Six Cost-Effective Residence by Investment Programs for Domicile Diversification
By: Rory McDaid, Director Private Clients – Team Head, Henley & Partners Singapore
Investing in alternative residence options is no longer solely for the ultra-rich.
Residence by investment is one of the optimal ways to diversify your family’s domicile options in addition to improving your travel freedom and your quality of life. Also known as golden visas, residence programs provide individuals and families with unique mobility opportunities, and if you opt for real estate linked programs, there can be economic returns in terms of rental yields. With this in mind, we have curated a list of six of the most cost-effective investment migration programs that offer residence rights for you and your family to mitigate the risk of being restricted to a single jurisdiction.
Greece – Invest in property and acquire a golden visa
As the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and the concept of citizenship, Greece is a country situated at the crossroads between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East that attracts tourists and financiers alike. A great benefit of investing in the Greece Golden Visa Program is that residence permits have unlimited expiry dates and there is no requirement to reside in Greece. After seven years of residence, you can apply for citizenship of Greece — an EU member state — subject to certain eligibility requirements. If real estate is your investment vehicle of choice, there are three options available to secure a Greece Golden Visa, with a minimum property investment of EUR 250,000, and you may sub-let your property.
Other investment options include capital contributions in companies with registered offices in Greece or real estate investment companies with an exclusive focus in the Greek market, setting up a closed-end investment company to acquire shares in Greek businesses, or investing in a mutual fund. Lastly, investors can look to purchase shares, public bonds, or government bonds of between EUR 400,000 and EUR 800,000, to qualify.
Malta – Affordable access to a European lifestyle
The majestic island nation of Malta is located south of Sicily, in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Far enough from the clamor of Europe’s mainland cities to ensure relaxation, but close enough to keep an eye on the latest trends, Malta really does offer the best of both worlds. It is home to many global citizens, with excellent travel links to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. It is also a prime destination for real estate and financial investment, and an affordable investment migration destination.
Securing residence rights by investing in the Malta Permanent Residence Programme requires a minimum contribution of EUR 175,000. This consists of mixed capital requirements and the purchase or lease of real estate in the form of a property purchase of EUR 350,000 (EUR 300,000 in South Malta or Gozo) or a property lease of EUR 12,000 per annum (EUR 10,000 in South Malta or Gozo). Whether leased or purchased, the property must be held for five years.
Portugal – Peace of mind for your family, within your means
Ranking 6th in the 2022 Global Peace Index, Portugal is an abiding favorite residence by investment destination among international investors, and the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program is top of Henley & Partners’ Global Residence Program Index in 2022. The country’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty are only a few of the reasons why many choose Portugal as their home-from-home. Portugal is also one of the EU’s shining examples of stability and growth and a popular choice among cryptopreneurs.
The minimum contribution to secure a Portuguese Golden Resident Permit is EUR 200,000. Investors will gain the right to live, work, and study in Portugal and enjoy visa-free access to Europe’s Schengen Area. Options include making a capital transfer, investing in real estate, or business investment in a country that is open to foreign investors and offers safety, security, exceptional tertiary education, and an excellent quality of life.
Italy – In the sights of start-up investors
Another attractive Mediterranean investment migration option is Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone. Italy is the ideal choice for families or investors wanting an alternative residence option in Europe. The Italian government supports and encourages foreign investment, offering incentives that include discounted interest rates, tax benefits, and attractive investment grants, and Rome has become an administrative and financial hub that is attracting investors from across the globe.
Securing residence by investment in Italy requires a minimum investment of EUR 250,000 for those investing in shares in innovative start-ups. Italy offers a high standard of living, and good healthcare and education opportunities.
Panama – Protect your wealth for a relatively low financial outlay
Famous for the Panama Canal — the biggest trade route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans — transcontinental Panama is a global hub for international banking and a gateway to business growth, providing access to the central, southern, and northern American markets. What’s more, the country’s tropical climate is ideal for investors who wish to avoid cold winters in their luxurious second homes.
The Panama Residence by Investment Program offers three investment pathways to securing residence rights, with the entry point being a minimum investment of USD 100,000 in real estate or teak reforestation under the Forestry Investor route.
Alternatively, the Qualified Investor route has three options, namely, a real estate investment of USD 300,000 (valid until 15 October 2022, after which the investment amount will increase to USD 500,000), a stock exchange investment of USD 500,000, or a fixed-term deposit of USD 750,000 in the banking sector. Investments must be held for at least five years to maintain permanent residence status and additional government fees for the main applicant and dependents apply.
Under the Friendly Nations route, citizens of one of Panama’s ‘friendly nations’ (contact Henley & Partners for the latest list) can invest USD 200,000 in real estate or be employed by a company in Panama for residence by labor reasons.
Thailand – Multiple long-term residence options in the ‘Land of Smiles’ that won’t break the bank
Thailand is one of the most desirable destinations for tourism and business in Southeast Asia and offers an extremely affordable high quality of living. An attractive benefit of investing in the Thailand Elite Residence Program is that there are no minimum visitation or stay requirements for holding residence.
The entry point for securing residence by investment in Thailand is a one-time fee of THB 600,000 (approximately USD 19,000) for the Elite Easy Access program, which leads to a five-year privilege entry visa. This package can be upgraded to the Elite Superiority Extension for around USD 12,000. For families, the Elite Family Excursion program provides a five-year residence permit for two members for a one-time fee of USD 25,000. Additional dependents may be added at a rate of roughly USD 10,000. On the higher end, investors can choose the Elite Ultimate Privilege program for USD 68,000 to secure residence for 20 years.