Ultra-wealthy Americans are flocking to get “golden visas” in Europe amid political unrest. Here are the 2 best places they go.
It seems that the chaos and general sluggishness of life in the United States is just too much to handle. The ongoing pandemic, higher cost of living, heightened political division and climate catastrophe have all fostered a general sense of unease.
And now that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has been finalized, more Americas might google other options.
It used to be that the American dream represented a job with a loyal employer, property (often accompanied by a white picket fence), and your own set of wheels. The pandemic has given Americans the Great Resignation, a housing market that will keep appreciating, and a crisis in used car and gas prices amid 40-year high inflation.
Perhaps the villas of Portugal or the beaches of Greece would be more appealing, or at least warmer. If you’re one of the ultra-rich, giving up your pool and spa for such a life seems more and more appealing to you.
As life in America becomes increasingly stressful and expensive, American citizens have invested in a “Golden Visa”, a program in which buying a second home in another country entitles you to a second passport or a path to citizenship.
Interest in investing in international real estate has increased sixfold among US customers from 2019 to 2021, according to a new report titled “The Great American Exodus” from passport company Get Golden Visa, which forecasts that 2022 will be “his busiest year yet”. The report found that politics, travel restrictions, a higher cost of living and a desire to work remotely abroad have driven the ultra-rich to demand second passports ranging from €280,000 to €500,000. €.
Murat Coskun, Managing Partner of Get Golden Visa, says Fortune he predicts a “golden visa frenzy” this year, with second passports becoming so popular that even the less wealthy will start getting their hands on them.
Golden Visa applicants are fed up with political unrest
The requirements for a second passport depend on the program and the country. Consider Portugal’s increasingly popular hotspot, which requires people looking for a second home to invest in either properties, a specific type of fund, or a donation in exchange for a residence permit. and, possibly, citizenship.
Coskun said many Americans don’t end up giving up their U.S. citizenship and see the program more as a plan B.
“They don’t plan to live here full time,” he says. “But they want to have the option; they want to have some sort of global mobility.
This sentiment spread across America after the election and other breaking political news that sparked a chorus of “I’m moving to Canada” across Twitter. According to the Get Golden Visa report, social and political unrest was the main motivation for applicants, at 42%. Coskun says Get Golden Visa saw a spike in the number of candidates from both political parties during the elections.
Americans also wanted to avoid travel restrictions during the lockdown, something they weren’t used to. “Normally, with a US passport, you can pretty much get to most countries in the world, visa-free,” says Coskun.
Inflation and remote work send ultra-rich packaging
As travel restrictions ease, the need for a more flexible visa has become harder to justify. But inflation and remote working have kept golden visas in business.
Just over a quarter of potential applicants from the United States said in the report that inflation and higher tax rates were a major reason for their interest in Golden Visas. Coskun also points out that retirement is easier in other countries that have cheaper health insurance.
Paying half a million dollars to avoid a more expensive banana might seem counterintuitive, but even the wealthy seem to be worried about the rising cost of living. While inflation is a global phenomenon, one can live a little bigger in Portugal than in New York.
There’s also the romance of travel and the charm of another country, which is easier to enjoy now that knowledge workers are no longer chained to their desks. Get Golden Visa has seen applicants from digital nomads, which could signal the longevity of the work-from-home (or work-from-Europe) model. Coskun says a better work-life balance in these countries, where residents work fewer hours than Americans, attracts them.
Less romantic but equally appealing is the fact that a residence abroad helps the ultra-rich diversify their investments, says Coskun.
But residing abroad does not mean tax breaks for Americans, who still have tax obligations even if they spend a year outside the United States. residence is,” says Coskun.
Once a status symbol for the elite, soon to be a luxury for all
It is unclear whether the increased interest in second passports will be more than a fad. Coskun thinks Americans will continue to seek a second passport for years to come, even as the industry’s success appears to be tied to the pandemic and unrest – an unstable motivation to bank on.
But Coskun says global mobility will become more relevant. “The pandemic basically put this on steroids – it was meant to happen, but it just accelerated,” he says. “Now everyone knows remote work is possible.”
This means that what was once a status symbol among the elite could become more accessible to the upper middle class. Coskun admits the industry only catered to “a very small number of extremely wealthy people”, but argues that services have expanded to middle-income customers.
“I really believe it will democratize,” he says. “In the sense that this locational fluidity will cease to be a luxury for the few, it will be an option for everyone.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com