In a clash between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Portugal and Greece find themselves as contenders for expatriates, nomads, and foreign investors. These two nations, both recently ascending economically and topping relocation wish lists, are engaged in a spirited competition to lure individuals seeking a change in scenery. Whether it's foreign investors flush with capital, retirees in search of a tranquil, sun-soaked haven or digital nomads yearning to immerse themselves in fresh cultures while making the most of their resources — Greece and Portugal are locked in a rivalry for the title of the ultimate destination.

The attractions of these locales extend far beyond their affordable cost of living, exceptional quality of life, delectable cuisines and breathtaking landscapes and cities steeped in history. These factors alone make them appealing places to reside. Yet, what sets them apart is their straightforward immigration pathways. Both governments have made concerted efforts to eliminate the bureaucratic obstacles that plague many other European countries, offering expatriates the icing on the cake.

Over the past few years, both Portugal and Greece have witnessed significant changes in their immigration policies, with pathways either being streamlined, constricted or introduced. So, how does one decide which nation deserves the crown as Europe's premier immigration hub? The answer is highly individualistic, but we can dissect the available pathways and incentives in each country.

Golden Visa

Portugal and Greece have been neck and neck in the European Golden Visa market until recently. Portugal's decision to eliminate its real estate investment pathway may have repercussions in this contest. Greece had already been offering the Golden Visa for real estate investments at a lower cost of €250k to €500k in popular areas, compared to Portugal's €280k to €350k range. Greece also allowed investments in capital cities, whereas Portugal had restricted this option in recent years. Athens only modestly increased the minimum investment cost to align with market prices.

In October, Portugal's Golden Visa changes took effect, significantly limiting investors' options under the program.

Investment Options:

As of November 2023, Greece offers the following Golden Visa investment options:

  • €250,000 to €500,000 (depending on the area) in residential or commercial real estate.
  • €250,000 in timeshare or furnished tourist residences.
  • €400,000 bank deposit.
  • €400,000 in government bonds.
  • €400,000 capital contribution to a business.
  • €800,000 combined investment in shares, corporate bonds, or government bonds.
  • €400,000 investment in a Greek fund.
  • €400,000 investment in a Greek alternative investment fund.

Portugal's Golden Visa investment options as of November 2023 include:

  • €500,000 in collective investment structures not directly related to real estate.
  • Investment in existing companies with a minimum of €500,000, contributing to job creation.
  • Donations and other contributions in the artistic or scientific domains.

The Greece Golden Visa offers investors more diverse investment options and a potentially higher return on investment. Investors also enjoy lower investment minimums for real estate, applicable to 90% of Greece.

According to International Advisor, Greece saw a remarkable 740% increase in American investor applications back in May 2023. For many Americans, Greece had already emerged as the next Golden Visa hotspot.

While Greece may claim the superior Golden Visa, the choice ultimately depends on investors' goals. Portugal still offers appealing incentives, including a relatively straightforward path to citizenship within 5 years and a requirement of only 7 days per year of residency which we will explain further later in the article. Portugal's Investment Funds are becoming a popular route to the Golden Visa, while Greece relies heavily on real estate investment.

Retirement or Passive Income Visas

Portugal's D7 Visa, known as the "retirement visa" or "passive income visa," is an accessible immigration pathway for retirees and semi-retired individuals with sufficient passive income to support themselves comfortably in Portugal. The minimum income threshold is relatively low at €800 per month (approximately €9,600 annually). This is significantly affordable compared to the cost of living in countries like the U.S., U.K., and Canada, making Portugal an attractive destination for retirees from these countries.

Greece has long attracted retirees and those with passive income through its FIP visa. The FIP visa requires the main applicant to have a minimum income of €2,000 per month or a total of €48,000 in savings.

Both countries certainly have plenty to lure in retirees. There's endless activities to enjoy and areas to explore for anyone with enough downtime. When it comes to infrastructure which could be a final selling point for some as it's simply easier to maneuver the country in Portugal.

Digital Nomad Visas

Even digital nomads find it challenging to choose between Greece and Portugal, as both are top destinations for the burgeoning remote work movement. The decision might as well be left to the flip of a coin.

In terms of immigration practices, Greece was among the early European adopters of the Greek Digital Nomad Visa, introduced in 2021. Approximately a year and a half later, Portugal followed suit by enacting the D8 Digital Nomad Visa in October 2022. Portugal, specifically Lisbon, is currently home to over 16,000 digital nomads, and the island of Madeira is home to the very first digital nomad village, certainly giving it the edge in this visa category.


  • Greek Digital Nomad Visa: Requires individuals to be 18 years or older, non-EU citizens, capable of working remotely, hold an employment contract with a company registered outside Greece, and earn a minimum monthly salary of €3,500.
  • Portugal Digital Nomad (D8) Visa: Applicants must be 18 years or older, non-EU citizens, provide proof of a fully remote contract or freelance work, have a minimum total monthly income of €3,040, and secure accommodation in Portugal for a 1-year extendable contract.

Portugal's superior internet infrastructure makes it more attractive to digital nomads. Importantly, digital nomads can easily experience both countries, as the visa process is relatively quick in Greece and Portugal.


Greece's tax treaties are highly favorable. The foreign pension tax regime in Greece lasts for 15 years, with a flat tax rate of just 7% on pension income. In contrast, Portugal's comparable non-habitual resident (NHR) regime lasts only a decade and taxes pension income at 10%. However, it's worth noting that Portugal has discussed ending the NHR program in early 2024, potentially removing incentives for expatriates. The outcome remains uncertain pending legislation.

Route to Citizenship

While Portugal and Greece may be closely matched in European residency by investment options, Portugal's Golden Visa was more popular due to its flexible pathway to citizenship. Residents can eventually obtain Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of residency if they meet specific criteria, including age, legal residency duration and a clean criminal record. There is also a mandatory language proficiency requirement.

In contrast, obtaining Greek citizenship is more time-consuming, less straightforward and less tested. It typically requires 7 consecutive years of tax residency, which means spending 6 months per year in Greece, along with other requirements, including Greek language proficiency.

Greece vs Portugal — Choose with Lincoln Global Partners

Both Greece and Portugal offer enticing immigration pathways for various situations and goals. Choosing the right destination and visa type is best done with professionals who understand both destinations, their markets, incentives, and drawbacks in the short and long term. To begin the conversation, consider booking a free 30-minute consultation with us.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.