With the eurozone crisis continuing to plague economies, though, many countries have introduced Golden Visa schemes, which offer residency within a country in exchange for investment in real estate. Residency often includes visa-free travel to the 26 countries within the Schengen Area, which boosts the programmes’ appeal to non-EU buyers looking to relocate overseas. Moving abroad has never been easier!
As Spain introduces its own Golden Visa scheme this month, we round up the main packages on offer:
Minimum investment: €500,000
For €500,000 you can be on the fast track to obtaining a full valid residency permit and find yourself a prime piece of Algarve real estate to boot. With Portugal’s property prices falling in recent years, those luxury villas near the beach are more affordable than before. Indeed, Portugal is confident its scheme will attract big spenders and expects 10,000 homes to be sold this year.
The visa will be valid for one year and can then be renewed for another two years, although your investment must remain for a minimum of five years. The biggest selling point? You only have to stay in Portugal for seven days of your first year to be eligible for renewal; a handy gateway to other EU countries for wealthy buyers.
Alternatively, you can transfer funds of over €1 million into the country or create at least 10 jobs. Frankly, the villa sounds like more fun.
Minimum investment: €300,000
Cyprus’ housing market is in dire straits, so the island’s Golden Visa scheme is much more affordable: you only have to spend €300,000 to obtain residency, as long as €200,000 of that is paid before your application and your income is more than €30,000.
The residency permit includes an investor’s spouse and children under the age of 18, but the lower cost comes at a price: non-EU nationals wishing to visit other countries in the Schengen Area will need to apply for a visa to do so, even for a short stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
The scheme is hoped to attract Chinese buyers to the island. Indeed, there are reportedly 20 Chinese nationals landing in Cyprus every day to house hunt.
Minimum investment: €500,000
Spain originally planned to ask for €160,000 investment, but followed Portugal’s suit and aimed for a higher price tag of €500,000: enough to secure a very impressive slice of Spanish property. Indeed, the country’s prices have fallen by 50 per cent from the market’s peak values in certain areas, with the Costa del Sol a particularly popular place for bargain hunters.
Unlike Portugal, Spain’s threshold is more flexible: while the investment cannot be mortgage funded, it can be made up of several smaller properties, amounting to a total portfolio of €500,000.
The residency will include partners and children and is renewable up to five years, with no minimum period of stay.
Minimum investment: €250,000
Greece stole the spotlight with its Golden Visa scheme, offering residency for the bargain basement sum of €250,000 – the cheapest of all EU countries. The country’s economy and housing market have been very hard hit, but are starting to see buyers return, attracted by the low costs and the potential for citizenship.
The permit includes families and can be renewed every five years as long as ownership of the investment is retained. It does not include a working permit, although the homeowner is allowed visa-free travel within the Schengen Area with only their passport.
The scheme has also seen success, with the country award its first residency permit to a Chinese buyer in August 2013. More are expected to follow.