Friday, November 23, 2012

Buying Citizenship in Hungary

Fisherman's Bastion
Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary
Photo by Eduardo Fonseca Arraes
Last Wednesday we talked about Spain offering residency for house buyers, but would-be expats may want to take a look at Hungary. Hungary may go a step further. Hungary might offer citizenship for those buy €250,000 in government bonds. That's right — citizenship, not residency.

Mind you, if Hungary's economy holds, you (theoretically) won't even lose your money! Like the Spanish opportunity, this potential expat haven is happening because Hungary is struggling financially and trying to figure out how to deal with the financial mess that it's in. Unlike the Spanish opportunity, would-be expats wouldn't have to fear the locals getting too upset because you wouldn't be kicking anyone out of their homes. However, the European Union is not happy with Hungary. That's because gaining citizenship in one EEA (European Economic Area) country pretty much means you can live and work in any of them. Can't have those pesky rich Chinese moving next door, eh? Oh, and did I mention that, like the Spanish option, it's designed to attract the Chinese? Nobody seems to want to attract American investors any more. It's the Chinese who are the up and coming people and while the US may not be paying attention, Europe is.

Before you buy a Hungarian guidebook, read a bit about the Hungarian economic problems. Things may not be going so well for them right now.


  1. Pardon my ignorance, but why does Hungary not have the option to devalue the Forint in order to deal with their debt more easily? They haven't adopted the Euro yet and probably won't for the next decade at least.

    1. Last night we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of friends over. Sadly, the above error is the the crime of a Thanksgiving hangover and having reread last Wednesday's article. I'll amend the above. Thanks!

  2. Wow, good find Curtis.

    It's too bad there is no information in the article about how long the person will need to hold the bonds. Presumably, some number of years...?

  3. OK, so I'm gathering there are a lot of ways to expatriate if you're rich. But what about for the rest of us? 40,000$ in Panama, 250,000EU in Hungary, 200,000EU of property in Spain (and then no opportunities for a job?).

    You know I'm not trying to be snarky... but what I am trying to do is figure out how any of these tactics would be useful for the 99% of us that don't have 200,000EU just lying around in a suitcase.

    1. You're not being snarky and it's a legitimate complaint :)

      I've posted plenty of avenues for people who don't have a lot of money, but I try to cover all the avenues I can find. You may be skilled, unskilled, rich, poor, have a criminal record or not, be young or old. Many of my readers fall into many different categories and I want to make sure that I provide answers for all of them.

  4. I'm no expert (I've only lived in Hungary for four years), but I wouldn't trust the government here with any of my money. They confiscated the pension funds to make up for budget gaps, leaving millions without (future) income, and no hope of ever getting it back. Their credit rating just got lowered again (it already was rated junk), international investment has pretty much dried up completely, and the democratic process is in serious danger.

    That said, it's a very nice country to live in if you're economically independent.