Expat Magazine

Buying Citizenship in Hungary

By Ovid @OvidPerl

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary
Photo by Eduardo Fonseca Arraes

Last Wednesday we talked about Spain offering residency for house buyers, but would-be expats may want to take a look at Hungary. Hungary may go a step further. Hungary might offer citizenship for those buy €250,000 in government bonds. That's right — citizenship, not residency.
Mind you, if Hungary's economy holds, you (theoretically) won't even lose your money! Like the Spanish opportunity, this potential expat haven is happening because Hungary is tied into the Euro and because Europe has monetary union but not fiscal union, Hungary is having trouble servicing their debt. For countries with an independent money system, mucking about with the money supply is often viewed as a last-resort option to dealing with financial crises. For example, the US could pay off their quite easily if they were willing to accept hyperinflation, crash the value of the dollar and pay of their debt in the devalued currency ... but that would be burning down the house when all it needs is a good cleaning. For Hungary, they don't even have that option.
Unlike the Spanish option, would-be expats wouldn't have to fear the locals getting too upset because you wouldn't be kicking anyone out of their homes. However, the European Union is not happy with Hungary. That's because gaining citizenship in one EEA (European Economic Area) country pretty much means you can live and work in any of them. Can't have those pesky rich Chinese moving next door, eh? Oh, and did I mention that, like the Spanish option, it's designed to attract the Chinese? Nobody seems to want to attract American investors any more. It's the Chinese who are the up and coming people and while the US may not be paying attention, Europe is.
Before you buy a Hungarian guidebook, read a bit about the Hungarian economic problems. Things may not be going so well for them right now.

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