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Top 5 Countries to Buy Land in 2023

By October 5, 2023No Comments14 min read
Top 5 Countries to Buy Land in 2023

The global real estate scene of 2023 is marked by emerging opportunities in a post-pandemic world. Investors are looking beyond traditional hotspots, considering factors like ease of business, economic growth, and lifestyle perks. 

1. Portugal:

Real Estate Market Overview: Portugal’s property prices have risen by an average of 5% annually over the past five years. Cities like Lisbon and Porto have witnessed a 7% increase in 2022 alone, driven by tech start-ups and digital nomads.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property: The Golden Visa program allows non-EU investors to gain residency by investing €500,000 in real estate, dropping to €350,000 if the property is over 30 years old or located in urban regeneration areas.

Potential ROI: 6-8% rental yields are typical in touristy areas like the Algarve. Meanwhile, short-term vacation rentals can rake in €1500-€2500 monthly during peak seasons.

Challenges or Considerations: Portugal’s property transaction costs range from 9-15%, including legal fees, stamp duty, and transfer taxes.

Real Estate Market Overview

Emerging Hotspots: While Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve have been perennial favorites, cities like Braga and Faro are emerging as attractive alternatives. These locales offer a mix of history, modernity, and affordability that draws retirees and younger entrepreneurs.

Price Dynamics: In 2022, Portugal witnessed a steady 5% annual growth in property prices, but that figure varied by region. For instance, Lisbon’s historic Avenida da Liberdade saw a premium rate of €9,000 per square meter. In contrast, emerging destinations like Faro or Braga offered properties at €3,500 per square meter, a lucrative proposition for those seeking value for money.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property

Golden Visa Program: Undoubtedly one of Europe’s most attractive residency schemes, the Portuguese Golden Visa offers non-EU investors a chance at permanent residency and eventual citizenship. The primary requirement is a real estate investment starting at €500,000. However, suppose the property is located in an area designated for urban regeneration or is over 30 years old. In that case, this threshold is reduced to €350,000. 

Navigating the Purchase Process: Generally, the property buying process involves a down payment (usually 10-30% of the property’s value), signing a promissory contract, and a sale deed. Engaging a local solicitor can simplify the complexities, ensuring that all due diligence, from checking property titles to providing no liens, is done meticulously.

Potential ROI

Tourism’s Resurgence: Portugal has witnessed an influx of tourists, especially post-pandemic. Places like Algarve, known for its stunning beaches and golf courses, have become hotspots for short-term rentals. On average, a 2-bedroom villa in this region can fetch anywhere from €1,500 to €2,500 per month during peak seasons.

The Rise of the Digital Nomad: With Portugal introducing schemes like the temporary resident visa for remote workers, cities like Lisbon and Porto are becoming hubs for digital nomads. This has created a demand for flexible housing solutions, co-living spaces, and monthly rental apartments, offering investors a fresh avenue for consistent returns.

Challenges or Considerations

Transaction Costs: Portugal’s property transaction costs include legal fees, stamp duty, and municipal property tax. These can total anywhere from 9-15% of the property’s value. Additional fees might be levied for luxury properties or those within historic districts.

Changing Dynamics: As the demand for Portuguese properties grows, so does the competition. Investors need to be agile, with an on-ground presence or representative, to grab the best deals as they emerge.

Cultural Appeal & Lifestyle

Beyond the numbers, Portugal offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Its Mediterranean climate, vibrant culture, mouth-watering cuisine, and warm locals make it an investment hotspot and a genuine contender for those looking to relocate or own a second home.

2. Mexico

Real Estate Market Overview: Mexico’s property market offers a median price of $1,100 per square meter in places like Riviera Maya, a 4% increase from 2021.

Legal Aspects: Foreigners must set up a fideicomiso, which costs around $500 annually.

Potential ROI: Rentals in Tulum or Playa del Carmen can earn between $1000 to $3000 per week, depending on property size and location.

Challenges or Considerations: Foreigners cannot directly buy property within 50km of the coast and 100km of international borders. 

Real Estate Market Overview

Urban vs. Coastal: Cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara have seen stable growth due to their economic significance. However, coastal destinations like Riviera Maya, Cancun, and Los Cabos have experienced property value surges, primarily driven by tourism and the foreign retiree market. For instance, Riviera Maya’s Tulum, known for its pristine beaches and bohemian vibe, reported an 8% increase in property values in 2022, with a median price hovering around $1,100 per square meter.

Emerging Destinations: Places like San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca, rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty, are becoming increasingly popular, not just as tourist destinations but also as real estate hubs.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property

Fideicomiso System: Foreigners wishing to buy property within 50km of the coast or 100km of international borders must use a bank trust system known as “fideicomiso.” It allows non-Mexican nationals to hold property indirectly, with a Mexican bank acting as a trustee. This 50-year agreement is renewable.

Transaction Process: A preliminary contract called “Contrato de Promesa” is signed after agreeing on a price. A notary public is then engaged to perform due diligence, ensuring the property is free from debts and legal disputes. Finally, a purchase agreement or “Escritura” is signed.

Potential ROI

Rental Yields: Tourist hotspots, especially those along the Riviera Maya, are lucrative for short-term rentals. For instance, a well-positioned property in Playa del Carmen can fetch between $1,000 to $3,000 per week, varying based on property size, location, and amenities.

Appreciation: Due to infrastructure projects and growing international interest, some regions in Mexico have reported annual property appreciation rates between 6-10%.

Challenges or Considerations

Local Regulations: Each state in Mexico can have varying regulations, impacting factors like property taxes or even rental laws. Engaging with local real estate professionals can help navigate these complexities.

Environmental Impact: Some coastal areas have stringent rules about property development to ensure the environment and local ecosystems aren’t adversely affected. For instance, parts of Tulum have height restrictions for buildings to preserve its low-key beach vibe.

Lifestyle and Cultural Perks

Beyond investment potential, Mexico offers a rich cultural tapestry. From the mariachi strains in Guadalajara and the Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca to the vibrant street art of Mexico City and the tranquil beaches of Baja California, there’s something for everyone. The warm and welcoming nature of its people, coupled with its diverse gastronomy and rich history, makes Mexico an investment hotspot and a genuine contender for those looking to call it home. Read more on Buying Land In Mexico – Slow Down And Smell The Cactus.

3. Vietnam

Real Estate Market Overview: Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 and District 7 have seen a 10% price surge, with a median price of $2,000 per square meter.

Legal Aspects: Foreigners can buy up to 30% of the units in a condominium or 10% of the properties in a landed project.

Potential ROI: Vietnam’s thriving tourism (especially in Da Nang and Phu Quoc) can yield 7-10% for beachfront properties.

Challenges or Considerations: Foreign buyers are limited to a 50-year leasehold, with the potential for extensions.

Real Estate Market Overview

Urban Boom: Vietnam’s economic centers, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi, are at the forefront of its property market surge. According to 2022 data, HCMC’s District 2 and District 7, known for their expat-friendly environments, saw property prices increase by 10%, reaching an average of $2,500 per square meter.

Coastal Attractions: Tourist destinations like Da Nang and Phu Quoc are not just tourism hotspots but also emerging real estate jewels. With the government’s focus on infrastructure development, properties in these regions have appreciated by roughly 7% annually.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property

Ownership Structures: While Vietnam’s constitution does not permit foreign individuals to own land outright, they can buy property via a 50-year leasehold arrangement. This is often renewable. As of 2022, foreigners can purchase up to 30% of the units in a condominium and up to 10% of properties in a landed project.

Purchase Process: Buying property involves steps like deposit payment (typically 1% of the property value), signing a sale and purchase agreement, and proceeding to the final settlement. Property transactions are done in Vietnamese Dong, so foreign investors need to ensure their finances are in order.

Potential ROI

Tourism and Rentals: Cities like Da Nang, known for their beaches and cultural attractions, have become Airbnb favorites. A well-located apartment in Da Nang can bring in $1,000 to $1,500 per month through short-term rentals. 

The Business Appeal: With Vietnam emerging as a global manufacturing and tech hub, there’s a rise in demand for urban housing. Luxury apartments in Hanoi’s Tay Ho district, catering to expat professionals and affluent locals, have witnessed 6-8% rental yields.

Challenges or Considerations

Regulatory Hurdles: While Vietnam has liberalized its property market, there are still layers of bureaucracy. For instance, in certain provinces, the 50-year leasehold for foreigners isn’t automatically renewable.

Economic Sensitivity: Vietnam’s property market has shown sensitivity to global economic shifts. The trade tensions between the US and China in the early 2020s did impact foreign direct investment and, by extension, the demand for premium real estate.

Cultural and Lifestyle Factors

Vietnam offers a blend of the old and new. Bustling markets, ancient pagodas, and street food stalls sit comfortably alongside skyscrapers, plush malls, and fine-dining restaurants. For many, the appeal of Vietnam isn’t just in its investment potential but also in its lifestyle — vibrant, colorful, and steeped in a rich tapestry of history and culture. Fine more about Living in Vietnam here.

4. Greece

Real Estate Market Overview: Greece’s average property price is €1,800 per square meter, with a 6% rise in Athens.

Legal Aspects: The Greek Golden Visa program offers residency to non-EU citizens investing €250,000 or more in real estate.

Potential ROI: Santorini and Mykonos villas can command up to €5,000 per week during summer.

Challenges or Considerations: Land can sometimes come with agricultural restrictions, making it challenging to build or develop.

Real Estate Market Overview

Island vs. Mainland: While Athens remains a vital economic and real estate hub, islands such as Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini are increasingly catching the eye of foreign investors, thanks to their idyllic landscapes and potential for high rental yields. In 2022, Mykonos witnessed an average property price appreciation of 6%, reaching around €5,500 per square meter in prime areas.

Emerging Hotspots: Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, is an educational and cultural hub and an emerging real estate goldmine. Improved infrastructure and a rich blend of history and modernity make it appealing to domestic and foreign buyers.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property

Golden Visa Scheme: One of Greece’s standout offerings is its Golden Visa program. By investing a minimum of €250,000 in real estate, non-EU citizens can secure a five-year residency permit, which is renewable as long as the property investment is maintained.

The Purchase Journey: The typical process involves a preliminary agreement, due diligence (often through a legal representative), and finally, the deed of sale or “Notarial Deed.” All deeds are signed in the presence of a Notary Public, ensuring the transaction’s legality.

Potential ROI

Holiday Rentals: Islands like Santorini, famous for its stunning sunsets and unique architecture, have seen a surge in holiday rentals. A well-positioned property here can earn between €200 to €1,000 per night, depending on the season and property type.

Long-term Appreciation: Greece’s steady economic recovery and growing international appeal boost property values. Areas around Athens, like Piraeus, have seen a consistent 4-5% annual appreciation rate in recent years.

Challenges or Considerations

Seasonal Demand: While islands offer high rental yields, it’s vital to remember their seasonal nature. Demand peaks during the summer months but can drop during off-peak seasons.

Maintenance Costs: Properties, especially those close to the sea, might require more frequent maintenance due to the salt and humidity.

Lifestyle and Cultural Attractions

Greece is more than just its postcard-perfect islands. Its rich history, diverse landscapes, mouth-watering cuisine, and the hospitality of its people make it an irresistible destination. Read more about What Expats in Greece Can Expect from the Recovering Economy.

“The Golden Visa program was a game-changer for me. Investing in a property in Athens gave me a piece of this historic city and a gateway to Europe.”

Rajeev K., Property Investor from India

“I bought a quaint little villa in Crete two years ago. Not only has it appreciated, but the rental income during the summer months has been phenomenal. Plus, who can resist the charm of Greek summers?” 

Elena M., Retiree from the UK

“Thessaloniki’s blend of culture, history, and vibrant energy drew me in. As an educator, I found the city’s academic vigor appealing. The real estate process was smooth, and now I have a beautiful apartment overlooking the Thermaic Gulf.” 

Alessandro R., a University Professor from Italy

5. New Zealand

Real Estate Market Overview: Auckland’s median property price has hit NZD 1 million, a 9% growth compared to the previous year.

Legal Aspects: Foreigners are restricted from buying existing homes but can invest in new developments.

Potential ROI: Wellington’s growing tech scene makes urban properties a promising investment, with rental yields of around 4%.

Challenges or Considerations: New Zealand’s stringent environmental regulations can affect property development, especially in coastal or rural areas.

Real Estate Market Overview

Urban Centers vs. Regional Spots: Auckland, as New Zealand’s largest city, has historically been a hotbed for real estate activity, with suburbs like Ponsonby and Parnell seeing consistent appreciation. However, investors are looking towards regional areas such as the Bay of Plenty and Queenstown, known for their scenic beauty and emerging economic potential.

Eco-Friendly Developments: With New Zealand’s emphasis on sustainability, there’s been a surge in green housing initiatives, including energy-efficient homes and eco-villages. For instance, Wellington witnessed several such projects launch in 2022, with a 7% rise in demand for sustainable housing.

Legal Aspects of Buying Property

Overseas Investment Act: In recent years, New Zealand has placed certain restrictions on foreign property ownership to cool the housing market. This makes it essential for foreign investors to understand their eligibility and the nuances of the Overseas Investment Act.

The Buying Process: Typically, an agreement is made through a written offer. Once accepted, a deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) is paid, and both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction.

Potential ROI

Tourism-Led Rentals: Tourist hotspots like Rotorua, known for its geothermal activities, or the picturesque landscapes of Wanaka, offer lucrative short-term rental opportunities. A well-placed property in Wanaka can earn NZD 300-500 per night during peak tourist seasons.

Stable Appreciation: While Auckland’s property prices have fluctuated, its long-term growth trend remains positive. Hamilton and Tauranga have also emerged as cities with consistent annual appreciation, sometimes touching 6-8%.

Challenges or Considerations

Environmental Regulations: Given New Zealand’s focus on preserving its natural beauty, there are strict environmental regulations, especially in areas near lakes, forests, or coastlines.

Housing Affordability: Rising property prices have sparked conversations around housing affordability, prompting government interventions and policies.

Lifestyle and Cultural Factors

New Zealand isn’t just about its cinematic landscapes (though those are a significant draw!). It offers a balanced lifestyle, rich Maori culture, world-class educational institutions, and a focus on community and well-being. Read more about Buying Property in New Zealand.

“Moving to New Zealand was a dream. Buying property in Napier gave me a serene sea-view home and an investment that has grown 15% in the last three years!” 

Serena L. Relocated from Singapore

“I’ve always been passionate about sustainable living. New Zealand’s approach to eco-housing felt just right. Now, I have an energy-efficient home in Nelson, and I couldn’t be happier.” 

Jake D., Environmentalist from the UK

“New Zealand’s real estate market offers a unique blend of urban and natural, with cities like Christchurch showing resilience and growth post-reconstruction. Regional areas, too, are coming into their own, backed by infrastructural developments and increased connectivity.” 

Dr. Amelia Haynes, Real Estate Analyst & Consultant

“The emphasis on sustainability in NZ’s housing sector is commendable. From solar integration to rainwater harvesting, the future of real estate here is green. Investors with a long-term perspective will find these eco-initiatives profitable and planet-friendly.” 

Marcus O’Reilly, Green Building Expert


In the rapidly evolving global real estate landscape, countries like Portugal, Vietnam, Mexico, Greece, and New Zealand stand out as compelling destinations, each offering unique investment opportunities and cultural experiences. From the bustling markets of Vietnam and the sun-drenched villas of Greece to the sustainable havens in New Zealand, the diversity and potential of these markets are vast and ripe for exploration. Read more about Why You Should Be Considering International Real Estate Investment.

Ready to take the next step in your global real estate journey? Book a free consultation call with our expert advisors today. For those eager to delve deeper into the nuances of these markets, the Consumer Resource Guide is your go-to resource, packed with in-depths and valuable insights.

With Development Advisors as your partner, your global real estate aspirations transform from mere dreams into tangible realities.

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