Portugal, a country that offers picturesque scenery filled with centuries of rich history, fantastic cuisine, and ever-charming local hospitality and customs will make you feel welcome, and at home. Moving to Portugal might be an easier decision than you think, as Portugal not only offers an amazing climate, and alluring sights that can keep you fascinated, there is much more! Let us tell you the reasons why you should move to Portugal, NOW!
When you are planning to relocate elsewhere, many things will come into question that goes beyond the beauty and charm of the country, essential subjects such as cost of living, healthcare, safety, employment, or business opportunities, and especially education for those who are moving with their families or even wish to pursue higher education in Portugal. In the 2022 Expat insider report, Portugal is ranked in 4th place as the Best place for expats to live among the top 10 countries, leaving expats happy with the environment and climate, the plethora of leisure options, and most importantly safety & security.
It is without a doubt, that Portugal offers the lowest cost of living in Western Europe, compared to other countries such as France, Spain, and Germany. This is an important factor to consider when moving to Portugal, the country offers affordable accommodation, groceries, and utilities, and still leaves you a bit of a budget to indulge in a seafood dinner at an esplanada.
Portugal has a laid-back lifestyle; locals are known to enjoy life to the fullest! Apartments may be small in size compared to housing in North America, or the United Kingdom, but with over 3000 hours of sunshine per year, we doubt you will be spending most of your time indoors.
According to the 2022 Mercers Cost of Living Report, the capital city of Lisbon ranked 109th, as the most expensive city, ranking below major destination cities in Europe such as Paris (35th), London (15th), Barcelona (78th), and Rome (57th). This report is based on an analysis with a cost comparison of more than 200 items in each location, housing, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, and household items.
Let’s take a hard look at the cost comparison according to Mercer´s Cost of Living Report, ranked in the first place is Hong Kong, followed by Zurich in 2nd place, and ranked 3rd Geneva in Switzerland. If we look closely at the cost comparison breakdowns between Lisbon and Zurich, you will see that the city of Lisbon offers reasonable costs in all areas. Furthermore, cost comparison with largely populated cities such as New York and Dubai, Lisbon still has a considerably lower cost of living.
Accommodation will be the largest portion spent in your budget, depending of course on the selected location that you are planning to move to in Portugal. Properties range from land plots, apartments, or houses, townhouses, and condos to luxury villas. The closer and more central your housing is to city centers such as Lisbon, Porto, or oceanfront regions, such as Cascais, Lisbon South Bay, and the Algarve; the pricier the properties will be. This, of course, all depends on your scope of requirements for your dream home in Portugal, and the current real estate market.
There are no restrictions on foreigners to purchase a home in Portugal, the only requirement is to obtain a VAT identification number, known as the NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal or Número de Contribuinte); which can be achieved by opening a bank account or through a tax office in the country. Yet, if you have any doubts or need guidance, our After Sales services are here to guide you through fiscal information in Portugal. Property pricing in the interior region of Portugal can start at €40,000.00 for a land plot for a ruin reconstruction, interior regions that are low-population density are usually less expensive.
While as mentioned above, housing in coastal areas and city centers, land plots for example can range in price from €200,000 to €3,000,000.00. This is especially seen in the Algarve coastline, where you can build your luxury dream home along beautiful ocean-side views. Just to get an idea of the current values of apartments, and condos in city centers, varying from €180,000.00 for a T0 or studio apartment unit, and €395,000.00 for a T2 or 2-bed apartment unit, and luxury apartments can range up to €1,750,000.00 for T3 or 3 bedroom apartment unit that is fully renovated/brand new construction. While prices for townhouses range from the lowest price point of €880,000.00 up to €3,600,000.00 with all luxury amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centres, and access to concierge services.
Keep note, that the property pricing will always factor in its location, internal and external square footage, and most importantly, the current Portuguese Real Estate Market pricing per square footage.
Portugal Homes specializes in Real Estate and Investments in Portugal, voted as the Best Luxury Real Estate Investment Consultancy in Portugal by the Luxury Lifestyle Awards, and honoured by the International Property Awards as the Best Real Estate Office in Portugal, and Best Real Estate Website. Not only do we deliver luxury homes, apartments, and land plots for sale, but we are experts in the Portugal Golden Visa Programme, a visa programme aimed at individuals looking to establish businesses, start-ups, and property investment ventures.
Our CEOs provide in-depth knowledge and investment insights on the Portuguese Real Estate Market to clients worldwide in exclusive private meetings. Best of all, we provide a full circle of services ranging from Property and Investment Advisory, Project Development and Construction Services, After Sales with fiscal representation, property management, furnishing services, and more!
When it comes to grocery shopping in Portugal, we suggest firstly seeking out local Mercados for fresh produce, vegetables, fish & meats, and dairy products. Grocery shopping at local markets tends to be cheaper than supermarket chains such as Lidl, Aldi, Continente, Pingo Doce, or Auchan. In contrast, supermarkets can be more beneficial in promotions on other household products (i.e. household cleaning products, toiletries, etc.), which you can purchase in-store and online, especially by signing up to their membership club, you can benefit from additional weekly promotions on goods.
A monthly grocery bill on produce and goods can be around €100.00 a month, balanced between two different grocery shops. If you are looking for vegan options, Portugal is known to be a meat country, however, nowadays local supermarkets have a bio, and vegan aisle offering plenty of options with well-known vegan brands, and their in-house grocery line is usually half of the price! When cravings hit, there are many international food grocery shops throughout Portugal; ranging from Asian, Indian, and Brazilian, to American, and British. Also, an important reminder is to bring your own bag, as Portugal has implemented an additional tax on bag use in all types of shops, including supermarkets.
Portugal is considered an extremely safe country for expats, without a large amount of crime, which is a strong pro when relocating abroad; the Global Peace Index acknowledged Portugal as the 6th most peaceful country worldwide. Crime rates in Portugal are generally low, and most crimes are non-violent, along the lines of pickpocketing reports; always be aware of your surroundings, and personal belongings, aside from that Portugal is a breeze, even late at night. Portugal also has a strong police presence at all times, you can feel at liberty to request assistance if needed, to local authorities known as the PSP - Public Security Police, with the emergency line of 112.
Dining Out in Portugal is a wonderful experience; you have a multitude of gastronomy to select from, ranging from traditional Portuguese to fusion, international, and even Michelin-level cuisine! Budgets vary on cuisine style; we suggest beginning your journey through conventional Portuguese, as our cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest!
According to a study conducted by money.co.uk, the cities of Valencia, Madrid, and Lisbon were elected as the best places in the world to live and enjoy a pleasant and healthy life in 2021. Rankings were based upon life expectancy, cost of living, air pollution, obesity rates, safety, and endless sunshine.
Portugal has been acknowledged over the years for its amazing quality of public and private healthcare system; there are numerous private healthcare institutions to choose from that offer high-quality service, care, medical technologies, and treatments such as CUF, or Joaquim Chaves. These private entities offer affiliated insurance to allow additional discounts on medical treatments and appointments, usually at a cost of about €30.00 per month, and some services include dental, online doctor’s appointments and an at-home appointment.
However, our public healthcare system, the SNS - Servico Nacional da Saúde stands out for its vast amount of essential medical services being offered to Portuguese, and residents free of charge, and offering low-cost pharmaceuticals; this is a clear indication of Portugal´s ranking on 17th at the 2021 World Index of Healthcare Innovation. In order to qualify for the free SNS health services, you must show your Portuguese Identification Card (Cartão do Cidadão - CC), which you can apply for at Loja do Cidadão by showing your residency status, and proof. Best of all, Portuguese healthcare centers, hospitals, and local pharmacies offer assistance in English in order to provide proper medical care to visitors, especially during emergency situations.
Portugal is a great country to move to with family, offering a both public, private, and international educational institution system that is fit for every budget! Should you wish to raise your children in a multicultural setting, the best is to enroll your children in an international school; that way they can learn the Portuguese language, and also maintain their native roots. In higher education, Portugal has been recently acknowledged by the Financial Times, as having the four best business management educational institutions in the world! This is an amazing distinction from the Financial Times, proving that Portugal offers a high-quality & calibre education system.
The Portuguese job market suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, much like the rest of the world, many people lost their jobs and had to resort to a period of unemployment from 2020-2021; which is starting to vanish in 2022, as the world began to live once more. The INE- Instituto Nacional de Estatística indicates a rise in employment in the 2nd quarter of 2022, especially seen in the tourism sector.
As an expat, employment opportunities in Portugal can be found in sectors such as customer support, IT, healthcare, and tourism. Should you be interested in going into a business venture, start-up, or even an investment opportunity, this can be viable with the Golden Visa Portugal Programme, as it will be an option in obtaining temporary residency, with immediate effect of visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, and also being able to have family inclusion.
Portugal also features Ponta do Sol Village, in the archipelago of Madeira, Europe’s first Digital Nomad Village, where since its grand opening in 2021 more than 3000 people have registered.
First and foremost, do your due diligence on researching Portugal, create a list of location spots you want to potentially live in, and get in touch with a fellow expat already living in Portugal for general information on housing, best neighborhoods that suit your particular needs and lifestyle for you, your loved one and family.
If you are not from an EU/EEA country, then you will require a Visa to enter Portugal, especially if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you can apply for a short-term visa and stay up to a year. However, there are multiple Visa options available for Portugal, and they all vary on your intent, and of course, would you wish to permanently live in Portugal.
For individuals looking to establish businesses, startups, and property investment ventures, the Golden Visa Portugal Programme can be a viable option in obtaining temporary residency, with the immediate effect of visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, and also being able to have family inclusion.
NON-HABITUAL RESIDENCY (NHR)
The Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) Programme is also a great option for EU professionals employed or self-employed, who are willing to receive their income completely tax-free for 10 consecutive years. Another advantage will also be a 20% flat rate for certain Portuguese source incomes (from specific professions as well as income from self-employment), as opposed to normal Portuguese income tax rates of up to 48%. Check out the whole list of eligible professions here.
TEMPORARY STAY VISA
The Temporary Visa offers up to a 1-year stay in Portugal; and is eligible for renewal for 2-year periods. For this visa, the individual must show a minimum earning of €635.00 per month to prove financial ability to afford the cost of living and accommodation in Portugal. This proof will be according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the completion of a statement of responsibility.
The Residency Visa is valid for 4 months, allowance for 2 entries; the individual must place an application for a residency permit, which is valid for 2 years with SEF Immigration and Border Services.
Finding the best financial institution in Portugal is key, especially in the future when you are planning to purchase or rent a home, work in the country, and as an expat will require continuous banking services in Portugal. There are over 150 financial institutions operating in the country, including public, and private retail banks and cooperatives, and investment banking.
Let’s take a look at the most prominent financial institutions and the services they cater to.
Banco de Portugal
Banco de Portugal is the country’s main central bank, which controls financial organizations, insurance institutions, credit brokers, pension funds, and investment funds.
Caixa Geral de Depósitos - CGD
The CGD is a public bank that operates nationally and internationally in 23 countries; including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, and China. Their services range from individual and business banking, providing deposits, corporate, and consumer loans, mortgages, car loans, and life and property insurance.
The Millenium Bank operates nationally, with its main headquarters in Porto, and internationally in Poland, Angola, Mozambique, and Macau. Their services range from deposits, loans, insurance, savings, and investments. Millennium BCP is also recognized for having a reliable online banking service, where clients can easily make payments, etc through their online banking system.
Novobanco is a private bank with more than 350 branches located in Portugal; which offers a wide range of services from life and home insurance, to real estate loans and investments.
Banco Santander Totta
Banco Santander Totta is based in Lisbon, with over 370 branches throughout Portugal, providing banking services to individuals and companies. Santander provides Loans, Insurance, Personal Savings and Retirement, deposits, and investment banking.
Banco Portugues de Investimentos - BPI
BPI is known as an investment bank providing several services for individuals and businesses, such as loans, deposits, overdrafts, life and property insurance, and brokerage services.
When you are planning to move to Portugal, making sure your existing driver´s license is eligible is essential, as the rules change once you acquire your official Portuguese residence permit. According to the IMT (Instituto de Mobilidade e dos Transportes), there are certain time frames to apply for a driving license according to your nationality.
For European Union (EU), and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, your current driver’s license is eligible until expiry. However, you are required to register your address in Portugal with IMT services within 60 days of settling in Portugal, this service is free of charge.
The following documents are required for IMT Driving Permit Registration:
Residency Permit or Communication of Residency
This will be made by the City Council of your district according to your address, should you not hold a Portuguese Identification Card yet (Cartão do Cidadão CC).
Existing Driving License
For Driving Categories C/D/E which applies to large-scale vehicles, etc.
As for drivers holding a non-EU license, you will be required to apply/exchange for a Portuguese Drivers license. For the first 6 months, a non-EU national can drive with its current license, and within 185 days after obtaining your residence in Portugal, you must request to apply for a Portuguese driver’s license. Depending on where your original driver’s license was issued, there are different requirements.
CPLP state members (Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Sao Tome & Principe) and OECD state members (Australia, Canada, Chile, Republic of Korea, United States of America, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, UK, Switzerland, and Turkey) are eligible to drive in Portugal without having to exchange to a Portuguese driver´s license.
Nationals from OECD and CPLP countries are welcome to exchange their existing license would they choose to, however by law it is not mandatory; eligible to drive in Portugal until document’s expiration date.
The following documents for Non-EU Nationals (excludes OECD & CPLP) are required for IMT Driver´s License Exchange:
ID Documentation/ Proof of Residency Permit
Copy of existing Driving License
Digital Medical Certificate
Mandatory medical assessment by a medical practitioner to provide an electronic medical certificate proving that you are physically able to drive. This certificate will be automatically sent to the IMT electronically upon request by your MD.
For Driving Categories C/D/E which applies to large-scale vehicles, etc.
Certified Translation of existing Drivers License
This is only applicable should the content be in any other language other than Portuguese, French, English, or Spanish. Certification must be made by the Portuguese Consulate/Consular Services.
Should you plan on moving to Portugal and living in the city center of Lisbon, or Porto; the best way to move around will be with its public transportation system, varying from metro, train, buses, and electric trams that are available at affordable monthly rates, and efficient. You can easily travel around the city without a car, as parking may be costly over time, and with the country’s historically narrow streets, it may be incredibly difficult to easily find parking.
The Portuguese language is the fifth most spoken language in the world, and the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor.
When you are moving to Portugal, take advantage of joining a class to learn the language, it will make life easier while you adjust to living in the country, and efforts to speak Portuguese will always be graciously received, although, if ever in despair; not to fret as Portugal is considered to have one of the highest English-speaking populations in Europe, ranked in 2021, in 7th place!
Portugal also has implemented free Portuguese language classes at schools throughout the country, and there is a Portuguese language test, called the CIPLE Exam, if you wish to hold permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship. If you prefer to seek out a private tutor or institution to learn Portuguese, there are numerous language schools to choose from across the country. Portuguese language courses vary from about €150 (20 lessons/30H) to €780 for private classes (30H), at the well-known language center CIAL.
When you are living in Portugal, you will get a chance to experience the rich Portuguese culture that shows love and appreciation for the arts, music, dance, and drama, both modernist and traditional. The cultural scene is lively, and thriving with a multitude of activities to experience, from Fado, street art, hand-painted tile work, religious landmarks, theater shows, and plenty of music festivals.
For an art lover, the search for a museum is endless as Portugal has over 600 museums, 386 of which are public institutions that feature extensive collections of historical artifacts. One museum worth visiting will be the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, considered to feature the world’s finest private art collections. Best of all, museums in Lisbon are free on Sundays, and holidays until 14:00 (2 pm) for residents.
Portugal is also home to poets, most famously Luís Vaz de Camões in his epic literary work, Os Lusíadas, which depicts the story of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama on his route to India in 1497, during the Age of Discovery. Another famous Portuguese writer, poet, and philosopher from Lisbon, Fernando Pessoa created over 70 heteronyms, each distinct in personality and writing style; you can see his statue in Baixa-Chiado, sitting in front of the famous coffee shop ´A Brasileira´.
Another great cultural activity that is free of charge, and great for newcomers is venturing into the eight hills of Lisbon to the Miradouros, where you can witness wonderful views of the city, and join in with the locals for an evening of sunset-watching. Portugal offers a wide range of cultural experiences, from the Algarve’s best beach destinations to visiting the Douro River boat cruises and wine tasting in Porto. The choices are absolutely endless and ever-enriching!
This country offers a plethora of culture, sights, and activities, along with its extensive rich history, besides its amazing quality of life, climate, and cuisine, the most prominent characteristic will be its people. The Portuguese are warm-hearted, family-oriented folks that love to enjoy life and hold a laid-back attitude to life. It is no wonder that Portugal is considered one of the best countries for expat living; once you visit, you will love, and stay!
Now that you have made your big decision to move to Portugal, we will give insight into the most popular locations in Portugal that expats tend to live in! Portugal Homes presents you with the most favourable Lisbon neighbourhoods, seaside towns near Lisbon for those looking to have a balance of both city life and beach vibes, and finally, cities within the Faro district in the Algarve region, that are notable for their exquisite nature, coastline, and peaceful living.
Located on the west coast of Portugal, the capital of Lisbon offers the perfect lifestyle for anyone looking to live in a city but to also experience the relaxation of spending a day at the beach. This historic city offers plenty to see and do, some of the top restaurants and bars in Europe and so much more! Lisbon is easily accessible by air (Lisbon Portela Airport), train and car from all major cities in and around Europe.
Get to know the Best Lisbon Neighborhoods
Exploring Cascais & Sintra Area
Cascais is considered a coastal resort area in Portugal, located just west of Lisbon. A traditional fishing town that has grown in popularity among tourists and is widely known for its sandy beaches, busy marina, abundant seafood restaurants, and relaxing atmosphere. Historically, the town of Cascais was made as a popular seaside destination in the 1870s when King Luis I of Portugal and his Royal court made the seaside fishing town it’s summer residence. The town showcases beautiful renaissance architectural sights dating back to the 17th century, such as the Palácio dos Condes de Castro Guimarães, Palacete Seixas, Casa Lencastre, or Casa de Santa Maria. The coastline of Cascais is home to about 17 beaches to delight in, the most popular destinations being Guincho Beach and Carcavelos Beach, where most surfers are drawn to due to amazing waves! Cascais is the perfect place to get away from the big city, whether it be a weekend escape, or an upcoming property investment by the seaside.
While in the magnificent town of Sintra, featuring breathtaking historic palaces and castles, all set around the lush tall hills of the Sintra mountains. Once the royal town of the country, Sintra has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status and recognised for its incredible history and cultural importance. In the 19th century, Sintra became the first centre of European Romantic architecture by Ferdinand II but has architecture that dates all the way back to the Moorish empire.
Get to know the Best Cascais - Sintra Neighborhoods
Exploring the Algarve Region
The Algarve is continental Portugal’s southernmost region, bathed by the Atlantic sea at its western and southern borders. It was from the Algarve, at Sagres Point, that Prince Henry “The Navigator” launched the Portuguese Age of Maritime Discoveries in the mid-1400s. Best known for its amazing soft climate, with plenty of sun throughout the year, this region’s very pleasant weather allows you to discover its gorgeous coastline against which the ocean presents itself with all colours available in the blue spectrum. Almost always calm and warm, it invites for a long swim or to try some nautical sports. Most of the 4 million tourists that travel to the Algarve each year enter through Faro’s Airport.
Get to know the Best Faro Neighborhoods