Determining your ability to meet the visa and residency requirements in a particular country in order to live long-term or obtain residency is the first and most critical threshold question you need to answer before moving abroad.

While many countries have a range of options available for individuals hoping to acquire a long- term visa, there may be certain countries that have requirements that prove unattainable given your particular circumstances.

For example, there may be financial or bureaucratic requirements you are unable to meet in particular countries, making it difficult or even impossible to move to that particular location long-term.

But don’t despair! There is a vast selection of remarkable countries around the world that offer a clear and attainable path forward for a wide variety of people hoping to obtain a visa. You simply need to find the one that works best for you, given your circumstances.

In fact, in some cases the process may reveal more attractive and easier paths forward to obtain your visa and reveal locations or countries you had not previously considered.

Some people are after the easiest and fastest visa to obtain, while others are more focused on the best country for their move abroad and less concerned about how fast or easy it is to get a visa.

Either way, doing research up front about the visa options and requirements in certain countries can prove to be educational and informative.

Spring Blossoms in France. You could wake up everyday to fresh croissants if you decide to make France your new home.

Example…

Perhaps you have always dreamed of buying a home and permanently relocating to Spain and basking in the Spanish sun year-round. But after doing some research you learn that you need to invest $500,000 USD in order to obtain the Golden Visa, which is not possible given your financial situation.

So, instead you learn that Costa Rica allows a path forward with an investment-based visa for far less than what is required in Spain. You end up pivoting and moving to this tropical oasis of a country instead, with much more ease and less financial stress.

Or perhaps, after doing some research, you realize you can get a visa in a dream country as a student or entrepreneur, which allows you to pursue that degree or business idea you have always dreamt about.

We encourage you to stay open minded and see what you uncover through the process.

A LOOK AT THE COMMON TYPES OF VISAS…

Student Visa: allows entry based on enrollment in a school program or university. These visas often require a person to prove a base level of available means to sustain living and cover overhead while in an educational program.

Digital Nomad Visa: allows entry to digital nomads whose career is location independent. These visas often require proof of employment as well as a minimum in monthly income.

Passive Income/Retirement Visa: allows entry based on certain financial requirements that prove the applicant can support themselves with income earned outside of the country. Income can be in the form of liquid funds or passive income, such as investments or retirement accounts.

Employment Visas: allows entry based on a job or employment secured before moving. The employer often sponsors the visa, ensuring that their out-of-country employees can work legally so long as they are employed.

Business and Startup Visa: allows entry for entrepreneurs raising funding from outside the country if certain conditions are met. This visa is designed to encourage foreigners to form start- ups and create businesses that have a positive impact on the country.

Golden Visa: allows entry for those able to make a large investment in real estate or a business. This visa option usually allows individuals to work, study, live, and obtain healthcare based on their investment.

A NOTE ABOUT RESIDENCY AND CITIZENSHIP…

If you are interested in eventually obtaining citizenship or permanent residency in a particular country, it is important to pay attention to the pathways available to do so, and if certain visas are a better choice with respect to that goal. There are certain visas that offer a ‘pathway to citizenship, which means multiple years of residency add up and allow you to apply to become a citizen.

For example if you obtain a visa for several years in places like Portugal or Malta, you automatically will receive residency and citizenship so long as certain requirements are met.

For many people, this is important, as it allows for individuals to get the benefit of healthcare and other social services.

Heritage residency is another option that allows for citizenship based on your ability to prove your heritage in that country. Places like Ireland and Italy allow for direct paths forward with this model if you meet the criteria.

Now that you’re familiar with the basic types of visas offered and have considered your long-term goals, you can begin to research what visa option will work best for you.

Lake in Switzerland

Morning hike in Switzerland. This could be your new home!

STEPS TO TAKE…

  1. Start with the three countries that top your list in terms of moving abroad. This list can be based on prior travel, family experience, or what you’ve read and think you know. It’s just a starting point! Check out this post for some ideas on easy places to move abroad and apply for a visa from the United States.

  2. Visit the government website or consult with the government agency that sets the visa and residency requirements. They will list the types of visas available and what is required to obtain those visas. You will determine what visas are a possibility for you, based on your circumstances. In some cases you may qualify for several.

  3. Visit blogs to do additional research and hear first-hand accounts of where and how people obtained their visas in these locations. These experiences can be helpful context but keep in mind that the requirements may have changed.

4. Check out Facebook or Reddit expat groups particular in the country you are considering. These groups share valuable insights, tips, and tricks from individuals who are currently or have historically navigated the move abroad. You can ask questions and seek support from others who have gone through the process.

5. Consult (for free!) with an immigration attorney in your country of interest. Many visa attorneys will do a 15 minute consultation for free to discuss the particulars of your situation. Google or ask on Facebook forums about reputable attorneys and reach out. In just a short conversation, you are likely to receive solid and up-to-date legal advice about what would work best for you and your circumstances.

Some of the more popular countries to move abroad…

If you don’t have any countries in mind that you would consider moving to here’s a list of popular destinations based on factors such as quality of life, cost of living, job opportunities, healthcare, safety, climate, and cultural experiences. These countries rank high for American’s when starting a new life abroad. They also have a fairly easy path forward to obtain a visa.

But remember just because a country tops a list as an ideal place to live does not mean it will work for you or your family. So be sure to look at all the criteria that is helpful in determining what country would be be the perfect fit based on your unique goals and lifestyle.

  • Canada (especially cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal)

  • Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)

  • United Kingdom (London, Edinburgh, Manchester)

  • New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch)

  • Germany (Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt)

  • Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto)

  • Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia)

  • Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, Faro)

  • Italy (Rome, Milan, Florence)

  • France (Paris, Lyon, Nice)

  • Switzerland (Zurich, Geneva, Bern)

  • Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht)

  • Sweden (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö)

  • Denmark (Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense)

  • Ireland (Dublin, Cork, Galway)

  • Costa Rica (San José, Tamarindo, Arenal)

  • Mexico (Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, Guadalajara)

  • Singapore (Holland Village, Tanglin)

  • United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi)

  • South Korea (Seoul, Busan, Incheon)

  • Panama (Coronado, Panama City)

  • Malaysia (Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi)

Final Words…

Now that you have done some research on different countries and the visas available in those destinations you can decide which location, application process and type of visa will work best for you going forward.

Once you have this decided you have crossed the biggest threshold question of where you can move abroad and start planning your new life in your new destination!

We can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

Choosing Your Perfect Country to Move Abroad

Whether you want to move abroad for a career, to study, for love, retirement, or to raise your family, this engaging, easy to follow roadmap will help you find the perfect location to start your new life.

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