Greece’s residency-by-investment program is an example of a program that has it all – and sharp investors have taken note. Not only is it an amazing destination for regular holidays or permanent residence, it also gives you visa-free travel across the 26 countries of the Schengen area. Adding on with low-cost program linked to a minimum investment of only €250,000 plus a promising return on investment.
Greece: beautiful from every angle
Schengen Area member state
Let’s be honest: The fact that Greece is not only a member of the European Union, but also one of the 26 countries of the Schengen Area, is a powerful magnet. As a permanent resident, a non-European investor can travel freely within the Schengen Area, just like any European citizen. In fact, travel to these countries is visa-free even from the residency holder’s country of origin, without the need to travel via Greece. Moreover you can reside to any other Schengen country up to a period of three months every six month period with the right of multiple entries.
This level of freedom within Europe is hard to overestimate, especially among international entrepreneurs. Although this is often the first reason non-Europeans seek permanent residency in Greece, ultimately, several other factors are equally persuasive and tip the balance in favour of Greece when comparing it with other European countries that offer similar residency programs.
*Schengen Area countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
Location and climate
With a base in Greece, you are at the heart of the wider region of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Within a few hours you can reach all the major cities in this region, often via direct flights.
This location is not only convenient, it is also blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate that is both agreeable and healthy. Even during the cooler winter months, sunshine is abundant, making Greece an inviting destination all year round.
History and Culture
From history and archaeology to art and science, culture and local traditions, the wealth of Greece’s heritage is beyond dispute. It is the home of leading philosophers and scientists. Greece is considered the birthplace of western civilization, having contributed the bases for Mathematics, Physics, Literature and other sciences. Residing in Greece offers the unique opportunity to discover its well-preserved monuments and ancient sites that are spread throughout the country. From Ancient Olympia, where the first Olympic Games were held, to the Parthenon and the Agora of Athens, where Democracy was born, to Mycenae and Crete, the presence of ancient Greek civilization is astonishing.
Greece has long established itself as a most attractive holiday destination that has so much to offer: cosmopolitan cities and traditional villages, summer resorts and spa retreats. Its beautiful natural landscape stretches from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains, not to mention the enchanting Greek islands. Greek gastronomy is an added bonus – and it is so popular that it has found its way to many countries near and far. Greek diet is based on healthy olive oil, tasty feta cheese, the world famous Greek yogurt, fresh green salads, meat, poultry and good wine. Here one can also enjoy a unique variety of fruits like figs, cherries and melons, an abundance of fresh fish, especially in the islands and the coastal areas. Due to its richness and diversity, Greek diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world and is linked to the reduction of cardiovascular diseases and thus, longevity.
First-time visitors often become regular holidaymakers, with many eventually choosing to make Greece their second home. In addition to being naturally hospitable, the population of Greece appreciates and welcomes diversity, and foreigners choosing to reside in Greece will soon feel at home.
Education, Health Care & Safety
Obviously, everyday life is not a holiday; but here again, Greece will not disappoint. Residents have a choice of public and private institutions of higher education, many with an excellent reputation in both sciences and humanities. Higher Education in Greece is both public and private. Although the entrance exams to the public higher education system can be tough, the education itself is free of cost. private colleges and universities do not require entrance exams and their fees can vary. They also often offer specifically designed programs for international students. Needless to say that holders of the Greek residency permit enjoy the same rights to higher education as the Greek citizens.
Greece is also known to provide high standard health care services. In terms of safety, you will find lots of activity and movement in the cities even late at night, indicating a reassuring level of safety across the country. Especially in big cities like Athens and Salonika, the mild climate invites people to stay outdoors until the early morning hours, giving the cities a lively character 24 hours a day.
Beautiful Natural Environment
Greece is synonymous to natural beauty. Crystal clear blue waters, small picturesque islands, white sandy beaches, hills with pine trees and olive groves, are only some of the things one will see in Greece. While the cities are modern, one can also visit traditional villages with stone houses in mainland Greece and beautiful white-blue houses in the islands. Greece has something to offer for every taste and is waiting for you to discover it.
The Program: the most feasible among equals
Like Greece, a number of other European countries offer their own ‘European Golden Visa’ programs to attract wealthy non-EU citizens. Although all are linked to the acquisition of property, in Greece, the minimum investment and other criteria create a package that is more economical than others and extremely persuasive. Requirements and benefits can be summarized as follows:
- Investment in real estate in mainland Greece or on the Greek islands
- Minimum investment of €250,000 in property
- Evidence of health insurance cover
- Supporting documents (contract of sale, travel documents, photos, etc)
- Application forms and application fee of €500
- Additional government fees
Terms and benefits
- Residence permit is granted for 5 years, and can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the requirements continue you be met.
- Residents enjoy visa-free travel across the whole Schengen Area.
- Residency is granted in 30-60 days, assuming all conditions are met.
- Apart from the initial visit and a second visit for biometric capturing before issuing the EU identity card, all other formalities can be conducted by a local legal representative.
- Unlike other countries, there is no requirement to reside in Greece before being eligible to apply.
- Investors can be accompanied by a spouse, children and parents.
- Residents enjoy access to public higher education in Greece under the same conditions as citizens, and also across the EU with the benefits of a European resident.
- The permit entitled the holder to establish and operate his own business.
- Residents have the opportunity to generate rental income from the purchased property.
- After holding the Permanent Residency for 7 years then you are allowed to apply for the citizenship. No physical existence for these 7 years is required but other conditions have to be met.
Investors’ Perspective: the time is right!
The financial crisis that left the Greek economy in shambles naturally led to drastic drops in real estate prices, making properties more affordable than ever before. While investors may have initially been reluctant to even consider the option of property acquisition in such an ailing country, the tide is turning.
A snapshot of current conditions reveals the following:
- As the country regains economic stability, fresh money is flowing into the property market in anticipation of a full economic recovery with the prospects of serious returns on investment.
- Lower prices across the economy have actually given Greece a competitive advantage and have boosted inbound tourism. This in turn has increased demand for holiday rental properties.
Investors have two equally attractive options:
- to keep their property in the family for their own use, and eventually re-sell at a significant profit(possibly after gaining full citizenship), OR
- to use it as a source of income from holiday rentals.
In brief, Greece has clearly defied the gloomy predictions of many international analysts. As investor confidence returns, the country appears to be at the threshold of a new beginning, with brighter days ahead.