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Where Russians want to live, work and retire: popular countries in 2021

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For Russians, Canada and the US are the top destinations to immigrate to in 2021. At the same time, Russian citizens would prefer to own real estate in Turkey or Spain and to retire in Germany.

That was the conclusion of Tranio analysts after they studied interest in migration destinations based on their requests, market experts’ opinions, and public information over the past year. For the 63 countries featured in Tranio's real estate catalogue, we looked at the 20 most popular search queries in Yandex (a popular search engine that is considered a Russian analogue of Google), such as 'Greek citizenship', 'work in Germany', 'buy a house in Spain', and so on.

The USA and Germany are the most desirable countries

The US leads in overall statistics, with Yandex registering an average of 151,000 search queries per month, reflecting Russians' interest in relocating to the country. The US also tops many individual queries, such as ‘citizenship’, ‘taxes’ and ‘relocation’. ‘Political asylum’ stands out by a particular margin: for the US, it was requested an average of 3,025 times per month, while no other country scored more than 350 requests.

Germany comes second in the overall ranking, with an average of 124,000 requests per month. Germany is in the top three for most queries and outperforms all other countries for ‘retirement’ (average of 9,617 queries per month).

Turkey (102,000 queries), Poland, Canada and Spain are also among the top 2021 queries.

Countries most attractive among the Russian citizens for relocation

Turkey and Portugal are on the rise, while the Czech Republic is losing popularity

Turkey ranked third and has attracted particular interest among Russian-speaking users of Yandex over the past 12 months. The average number of queries per month has increased by 50.7% compared to 2020. In terms of some queries, Turkey came out on top, overtaking the US and Germany: the number of residence-related queries (e.g. ‘residence permit’) increased by 83%, and the number of queries about buying real estate (e.g. ‘buy a flat’) increased by 47%.

Houses for sale in Turkey 468 listings on Tranio
Villa – Alanya, Antalya, Turkey for $561,000 $561,000
Villa – Alanya, Antalya, Turkey

Total area 350 m² 4 bedrooms

Villa – Alanya, Antalya, Turkey for $1,701,000 $1,701,000
Villa – Alanya, Antalya, Turkey

Total area 520 m² Land area: 11,000 m²

Villa – Kargicak, Antalya, Turkey for $219,000 $219,000
Villa – Kargicak, Antalya, Turkey

Total area 240 m² 3 bedrooms

Turkey is one of the few countries that has been open to Russians throughout the past year. In Tranio’s experience, many Russian citizens who were working remotely kept travelling to Turkey when the rest of the world was inaccessible, making them consider buying property or obtaining a “golden passport” in the country.

According to Tranio, the number of Russian real estate buyers in Turkey increased by 60% in 2021 compared to 2020. 

A positive trend is also observed in Portugal: the number of requests related to residency in this country increased by 76% compared to 2020, and those related to the purchase of real estate rose by 39%. The cause of this may be that investors are rushing to get a “golden visa” for Portugal before 1 January 2022, when changes to the investment programme will come into force, closing the coastal regions to investors, including Lisbon and Porto.

Meanwhile, the Maldives is experiencing a particularly unprecedented surge of interest: the country has risen ten places in the ranking at once, compared to 2020: from 49th to 39th place. This may be because the republic was one of the first countries to open its borders to tourists after the first wave of the pandemic, in July 2020, and already in November, it won the World Travel Awards 2020 in the category “Best Tourist Destination of the Year”. However, in absolute numbers, interest in the Maldives cannot be compared with the popularity of Turkey and other top 10 countries.

Villas to rent in Maldives 19 listings on Tranio

On the contrary, interest in the Czech Republic has plummeted: on average, the number of enquiries has dropped by 21% compared to 2020. In regard to residence-related queries, the Czech Republic has slipped from 7th to 15th place in the overall ranking, while the frequency of immigration-related queries (e.g. ‘relocate to the Czech Republic’) has dropped by an average of 30%. This is not the first year that the Czech Republic has lost in demand: back in 2020, we noticed that the number of queries about it had dropped five times compared to 2019. The decline in Russians' interest in moving to the country can be explained by the crisis in relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, which began in April 2020 and led to the inclusion of the Czech Republic in the Russian list of ‘unfriendly’ countries in May 2021. 

Russians want to move to Canada, the US and Germany

Most Russian users of Yandex want to move to Canada: on average 23,296 queries per month regarded emigration to that country (‘emigrate to Canada’, ‘move to Canada’, etc.). The United States came in second place with 17,129 requests per month, while Germany came in third with 14,559. These three destinations stand out: none of the other countries received more than 6,000 queries.

Over the past year, interest in emigration has remarkably increased in respect of the countries outside the top three: Portugal (+62% of queries per month on average), Turkey (+41.7%) and Poland and Italy (+28% each).

Interestingly, Germany tops the list for ‘retirement’ (9,617 queries per month on average). It is followed by the USA (6,358 queries), Latvia (3,200 queries), Estonia (2,663 queries) and Israel (1,964 queries). Overall, Russians have become much more interested in pensions abroad than last year. The number of enquiries for all countries has increased by an average of 18% over the last 12 months.

The Turkish passport is the most desired

Turkey leads in the group of requests related to residence status (residence permit, permanent residence permit, citizenship): an average of 22,624 requests per month. However, other countries came out on top in the individual queries from this group: Russians made extremely frequent requests for ‘US citizenship’ (11,791 requests) and ‘permanent residence in Germany’ (6,542 requests). In Israel, ranked 4th, Yandex users are also particularly interested in citizenship (9,882 requests).

Countries most attractive among the Russian citizens for obtaining residency

In addition to Turkey and the Maldives, there was an increase in requests for residency in Egypt: their total number increased by 3.2 times, and the number of queries about ‘Egyptian passport’, by 4.1 times, compared to 2020. Russians also searched more frequently for information regarding residency in Portugal (+76%), St. Kitts and Nevis (+61%), Croatia (+45%) and the UAE (+44%). 

Russians are looking less for jobs in Israel and more in the UK

In 2021, Russians have most frequently done a search on employment resources in the US with the queries ‘job vacancies’, ‘salaries’ and ‘jobs’ (on average 75,073 queries per month), Germany (60,028 queries) and Poland (53,534 queries).

Queries about working in Poland account for 74% of all search requests about the country, more than in any other country. Getting a job in Poland is a relatively easy way for Russians to move to Europe because Poland has less stringent requirements for work visas than many other European countries.

Over the past year, interest in jobs in Turkey has risen the most (average number of requests has increased by 43%), Croatia (+42%) and the UK (+39%), while jobs in Israel were searched for less: –38% compared to 2020.

Russian citizens are rushing to buy property in Portugal, Greece and Montenegro

Over the last 12 months, Russians have shown keen interest in real estate in Turkey (41,435 requests per month on average), followed far behind by Spain (25,904 requests) and Bulgaria (22,230 requests). In most countries, ‘buy a flat’ is the most searched query, although in Italy ‘buy a house’ comes first (an average of 4,441 queries per month).

Among other countries, a particular increase in the average monthly number of property queries compared to 2020 is seen in Egypt (+49%), Portugal (+39%), Greece (+35%) and Montenegro (+30%). 2021 is the last year that Montenegro issues passports for property purchases.

Countries most attractive among the Russian citizens for buying

Tranio's internal statistics correlate with Yandex search rankings: in 2021, our clients made the most requests for property in Spain, Greece, Germany, Montenegro and the US. Interest in Portugal was 132% higher than in 2020, interest in Greece increased by 54%, and in Turkey by 40%.

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    Marina Filichkina
    Marina Filichkina
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