Living as a millionaire in Montenegro, Europe's rising luxury haven - from "Business Insider"

13. Apr 2019. in Real Estate in Montenegro

What it's like living as a millionaire in Montenegro, the tiny European country called 'the next French Riviera,' where wealthy foreign buyers snap up luxury real estate and dock their yachts in glitzy marinas

  • Montenegro, a tiny country in southeastern Europe, is an emerging luxury destination.
  • About 64 millionaires live in the country, which is about the same size as Connecticut.
  • It recently launched a program allowing wealthy foreigners to obtain a Montenegro passport if they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the country.
  • It's also one of the top destinations for billionaires in 2019.
  • Montenegro is an attractive port for yacht owners, largely thanks to Porto Montenegro, which can fit 450 superyachts and includes luxury shopping and restaurants.

Montenegro, a Balkan country on the Adriatic Sea, may be an unlikely luxury destination but its picturesque coastline, luxury hotels, and popularity among yacht owners have made people take notice of what's been called "the next French Riviera."

The tiny European country, which is about the size of Connecticut, is home to about 64 millionaires. And a new program is aiming to lure in even more millionaires by letting them invest at least $291,000 in the country in order to get a Montenegro passport.

Montenegro, which recently built two massive yacht ports that include luxury residences, hotels, and shopping, has also been compared to Monaco.

The Balkan country was named one of the top destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2019 in a recent report by Business Insider and luxury travel agency Original Travel.

Millionaires in Montenegro can get free 24-hour servicing for the yachts, stay in luxurious hotels like the Regent Porto Montenegro and the island-resort of Sveti Stefan, and reap the benefits of exclusive Owners Clubs and Yacht Clubs.

Here's what it's like living in Montenegro as a millionaire.

Montenegro, a Balkan country in southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea, may not be top of mind for a luxury destination. But the tiny country is one of the top destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2019, according to a recent report by Business Insider and the luxury travel agency Original Travel.

"Montenegro is set for a luxury upgrade in 2019 with the Chedi Lustica Bay newly opened and One & Only opening its first resort in Europe next year with Portonovi in Boka Bay," Tom Barber, cofounder of Original Travel, said of Montenegro, which has a population of 620,000.

As a yachting hotspot with striking scenery, Montenegro is emerging as a luxury destination, with some calling it "the next French Riviera."

"In fact, it's not just the unspoiled terrain, ample sunlight, and hospitable locals that have made Montenegro an exciting travel destination but also a bevy of newly renovated and built luxury hotels and restaurants, which have caused some to call Montenegro the next French Riviera," Nick Mafi wrote in Architectural Digest in 2018.

The tiny country, which is about the size of Connecticut, is bordered by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and the Adriatic Sea.

It has about 182 miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea.

Montenegro has also been compared to Monaco, a parallel that's not necessarily embraced. "In my opinion, Monaco has lost its soul — there's no real atmosphere there anymore," says Kai Dieckmann, the general manager of the Regent Porto Montenegro, a five-star property in Boka Bay. "But in Montenegro, we have natural beauty, incredible food and wine that are both locally grown, and friendly people."

Dieckmann told Architectural Digest that Montenegro doesn't need Monaco's tax benefits to attract visitors.

Montenegro was home to some 64 millionaires at the end of 2017, according to the Central Montenegro bank.

Old Town Budva, Montenegro. Frank Fell/Getty Images

That's 10 more millionaires than the year before, according to Telegraf.

And it opens its doors to foreign millionaires as well. Montenegro is one of several countries where wealthy immigrants can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in the country and obtain a passport in return.

In October, Montenegro started a program that lets up to 2,000 wealthy individuals who invest at least €250,000, or $291,000, in one of the government's development projects, to obtain a Montenegro passport.

"A record 26% of global UHNWIs will begin to plan for emigration this year, and to help them a record number of countries will offer citizenship and residency through investment schemes, with Moldova and Montenegro the latest to offer themselves as wealth havens," Liam Bailey, Knight Frank's Global Head of Research, wrote in the consultancy firm's 2019 Wealth Report.

Montenegro joined countries like Greece, New Zealand, the UK, and Malta that have similar programs for buying citizenship or residency.

Each applicant for a Montenegro passport will also have to pay an application fee of up to €100,000, about $112,000.

Montenegro is a yacht lover's paradise. Porto Montenegro, a newly built marina in Tivat is a popular port for yachts and has grown into a luxury destination.

Porto Montenegro/Facebook

It's an attractive port for yacht owners not only aesthetically but also because it has free 24-hour yacht service and a tax and duty-free fuel station.

Porto Montenegro describes itself as "an exclusive marina and yachting paradise" with waterfront residences, restaurants, luxury shopping and hotels, and upscale events.

The waterfront development's shopping center includes luxury brands Dior, Rolex, Burberry, Balenciaga, and many more.

It can accommodate more than 450 large yachts.

In 2017, it won a Marina of Distinction Award by The Yacht Harbour Association.

One of Porto Montenegro's most luxurious hotels is the Regent Porto Montenegro, which has 87 rooms that can be rented through the hotel, while 62 others were made to be purchased.

The Regent Porto Montenegro was the first five-star property in Boka Bay, where Porto Montenegro is located. "Investors have swooned over property" in the Regent, according to Architectural Digest.

Porto Montenegro also offers upscale condos in either the Village Residences or the Regent Residences, where residents can take advantage of all the amenities at the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel.

A three-bedroom in the Regent Residences is listed for €2.5 million, or about $2.8 million.

Buyers of these luxury residences get membership to the Owners Club and the Yacht Club, which offer access to a sports club, a fitness center, a tennis club, a 64-meter outdoor swimming pool, a private member's lounge, a nightclub, and restaurant.

Porto Montenegro even has an international school for its permanent residents.

Following in Porto Montenegro's footsteps is Lustica Bay, a megadevelopment that has cost more than $1 billion, making it the largest tourist investment in the history of Montenegro. It will eventually include seven luxury hotels, two marinas, a new village, and a golf course.

The Chedi Lustica Bay/Facebook

In February the project was awarded the Best European Property Development award at the Luxury Network International Awards in Dubai.

"As with its predecessor, Porto Montenegro, Lustica Bay is slowly raising the profile of Montenegro on the global luxury tourism map," Paul Bradbury wrote in Total Montenegro News.

The site will have shops, restaurants, cafés, sporting facilities, and even schools and medical centers. Essentially, Ludica Bay will be an entirely new town.

The Chedi Lustica Bay, which sits on the main marina promenade, was the first five-star hotel to open at Lustica Bay in August.

The website describes the hotel as "a private enclave" within Lustica Bay, which offers "a wealth of world-class residential and lifestyle facilities" and will be "a new Montenegrin coastal haven offering peace, healthy living and modern luxury for those who seek life as it should be."

Nightly rates start at about $270.

In addition to the luxury hotels, Lustica Bay will have townhouses, villas, condos, and apartments.

Lustica Bay touts Montenegro's tax system as "one of the most attractive in Europe," with a "flat-rate income tax and a corporate income tax rate set at 9%."

About 22 miles down the coast from Lustica Bay is Sveti Stefan, a luxurious island-hotel owned by the Aman Group that's opened in 2011.

Sveti Stefan, which was built on the existing foundation of a 16th-century village, was "the first signal of Montenegro's revival on the high-end scene," Hannah Roberts wrote for The Financial Times.

The restored stone buildings house 50 rooms, cottages, and suites, and nightly rates start at about $990.

Aman Resorts/Facebook

The 80-acre hotel estate has three pools, Turkish baths, a yoga pavilion, and several fine-dining restaurants.

Montenegro's real-estate prices are still low compared to Monaco and the French Riviera. For a little less than $300,000, you can get a three-bedroom luxury condo with a terrace overlooking the sea, or a four-bedroom, three-story house in Budva for the same price.

And in the Bay of Kotor, a four-bedroom luxury villa with a three-car garage and a terrace with direct sea access is going for $1.4 million.

But prices and demand are going up as foreign buyers take notice of Montenegro. Some of the country's most prestigious addresses are on the island of Sveti Stefan, where you can get a five-bedroom luxury villa with five levels of living space, a two-car garage, a fitness center, a sauna and pool, and a terrace, for about $3.3 million.

And for $41.5 million, about the price of a New York City penthouse,you can buy an entire four-star hotel with 230 rooms and a private beach.

Foreign buyers became increasingly interested in Montenegro after it joined NATO in 2017, started getting more direct flights from other destinations, and adopted the euro as its currency.

These international buyers have been attracted by new-construction homes "based on European standard expectations," Leila Calic, director of Resido Montenegro, a real-estate agency and consultancy, told The New York Times.

"The market is more and more offering luxury properties, and at prices still attractive in comparison with the French coast, for example, or even Spain seaside locations," Calic said.

The picturesque Bay of Kotor, with its dramatic cliffs and sparkling blue waters, is a particularly attractive location for foreign home buyers.

Local real-estate agents told The New York Times that between 80% and 90% of sales in Montenegro go to international buyers.

The charming ancient town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is popular with locals and tourists alike. Kotor's Old Town is a maze of cobblestoned streets, churches, and café-filled squares.

Kotor, Montenegro. Getty Images

Kotor is one of the oldest towns on the Mediterranean sea.

"Budva's got the beaches, and nearby Dubrovnik's got the bling, but for romance, ambience and living history, this Old Town outflanks them all," reads Kotor's Lonely Planet guide.


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