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Residency Through Real Estate Investment In Spain

Buy real estate and get residency. It’s not a new concept, but everyone is talking about Spain‘s plan to give permanent residency to anyone who spends 160,000 euro or more on property in that country. The hope is that the opportunity will help stem the real estate collapse and move some of the close to 1 million properties currently available for sale in this country.

Portugal and Ireland also have put together programs for granting residency to property buyers, but they set the bar higher at 500,000 euro and 400,000 euro, respectively. These countries may be trying to help their down-and-out property markets, as well. However, at those price ranges, I can’t imagine the offer moving much real estate.

These European countries aren’t the first to grant residency to real estate buyers/investors. Latvia has had such a program for a while, and the entry price is lower, at 140,000 euro in the capital and half that in the countryside. Panama has had a residency-through-property-investment visa option for many years, with a current minimum investment of US$300,000. In Panama, you can split that between real estate and a bank CD. Of course, the new “Specific Countries” visa in Panama makes the US$300k investment option moot, as (assuming you come from one of the 47 countries on the list) you need only buy a piece of property in your name to qualify under the new visa…any piece of property. That means you could spend US$30,000 on a piece of teak property (as someone I know is in the process of doing), for example, and gain residency.

Colombia also has an invest-in-property-and-get-residency visa. The price point there depends on whether you want permanent residency right away (US$200,000) or are happy to invest less and renew your residency permit for a few years before receiving permanent residency (US$100,000).

You shouldn’t decide where to live based on a residency-through-real estate-investment offer. I can’t imagine many people jumping on the Latvia property ladder just because it could translate to Latvian residency for them.

Spain might be a more interesting choice for you. However, note that this isn’t a tax-friendly destination and is likely to become less tax friendly in the short-term. Ireland can be tax friendly if you’re working outside the country and don’t bring those earnings into Ireland. Panama is tax friendly, period. However, like anywhere, Ireland and Panama both have their downsides—including, for example, the weather in general in Ireland and in Panama City in Panama.

One important advantage of these real estate-for-residency programs is that, after so many years of legal residency, you can be eligible to apply for citizenship. This is the case for the programs in Portugal, Ireland, and Panama and appears to be the case for the proposed new program in Spain.

The Spanish program hasn’t been finalized yet, but it looks like it will go through. Don’t jump in before you consider all the factors, though…including will you ever be able to sell the property you’re buying even if the program allows you to after a few years.

Lief Simon

Continue Reading: Expat Travel Adventures In Volcan, Panama

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