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Porto in Portugal recently rated first among the top 25 best small cities in the world to relocate to in Monocle magazine’s inaugural Small Cities Index, and it’s the latest hotspot of choice for South Africans entering Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme. Says Chris Immelman, who heads up Pam Golding International, “Portugal is among the top three in the 2020 Global Peace Index, and with English widely spoken, great weather, an affordable cost of living and healthcare, excellent education facilities and no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on overseas pensions, is increasingly popular among South Africans seeking residency by investment or easy access to EU countries.

“With interest and uptake ongoing through the Covid-19 lockdown, most of our investors are looking to acquire a Golden Visa to afford them and their immediate families visa-free access to EU countries in all 26 countries in the Schengen zone to study, work or live – with some seeking to relocate or retire permanently to Portugal. “Over the past three-and-a-half years we’ve assisted 380 families to enter the Golden Visa Programme, which offers residency via investment in property, with an entry level of only €350,000 (±R6,4m). A number of early investors have already been granted citizenship.”

Immelman says it’s not surprising that Porto is stealing the limelight as a highly desirable location for investment, tourism or to live. “As we’ve seen in South Africa, many people are reassessing their lifestyle and accommodation requirements, and some are finding that with work-from-home gaining preference, they’re able to live and work from anywhere in the world.

“Factors taken into account in the Small Cities Index include quality of life, room to breathe, welcoming culture, career and business opportunities and access to nature. Porto has all these qualities in spades and more, including a vibey, cosmopolitan feel and sense of community.” Situated within the historical areas of the city, the latest Golden-Visa approved investment opportunity in Porto is the Lapa Porto Hotel, which operates under Marriott’s Renaissance brand. With investment available at €350,000 per investor, which includes full EU residency and seven days free stay in the hotel per year, there are 163 rooms, a convention centre capable of hosting 1,000 pax, a restaurant and rooftop swimming pool.

The hotel is expected to commence operating in Q1 in 2023. The developers are also offering a nett return of 3% to all investors from the time that the hotel will be in operation. Furthermore, they are offering a compulsory buy back to all investors, which means that they will repurchase each investor’s share at the original purchase price of €350,000 at the end of the Golden Visa programme.

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