June 14, 2021
4 Min. Read

Where residency comes with property

Many countries in the world offer incentives to investors such as a residence visa for long-stayers. Will Tanzania soon make the move?

The issue is obvious: When foreigners buy a house somewhere, be it for holidays, as a home away from home or to let , they need the assurance that their second home is safe and free of any restrictions. “It would be very important to us to be granted a residence visa once we have finalised our property deal in Zanzibar”, said Milena Yanus and her boyfriend Graham, surf lovers from Ontario, Canada, who were considering buying a holiday apartment in Paje. “Our jobs in the computer industry enable us to work practically everywhere online. Our friends bought in Spain and go back and forward all the time, since that country grants them very easy stay permits as investors.”

Indeed, in a globalised world, more and more countries offer “golden visas” in exchange for investments. Once a slightly shady practice, the business of dangling visas and even citizenships in front of investors with spending power has become more common, and in some cases a hugely successful marketing strategy. In at least 16 countries a home comes with a passport – for instance in Malta. 20 of the 28 European Union members are providing residence possibilities, which often lead to passports after a certain time. Panama had the great idea of granting green residencies for $80,000 investment in reforestation! All these countries believe that opening up will bolster their investments.

“The world is becoming more and more connected and especially Zanzibar, as a destination heavily depending on tourism, should make it easier for foreign investors to stay here”, said Hamad Hamad, 42, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Zanzibar in an exclusive interview with THE FUMBA TIMES (see box on this page).

While the practice of making people a national, may not be the right carrot-and-stick in the case of African countries, surprisingly it works even with Caribbean and South Pacific islands. Dominica and Vanuatu are happy to simply sell passports for $100,000. 

Nomad-friendly residencies

The rules and the necessary amount to invest to be welcomed as a staying guest vary, and obviously reflect the attractiveness of a country. Most countries demand that foreigners actually live some specific time within their territory or visit frequently:

  • In Columbia and Nicaragua permanent residency starts with $25.000 real estate investment
  • In Montenegro and neighbouring Serbia minimum investment for residency is zero; coastal condos sell from $30.000, apartments in Belgrade from $50.000
  • Two years ago Brazil joined Dubai and six European nations  - among them Greece, Portugal and Spain – in extending residence visa to property buyers. The sugar loaf country has interesting conditions: In poorer areas the minimum purchase is $160,000; elsewhere $230,000
  • Newcomer Turkey grants Turkish citizenship for the whole family starting with an investment of $250,000
  • Dubai and UAE demand $275,000 investment for a family residency, and at least one visit every 6 months
  • A very popular golden visa program in Portugal requires a €280,000 property purchase for permanent residency in the EU; one can sell after 5 years
  • Since the corona pandemic, luxury island Mauritius issues 1-year-long free “premium visas” to encourage long stays; a residency and free work permit comes with a real estate purchase above $375,000

Sometimes the desire for a residency or new identity is fueled by political circumstances. Before Brexit, around 128,000 Brits obtained German citizenship in 2019, as much as in five years before. In West African Ghana, a dream target of Black American repatriation for decades, the government waived registration fees for members of the African diaspora. During Trump’s presidency, American applications to enter Ghana – the home of 29 million, kente cloth and legendary state founder Kwame Nkrumah - shot up from 1000 per week to a “staggering 10,000“, said Akwasi Agyeman of the Ghana Tourism Authority in a media report. 

Tanzania might just see a similar trend, with more and more bloggers from the African diaspora promoting the land of Kili, Zanzibar and Black majority rule. In Fumba Town, a number of Americans have already invested. To call the place really home, all they need is a golden visa.

More information:

citizenshipshop.com

immigrantinvest.com

nomadcapitalist.com

escapeartist.com

"Fully supportive", Hamad Hamad, 42, Executive Director of the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)

“Zanzibar should give golden visas right away” 

What’s your take on residence permits for foreigners who buy real estate here?

I fully support it. It has already been discussed in the parliaments of Tanzania and Zanzibar; it’s a union matter. 

And that’s where the problem started…

Not necessarily. While it is indeed a union matter, different criteria should be used for Zanzibar where we have a totally different economy structure from the mainland. We are heavily based on tourism. 

Should a minimum real estate investment be required?

Yes. The price should not be too low; the investor should stay here for a certain time, invest more and generally create income for the country.

Starting with an investment of?

Minimum $50,000 could be fair. The visa should be life-long. I think, it should be passed straight away!

To promote Zanzibar?

Certainly! We have always been a cosmopolitan country. We encourage more cultural interaction with foreigners, but we will also strongly protect Zanzibar culture - after all that’s our unique selling point. 

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