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Living in Portugal: Pros and Cons

Living in Portugal offers many advantages: a warm climate, the Atlantic ocean, mountains nearby, a low crime rate and a relatively low cost of living. Medicine and education are well developed here, and residents are offered tax exemptions. The disadvantages include the need to learn Portuguese and carry cash on you.

Living in Portugal: Pros and Cons

Advantages of living in Portugal

The cosmopolitans move to Portugal for a variety of reasons: its warm climate, security and business opportunities. Let us analyze the main advantages of living in Portugal.

Warm climate. Portugal has a fairly warm climate, which varies by region: the south is more arid, the northwest is rainy, and the northeast is characterized by long and warm summers.

The warmest month is August. In Lisbon, the average daytime temperature is 27.8℃. The sea is warmest in August and September and its temperature ranges from 13℃ to 19℃ throughout the year.

There are warm winters. The average daily temperature in January in Lisbon is 14.7℃. It rarely snows there and when it does, the snow melts quickly. It is more common in mountainous areas.

It is often sunny in Portugal, especially in July, August and September.

Entertainment and recreation. In Portugal, everyone finds a place and activity to their liking. You can swim in the Atlantic Ocean, explore the Serra da Estrela mountain range, and visit castles and fortresses. The locals are fond of surfing, fishing and diving.

Portugal won 26 World Travel Awards in 2020. The awards were given for its attractions, beaches and resorts: for example, the Algarve region, which is chosen by Portuguese residents and tourists as an ideal location to relax on the coast. Portugal was voted the best travel destination in Europe.

Safety. In 2019, Global Finance magazine ranked Portugal fourth amongst the safest countries in the world, and in 2020 it was placed third in the Global ranking of peaceful countries.

Portugal has a low crime rate. The Portuguese are a friendly and welcoming people and treat immigrants with warmth, kindness and openness.

A relatively low cost of living. The basic cost of living in Portugal is about 60% more expensive than in Russia. However, in other European states, such as Austria, Switzerland, the UK and neighboring Spain, prices are even higher. In comparison with prices in the European Union, life in Portugal is relatively inexpensive.

Prices in Portugal

ExpenditureAverage cost
A 3-course dinner for two in an ordinary restaurant€30.00
☕ Cappuccino€1.39
Loaf of bread€1.08
A dozen eggs€1.77
Local cheese, 1 kg€7.13
Milk, 1 l€0.67
Apples, 1 kg€1.52
Petrol, 1 l€1.52
Utility bills for an 85-sq-m apartment€99.50
️ Unlimited Internet€32.91
Fitness club membership
for 1 month

Quality of education. Portugal has a fairly high quality of secondary and higher education. Degrees from Portuguese universities are recognized in the European Union, which helps graduates find work in other EU countries.

University courses are taught in Portuguese and English. However, English courses are not available at every institution and they are more expensive. A bachelor's degree in English at the University of Oporto costs a minimum of €8,900 per annum, while a degree taught in Portuguese at the University of Coimbra costs a minimum of €6,340 per annum.

Quality of medicine. Portugal spends about 9% of its GDP per annum on healthcare. According to the Global Health Expenditure 2020 study, the country is ranked 36th in terms of spending.

Medical care is available free of charge at public hospitals. It is available to citizens and residents of the country.

In private clinics, you can get an appointment faster than in public ones and there is also a higher level of service, including telephone consultations with your doctor. Private health insurance policies cover part of the cost or the full cost of treatment.

Tax benefits for residents. Foreigners with a residence permit in Portugal can obtain the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) tax status. It exempts you from paying taxes on income earned abroad as long as it has been taxed at source.

The NHR status allows the investor to reduce the amount of income tax payable in Portugal. The income tax rate for skilled professionals, such as executives, programmers, engineers, scientists, artists and entertainers, is reduced to 20% from 48%.

In order to obtain the NHR status, one needs to become a tax resident of Portugal, which means living in the country for at least 183 days during the year and renting or buying property. The tax exemption is applicable only if you have not been a Portuguese tax resident in the past 5 years.

A special tax status is granted for up to 10 years.

The English language. As most Portuguese people speak English, one does not need to be fluent in Portuguese to live there.

Pace of life. Portugal is suitable for those who like a relaxed pace of life. The Portuguese are not often in a rush to go somewhere. Cities are not as lively as metropolitan areas in Russia, the US or the UK.

Advantages of living in Portugal
Camilo beach in Lagos city, Algarve region, Portugal

Disadvantages of living in Portugal

Some of the disadvantages of life in Portugal are intertwined with its benefits, such as the climate or the pace of life there.

The need to learn Portuguese. On the street, in shops and in museums, you can communicate in English. However, in government agencies, generally Portuguese is spoken. Therefore, you need to learn Portuguese at least up to a basic conversational level.

Difficulties with paying by cards. In Portugal, bank cards are issued in the Multibanco system. Visa or MasterCard are not accepted everywhere. You have to check whether an international bank card is accepted and carry cash on you.

Heat in summer, rain in winter. The Portuguese climate does not change sharply from season-to-season. It is rainy in winter and there is hardly any snow. In summer, the temperature can sometimes rise to 40℃.

There is no central heating. It is cold inside apartments in winter. You have to buy heaters to stay warm.

Pace of life. The quiet life typical for Portugal is not for everyone. Local residents are in no hurry and can be unpunctual. Restaurants and shops often close for several hours in the middle of the day and are closed on Sundays.

How to Move to Portugal

In order to move to Portugal, you need to obtain a residence permit. Usually it is issued to those who are going to work or study there, marry a Portuguese citizen or have carried out significant services for the state.

Portugal issues residence permits for investment. The process takes about six months.

Applicants are offered eight investment options. Buying real estate for €500,000 is the most popular option. Applicants also often buy property for restoration costing €350,000.

From January 1, 2022, investors will no longer be able to buy residential property in popular resort cities. In return, they will be offered facilities in the Azores, Madeira and in sparsely populated areas.

Foreign citizens with a Portuguese residence permit can live, study and work in Portugal. They can also travel without a visa to the Schengen states for up to 90 out of 180 days.

Five years after receiving a residence permit by investment, the holder has the right to apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Immigrant Invest is an official representative of the Portuguese residence permit by investment program. We help applicants select real estate for investment, complete and submit the required package of documents and receive residence permit cards. To find out more about the terms and conditions of the program and the opportunities it offers, please book an individual consultation with a lawyer at Immigrant Invest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Portugal living: pros and cons of moving there?

There are many advantages of living in Portugal: a warm climate, numerous entertainment, sports and relaxation activities, a high standard of living and a relatively low cost of living. Most of the locals speak English, which helps immigrants to quickly integrate into society. Lisbon, the Portugese capital city, is in the list of 100 best cities of the world according to Resonance Consultancy. There are disadvantages of living in Portugal too. One has to learn Portugese as it is mostly spoken in all the governmental service bodies. Also there is no opportunity to pay with a Visa or MasterCard, one has to have a Portugese bank card or pay with cash. There is no central heating in the country, so heaters are a must-have in winter.

Which documents are needed to move to Portugal?

To stay and live in Portugal, you need to obtain a residence permit. You can get it if you find work in the country, enrol in a long-term course of studies, marry a Portuguese citizen or invest in the country’s economy.

What is the easiest way to get a residence permit in Portugal?

Getting a residence permit by investment in Portugal is the easiest way to become a resident. In this case, foreign citizens do not need to look for employment or enrol at university. A residence permit by investment is issued within six months. To participate in the program, the applicant has to invest at least €250,000. The program has eight investment options. Purchasing real estate for €500,000 is the most popular option.

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Living in Portugal: Pros and Cons