Rich Brazilians heading back to the Old Country

. May 27, 2019
brazilians investment portugal Lisbon, Portugal

For decades, the upper crust of Brazilian society has had a thing for Miami. With a love for everything American, property in South Florida has always been a must-have for this slice of the population. However, after a tightening up of immigration policy by U.S. President Donald Trump, wealthy Brazilians are beginning to flock to Portugal instead—with the Old Country already being dubbed the “new Miami.”

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazilians have become the leading foreign property buyers in the cities of Lisbon and Porto, and come in second place in the country as a whole, with 19 percent of Portugal&#8217;s foreign property investment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Millionaire Brazilian businessman Ricardo Bellino is one of those who have made the switch from Palm Beach to Portugal, telling </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bloomberg</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that it was an opportunity &#8220;to live in a tax haven that isn&#8217;t an island in the Caribbean.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While technically not a &#8220;tax haven,&#8221; Portugal does have some fiscal incentives in place which make it an extremely advantageous location for wealthy property owners. Income tax is a flat 20 percent, while non-habitual residents may also receive tax-free pensions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Furthermore, obtaining a permanent Portuguese residency visa is straightforward for those in the property market. As of 2012, the country instated its now famous &#8220;Golden Visa&#8221; program, offering five-year residency permits for those who purchase property worth over EUR 500,000, or property built over 30 years ago worth more than EUR 350,000. During the five-year period, applicants only need to reside in Portugal for an average of seven days a year, and will qualify for permanent residence and citizenship at the end of this term.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The program has resulted in an approximate EUR 3.32 billion of investment into the country as of 2017, and was even </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">copied by Brazil</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> two years ago.</span></p> <h2>Image change</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While Miami was always seen as a young, hip, jet-setting city among rich Brazilians, Portugal&#8217;s reputation was almost a polar opposite. </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazil&#8217;s former colonial master</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was regarded as stuffy, old, and economically weak, attracting senior citizens with familial ties to the country, as opposed to younger, forward-thinking investors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Portugal is a country on the rise, however, as shown by its recent growth figures. After the financial crisis at the beginning of the decade—which led to a EUR 78-billion <a href="">IMF bailout</a>—Portugal has seen steady progress since 2014 which is set to continue for the foreseeable future.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, one of the decisive factors in this shift of Brazilian investors was the release of the 2018 Global Peace Index, an annual report put together by the Institution for Economics and Peace to measure the &#8220;peacefulness&#8221; of countries, taking into account their involvement in internal and external conflict, violent crime rates, political instability, and availability of firearms, among several other criteria.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Portugal ranked fourth on the list, behind only Iceland, New Zealand, and Austria. Brazil, meanwhile, appeared in 106th place, while the U.S. languished in 121st.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The rise in foreign property investment went hand-in-hand with an array of domestic factors in Brazil. During the financial boom of the late 2000s, a stronger currency led to more attractive U.S. property prices for wealthy Brazilian rent seekers. Subsequently, the recession which followed also stimulated real estate purchases abroad, with locals looking to get their money out of Brazil and potentially leave the country indefinitely.</span></p> <h2><i>Bem-vindo a</i> Miami</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With its geographical proximity to South America, the eternal draw of Disneyland, and a love of everything American, Miami was traditionally the place to go for Brazil&#8217;s rich and famous. Property in Florida often served as a status divider between the middle-class and the wealthier strata of Brazilians.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the shift to Portugal, Brazilians investing in property in Miami remains strong. A study from the National Association of Realtors showed that Brazil remains the number one source of foreign property investment in the city, accounting for 12 percent of such transactions in the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

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Euan Marshall

Originally from Scotland, Euan Marshall is a journalist who ditched his kilt and bagpipes for a caipirinha and a football in 2011, when he traded Glasgow for São Paulo. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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