Should You Move to Portugal? 

Jacquelyn Vadnais
Last Edited Mar 28, 2023

Portugal is a wonderful and vibrant society that has existed for centuries. Those expats that are looking for a slower pace of life with an established culture and history should absolutely consider moving to Portugal. Portugal offers a wonderful location in Europe with mountains, spectacular beaches, and architecture from past eras. The cultural prominence and beauty aside, it is important to carefully research whether living in Portugal is an ideal situation for your particular circumstances as an expat.

So, before you move to Portugal, here are a few key points you must remember.

Living In Portugal Pros And Cons

Portugal is considered one of the best countries to live in. However, living here does come with its fair share of disadvantages. Some of the pros and cons of living here are listed below:


Here are some advantages of moving to Portugal:

1. Warm Climate

Portugal is ideal for anyone who loves the outdoors and the natural world. The climate is warm, with more than 300 sunny days each year. Even in winter, the average temperature is 14.7 °C, and there is sunlight for around 10 hours each day.

2. Low Cost Of Living

Portugal has a lower cost of living than other major European countries like Spain, Germany, France, the UK, Scotland, and Ireland. Everything is much more affordable here, including rent and groceries.

3. Low Crime Rate

Portugal was ranked fourth on the list of safest countries in the world by the 2022 Global Peace Index. It has a very low crime rate, which could be due to strict law enforcement and stability in the political climate.

The people in Portugal are warm and welcoming. They are good neighbours to everyone, even expats and immigrants. They share presents like wine and home-grown tomatoes and are always ready to chat.

4. Quality Education

Portugal has one of the best education systems in the world. Students receive a high-quality education in schools and universities, and courses are taught in English and Portuguese.

All European Union countries accept the degrees acquired from Portuguese universities, making it easier for students to find jobs.

The Portuguese education system is also comparatively very cheap. Portuguese citizens receive free education, and legal residents can also enrol their kids in Portuguese schools.

5. Healthcare

Portugal spends around 9.5% of its annual GDP on healthcare facilities. Citizens and residents can use public hospitals for treatment for free. However, if you choose private healthcare facilities, you get better-quality treatment and a higher level of service. But private facilities can be slightly more expensive.

6. Tax Benefits

People who have stayed for 183 days in Portugal can obtain the NHR  (non-habitual resident) tax regime. The status offers several tax benefits, like no tax on income earned abroad, special personal income tax treatment over the next decade, a 20% interest rate on some income sourced in Portuguese, and more.

7. Easy Buy Property

Foreigners do not have to fulfil any special requirements to be eligible to buy property in Portugal. Additionally, acquiring a property worth €500,000 or more will take you a step closer to obtaining the “Golden visa” for the country. Also, real estate is affordable and booming. Whether you are looking for a small apartment or a villa by the beach, a little hunt will land you the house of your dreams.

8. English Is The Second Language

If you don’t know Portuguese, don’t worry. You will always find someone around the corner who speaks English.

9. Many Immigration Schemes Offer Residency

The Portugal immigration procedure is pretty straightforward. The Portugal government is very welcoming of immigrants and makes procedures like obtaining a visa and permit very easy.


1. Portuguese Is A Must In Government Offices

While you can get around Portugal without knowing Portuguese, the same will not work in a government office. Portuguese is the only language that the majority of the government’s officials are able to communicate in.

2. Need To Carry Cash

Many places in Portugal do not accept international bank cards like MasterCard and Visa. So, before visiting a place, you need to confirm if your card is accepted, and if not, you will have to carry cash.

3. Local Salaries Are Very Low

While the cost of living is low, so are the salaries. Working for a foreign company or starting your own business are the only two options that will allow you to live comfortably in Portugal if you move there.

4. Relaxed Life Pace

While it is good to have a relaxed lifestyle, Portugal is too relaxed. Locals can be unpunctual, and shops can close for several hours in the middle of a working day without any reason. Also, paperwork, even the simple ones like a driving license, can take a lot of time.

5. No Central Heating

Unlike other European countries, Portugal does not have a central heating system. To fight the cold, you will have to buy a portable heater.

Living In Portugal As An Expat

Stats have repeatedly confirmed that Portugal is an Expat special country, with its popularity increasing every year.

The provisional results stated that the foreign population in Portugal was 40% higher in 2021 compared to 2011.

Recent stats from December 2022 show that the foreign population reached its highest value, around 700,000, with residents making up around 6.8% of Portugal’s total population. This is the seventh time in a row that the population of foreigners has increased in Portugal.

And although Portugal ranks 18 on the list of 25 European countries with the highest number of foreign residents, the country’s steady growth is lifting it higher on the ladder each year.

The five largest immigrant population groups in Portugal are:

  1. Brazil (233,138)
  2. United Kingdom (36,639)
  3. Cape Verde (35,744)
  4. India (34,232)
  5. Italy (33,707)

These stats are from the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), which also states that there has been an 8.3% rise in the foreign population in 2022 when compared to the previous year. Also, the immigrant communities showing the highest amount of growth were those from Brazil and India.

It is important to note that the steady increase in foreign populations is due to the many welcoming and technical aspects that Portugal has to offer. Besides having great weather, food, an excellent education and medical system, tax benefits, and low crime rates, the country has a high percentage of an English-speaking population.

Most people in Portugal know basic English instructions and are always ready to help foreigners. Portugal also has a free translation service available through a simple phone call.

Portugal is perfect for retirees, couples, bachelors, and even families. It is a place you can fall in love with and make your permanent home.

Cost Of Living In Portugal

The low cost of living is one of the main reasons for the rising foreign population. When compared to the United States, Portugal has a 35.6% lower cost of living and a 51.9% lower rent, according to Numbeo. It is argued to be the most affordable country in Europe.

A family of four can live comfortably at a monthly cost of $2,230.9 (€2,059.1) without rent, and a single person can live comfortably on $641.5 (€592.1).

Prices for some of the basic needs and necessities are:

 Cost in Portugal
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city$836.61
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city$638.67
Rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city$1,410.18
Rent for a three-bedroom apartment outside the city$1,021.94
1 lb of rice$0.55
1 lb Loaf of Fresh White Bread$1.18
1 gallon of milk$3.23
One dozen of eggs$2.44
Internet connection$37.88
Basic Monthly Utilities inclusive of electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage (for 915 sq. ft apartment)$122.32
Meal for one in an inexpensive restaurant$9.75
Three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant$43.34

Top 7 Places To Live In Portugal

If you have decided to move to Portugal, here are the top 7 cities you must consider.

1. Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, and like any other big city, it has all the amenities one could need. It is a bustling city with thriving nightlife and an LGBT+ community. With the best universities and medical facilities, Lisbon is perfect for families, retirees, youngsters, and couples.

The bustling city is full of activities to do and places to visit. It has one of the highest populations of foreigners due to high job availability and better pay. If you are looking forward to working in Portugal, Lisbon must also be at the top of your list.

Locals here are well-versed in English, and restaurants and cafés have high-speed internet for remote workers and nomads.

However, there is one slight drawback to living in Lisbon—it is comparatively costlier than other Portugal cities. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are $735.2 (€674.2) without rent. And property prices are high as well. But as you move away from the city centre, prices drop considerably.

2. Porto

Porto is located in the northern part of Portugal, on the banks of the River Douro. This beautiful city is the second largest in Portugal and has many tourist attractions.

The city is famous for its architecture. The city’s traditional Portuguese tiles and charming cobbled streets have attracted many tourists to date.

Another thing that Porto is famous for is its food scene. The restaurants and cafés here have a diverse collection of food and drinks. With confectionery, sandwiches, and 3-course meals, Porto never disappoints. Another beverage that is big in Porto is coffee. Locals boast about the coffee available here and claim that it rivals coffee anywhere in the world.

Porto is great for immigrants looking for a job. The city has become a hub for start-ups, with entrepreneurs from around the world investing in labour here.

Porto is also comparatively cheap. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are $685.3 (€628.5) without rent.

3. Algarve

The Algarve is one of the best places to live in Europe due to its low cost of living and scenic beauty. Most times, people are discouraged due to the high level of tourism in the area, but the pristine beaches and dramatic coastlines will make you instantly fall in love with the beautiful place.

As opposed to the common belief of chaos, the place is quite relaxed with a rural vibe. However, it still has trendy restaurants, cafés and plenty of historical sites to explore.

However, the place does not have many job opportunities and is best for pensioners and expats. A couple living in the Algarve will have to spend around €800–€1,200 per month.

4. Lagos

Lagos is a coastal town in the Algarve, often considered a gateway to the region. The city is built on the banks of Rio Bensafrim and attracts tourists and immigrants alike. It has stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife.

The clubs and bars are open past midnight, and the cafés and restaurants put up big screens when Portugal competes. The city’s evenings are always cheerful and happy, with concerts and musical performances taking place.

Lagos is another hotspot for expats due to its proximity to the beaches. It has a great transport facility and an English-speaking expat population.

However, it has a tourist-focused economy and does not have many job options for immigrants. Also, Lagos is costlier than other towns in Algarve. A single person will have to shell out around $603.4 monthly without including rent.

5. Madeira/Funchal

Madeira is a Portuguese island that is becoming increasingly popular with tourists. It is an autonomous island that is only connected to Portugal in a technical sense.

It is a famous tourist location and the place of choice for expats who love beautiful beaches and warm climates. The island’s biggest city, Funchal, is the sixth-largest city in Portugal.

The best part of living in Funchal, other than the amazing climate and location, is the cost of living. It is one of the cheapest cities in Portugal, and a single person’s living cost is around $628 monthly.

Also, being a big tourist attraction can be an advantage or a setback. It is advantageous for immigrants looking to set up business and disadvantageous for expats who travel to distant places for peace and quiet.

6. Faro

Faro is the capital of the Algarve. It is a coastal city with an amazing climate and delicious seafood. Unlike its neighbours, Faro has high-rise apartments, a modern shopping centre, and an international airport. So, it is more of a big city with easy access to amenities.

The city of Faro is high on tourism and students. So, it is always bustling with energy, especially when the students are around. The city has a very relaxed vibe and a slow pace of life. Also, access to beaches is easy, with many boat and bus rides running daily.

The city also attracts historians from all around the world. One of the famous spots is the city wall. It forms a ring around the city’s old town. Other historic locations worth checking out are the Roman Temple Ruins, the town square, and the historic centre.

Property prices are lower in Faro, and the cost of living is around €2600 for a family of four.

7. Braga

The oldest city of Portugal, Braga, has ample historical sites to be fascinated by. It is the third-largest city and much more affordable than Lisbon and Porto.

It is a beautiful city that transports you back in time. There are medieval buildings, old cathedrals, historic Roman ruins, quirky shops, restaurants, and cafés.

It is a quiet city that is becoming very popular with expats. It has a thriving nightlife and proximity to the sea, mountains, and Spain. This affordable city will set you back $576.4 per month.

Wrapping Up

Portugal is very famous among expats, retirees, and even students. It has great weather and proximity to the beach, which attracts immigrants from all over the world. It is great for families with children due to the low crime rate, great education system, and low cost of living. Due to all these reasons, the percentage of immigrants in Portugal is at an all-time high.


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