Having said all this, I would like to hear your dreams and ideas on what you wish to do on your “retirement” days? Home or abroad? Temperate or tropical? NA? Europe? Asia? or....? Bugs or not?
I'm old enough that my wife and I have pondered this question. Assuming that the world economy doesn't completely collapse, we should have the resources needed to do what ever makes us happy.
We love Central America and have discussed living in Belize, Guatemala or Mexico. But as you get to know the countries and cultures, you realize how corruption and injustice pervades everything - even in a country like Costa Rica, craziness is never far out of sight. So, I think we are at the point that we would never permanently move to Latin America. You have to be able to have a safe haven, and as screwed up as the US is (and may be in the near future), it is still basically a sane and safe country.
Plus, I still want to maintain an insect collection. I can't see doing that if you lived full time in Latin America. Even if you could defend it against mold and pests, what happens when you are dead?
I think the alternative model we are looking at is one of extended sojourns to exotic localities. The winter in the Andes. and summer in the cool mountains of Guatemala. Four to six months every year spent on 2-3 slow-motion vacations mostly renting cottages and soaking in new cultures. Then head back home, where I see the rest of the year spent dealing with real life and, of course, spreading leps. A short trip to Paris or Rome every now and then as a traditional vacation.
We used to talk a lot about owning our own cottage in Belize or Chiapas - and I think that would be a total blast. But then you are pretty much locked into that place for the rest of your life - and it's a big world out there.
You have some good points there John! Many of "these" exotic countries may be considered a bit doubtful to persons that are used to things being more "in line". Power outages, corruption, bureaucracy and alike can be negative factors indeed, though the positive factors can out-weigh them. Considering a collection, you certainly make a very good point about having a base (the US in your case) and making various shorter or longer trips to exotic locales. This also allow for a varied experience in terms of destinations and seasons.
Personally, I am more into the biology and bio-geography of butterflies, rather than into collecting itself. I would love to grow plants and rear all kind of butterflies, so that would put an emphasis on keeping an exotic plant collection, as a base for rearing material. Whatever anyone dream about doing, I certainly can not recommend it strongly enough - go for it! Do it! You can always return to base and familiar life.
Actually it is possible to get Thai citizenship eventually, but it is a longwinded process, and you must be able to read and write Thai (reading is not actually very difficult, but writing correctly is much harder). Most people who live here get 1 year visa extensions for living with their Thai wife or having a Thai dependent (son/daughter), or having a legal job or a retirement visa (age must be over 50). The Thais don't want people working illegally in the country, but if you have sufficient money to satisfy requirements and a valid visa it is not a problem.
After 5 years of yearly extensions of stay it is possible to apply for permanent residence, and 5 years after that you can apply for citizenship. However, there is a quota for residence permits (100 per nationality per year) so if you don't come from somewhere like Tonga the quota is always full making it very difficult to proceed through the system.
A lot of people who leave the country on a 'visa run' and come straight back do so because they don't have enough money to show Immigration when applying for an extension, and many work illegally.
I never got down to talk about this, pertaining to the Philippines. Apart of the first mentioned Retirement visa system - which is administered by the Office of the President, rather than the Bureau of Immigration (subsidiary of Dept. of Justice), there are some options to become both permanent resident and citizen of the Philippines. Like Adam mention about Thailand, the Philippines has a similar quota system. This allows 50 persons per year, per nation, to apply for quota-immigrants status; which prioritizes former Filippino citizens to re-acquire their old citizenship, leaving whatever remaining foreign nationals to acquire leftover slots. So as Adam says, you better be from Tonga or a similar small nation if you want to have a chance at that status! This requires 10 years of residence in the Philippines. Fortunately, it is realistic for any foreigners to achieve both temporary and permanent (after 5 years) residence.
A major difference to this, as compared to Thailand (as I understand it from Adam) is a family relation to a Filipino national. This really open doors! Arriving in the Philippines along with a spouse, you can claim a "Balikbayan visa" at the point of entry, allowing you to stay for 1 year, free. After this you can extend with 2-month tourist visas up to 1 year, against a fee each time. Alternatively, one can apply for a non-quota "probationary residency" either during the course of your one-year Balikbayan visa or just before it expires. If you do not violate your probationary visa, you may apply for permanent residency already before the expiry of this, thus you have permanent residency already within 2 years of arrival.
After 5 years of permanent residency, it is possible to apply for Philippine citizenship. Only basic requirements are no records of criminal convictions or pending cases, proof of no contagious disease at the time of application and being able to speak either at least English, Spanish or a Filippino language (some 120-175 to choose from!). Most of us would opt for the English option I guess? - maybe Spanish.... EU nationals need 10 years residence in Spain to be able to apply for Spanish citizenship, but Filipinos and at Spanish origin Latin American nationals can have both dual citizenship and achieve it within just 2 years of residency. With 3 mill. pure and mix Spanish persons in the Philippines, these two countries still have some favorable ties.