Nowadays it’s easy to confuse traveling with living abroad. With more people having the means to travel by virtue of more money and/or more time, trips are lasting longer and longer. And why not? Technology allows us to move from place to place while still doing our jobs and staying connected to our friends and family. We can call home cheaply, work remotely and even learn a language (or at least a few critical words) easily. Obstacles that once limited our movements and our lives can now be remedied with a handheld device and a few dollars.
Visiting vs. Living
Flights and accommodations, as well as local transportation options, are cheaper and more readily available (thanks, Ryanair, Airbnb and Uber), with our imaginations and courage the only things limiting where we go, who we meet and what we think. Our trips can morph from a couple of days to a couple of months with hardly anyone noticing. Thus, it’s often hard to tell when visiting a place actually becomes living in it. Here are a few things to consider:
For many people, the point at which they transform from being a guest in a place to being a resident of one is more a mental change than a physical one. It’s a shift in their thinking that encourages them to experience a place and culture rather than simply observe it. Instead of doing all the touristy attractions, they want to roam the backstreets, eat at unknown establishments, meet new people, speak the language. It could happen within two weeks, or it might never happen. Some expatriates live in another country for years but never consider it their home, while other adventurous souls move from place to place every few months, living a local’s life in each location.
Others believe that you live in a place only when you assume responsibilities for it. Maybe you pay taxes or establish ties to a business or start going to a church. It doesn’t really matter what you do except that you commit to building up the community in some tangible way. In this way, visitors become citizens.
However you choose to think about traveling and whether you’re a visitor or a resident of a place, it’s important to remember that countries have different rules regulating movement into and out of their borders. Thus, every traveler, whether a visitor or would-be immigrant, should contact a professional (like an eb-5 immigration lawyer) to clarify the laws of the planned destinations in order to avoid any legal issues. Length of stay, investment concerns and a variety of other matters all affect how local governments view and treat the people traveling within their jurisdictions. Be prepared for easier travel wherever you go!