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As an expat, or soon-to-be expat, your ears probably prick up every time somebody mentions immigrating to a new country. Most expats head for obvious and sought-after places like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia, but what are the alternative options? What if you are looking for a place to settle that’s less “mainstream” and offers a unique improved quality of life?

If you’re trying to think out of the box, you’ve come to the right place. Below are a few of the lesser thought-of places to immigrate to if you are a South African citizen.

Off the grid places to live

Living off the grid is all about being self-sufficient for most people. Off the grid places to live also give people the pleasure of enjoying unadulterated privacy. If you are looking to exit South Africa and head to an oasis for you and your family, the following are fantastic options:

  • Azuero Sunset Coast in Panama:
    If living on a piece of coastline far from the hustle and bustle of the crowds is your dream; Azuero Sunset Coast in Panama is the place to head to. Here you can find some form of civilization but those who settle in the area have to travel around 90 minutes to get into “town”. Immigrating to Panama isn’t particularly hard for South Africans. South Africans don’t need a visa to visit Panama and the permanent residency application must be done from within Panama. This is quite convenient as you can enter Panama visa-free and stay for up to 6 months. The permanent residency process only takes between 3 and 6 months. Easy-peasy!
  • Saint-Chinian in France:
    This particular area is fondly referred to as the “other South of France” and enjoys a whopping 300 days of cheerful sunshine. It’s an outdoorsy person’s paradise and off the grid living is quickly becoming a popular way of life in the area. If you want to live and work in France, you will need to find gainful employment before you arrive. You will need to apply for a long-stay visa and indicate that the ultimate goal is to acquire a residence permit. Your employment contract will have to be for at least 12 months.

Best quality of life countries to immigrate to

Denmark and Switzerland are ranked #1 and #2 respectively on the list of best quality of life countries. If you haven’t thought of immigrating to these countries before, perhaps now is the time to start.

  • Denmark:
    Denmark is ranked #1 based on the fact that it offers exceptional services and care to its people in terms of water and sanitation, nutritional and basic medical care, personal rights of citizens, access to information and communications, access to basic knowledge, and safety. It is considered an excellent place to raise a family. Immigrating to Denmark is unfortunately quite difficult for South African passport holders (and anyone from outside of the EU for that matter). In order to immigrate to Denmark, you will need to apply for a work and residency permit (or long stay visa). You will need to be offered a permanent job in the country and have skills to offer the economy in order for your visa to be considered.
  • Switzerland:
    Switzerland is ranked #2 on the list of countries with the highest quality of life. It has earned its position due to its offerings in terms of safety, efficiency, and cleanliness. If you would like to live in a country that has a fast and efficient transport infrastructure, where your kids can walk to and from school safely, and where health care is of no real concern, Switzerland is it. Moving to Switzerland for non-EU citizens (yes, that’s South Africans) can be quite difficult as the country imposes annual limits on how many non-EU and non-EFTA citizens can apply for long-term residency in the country. Switzerland has a very strict policy in terms of foreign residencies. No non-EU/EFTA citizen has a “right” to residency and each application is individually assessed and decided on. To immigrate to Switzerland, you have to apply at the local cantonal migration office where you wish to immigrate to.

Best places to move with no money

When you think of immigrating to a new country, you are probably put off by the amount of money required during the process and then the actual cost of living thereafter. What if there are countries you can move to with no money?

Let’s pull Paraguay into the spotlight. If more people knew just how easy moving to Panama was; they would jump at the opportunity to do so. Paraguay is a country that offers low cost of living, low taxes, and a stable economy. It’s also a country that offers beautiful beaches and subtropical weather. To get permanent residency is as easy as making a local bank deposit of $5,000 and if you want to keep this residency, you must visit the country at least once every 3 years. Because the passport is the 24th most powerful in the world it’s not so easy to get. You will need to live in the country permanently, have a job and strong local ties for that. However, you can apply for citizenship after 3 years of permanent residency.

Have you heard enough? Are you ready to get your immigration applications underway? Of course, you are! Good luck!

FinGlobal: Financial and tax emigration advice for South Africans living abroad

Whether you are thinking about immigrating to Paraguay or one of the more common countries like Canada or Australia, chances are that you don’t know where to start with your tax emigration and financial emigration processes. At FinGlobal, we provide a premier tax emigration and financial emigration advice and guidance service to South Africans all over the world. We have almost 10 years of experience to lean on and are confident that we can fast track your financial and tax emigration processes and ensure that you get the most out for you and your family. For more information, simply contact us. You can give us a call at your convenience or send us an email so that one of our consultants can assist you further.