Investors – with a changing world, should you be considering Montenegro?

19 February 2021 | Investment

The country’s largest city, and capital, is Podgorica, while the tiny nation packs a punch with tourists (during normal times) thanks to its rugged mountains, medieval villages and a narrow strip of beaches along its Adriatic coastline.

It’s famous for The Bay of Kotor, which resembles a Norwegian fjord and is dotted with coastal churches and fortified towns such as Kotor and Herceg Novi. Nature lovers will also be bowled over by Durmitor National Park, which as well as being home to bears and wolves encompasses limestone peaks, glacial lakes and the 1,300m-deep Tara River Canyon.

Montenegro is a member of the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the Central European Free Trade Agreement, but is not officially part of the European Union yet. It is currently in the process of joining and already has the euro as its official currency.

Its journey of accession to becoming an EU member state was launched way back in December 2008, but its application wasn’t approved until December 2010. A year later, the official process was started, with accession negotiations then starting in June 2012.

In its 2016 assessment of the accession progress, the European Commission identified Montenegro as having the highest level of preparation for membership among the negotiating states – which also includes Turkey, North Macedonia, Serbia and Albania.

Conservative estimates suggest that Montenegro’s accession could be accepted by 2025, but there is absolutely no certainty about this.

Nevertheless, Montenegro received €507 million of developmental aid until 2020 from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, a funding mechanism for EU candidate countries.

Why is Montenegro appealing in a post-Covid world?

Covid-19 has undoubtedly reshaped the world and impacted the way we all live, with individuals around the globe reassessing their priorities as a result. Coupled with new-found ways of working – with a large rise in remote working among families and the increasing importance of wellness and safety – the pandemic has brought new lifestyle considerations to the forefront of many people’s minds.

Now, opportunities that previously were maybe not seen as available could be more attainable than ever imagined. Porto Montenegro, a ‘luxury waterfront and yachting paradise’ in the Bay of Kotor, is presenting itself as exactly one of these opportunities. 

Targeted at the ‘discerning international resident’ looking for ‘an exceptional Mediterranean lifestyle’, the project includes a ‘thriving’ residential community and ‘enticing’ gathering spaces in a picturesque seaside location.

The team behind it claim that Porto Montenegro sets the bar high with an ‘inspirational new way to live and work’ due to the core offering to homeowners, crew and guests of a luxury lifestyle experience. This includes everything from accommodation and amenities to shops, entertainment, culture, history and ‘sizeable’ tax benefits.

The Citizen by Investment Programme

Purchasers buying one of the managed Porto Montenegro residences will be eligible to participate in Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Programme, which was first introduced in 2019.

With a minimum investment of €450,000 and an additional €100,000 donation to a Montenegrin government development fund, successful applicants will be granted full citizenship within six months of applying, with the key benefit for citizens being the right to free movement across Europe’s Schengen area, Russia and Turkey, among others.

The village

The ‘vibrant’ village community in the heart of Tivat encompasses retail and commercial elements combined with public facilities, waterfront promenades, a five-star Regent hotel, and numerous restaurants and cafés, the Porto Montenegro team says.

There is also a casino complex in the planning pipeline and a hub for hosting exclusive parties (when Covid allows), while there will also be cocktail evenings at the waterfront Marina Park, ‘iconic’ Synchro events and performance theatre.

Family education: the Knightsbridge School

Investors from Britain may also be attracted by the London-based Knightsbridge School International (which is licensed by the International Baccalaureate programme and Ministry of Education), which operate their school (boarding and daytime) within the Porto Montenegro village.

Tuition is in Montenegrin for natives and taught as a second language for foreigners where subjects are taught in English.

Ozana Business Club: next level working experience?

The Ozana Business Club provides nine boutique serviced offices overlooking Porto Montenegro’s superyacht Jetty 1, potentially ideal for those looking to relocate or expand their business to Montenegro and surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals when they’re there.

The Ozana Business Club includes a conference room, lounge area and a landscaped terrace, and is situated only 10 minutes from Tivat International Airport.

The opportunity for a life less ordinary?

Porto Montenegro – which was originally transformed from a derelict naval base into an emerging yachting destination by the late Canadian entrepreneur and superyacht owner Peter Munk, with the help of Jacob Rothschild and Bernard Arnault, to try and recreate Monte Carlo in Montenegro – aims to offer a number of attractive incentives to investors.

One of these is a try before you buy package, which means investors can choose to spend two or three nights at Porto Montenegro and experience a ‘life less ordinary’ with tailored experience packages from €995 plus VAT.

Two people are able to enjoy all Porto Montenegro offers, including the accommodation, facilities, inclusive gastronomic meals showcased at the restaurants and bars, trips around the bay and an array of cultural experiences.

The cost of the stay is deducted from deposits placed on a property purchase. What’s more, during the summer, people have the opportunity to enrol their family into the Knightsbridge school summer camp to give investors the chance to see their children interact with the school in operation.

What is on offer?

Porto Montenegro, which was acquired by the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) in May 2016, has a residential collection which is far better value for money than other luxury yachting venues. This might reflect its slightly harder to reach location or the fact that other major yachting resorts, in Monaco, Barcelona, the South of France and elsewhere, are far more established.

The 50 Elena Residencies, for example, have prices starting from a much lower than expected €329,905. Designed to a high-specification, they are situated in a central boulevard location with ‘attractive on-site retail and dining amenities’. The bespoke apartments aim to offer contemporary design and intimate waterfront living.

Investors – with a changing world, should you be considering Montenegro?

Some properties are much more in the realm you would expect of a super-luxury yachting location. The fifth-floor penthouse – Apartment Elena 503 – has a price tag of €5,095,355. It includes four bedrooms, an outdoor dining area with wood burning fireplace, and a roof terrace complete with heated pool and whirlpool.

The Regent Pool Club Residences, meanwhile, start from €412,000 and are located on the waterfront. These popular residences offer generous outdoor spaces with views of the village, mountains and the UNESCO-protected Boka Bay (Bay of Kotor) beyond.

Elsewhere, at Boka Place, a new urban quarter in Porto Montenegro built with wellness at its core, prices for homes start from only €190,000. The residences here are surrounded by shops and cafés, a fitness hotel and wellness hub from SIRO by Kerzner International, as well as green outdoor spaces. Investors can choose from a range of SIRO-managed and private residences, which all aim to offer a ‘fresh perspective’ on affordable luxury living.

There are 69 private residences (studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses) which offer access to the bespoke M-Residences management programme, exclusive facilities and a ‘unique opportunity’ to integrate decorative art features by the likes of Bradley Theodore and Miljan Suknovic. Prices here start from €200,000.

In addition, there are 144 SIRO-managed apartments (a mix of studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses) which offer access to the 360° vitality hub including roof-top pool and bar.

The residences are said to be ‘uniquely designed to support in-house wellness activities’, as well offering the opportunity to participate in SIRO’s rental pool programme. Furthermore, buyers are eligible for Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. Prices here begin from €190,000.

“Porto Montenegro is setting an exciting new milestone within next generation developments. We are proud to be reinventing the idea of waterfront living by bringing people from all over the world who are united in their desire to live a life less ordinary,” David Margason, the general manager of Porto Montenegro, commented.

“We designed all our residences as a direct response to the needs of prospective buyers. It provides high-end and more affordable properties for discerning buyers who want to be a part of the Porto Montenegro community without ever compromising on quality or amenities.”

Margason adds that purchasing a managed residence at Porto Montenegro gives ‘the rare and exciting chance’ to gain Montenegrin citizenship.

“The Montenegrin passport allows free movement across 124 countries and with the country’s planned EU accession by 2025, the holder is eligible to a host of additional benefits,” he said.

Porto Montenegro was designed in 2008, shortly after the country regained independence, and currently has 450 berths. The village is already home to more than 320 sold-out luxury apartments, as well as 70 units of ground-floor retail made up of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and amenities, and a five-star Regent Hotel with over 220 luxury suites and apartments. 

Investors – with a changing world, should you be considering Montenegro?

It has continued to expand down the years, with the newest neighbourhood, Boka Place (currently under construction), set to offer 213 managed and private residencies alongside the first SIRO 360° Vitality Hub, a new fitness-infused hotel concept.

Like everywhere else, Montenegro has had to battle the challenges of Covid-19 and has so far recorded around 68,000 cases and 882 deaths. There has recently been a rapid increase in cases which has led to more restrictive health measures being put in place, with cases especially rising in coastal resort towns. 

With the UK’s tightening border restrictions, there are currently no direct flights available between the UK and Montenegro, but a number of airlines are operating a reduced schedule of indirect flights to the UK due to low passenger numbers. UK citizens are currently unable to travel anywhere abroad without a legally permitted reason to do so, and this doesn’t include holidays or other leisure purposes.

So, for now, UK investors will have to look from afar, but you may want to consider Montenegro as a good place to escape to with a second home – or even as a place to remote work/or set up a business – once things calm down a bit more and people can move around more freely again.

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.