Why US citizens need a lifeboat in Portugal

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The billionaires are battling over who can build a better lifeboat to take us into space. I’m not waiting around for rockets. I’d rather be sipping wine and watching the sunset in Portugal.

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A Lifeboat for the American Dream

America always seemed unsinkable.  We’re the “beacon of hope” and the “city on the hill.” But these days iceberg-sized threats surround us, whether economic disparity, political polarization, climate change, or social injustice. 

More Americans than ever are retiring abroad, seeking the American dream beyond our shores. The Statue of Liberty was supposed to offer open arms and welcome the downtrodden. Now she waves a reluctant farewell to the debt-ridden and disillusioned.  

But what if you aren’t ready to retire?  Ideally, you have your own lifeboat – fully stocked with room for the whole family.  Something you can count on for when you do retire, or in case of emergency, if we hit one of those icebergs.

A number of countries have gone into the lifeboat business, offering “Golden Visas” that offer permanent residency in exchange for a capital investment. But not all of these lifeboats are created equal.  

First, you want a country that is going to be resilient to climate change.  This removes all the island countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.  

Second, assuming you still want to visit friends and family in America, you want a country that is a reasonable flight away from home.  This rules out programs in Asia like Singapore and New Zealand.

Third, you want a country that has good infrastructure, quality health care, safety from violence, civil liberties, and political stability.   This rules out a number of the other countries.  

To be a good “lifeboat,” the program shouldn’t require living there too much of the year, shouldn’t require too large an investment, and should enable you to include your family.  This rules out programs like Canada and the UK.  

So we are now down to three:  Costa Rica, Spain, and Portugal. 

Costa Rica has a lot of advantages. The climate and natural beauty are hard to beat.  It’s far more progressive than others in the region.  It’s politically stable, high on the happiness index, and committed to alternative energy and the environment.  But relative to Europe, it falls short in safety, health care, and infrastructure.

So we are left with Spain and Portugal.  You can’t go too wrong with either one, but I would go with Portugal for a  number of reasons.  

First, Portugal is more stable.  Most European countries are fending off significant threats from the far right.  But Portugal was under fascist rule as recently as 1974.  People still remember the fear, poverty and dysfunction that came with authoritarianism.  As a result, the government has stayed firmly in the center.  As a demonstration, Portugal was one of the most organized and effective countries in its response to COVID.

Second, Portugal is more resilient.  In 1755, a tsunami destroyed 85% of Lisbon and over a third of the economy. But Portugal rebuilt itself, reforming the economy and redesigning the city.  The ocean defines Portugal.  No one lives more than two hours from the sea.  Adaptability to environmental change and coordinated response to crisis is part of the Portuguese DNA.  

Third, Portugal is more diverse.  Portugal has always been a crossroads of diverse cultures and people.  For hundreds of years, Portugal was ruled by the Moors.  During the Age of Discovery, Portugal managed a network of trading routes and ports around the world.  The church and state were also formally separated in the 1970s. Portugal is homogenous but inclusive, with strong legal protections against discrimination.

Fourth, Portugal has an exceptional quality of life. It’s one of the safest countries in the world.  The infrastructure is first-rate.  Health care is excellent at a fraction of the cost in the U.S.  The history and culture are fascinating.  And the people are warm and welcoming.  

Given the war in Ukraine, some wonder whether this is the right time to arrange a lifeboat.  My personal view is that this is a better time than ever.  There is also a question of how long the Golden Visa will be offered.  The program has been extraordinarily successful at fostering economic growth and commercial development.  The government put a few limits in place last year on real estate acquisition along the coast.  We may see more restrictions in the future.  

The billionaires are battling over who can build a better lifeboat to take us into space.  I’m not waiting around for rockets.  I’d rather be sipping wine and watching the sunset in Portugal.  

Who are we ?

Optylon Krea is an investment management and real estate development company that caters to the needs of international Golden Visa investors, with €1.8 Billion managed to date from Portugal to Turkey.
We have been the first to explore the Golden Visa eligible fund route in 2018 and are currently leading that market segment with more than € 200M under our advisory.


Investors from more than 40 countries


million equity managed for Golden Visa eligible funds


active funds under advisory

We strongly believe that Portugal is shifting from a mass tourism destination to a luxury resort. That is why we are bringing momentum to the main cities by developing high street retail and prime serviced apartment projects.

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San Francisco, Ca