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Residence in Europe upon purchasing real estate: best programs of 2020

Kristina Kurkuliak
03 February 2020


According to the Global Wealth Migration Review, people with the capital of at least $1,000,000 tend to obtain second citizenship in order to travel visa-free. Moreover, investors who think about reasonable money investment prefer investing in European real estate. Thus, they receive not only an opportunity to obtain residence but also a passive income in an economically stable country. This article dives in more details about the European countries offering Golden Visas via investment in real estate.

Income received from residence by investment programs

The USA (EB-5 visa) and Quebec (IIP) programs received revenue counted in billions in 2018 — €6 billion and €1,3 billion accordingly. Portugal (Golden Visa) occupies the third position on the ranking with the income of €839 million. All the other programs are shown in the infographics below:

Which European countries offer residence and citizenship by investment in real estate?

About 10 countries in the territory of Europe offer temporary or permanent residence in exchange for investment. Each program has its own peculiarities. Some countries accept only combined investments (for example, in order to receive Malta’s temporary residence, one must purchase both bonds and real estate). Let us take a look at each program.

NB! Be attentive while choosing the residence program in Europe. If you obtain residence permit of the European Union country that is not part of the Schengen Agreement, you will not be able to enter the Schengen area on a visa-free basis.

Residence in the Schengen area or the EU by investment can be obtained in the following countries:

Best programs of 2020 The following Schengen countries give passport for investment in real estate:

There are European countries which are not part either of the Schengen Area or the EU, that offer citizenship by investment in real estate:

Benefits of the European residence by investment programs

As long as investors are also highly interested in traveling visa-free, we will take a look only at the programs from countries of the Schengen area. We will provide general information about each country’s Golden Visa and then show you a detailed comparative table.

Portugal (temporary residence)

Portugal’s Golden Visa is considered to be one of the most attractive programs in Europe. This country can boast of a stable economy and high safety level. Moreover, prices on Portugal’s real estate are constantly growing. Which means a house or a commercial facility you purchased would be a great investment option.

Greece (temporary residence)

As far as Greece is concerned, the country’s market is only beginning to get stable after the crisis and the real estate prices are still quite low. However, everything can change in the near future. What is more, the rejection level of Greece Golden Visa is quite low.

Spain (temporary residence)

Spain experiences a flourishing period in the field of tourism. It would definitely be profitable to rent out the purchased real estate to tourists. Meanwhile, the requirements related to Golden Visa Spain were modified a couple of years ago, which positively affected the program.

Malta (temporary residence)

Purchase of real estate in Malta is not the major condition for one to participate in the residency by investment program, while purchase of government bonds and making a government contribution — is. It is also important to mention that one can simply rent a flat in order to meet  the program’s conditions.

Latvia (temporary residence)

Latvia’s Golden Visa program was at its peak 5-10 years ago. It was the best offer on the market price-wise: it offered an affordable investment amount in comparison to other European programs. However, the government increased the cost, and now it is hard to predict the future of Latvia’s program.

Let’s also take a look at the residence by investment program offered by Cyprus, even though the country is in the Schengen area (but Cyprus is a European Union country).

Cyprus (permanent residence)

The permanent resident status means that one doesn’t have to renew it. It is issued for life. Owners of real estate in Cyprus also are able to receive reasonable passive income.

Find details about each program in the comparative table. It will allow you to make a considered decision in favour of the program that suits you best.

Comparative table of European temporary and permanent residence by investment programs

  Portugal (temporary residence) Greece (temporary residence) Spain (temporary residence) Malta (permanent residence) Cyprus (permanent residence) Latvia (temporary residence)
Processing term From 2 to 6 months From 2 to 5 months From 4 to 7 months From 3 to 9 months Up to 2 months From 2 to 4 months
Which amount must be invested in real estate? From €350,000 From €250,000 From €500,000 Complex investment: into real estate — from €270,000 (purchase) or from €10,000 per year (rent); into government bonds — from €250,000 Complex investment: into real estate — from €300,000 (purchase); open a government deposit — €30,000 From €250,000
When can I return the investment? In 5 years After the temporary residence status annulment In 5 years In 5 years In 5 years After the temporary residence status annulment
Obligatory residency requirements 7 days during the first year, 14 during the following two years To maintain the status, one must live in the country for 7 days a year Only for those who want to apply for permanent residence No requirements No requirements No requirements
Conditions of temporary/permanent residence permit renewal Stay in the country for the required period of time Keep the ownership of real estate Visit the country once File the required documents No need to renew, issued for life Pay €5,000 in order to renew the status
Requirements for obtaining citizenship Stay in the country for 35 days within a 5-year period One can receive the country’s passport on general terms — after constantly living in the country for 7-10 years Stay in the country for at least 183 days/year for 10 years The status doesn’t lead to citizenship. One can receive citizenship on general terms — after residing in the country 5 full years + be able to prove a strong connection with the country One can receive citizenship on general terms — after residing in the country for 7-10 years Stay for 5 out of 10 years, before applying for citizenship
World income tax From 0% to 48% From 0% to 45% From 0% to 45% From 0% to 48% From 0% to 35% From 0% to 35%
Tax privileges for investors Non-Habitual Resident tax regime No No Malta Non-Dom Status tax regime No No
Real estate market situation The cost of real estate is constantly growing, which means such an investment is a good option to ensure passive income Affordable real estate prices The market situation is improving after the crisis It is reasonable to rent out housing in Malta, meanwhile, the prices on real estate are growing quite quickly Stable prices on real estate Real estate price is growing
The number of participants From 2012 to 2017 — 5,243 approved applications From 2013 to 2017 — 1,725 applications approved (more than 5,000 received temporary residence) Within a 3-year period, Spain has issued temporary resident permits to 2,236 applicants From 2016 to March 2018 around 500 applications were approved From 2009 to 2017 around 2,000 applications were approved From 2010 to 2017 351 out of 17,833 applications were rejected
Necessity to visit the country for obtaining and renewing temporary residence permit An applicant must visit Portugal to open a bank account An applicant must visit Greece to receive a temporary resident card An applicant must visit Spain once An applicant must visit the country to receive a permanent resident card Adult applicants must visit Cyprus to sign documents An applicant must visit Latvia to obtain documents


Each country’s Golden Visa program has its own benefits. However, the investors interested in receiving citizenship in the future, should opt for Portugal’s temporary residence. It is the only country that allows one to receive its passport without any significant difficulties.

If your main focus is investment in real estate, you can pay special attention to the programs offered by Greece, Spain and Cyprus. These countries have a developed sphere of tourism, with housing always being in demand. Moreover, Greece and Spain keep recovering from the crisis, and it is currently easy to purchase real estate at favourable prices.

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