If you’re planning a move overseas and would like to be able to stay indefinitely in your new home, you’ll need to become a legal resident of that country. Some countries allow you to become a resident in exchange for a real estate purchase.
While some residency options can require you to remain physically present in the country for a minimum number of days, weeks or months every year, real estate investment options have minimal and sometimes no requirements for spending time in the country. Here is a look at where a real estate purchase could allow you to establish residency in another country.
Countries with real estate residency options:
- Southern Cyprus.
- Northern Cyprus.
You can qualify for this country’s Friendly Nations residency program by making a real estate investment of at least $200,000. The purchase can be made either in cash or through a mortgage from a local bank.
Under the Friendly Nations program, you’ll first receive a provisional residency card that is valid for two years. At the end of those two years, you’re eligible to apply for permanent residency in Panama. Alternatively, you can make a property purchase of $500,000 or more and qualify for immediate permanent residency, meaning no renewals required.
You can qualify for residency in Colombia by buying a piece of property valued at more than 350 times the Colombian minimum wage. The current minimum wage is 1 million Colombian pesos, meaning the current minimum investment amount is 350 million Colombian pesos, or around $72,000.
This investment qualifies you for a temporary M-10 residency visa. An M-10 visa is valid for up to three years, but is nullified if you spend six consecutive months outside the country.
If you invest 650 times the Colombian minimum wage, you can obtain permanent residency as a resident investor. However, in Colombia “permanent” residency must be renewed every five years. The minimum wage is also raised annually in this country.
Ecuador is among the most affordable places in the world to become a resident through the purchase of property. You need to invest at least 100 times the minimum wage, which equates to $42,500 in 2022.
This investment visa is good for two years. After 21 months you can apply for permanent residency or renew your temporary residency.
Ecuador imposes time in the country requirements for new residents, but they allow you to violate those limits if you pay a fine. You can be absent from Ecuador for up to two years as a permanent resident without losing your status.
A property with a value exceeding 4.8 million Mexican pesos gets you temporary residency in Mexico. You can hold temporary residency for four years, after which time you’re eligible to become a permanent resident. Using this path to permanent residency, you do not have to meet the otherwise required financial thresholds.
Alternatively, you can let your temporary residency expire and start over again with another four years of temporary status. Some residents will do this so they can cross the border into the country with their own cars.
You qualify for permanent residency in Greece if you buy a property that costs at least 250,000 euros. The government has announced an intention to increase the minimum investment amount to 500,000 euros, but has not stipulated when the change will take place.
The permit lasts five years and is renewable as long as you own the property. It also grants residency to your spouse and children up to age 21.
A Greek residence permit gets you full access to the Schengen Zone. After seven years of continuous residency, you are eligible to apply for Greek citizenship.
The minimum investment in the southern Maltese islands, including Gozo, is 300,000 euros. In the more affluent northern sectors of Malta, the minimum is 350,000 euros. A Malta residence permit gets you full access to the Schengen Zone.
You qualify for residency in Portugal through the acquisition of real estate costing at least 500,000 euros. There’s a lower threshold of 400,000 euros if you buy property in a low-density or low-income area. You can qualify with a minimum purchase of 350,000 euros if the property is at least 30 years old or is located within an urban regeneration area and you carry out a renovation, or even 280,000 euros for older properties in an eligible zone.
Not all properties qualify for a Golden Visa-eligible investment. Eligibility is restricted to certain inland districts of Portugal and the Azores and Madeira Autonomous Regions. Residential properties in Lisbon, Porto and along the coast do not qualify.
This program does not require you to become a tax resident in Portugal to qualify. You only have to spend seven days in Portugal in the first year and a total of 14 days in each of the subsequent two-year periods to maintain your status.
Qualifying for residency through the purchase of real estate in Spain requires an investment of at least 500,000 euros. This can be for one property or an accumulation of two or more less expensive properties, but the initial 500,000 euros investment must be mortgage-free. Any portion over 500,000 euros can be funded via a mortgage.
To initiate the process, you can apply in Spain for a six-month visa once you’ve signed a contract to purchase a property and have deposited the required funds in a Spanish bank account. Thereafter, you’ll apply for five-year renewals, which can be granted from outside Spain. The visa includes the right to work and the right to access Spanish benefits once employed. No minimum stay in Spain is required.
However, Spain taxes non-tax residents on the imputed rental income of real estate owned in the country. Therefore, if you buy a piece of property to qualify for the Golden Visa program that you don’t live in and don’t rent out, you’ll still be taxed as if you were earning rental income from it.
Montenegro offers residency to anyone who buys property in the country, with no stated minimum investment to qualify. The practical minimum is 50,000 euros, which makes this an affordable residency option in Europe.
One downside to Montenegro’s program is that you must renew the residency permit annually. In addition, as Montenegro isn’t part of the EU or the Schengen Zone, having residency in the country doesn’t allow convenient access to the rest of Europe.
The minimum investment is 250,000 euros plus a 5% application fee based on the property price. You only have to visit the country once a year to maintain your residency status.
To qualify for residency in the Republic of Southern Cyprus through a real estate investment you must spend at least 300,000 euros, which can be on a single property or split between two.
You’ll also need to make a fixed-term deposit in a Cypriot bank of at least 30,000 euros for three years and prove an annual foreign income of at least 30,000 euros, plus 5,000 euros for each dependent child and 8,000 euros for each adult dependent, such as a spouse or parents.
The process takes only a couple of months to complete, and the time in the country requirement is just once every two years. You can apply for naturalization after seven years of residency. You must be in the country full time for the 12 months prior to applying for citizenship.
Once you’ve initiated the purchase of a property in Northern Cyprus, you are eligible to apply for residency and reside in the country while the purchase is processed.
The property in question does not need to be in your name, nor does it need to be fully paid for. Eligible dependents include your children under age 18 and your spouse. Other family members could be entitled to apply if their name appears on the contract and they have rights to the property.