of another country, which then helps trigger their eligibility for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

A person is eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport after five years of residence, though they have to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language.

Czech Republic

It’s a two-step process in Czech Republic. First step: apply to join the živnostensky (zivno) list. This isn’t specifically for foreigners. It’s a trade license for any Czech resident who works independently, be that a plumber, masseuse, artist, or whoever. That will take a week at most. Zivno in hand, they can then apply for a one-year, temporary residence visa.

They must apply for a residence visa at a Czech embassy outside of the Czech Republic, show they have housing (a notarized lease agreement) for the full-length of the visa they seek, up to one year. That means they’ll need to visit the Czech Republic to arrange that. Some expats will move to Prague, obtain their housing and zivno, then take the train to nearby embassies in Berlin, Vienna, or Bratislava and complete their application.

They will need a signed letter from their bank stating that they have the equivalent of 125,000 Czech crowns on deposit (about $5,700). That will need to be translated into Czech, which a visa agency can handle. Be sure the account has a debit card, which must be presented at the application meeting at the Czech embassy, because officials will want to see it—it’s proof that a person can access the account.

An FBI criminal background check is required, though as an American an expat can also go to the U.S. embassy in Prague and sign an affidavit attesting to their criminal-free background. Along with a passport and an application form, that’s pretty much all the documents an applicant needs.

To hire a local agency to help with the process, it should cost less than 15,000 crowns (about $685) for everything. The embassy fee is a separate 5,000 crowns (about $230).

Once the temporary visa expires after a year, it can easily be traded in for a renewable, two-year long-term residence visa. After five years as a legal resident, a person is eligible to apply for Czech citizenship and a Czech passport, which like the Portuguese passport, is an EU passport and thus gives them free rein to live and work anywhere in the EU.

The full report on the best places to live and work in 2021, including more information for immigration experts in each of the countries mentioned, can be found at: The Best Places to Live and Work Abroad in 2021.

International Living has launched its new “Work From Anywhere” resource, devoted to coverage of innovative money-making strategies, ways to build a portable income, tips for boosting health and well-being, methods to maximize Social Security, and so much more. More information can be found, here.

travel illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

Greece: Europe’s Next, Best Expat Haven

By: International Living

Greece is positioning itself to be Europe’s next, best expat haven, according to the overseas experts at International Living, who say that as a travel destination or live-abroad base, Greece should be on North Americans’ radar. In addition to offering warm weather year-round and easy low-cost living —Greece’s new digital nomad visa coming soon will make it easier for people working remotely to stay for extended periods and even gain citizenship and a passport. What’s more, Greece’s borders are set to open to international travelers May 14, 2021.

Greece offers an enthralling mixture of sun-drenched islands, towering mountains, buzzing cities, and timeless traditions. Wrapped in the warm embrace of the Aegean Sea, it’s vibrant, welcoming, and offers great-value living for North American expats. A couple could live comfortably there for as little as $2,000 a month, according to International Living.

“We’ve seen a sharp uptick in online traffic to our Greece content in 2021, with the overall traffic to our Greece pages up 41% in the first three months of 2021, when compared to the last period (Oct-Dec) of 2020,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living.

“The appetite for on-the-ground Greece intel has increased, and we’re happy to see that because this is a nation that can make good sense for all sorts of expats—younger, older, full-time or part-time. If you like the idea of a travel-rich life in Europe, Greece could make a very good base.”

Exploration in Greece will be a possibility again as soon as May 14, 2021 when, according to the Greece tourism minister, the borders are set to open to international travelers who show proof of vaccination, covid-19 antibodies, or a negative test result taken within 72 hours of departure.

Greece offers expats easy, good-value living in the sun. After 15 years in San Francisco where she worked as a Certified Public Accountant, IL contributor Lynn Roulo moved to Greece—with her dog, her two cats, and one suitcase in tow.

“I moved without a local job or a significant relationship waiting for me in Athens, so it was a big step into the unknown,” says Roulo. “But it didn’t feel scary or anxiety-provoking. The idea of moving and starting a fresh new life energized me. That was in 2012, and I still feel a sense of excitement that I get to live here.

“When I moved from San Francisco to Athens, I was pleasantly shocked to learn I could rent a comfortable 70-meter apartment with a modern bathroom and kitchen, as well as a huge private roof deck with a view of the Parthenon for less money than it would have cost me to rent a studio basement apartment in the worst neighborhood in San Francisco.

“Greece is a great choice for expats because of its amazing weather, hospitable people, its relatively low cost of living and its location, giving visitors easy access to travel to a wide range of other countries. You can go to London or Lebanon for a long weekend.”

“And if you have a dream to move, don’t give up on it. These dreams come from somewhere, and moving abroad may just be the best decision of your entire life. I know it was for me.”

Greece already has in place a “Golden Visa,” (effectively an investment visa) which grants long-term residence—with a path to citizenship and a passport—to people who make an investment in real estate valued at EUR250,000 (roughly $300,000) or higher. That’s about half the investment threshold required for a similar visa in places like Portugal or Italy where the necessary investment is closer to $600,000.

Most exciting, though, is a new visa aimed at attracting digital nomads, set to come online soon, the editors at International Living report. They argue it makes very good sense for a person who has the flexibility to work remotely and likes the idea of a sunny European base.

“Finally—a remote worker incentive plan that actually makes a lot of sense,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of Global Intelligence Letter, a publication of International Living.

The new plan that Greece is now in the process of assembling…it looks to be one of the smartest remote-worker visas I’ve come across. That’s because under the Greek plan as currently envisioned, a ‘digital migrant,’ as the Greeks call us, will be eligible for a 50% exemption on earned income for the first seven years. In essence, you owe local taxes on only half your income.

For someone who’s still in the workforce and looking to maximize their savings opportunities as they approach retirement, sharply reducing your tax burden for seven years represents an intriguing opportunity to squirrel away more money.

“Though Greece hasn’t finalized details of its plan yet, the Greek approach looks to allow for longer living arrangements, given the seven years of tax breaks. And it just so happens that ‘long-term migrants,’ which is what you’d be as a digital worker, are eligible for Greek citizenship after seven years. Which means you could apply for a Greek passport…which is an E.U. passport…which would give you unfettered access to live and work across the rest of the European Union, no different than if you were moving from Tampa to Tucson.”

A person considering a move to Greece will want to carefully research the options for visas and residence permits. International Living’s report details the best of them for expats looking for a full- or part-time retirement in Greece, including a discussion of this new digital nomad visa on the horizon.

But accessible residence is just one of the many reasons to love living in Greece. It’s an easy place to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the entire country is physically breathtaking, and the Greek people have a well-earned reputation for being friendly, helpful, and genuinely caring.

Here are four more reasons why International Living recommends Greece as a potential destination for anybody ready to move out of the U.S.:

1.     Good-Value Cost of Living

Greece is super-affordable, especially when compared to North America and much of the rest of Europe. Prices for daily essentials (food, transport, etc.) are at least 20% cheaper than in the U.S., and costs to rent an apartment can be as much as 70% less.

Throughout Greece, expats will save money by using public transport, avoiding touristy areas, shopping at local markets, and eating out where the Greeks do. A budget-conscious expat can live comfortably in Greece for $1,830 a month or less.

2.     Welcoming and Easy Lifestyle

Greece is a proud nation that emphasizes family, tradition, and a love of the outdoors. Because tourism plays such an important part in the Greek economy, English is widely spoken in many areas and the country’s infrastructure caters well for locals and visitors alike.

Expats enjoy lots of options in terms of lifestyle: from a sturdy lakefront cabin in the mountains, to a rooftop apartment on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, to a low-maintenance beachfront unit on Mykonos, residents are guaranteed plenty of sunshine and four distinct (though mild) seasons—even though the Greeks tend to think in terms of ‘summer and everything else’.

3.     Excellent Healthcare

The quality of medical care in Greece is generally excellent, especially in major centers like Athens and Thessaloniki. Emergency healthcare in Greece is free regardless of nationality. Pharmacies are abundant throughout the country—Greece has more pharmacists per capita than any other nation in Europe.

4.     Safety

Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe, and has an easy-going, relaxed feel.

Roulo, based in Athens, says, “As a single woman, I feel very safe living here. Crime here is significantly lower than in the United States, the police presence is strong, and there is no need for ‘active shooter’ drills in Greece.”

Basic precautions with regard to personal belongings will prevent rare cases of petty theft.

About International Living

Since 1979, InternationalLiving has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. Their website has more than 200 contributors traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

Top 5 European Countries That Offer Freelance Visas

An increasing number of Americans are seeking options for better living—long-term—beyond the U.S. borders, however to earn a living while away requires something beyond a tourist visa. A new report from International Living explores the top five European countries that offer the best freelance visas.

“If you’ve paid attention to headlines in recent weeks, you’ll have likely seen all the many stories about Americans wanting to escape the US Covid crisis,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of The Savvy Retiree, a publication of International Living. “Stories on how to seek second passports. Stories on countries where Americans are increasingly seeking information on emigration. Stories on certain countries and Caribbean islands aiming to attract Americans for a year abroad.

“What’s often missing amid all these many words is the story of how to live abroad for longer than a year without having to spending $100,000 or more buying a passport. For the fact is, a number of countries, particularly in Europe, offer ‘freelance’ visas specifically aimed at those who want to live and work in a particular country for the long haul.

“This report addresses that. Because, frankly, that’s often the quickest and easiest way for the average American to gain permission to live and work legally in Europe.

“Only a limited handful of European countries offer freelance visas. In most countries, you’ll need a job offer from a local firm, or you’ll need to work for a multinational will local operations that transfers you into a particular country. For most of us, that’s not an option. Instead, we have to look to countries that specifically welcome the independent, freelance worker.”

The report explores the five best countries to consider in Europe:

Czech Republic

“I chose to pursue a freelance life two years ago in Prague, one of Europe’s most comfortable and picturesque cities, after careful consideration of other European destinations,” says Opdyke. “Primary among those reasons is the fact that the Czech Republic offers what’s known locally as a Zivno, widely regarded as one of the best freelance-worker options in Europe.

This isn’t a visa, and it not specifically targeted at foreigners. Instead, the Zivno is effectively a national registry of independent workers, whether they’re native-born Czechs or foreigners with long-term residence status. As such, applicants will need a long-residence visa to pair with the Zivno.

“But assuming you have marketable skills in something that allows you to earn income online or even locally – as, say, a language teacher,” says Opdyke, “you will likely obtain your Zivno and with that it is easier to qualify for a one-year, long-term residence visa, a stamp in your passport. Then, assuming you play by Czech rules (pay your taxes and the mandatory health and social security insurance – combined, about $200 a month, minimum), you’ll apply for and receive a biometric, long-term residence card good for two years and renewable for another two. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence/citizenship, if that appeals to you. (Note: Because the Czech Republic is part of the European Union, its passport is one of the five best in the world.)”

Prague, the capital, is a wonderful city to call home—folks are close to so much in terms of weekend getaways or longer trips. The lifestyle is relaxing. The city is eye-candy pretty much everywhere you go. And the food is great. A couple can live the good life there on a budget of $1,900 a month.

Germany

“Here, you want the Freiberufler, Germany’s self-employment visa,” reports Opdyke. “It’s not terribly difficult to obtain, so long as you jump through various paperwork hoops that exist – and Germany has lots of paperwork hoops, including revenue plans, letters of intent or contracts from potential or existing clients, and various other documents.”

Folks will also need to prove income sufficiency, which generally means at least €5,000 (just over $5,900) in a (preferably) German bank account.

Freiberufler is good for six months to three years, depending on the application, and it’s renewable. The primary challenge is that an applicant will (probably) need to prove he or she has German freelance clients. Once armed with the Freiberufler, should a freelancer ultimately want permanent residence in Germany, it’s possible to apply after eight years.

Germany offers an excellent standard of living, with good infrastructure and quality healthcare. However, Germany’s cost of living tends to be higher than the European Union average. A monthly budget for a couple living in a suburban area, close to Munich, runs $3,610 to $4,160.

Spain

The autónomo is what freelancers pursue in the land of sangria.

“The process, while not especially difficult, can be lengthy – taking upwards of six months to complete, which means a 90-day tourist visa for the Schengen Zone (of which Spain is a member) will often expire before you receive your autónomo,” advises Opdyke. “So, you need to plan for that by completing as much of the process as you can outside of Spain. Conversely, as your 90-day limit approaches you can hop across to a non-Schengen country such as Ireland or the UK for a few weeks or months to stop your Schengen clock from winding down.”

The autónomo is identical to the Czech Zivno in that it’s good for one year. An applicant can apply for two, two-year extensions, and after five years of surviving on tapas, then, apply for permanent residency/citizenship if he or she wishes to remain in Spain as a naturalized citizen eligible for an EU passport.

Granada, overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of the majestic Sierra Nevada, is a timeless city of many layers, many people, and many stories. The city is quickly gaining ground as a top choice in Spain—the climate and weather of Granada justify why so many peoples have sought to be here. And the nearly 500-year-old University of Granada plays a major role in the city’s youthful vibe. Here a couple can live well on a monthly budget of $2,476.

Portugal

This is, perhaps, the easiest freelance/self-employed visa to pursue in the EU, which makes it quite popular for those seeking a visa that allows for both long-term residence and permission to earn a living in Europe.

There are two options:

1) residence visa for independent work (working locally for Portuguese clients as a contract employee);

2) residence visa for entrepreneur work (essentially the digital nomad stuff collecting clients from around the world).

“Under Portugal’s ‘non-habitual residency’ program,” says Opdyke, “income generated outside of Portugal for certain types of ‘high-value’ activities is eligible for a tax exemption, meaning you pay no local taxes (you will still owe self-employment taxes to the States, and, potentially, personal income taxes, depending on how much money you earn living abroad).

Permanent residency/citizenship rules in Portugal follow the Spanish and Czech model in that you can apply after five years.

Porto, the second-largest metropolitan area in Portugal after Lisbon, is an increasingly popular city amongst digital nomads. Porto is a living, breathing picture-postcard of European charm, with plenty to see and do. There’s a proverbial banquet of exciting activities, from historic city walks to wine tastings across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia’s wine caves. But best of all, it’s good value. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of $1,550.

France

“France’s entrepreneur/profession libérale visa is similar to Portugal in terms of ease of attainment,” says Opdyke. “It’s an ideal way for Francophiles to gain legal permission to live and work in France.

“You need to demonstrate that you can fend for yourself financially by proving you earn at least the French legal minimum wage (about €1,540 per month, or $1,800). Beyond that, there are typical documents and whatnot that are necessary for the application, but nothing particularly difficult.”

And despite widespread misconceptions about cost of living in France, outside of Paris the country is a pretty affordable place to call home.

Given its ideal placement along the French Riviera, the coastal city of Toulon in southeastern France provides an idyllic lifestyle for residents and short-term visitors. Away from the hustle-and-bustle of big “resort” towns like Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez, unassuming Toulon lies a bit off the radar. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of $1,986 to $2,228.

The full report, including information on a bonus country, The Netherlands, can be found, here: 5 Best Freelance Visas in Europe

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