Buying residency in popular EU countries restricted to wealthy expats

Published:  1 Jul at 6 PM
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Securing an idyllic expat life post-Brexit as a resident in favourite European destinations is proving to be only an option for the wealthy.

The rush for European passports is gathering steam as the full implications of Brexit hit home, but unless applicants are long-stay or have nationals of that country in their ancestry, there’s no chance unless big money is handed over. Various countries are now offering citizenship to Britishers affected by Brexit – but only at a staggering price.

The vast majority of the 1.2 million British expats living across Europe are retirees, small business owners or workers at a less than exalted level, and all may well lose their lifestyles when the UK finally quits the EU. The worst scenario is that homes and jobs will have to go and expats will be forced to return to a country most left because they didn’t like it or its weather anymore.

In spite of calls to calm down, wait and see and other such meaningless extortions, enough Brits are worried that all will not end well, and are hedging their bets by searching for legal ways to ensure their security. EU citizenship is seen as an insurance against the worst scenario, but isn’t easily available to the majority.

Spain hosts the highest number of UK expats according to the United Nations, with many being retirees living on the basic state pension and some small savings. Others have started small businesses serving mainly the expat community, and few could afford the €500,000 property purchase which entitles them to Spanish residency.

Expats in Malta are in an even worse position, as citizenship requires a contribution of €650,000 to the national fund, an investment of €350,000 and a purchase of government bonds worth €150,000. Cyprus is even more expensive, offering citizenship for either an individual investment of €5 million or one of €2.5 million in a collective investment scheme.

Greece, still on the verge of bankruptcy, offers the bargain basement price of a property costing over €250,000 in exchange for residency and Schengen visa privileges. As usual, it’s a rich man’s world, which leaves hundreds of thousands of British expats only one unwelcome option – a return to the UK.
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