Currently, twenty-three countries world-wide, offer a golden visa scheme. These schemes, the detail of which varies from country to country, enable non-resident foreign real estate purchasers to acquire residency rights for themselves and their family. Countries within the European Union have the added incentive of allowing successful applicants freedom of travel within the entire Schengen area. According to EuroNews Travel, the ‘Citizenship by Investment’ program attracts 3 billion euros worth of investment to the European Union every year.
What is driving interest in Golden Visa schemes?
For citizens of the U.K. the implementation of Brexit has meant an end to ease of travel within Europe and a limited stay of 90 days. Acquiring residency rights in a European country is a way around the newly imposed travel constraints. In addition, the global pandemic has caused millions of people to re-evaluate their lifestyle. Generally, there has been a move out of cities to the country and people have had time to browse the internet and consider what their money might buy them in another location. The third key factor is the increasing acceptance of remote working by the business world. This trend was already well under-way, but the pandemic gave it a thorough road test and accelerated the process.
Why is Portugal such a popular choice?
Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme was one of the most generous around, requiring just a 350,000 euros investment and offering full citizenship within five years. So successful was it that it has generated over 5 billion euros worth of foreign investment in the ten years since it was instituted. The popularity of the scheme has driven up property prices in Lisbon and the Algarve, year on year, to the extent that locals now find it hard to buy property in their own capital. In response, the government implemented changes to the scheme in January 2022. The minimum threshold investment has now increased to 500,000 euros and only properties in the country’s interior are now eligible for the scheme. Despite these changes, Portugal remains a very desirable relocation option: the country enjoys an excellent climate, is one of the safest countries in the world and has one of the lowest cost of living in Europe. Last year, over 10,000 Golden Visa applications were filed in Portugal and there is still plenty of foreign interest in the country’s real estate opportunities.
Greece’s Golden Visa scheme is nearly as popular
There were 9,500 Golden Visa applications in Greece last year, a surprising number for a country with uncertain economic stability. With a threshold investment of just 250,000 euros, Greece offers the lowest cost residency in Europe. Any number of properties can be purchased to make up the threshold value and property can be purchased anywhere on the mainland or islands. As with the Portuguese scheme, the purchaser’s spouse and children also become eligible for residency rights under the scheme.