Investment migration and retirement planning should go hand in hand. Retirement planning that includes a second citizenship or Golden Visa allows investors to retire on their terms and provides a real-world Plan B for lifestyle security or a backup revenue stream.

When integrating investment migration into well-thought-out retirement plans, one element is critical – investment hold periods.

As with all elements of retirement planning, various professionals should be consulted for insight and guidance. There is no universal solution for the best way to spend your retirement years.

Retirement is the realization of an investment you have made in yourself and your family—it is an investment and an asset that not only you and your spouse enjoy but when done effectively, can extend for generations.

Although Astons is not an expert in overall retirement planning, we are a global leader in the second citizenship, second passport, and Golden Visa industry and can provide guidance on how sophisticated investors can leverage our programs to create their perfect retirement strategy.

What are investment hold periods?

Citizenship by investment programs [CBIs] are fast-track naturalization processes in which a government provides citizenship to investors who make significant and qualifying investments into the local economy – typically by purchasing real estate.

Golden Visas – or residency by investment programs – are essentially the same, with the exception that instead of citizenship, the investor gains legal residency in the country.  

While each citizenship and residency by investment program implements its own eligibility criteria, these programs typically require investors to maintain ownership of their investments for specific periods to qualify for or maintain their status – ‘hold periods’. 

For instance, with the Caribbean citizenship programs, investors must maintain ownership of their investments for, on average, five years after obtaining citizenship. Once the hold period is over, investors are free to sell their investment without losing their citizenship. 

The Caribbean countries have signed an historic collective agreement to increase investment requirements to at least $200,000 “no later than 30 June 2024”

Thus, investors can keep the property for rental income or sell it to recoup their investment and keep their second passport and citizenship status.

This dynamic is central to how investors can leverage these hold periods as part of the retirement planning – investing in these programs long before a person actually retires allows them to:

  • Expire the hold period before actually retiring, and thus, the individual is free to change their retirement plans without losing all the benefits of the program
  • Have a real-world Plan B that they can implement at any time between their investment and their retirement – should they need to
  • Create a Plan B and or retirement strategy that transforms into their family legacy, as in most cases, the benefits of these programs can be passed on to an investor’s descendants

Leveraging the hold periods of second citizenship programs 

As previously stated, each program has a unique set of criteria, and fully understanding the program, the local economy and market, and the hold period is essential to properly and effectively conducting retirement planning.

During your Free Confidential and Comprehensive Consultation with Astons, we explain how this factors into your retirement planning, goals, and demands.

For example, Turkey operates one of the most popular CBI programs in Europe – it provides:

  • A second citizenship
  • A European passport
  • The ability to invest in the world’s #1 rental market

The hold period for the Turkey CBI program is only three years, making it extremely lucrative no matter what stage of retirement planning you are in.

Malta is another option, and it currently operates the most popular and advantageous EU CBI. Maltese citizenship is EU citizenship, so even if Malta itself is not appealing to you, Maltese citizenship provides you the right to live in any EU country, including:

  • France & the French Riviera
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Italy & the Italian Riviera
  • Ireland
  • The Netherlands
  • Czechia [formerly known as the Czech Republic]

The Malta citizenship by investment program offers investors some flexibility regarding time frames. Thus, the hold periods range between one and three years, depending on the investment amount.

The Maltese program is especially perfect for US investors due to its dichotomy.

Malta is, arguably, the most conservative [in the US sense of the word] country in the European Union:

  • It has a firm focus on conservative family values, and society operates as such
  • Abortion is illegal [the only EU country to do this]
  • Malta ranks 17th in the world for personal gun ownership, as there is a legal right to own a gun
  • In the EU for gun ownership, Malta ranks 7th, behind:
    1. Cyprus [9th globally]
    2. Finland [10th globally]
    3. Iceland [12th globally]
    4. Austria [14th globally]
    5. Norway [16th globally]
    6. Lichtenstein [17th globally]

To note, these countries have a legal right to gun ownership, Czechia is the only EU country with a constitutional right to bear arms and to permit concealed carry.

But that is what makes the Malta program perfect.

If Malta is too conservative for you, you can take your Maltese passport and live anywhere you desire in the EU, including in more liberal [again, using the US construct of the word] countries, such as:

  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Spain

Including the Malta CBI in your retirement planning essentially opens you up to an entire continent that offers everything and anything you could want.

And a second passport—significantly stronger than a US passport—is also added to the mix.

Leveraging the hold periods of Golden Visas

Hold periods are a bit more intricate under residency by investment programs. 

Since residency – even permanent residency – is legally considered a temporary status [unlike citizenship, which is perpetual], the investment is the foundation – the lynchpin – upon which the residency is based.

The Greece Golden Visa has been the most popular Golden Visa program in the world for years, and for good reason. The Greek program offers:

  • Real estate investment in one of Europe’s best property markets
  • The ability to capitalize on one of the world’s best tourism markets
  • Greece implements the most privacy-focused and least intrusive due diligence procedures
  • It is currently the lowest investment cost for EU residency

Via the Greek program, investors can obtain an EU Golden Visa for only €250,000 (or €500,000 in some areas) in real estate.

Breaking News – Greece recently announced that by May 2024, the Greece Golden Visa investment requirements will be increased to top-off at €800,000. All Golden Visa applications submitted before the price increase will keep the lower investment requirements.

As long as the investor maintains ownership of the property, they keep their Greek Golden Visa, which is a five-year, renewable residency permit. Renewing the Golden Visa also requires the investor to maintain ownership of the property.

The only way to sell a property while maintaining residency under most residency by investment programs is by switching to permanent residency or becoming a citizen through naturalization. However, this act normally requires investors to reside in the country physically. 

This restriction makes integrating residency by investment programs into future retirement planning a bit more complicated than citizenship by investment programs. However, there are exceptions.

Portugal’s Golden Visa, for instance, simplifies the route to permanent residency and citizenship. In fact, Portugal is considered the best residency-to-citizenship route in the European Union.

Under the Portugal Golden Visa, an investor first makes a qualifying investment, such as a €500,000 investment in a qualifying private equity fund.

Once the investment is finalized, the investor and family can qualify for permanent residency and naturalization by residing in Portugal for just seven days a year for five consecutive years.

The five-year requirement for citizenship begins from the day the visa application is submitted—and currently, Portugal’s Golden Visa applications take approximately one year to be approved; that year counts toward citizenship. And, the hold period for the Portuguese visa is also five years, so if you choose not to remain in Portugal, you have options. 

This unique trait of the Portuguese program makes it an excellent option for retirement planning.

Retirement planning for hold periods

With citizenship by investment programs, including investment hold periods within your overall retirement planning is simple – simply choose a country and start the process early. 

Caribbean countries provide an excellent retirement destination, and the Caribbean Five offers hold periods ranging from three to seven years.

The Caribbean Five countries are naturally stunning and have a laid-back atmosphere yet still offer a dynamic social life and leisure activities to fill your days, along with an outstanding climate and backdrop rarely found elsewhere.

Moreover, although the real estate investment option for these programs tends to be luxury hotel shares, the revenue generated by those shares can significantly reduce one’s cost of living.

While the Caribbean Five are among the most lucrative tourism markets in the Western Hemisphere – with an average weekly rate of nearly $2000 for a luxury hotel – they are also quite affordable for prolonged residence. 

For example, the average rental price in St Kitts & Nevis’ capital, Basseterre, is roughly 60% lower than that of Miami, Florida – a US state synonymous with retirement.

Retirement planning should begin well in advance of one’s actual retirement date.

Thus, even on the high end of the spectrum for the Caribbean Five hold periods – 7 years – an investor could invest in a Caribbean program and recoup their investment by selling their property share by the time of their retirement or use it as an income stream during retirement. 

This will allow them to utilize the funds during their retirement and simultaneously enable them to reside in St. Kitts & Nevis as citizens of the country – should they choose to.

The same applies to the hold periods of other citizenship by investment programs, such as Malta and Turkey.

Of course, there are some nuances to consider. 

The hold period for the Turkey citizenship program is only three years, but investors usually sell their property after five years as the market is so lucrative and the tax benefit is difficult to pass up. 

In Turkey, properties sold after five years of ownership do not incur capital gains tax. 

Investors can recoup their investment (along with any appreciation gains) without losing their second citizenship and the European passport by planning ahead and holding the property for five years instead of three. 

This is just another example of the importance of including a investment migration expert, such as Astons, into your retirement planning to ensure you are considering the finer details of how to most effectively leverage these programs. 

Retirement planning considerations for Golden Visas

As mentioned above, planning for hold periods under residency by investment programs is more nuanced than citizenship by investment programs. Still, there are also significant benefits for those considering a retirement in Europe.

As previously highlighted, Portugal’s Golden Visa is an exceptional retirement planning asset. 

This is an optimal option for current or potential retirees, especially considering that those who go on to naturalize as Portuguese citizens will also obtain EU citizenship – allowing them to live anywhere in the EU.

As with the Malta CBI program, if a person wanted to retire in France and spend their retirement on the stunning French Riviera, they could apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa before retirement, meet the simplified naturalization requirements, and then move to France as an EU citizen when the time comes.

Since France, like many other EU countries, does not have a Golden Visa or CBI program, this route through the Portuguese Golden Visa program or any of the EU programs that Astons offers is among the best options for those who want to live in the EU but not deal with all the bureaucracy of the process. 

Citizenship in one EU country is essentially citizenship in all EU countries—in the sense that it allows retirees to live in any EU country and does not limit them to one place. And by using Astons, you don’t have to deal with any of the bureaucracy, while also enjoying an expedited process. In Spain for example, Golden Visa approvals typically only take three to six months. 

Adding these incredible rights and privileges to retirement planning elevates the final product to unparalleled degrees of flexibility and freedom.

Investors can purchase a property (or properties) – before retiring – in a market that boasts high ROI rates, providing the investor with a retirement plan that begins to pay for itself long before they actually retire.

Investors can continue to profit from their investments and then, when the time comes to retire, implement them as is or make any changes or adjustments they want. It is worth noting that planning for anything years in advance can always result in a change of mind when the day comes. The flexibility of investment migration programs provides a solution for that. 

The programs even enable investors to create an investment portfolio, using one property while renting the other to supplement their pensions and costs of living. 

This approach requires thoughtful planning and execution but can be highly beneficial in the long run.  

Partner with Astons – Start retirement planning now

The most vital thing to do is start your retirement planning early. Investment migration is full of small details and intricate laws that, if correctly utilized, can be highly beneficial and advantageous. 

And, as we saw over the past year, CBI and Golden Visa programs can change at the drop of a dime. Getting in early secures you a place in the current program, and any changes that occur later generally do not impact you or your status – the Greece Golden Visa is the perfect example of this.

Schedule a Free Confidential and Comprehensive Consultation today with an expert at Astons and we will thoroughly examine your specific situation and analyze your wants, needs, goals, and demands providing you a list of options that satisfy them all.