Portugal’s Residence Permit Program — also known as the Portugal Golden Visa — is one of the most sought-after in the world. As a five-year residency-by-investment scheme for non-EU nationals, foreign investment contributions have pumped over €7 billion into the Portuguese economy since its inception in 2012.
Historically, the real estate investment option has been the most popular route of the Golden Visa- including investments in the so-called “low-density areas”, which are typically rural or less densely populated regions of Portugal, outside of high density areas like Lisbon and Porto. The goal of this investment option, which follows the location restrictions that came into force in January 2022, is to encourage investment in regions that are in need of economic development and population growth.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the low density property investment option in Portugal, including its advantages, the top low density municipalities in the country, and more.
Please note that, from 7 October 2023, all types of real estate investments in Portugal (including commercial and residential properties) are not eligible anymore for Portugal’s Golden Visa Program.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA - OCTOBER 2023
The Portugal Golden Visa program has recently undergone substantial changes. The new legislation is now in effect, and it's crucial to note that real estate investments are no longer a valid qualifying option within the program.
However, several attractive investment routes still maintain their eligibility for the program. Please refer to our comprehensive guide: Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide.
Golden Visa Changes 2023
The End of the Portugal Real Estate Pathway
As mentioned previously, Portugal’s real estate investment option has come to an end, as per the legislation changes on 7 October 2023. This means that you can’t purchase residential real estate anymore.
Aside from residential real estate investment, the commercial real estate investment option is also no longer to eligible for the program.
Before these changes came into play, the following real estate investment routes were available:
- Investors could purchase residential real estate in designated interior areas of Portugal worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a residential rehabilitation project. If the residential property was located in a designated low-density area, a 20 percent discount would have applied (amounting to €400,000 and €280,000, respectively).
- Investors could have purchased commercial real estate anywhere in the country worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project. If the commercial property was located in a designated low-density area, then a 20 percent discount would apply.
- Investors could have bought residential and commercial real estate anywhere in Portugal’s autonomous islands of Madeira and Azores, worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project. All of Madeira and the Azores were classified as high-density, so there was no 20 percent discount option there.
However, several attractive investment options remain. You’ll learn more about them below.
Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options: Updated
Following the ending of the real estate pathway, the following investment options are open to Golden Visa applicants:
- Fund Subscription: Make a contribution to a qualified investment fund worth at least €500,000
- Investment or donation in the arts or reconstruction of national heritage with a donation of at least €250,000. A 20 percent discount will apply if the project is in a low-density area.
- Scientific Research: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000. A 20 percent discount will apply if the project is in a low-density area.
- Creation of ten jobs: Creation and maintenance of ten jobs during the required period
- Share capital and job creation: Incorporation of a company or reinforcement of a company’s share capital, in either case with an investment of €500,000, combined with the creation of five or maintaining ten jobs (5 of them permanent)
Note: Low-density regions are defined as territorial units (NUTS III) and have less than 100 inhabitants per square km or a per capita GDP of less than 75 percent of the national average.
Top Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa
Aside from attractive investment options, the benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa program also remain. These include:
- You can obtain European Union residency, allowing visa-free travel throughout Europe and the Schengen Area. After five years and meeting all Portuguese nationality law requirements, including passing a basic language test and maintaining your Golden Visa Portugal investment, you can attain Portuguese citizenship.
- Although the real estate and capital transfer pathways have been discontinued, there are still several attractive investment options available, including the investment funds option and cultural production pathway.
- Your immediate family members are eligible for the Golden Visa. They’ll enjoy all the benefits that you have, including the opportunity to both live and work in Portugal.
- The minimum residency requirement is seven days in the first year and 14 days in subsequent years.
- The Portugal Golden Visa could potentially qualify you for Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime.
About The Portugal Golden Visa Low Density Investment
What are low density areas in Portugal?
One of the options within the Portuguese Golden Visa program was the “Real Estate Investment” option, where investors can purchase property in low-density areas, also known as “low density urban areas” or “interior regions,” to qualify for the visa.
The change was introduced by the Portuguese government to stimulate the development of less urbanized regions of the country by containing real estate speculation in the more densely populated regions.
But what is considered a low density area? Lower density areas in Portugal are designated according to the population of the region. If the area has less than 100 inhabitants per square meter, it is considered low density. Major cities like Lisbon and Porto, for instance, aren’t listed as low-density areas.
Another characteristic of low density municipalities is the gross domestic product per capita, which qualifies a region as a lower density area if it is below 75 percent.
The purpose of investments in Portugal low density areas is to attract investors to less accessible areas and attract capital to underdeveloped areas in the country.
Why Invest in a Low-Density Area?
The minimum investment requirements for Portugal’s Golden Visa program are often lower in low-density areas compared to investments in major cities. This makes it a more cost-effective option for investors.
These areas provide excellent property locations for investors, with great value for money, considering real estate prices are generally cheaper and more spacious in low-density areas. It’s not uncommon for a family to land the villa of their dreams, complete with fruit trees, a decently sized pool, and amazing views, for roughly €400,000. This makes low-density investment advantageous compared to high density property investment.
Not to mention that Portugal is a relatively small country, so many low density areas that are located close to major cities, such as Lisbon, and Porto. The property value will be low in the interior regions, but you’ll still have easy access to bigger cities.
Portuguese Golden Visa 280k Investment Option
One of the most cost-effective routes is through the Portugal Golden Visa 280k properties, as you can obtain a 20% discount. The € 280.000 investment option consists of investing in renovation, rehabilitation, or restoration in one of Portugal’s urban rehabilitation areas.
To be eligible for the € 280.000 investment option and obtain the 20% discount, the applicant must invest in a commercial rehabilitation project that is located in a low-density area. The applicant can also choose to invest in a residential rehabilitation project located in a low-density area AND that is also classified as “interior”.
Please note that for the property renovation option, the property owner or the architect needed to get the project approved in the Town Hall.
For the property renovation option, the minimum investment requirement is €350,000 (note that this minimum investment value referred to the property purchase price + the renovation costs combined, which had to add up to at least €350k).
You can’t include other associated costs like assistance fees, government fees, and taxes in the minimum investment amount for these investments.
Investing in both residential and commercial properties is no longer available for the Golden Visa, and this includes the real estate rehabilitation option. To learn more, please refer to: Portugal Golden Visa: €280k Real Estate Option
Where To Invest: Popular Low-Density Areas in Portuga
Even though real estate is no longer eligible for the Golden Visa program, if you are looking to invest in affordable properties in the heart of the Portuguese countryside, here we present some attractive areas.
Are you looking to revitalize an old building in the heart of the Douro Valley? Perhaps you’re interested in buying a commercial retail space in the Algarve? Or does the idea of owning a waterfront villa in the Azores appeal to you? Portugal offers various real estate opportunity areas for investors. Let’s take a look at some of the key areas you could potentially invest in.
Some areas with high-growth potential for investors include parts of the Douro Valley, Aljezur, and Peneda Gerês. These are considered to be some of the best up-and-coming areas in Portugal to invest in.
As mentioned, at present, the most popular regions to invest in are the Alentejo, Douro Valley, and Peneda Gerês. All offer fantastic investment prices and have high growth potential, with good opportunities to branch into hospitality, outdoor tourism, or cultural and religious tourism. If you would like to develop eco-tourism, there is also scope for this, in addition to if you are after luxury projects to invest in. If you want to live in Portugal, you’ll find many spacious properties with large grounds, a private swimming pool, and security.
Prices per m2
Portugal Golden Visa Low-Density Areas Map
Below, you’ll find a map of the low population density regions for Golden Visa in Portugal.
More About Real Estate Investment in Portugal
Investing in property in Madeira and the Azores is notably encouraged by the Portuguese authorities. While no longer a Golden Visa option, the islands are the perfect place to invest if you are looking for spectacular nature, affordable properties, and a high quality of life.
Commercial properties are also no longer eligible for the Golden Visa. However, if you are looking for a lucrative investment venture, investing in this type of real estate is excellent, not least due to the booming tourism sector.
- Commercial yields (long-term lease agreements) can be a good option for investors looking for a solid investment. Examples include office space, franchise stores, restaurants, and deposit areas.
- An excellent opportunity to diversify your investment portfolio, both in terms of hard and intangible assets
- Long-term strategy to generate strong and stable returns, with the potential to receive consistent revenue monthly, quarterly, or annually
Commercial rehabilitation projects (i.e., tourism/hotel projects)
- Rehabilitation of commercial properties, typically in the form of a hotel, provides prime investment potential
- These projects are turnkey, frequently offering fixed returns or a buy-back after five years.
Who We Are and How Can We Help
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique investment migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens.
From helping individuals find their dream homes or investments with the help of our real estate division in Portugal — Goldcrest— to providing successful immigration and relocation services, our international team is with you every step of the way.
While the real estate investment pathway is no longer an option, as we’ve mentioned previously, there remain several excellent investment pathways open to investors.
Why choose Global Citizen Solutions for your Portugal Golden Visa?
- Global approach by local experts: A team of experienced local case executives, immigration lawyers, and investment specialists based in Portugal.
- Independent service: We are not a marketing agency for any projects. You will access all eligible routes for the Golden Visa so you can decide on the best option, and your investment will benefit from the legal due diligence services of a reputable Portuguese Law Firm.
- 100% approval rate: We have the unique distinction of never having had a Golden Visa case rejected and have helped hundreds of clients from more than 35 countries.
- All-encompassing solution: Our dedicated onboarding and immigration teams will assist you throughout the process and beyond with a single channel of communication.
- Transparency: Our fees are clear and detailed, covering the entire process with no hidden costs.
- Privacy: Your personal data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server.
To see the full list of reasons why to work with Global Citizen Solutions for your Portugal Golden Visa, you can find out more here: Why Work with Global Citizen Solutions for Your Golden Visa Portugal Application?
Frequently Asked Questions About the Portugal Golden Visa 280k EUR Low-Density Option
What is a low-density area in Portugal?
As of October 7, 2023, due to new legislation, investing in real estate, whether in a low-density area or not, is no longer a viable means to qualify for the Golden Visa.
How to qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa 280K EUR low-density investment option?
After the enactment of new legislation on October 7, 2023, it is no longer possible to achieve Golden Visa eligibility through real estate investments, regardless of whether the property is in a low-density area or not.
Will the Portugal Golden Visa changes in 2022 affect the low-density investment option?
As of October 7, 2023, the option to invest in real estate and qualify for the Golden Visa has been eliminated by the new legislation, regardless of whether the property’s location is in a low-density area or not.
What is a Portuguese urban regeneration area?
Portuguese urban regeneration areas are key investment areas that can reap financial rewards. Since the buildings themselves are bought at relatively cheap prices, redone, and then ready to be rented out, you can usually expect a high return on your investment.