Plan a Year of Expatriate Traveling – Central and South America Destinations

Not all areas of the world have an abundance of recommended destinations for prospective expatriates. In the Caribbean there are only a very few that meet the criteria for a high rating, but in Central and South America, your choices are greater. Several are consistently found among the top ten to fifteen prospective expatriate living destinations. Among these countries, you have the opportunity to visit as a tourist for weeks to months before making the final decision as to where you wish to settle down.

So what are some the countries I recommend for an expatriate traveler? In Central America, you have Panama, usually in the top 5 in all lists. It is my top choice and one in which I personally intend to spend significant time in the coming years. In addition, you have Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. In South America you have Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay frequently mentioned and in some lists Brazil is included.

If you plan your itinerary carefully, you can maximize your experience in each country just by utilizing the tourist visa. I have researched and listed below the times that a person can reside in each country as a tourist. For those countries that allow up to 90 days either without a visa or with a tourist visa, you could easily spend a year spread out over four different countries. This would give you ample time to become acquainted with each country.

Central America

  • Panama allows a tourist 90 days.
  • Belize allows a tourist 30 days which can be renewed each month thereafter for $25/month up to 6 months.
  • Costa Rica: Outside of transit passengers, the need for and time allowed for a tourist visa varies from up to 30 days to 90 days. For U.S. citizens and those of over a dozen other countries, no tourist visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
  • Guatemala: Citizens of the U.S., E.U. countries, Australia, Canada & Japan can stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa.
  • Nicaragua: Tourist visa not required for U.S. Citizens for up to 90 days. Others need to check for your country.

South America

  • Argentina: Tourist visa is valid for 90 days and is renewable.
  • Brazil: Tourist visa valid for 90 days, extension of 90 days up to 6 months. Maximum of 6 months in a twelve months period.
  • Ecuador: Tourism visa valid for three months. Can extend to 90 more days in Quito and Guayaguil. They also have a volunteering visa (have to be volunteering with a non profit organization) for up to one year.
  • Uruguay: U.S. citizens do not need a visa for less than 90 days. Others need to check for your country.

Just by using a tourist visa — or no visa in those Central and South American countries that do not require a tourist visa — U.S. citizens could spend over two years outside of the United States without even having to renew one visa. Citizens of other countries have similar times but would need to verify their country requirements for themselves.

Dr. Lamar Ross has a special interest in training individuals for expatriate living and providing information on unique travel destinations. He is an author, educator, photographer, internet entrepreneur, and international traveler. He has lived in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and India and has traveled extensively in 29 different countries. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and has a basic ability in several other languages. For more information on expatriate living, check out the blog Expatriate Traveler Notes