The Portuguese government has been supporting the golden visa program with interest in all of the foreign investment from wealthy and qualified immigrants, which as been particularly beneficial for the Portuguese economy.
The total investment into Portugal from October 2012 until December 2021 has reached about 6 billion euros, with 10.254 residence permits granted. Most of the investors are from China, Brasil, Turkey, South Africa and Russia.
However, to prevent the real estate prices from continuing to rise as we have seen in recent years, the law was amended in what regards the investment in real estate for habitation purposes.
THE LEGAL CHANGES
The main changes to the Portuguese Golden Visa program for this year are the following:
- The minimum amounts of investment will be higher for capital transfers, cultural investments as well as in funds;
- There are some restrictions on the locations for the investment in real estate, particularly for habitation purposes.
What could cause some difficulties regarding the real estate location is that the new rules now have two regional criteria that determine the investment:
- “low-density” areas and
- “interior” cities of Portugal.
The “low density” defines the minimum amount of investment necessary to apply for the Golden Visa. The values in the low-density can be reduced in 20% of the normal investment, which means 280k with rehabilitation works and 400k without rehabilitation works, while in the investment in the the high-density areas are 350k with rehabilitation works and 500k without rehabilitation works.
The low-density areas are determined by “NUTS 3 regions” and have less than 100 inhabitants per km2 or a GDP per capita of less than 75% of the national average. The low-density areas can be changed and therefore it is important to check the low-density status before the investment.
The new regional criteria concerns to the establishment of what is considered “interior cities of Portugal” that will be crucial to determine the type of investment in real estate viable for golden visa purposes.
The investment in real estate for residential purposes to be qualified for the golden visa program now needs to be made only in the interior cities of Portugal as well as in the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.
Therefore, in the “interior areas” it is possible to invest buying a residential or non-residential (commercial, service or industrial) properties.
If the property is located outside the “interior” cities of Portugal and outside the portuguese islands, it is only possible to invest in non-residential properties for example in hotels, stores and touristic developments. Hence, it will still be feasible to invest in Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve in non-residential properties.
It is also important to have in mind that the investment in low density areas or the “interior” is an attractive option too and do not imply a low return, because the investment will be minor and currently on these areas the tourism is booming.
Furthermore, the residence rights will be the same as in the other option where the investment is more expensive and the high rental returns in some low-density areas offer good returns, especially taking into consideration the low level of investment.
The universities in the interior Portuguese cities, such as Coimbra, Évora and Aveiro, are becoming more popular and because of that, the rental properties for students could be a good source of income.
It is also important to point out that many of the low-density areas are amongst the most beautiful in Portugal, including the Peneda Geres region, the Douro Valley and the Aljezur region. These areas offer peace and serenity.
The properties in the countryside have seen their prices increased because these areas are becoming more popular with younger people that intend to move out of more expensive major cities.
In conclusion there are many advantages to invest in low-density areas and the interior cities of Portugal as well as in the islands of Azores and Madeira.