Visas for Homebuyers Coming to Spain

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 20 2012 9:30 AM

Visas for Homebuyers Coming to Spain

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People walk on the Fora beach, near the village of Finisterre, northwestern Spain, on November 10, 2012.

Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images

Here's a worthwhile Spanish initiative—anyone who purchases a home worth at least €160,000 (that's about $200,000) will be given a residency permit to go with it.

Now of course the Spanish labor market is not exactly a hotspot at the moment, so people aren't clamoring to get permission to work there. But this is still a potentially attractive offer to wealthy individuals living in politically unstable or undemocratic regimes who don't necessarily want to emigrate but are interested in obtaining a bit of a hedge against possible future emigration. For linguistic reasons there's obviously a particular appeal to Latin American elites.

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It's worth noting that anti-immigration biases are so entrenched into the policy status quo everywhere that this perfectly sensible idea only emerges as a desperation strategy for an economically devastated country. Policies along these lines ought to be standard throughout the developed world. The level of political and legal stability that the United States has achieved is remarkable, and it's amazingly hard to replicate. We really have something to offer the world in this regard and ought to be leaping at the opportunity to import foreign skills and capital and create extra jobs at home designing and building extra houses for people.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.