The best countries to invest in 2021

There are many different factors that can, and should, influence where you choose to invest as an expat. For example, every country has its own property laws and tax implications for those wishing to invest in real estate. However, other factors are equally important and need to be considered before making a decision, such as the potential for a good return on investment and whether your chosen country or specific destination is likely to become your future home.

The property gurus at ExpatRoute have taken a look at some of the destinations around the world that are favoured by expats, as well as some up-and-coming investment locations that could prove a worthwhile investment this year.


Situated between Sicily and North Africa, Malta is a country that is easily overlooked by property investors, but one that should be firmly on the radar of expats looking for a new life overseas. Known for its wonderful climate and beautiful beaches, this friendly location is an ideal environment for families or retired expats seeking a beautiful second home that can be rented until you are ready to move.

Securing rental income shouldn’t be a problem in this increasingly popular destination, which is also well known for supporting entrepreneurs and startup companies looking for economic and financial stability. In fact, under the government’s Malta Global Resident Programme, anyone can apply to gain permanent residency in Malta, which includes free travel across the EU Schengen area. This makes it a very popular option for those wishing to make a long-term investment in the EU. And as if that wasn’t enough, Malta also doesn’t levy property taxes, making it a financially sound choice if you want the best possible return on investment.


A popular country that boasts beautiful countryside and exciting cities alike, France has long proved an attractive prospect for UK expats. There are many different areas in France that have built up strong expat communities, but arguably one region that is potentially the most financially lucrative is Brittany.

Brittany will also prove to be an exciting region for those wishing to live overseas. It offers beautiful coastline, exciting festivals, famous gastronomy and an overall high quality of life. It also provides entrepreneurs and young expats with an ideal environment for building a successful career, making it a strong contender for expats wishing to invest in a rental property that will superior a great return on investment. While rent here is two to three times cheaper than areas such as Paris, the support on offer for young businesses and career-hungry digital nomads means it is drawing a lot of rental interest and is likely to be a strong asset in the long term, as the area continues to grow.


Often rated among the top five countries to live in for expats, Portugal always scores highly when it comes to quality-of-life surveys and safety reports. In addition, Portugal is well known for its friendly locals, who are often very accepting of expats. In terms of the country itself, the climate is mild and can be enjoyed across the impressive coastline, making it an ideal location for those seeking a better quality of life in a more relaxed country.

Of course, those seeking somewhere they can grow a career may also be drawn in by the country’s tech sector, which is considered to be at the forefront of this rapidly developing industry. And with a low cost of living, spare cash can be invested wisely in further investments or even in leisure time.

There are many different locations within Portugal that boast significant expat communities, with some of the most popular including the Algarve, Porto and Lisbon. Portugal is also increasingly drawing the attention of those seeking a long-term investment with a view to moving later in life. This is due to the fact that the government is now offering a Residency-by-Investment Program, allowing those investing in property worth more than €500,000 to become eligible for a Golden Visa, which comes with a huge number of benefits. These include:

  • The right to family reunification
  • A waiver for the country’s usual residency visa
  • A visa exemption for travel in the Schengen Area
  • Permission to live and work in Portugal
  • The right to apply for permanent residence and Portuguese citizenship


Famous as an expat destination, Spain is an attractive prospect thanks to its popular food, impressive culture and the overall quality of life it provides residents. For expats seeking somewhere to live in the long term, Spain is also an attractive proposition as a result of its great healthcare system and friendly locals, who often welcome expats with open arms.

There are so many expat communities, in fact, that anyone seeking familiarity with people in a similar situation has many different choices of destination, including Barcelona, Madrid, Granada and the Canary Islands. All of these areas also make it easy to gain rental income from expats seeking a more temporary set up in this popular country.

Just like Portugal, Spain also offers a Golden Visa program that is targeted towards non-EU citizens such as UK citizens but requires the same investment of €500,000. However, with this investment, you can benefit from residency visas for you and family, as well as easier and clearer pathways to permanent residency and Spanish citizenship should you wish to relocate permanently.


There are many areas in Mexico that have drawn the gaze of property investors in recent years. This is partly due to the growing tourism fuelled by government investment in the industry, as well as the country’s beautiful beaches, wonderful weather and exciting cities. Some areas, such as Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen, are particularly popular among investment, offering an impressive return on investment in an already thriving property market. However, there are also smaller areas such as Mazatlán, which is a rapidly growing destination that is surrounded by coastline but not yet saturated from investment.

Many expats have already fallen in love with these regions, investing in property for purely financial reasons before deciding to make a permanent move to enable them to truly soak up the authentic Mexican lifestyle. However, if you simply want to make the most of your money, this growing country boasts thriving demand and a strong rental market that is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Choosing the right investment

As highlighted above, the choice of where to invest will be influenced by a number of factors that are personal to you. If you are choosing a future home as well as an investment, make sure to consider the perfect location for your lifestyle and budget. However, if you are choosing to invest purely to achieve a financial return, make sure you choose a specific location and type of property within a given country that allows you to see the biggest return on investment. Remember — there are many popular expat destinations around the world that offer the perfect home for a UK national seeking a life abroad, but up-and-coming areas could prove more financially lucrative if they have not yet drawn large numbers of expats.

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