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

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Kristina Kurkuliak 03.02.2020

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 in 2018

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:

  • Portugal:
    – processing — from 2 to 6 months;
    – cost — from €350,000;
  • Spain:
    – processing — from 4 to 7 months;
    – cost — from €500,000;
  • Greece:
    – processing — from 2 to 5 months;
    – cost — from €250,000;
  • Latvia:
    – processing — from 2 to 4 months;
    – cost — from €250,000;
  • Cyprus:
    – processing — up to 2 months;
    – cost — from €300,000;
  • Malta:
    – processing — from 3 to 9 months;
    – cost — from €250,000;
  • Italy:
    – processing — from 10 to 12 months;
    – cost — from €500,000.

Best programs of 2020

The following Schengen countries give passport for investment in real estate:

  • Malta:
    – processing — from 14 months;
    – сost — from €880,000;
  • Greece (not launched yet):
    – processing — not known at the moment;
    – cost — from €2,000,000;
  • Cyprus:
    – processing — from 7 to 9 months;
    – cost — from €2,150,000.

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

  • Montenegro:
    – processing — from 7 months;
    – cost — from €350,000;
  • Moldova (on pause at the moment):
    – processing — from 3 to 4 months;
    – cost — from €100,000;
  • Turkey:
    – processing — from 3 to 12 months;
    – cost — from $250,000.

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 termFrom 2 to 6 monthsFrom 2 to 5 monthsFrom 4 to 7 monthsFrom 3 to 9 monthsUp to 2 monthsFrom 2 to 4 months
Which amount must be invested in real estate?From €350,000From €250,000From €500,000Complex investment: into real estate — from €270,000 (purchase) or from €10,000 per year (rent); into government bonds — from €250,000Complex investment: into real estate — from €300,000 (purchase); open a government deposit — €30,000From €250,000
When can I return the investment?In 5 yearsAfter the temporary residence status annulmentIn 5 yearsIn 5 yearsIn 5 yearsAfter the temporary residence status annulment
Obligatory residency requirements7 days during the first year, 14 during the following two yearsTo maintain the status, one must live in the country for 7 days a yearOnly for those who want to apply for permanent residenceNo requirementsNo requirementsNo requirements
Conditions of temporary/permanent residence permit renewalStay in the country for the required period of timeKeep the ownership of real estateVisit the country onceFile the required documentsNo need to renew, issued for lifePay €5,000 in order to renew the status
Requirements for obtaining citizenshipStay in the country for 35 days within a 5-year periodOne can receive the country’s passport on general terms — after constantly living in the country for 7-10 yearsStay in the country for at least 183 days/year for 10 yearsThe 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 countryOne can receive citizenship on general terms — after residing in the country for 7-10 yearsStay for 5 out of 10 years, before applying for citizenship
World income taxFrom 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 investorsNon-Habitual Resident tax regimeNoNoMalta Non-Dom Status tax regimeNoNo
Real estate market situationThe cost of real estate is constantly growing, which means such an investment is a good option to ensure passive incomeAffordable real estate pricesThe market situation is improving after the crisisIt is reasonable to rent out housing in Malta, meanwhile, the prices on real estate are growing quite quicklyStable prices on real estateReal estate price is growing
The number of participantsFrom 2012 to 2017 — 5,243 approved applicationsFrom 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 applicantsFrom 2016 to March 2018 around 500 applications were approvedFrom 2009 to 2017 around 2,000 applications were approvedFrom 2010 to 2017 351 out of 17,833 applications were rejected
Necessity to visit the country for obtaining and renewing temporary residence permitAn applicant must visit Portugal to open a bank accountAn applicant must visit Greece to receive a temporary resident cardAn applicant must visit Spain onceAn applicant must visit the country to receive a permanent resident cardAdult applicants must visit Cyprus to sign documentsAn 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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