This week the Portuguese government announced the deadline for this fast-track residency programme has been extended from July 2021 to January 2022. This applies to properties bought in Lisbon, Porto and coastal areas such as the Algarve, while those in low-density regions — or the Azores and Madeira — will still qualify next year.
The golden visa allows applicants and their families to work, live and study in Portugal and spend more than the two 90-day periods per year in the Schengen zone that British citizens now face. Since becoming non-EU nationals, Britons can apply for the visa, but with coronavirus flight restrictions likely until the summer the clock is still ticking for anyone keen to decamp to Portugal’s laid-back beach towns or fashionable cities.
“There will only be a narrow window of opportunity for buyers to get out and view properties before putting in an offer by October — allowing two to three months for the purchase to go through,” says Charles Roberts of Fine & Country estate agency in Lisbon.
“The alternative to buying a standalone villa in Lisbon is a ‘touristic property’ that will still qualify for the golden visa scheme after this year, such Marinha Prime [a contemporary development close to the beaches of Cascais; properties from €580,750] or in Authentic Bicas Comporta [a rustic-style development in the surfing village of Comporta, about 1.5 hours south of Lisbon; properties from €250,000].”
David Finlay and his wife, Tanya, from London, chose to establish a start-up and to raise their toddler in Lisbon because of its culture, pace and innovation. They purchased a two-bedroom apartment at Martinhal Residences, in the waterfront district of Parque das Nacoes, with family-friendly parks, services and an international school. Similar properties start from €650,000.
“With English widely spoken and a vibrant expat community, Lisbon was the ideal choice,” says David, 47. “For residency, the golden visa is the most simple and time-efficient, and comes with longer-term options to apply for EU citizenship.”
If you are not in a hurry to move then consider areas that will still qualify next year, suggests Frederico Mendoca of Cluttons Portugal. South of Lisbon in the Alentejo region is Alcacer do Sal, a medieval village on the Sado River. “It’s 60 per cent more affordable than Lisbon, but also near Comporta. As a low-density area, the visa entry point is €280,000,” he says. The agent is selling two-bedroom units in a condo development, with a concierge service and on-site amenities, from €280,000.
Portugal’s second city of Porto has been a popular choice for golden visa buyers and property there is 40 per cent cheaper than in Lisbon, according to Roberts.
Another way of obtaining the visa is by investing into a private equity fund; the qualifying amount is €350,000, but will increase to €500,000 at the end of this year. It’s on offer at the Rebello, a former port warehouse in Gaia, on the banks of the River Douro, which is being refurbished into an “apart-hotel”. “Buyers get the visa and an annual return, then the freedom to move around Portugal to decide where they really want to live,” says Peter Lowe, managing director of the developer, Morningbridge.
In the Algarve, where the golden visa threshold spans €280,000 to €400,000, demand has been strong, says Chris White, chief executive of Ideal Homes Portugal. “We have sold over 50 properties for golden visas in the past five months, mostly to Americans and Canadians, and now some British. Typically they buy a two to three-bedroom new-build apartment for €400,000 to €600,000 in the Lagos area in the western Algarve.”
Justin and Tracy from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, plan to retire to the Algarve next year. They bought a two-bedroom apartment in Vilamoura for €160,000 in 2016. The master-planned resort with marina and golf courses offers new two-bedroom apartments from €399,000 in the Uptown part of the development.
Justin, who will be 55 next year, plans to draw down a lump sum from his pension. “With an Irish passport I am optimistic about applying for residency [as an EU citizen] but, failing that, the D7 visa is an option,” he says. “We will rent out our Hemel home to provide a good income to supplement our pensions. We love the clean, safe, outdoor way of life in Portugal, where the cost of living is relatively affordable, and the food is terrific.”
The D7 visa is available to anyone with a regular passive income that is equal to or more than the Portuguese minimum wage (€740 per month); this can be a pension, salary from remote working for a company based in the UK, or rental income from a UK property.
However, those thinking of moving to Portugal should be aware that they will need private healthcare — unless they start paying into the national system — and that customs duties might be payable on furniture being transported over to Portugal.
Thinking about buying property overseas? To learn how the process differs from the UK, see Times Money Mentor’s guide to buying property abroad
Source: The Times