Living in Portugal as an Expat | 8 Best Places in Portugal

It is perhaps not surprising that nearly eight in ten expats (79%) are typically satisfied living in Portugal as an expat with local socializing and leisure activities given Portugal’s high position for quality of life.

Almost all respondents (94%) indicate they are content with the weather and climate, with 84%) admitting they thought about this as a potential perk even before relocating to the nation. Given Portugal’s moderate winters and bright summers, such outcomes may be predicted.

 The high level of personal safety respondents feel—73 percent of respondents assess this characteristic as very good—is another element that helps Portugal earn such an amazing position in the Quality of Life Index.
In addition, 85 percent of living in Portugal as an expat—18 % points more than the global average—believe that Portugal’s medical system provides typically high-quality care (67 percent ).
  • Blue Skies and Warm Smiles
  • Friendly and Welcoming Locals
  • Good Work-Life Balance, but Poor Career Prospects
  • Affordable Cost of Living Attracts Expats
  • Happy Families All-Around

Portugal is a secure country. It’s an excellent area to raise a family and has a high degree of quality of life since the people are wonderful and have helped us in all aspects without reservation.

This practical expat guide to Portugal will assist you in getting started if you are also thinking about relocating there. Learn the fundamentals of moving to Portugal, such as where to stay, how to organize your finances, and how to pay for medical costs.

Table of Content:

  1. Living in Portugal as an Expat:
  2. Where Do Expats Live in Portugal?
  3. Best Places Living in Portugal as an Expat:
  4. Become an Expat in Portugal:
  5. Where will you find Expats Living in Portugal?

Living in Portugal as an Expat:

Living in Portugal as an Expat

Beyond the great weather and outstanding golf amenities, there are several very compelling reasons why Portugal is so generally recognized as a desirable place to live. Among other well-known southern European destinations, the country stands out for its stunning coastline, healthy way of life, and affordability.

What to expect from living in Portugal as an Expat?

Portuguese culture is characterized by a strong emphasis on family and is predominately Catholic. It also has a rich history and great fresh food.

The constructed and natural landscapes are also very alluring. White-washed homes decorated with vibrant tiles are common in urban areas. Portugal has not fared as well in modern times.

As of 2020, there will be about 661,000 foreigners living in Portugal, or about 6.5 percent of the country’s overall population.

Living in Portugal as an Expat for non-EU citizens:

Without a visa, nationals of the nations that have visa reciprocity agreements with the EU may visit Portugal and remain there for up to 90 days as tourists. This applies to those from the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, and other nations.

You must apply for a visa and follow the immigration procedures established for all non-EU nationals in order to live and work in Portugal.

Portugal’s Golden Visa Route:

Portugal’s Golden Visa path, whereby you invest €500,000 in property there and receive a residency visa for a family with dependent children, is a speedier choice for living in Portugal as an expat.

But starting in January 2022, buying a home in Lisbon, Porto, or a coastal region like the majority of the Algarve won’t make you eligible for residency.

Portugal D7 Residency Visa:

For pensioners and those with steady investment income, this is the best path to residency in Portugal and Living in Portugal as an Expat.

In order to be eligible for this form of visa, you must have a substantial passive income. Pensions, real estate rents, investments, dividends, and other sources of income are all possibilities.

The pros and cons of living in Portugal as an expat:

Expats in Portugal: The freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the languid pace of life, damp and rainy winters, and other disadvantages also exist.


The following are the key benefits of living in Portugal as an expat:

  • 1. Amazing golf
  • 2. The weather and climate are superb
  • 3. Brilliant surfing
  • 4. Lower property prices
  • 5. Natural beauty
  • 6. No stress lifestyle
  • 7. Healthy food
  • 8. Low crime
  • 9. Low cost of living
  • 10. A wealth of culture and heritage


  • 1. There is no need to act immediately.
  • 2. Portuguese fatalism or Fado culture
  • 3. The language is difficult to learn
  • 4. The red tape is maddening
  • 5. Haphazard driving

Where Do Expats Live in Portugal?

Consider relocating to Setbal if you desire a smaller town lifestyle with a cheaper cost of living yet still close to the main city. This charming beach town is perfectly near to Lisbon and offers everything you could possibly want.

Porto, another lifestyle hotspot in Portugal, too has a large expat population.

Of course, the Algarve is another popular city living in Portugal an expat with a sizable population of British, Scandinavian, French, Brazilian, and other expatriates.

Cost of living in Portugal as an expat:

Overall, including rent, life in Portugal is 34% less expensive than in the UK.

Portugal has lower average prices for purchasing real estate than the UK does nationwide.

Two individuals can live comfortably in Portugal starting from roughly £1,600 a month depending on the location if you plan to rent (which, initially, is a smart idea).

About Food:

Portugal, a country in southern Europe, is known for its outstanding cured meats and cheeses, which have been made there for centuries, as well as for its way of life that includes daily fresh bread and its rich culinary tradition.

Is Living in Portugal as an expats Safe?

Portugal is renowned for being a very safe place, coming in fourth place on the Vision of Humanity 2021 Global Peace Index.

Due to the extremely low incidence of sexual harassment, it is also one of the safest places in the world for women. It is also one of the safest places in the world to stroll alone at night, which attracts many solitary travelers.

The risk of earthquakes and tsunamis should be understood by foreign nationals residing in Portugal.

Best Places Living in Portugal as an Expat:

Best Places Living in Portugal as an Expat

Here are some of the greatest areas living in Portugal as an expat, whether you want to live in the center of a busy metropolis or enjoy a laid-back lifestyle by the sea. Let’s see what are the best places in portugal for living.

1. Lisbon:

Lisbon is a clear lure for many expats relocating to Portugal because of its recognizable cobblestone streets and stunning ancient buildings.

The second-oldest capital in Europe, this attractive city will enchant you with its rich history, centuries-old architecture, vibrant Portuguese tiles, and liberal outlook.

It is simple to travel the city and take advantage of the many local attractions available thanks to efficient public transportation connections and a thriving local labor market.

2. Chaves:

The small rural village of Chaves, which translates to “key,” is 10 km south of the Spanish border and serves as a historic entryway into Portugal. It is renowned for having a large number of spas and thermal baths, which are thought to have therapeutic qualities.

Although real estate in Chaves costs a fraction of what it does in Lisbon, the summers there are shorter and the winters are colder. However, thanks to the several airports in the area, your next sunny vacation is never far away.

3. Porto:

The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto is situated near the mouth of the Douro River and has its own airport. The city is regarded as a cultural and entertainment hub that may compete with Lisbon.

The cost of real estate is less expensive outside the city center, and there are many different types of lodging options, including family homes and apartments.

Campanha, which is located just outside the city center, and Ribeira, one of Porto’s liveliest neighborhoods and a portion of the historic center, are additional popular expat neighborhoods.

4. Braga:

Braga, which is in the north of Portugal, is the oldest and third-largest city thereafter Lisbon and Porto. The tiny streets that are dotted with bustling cafés and upscale shops define this charming city.

In the city’s ancient quarter, properties rarely come up for sale, but foreigners looking for a laid-back lifestyle and affordable pricing can find them in the northern quarter and the areas closest to the Universidade do Minho.

5. Aveiro:

Aveiro, which is located in the middle of Portugal, is frequently referred to as the Venice of Portugal because of its exquisite canals, Nouveau architecture, and vibrant gondolas.

In recent years, the city center has undergone extensive redevelopment, adding additional pedestrianized zones to encourage walkers and bikers. As a result, it has gained popularity among expats looking for a calm, family-friendly setting with less traffic.

6. Coimbra:

Halfway between Lisbon and Porto, Coimbra served as Portugal’s medieval capital for more than a century and is the location of the University of Coimbra, the nation’s oldest and most esteemed institution of higher learning (UC). Coimbra has a sizable expat community and is incredibly well-liked by retirees due to its affordable cost of living and good standard of living.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to find a home to live in Coimbra, and you have a wide range of possibilities to pick from based on your tastes.

7. Setúbal:

Setubal is a port city that attracts both visitors and expats due to its proximity to Lisbon.

The Portuguese sardine business is centered in this prosperous medieval town, which is also well-known for its sweet Moscatel wine. Numerous tourists are drawn to the city year-round by its eerie lanes, tree-lined boulevards, and vibrant food markets. Additionally, it is simple to understand why expats decide to reside here given the variety of property types available and the affordable rates.

Although moderately priced, homes near the port are much sought after by the locals that work there. However, foreign nationals with larger finances frequently select to reside in the more pricey apartment buildings nearer to the beaches.

8. The Algarve:

The Algarve region, which is situated between Faro and Sagres, is home to some of Portugal’s most stunning beaches and golf resorts. It comes as no surprise that the region is a popular tourist destination and is home to thousands of expats given the area’s beautiful weather for most of the year.

Despite the abundance of vacation-home projects in the Central Algarve, there are always more choices beyond the city. This is perfect for expats looking to live in less developed areas and enjoy a slower pace of life. It also has an international airport, which makes returning home simple.

Become an Expat in Portugal:

Become an Expat in Portugal

Being an expat in Portugal involves a lot of planning, just like any major life transition. Americans can go to Portugal for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period because it is a member of the Schengen Area. You could even be able to obtain citizenship by ancestry from an EU member nation if your ancestors are from Europe!

Are you an EU citizen?

The ability to live in another country that is an EU member is a big perk of being born in an EU member state. However, you will need to fill out a registration certificate with the local authorities if you intend to stay in Portugal for longer than 90 days. You must stay in the country for at least five years straight if your move is intended to be permanent.

Moving to Portugal after Brexit:

The requirements for British nationals planning to live in Portugal as expats have altered as a result of Brexit.

Residency in Portugal:

Contacting your local consulate or embassy to learn more about the visa you want to apply for and to submit your application is the first step in establishing residency in Portugal. After that, you can apply for a two-year residency permit in Portugal, which can be extended for another two years. You can apply for permanent residency after five years of residence in the nation.

Do you speak English Living in Portugal as an Expat?

English is commonly spoken throughout the nation, particularly in regions that cater heavily to tourists, such as The Algarve, Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira, or that have a large number of expats.

The proportion of Portuguese citizens who speak other languages is as follows:

Language Percentage population (2011)

  • Portuguese 95.6%
  • English 14.8%
  • French 10.3%
  • Spanish 6.9%
  • German 1.2%

Where will you find Expats Living in Portugal?

Cities in Portugal are by far the most preferred location for expatriates. Lisbon, the nation’s capital, and Porto, which has a population of 215,000 each, draw tourists from all over the world to their historic structures, carefree lifestyles, and vibrant cultures. According to Mercer’s 2019 city rankings, Lisbon was placed 37th in the world for quality of living, and The Telegraph named it the fourth-greatest city in the world.

In Lisbon, foreigners make up over half of the population (42%) whereas foreigners make up 7.9 percent of the population in Porto.

A number of banks, including some of the biggest banking firms in the world, are located in Portugal. Foreigners coming to Portugal might want to think about banking with:

  • novobanco
  • Banco CTT
  • CGD
  • Banco Best
  • Millennium BCP
  • Banco Santander


How much money do I need to live comfortably in Portugal?

In various regions of the nation, expats can easily live for between $1500 and $2000 per month. You must include these costs in your budget if you have costly taste, travel frequently, or purchase other luxuries on the side.

For Americans relocating to Portugal, little university towns like Coimbra and the medieval city of Braga are some of the most affordable locations.

Do expats pay taxes and can buy property in Portugal?

If a foreign national moves to Portugal and stays for more than 183 days a year, they must pay taxes in their new country. The Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) tax structure is quite appealing to foreigners. However, the NHR has been updated as of April 2020 to incorporate a 10% tax on overseas pension income (including social security).

The Portuguese government introduced the Golden Visa option for expats to attract foreigners to purchase real estate. This is the simplest method, if you have the resources, to purchase real estate and obtain EU citizenship.

What are some of the challenges you have to face living in Portugal as an Expat?

Getting acclimated to life’s leisurely pace. Things go more slowly and take longer because family and friends come first. What wonderful priorities, yes?

You learn not to schedule more than one or two things in a day as it is not enjoyable to wait for the doorbell to ring in order to switch on the gas or air conditioning.

Additionally, Portuguese people dislike breaking unpleasant news. You might have to wait for a contractor or service provider if they are unable to arrive on time or complete the project within a certain amount of time. They’d prefer not to show up than to deliver terrible news.

You can be proactive and say that you require their confirmation and that they convey the terrible news. Learn to relax and to ask clear, quantitative inquiries. It moves more slowly here.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of moving to Portugal?

  • It is not a smart idea to bring an automobile to Portugal.
  • To locate the ideal atmosphere for you, make sure to rent apartments in a range of towns and regions throughout Portugal.
  • To get the best exchange rates and withdraw money from the ATMs here without paying any fees, open a bank and brokerage account with Schwab.
  • Install WhatsApp on your phone. Since the calling, SMS, and data plans are pricey, the majority of people use them here.

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