Last updated on November 2nd, 2021
Living in Portugal: All You Need To Know
Portugal is the country that is home to big expat communities. The country is the second home of many British, American, French expats along with other nationalities. With its favorable climate, lower cost of living compared to the rest of Europe, and many other benefits, Portugal is a dream country.
Many members of our community have already made Portugal their second home. Are you planning to move to Portugal, too? In this guide, we’ll show you what you need to do to live in Portugal and how to live there. Let’s start!
What Do You Need To Live in Portugal
Let’s begin with the essentials. As a basic rule, you need a valid passport. Plus, you need a visa, unless you’re from another European country.
The first step is to check the visa and residence permit types. Here are some of the most common visa types you can get to live in Portugal:
- Work Visa
- Entrepreneur Visa
- Startup Visa
- Passive Income Visa
- Portuguese Golden Visa
For more information on these visa types, please visit our Portugal Visa Types article. If you’re planning to get residency by investment, also check our Portugal Golden Visa article. It has been written by one of the community members who have first-hand experience with the Portuguese Golden Visa.
If you have European citizenship, you’re good to go. You won’t need a visa as Portugal is an EU member.
Where To Live in Portugal
Deciding on which city you’re going to live in is one of the most essential points in whichever country you’re moving to. It’s no different with Portugal. If you’ve never been to the country before, it can be a challenge. That’s why our first advice would be to visit the country a few times before you commit yourself to a city.
Still, let’s have a look at some options.
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a cosmopolitan destination with vibrant nightlife, museums, theaters, and different activities.
Lisbon has good air connections with Europe. But note that it’s the most expensive city in Portugal.
If you’re looking for job opportunities, choose Lisbon. The city is home to many international companies’ headquarters and it’s easier to find a job in Lisbon when compared to other Portuguese cities.
Porto is the second most populous and economically important city in Portugal. It offers a high-quality life, less traffic, and rich culture. Like Lisbon, Porto is a popular tourist destination. So, be prepared to witness huge crowds in the city, especially in summer.
The main difference between Lisbon and Porto is that Porto gets much more rain in winter. Apart from that, it’s a perfect city to live in where you’re going to have a relaxed life.
Can’t decide between Lisbon or Porto? Check out our Lisbon or Porto article to have a better insight.
Famous for its university and abundance of green spaces, Coimbra is a popular city among. It’s a small city but connected to the rest of the country with a good infrastructure. Coimbra is located between Lisbon and Porto which makes it an ideal location. If you want to be close to nature and have a quiet life, you can live in Braga and visit the big cities easily.
The Algarve is the most famous tourist region in Portugal. With perfect beaches, small towns, and nature, it’s a perfect place if you’re looking to live in a sunny place all year around. The job opportunities in this region are limited however if you’re more into a relaxed lifestyle, a city in the Algarve region might be the perfect fit for you.
Most popular cities in the region are Faro, Lagos, Portimao, and Tavira.
Cost of Living in Portugal
Cost of living is an important point to consider when you’re planning to move to a new country. Although the cost of living might change depending on your lifestyle, it’s good to be familiar with some basic costs.
Lisbon and Porto are the most expensive cities in the country. However, as there are more job opportunities with better salaries, it might be worth it.
With the help of Numbeo, we’ve brought together some expenses for you to compare. Check the figures below.
Lisbon VS Porto
You’ll need around €3,039.91 in Lisbon to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €2,700 in Porto (assuming you rent in both cities).
- Consumer prices in Lisbon are 5.11% higher than in Porto (without rent).
- Consumer prices including rent in Lisbon are 12.59% higher than in Porto.
- Rent prices in Lisbon are 30.30% higher than in Porto.
- Restaurant prices in Lisbon are 10.37% higher than in Porto.
- Grocery prices in Lisbon are 5.41% higher than in Porto.
- Local purchasing power in Lisbon is 8.47% higher than in Porto.
Faro VS Porto
You’ll need around €2,728.24 in Faro to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €2,700 in Porto (assuming you rent in both cities).
- Consumer prices in Faro are 4.45% higher than in Porto (without rent).
- Consumer prices including rent in Faro are 1.05% higher than in Porto.
- Rent prices in Faro are 7.02% lower than in Porto.
- Restaurant prices in Faro are 18.35% higher than in Porto.
- Grocery prices in Faro are 3.86% higher than in Porto.
- Local purchasing power in Faro is 5.04% lower than in Porto.
Coimbra VS Faro
You would need around €2,317.12 in Coimbra to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €2,700 in Faro (assuming you rent in both cities).
- Consumer prices in Coimbra are 9.28% lower than in Faro (without rent).
- Consumer prices including rent in Coimbra are 14.18% lower than in Faro.
- Rent prices in Coimbra are 27.21% lower than in Faro.
- Restaurant prices in Coimbra are 23.30% lower than in Faro.
- Grocery prices in Coimbra are 6.38% lower than in Faro.
- Local purchasing power in Coimbra is 25.34% higher than in Faro.
Rents in Portugal
Due to the rising expat community in the country, the rents in Portugal have seen an increase in recent years. Especially in Lisbon and Porto, rents are increasing. See the below table for a quick insight.
- 1-bedroom apt.(city center)
- 1-bedroom apt.(outside city center)
- 3-bedroom apt.(city center)
- 3-bedroom apt.(outside city center)
Buying Property in Portugal
If you want to buy a house instead of renting one, note that the process is quite straightforward as long as you follow the right steps. That’s why we always recommend to the members of our community to speak with professionals before committing large sums of money.
Again, we’ve listed average prices.
- Price per m² in the center
- Price per m² outside the center
How To Send Money to Portugal
At some point during your stay in Portugal, you might need to transfer a large amount of money to the country.
Banks are the most traditional way to send money to Portugal. However, they’re also the most expensive ones. You can check the online money transfer platforms to avoid huge costs.
These platforms are safe, fees are lower, and delivery time is short. One popular platform is Wise. Wise helps you to transfer huge amounts without bureaucracy. Check out the full review on Wise for more information.
Employment in Portugal
If you’re coming to Portugal to find a job, good luck! If you’re not a tech professional, it might take around three to four months to find a job. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for jobs and send your resume to companies before you arrive in the country. Plus, most companies in Portugal conduct a lot of interviews before they hire you. Be prepared!
If you’re self-employed, make sure you’re familiar with Recibo Verde in Portugal.
The Climate in Portugal
As Portugal is a relatively small country, everyone expects the weather to be the same in every region. That’s not the case though. The Mediterranean climate prevails in the mainland, while you might witness some snow in the Serra da Estrela.
In summer, the temperatures can reach 40ºC, especially in the south. For the northern part, it’s around 30ºC. In Lisbon, which is located in the central area, the summers are hot and dry.
In the winter, temperatures vary between 3ºC and 16ºC. Especially in the north, expect rainy days.
Health System in Portugal
Portugal has a good public health system. There are many well-equipped hospitals and you usually don’t need to wait a lot to see a doctor. Once you become a legal resident of Portugal, you’re eligible to access the Portuguese healthcare system. First, register with the Portuguese Social Security and get your social security number. If you’re employed, your employee can get it for you. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to do it yourself.
After getting your social security number, you can go to the health center and register yourself.
The service is mainly free, however, there might be some small costs depending on the situation. A consultation with a general practitioner will cost around €5. For an emergency consultation at the hospital, expect to pay around €20.
There you have it! We’ve tried to give you an outline of how you can move and live in Portugal. Also, check our Being an Expat in Portugal article that has been written by one of our community members…
Have you ever visited Portugal? Have you ever thought of moving there? Let us know about your experience. We’ll be happy to know. Please also feel free to share your insights on our forum.