Living in LatviaIyna Bort Caruso
The Republic of Latvia is a bridge between Russia and Western Europe and a gateway to Central Asia.
Riga is its capital and the largest city not only in the country but in the Baltics. More than a third of the population lives here.
Latvia joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2014, the same year Riga was named a European Capital of Culture. Latvian is the official language, though Russian and English are commonly spoken. Centuries of foreign rule have had an impact but the country has managed to maintain its own traditions and architecture.
Art Nouveau, with its ornate facades, is a dominant style well-known along with the country’s impressive collection of 19th century wooden architecture. Together, these styles are the reason Riga’s historical center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 500 wooden structures still remain in Old Riga alone.
Latvia is filled with manors and mansions, sprawling complexes and modern urban apartments. In Riga, many international buyers gravitate to the quiet embassy district as well as to the popular resort of Jurmala.
This seaside resort located just 16 miles west of Riga has been known as a curative spa destination as early as the 18th century. Jurmala is served by Riga International Airport and accessible by train and boat from the capital. Its white sand beaches stretch more than 20 miles along the Gulf of Riga. Many have Blue Flag certification, the global designation attesting to their cleanliness and safety. Urbanites from large cities in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan seek second homes here.
Buying real estate in Latvia comes with few restrictions on international buyers. For those outside of the European Union, a minimum real estate investment of 250,000 Euros makes property owners eligible to apply for a five-year residency permit and visa-free travel to countries within the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport controls among its member countries.