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Immigration to Europe: most popular relocation destinations

Far-seeing people invest in European citizenship for different reasons. It is often for the freedom to travel the world without visas and bureaucratic hurdles. Others want to expand their business beyond existing areas of presence, optimise taxes and deal with European banks without any issues. Another common reason for applying for European residence or citizenship is to move there. In this article, we will talk about choosing the right place in Europe for relocation.

What to keep in mind when moving abroad

Apart from such advantages of European countries as tax benefits, pro-business environment and visa-free travel to many countries, there are more down-to-earth pluses that attract foreigners to Europe.

  1. Stability, security and comfort
    This includes both political and economic conditions and low crime rate in Europe.
  2. High healthcare standards
    Access to European health service and cutting-edge technologies. Certain surgeries are only done in Europe which can make a relocation a question of life and death.
  3. Access to high-quality education
    Europe is famous for its oldest universities and modern establishments that offer a world-class education and tuition.

Always remember that your choice will determine where your family will spend a big part of their lives. Therefore, start by choosing a country based on everyone’s interests and needs and then narrow it down to a certain town or city. There are many European cities that are convenient for life, business, work, education and leisure.


How to get residence card, permanent residence and citizenship in Europe fast?

The following documents give rights to live, study and work in a European country:

  • Residence permit
  • Permanent residence
  • Citizenship

Western Europe is a popular destination among foreign nationals, especially from developing countries. Therefore, governments have been tightening screws and making it harder to immigrate to Europe.

Fortunately, European authorities are not as strict with foreign investors that are people of good character. If you have lawfully earned money and are prepared to invest it in a foreign economy, you will be treated differently from regular migrants. You would normally be applying under a residence or citizenship by investment program where in return of your contribution you would be given European residence or European passport.

European residence by investment

Before we give you a list of European countries that welcome foreign investors, we will disperse a common misconception. A long-term visa or a residence permit granted to you in return for your investment allow visa-free access to all EU states and Schengen zone. However, neither a residence permit nor a golden visa give right to live in another country. The maximum number of days you can spend outside the country of your residence is 90 days in each 6 months; this is not bad, but not enough to find a job or start a business.

To live and work in any European country without restrictions, you need to be an EU national and have a European passport of any EU state. From our article you can learn all about residence permits, permanent residence and citizenship, their differences and what each status has to offer.

And now here is a list of European countries where you can get residence and benefit from all the advantages they offer to foreign investors.

European country Benefits of residence Minimum required investment

Beneficial tax regime for new tax residents for the first 10 years

Affordable real estate

Visa-free travel in EU and Schengen zone

from €250,000

Tax benefits

Visa-free travel in EU and Schengen zone

from €330,000

One of the most affordable investment programs

Low cost of living

Visa-free travel in EU and Schengen zone

from €250,000

Favourable business environment

Renowned universities

Visa-free travel in EU and Schengen zone

from €500,000
United Kingdom

Right to live, work or do business in the UK

World-class education

Recoverable investment

from £2,000,000

European passport through investment

Almost all investment programs in Europe lead to citizenship. First, after 5-6 years of living in a country with a residence permit, you can apply for permanent residence. Next, after 1 or more years, you will be eligible to apply for a European passport and second citizenship.

While the first investor visa is easier to get, with little requirements to foreign applicants, naturalisation requires permanent residents to speak the language fluently and prove their knowledge of local customs and history of the country. But permanent residence or EU passport give you right to live, work, do business or study full-time in a university anywhere in the European Union.

How to get a European passport quickly?

Good news is that you can get a European passport without the initial applications for a residence permit and permanent residence. This route might be very handy for those who:

  • Have not decided yet which country to move to.
  • Want to live in different countries in Europe without immigration restrictions.
  • Plan to relocate to an EU country that is not as welcoming to foreign investors as the other one.

Fortunately, there are two jurisdictions in Europe where the authorities are prepared to:

  1. Turn a blind eye on your ability to speak the language.
  2. Grant you European passport in exchange for your contribution to a local economy.

Malta citizenship by investment

You can get a Malta passport in 1 year. Minimum amount of money that you must have available is €1,150,000 where €650,000 is a non-refundable contribution to a state fund and the remaining amount goes to buy a property in Malta and government securities.

Cyprus citizenship by investment

It will take 6 months to obtain a Cyprus passport by investing at least €2,150,000 into the country by one of the four available ways. Non-refundable amounts are €150,000 donations and €500,000 purchase of a property that will have to remain your home for life.

Plan B: Montenegro citizenship by investment

If the investment in Malta or Cyprus seems too much to you, we can offer you to invest in a small Balkan country. A Montenegrin passport gives access to 117 countries including almost all European states. Though they are not yet part of the European Union, their accession is in the pipeline for the next couple of years.

Once they join the EU, the investment amount will increase significantly. At the moment, it takes six months to become citizen of Montenegro and €350,000 including non-recoverable €100,000 donation to a public fund. The remaining money can be returned in a few years and potentially with a gain due to growing housing market.

Best European cities for life

We will finish with an overview of European cities and opportunities they offer to migrants after relocation.

City/ countryAimed forMain benefits
London/ UK

Wealthy people

Talented entrepreneurs

One of the world financial hubs

Excellent environment for running a business

High living standards

World renowned higher education

Sliema/ Malta

International entrepreneurs

Students of tourism and medicine

Wealthy retired people

Centre of international business

All-year-round resort with mild climate

European standards of living

Barcelona/ Spain


People looking for a comfortable place to live

Business and investment opportunities

Great city with friendly people

Accessible healthcare

Cultural and architectural heritage

Riga/ LatviaPeople looking for a quite and steady pace of living

Good food

Low cost of living

Mild climate and beautiful nature

Podgorica/ Montenegro


Investors in real estate

Candidate to accession to the EU

Growing property market

European standards

Breath-taking nature

As you can see all 7 cities have their own advantages and opportunities. No matter what you want to achieve and what you are looking for, there will be a place for everyone, a place to suit your needs and budget.

Even if you dream of moving to a country with more stringent immigration laws, our experts in Imperial & Legal will offer you a customised solution. Qualified specialists will help you make a choice, prepare all required documents for obtaining a residence permit or European citizenship. If needed, they can also organise your relocation, open and support your business in Europe and offer tax solutions.

FAQ about immigration to Europe

Why do specialists recommend visiting the country you are interested in first as a tourist?

People often tend to learn about living in Europe from their own personal experience or beautiful stories told by their acquaintances who have immigrated to the EU (and these stories are often far more inspiring and positive than the reality). If you have found a place you would like to live in as a permanent resident, a place that satisfies all your needs, a good idea might be to take several weeks off and visit this place personally using a short-term visa.

When you are in the country, remember to avoid typical touristic places and routes.Rent a flat in a district you are considering to live in and try to live like locals: go to the same shops, use the same gas stations or public transport and eat in the same cafes as locals do. Keep comparing the European level of comfort and safety with the one back at home. Find out more about the district you live in: where hospital is located, where you can rent an office at a cheaper price, how many schools and nurseries are close to your future home.

Surprisingly, some aspects of living in Europe might be somewhat disappointing. For instance, in some countries the Internet speed might be worse than in your home town. In some shops there might be no options of contactless payments with your mobile phone. However, all the advantages of living in Europe as a rule outweigh such small disadvantages.

How can I stay in a European country if it does not offer residence by investment programmes?

The best way-out for a wealthy candidate is to invest in the citizenship of the Republic of Malta. Foreign investors with animpeccable business reputation can invest 1,250,000 EUR or more in the economy of Malta and become proud holders of an EU passport in a year.

Since Malta is a member of the European Union, its citizens can live in any EU country without any restrictions. With a passport of Malta, you will be able to live and work as long as you wish in any country of the European Union, even the ones that do not welcome new immigrants.

Which city shall I choose if I am planning to move to Portugal?

It depends on your plans after relocation and the investment option you choose to acquire temporary residence in Portugal.

If you plan to set up your business, Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, as well as Porto, Cascais, Braga and Coimbra would be especially attractive. These cities are also good if comfort of life is your top priority. In this respect, Sintra and several smaller towns can also be added to the list. However, if you look for a property at cheaper prices, such places that are extremely popular among tourists are not the best option. Instead, you might like to consider Viseu, the industrial centre, or Gondomar that is located close to Porto, the “second capital” of the country.

To find out more about Portuguese cities and towns for relocation and purchase of real estate, we recommend contacting our immigration advisors.

How can I relocate to Great Britain without extremely high investments?

If you plan to relocate to the UK, you might be interested in more accessible British visas (as compared to Tier 1 Investor visa). If your profession is in demand in Great Britain and your command of English allows you to fulfil all the tasks required from you, you can apply for a skilled worker visa. Both experienced entrepreneurs and those having creative ideas for their new business can apply for business visas: Start-up and Innovator.

As a rule, after having lived in the country for 3 – 5 years, you would have the right to apply for an indefinite leave to remin in Great Britain (with the exception of the Start-up visa that does not give the opportunity of getting ILR in the UK). Later, you will be able to make the next step and apply for British citizenship.

With the help of Imperial & Legal specialists, you will quickly get the documents necessary to enter the UK and will relocate to the new country with your family.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.