Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Freedom • Global Citizen

Best Countries to Live in, Incorporate, and Be a Citizen

People often ask us these questions:

  • What are the best countries to live in?
  • What are the best countries to incorporate a business?
  • What are the best countries to get citizenship or residency?

Did you spot the common theme?

Everyone wants to know the best country to eliminate all their problems and make their lives easier.

But here’s where things get subjective.

Not everyone has the same problems, and not everyone has the exact definition of a perfect country.

At Nomad Capitalist, we help seven, and eight-figure entrepreneurs go where they are treated best through holistic offshore strategies tailored for them.

A young tech millionaire may go for a different offshore lifestyle than a veteran business person, despite making the same amount of money.

It’s not about how much money you make, nor what you can get for that amount of capital.

Instead, it’s all about who you are as a person and what is your definition of the best life.

When picking a country for your offshore plan, the more isn’t always the merrier.

There are 195 countries worldwide, including 193 UN member states, so clearly, there are many options.

Even when you remove the countries in crisis, tens of places are left competing for your business, investment, or time.

Tax havens will attract you with their lucrative tax-free lifestyle. Retirement havens will woo you with their world-class beaches and hassle-free living.

Moreover, free zones allow you to set up your company and benefit from business-friendly regulations.

No matter what you need, there’s a country out there providing it.

The tricky part is finding that country.

We carefully assess your lifestyle, income, and goals to pick the best country for you from a pool of attractive countries.

In our experience, many countries look great on paper but are a mess of tax regulations and bureaucracy in real life.

We don’t experiment on our clients because we have spent years perfecting our offshore strategies so that we can help them go where they are treated best.

In this article, we will discuss countries we recommended to our clients over the last year and the reasons behind it.

Best Countries to Set Up a Business

Best Countries to Set Up a Business

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

United Arab Emirates (UAE), Best Countries to Set Up a Business

According to GEM 2022 report by World Economic Forum, UAE ranks at the top of the list of the best countries for entrepreneurs.

With the highest National Entrepreneurial Context Index (NECI) score of 6.8, UAE has emerged as the best country to start a new business in 2022.

The GEM ranks countries based on economic and political stability, the rule of law, the education system, etc.

In addition to all those factors, UAE is a favorite among investors because of its zero income tax rate and various free zones.

The country also boasts some of the best international schools in the world.

According to the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, the country has over 40 free zones in which foreign investors and expats can fully own companies.

If you want to properly set up a business and hire employees to work from the office, you may want to set up a company in a free zone in Dubai right in the middle of all the business activity.

If that’s not your goal, you may opt for a distant free zone to incorporate your business.

Besides its business-friendly environment, UAE, especially Dubai, is known for its wealth, vibrant nightlife, modern infrastructure, and high quality of life.

If you want to know more about living in Dubai, you should take a look at our expat guide on the city.

If obtaining residency is the goal, there are multiple ways to get UAE residence by investment, including real estate, business, and several investment options.

Overall, UAE offers a thriving business community, many investment opportunities, the best quality of life, and more.

Note, however, that earlier this year, the government announced that starting from January 1st, 2023, UAE would introduce a federal corporate tax rate of 9% for taxable income exceeding 375,000 AED (approx. USD 102,000).

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR, Best Countries to Set Up a Business

We have talked plenty about Hong Kong as a hub for investors and entrepreneurs.

Hong Kong is one of the best countries to base your offshore company.

Despite its annual reporting requirements and audits, many of our clients have set up their companies in Hong Kong because of its global reputation as a secure and stable offshore banking and business jurisdiction.

Many have also opted for Hong Kong because of its connection to China, hoping to benefit from the free trade area between Hong Kong and mainland China.

The profits tax rates in Hong Kong go up to 16.50% (on part of the profits over USD 2,000,000), but it can be reduced considerably since the country has a territorial tax system meaning foreign income is tax exempt.

Hong Kong is considered one of the world’s freest economies thanks to its low tax rates, international financial market, and tremendous growth.

Known for its cultural diversity, modern infrastructure, beautiful skyline, and high average life expectancy, Hong Kong is easily one of the best countries to live in.

Considering all its pros, using a Hong Kong corporation for your business might be the best decision you ever take for your company.

Malta

Malta, Best Countries to Set Up a Business

Some of our clients have also chosen Malta, a European Union member state, to set up their business.

With strategic tax planning, you can reduce your taxes to a single digit in Malta, but why would someone go for Malta when tax-friendly countries like UAE exist?

The answer is simple – many people choose an EU jurisdiction for their company to avoid the penalty tax rates they may be subjected to if their business was in a tax haven.

The European Union is the world’s largest single market, and many people like the idea of owning a business in the EU area.

Malta also has a very popular Malta Citizenship by Investment program. The country also has various Malta residency programs.

Panama

Panama, Best Countries to Set Up a Business

Let’s talk about Americans’ favorite retirement haven – Panama.

Panama is one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world.

Many people retire to Panama every year, thanks to its natural beauty and large expat community, among other reasons.

Panama’s capital city is also a central international hub for investors and entrepreneurs.

Some of our clients have set up companies in Panama for asset protection since the country has a territorial tax system with low corporate income tax on locally sourced income.

Others have done it to qualify for the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, for which you have to establish economic ties in the country, and one way to do that is by setting up a company.

The country is also a popular medical tourism spot, with people visiting to seek medical treatment from all over the world.

The health care facilities in Panama are one of the best in the world.

Whether you go for public or private healthcare, you will never have to dread a hospital bill in Panama since even private medical care can be acquired at a fraction of the cost of US healthcare.

Private health insurance also comes cheap – a massive benefit for senior retirees looking to spend their golden years in Panama.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI)

The British Virgin Islands (BVI), Best Countries to Set Up a Business

Some of our clients who liked Hong Kong but didn’t want to go through the annual audits and reporting requirements opted for the British Virgin Islands.

There are practically no taxes in BVI except payroll taxes, stamp duty on real estate, and import duty, making it a great place to set up shop if you want to run an active business.

Moreover, BVI is known for its beautiful beaches and yachting spots, making it a great place to live, especially if you love natural beauty.

The Cayman Islands is another British Overseas Territory where people have incorporated their business.

Setting up a company in the Cayman Islands is a great way to reduce your personal and corporate taxes, although it does not come cheap.

The same can be said about establishing a residency in the Cayman Islands.

Like BVI, the Cayman Islands also has no income tax, property tax, corporate tax, or capital gains tax. 

The Best Countries to Live in

The Best Countries to Live in

Over the years, we have helped many people establish residencies and citizenship in different parts of the world.

Some went for permanent residency programs and citizenships, while others settled for temporary residencies.

Some wanted a foreign residency as a backup option, while others wanted to move overseas indefinitely.

Some countries may want you to spend some time there to qualify for residence permits, while other countries may forgo that requirement in exchange for a higher fee.

It all depends on your needs and the country you’re aiming for.

Following is a brief rundown of the best countries to live in as citizens or residents (temporary or permanent).

Mexico

Although next door neighbor to the US, Mexico is nothing like the Land of the Free – it’s better.

Foreigners, especially American expats, love Mexico for the freedom it offers, along with its exotic lifestyle.

The country also offers numerous perks for people who want to retire in Mexico.

You can get a second residency in Mexico, whether temporary or permanent, through multiple ways, including but not limited to real estate purchase and investment.

Depending on your circumstances, you can directly qualify for permanent residency without applying for a temporary residence permit first.

A Mexican Permanent Resident Card is issued indefinitely.

You don’t have to renew it every few years, making it an excellent option for people who want to relocate to Mexico indefinitely.

You can also apply for Mexican citizenship after five years of residency in the country, regardless of your residency status.

Nicaragua

Most people don’t know much about this Central American hidden gem.

Nicaragua is commonly known for its beautiful lakes and volcanoes, but we know Nicaragua for its straightforward residence process that any citizen from a wealthy country can take advantage of.

Nicaragua categorizes countries into three classes – A, B, and C.

Most western nations, including the US and countries in Western Europe, are in Category A.

The higher the category, the easier it is to get a second residency in Nicaragua.

The permanent residency is issued for five years, after which it has to be renewed.

The only catch is that you have to stay in the country for more than 183 days in a year to maintain your residency, but if that’s not an issue for you, then a Nicaraguan residency could be a great option.

The Nicaraguan passport is also a great Plan B considering that the foreign-sourced income is tax-exempt there.

Colombia

Colombia is an excellent option for people who want to establish residency in a country with a booming real estate market without actually living there.

Factors like global reputation can directly affect national economies, and that’s precisely what happened to Colombia in the past.

However, the country has cleaned up its act and is now on the right path.

You can apply for residency through an investment in the country’s real estate or by setting up a Colombian company.

To maintain your resident visa, you only have to visit Colombia for one day every two years, and after five years of residency, you can apply for Colombian citizenship.

All Colombian visas require you to have an international health insurance policy.

Investing in Colombian real estate, especially in Bogota (the capital city), is an excellent option for investors looking for high investment yields.

Georgia

Georgia is another low-tax country with a booming real estate market making it an excellent place for investors and entrepreneurs.

Georgia is also one of the best options for opening offshore bank accounts or setting up an offshore company.

You can get residency in Georgia through multiple routes like investment, work, study, etc. Each route comes with its own set of requirements.

Portugal

Portugal has one of the most popular Golden Visa programs in the world.

The Portuguese passport is the 6th most powerful passport in the world, granting you visa-free access to 187 countries in 2022.

Although the Portugal Golden Visa program won’t automatically get you a Portuguese passport, you can apply for citizenship in five years.

Meanwhile, you can live and work anywhere in Portugal and the EU with your Portuguese residency visa permit.

If you don’t want a Golden Visa, there are other ways to become a Portugal resident, including but not limited to having a Portuguese spouse, showing certain assets, etc.

If gaining travel freedom and living in an EU country is the goal, Portugal is an excellent option.

Malaysia

Malaysia is one of South East Asia’s hidden gems.

Impressive skyline, diverse culture, and delicious food – Malaysia has it all.

Although Malaysia is far from tax-free, places like Langkawi (Malaysia) enjoy a duty-free status making it an excellent option for residents and tourists who like to shop.

Malaysia also has an MM2H Visa residence program valid for ten years without renewal.

However, the applicant must spend 90 days per year in Malaysia per MM2H Visa requirements.

The MM2H program also allows you to live in Malaysia and bring your family along.

Turkey

What better place to live in than Turkey, where Europe meets Asia?

Living in Turkey, you get the best of both worlds. You’ll see plenty of historic Muslim architecture, yet many cities have a heavy European vibe.

Despite the ups and downs of the Turkish Lira, Turkish real estate continues to grow in value and demand, making it a stable investment option for foreigners.

Turkey also offers one of the best Turkish citizenship by investment programs worldwide.

With a minimum investment of $400,000, you and all your dependents under 18 can get Turkish citizenship in four months.

Talk about a sweet deal.

Turkey also offers free public secondary education making it an excellent place for families with kids.

Bonus Mentions for Best Countries to Live in

Bonus Mentions for Best Countries to Live in
  • The Bahamas
  • Serbia
  • Ireland
  • Montenegro
  • Italy
  • Armenia
  • Thailand
  • The UAE

Best Countries to Obtain Citizenship by Descent

Best Countries to Obtain Citizenship by Descent, Ireland

What’s the best citizenship by descent (CBD)? The one you qualify for.

All the countries mentioned in the article offered one thing or another in exchange for your investment – direct investment, setting up a company, or real estate purchase.

But CBD is different from citizenship by investment (CBI). Through CBD, you can qualify for a foreign passport with no investment.

It’s practically free minus the application fees and such.

But, of course, not all people have a fruitful bloodline, and that’s why the number of CBD qualifying people is only a fraction of the number of people applying for residence and CBI.

Many countries, especially European countries, offer citizenship by descent.

We have helped people get CBD in, but not limited to, the following countries:

  • The UK
  • Ireland
  • Guyana
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Italy

The Best Country in the World

The Best Country in the World

So what’s the best country in the world? The one that treats you the best.

No wealth-to-country ratio defines which country would be the best for each individual.

A multimillionaire may opt for relatively cheaper St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship, while a person with less than ten million dollars may go for Malta citizenship.

It’s all variable.

That’s why we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach at Nomad Capitalist.

We carefully assess our clients’ situations, goals, and lifestyles to develop a plan that works best in their interests.

We can do the same for you. All you have to do is reach out and trust us with your future.

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