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Living in Portugal Free Country Guide

Why move to Portugal? Everything you need to know about traveling,
living, retiring and moving to Portugal


$255.9 billion



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UTC / +351

Cost of Living
Visa & Residency

About Portugal

When you first step foot in Portugal, it’s easy to feel like you’ve traveled back in time. The Portuguese have a strong sense of community and don’t shy away from traditions.

Move to Portugal and experience the Old medieval castle in Sintra, Portugal
The Pena Palace of Sintra is sitting at the top of a hill overlooking the town of Sintra. This national monument sits so high that it can be spotted from the neighboring city of Lisbon on a clear day.

Every picture you may have seen of Old Europe will seem to come alive when you are in mainland Portugal. From the medieval town walls, crenelated castles on hilltops, cobblestone alleys and more, all soundtracked by the toll of church bells.

Portugal is a European country riddled with wonderful beaches like the Praia de Tavira and Praia de Tavira both in Algarve. Its people are amiably quiet, passionately traditional, and highly proud of their illustrious history and Portuguese culture. It would be misleading to assume that modernity has not reached Portugal because its infrastructure, educational system, and healthcare are among the best in the world.

aerial picture of beautiful Praia da Balança beach in Lagos Algarve, Portugal
The beautiful Praia da Balança beach in Lagos in the region of Algarve

Portugal is a beautiful place to retire to in southern Europe. It is also a top destination for digital nomads. The country is a member oof the European Union and shares a border with Spain on the east and is surrounded by the Atlantic ocean on the west. It is a beautiful place to retire to. Moving to Portugal has a lot to offer. Expatriates report spending around 30% less than in the US after moving to Portugal.

We’ll try to tell you all you need to know about this place ranging from its climate to its healthcare system, taxes, Portugal golden visa and much more. 


The weather in Portugal is warm, temperate, and humid, with wet winters and dry summers. 71.6 F is the average temperature.

In the north side of Portugal, winter means rain about fifty percent of the time, and temperatures are about ten degrees cooler all year round in the south side of Portugal. There have been a few incidences of earthquakes, but they are mostly within the locale of the Islands of Azores. Occasionally, they happen on the mainland.

cable car Lisbon Portugal
Hills in Lisbon can be pretty steep. The cable is very easy and romantic way to travel around the city

The capital city, Lisbon, is a tourist haven for many reasons, including its beautiful weather. If you are considering where to retire based on the weather, then we highly recommend Lisbon, Portugal.

Safety and Security

Portugal is the 6th safest nation in the world according to the Global Peace Index, ahead of other European countries such as Germany, Spain, and even the United States. Portugal was ranked 18th globally in 2014 but has subsequently improved significantly. 

Portuguese people are peaceful, prefer to avoid conflict and spend their time with family and friends and  of course, eat fish and drink Portuguese wine.

Living in Portugal you will witness petty crime of opportunity (i.e pickpocketing), mostly in large cities and touristy areas. 

The country frequently ranks among the finest places to retire because of how safe it is living in Portugal.


Portuguese language is the official language of the country. However, it depends on the region you are located in. Because of the historical immigration of people from various countries, other languages are also spoken. Spanish, French, and English are also spoken by many locals and expats. If you are moving to Portugal, then it’s a good idea to learn how to speak Portuguese.

Cost of Living in Portugal

Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in western Europe. Due to the relatively low cost of housing, you will pay more than 60% less than in the U.S. Your pension will go much further if you are moving to Portugal. Along with this, food and clothing costs are low compared to other European countries

Seafood in portugal
Moving to Portugal you can enjoy food that is both delicious and very affordable. Pair your meals with a glass of fine wine from the region and a nice conversation with the locals or friends.

Moving to Portugal means that you may live comfortably in a small city even with the average Social Security as your main source of income. For around $2,000 a month, you can maintain a pleasant, if not luxurious, lifestyle. You might want to increase it to $2,500 if you decide to reside in the northern parts like Porto or Lisbon or one of the expat’s hotspots like Cascais or the Algarve.


The Portuguese government usually taxes every form of income. Moving to Portugal means that earnings from pensions and foreign sources are taxed. Nevertheless, as was already indicated, the Portuguese government has taken steps to make the nation hospitable for expats. This includes a status referred to as Non-habitual Residence (NHR). 

NHR applies to those who haven’t lived in Portugal for the past five years and paid taxes there. Your income is ten years tax-free in Portugal if you meet the requirements. This comprises wage income, investment income, capital gains income, pension income, and rental income.

To be eligible for the NHR regime, a person moving to Portugal must:

  • Have lived in Portugal for 183 days, whether consecutively or not. This must be during the application year and subsequent years,
  • Possess permanent housing in Portugal by December 31 of the application year. 
  • Demonstrate that you intend to use it as their primary residence.
view from the top of porto, portugal
European countries have a unique and effortless way of mixing the old with the new. And Portugal is no exception, respecting the old and embarrassing the new.

Visas & Residency – easiest path to become an EU Citizen

You only need a valid passport to enter Portugal from the US if you are planning to stay for up to 90 days. Staying any longer though means that you need  a residence permit, residency visa or employment visa to go through Portuguese immigration. Good news though! The government of Portugal has made obtaining a visa pretty straightforward making Portugal a haven for retirees, foreign investors and individuals looking for a passive income visa. It is one of the easiest Nations you can get a Visa from. It’s a good alternative to other European Union countries.

To live in Portugal long-term, you must secure a residence permit. The first step toward obtaining a residence permit is to visit a nearby consulate to submit a residency application if you’re a U.S. citizen. 

You will be required to submit an application as well as some supporting documentation, including a copy of your passport, proof of your source of income, and proof of your health insurance, criminal record etc. A criminal history check will also be required of you.

You can get a temporary residence permit after completing the application process by visiting your local Portuguese consulate. You have five years to use this and you can then renew to a permanent residence permit.

Portugal Golden Visa Program

Portugal’s fast-track golden visa scheme is open to wealthy non-EU citizens as well as anyone living outside of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Through the Portuguese golden visa program, you can obtain a Portuguese visa and citizenship quickly and travel freely throughout the EU.

There are a few ways that foreign investors to obtain a Portugal golden visa:

  • Make a minimum of 500,000 euros available for scientific research.
  • Invest a property worth at least 500,000 euros.
  • Make a transfer to to a portuguese bank account of at least 1.5 million euros.

This makes it a whole lot easier to obtain Portuguese visa and residence permit for U.S citizens and other expats.

Portugal, madeira view from ponta do sol
The Expat life in Portugal. Stunning ocean views from the top of this coastal town. No wonder Portugal is at the top of expats and retirees from the US.


Portugal has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, ranked #12 in World Health Organization global rankings. What makes the Portuguese healthcare system even better is that after going through the process of obtaining a permanent visa, Expatriates can enjoy the benefit of free healthcare in Portugal. The government offers several options to cover healthcare expenses, and common providers are covered by the Portuguese citizen social security system. The two main options are healthcare insurance and public health programs. The Ministry of Health operates a public health program that expats can apply for. These include the National Health Service – serviço nacional de saúde (SNS).

Professional, public, and private healthcare is available in clinics and hospitals throughout Portugal. Private insurance averages $46 per person monthly. You pay $40 a year per person for insurance, entitling us to half-price doctor visits, and you either use public healthcare or pay discounted prices in the private system. 

The National Health Service in Portugal (Serviço Nacional de Saude) provides free healthcare to everyone with a Portuguese citizens. Unfortunately, Non-E.U. Expats aren’t eligible for this free healthcare until they’ve lived in the country for five years and have become permanent residents. (E.U. citizens have access right away.) So you will need to pay for any health or medical services you use.

Real Estate

Portugal is one of the best places for property investment. It has a good economy, and its house prices are also very affordable making the move to Portugal a lot more enticing.

Sunrise from top of Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re  new to Portugal, consider renting a furnished short-term apartment or house before choosing a perm

anent residence. Explore the various neighborhoods on foot, learn about the amenities nearby, and deal with a reputable international or local agent. 

There are numerous villages and towns that can satisfy your need for a more sedate, rural lifestyle. Lisbon has excellent urban life, while the seashore outside of Lisbon provides access to everything.

Best Places to Live in Portugal

Some of Portugal’s best places to live include Lisbon, Algarve, and the Azores islands.

Bengail Cave Algarve Portugal
Instagram favorite Bengail Cave in Algarve

Lisbon is one of the best places to retire in Portugal. It has a great climate and a very active social scene. If you like the hustle and bustle of an urban environment, then this is the place for you.

The Algarve is a region in the south of Portugal. It is well-known for its beaches, sun-kissed landscapes, and wonderful golf courses. There are also many walking and hiking trails for you to enjoy. If you are considering a move to Portugal then you have a range of amazing cities and terrain to choose from.

Proximity to the US

Portugal is 7,335 kilometers from the United States, which is approximately eight and a half hours. This may seem like a long time, but remember there is a good chance the flight to enter Portugal will be direct as there are daily flights from NY (JFK) to Lisbon.

You can find direct flights in the country’s capital or on online flight booking websites. 

Activities and Recreation

There are a good number of recreational activities and leisure spots available to choose from. For example, you can find great golf courses where you can hang out with family and friends while playing. Living in Portugal also means that you can enjoy beach activities like swimming and surfing.

surfers at the beach of Carcavelos, Portugal
Hiking, exploration, surfing, kitesurfing are just some of the many outdoor activities that you can enjoy when you move to Portugal.

You also have the opportunity to see many places, including museums like the national tile museum and many other historical sites in Portugal. 

Bottom Line – Move to Portugal and Living in Portugal

Portugal is one of the best places to live in Europe. It has a good economy, great weather, high quality of life and a thriving social scene.  If you want to enjoy a tranquil and peaceful life and get incentives from the government, then Portugal is the place for you. 

There are a lot of benefits that come with this country’s lifestyle, so if you like these, then definitely apply and become a permanent resident. 

Friendly people, low cost of living in Portugal and ease of access to visas is largely unparalleled, making it a great destination for you to retire to.

immerse in nature at Praia da Carriagem Aljezur, Portugal
Immerse in nature at Praia da Carriagem Aljezur, Portugal


Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Portugal