ATHENS – In a move aimed at preventing neighborhoods from being transformed into short-term rental tourist hotspots, Greece will double the investment threshold for wealthy foreigners to obtain a Golden Visa to €500,000 ($542,160) starting in May.
The previous investment standard was €250,000 ($271,108), which was too low for individuals with financial means, particularly the Chinese, who were purchasing multiple properties to rent out to tourists. This practice displaced long-term residents in the capital and Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, as well as other popular areas and drove up rental prices. The visa includes a 5-year renewable residency permit and a European Union passport.
As noted by SchengenVisaInfo.com, the threshold will apply to the two largest cities as well as the popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that the aim of the new threshold is to curb rental prices for long-term residents.
While other EU countries are abandoning Golden Visas due to concerns of money laundering and criminal activity, Greece is continuing to pursue wealthy foreign investors, even though even those in the Diaspora have to wait for two years or more to obtain citizenship.
There has been a rush to acquire the visas before the upcoming changes, with record-breaking levels in the last quarter of 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic subsided and travel restrictions were lifted, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.
From October to December, 2,432 applications for Golden Visas were submitted after interest had already been building, with 16,411 filed from 2018 to 2022, the report added, with 4,485 filed in 2022 alone.
This was an increase of 125% from 2021 when travel was still limited due to lockdowns and restrictions, with interest also coming from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Russia, before EU sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine limited Russians’ travel.