Dare we say it? Dare we say that the worst is over and that the world is starting to recover from the pandemic? It certainly feels that way. Restrictions are easing, case numbers are dropping. For many of us the physical effects will continue to linger and all of us will carry with us the psychological effects. During the two years in which the pandemic has raged many of us have spent long periods confined to our homes but imagining ourselves somewhere else. We have already seen a global trend for people leaving densely populated urban areas and heading for the country and as the restrictions are lifted this desire to relocate could well grow. Increasingly, around the world, people are looking at ‘Golden Visa’ schemes as a means of finding a better quality of life in a new country.
What is a ‘Golden Visa’ scheme?
‘Golden visa’ schemes are operated by governments wishing to encourage foreign investment in real estate which is often unappealing to local inhabitants. In return for a specified level of investment foreign purchasers are given residency rights for themselves and their family and the opportunity to obtain a full passport, usually after about five years. If the country is in the E.U. residency rights carry with them the right to freedom of travel within the Schengen territories. Currently, there are 23 countries around the world which offer ‘Golden visa’ schemes.
‘Golden Visa’ schemes in Europe
According to a report published by EuroNews Travel the ‘Citizenship by Investment’ program, the official term for the ‘Golden Visa’ scheme, attracts nearly 3 billion euros worth of investment to the European Union each year. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the schemes however and some European Union parliamentary delegates have argued for an end to such schemes because of the opportunities they provide for possible money laundering.
Established ten years ago, Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ scheme is rated as one of the best in the world and last year over 10,000 ‘Golden Visa’ applications were filed in the country. So successful has the scheme been in regenerating Portuguese real estate that in January of this year the government introduced constraints intended to redirect foreign purchasing to the interior of the country. Although the scheme is no longer applicable to the popular coastal areas such as Lisbon, the Algarve and Porto there is still a wide range of excellent and affordable property to be found. Aside from low property prices, Portugal also enjoys an outstanding climate, one of the lowest costs of living in Europe and is rated as the world’s third safest country.
Nearly as popular as a ‘Golden Visa’ destination, is Greece, which also saw close to 10,000 applications in 2021 and has the lowest investment threshold at just 250,000 euros. Any number of properties, residential or commercial, can be purchased to make up the minimum investment and they can be anywhere on the mainland or islands.