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Moving to Portugal? A Guide to Portuguese Living, An Expat’s Guide

Information for Expats Moving to Portugal

The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal is a historical, storied place. Boasting proximity to Spain and access to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is a place that’s ripe with history, natural beauty, delicious food, and plenty of friendly citizens to help you get acclimated, so it’s no wonder you’re thinking about moving to this beautiful area. Unless you plan well, however, moving to Portugal can be a difficult situation. Here’s what you need to know to make the transition smoother: Portuguese citizens are notoriously gracious, friendly, and approachable. Because Portugal is a point of entry into the Schengen travel zone, this area sees visitors from around the world and boasts a large and thriving expat community. Portugal is located at the axis of three continents – Africa, Europe, and America – it’s easy to get anywhere in the world from the Portuguese airport systems. What’s more, the capital of Portugal is just a two-hour flight from Paris, and it’s easy to navigate throughout the country on Portugal’s extensive and beautiful public road system. Finally, Portugal’s simple tax rules, high standard of living, high wages, and ample real estate make it a popular destination for expats from around the world.

Getting Your Paperwork in Order

The first thing you’ll have to do when you decide to move to Portugal is get your paperwork in order. Portugal can be a difficult country to gain legal citizenship in, so it’s important to ensure you start the journey correctly from the get-go. If you’re a foreign citizen attempting to enter Portugal, you’ll be required to meet the Schengen rules, as set forth by the Portuguese government. If you’re trying to relocate to Portugal for more than three months, however, you’ll be required to meet the visa requirements according to the Portuguese legislation. Because the rules of entry into Portugal vary depending upon your unique immigration status and conditions, it’s wise to consult with Portuguese officials before you start planning your move. If you are a foreign citizen that intends to stay in Portugal for a year or more, you’re required to request a long-stay visa or a residence visa. You can do this at the Portuguese embassy in your home country. Keep in mind that permits can be sought for work, study, and professional training. Finally, if you’re a national of a European Union Member State, you may have the benefit of a free travel agreement, as long as you possess a Schengen visa. Keep in mind, however, that you may be required to register with the Border Service upon your arrival. As is true with gaining a visa to any country, it’s important to keep yourself organized and be prepared to submit copies of relevant documentation (Such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of employment, and others) upon arrival.

Finding Housing in Portugal

Once you’ve decided to move to Portugal, it’s time to find a home you love. Portugal is one of the only places where it’s more popular to buy homes than it is to rent homes. While you’ll certainly find a healthy population of quality rental properties, Portugal is a very popular place for expats to purchase property thanks to the country’s simple tax rules and ample available property. Keep in mind that, if you want to buy property, you’ll need to register with the Portuguese Tax Authorities and hire a Portuguese real estate agent to help you find the perfect home. If you want to rent property, however, things are very simple. Portugal boasts a high concentration of rental properties, ranging from flats to full homes perfect for families. While finding the perfect home for you may take some time, it’s made easier by the help of a qualified local real estate agent. Be sure that, before you dive into your house search, you take the time to define your budget and write a list of must-haves. This makes the home search smoother.  Regardless of whether you choose to buy or rent, it’s critical to consider where you want to live in Portugal. With so much to see and do throughout the country, choosing the right village or city in which to settle down is important. Expats who love the beach will enjoy living in Porto, The Algarve, or any of Portugal’s other ocean-side cities. Those who prefer an ample concentration of art, nightlife, world-class eateries, and classy wine bars, however, will enjoy Lisbon or one of the country’s many tourist towns.

The 5 Best Cities in Portugal

1. Lisbon
The capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is a historic city with both ancient and modern appeal. From its ancient ruins and cobbled streets to its dynamic and exciting food and music scene, Lisbon offers something for everyone. Thanks to its position on the sea, Lisbon is one of the foremost seafood destinations in the world and it’s not hard to find Michelin-starred restaurants on virtually every street corner.
Even if you’re not much of a foodie, you’ll love Lisbon’s nightlife, art scene, wine bars, and ancient ruins that date back to the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755. An ideal place to work, live, and adventure, Lisbon is perfect for professionals, families, and students alike.

2. Porto
Known primarily for its ancient cathedral terraces, rose gardens, and world-class food scene, Porto is a toned-down city that offers a quiet, yet glamorous lifestyle for the lucky citizens who live there. Made up of colorful hillside homes and ancient baroque architecture, Porto offers coastal paths, ocean views, and plenty of sandy beaches to enjoy during long, hot summers.
Another thing that makes this area famous and highly in demand is its Port wine tradition. Ideal when paired with the city’s famous seafood or petiscos (small plates to share), Porto is a food and wine lover's dream.

3. Algarve
Ideal for anyone who wants to take in all of Portugal’s world-class beaches, Algarve is a stunning natural landscape made up of cliffs, beaches, bays, and picturesque islands. Here, you’ll find a slower pace of life that doesn’t sacrifice any of the fun of the big city. The area is rich in bars, nightlife, discos, art galleries, and even ancient castles perched on flower-packed hillsides. Perfect for anyone who wants to slow down and enjoy all that Portugal has to offer, Algarve is famous among sun, sand, and surf-loving expats.

4. Albufeira
Once a fishing village, Albufeira is a popular tourist town that offers old town appeal paired with plenty of exciting attractions, shops, and destinations. While it’s not as quiet as places like the Algarve or Porto, Albufeira is a lovely city nonetheless. Ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy some ale and a good beach, Albufeira is a place where the fun never ends. Plus, this area offers ample jobs in the tourism industry, so it’s popular among expats looking for work.

5. Lagos
One of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the word, Lagos (pronounced lah-goosh) sits on the stunning banks of the Rio Bensafrim and offers all of the appeals of ancient cobbled streets mixed with nightlife, world-class beaches, surfing, sand, and fun. A historic city with plenty of jobs and rental properties, Lagos is a popular place to live in the beautiful country of Portugal.

The Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to live in Portugal, it’s important to do your due diligence by understanding the pros and cons of living in such an area. While Portugal is an overwhelmingly friendly and beautiful place, there are drawbacks that it pays to be aware of.

Pros

Cons

Living in Portugal

Portugal is a place filled with history, natural beauty, exciting attractions, and plenty of friendly locals to help show you the way. Ideal for expats relocating from around the world, Portugal offers good jobs, plenty of opportunity, various industries, dozens of different landscapes, good schools, an excellent healthcare system, and many little amenities to help expats feel at home wherever they wind up. What’s more, Portugal offers a high quality of life that makes it easier for displaced expats to adjust nicely to their new home. With the help of its delicious food, a large focus on family and personal wellbeing, plenty of exciting opportunities for travel, and dozens of unique attractions, Portugal is a place that’s geared toward helping citizens and visitors enjoy their time in the country. Portugal is also famous for its ample history. Ideal for anyone who has a fascination with ancient ruins or historic villages, Portugal offers a long tradition of ancient and modern roots that can be traced back through wars, natural disasters, and feats of natural beauty. Expats who are new to the area will love learning about the historical context of the villages they choose to live in and how that context informs the pace of everyday life.
Regardless of whether you choose to live in Lagos, Porto, Lisbon, or any of Portugal’s other beautiful cities, it’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll find something to love in this beautiful and welcoming country. Ideal for expats from around the world, Portugal is a welcoming, exciting, opportunity-rich country with plenty to see, do, and experience – from border to border.