Which European countries offer residence and citizenship by investment in real estate?
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Malta
In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta enjoys a strategic location, a stable political situation, and a wonderful climate placing it at the top of Europe’s investment locations. The island grants permanent residence to investors seeking a residence in the EU through its Permanent Residency Program (MPRP) via multiple investment options; one of which is an investment by purchasing a property of €350,000 (or €300,000 in Gozo or South Malta), or leasing property for €12,000 annually (or €10,000 in Gozo or South Malta).
The Maltese program has a processing time of four to six months and allows investors to include their spouses, children, parents, and grandparents in their application. Once the applicant does get the residence, they and their family will have the right to live in Malta and travel in the entire Schengen Area visa-free.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Cyprus
Cyprus, famous for its outstanding wine, mineral wealth, and low cost of living, owns a very straightforward residence by investment program. With no restrictions on the period of stay in Cyprus, the Cypriot government offers permanent residence under the fast-track route for non-EU nationals and their family members if they purchase real estate, whether residential or commercial, of a value of a minimum of €300,000. Issued within two to three months from the date of submission of application, the Cypriot residence cards if you invest in the country are valid for life provided that the investor and their dependents visit Cyprus once every two years, at least.
It is noteworthy that Cyprus also has a non-fast track to permanent residence by investment, which takes a longer time of 15 months on average. This route differs from the fast track one mainly by limiting the required minimum investment to residential properties of at least €150,000 and restricting the eligible family members to the spouse and children aged 18 or younger. But for both routes, all properties in the country are eligible and can be rented out after acquisition.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Portugal
The residence by investment program that has recently become the go-to choice is Portugal’s golden visa. The simple and affordable program lets investors get the golden visa in one of the world’s utmost peaceful countries that is known for its sophisticated level of political and societal security. Investors can obtain residence through various ventures, but the one must applicants choose to invest in to get the golden visa is real estate.
To obtain a Portuguese golden visa, the investor can choose to either invest in a property for €500,000, €350,000 if in a rehabilitation area of 30 years or older, or €280,000 if it is in a low density area to get the golden visa. Actually, Portuguese real estate acquisition has tremendously risen in popularity over the past five years, as 90% of applicants acquired their residency through this investment route.
If the investor and their dependent family members hold on to their investment for five years and spend seven days annually in Portugal, their Portuguese residency will deem them eligible for citizenship and passport. A person can obtain Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of residency. The citizenship application through the golden visa requires applicants only to reside seven days a year for each one of their years of residency in order to obtain citizenship within five years. There is no need to invest any further than the original investment to obtain citizenship.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Greece
Another country with a similar residency by investment program is Greece, a Golden Visa with a cost-effective option for investors who want to get a European residence permit. Invest in property for only €250,000, and the investor, their spouse, and children get a five-year residency permit. What makes the Greek Golden Visa competitive is its lower investment threshold in comparison to other European countries with a Golden visa, making it a cost-effective program for those looking to invest in a second residence permit.
Without any language or residency requirements, Greece allows the investor to include their immediate family members in their Golden Visa application. In a timeline of around three months, the main applicant and their dependents will obtain their residency permit by investment, which will then grant them visa-free access to the Schengen countries.
The real estate investment options in Greece are various. Other than the €250,000 property purchase and its retainment for a minimum of five years, the applicant can alternatively invest in a five-year lease agreement of a hotel accommodation, a ten-year lease agreement of touristic complexes, a piece of land to be used for farming or construction, or a share in a touristic property. All of these options, however, require a five-year ownership period but can be rented out after purchase.
Greece’s residency permit is issued for five years and can be extended for another five years. If the investor resided in Greece for seven years, they would be able to apply for citizenship. The citizenship of a European Union member state is privileged with access to both the Schengen Zone and the European Union countries, and state-of-the-art healthcare and education.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Spain
Spain, the land of Siesta and Paella, has its own Golden Visa program that was launched in September 2013. Spain’s residency by investment program grants investors and entrepreneurs the right to live, study, and work in Spain if they make a substantial investment of a minimum of €500,000 in real estate. The property can be a single unit or numerous, but must be worth at least €500,000 regardless.
When choosing a property investment, the investor should take into consideration the location and type of property. Even though the prices of properties in Spain have declined in recent years, which means good potential for capital gains in the future, the investor is advised to be careful in their choice of real estate as it is vital to the success of the Golden Visa process.
Spain is a sought-after destination for many individuals for its unique culture, rich history, and stunning beaches. Under its Golden Visa program, the Spanish government awards the investor with freedom of movement throughout the EU, access to world-class healthcare, and excellent international schools in return for an investment that would enhance the country’s economy. Spain’s temporary residency by investment ranks 5th on the Global Residence Program Index and can be renewed without living in the country.
Once the applicant meets all the requirements, pays the appropriate fees, and displays a clean criminal record and good health, the residence permit usually takes about 20 days to be issued. The applicant needs to maintain their investment if they wish to renew their residence permit, which is done upon request. The renewal is due every two years, and it would be possible to obtain permanent residence after 5 years, and citizenship after ten years depending on certain conditions.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in Latvia
In July 2010, Latvia launched its residency by investment program to control the economic crisis that started in 2007. The Latvian Golden Visa’s value proposition lies in its real estate investment being inexpensive and lavish at the same time. In addition to the quality of real estate in Latvia, its market offers a wide spectrum of tastes and budgets.
With only a minimum of €250,000, foreign investors get to purchase a luxurious property in an unusually beautiful country on the Baltic coast and subsequently obtain temporary residency by investment in Latvia.
Latvia’s Golden Visa program does not require a language proficiency nor residence in the country beforehand, and the application process normally takes from one to three months – making it one of the fastest Golden Visas in the EU. The main applicant can include dependents such as their spouse and minor children to their application for their family members to obtain the Latvian residence permit as well.
Some of the benefits of Latvia’s Golden Visa include visa-free travel to the Schengen zone and great transport links to both Russia and the EU. In the case that the applicant decides to renew their temporary residence permit to spend more time in the country, they will be eligible for a permanent residence after five years, if they physically reside in Latvia for four years.
Residency by Real Estate Investment in the United Kingdom
Another country with a quite popular residence by investment program, especially among the Chinese and Russians, is the United Kingdom. Perhaps more costly, but the United Kingdom has plenty to offer through its Tier 1 investor visa that leads to permanent residence in the country.
You can obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by an investment of at least GBP 2 million. In opposition to Portugal and Greece and others, investing is not through purchase of real estate but in share or loan capital in the UK.
This minimum investment makes you eligible for UK citizenship after 5 years, if you live in the country for that entire period. A British citizenship and passport grants access to free healthcare, and visa-free travel to 139 countries around the world.