I’m done with Thailand. Have been for a while. Three main reasons, in no particular order. I’m bored, in need of novel simulation. It’s same-same here day after day. Second reason is given a choice I’d rather live simply in a rich country than have limited choices to spend on in a poorer one. Finally, I can handle the heat but think I’d have a better quality of life if I didn’t have to.
The obvious question, is where to. Spain sits top the list. However the difficulty of getting a long stay visa for a non-EU citizen is daunting. It’s often described as a nightmare. it starts with the usual triple threat of time, cost and the so called requirements not being the actual ones, which, of course, are subject to an official’s personal interpretation, mood and whim.
But wait, there is more. If a Spanish immigration official (in Bangkok) finds something wrong with the application, one must restart the 3+ month process from the beginning. All 3rd party documents submitted, e.g. police record, and their official translation must have been obtained in the last 3 months. Redoing them is both money wasted and an opportunity for the 3rd party to make a mistake.
There is a fifth level of hell. An immigration official in Spain could choose not to accept something the Bangkok based official approved, or he could spot an error made by the Bangkok official. Consensus on Spain expat forums is the less often a Consulate issues a visa, the more likely they did it wrong. Worst case scenario is fly home and start over. Some only have to fly home to get a quick fix.
It seems doable. Might seem less so after a few failures. There may be a plan B. Under Florida law, I’m a state resident. Don’t know if that will be accepted by the Miami Spanish Consulate. I’ll ask. Miami has substantial experience granting long stay visas.
Finally, the sixth and last circle of hell – at least as far as I know. They need to see proof of a years worth of pension (or Social Security) deposits. I applied in time to start receiving benefits Jan 2017. The SS Administration told me that would be delayed by 4-5 months, but not to worry because the first check will cover all the months from January. I don’t think the Spanish Consulate cares. I do think getting a definitive answer would be useless because evidence of definitive answers from Spanish Immigration are few and far between. Looks like I can apply in Spring 2018 at the earliest.
Time for some Plan Cs.
Argentina has changed so much since I researched it 10 years ago. Many of the hurdles for expats are gone. A big problem is ~40% annual inflation. Recently (2 years ago?) the government bit the bullet by ending massive price subsidies on essentials like electricity. The economic shock waves are still reverberating. The country has it’s own version of Spanish. I don’t think it would make my brain bleed too much.
Then there is Mexico. Long stay is easy, cost of living is low, shipping goods from the US is easy, but then there is the narco violence. In some areas it’s so low it seems as if the cartels and government agreed those would be ‘safer’ zones because the country needs the tourist industry. Living in such a zone might be like living on an island in that boredom would ensue.
Never been to Portugal but the climate, quality of life, cost of living and access to the rest of Europe appeals. Obtaining long stay visas are relatively straight forward and knowing some Spanish makes learning Portuguese easier. Well, I do have time to learn 200 essential travel related words before going next spring…
Finally, among EU countries getting a long stay visa in France is relatively easy. It’s never occurred to me to live there, cost of living is higher than I’d like, I don’t know if I hear well enough to learn how to pronounce French. I did note the language requirement is dropped for applicants 65 and older. However, for me France is a no go for residency. Their tax treaties with other countries say one’s estate is taxed under French law. Confiscatory was the first word that came to mind