Cape Town - Some South Africans wanting to retire, and who can afford to, are increasingly looking at overseas destinations to make a home, according to Jacques Scherman, of Arton Capital, a global company which specialises in helping clients to obtain second citizenships.
Scherman said while some wanted a passport that enabled them to travel the world easily, others were cynical about the future of the country and wanted to secure a predictable one for their children and grandchildren.
Others were concerned about preserving their wealth in stable currencies to “maximise succession planning and hedge the financial risks inherent to holding assets in rand”.
He said since the current political administration had taken over there had been an increased interest in attaining second citizenship in exchange for investment in European countries such as Portugal, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Caribbean islands.
“Ninety-percent do not want to emigrate but want to have a safe plan should the situation get worse.”
He said the financial barriers to attaining second citizenships for retirees were also lowering.
“Second citizenship by investment is no longer the preserve of the super-rich. ”
“For example, Grenadian citizenship for the main applicant, spouse and two dependants can be purchased via a donation of $200 000 (R2.73 million) to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund,” he said.
The benefits included the speedy application process - around three months, compared with years for some other destinations, no physical residency requirements and visa-free travel to more than 100 countries including those in Europe’s Shengen zone. And, there is no requirement for a business interest.
For younger retirees with an entrepreneurial bent, having Grenadian citizenship enables entry into the US with an E-2 Investor Visa which allows individuals to reside and work in the US provided that there is an investment under their control.
Scherman said to emigrate directly to the US, it would cost about $1m and there could be an eight-year waiting period and substantial amounts of paperwork and administration.
He said while overseas countries were rolling out a red carpet to South Africans to invest in their countries, South Africa was making it difficult for foreigners to invest here.
A Cape Town-based law firm practising in the field of immigration and permanent residency, Craig Smith & Associates, said it received many enquiries from South Africans wishing to move abroad.
The most popular destinations are Australia, the US, UK and New Zealand.
“The US is considered to be the highlight and the investment is normally part of a state-funded project in property and is currently at $500 000 and the cheapest destinations are just over $100 000,” said the company’s Craig Smith.
He added that South Africans who had family ties abroad would first exhaust those links before paying their way into citizenship programmes.
However, South Africa, regardless of its challenges, was an attractive destination for foreigners who wished to retire, Smith said.
“It is quite often that properties purchased over the R30m range are bought by foreigners and this is an invaluable contribution into our economy.”
However, there was a shortage of business investors and professionals with advanced skills who wanted to come to South Africa for work because of the complexity of the country’s immigration laws and the need to apply from outside of the country.