My wife, Yuliya, and I were on a leisurely stroll through the Adriatic town of Budva, Montenegro. It’s a lovely little town, swaddled by lush and rugged mountains, the sea lapping at its front door. I can see why someone would want to live here. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable. It’s Old World. And the sea is pristinely clear and, I assume, quite inviting on a hot summer’s day.
We arrived in December. To get married. It was cold and rainy. Still…
The beauty of the place and the relaxed ambiance explain all the new construction we came across on our constitutional—buildings with huge signs in English and Russian announcing citizenship opportunities available with the purchase of a property.
That’s a trend these days—buying citizenship. And not just in Montenegro. It’s a trend pretty much globally. And it has amplified in the wake of the pandemic as Western countries did their level best to screw things up, particularly in the U.S.
Earlier this month, a London-based visa consultancy called La Vida reported the results of a two-year study showing a notable rise in demand for citizenship-through-purchase schemes. New inquiries in the 12 months that ended in March rose 12.3%, while the sale of citizenship programs increased 43.9% over the same period.
That’s a lot of people wanting to skedaddle away from wherever it is they live, or wanting a second passport so that they have the option to skedaddle in the future.
As La Vida CEO Paul Williams said, “We’re seeing far greater urgency from clients now who perhaps were previously hesitant or even not in the market at all for our services. Clients are saying ‘never again do we want to be exposed in that way, whatever the next crisis brings.’”
That’s based on some 30,000 inquiries that La Vida has seen, so it’s not a small number. (To be clear, La Vida, though based in the U.K., serves clients all over the world, including the U.S.)
La Vida’s data tell me that more and more people—even those who never thought it would come to this—suddenly see value in the Plan B I regularly write about.
This is not commentary on the U.S. or any country in particular, but the world is a different place than it used to be. Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen the Western world change for the worse, especially in the U.S., where freedoms have been quashed, and where the economy demands never-ending stimulus to keep it from collapsing.
I remember back in the 1990s thinking that we—humanity—had finally reached a moment in history where the world felt right. All was generally quiet geopolitically. There were no egregious asset bubbles. Global economies were generally stable. Same with major, world currencies. There was no political movement in the West looking to leap backwards, away from science, rationality, logic, and truth.
And today…polar opposites all the way around.
As I routinely say, this ain’t gonna end well.
I foresee a devolution toward societal parochialism. Red states and Blue states in America could very well chart their own paths outside the union of 50—in my lifetime (I’m 55, for reference). In Europe, where grievances and prejudices and hatreds date back a couple of thousand years, the return of nationalism and borders and tribalism is a very real threat.
Which is why a Plan B now clearly makes so much more sense to so many more people. No one can say that what exists today will, with absolute certainty, exist tomorrow. In the 1990s—even into the early 2000s—I would never have thought to consider that the American geography I know could ever change. The U.S. was too stable.
Today, I can’t see how the country manages to stay united. It’s too polarized politically, socially, and spiritually. I can think of several sparks that will ignite the kindling that burns away the ties that bind.
So, I feel the same urgency that’s driving so many to seek a passport and citizenship by way of investment. In my case, I’m not going to buy a passport but, rather, earn one.
As I’ve noted, a primary reason I chose to move to the Czech Republic in 2018 is so I can obtain permanent residency, citizenship, and a passport in just five years, among the shortest waiting periods in Europe.
At the same time, I’m aiming to pursue residency in Uruguay because I want a second option, just in case. I was texting my friend there (an immigration lawyer) and he’s waiting for me to show up so that we can start the process. Just gotta wait for this increasingly annoying pandemic to pass.
Certainly, this is not the happiest column I’ve ever written. But it’s honest. I don’t share these sentiments of the La Vida research to be reactionary. I write this just to report that this idea of a Plan B is spreading because more and more people are more and more worried about shifting sands.
These are people who felt flat-footed when the pandemic hit and borders closed. The La Vida research makes clear they are people who were unsettled by governmental mismanagement of the process, by societal rejection of science, and by the string of Orwellian lies when visual reality told them otherwise.
For these people, an investment of $100,00 to multi-millions is a fair price to pay for the peace-of-mind that comes with citizenship and a passport in another country. For me, the price is five years of living in a beautiful European capital.
Whatever the path, a second passport and a Plan B seem a financial and lifestyle necessity today.