Retirement

Escape Political Chaos In These Overseas Safe Havens

With the dawn of another election year, even a cursory glance at the headlines serves as a reminder of how volatile and divisive U.S. politics have become. Add to that a string of global crises and conflicts, and the desire to somehow escape from the chaos becomes easily understandable.

As the founder of Live And Invest Overseas, I’ve long been on a mission to identify the best places for North Americans to move to outside their home borders.

Of course, each location I recommend will, like anywhere, have its upsides and downsides, and depending on individual preferences and priorities—for example health care, cost of living, language spoken—will make more sense for some than others.

Take my husband and me, for example. We divide our time between France and Panama.

In France, Paris is home. We have family there, adore the food, culture, and walkability… the architecture, parks, and chateaux… and look forward to every chance we get to spend time in the City of Light.

In Panama, our head office is in bustling Panama City but our home and escape from the world lies a few hours west, on the coast of the country’s Azuero Peninsula. A former cattle ranch, today this 425-acre site, named Los Islotes, is where we’re building a unique community of likeminded souls who value privacy, security, freedom, independence, and elbow room.

Los Islotes is one of the safest havens imaginable in today’s world. It offers ocean views, tranquility, and stability, as well as every creature comfort. For those looking for their own slice of paradise such as we’ve found on Panama’s Sunset Coast, here are a few solid options…

Belize

I first drew my readers’ attention to the many charms of Belize in 1987. Back then, it was pretty rough around the edges and primarily attracted scuba divers, sport anglers, and free spirits.

A year later, in 1988, 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer traveled the Belize River in a small wooden boat and declared, “The good news from Belize is… no news from Belize.”

The sentiment stuck and still holds true all these years later. Nothing much happens in this sleepy Caribbean nation—and that’s just the way the folks here like it.

Today, at Live And Invest Overseas, Belize is our number-one retirement haven in the Caribbean, attracting people from all walks of life.

It offers white-sand beaches, azure waters, swaying palms, a low cost of living, investment opportunities, and a welcoming English-speaking community.

It’s a tiny country—about the size of Massachusetts—with a small population of just over 400,000.

On a global scale, it attracts little attention… which, in today’s world, is a big plus.

It remains the perfect place to escape the world’s troubles, and for Americans, that peace of mind can be accessed in as little as two hours flying time from Miami.

It’s easy for new arrivals to settle in here—the country’s Qualified Retirement Program (QRP) visa is available to people as young as 45 and offers a host of tax advantages.

This country is a peaceful, eco-tourist retreat, home to more than 540 species of birds, 4,000 species of flowering plants, and 700 species of trees. Nearly 40% of Belize is protected as parkland and nature preserves.

The weather is warm year-round. Daytime temperatures linger between 80 F and 90 F. Nighttime temperatures in summer are in the high 70s F, dropping into the low 70s F in the winter.

With its English language, common law tradition, private property rights, and abundant natural attractions, it’s easy to see why people from North America feel so at home in Belize.

Madeira

The Madeira archipelago lies some 600 miles southwest of mainland Europe in the North Atlantic Ocean. Culturally and politically, Madeira is very much part of Portugal, but it feels a world away. Indeed, its lush vegetation and dramatic landscape puts you in mind of Hawaii more so than Europe.

The largest and most populated island in the archipelago is Madeira, known as “the island of eternal spring” because of its pleasant year-round weather.

This innovative and forward-thinking island offers a variety of residency options, including a digital nomad visa. Thanks to its healthy tourism trade you won’t have much trouble getting by in English and it’s one of the safest places in the world to live. The health care and education systems are impressive, too.

As it’s officially the Autonomous Region of Madeira, it has its own government and administrative powers which means bureaucratic matters can be handled more efficiently than on the mainland.

Plus, it’s investor-friendly. The island is home to the Madeira International Business Centre (MIBC), a free-trade zone with investor incentives that include a reduced corporate income tax rate of 5%, certain exemptions on withholding tax and capital gains for MIBC entities, and more.

The high quality of life on offer and world away feel make Madeira a perfect escape for those seeking a drama-free haven in Europe.

Uruguay

Uruguay is the most democratic country in Latin America… and the wealthiest. Home to a population of just 3.5 million, it’s pro-business and full of rich, fertile farmland. A true safe haven.

Sandwiched between two South American goliaths (Argentina and Brazil), it doesn’t make world headlines much.

It reminds me in many ways of the American Midwest. A farming powerhouse. Vast open spaces. Strong communities. Safe and stable. The one likeness the two don’t share is climate. In Uruguay, summer temperatures hover in the 70s F and in winter they rarely drop below 52 F.

And the benefits don’t stop there. The path to residency is straightforward. The financial system is solid. The infrastructure, impressive.

Add to that, Uruguay has jurisdictional taxation—a huge benefit for expats as it means you’re not taxed on any income from outside the country. There’s no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax, and property taxes are low—budget around $1,500 per year in property taxes on a two-bed apartment in the capital, Montevideo.

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