Unlocking the Potential: 10 Compelling Reasons to Live in Portugal
Updated: Nov 3
If you're considering making a life-changing move, Portugal should be at the top of your list. This enchanting country has much to offer, from its Mediterranean climate to a welcoming community and a strong real estate market. Let's unlock the potential of living in Portugal by exploring ten compelling reasons to make it your new home.
1. Warm Climate with Miles of Coastline
Portugal's Mediterranean climate is indeed a standout feature. While the country as a whole enjoys mild winters averaging 8°C to 17°C (46°F to 63°F) and warm, dry summers ranging from 24°C to 33°C (75°F to 91°F), the Algarve region takes this climate to another level. In the Algarve, you can relish an incredible 300 days of sunshine each year, which translates to more than 2,800 hours of sun annually.
Even during the winter months, you can still expect to bask in around 5 to 6 hours of sunshine per day. This exceptional climate makes Portugal, especially the Algarve, a haven for those seeking an abundance of sunny days and a mild, enjoyable climate throughout the year.
Find out more about the sunniest region of Portugal in our comprehensive: Algarve Guide
But there's more to this sun-soaked paradise. Portugal boasts over 1,794 kilometers (1,115 miles) of coastline, a true natural treasure. The Algarve, with its approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) of coastline, is not only renowned for its picturesque sea views but also for its multitude of beaches. Among them, you'll find globally recognized winners for their beauty, each one showcasing the stunning synergy of sun, sea, and sand.
Portugal's coastline also holds a special place in the hearts of surf enthusiasts. From the legendary waves of Nazaré, where surfers challenge some of the world's largest swells, to the relaxed surf scene at Arrifana, and all the way to the southwestern tip of Europe in Sagres, Portugal offers a diverse range of surfing experiences. The rugged cliffs and pristine beaches of Sagres, where you can ride the waves at the edge of the continent, are particularly exceptional.
2. Affordable Living
Portugal's affordability is one of its most appealing features. Let's delve deeper into what this means for your day-to-day life. To put it into perspective, enjoying a cup of coffee at a charming local café in Portugal will set you back a mere €0.70 to €1.50. Now, let's compare this to prices in the United States or Northern Europe, where a cup of coffee can often cost €5 or more. That's a significant saving right off the bat.
When it comes to dining out, you'll find that a meal at an average restaurant in Portugal typically ranges from €7 to €20 per person. This covers a range of dining experiences, from cozy local bistros to more upscale venues. Don't forget to explore your neighborhood's farmers' market for the freshest organic produce at more budget-friendly prices compared to the supermarket.
What makes the affordability even more enticing is that in smaller towns and villages across Portugal, prices can be even lower, all while maintaining excellent quality. The quality of food and café experiences in Portugal is noteworthy. You can savor delicious, freshly prepared dishes and aromatic coffee, making dining and socializing not just affordable but a delightful part of your daily routine.
3. Safe and Welcoming
Portugal boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, with crime levels far below the European average. This includes low rates of violent crime, theft, and other criminal activities, making it a remarkably safe country to call home. The Global Peace Index, which measures the peacefulness of nations, consistently ranks Portugal among the top 5 safest countries in the world. This recognition reflects the nation's commitment to maintaining peace and security.
Beyond the numbers, it's the warm and welcoming nature of the Portuguese people that truly sets Portugal apart. The locals are known for their friendliness, hospitality, and genuine openness towards newcomers. Whether you're an expatriate, a retiree, or a tourist, you'll quickly find yourself embraced by the community.
Portugal takes pride in its strong sense of community. In both urban and rural areas, neighbors look out for one another, creating an environment where everyone feels supported and connected. Portugal's immigration policies are designed to welcome newcomers with open arms. The government offers clear guidelines for obtaining residency and citizenship, making it a straightforward process for those wishing to make Portugal their home.
4. Thriving Expat Community
Portugal's expat community is a tapestry of nationalities from around the globe, creating a rich cultural blend. While British and French expats have long been a presence, you'll also find communities of Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians. The Algarve, with its stunning coastline and comfortable lifestyle, often attracts British and Irish retirees.
Lisbon, the vibrant capital, serves as a melting pot for a wide range of nationalities, drawn by its cosmopolitan ambiance. Here, you'll encounter not only European expats but also individuals from the United States, Canada, Brazil, and various Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Porto, with its historical charm and thriving business scene, draws in expats from different corners of the world, contributing to the city's international flavor.
Whether you're looking to connect with fellow expats in the Algarve's serene landscapes, Lisbon's bustling streets, or Porto's historic quarters, you're sure to find a network of like-minded individuals who have chosen Portugal as their new home. This diverse and welcoming expat community offers a unique opportunity to embrace different cultures, share experiences, and form lasting friendships. It's this cultural tapestry that enhances Portugal's reputation as a truly inclusive and open-hearted nation.
Popular Facebook Groups to start:
Moving To Portugal (262K members)
Expat Community Portugal (35K members)
Algarve Expats (60K members)
5. Portuguese Language
English proficiency is widespread, and many locals, especially in urban areas, are adept English speakers. This makes day-to-day interactions, from ordering in a restaurant to navigating transportation, quite convenient for English-speaking visitors and expats.
However, embarking on the journey of learning Portuguese is not only a practical step but also a window into a deeper cultural understanding. It's the key to unlocking the warmth and authenticity of Portuguese society. The effort to speak the local language demonstrates a genuine interest in becoming part of the community. Locals often appreciate when newcomers make an effort to converse in Portuguese, and it can lead to more meaningful interactions and friendships. It's through language that you can truly delve into the heart of Portuguese culture.
For those interested in embarking on this linguistic journey, there are various avenues to explore. Public schools in Portugal often offer Portuguese language courses for beginners. Alternatively, private teachers can provide personalized instruction tailored to your needs.
There are also language learning apps, like Duolingo, which offer Brazilian Portuguese courses, though it's important to note the subtle differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese. Many language schools and cultural centers throughout Portugal also offer Portuguese language courses for expats. Whichever path you choose, learning Portuguese is a rewarding and enriching experience that deepens your connection to the culture and opens doors to the heart of Portugal.
3 Ways to Start Learning: Government PLA courses
6. Quality Healthcare and Education
Portugal's healthcare system is renowned for its high quality and accessibility. For young families, this means peace of mind when it comes to the health and well-being of their loved ones. The public healthcare system provides comprehensive coverage, ensuring that you and your family have access to a wide range of medical services, from routine check-ups to specialized care. Elderly residents can access top-notch healthcare, including treatment for chronic conditions, home care services, and residential care facilities.
In addition to public healthcare, Portugal also offers private healthcare options. Many expats, both young and elderly, choose private health insurance for added convenience and expedited services. This flexibility ensures that you can tailor your healthcare options to suit your specific needs.
For young families, Portugal's public school system is a reliable choice. The curriculum is comprehensive, and schools often have a strong community feel.
Additionally, there are a number of international schools throughout the country, offering an array of educational programs, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) and British, American, or other international curricula. These schools provide top-notch education and a diverse, global learning environment.
As for elderly expats looking to continue their education or develop new skills, Portugal offers opportunities for lifelong learning. Universities and educational institutions provide a range of courses and programs, allowing seniors to explore their interests and engage in intellectual pursuits.
7. Strong Real Estate Market
Portugal's real estate market is not just robust but thriving, with a variety of options to suit diverse preferences and budgets.
The allure of Portugal's coastline is mirrored in its real estate market. In regions like the Algarve, you can find properties offering stunning sea views, close proximity to pristine beaches, and a serene coastal lifestyle. For example, in Lagos, a picturesque coastal town, a modern two-bedroom apartment with sea views can range from €250,000 to €750,000, while a charming villa near the coast might start at €400,000.
Portugal's rich history is showcased in its historic homes. Cities like Lisbon and Porto are treasure troves of charming apartments, some of which are centuries old. For instance, in the heart of Lisbon's historic Alfama district, you can discover a beautifully restored one-bedroom apartment for around €300,000 to €400,000, preserving the essence of Portugal's past.
What sets Portugal's real estate market apart is its diversity. Whether you're seeking a coastal haven, a historic gem, or a modern urban dwelling, Portugal has options to cater to every taste.
Portugal's real estate market also presents investment opportunities. For example, the country's booming tourism industry has increased demand for short-term rentals. Many investors purchase properties for rental income, taking advantage of the "AL license" (Alojamento Local). The introduction of the "Mais Habitação" law in October 2023 brought about changes to AL licenses, affecting how they are issued and managed, making it important for investors to stay informed about these developments.
Do you want to find out more about buying Real Estate in Portugal? Start with the exclusive
Lagos Homes Buyer's Guide eBook.
8. The Most Popular Regions in Portugal
Portugal's best places are more than just geographical locations; they're vibrant communities, each offering unique experiences that cater to the diverse needs of expats.
The Algarve - A Coastal Paradise: The Algarve is a favorite among expats, known for its stunning beaches, warm climate, and welcoming atmosphere. Cities like Lagos and Albufeira are particularly expat-friendly. Lagos, for instance, offers a sense of serenity with its beautiful beaches and rich history. You can find a thriving expat community here, creating a strong sense of belonging for newcomers.
Lisbon - A Blend of History and Modernity: Portugal's capital, Lisbon, is a dynamic city where history mingles with modernity. Neighborhoods like Alfama and Belém showcase the city's rich heritage. Expats find the mix of old-world charm and cosmopolitan living irresistible. Alfama's winding alleys and historic architecture provide an authentic Portuguese experience, while Belém's cultural attractions and scenic views add a modern touch.
Porto - Historic and Enchanting: Porto, Portugal's second-largest city, offers a different but equally enchanting experience. The historic Ribeira district, with its narrow streets and colorful buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's a place where expats can relish the city's history while savoring the famous port wine from nearby cellars.
Madeira - A Natural Haven: Madeira is celebrated for its lush landscapes and Funchal, its charming capital. Expats seeking a connection with nature find this island particularly enticing. With its botanical gardens, levada walks, and breathtaking scenery, Madeira offers a serene environment amidst nature's splendor.
The Azores - Volcanic Beauty: The Azores, a group of islands in the Atlantic, captivate expats with their volcanic landscapes and diverse ecosystems. São Miguel and Terceira are among the popular islands. São Miguel's lush greenery and thermal springs are perfect for those seeking relaxation and connection with the outdoors. Terceira, with its vibrant culture and historic charm, is another top choice.
Silver Coast - Coastal Charm: The Silver Coast, or Costa de Prata, offers a different coastal experience with its charming towns and beautiful beaches. Expats who wish to explore Portugal's less-trodden coastline often choose this region.
9. Tax Incentives
Portugal's tax incentives, especially through the non-habitual resident (NHR) program, present a compelling financial advantage for retirees and expats seeking to optimize their finances.
Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Program: A Tax Advantage
Portugal's Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program is a financial boon for those relocating to the country. This program offers an array of tax benefits during the first ten years of residency, making it an attractive option for retirees and expats. One of its main advantages is the exemption from taxes on foreign income sources, including pensions, dividends, and capital gains, providing significant tax savings. For professionals in specific high-demand fields, Portugal offers a competitive flat tax rate of 20% on employment income, lower than many other European countries. The NHR program also exempts residents from wealth and inheritance taxes and ensures access to double taxation treaties, preventing income from being taxed in both Portugal and one's home country. These advantages make Portugal an appealing destination for those looking to maximize their financial resources.
0% Capital Gains Tax on New Property Investments
Portugal's property market offers an enticing opportunity for investors. When selling a property, particularly when investing in a new property, capital gains tax can be a non-issue.
Specifically, if you reinvest the proceeds from selling one property into a new property in Portugal, you can enjoy a 0% capital gains tax rate. This incentive not only encourages property investment but also allows investors to diversify and upgrade their real estate holdings without the burden of capital gains taxation. It's a key benefit for those looking to capitalize on the growing real estate market in Portugal while optimizing their financial returns.
Find out more at Lagos Homes Services, about how to improve your taxes when relocating to Portugal.
10. Visa Programs: Live in Portugal
Portugal offers a multitude of visa programs that cater to both EU and non-EU citizens, making it a welcoming destination for individuals seeking residency or citizenship through investment or other means.
EU Citizens' Free Movement
For citizens of European Union (EU) member states, Portugal embraces the EU's principles of free movement. This means that EU citizens have the privilege of living and working in Portugal without the need for specific visas or permits, a seamless process that allows for easy integration into Portuguese society.
The general guideline is that if you intend to stay in Portugal for more than three months, you'll need to secure either a Portuguese residence permit or a residence visa, depending on the purpose of your stay. After residing in Portugal with the appropriate permit for five years, you can apply for permanent residency or even Portuguese citizenship.
Portugal D7 Visa: Your Path to Retirement and Passive Income
The Portugal D7 Visa, often known as the Retirement or Passive Income Visa, is a gateway for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who have a sustainable source of passive income to seek residency in Portugal. This income can come from a range of sources, including transferable equity, pensions, real estate, intellectual property, or financial investments. The D7 Visa isn't just for you; it extends to your entire family. Designed with retirees and individuals living on passive income in mind, it's an initiative to contribute to Portugal's economy by attracting those who can enjoy their retirement in this beautiful country.
Portugal D2 Visa: Empowering Entrepreneurs and Startups
The Portugal D2 Visa, also known as the Startup Visa, is a pathway for entrepreneurs outside the EU to establish and grow their startup ventures in Portugal. Since 2016, Portugal has actively encouraged entrepreneurship, making this program accessible to non-EU citizens, particularly those who are not part of the European Union. Administered by the Agência para a Competitividade e Inovação (IAPMEI), which focuses on promoting the economy, the D2 Visa is a fast track to living and working in Portugal. It's family-friendly, allowing you to bring your spouse and dependents. With minimal requirements, including no language obligations and a reasonable minimum bank balance, this visa is designed for speedy, hassle-free entry into Portugal's entrepreneurial landscape.
Portugal D6 Visa: Reuniting Families
The Portugal D6 Visa, or Family Reunion Visa, is tailored for family members of Portuguese residents who meet specific criteria. If you're looking to join your loved ones in Portugal, this visa program is your answer. Eligible family members include spouses or partners, children under 18, dependent partners of one spouse or partner, and more. This visa offers a chance for family reunification and does not require Portuguese citizenship. It's about being a resident in Portugal and proving your relationship to the family members residing there.
Digital Nomad Visa or D8 Visa: Freedom for Remote Workers
The Digital Nomad visa, also known as the D8 Visa, caters to non-European individuals who work remotely and aspire to live in Portugal while continuing their international employment or freelance activities. Ideal for location-independent professionals, this visa allows you to enjoy Portugal's quality of life without employer restrictions. To qualify for the D8 Visa, you need a reliable and regular income from remote work, whether through a non-Portuguese employer or self-employment. The income should be sufficient to support you and your dependents and ideally match or exceed the Portuguese minimum wage. Background checks and health insurance coverage are required. You may also need proof of accommodation in Portugal. With the D8 Visa, you can live and work in Portugal, enjoying its expat community, healthcare, education, and more. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence and, potentially, Portuguese citizenship, enriching your life in this captivating country.
All in all, if you're considering a life-altering move, Portugal should be at the top of your list. This enchanting nation is brimming with opportunities and experiences that cater to a range of lifestyles, making it a truly inviting place to call home. So, why wait? Uncover the potential of living in Portugal, where adventure, relaxation, and a fulfilling life await.