Comparison of Golden Visa Programs-Spain VS Greece VS Portugal
When it comes to seeking residency through investment programs in the European Union, Spain, Greece, and Portugal stand out as the top choices. These countries offer Golden Visa programs that allow foreign nationals to obtain a residence permit by making a qualifying investment and meeting specific criteria. It is important to note that these programs are specifically designed for individuals who are non-EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens.
Why are Spain, Portugal and Greece ideal places to reside in?
Spain, Portugal, and Greece are considered ideal places to reside in for several reasons:
These countries enjoy a Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild winters and hot summers. The pleasant weather attracts many people who prefer a warm and sunny climate throughout the year. The abundance of sunshine and favorable temperatures make these countries desirable places to live for those who enjoy outdoor activities and a relaxed lifestyle.
Spain, Portugal, and Greece boast breathtaking natural landscapes. Spain is renowned for its diverse geography, featuring stunning beaches, towering mountains, and picturesque countryside. Portugal offers a captivating coastline, charming villages, and lush greenery, while Greece showcases beautiful islands with crystal-clear waters and ancient ruins. The abundance of natural beauty in these countries provides residents with ample opportunities for exploration and leisure.
Culture and History:
Spain, Portugal, and Greece have rich cultural and historical heritage. Spain is famous for its flamenco music and dance, vibrant festivals like La Tomatina and Running of the Bulls, and iconic landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Alhambra in Granada. Portugal has a rich maritime history, renowned architecture, and a vibrant arts scene. Greece is known as the birthplace of Western civilization, with a wealth of archaeological sites, including the Acropolis in Athens and the ancient city of Olympia. Living in these countries allows residents to immerse themselves in a tapestry of captivating traditions, cuisine, and customs.
Affordable Cost of Living:
Compared to many other Western European countries, Spain, Portugal, and Greece offer a relatively affordable cost of living. Housing, transportation, and daily expenses can be more budget-friendly, allowing individuals to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without straining their finances. This affordability factor makes these countries attractive for retirees, expatriates, and digital nomads seeking a high quality of life at a reasonable cost.
High Quality of Life:
Spain, Portugal, and Greece consistently rank high in terms of quality of life. Residents benefit from access to quality healthcare, well-developed infrastructure, excellent educational institutions, and a range of recreational and cultural activities. The laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, emphasis on family values, and strong sense of community contribute to a high overall satisfaction among residents.
Food plays an integral role in the culture of these countries, and residents enjoy a diverse and delicious culinary scene. Spain is famous for its tapas, paella, and world-class wines. Portugal offers delectable seafood, pastel de nata (custard tarts), and hearty stews. Greece is renowned for its fresh Mediterranean cuisine, including moussaka, souvlaki, and feta cheese. Food lovers can indulge in a wide variety of flavors and regional specialties, making everyday dining a delight.
While these are some of the reasons why Spain, Portugal, and Greece are considered ideal places to reside in, it’s important to note that individual preferences may vary. It’s advisable to thoroughly research and visit these countries to determine the best fit based on personal lifestyle, career opportunities, and other factors.
While the Golden Visa programs in Spain, Greece, and Portugal share similarities in their principles and general requirements, they also have distinct differences in various aspects. Let’s delve into a comprehensive comparison of these programs across different categories:
Benefits of Golden Visa:
All three Golden Visa programs provide the right to reside in the respective host countries and allow visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European countries without border control requirements. In terms of real estate investments, investors can rent out or sublet their investment properties in all three countries. However, there are additional benefits related to real estate that differ between the countries. It is worth mentioning that Greece’s Golden Visa program offers more flexibility in terms of family reunification and dependents, while Portugal’s program provides the most comprehensive set of benefits overall.
Living and Working:
While all three countries grant the right to live in the host country under their respective Golden Visa programs, only Spain and Portugal allow investors to work while residing in the country. Greece, on the other hand, does not provide the right to work for Golden Visa holders.
Spain, Greece, and Portugal all allow for visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. This means that once you obtain the Golden Visa in any of these countries, you can travel freely to other Schengen countries without requiring an additional travel visa. However, it is important to carry your proof of residency to gain access to each country in the Schengen Area.
Spain and Greece do not impose specific residency duration requirements on Golden Visa holders. Once you fulfill the investment requirements, you are free to come and go from these countries as you please. However, Portugal’s Golden Visa program requires investors to stay in the country for at least seven days each year if they intend to qualify for citizenship at the end of the program.
Under the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal, investors can include their spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents, who will receive the same residency rights. In Spain and Portugal, there are certain checks and balances in place to determine the dependency of parents, and it is not guaranteed. Parents of the main investor sometimes choose to invest separately to ensure inclusion. In some cases, dependent children above the age of 18 can also be included, depending on individual circumstances. Greece, however, allows for the inclusion of parents-in-law as dependents without requiring proof of dependency.
Investment Options – Golden VISA:
All three countries offer various investment routes for obtaining the Golden Visa, with real estate being the most popular choice in each case. However, the real estate investment thresholds vary. Greece has the lowest threshold at €250,000, while Spain and Portugal have higher thresholds. Additionally, each country provides unique investment options beyond real estate, allowing investors to choose according to their preferences and financial capabilities.
It is important to note that obtaining a Golden Visa does not automatically grant citizenship in any of the three countries. Each country has its own requirements and procedures for applying for citizenship. Language tests are mandatory in all three countries, with varying proficiency levels. Stay requirements for obtaining citizenship also differ from those for keeping the Golden Visa active.
Holding a Golden Visa in Spain, Greece, or Portugal does not make you a tax resident unless you spend more than 183 days in any of these countries. Each country has its own tax schemes, with Portugal offering one of the most favorable tax systems for foreigners through its Non-Habitual Residency program. Greece is also working on a similar incentive program to attract tax residents, mirroring Portugal’s approach.
The time required to process and issue the Golden Visa permit varies by country and the workload of the corresponding immigration offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be delays in processing times. On average, Spain takes 2 to 3 months, Greece takes 2 to 4 months, and Portugal takes 8 to 12 months to issue the Golden Visa. However, these timelines can change, so it is recommended to consult legal services for the most accurate estimate.
The validity period of the Golden Visa also differs by country. In Spain, the initial Golden Visa is valid for up to one year, and a two-year residence permit can be applied for during this period. Residence permits obtained after the initial period are valid for five years. Greece issues its Golden Visa with a validity of five years, which can be renewed every five years by maintaining the investment. In Portugal, the Golden Visa is initially valid for two years, and visa renewals require spending at least 14 days in the country.
Ultimately, choosing between the Golden Visa programs in Spain, Greece, and Portugal depends on individual preferences and circumstances. Each program has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the decision should be based on factors such as desired location, affordability, investment options, and long-term goals.