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Living abroad

Why Portugal is one of the best places for expats to live and do business

Portugal is one of the most amazing destinations for expats in Western Europe. It has a warm climate, excellent ecology, rich culture, a stable economy, and high-quality medicine and education.

Learn about all benefits of life in Portugal and costs of living in the country.

Living in Portugal

Advantages of living in Portugal as an expat

Climate. The country is located in the southwest of the continent and gets much warm, sunny weather. Even in winter, the air temperature rarely gets to zero Celsius. The number of sunny days per year is approximately 300.

≈ 300 days
The sun shines in Portugal throughout a year

The Atlantic Ocean washes Portugal on both sides. The country has several climatic zones thanks to the ocean, so anyone can choose a suitable place of residence. 

In the south, the climate is milder and more sunny. The farther from the ocean, the hotter the summers and the colder the winters. However, it rarely snows, even in the winter, and mainly in the mountains.

Ecology is the pride of Portugal. For example, the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy ranks Portugal as the 27th most environmentally friendly out of 180 countries.

The country is famous for many ecologically clean beaches marked with a blue flag. In total, there are 372 blue flag beaches in Portugal.

Life in Portugal 一 Carvoeira
A blue beach next to Carvoeira town

Safety. Portugal is one of the five safest countries in the world. The Global Peace Index is confirmed by the Institute for Economics and Peace

The locals are friendly and law-abiding. The people of Portugal have a great attitude towards guests and immigrants and are always ready to help.

High quality of life in Portugal. The country ranks 28th out of 160 in the Prosperity Index and 20th in terms of quality of life by the Numbeo website. The country has also been ranked in the top 5 for living in retirement.

Portugal is noted for its low cost of living and tax incentives available to expats. 

Diversity of foreign diasporas. In 2021, Portugal ranked among the top 5 countries for expats: 84% of those who moved to the country were satisfied with their lives. For comparison, the global average satisfaction rate is 75%.

Foreigners make up 6.4% of the Portuguese population. Most immigrants come from Brazil, followed by people from Portuguese-speaking African countries like Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. Among the European immigrants are many citizens of Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria.

Most expats live in large cities like Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve resort region.

Immigration options for living in Portugal

Portugal is one of the EU member states. Citizens of another 26 EU member states and EFTA nations — Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein — can enter Portugal without a visa with the right to live or work. EU/EFTA citizens are not subject to any restrictions as long as they don’t have any criminal convictions.

British citizens have the right to stay in Portugal for 90 days in any six-month period even after Brexit. But if the UK citizen has long-term residency plans for Portugal, you need to obtain a residence permit.

Non-EU citizens have several ways of moving to Portugal legally — get married to Portuguese citizens, find a job or study at a university. Investors or individuals with passive income have two options to get Portugal residency in 2—6 months:

  1. Portugal Golden Visa is a residence permit and one of the measures to attract investment in the country's economy. It allows a holder to relocate to Portugal and move freely across the Schengen Area. Five years later, the investor can apply for a Portuguese passport to visit more than 180 countries without a visa. 
  2. Portugal D7 visa. Individuals can get a D7 visa in their country of origin. It allows two entries in Portugal and has a 4 months validity period. After arriving in Portugal, the D7 visa holder must apply for a residency permit. The D7 visa route does not require fulfilling investment options but grants the same privileges.

Business and investment in Portugal

The Portugal Golden Visa Program provides a residence permit for opening a new business or investments in an operating Portuguese company.

Investors can choose an appropriate investment object depending on their budget, goals and investment strategy.

Options for Portugal investment immigration and obtaining residence permits:

  1. Invest in a business from €500,000 with the creation of at least 5 jobs.
  2. Open a company and create at least 10 jobs.

Comfortable environment for doing business exists in Portugal. You can open a company in just one hour.

The most common registration of joint-stock companies of closed and open types:

  • Closed Joint Stock Company — Sociedade por Quotas. The size of the company's authorised capital depends on the field of activity and ranges from €1 to €5,000. The minimum number of shareholders is two.
  • Open a Joint Stock Company — Sociedade Anónima. This form of enterprise is suitable for large businesses. The size of the authorised capital is not less than €10,000, and the minimum number of shareholders is 5 people.

Participants can obtain residence permits for the whole family, including spouse, kids and parents, within two months or more. 

Investors don’t have to pass language, culture and history exams. They choose one of the eight investment options to participate in the program. The most popular option is to purchase real estate.

The real estate market in Portugal attracts investors worldwide with high properties profitability. 

The main part of real estate purchases falls on the French, British, Swiss, German and Brazilian investors. The most popular regions for real estate investment are Lisbon, Porto, Cascais and the Algarve.

Which Portuguese region to choose

The Lisbon region. If you choose to live in Lisbon, you will be able to combine all the benefits of living near the capital and proximity to gorgeous beaches and high-quality attractions.

The best universities are located in the Lisbon region. For example, here is the largest Portuguese university and the fourth largest institution of higher education in the Iberian Peninsula — the University of Lisbon (Universidade de Lisboa). The Portuguese Catholic University is also located here, which ranks among the 10 best Portuguese universities.

Most of the country's manufacturing enterprises are located in the Lisbon region. These are oil refineries, chemical, steel, automotive, electronic, pulp and paper, food industries, building materials production.

Here are the best medical institutions in the country. These are the specialised CNS neurology and neurosurgery clinic, the Fisiogaspar physiotherapy and functional rehabilitation clinic, and the Lusíadas Lisboa multidisciplinary medical institution. The latter's main areas of work are obstetrics and gynaecology, infertility treatment, oncology, ophthalmology, paediatrics, cardiology, orthopaedics, and surgical treatment of obesity.

Living in Portugal — Regions of Portugal on the map — Immigrant Invest
There are seven regions in Portugal, and the Lisbon region is in the country’s centre

To the north of Lisbon is popular among surfers. There are about 40 beaches, and life on them is in full swing all year round.

The so-called Portuguese Riviera includes Lisbon suburbs of Cascais and Estoril. It attracts tourists with casinos and fancy restaurants. 

The Costa da Caparica coastline is famous for its sandy beaches with well-developed infrastructure. There is a festival in Sesimbra that can compare with the festival in Rio de Janeiro.

The Lisbon region is a yachting paradise. Along the Atlantic coast are the main routes preferred by experienced yachtsmen. There are many berths, ports and marinas along the Tagus River.

In Belen, there is a stunning marble monastery of Hieronymites, the walls of which resemble lace. In Queluz, there is a royal palace called the Portuguese Versailles. 

The Sintra town is a worldwide attraction because of its uniqueness, and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

living in lisbon, portugal

Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, with more than half a million people

Quality of life in Portugal 一 Ericeira beach

Ericeira is the surfers’ “mecca”

Living in Cascais, Portugal

Cascais is one of the most popular resorts in Portugal

Benefits of living in Portugal 一 Sintra's historic centre

Castle in Sintra

The Northern region. Porto is the capital of the northernmost region. It is the second-largest and one of the country's most exciting and beautiful cities. 

There are 16 higher educational institutions in Porto, such as the University of Porto, the Polytechnic Institute, and the Higher School of Arts. Two more universities are located in Braga. So getting a good education while living in this part of the country is not difficult.

There are also well-known medical clinics in Porto. Examples include the CETI Fertility Center, Espregueira Mendes Orthopedics and Traumatology Expertise, Radiation Therapy Clinic (CRP), and Lusíadas Porto Hospital.

The Northern region is one of the most industrialised in Portugal with the largest textile, footwear and furniture factories. Braga produces electronics.

living in porto, Portugal

The historic centre of Porto is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

expat living in portugal 一 University of Porto

The main building of the University of Porto

The region is famous for its mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes. Vineyards are located in the valley of the Douro River, and the world-famous drink port wine is produced.

The Northern region is home to ancient cities such as Guimarães, named the European Capital of Culture in 2013, and Braga, the Portuguese religious centre.

The Portuguese north is not very suitable for a beach vacation. It is somewhat cooler here than in the southern part of Portugal. The water in the ocean warms up to just +21 °C. The beaches are not suitable for swimming because of rocks.

For children, Porto has an oceanarium, a planetarium, an interactive museum of adventures and a magical Lello bookstore, a favourite place for Harry Potter fans. 

The main tourist routes are connected with visiting the region's ancient cities and viewing the most beautiful mountain landscapes.

In Porto, as in other coastal cities, the yachting infrastructure is well developed. There are many marinas, yacht clubs and specialised training centres.

living in porto, Portugal

Vineyards in the Douro Valley

expat living in portugal 一 University of Porto

The central street of Guimarães

Lello, Porto

The Lello bookstore in Porto

The Central region. Choosing the Central region for permanent residence, you enjoy all the benefits of living in an ecologically clean, quiet place with proximity to the country's capital, Lisbon.

The largest cities in the Central region of Portugal are Coimbra and Leiria. 

There are seven universities in Coimbra, including one of the oldest universities in Europe, Universidade de Coimbra. It is the country's leading institution and is one of the best universities in Portuguese-speaking countries. 

The coast of the Central region is popular with surfers of all levels. There are many schools, surf spots, and international surfing competitions are held during a year. For example, in winter, the waves reach 30 metres near the town of Nazaré

The Central region is distinguished by various natural landscapes and historical and cultural monuments. The country's highest mountain range is Serra da Estrela, with glacial lakes and mountain rivers. Here you can go skiing and snowboarding or play in the snow.

The ancient city of Obidos is famous worldwide as it was presented for the queen's wedding many years ago.

In the inhabitants of central Portugal the famous Estrela cheese is produced. It is protected by the European Union's D.O.P. label and is marked one of the wonders of Portuguese cuisine.

living in Portugal 一 University of Coimbra

The University of Coimbra was founded in 1290

expat living in portugal 一 University of Porto

Waterfalls in the Serra da Estrela mountains form natural pools

life in Portugal 一 city of Obidos

A view of the ancient city of Obidos

Alentejo. Beautiful nature, delicious wine, meat stew, sheep's milk cheese, olives and olive oil — all these you can find in Alentejo — the largest Portuguese region. It accounts for almost a third of the country's territory, and half of the region is far from the ocean. 

Alentejo is known for its vineyards and olive plantations. Here, lovers of agricultural tourism come from all over the world.

The capital of Alentejo is the city of Évora. Universidade de Évora opened in 1559. It is in the top 10 best universities in Portugal. Évora is also home to one of the largest hospitals in the country, Hospital do Espírito Santo de Évora.

UNESCO recognises Évora as a World Heritage Site. Many churches have been preserved in the city since the Middle Ages. You can find there columns of a Roman temple.

In Alentejo, the influence of Arab culture is felt. Most of the houses of residents are white with blue decor. The local cuisine is mostly Arabic than European. 

You can plunge into Arab culture in the city of Beja, founded in the time of Julius Caesar, especially if you visit the Ovibeja fair to visit local markets and listen to musicians' performances.

Various types of tourism are actively developing in Aletenjo: paragliding and hot air ballooning, karting, and surfing. Beach holidays are not very popular due to the strong Atlantic coast winds.

Living in Portugal — Évora's main square

Évora is a museum town

living in Porto, Portugal

Traditional blue and white houses in Porto Covo, Alentejo

expat life in portugal

Growing cork trees and cattle breeding are the main activities in Alentejo

The Algarve is the most southern region of Portugal, which is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the west and south. 

Faro is the capital of the Algarve. It is home to Universidade do Algarve, one of Portugal's top 20 best educational institutions. 

Qualified medical care can be obtained in numerous hospitals: Centro Hospitalar do Barlavento, Hospital Particular HDF, Hospital Distrito de Faral, and Clinica Luisiadas. The thermal springs of Luso (Termas do Luso) are in the mountains of Bucaco.

The Algarve is the most peculiar of all regions of the country. The European and Arab cultures fusion is most clearly felt.

life in Portugal — Faro
City of Faro, the capital of the Algarve region

The Algarve has the mildest climate: normally, the temperature in winter does not fall below +16 °C during the day and +9 °C at night. In summer, it is about +28 °С during the day and about +20 °С at night.

The Algarve has endless beaches stretching east to west from Monte Gordo to Lagos. Their length is about 150 km. These are stunning cliffs in the west, and in the south, there is a gently sloping sandy shore. The most famous beaches are Dona Ana in Lagos and Falésia in Albufeira.

All types of business in the Algarve are somehow connected with tourism. Many Europeans come to have a vacation here.

All types of recreation are represented on the south coast. Diving and yacht clubs, luxury hotels and apartments, casinos, discos, tennis courts, golf courses are situated here. The busiest nightlife is in full swing in the resort towns of Albufeira, Portimão, and Vilamoura.

The southern branch of Portuguese yachting runs along the Algarve coast: there are numerous berths and approaches to ports, marinas and yacht service centres.

The Algarve has several large water parks and a marine zoo. It hosts the world's largest sand sculpture festival every year. Soon, the Ocean Revival Project diving park will appear near the Algarve coast: the Portuguese navy has already sunk two warships, the Oliveira and Karma and the Zambeze.

living in Portugal 一 beaches of Falesia

Beaches of Falesia hid under picturesque rocky cliffs

living in algarve, Portugal 一 yachting in the Algarve

The largest yacht clubs in Portugal are located in the Algarve

Madeira is an island located southwest of mainland Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream, the climate here is very mild: there is neither extreme heat, cold, nor prolonged rains.

The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is located in the southern part of the island. It is a port city, next to which yachts and cruise ships are parked. You can take the Funchal-Monte cable car from the waterfront to the nearest mountains. Near Funchal, there are several botanical gardens.

The University of Madeira is in the top 20 universities in the country. In Funchal, there is a hospital named after Dr Nélio Mendonça with a famous centre for hyperbaric medicine; and in Monte — the Marmeleiros hospital.

life in Madeira, Funchal

The Botanical Garden in Funchal

cost of living in Portugal

The Sete Cidades Lake in the Azores

The Azores are the smallest region in Portugal. They are famous for their changeable climate: the weather on the islands can change radically during the day. 

The infrastructure on the islands is still poorly developed: due to the small number of tourists, the construction of hotels began recently.

Features of the Portuguese regions

RegionFeatures
LisbonThe capital and the country's scientific, technical, industrial, educational and medical centres. 

A water sports centre with world-famous routes loved by professional yachtsmen. There is an appropriate infrastructure. The region has the best surf beaches and many sports schools.
NorthernThe second most important region of the country in terms of economic importance and the industrial centre. Also famous for universities and medical clinics.

The coolest region of Portugal is not suitable for a beach holiday but has a developed infrastructure for yachting.
CentralThe region combines proximity to the business centre of the country and nature. Here is the country's leading university and a world-famous clinic whose specialists are fighting Parkinson's disease.

The region is distinguished by various natural scenery, and its beaches have high waves, which surfers appreciate.
AlentejoThe largest region of Portugal and the centre of winemaking and agriculture. 

The region is chosen for living by those who appreciate the proximity to nature, silence and a high level of ecology.

The region has a well-known university and the largest hospital in Portugal. Beach holidays are not popular here due to the strong wind from the Atlantic.
AlgarveThe region has the mildest climate, and almost all business in the area is related to tourism. 

The Algarve can be compared with the Riviera: a diverse coastline and an abundance of hotels, casinos, and water parks. The southern branch of Portuguese yachting runs along the region.

There is a well-known university here, many medical clinics with a high level of service operate, and thermal springs are open.
MadeiraThe Gulf Stream passes by the island, so the region has a very mild climate. 

As in the Algarve, business in Madeira is related to tourism. It has its own university and many medical clinics.

Remoteness from the mainland dictates a more relaxed lifestyle. Madeira is famous for its exquisite botanical gardens. The island has rocky beaches.
AzoresThe smallest region in Portugal with a different climate. 

The infrastructure is much poorer than in other Portuguese regions. 

Cost of living in Portugal

Food. Dinner for two in a restaurant will cost around €30, and a cup of cappuccino will cost €1.5.

Average prices in Portuguese supermarkets

ProductsAverage price
🍞 White bread, a loaf of 500 g€1.05
🧀 Local cheese, 1 kg€6.80 
🥩 Beef, 1 kg€8.90
🍷 Local wine, 1 bottle€4.00 
🥛 Milk, 1 l€0.65
🥚 Eggs, 12 pcs€1.75
🍗 Chicken fillet, 1 kg€4.95
🍚 White rice, 1 kg€0.90
🍊 Oranges, 1 kg€1.20

Utility costs. The owner of an 85 m² apartment pays about €100 per month for electricity, heating, air conditioning, and water. Internet costs from €27 to €50 per month.

Mobile service. There are three biggest telecom operators in Portugal: MEO, Vodafone and NOS. MEO offers the best mobile communication and Internet coverage; in second place is Vodafone. The cost of a minute of conversation on a mobile phone at a prepaid rate of €0.15, unlimited Internet at a speed of 60 MBs will cost €33.

Public television is represented by nine channels. Сonnecting satellite or online TV and watching programs from any country is not difficult in any country's region. 

Entertainment. A month of classes in a fitness club costs up to €50, renting a tennis court on weekends is €15 per hour, and a cinema ticket is €7.

Transportation. A single ticket for travel in public transport costs an average of €1.6; a monthly travel card is €40. Calling a taxi will cost €3.25, then you will have to pay €0.7 for each kilometre. The cost of a litre of gasoline, depending on the brand, is usually €1.75.

Property in Portugal

In the first quarter of 2022, property prices in Portugal rose by 3.8%. This is an average increase in prices compared to Malta — 0.4% and Estonia with the highest rate of 7.1%.

Traditionally the most expensive real estate is in Lisbon, Porto, Algarve and Madeira. The average cost of buying an apartment in Lisbon is €3,414 per м². The lowest price is on Azore island — €1,149 per м².

The cost of renting a residential property varies between €14,2 per m² in Lisbon and €4,4 per m² in Vila Real. 

Investors can buy residential or commercial property in Portugal and get a residence permit.

Property investment to obtain a Portugal residency are:

  • €350,000 — for properties older than 30 years old for renovation;
  • €280,000 — if the property is located in a region with low density, then the minimum real estate investment amount is reduced by 20%;
  • €400,000 — for properties built less than 30 years ago and in a sparsely populated area;
  • €500,000 — for purchasing a newer residential or commercial real estate.

Participants in the Portugal Golden Visa Program can buy a residential property in the Azores and the interior country regions. Interior areas do not include the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, Portugal's coastal and resort regions. 

Commercial real estate is available for buying in any region, including Lisbon, Porto and resort towns such as Cascais. Investors can purchase both new properties and old commercial real estate for renovation.

Examples of residential properties for sale in Portugal

living in Portugal

Apartments in a new residential project on the coast of Madeira cost at least €495,000. The project is represented by a condominium in one of the modern residential areas of Funchal – Ajuda. Funchal is a picturesque metropolitan city stretched along the ocean coast in the south of Madeira

cost of living in Portugal

Apartments in a modern residential complex near the beach cost at least €345,000. The project is represented by a 7-storey residential complex with a swimming pool in the Ajuda area – one of the newest areas of Funchal

life in Portugal

Apartments in a residential project near the thermal complex cost at least €280,000. Renovation project in the heart of the tourist area of ​​São Pedro do Sul, next to the thermal baths dating back to pre-Roman times

Banking services in Portugal

Portuguese banks offer services which stand toe to toe with other European banks. More than 150 financial institutions operate in the country, including 31 branches of foreign banks.

70% of the banking sector are concentrated in the five main banks:

  • Caixa Geral de Depositos;
  • Millennium BCP;
  • Santander Totta;
  • BPI;
  • Montepio.

Opening an individual account. Portuguese banks have relatively low service rates and high-quality service. Opening a bank account costs approximately €100. The monthly maintenance fee is about €6.5. 

When opening a personal account, a client of a Portuguese bank receives:

  • debit and credit cards;
  • the ability to replenish accounts through an ATM;
  • online banking services;
  • the ability to make payments through the SEPA system (Single Euro Payments Area).

Access to other bank services is provided by opening a current account. Its cost is 2.5 times higher, e.g., €250.

A deposit in a Portuguese bank. The rate is 0.8% per annum. The state guarantees the return of the deposit in the amount of €100,000 in the event of a bank failure.

Opening a corporate account. The minimal cost of opening a business account is €800, and you must pay around €50 per month for its maintenance.

Mortgage and consumer credit. The mortgage rate in Portugal ranges from 2 to 4.5% per year; the maximum term is 40 years. There are three main conditions for loans:

  1. The age of the borrower is from 21 to 75 years. At the same time, the loan term and age in total should not exceed 75 years.
  2. Down payment is 30 to 50% of the housing cost.
  3. The maximum loan amount is up to 80% of the property value.

For a consumer loan for any purpose for a period up to 84 months and no more than €25,000, you will have to pay about 11% per annum.

ATMs. Money can be withdrawn at any ATM. The limit is €200 per operation and €400 per day. The fee for withdrawing cash from ATMs depends on your bank. 

Cashless payment. In major cities of Portugal, almost everywhere, you can pay with a Visa or MasterCard bank card. However, in small cafes, souvenir shops, and public transport you can pay only by cash or a Multibanco card.

Taxes for individuals in Portugal

Portuguese tax residents pay income tax, stamp duty, and property transfer tax.

Income tax is paid on a progressive scale. The tax base covered employment, business or professional income, investment income, property income, net worth increases and pensions. Resident can get a tax deduction from medical expenses and education.

Income tax rates and deductions for individuals in Portugal

Annual incomeRateDeduction
Up to €7,112 14.5%€0 
€7,112 to €10,73223%€604.54
€10,732 to €20,32228.5%€1,194.8
€20,322 to €25,07535%€2,515.63
€25,075 to €36,96737%€3,017.27
€36,967 to €80,88245%€5,974.54
Above €80,88248%€8,401.21

If the annual income of a tax resident exceeds €80,882, a tax surcharge will be charged to the solidarity rate:

  1. 2.5% on income of €80,882 to €250,000;
  2. 5% on income over €250,000.

Property tax is levied by the regions and ranges from 0.3% to 0.8% of the property value. 

When buying a property, a transfer tax is charged. Its rate is 0 to 7.5%, depending on the property type and location.

Stamp duty is paid for various transactions, including for acquisition, lease and sublease of real estate. Its rate depends on the transaction type and starts at 0.8%.

Tax incentives for foreigners

Portugal provides preferential taxation for expats. Two preferential tax statuses apply:

  1. Non-Habitual Resident — entitles you to pay income tax at a flat rate of 20% for 10 years. A Non-Habitual Resident is a person who has received the status of a Portuguese tax resident, that is, lives in the country for more than 183 days a year. At the same time, an NHR hasn’t been a Portuguese tax resident for five years before obtaining the status. Such a resident does not pay tax on income received outside of Portugal.
  2. O residente nao habitual is a privileged status for foreign pensioners who came to live in Portugal. Such residents do not pay income tax for 10 years.

Education in Portugal

Secondary education can be obtained in 12 years, both without payment and on a commercial basis. It will cost an average of €2,500 per year.

Higher education. Portugal is home to several of Europe’s oldest universities, well-known business schools and polytechnic universities.

Portuguese universities are well equipped. The University of Lisbon has 106 research centres and laboratories in telecommunications, bio- and nanotechnology, robotics, plasma and nuclear fusion, and molecular medicine. 

Portuguese universities have several student support programs. The attitude towards international students is amicable and welcoming.

Cost of education at the best Portuguese universities for international students

UniversityCityAnnual tuition fee for an undergraduate programAnnual tuition fee for a postgraduate program
Universidade do PortoPorto€3,500+€3,500+
Universidade de LisboaLisbon€3,000+€7,000+
Universidade de CoimbraCoimbra€7,000+€7,000+
Universidade Nova de LisboaLisbon€3,000+€7,000+
Universidade Católica EditoraLisbon€5,300+€6,300+
University of EvoraEvora€2,500+€4,600+
Universidade da Beira InteriorCovilhã €5,800+€5,800+
Polytechnic Institute of OportoPorto€3,100+€3,600+
Fernando Pessoa UniversityPorto€1,800+€3,700+
University of the AlgarveFaro€2,000+€4,000+

Teaching at universities is conducted mainly in Portuguese. However, finding English-language programs is not difficult, especially regarding technical specialities: computer science, engineering and exact sciences, faculties of design and technology. Teaching in English is widespread in business schools.

Most universities do not require a Portuguese proficiency certificate for admission. However, a future student usually passes an interview. Those who do not speak Portuguese or English well enough will be directed to language courses. 

The high level of education in Portuguese universities makes their students attractive to all EU countries.

The higher education system consists of three cycles. When finishing the first three-year cycle, the student receives a licentiate degree, which is analogous to a bachelor's degree. Two years later, a master's degree is awarded. The process time of the third cycle normally takes three years. In the end, the student defends a dissertation and receives a doctorate.

The cost of higher, scientific and business education in Portugal

LevelAnnual tuition fee
Undergraduate€1,000 to €6,500
Master€2,000 to €8,000
Doctorate€3,000 to €9,000
MBA€12,000 to €36,000

Medicine in Portugal

Medical care in Portugal is fee-based for everyone, except for the poor, children, pregnant women, people with severe chronic diseases and family planning.

An appointment at a public clinic costs €5, and obtaining a prescription without a doctor's appointment costs €3. A consultation with a specialist in a hospital starts from €20. 

Analyses and research are paid separately. Staying in a hospital, operations and childbirth are free. Dental care is fully paid for.

A voluntary insurance policy saves 50—75% of the treatment cost. The basic cost of such a policy for citizens aged 18—65 is €400 per year; for people over 65 years old, €700 per year.

Portuguese citizens and residents get a special Cartão de utente SNS card. It allows the holder to seek medical help in public institutions. Patients are assigned to a family doctor at a polyclinic. If necessary, the doctor refers them to subspecialists at the nearest hospital.

Famous medical clinics in Portugal

NameRegion, citySpecialisation
CETINorthern region,PortoDiagnosis and treatment of female and male infertility
Espregueira MendesNorthern region,PortoSports medicine, orthopaedic surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation
Clinica de Radioterapia do PortoNorthern region,PortoCancer radiotherapy clinic
CNSNorth Region,PortoParkinson's disease, neurodegenerative diseases, strokes and consequences of injuries to the central nervous system
FisiogasparLisbon Region,LisbonRecovery after operations on the musculoskeletal system
Lusíadas LisboaLisbon Region,LisbonObstetrics and gynaecology, fertility treatment, oncology, ophthalmology, paediatrics, cardiology, orthopaedics, and obesity treatment
Lusíadas PortoNorthern Region,PortoOtolaryngology, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, urology, nuclear medicine, orthopaedics, and traumatology

Job market in Portugal

The average salary in Portugal is €1,100 gross per month. For highly qualified employees, the number goes up to an average of €1,800. For workers without a university degree, the number lowers to €900.

€1,100
Average salary in Portugal

Manufacturing and IT are expats' most popular fields of activity, but foreigners are also investing in other industries.

The following industries are developed in the country:

  • textile;
  • food: winemaking, production of olive oil, canned fish, processing of cork bark;
  • ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy;
  • wine production;
  • mechanical engineering: ship repair and shipbuilding, car assembly;
  • chemical, oil refining, cement, glass-ceramic industry.

There are 7,000 clothing factories in Portugal. European and American designers prefer Portugal, among other things, because of the low cost of equipment rental and wages. Portugal outperforms China in logistics.

The IT field or online businesses welcome expats. The top self-employed positions in Portugal are no different than work you could do elsewhere. Think accountants, designers, marketers, consultants, writers, developers, and data analysts.

Expats can also start a business in the tourism sector. Tourism is one of Portugal’s strongest markets, and with the number of tourists that are continuously on the rise, working in the hospitality sector is almost always a safe bet. This includes businesses, such as cafes, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses.

living in Portugal — open a cafe in Lisbon
One of the most in-demand jobs in Portugal is in the sectors of tourism — hotels, caterers, restaurants

Pension system and benefits for immigrants

Portuguese residents retire at 66 years and 6 months: by 2029, the government plans to raise the retirement age to 67 years. You can retire earlier if you have over 40 years of work experience.

66 years and 6 months
The retirement age in Portugal

Pension payments are calculated according to the length of service, wages and the amount of paid social contributions. The minimum pension in Portugal is €286 per month.

The Portuguese government is trying to attract financially independent pensioners from all over the world. In 2009, a law was passed allowing foreign pensioners who own real estate to apply for the status of O residente nao habitual. The status allows them not to pay taxes in Portugal.

To qualify, you must reside in the country for at least 183 days a year and prove a constant source of income outside of Portugal. It may be a pension or funds from renting out housing. After 10 years, a pensioner receives a residence permit and begins to pay the same taxes as country residents.

Public transportation in Portugal

Portugal has an excellent road infrastructure. The total length of motor roads is 82.9 thousand km, of which 2,992 km are motorways — Autoestrada.

Highway fares are low. For example, travelling by car on the 17-kilometre cable-stayed Vasco da Gama bridge over the Tagus River north of Lisbon costs €3.

The Portuguese use trams, buses, subways, funiculars, suburban trains and even an elevator to move around.

Yellow trams are a famous Lisbon attraction. Portugal’s capital currently has five different routes and 58 trams, of which 40 are vintage streetcars. The heritage trams are small, nostalgic and an emblematic symbol of Lisbon, making for great photos.

The Elevador de Santa Justa street lift is the fastest way to get from the Baixa neighbourhood to the Bairro Alto district. The lift can carry 20 people upwards, but can only take 15 people down.

The metro in Lisbon operates from 6:30 am to 1:00 am, and on New Year's Eve and on the night of St Anthony from June 12 to 13, some lines work until three in the morning. Lisbon Metro has 56 stations and four lines.

Taxis can be found at taxi ranks at railway stations, large city squares, the airports in Porto, Lisbon and Faro or hailed on the street. Most licensed taxis in Portugal have a taxi sign on the roof and the driver's identity will be displayed inside the cab. You can also use Taxi applications like Uber or Bolt.

Metro, buses, trams, funiculars and elevators are united by a single fare system.

There are three international airports on the Portuguese mainland: Faro, Lisbon and Porto. Two more are located on the islands: one in Funchal in Madeira and the second in the Azores.

Life in Portugal — Yellow tram in Lisbon

Vintage yellow trams are Lisbon’s trademark. The fare is €3 per person

living in lisbon portugal — Santa Justa lift in Lisbon

The Lift has a stunning observation deck at the top and offers magnificent views over Baixa. Since it was opened to the public, it has become one of the most popular viewpoints in Lisbon

Living in Portugal — Lisboa Metro Underground Station Olaias in Portugal

“Travelling all Lisboa” is a ticket that lets you travel by bus, funicular, tram, lift, metro and train for just €10.60. With this 24-hour ticket you can travel freely in the entire Carris and Metro networks, as well as the CP trains (Sintra, Cascais, Azambuja and Sado lines)

Why and where to learn Portuguese?

You can easily communicate in English in major Portuguese cities. However, if an expat plans to enrol in a Portuguese educational institution or obtain citizenship, it makes sense to learn Portuguese. 

Portuguese will also be needed to communicate with government services and bank employees. In smaller towns, residents also rarely speak languages ​​other than Portuguese.

It is impossible to obtain citizenship without knowledge of the Portuguese language. The applicant provides the Migration Service with a certificate or other document confirming language proficiency at a level not lower than A2.

A2
The minimum level of Portuguese language proficiency for citizenship

Those who want to learn Portuguese can take public courses or enrol in a language school. The course duration is up to 12 weeks; it costs €500 to €1,500 per week.

Portugal for holidays: what to see, visit and try

Sights. Portugal has a rich history and a unique style of architecture. The relatively small country has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Living in Portugal, you can devote every weekend to exploring a new attraction, city or museum. 

Festivals and holidays. Portugal loves festivals, and each region is famous for its special dates. What is important is the national flavour. The era of the great geographical discoveries left its mark on the country’s culture. Therefore, many processions resemble the colourful Brazilian carnivals.

Most festive events in Portugal

HolidayDatePlace
Freedom DayApril, 25th Lisbon
Independence Restoration DayDecember, 1st Lisbon
Umbrella Sky Project (Umbrella Festival)Throughout JulyAgueda
Medieval Fair and FestivalMid-July to mid-AugustObidos
Boom Festival, a biennial psytrance music and culture festEnd of JulyIdanha-a-Nova

Music. Fado is a folk song genre, somewhat reminiscent of a lyrical sentimental song. Fado is performed by men and women, with the guitar or piano, depending on the region. The latter are usually dressed in long dresses and traditional black shawls. 

Benefits of living in Portugal - Palácio Nacional de Mafra

The Mafra palace complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located 30 km northwest of Lisbon

life in Portugal - Agueda

In July, the streets of Agueda are decorated with colourful umbrellas

living in Portugal 一 Fado singers

Fado performers on the streets of Lisbon

Cuisine. Another undoubted advantage of Portugal is the huge amount of fresh food. Grilled shells, sea bass, sea bream, mussels, crabs, and shrimp are served in any country restaurant.

The list of traditional dishes includes bacalhau as a typical example. Translated from Portuguese, this means cod, but bacalhau means dried and very salty fish. 

Winemaking. Portugal is famous for its red, white, rosé and green wines. However, Portuguese solid drinks are unique. 

Madeira is produced on the Portuguese island from various grapes and can be dry or sweet.

According to the legend, a Portuguese merchant sent oak barrels of wine to a buyer on a ship, but the buyer decided to get them back. During the voyage, the wine splashing in the barrel acquired a specific taste, and the merchant began to specially produce it at his winery, recreating the sea's conditions.

Port wine is the second most famous Portuguese wine. It got its name from the Portuguese city of Porto.

The Portuguese authorities closely monitor the quality of the drinks produced. For example, to release the Vintage port wine, you need to get two documents:

  • a confirmation from nine major wineries that the port wine is made from grapes of an "outstanding" heritage;
  • a certificate from the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto.

All wineries in Portugal have tasting rooms where you can see how they are made, and taste them.

Benefits of living in Portugal — Traditional Portuguese cuisine Bacalhau do Porto

Bacalhau do Porto is one of the options for a traditional dish with fish and vegetables

Life in portugal — Vineyards on the island of Pico, Azores

Vineyards on the volcanic island of Pico in the Azores is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It produces fortified wines from Verdelho, Arinto and Terrantez grapes

Public Holidays in Portugal

Most public holidays in Portugal are religious and include festivals and parades honouring a saint or a bible story. Normally, the shops and other services are closed for the whole day, even in big cities. Furthermore, public transport and other services reduce their schedules.

There are 14 public holidays in Portugal. Of these, 13 are mandatory. Carnaval is an optional holiday, and it is at each company’s discretion whether or not to give their employees a day or half-day off.

Portuguese public holidays during 2022

  • 1 January: New Year’s Day (Ano Novo)
  • 15 April: Good Friday (Sexta-feira Santa)
  • 17 April: Easter Sunday
  • 25 April: Freedom Day (Dia da Liberdade)
  • 1 May: Labor Day (Dia do Trabalhador)
  • 10 June: Portugal National Day (Dia de Portugal)
  • 16 June: Corpus Christi (Corpo de Deus)
  • 15 August: Assumption of Mary (Assunção de Nossa Senhora)
  • 5 October: Republic Day (Implantação da República)
  • 1 November: All Saints’ Day (Todos os Santos)
  • 1 December: Restoration of Independence Day (Restauração da Independência)
  • 8 December: Immaculate Conception (Imaculada Conceição)
  • 25 December: Christmas Day (Natal)

Also in Portugal there are some important days, which are not public holidays but celebrated by citizens: Father’s Day 19 March and 1 May Mother’s Day on 1 May.

Portugal standard of living on key parameters

The country ranks 21st in terms of life expectancy, with an average of 82 years. 

In 2020, Portugal ranked first in the annual world index of the American International Living magazine. The reason is the lowest cost of living in Portugal among Western European countries, high-quality healthcare, a temperate climate, safety, a welcoming attitude towards foreigners, and fancy food and wine.

The choice of universities is wide; many trace their history back to the Middle Ages. University buildings are architectural monuments. Universities have the richest historical libraries. 

It is easy to choose a comfortable region. The beauty of nature can be enjoyed almost everywhere. For surfers, Portugal provides unique opportunities and experiences.

The country also has one of the most beneficial Golden Visa Program. Participating lets wealthy people obtain Portugal resident permits and EU citizenship in five years.

Portugal citizenship gives new freedom: the choice to live, work and study in any EU country. Moreover, there is the freedom to travel to more than 180 countries visa-free, including the Schengen states, the UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong. You can visit the USA, Australia and Canada with electronic travel authorisations. Learn how to get Portugal citizenship after a Golden Visa.

Frequently asked questions

What is the cost of living in Portugal?

It depends on the Portugal region. Living in Lisbon, Porto and Cashkais are always more expensive than in the Azores or Madeira. 

You can compare cost of living in different Portugal cities considering property price for rent or purchase.

How is living in Portugal?

Living in Portugal is great for expats. Portugal is a safe country with a good climate and ecology.

The locals are friendly and law-abiding. The people of Portugal have a great attitude towards guests and immigrants and are always ready to help.

Portugal is noted for its low cost of living and tax incentives available to expats.

Why get a residence permit in Portugal?

Portugal has the most beneficial residence permit by investment program in the EU. Its participants can get Portuguese citizenship in just five years. 

The country has a high level of education, medicine, ecology, safety and business activity. It is essential for immigrants who consider the interests of all family members.

Portugal has a mild climate. The coastline is diverse: cliffs, sandy beaches, calm bays and high waves, secluded beaches, and tourist centres. Surfers and yachters love Portugal.

The country has a rich history, architecture, culture and cuisine. Fans of sights, national dishes, drinks, and entertainment will find it all here.

Is Portugal friendly to foreigners?

Yes, the locals are friendly and law-abiding. The people of Portugal have a great attitude towards guests and immigrants and are always ready to help.

How to relocate to Portugal?

First, you need to apply for a residence permit. A residence permit can be obtained in many ways, but the easiest is to participate in the Golden Visa Program for investors. The minimum investment is €250,000.

You can choose one of the eight investment options. The most popular one is the purchase of real estate. Read in detail about the real estate market in Portugal: how to buy or rent a property, what taxes you have to pay and how to maintain real estate.

Having received a residence permit by investment, you can apply for Portugal citizenship in five years. With your passport, you will receive all the privileges of an EU citizen.

Where do most expats live in Portugal?

Most expats live in large cities like Lisbon and Porto and the Algarve resort region.

How to choose the right region to live in in Portugal?

When choosing a place to live in Portugal, consider the interests of all family members. 

The Lisbon and Northern regions are better suited for business. The best medical institutions and universities are concentrated in the Lisbon, Northern and Central regions.

If you are looking for tranquillity, nature’s beauty, and a warm climate, you should consider Madeira or Alentejo. If you are an avid surfer or yachtsman with an active lifestyle, take a closer look at the Algarve.

Do expats pay taxes in Portugal?

Yes, if an expat lives in the country for more than 183 days a year he becomes a tax resident. 

Portuguese tax residents pay income tax, stamp duty, and property transfer tax.

To reduce tax burden you can get a Non-Habitual Resident status which entitles you to pay income tax at a flat rate of 20% for 10 years. At the same time, an NHR hasn’t been a Portuguese tax resident for five years before obtaining the status. Such a resident does not pay tax on income received outside of Portugal.

What to see in Portugal?

We recommend getting acquainted with the country’s culture, starting with visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are not only cultural and historical monuments but also nature reserves. 

There are 17 World Heritage Sites registered in Portugal, and more than 10 are being prepared for registration. The list includes:

  • the Alto Douro wine region in northern Portugal; 
  • the cities of Sintra and Elvas;
  • the historical centres of Porto, Guimarães and Évora;
  • the palace and park ensemble of Mafra in the suburbs of Lisbon;
  • relic laurel forests of Madeira Island.
What are the best beaches in Portugal?

You can spend time in silence, calmly sunbathe and relax on the beautiful wild beach of Canto Marinho in Viana do Castelo. The beach in Nazaré is ideal for holidays with children. Nearby is a surf spot with steep waves.

Diving and surfing enthusiasts will love the beach on the island of Berlenga Grande. Porto Moniz in Madeira has a unique beach with natural volcanic pools.

The most famous sports beach in Portugal is Praia do Guincho, located near the city of Cascais. It was here that the filming of the famous “James Bond” took place.

For those who want to practice snorkelling, diving, and sailing, the Praia de Alvor beach, located near Portimão, is suitable. A yacht can be rented from Marina de Portimao.

What is the hottest month in Portugal?

August is the warmest month in Lisbon. It has an average high-temperature of 28.3°C and an average low-temperature of 18.6°C.

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Why Portugal is one of the best places for expats to live and do business