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Retiring in Portugal: low cost of living but the high quality of life, and other benefits

Portugal is among the top 5 destinations to retire, according to the Annual Global Retirement Index 2022. Low cost of living, safety, developed infrastructure, sunny weather, and high healthcare quality attract senior foreigners from around the globe.

There are two investment routes to obtain a Portugal Retirement Visa leading to EU citizenship in the future.

Learn why Portugal is considered retirement heaven and how to get residency there.

Retire in Portugal

Benefits of retiring in Portugal

Portugal is considered a peaceful country with a high quality of life. It is among the safest countries in Europe, with rich history and culture, fancy cuisine and gorgeous beaches.

Free travelling through Europe. Portuguese residents visit the 26 Schengen states without a visa and spend up to 90 days out of 180.

Law crime rate. Portugal is in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index 2022, ranking 6th of the safest countries in the world. The locals are amiable and welcoming to expats. Families with kids feel safe and sound in Portugal.  

Pleasant weather. It’s almost always sunny in Portugal. The warmest month is August. In Lisbon, the average daytime temperature is +27.8℃. The water is the warmest in August and September. Its average temperature throughout the year ranges from +13℃ to +19℃.

Winters are warm. The average daily temperature in January in Lisbon is +14.7℃. Snow rarely falls and melts quickly. Most often, it can be seen in mountainous areas.

Beneficial tax system. New Portuguese tax residents can obtain a 10-year special status of a Non-Habitual Resident. Portugal introduced a flat 10% tax on the foreign pension income for non-habitual residents.

High healthcare quality. The Portuguese healthcare system is ranked amongst the highest in the world. Senior people generally have good access to healthcare in Portugal. 

Residential programs for retirees. Portugal is a welcoming and friendly country with several immigration ways for foreigners.

Couple from Nur‑Sultan
How a couple from Kazakhstan has relocated to Portugal for a peaceful retirement

Amina and Talip were looking for a perfect escape route to retire in the European Union. They wanted to live closer to water, travel through the Schengen Area visa-free and obtain second citizenship in future if they liked the country.

The couple chose between Portugal, Greece and Spain. Eventually, they participated in the Portugal Golden Visa Program and felt absolutely satisfied with the result.

Case story

EU citizens don’t have to apply for a visa or residence permit to enter Portugal. The same as EEA and Switzerland passport holders. They need to get a Registration certificate to live in Portugal. 

This certificate must be applied for at their local Council within the 30 days following their first three months in Portugal. The Registration certificate is valid for five years from the date of issue.

Retirees from non-EU countries need a visa to move to Portugal. After you move to Portugal, you must apply for a residence permit. You can also apply for permanent residency or citizenship after five years.

Opportunity to get Portugal citizenship. A retiree can apply for Portugal citizenship after five years of residency. 

The Portuguese passport allows you to travel to 188 countries without visas and choose any EU country to live in. The applicant will not have to give up the passport of the country of origin if its legislation allows citizens to acquire citizenship in other states.

How to get a Retirement Visa to relocate to Portugal

The Portugal Retirement Visa offers two routes to move to Portugal. Both of them allow relatives to participate in the visa-obtaining process.

The Portugal D7 Visa is also known as the Retirement Visa and does not require fulfilling investment options.

Applicants must prove a passive income outside of Portugal of no less than €760 monthly. An applicant can receive passive income like a pension, rental income or a remote work salary. If relatives get visas with the main applicant, they must add 50% of the income for a spouse and 30% for a child. 

To show the minimum income, retirees need to open an account in a Portuguese bank. An applicant must provide a bank statement. Keeping a minimum amount equal to 12 months' income is required. You can use this money after receiving a residence permit card. 

Portugal retirement visa document requirements:

  1. An international passport.
  2. A medical insurance policy.
  3. Two colour photos.
  4. A police clearance certificate from the country of origin.
  5. A lease or purchase agreement for real estate.
  6. Marriage or birth certificates.
  7. A Portuguese bank statement.
  8. A NIF registration certificate.

Applying for a Portugal Retirement Visa takes place in your home country. The visa allows two entries in Portugal and has a 4-month validity period. After arriving in Portugal, the D7 visa holder must apply for a residency permit with the Immigration and Border Service (SEF).

Applicants must have accommodation and a registered address to get a residence permit. They can rent a property or buy it. There are no limits on the type, age and value of a property.

The Portugal Golden Visa Program. An investor makes a sufficient donation to the Portuguese economy using one of several options: residential or commercial real estate purchase, fund contribution, business, and science or culture investments.

The most popular investment option is buying real estate. Minimal investments start at €280,000. Applicants must also pay a transfer tax rated 6—8% of the property value, a stamp duty of 0.8%, and an annual property tax of 0.4% of the cadastral property value.

Portugal Golden Visa document requirements:

  1. An official Application Form. 
  2. A valid passport.
  3. Marriage, divorce and birth certificates.
  4. Two passport-size photos.
  5. A medical insurance policy.
  6. A certificate of having no previous criminal records. 
  7. Documents related to the investment.

Applying for a Golden Visa is possible through a licensed agent. Immigrant Invest lawyers provide the investor with an individual list of documents required to apply for a residence permit. They also fill out government forms, translate and notarise documents, and collect documents related to property ownership.

Portugal Golden Visa and D7 visa comparison

If senior people want to move to Portugal without significant capital investment, it might be better to consider obtaining a D7 visa. It leads to a residence permit in the country and gives a chance to become a European citizen in the future.

The Portugal Golden Visa Program is designed for investors with intentions to get not only residency but also a profit. That’s why, thanks to the real estate investment option, retirees can buy a residential or commercial property and rent the object to earn money.

FeaturesD7 visa Golden Visa
Visa-free Schengen AreaYesYes
Right to apply citizenship in 5 yearsYesYes
Minimum investmentNot required€250,000+
Proof of sufficient income€705+ per monthNot required
Processing time4+ months8—10 months
Mandatory residing in Portugal183 days a year7 days a year
Relatives participationSpouses, children under 21, parentsSpouses, children and siblings under 26, parents

Best places to retire in Portugal

Portugal is considered one of the best places for expats. Let us present several cities that are the most suitable for expats to retire.

Lisbon. If you are looking to retire in a city full of Old World charm, check out Lisbon. The city comes alive with colourful tiles, museums, palaces, nightlife, and a tram system that navigates the steep, cobbled roads.

Porto. Head north to visit Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto. Famous for its production of port wine, stately bridges, colourful riverfront area, university vibe, and tours along the Douro River, there is much to explore. Porto also has an international airport, one of three in the country, making it easy to come and go.

I moved to Portugal from Canada. The country has access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean with a rich underwater world. Fishing has always been my passion! I made several Portuguese friends. Spending time on the water is like second nature for them, just like for me. 

One of my favourite locations is the Azores. Besides, I often go to the mountains and vineyards in Porto. I have an excellent sports complex near the house with a swimming pool and park area.

Retiree from Toronto, Canada

Alentejo. South of Lisbon is the Alentejo region, which includes the cities of Beja and Évora. The country’s largest and most rural area is famous for the fields of wildflowers, stately cork oaks, historic towns, and a sparse population. Life here is slow, winters are fantastic, and summers are hot and dry.

Algarve. The southernmost region of Portugal is the Algarve. Known for its Atlantic beaches, fishing villages, golf resorts, waterparks, hot, dry summers, and tourists. Due to its long history of British tourists coming here on holiday, English is widely spoken.

Retire in Portugal — Lisbon

It’s not the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, it’s the 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon, which is coloured like the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and the design is similar as well. Both the Bay Bridge and the Abril Bridge were built by the same company

Portugal retirement visa — Porto

The Coastal Route — Caminho da Costa — is a beautiful route starting in Porto and following the coast till Redondela. The Coastal Route goes along the sea and meanders between the beach, towns, and fields

Retiring in Portugal — Alentejo

In the Alentejo, an authentic meal can be found anywhere, from humble taverns to the region’s chef-driven eateries. There is no need to seek haute-cuisine restaurants: The tastiest and most heart-warming meals can be found in traditional and affordable eateries, where locals will treat you like family

How to retire in Portugal — Algarve

Praia do Camilo is widely known as one of the gorgeous beaches in the Algarve. It has the characteristic high cliffs of many beaches in the region, as well as clear green waters and views of Lagos

Cost of living in Portugal

Property. The most expensive real estate is in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, and Madeira. 

The average cost of buying an apartment in Lisbon is €3,414 per m². The lowest price is on the Azore islands — €1,149 per m².

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

Property investments to obtain 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.

To retire in Portugal, you can buy a residential property in the Azores, Madeira and the interior regions. That area does not include the major cities of Lisbon and Porto or Portugal’s coastal resorts. 

Rental prices also vary between regions. Lisbon’s rental price is €14.2 per m². Leasing an apartment in Albufeira will cost you €10.5 per m², and in Vila Real, €4.4 per m². A tenant must pay utilities not included in the rental bill.

Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of real estate for renovation
Couple from Baku
The Portugal Golden Visas for the purchase and renovation of an old villa

Eldar and Zara bought a villa in Portugal, made a renovation and were going to submit documents to obtain a residence permit. But it was right before the pandemic started, and a couple couldn’t complete the process for a long time.

Immigrant Invest lawyers helped them to collect all the documentation and make an appointment at SEF. 

Now Eldar and Zara enjoy their new life in Portugal, a one-hour drive from the Atlantic coast.

Read the full story

Medical insurance. Private insurance can be as low as €4 per month. These rates only apply to people who are younger than 55 years. These companies do not cater to people above the age of 55 years. 

Three companies sell insurance plans to retirees up to the age of 75. These are Fidelidade/Multicare, Tranquilidade and Millennium Bank/Médis.

Transport. Portugal has an excellent road infrastructure. The total length of motor roads is 82.9 thousand km, of which 2,992 km are motorways — Autostrada. Travelling by car on the 17-kilometre Vasco da Gama bridge over the Tagus River north of Lisbon costs €3.

The Portuguese use trams, buses, subways, funiculars, and trains. You can even use an elevator in Lisbon to move between two parts of the city.

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. 

Depending on the brand, the cost of a litre of gasoline is usually €1.75.

D7 visa Portugal
To feel free when paying bills in Portugal, it’s better to open an account in a Portuguese bank

Retirement healthcare in Portugal

The National Health Service in Portugal provides free health services to Portuguese citizens. Non-EU citizens do not share the same privileges. They are required to live in Portugal for 5 years and obtain permanent residency before they are eligible for free health care services.

You must provide proof of health insurance before relocating to Portugal. Once you arrive in Portugal and have settled in, you can change to Portuguese private health insurance. The cost of private health insurance in Portugal is relatively cheaper than health insurance in the US.

A permanent resident can take advantage of Portugal’s health services and find them to be of high quality. The hospitals are modern and well equipped, and the health system covers basic health needs, accidents, and illnesses. Even more, many public and private health care doctors speak and understand English.

I visited Portugal for treatment several times. There are excellent private clinics with modern equipment and great doctors. Then I thought about moving there, especially since there is a special D7 Passive Income Visa.

My son moved to Portugal with his girlfriend several years ago using that route and later helped me do the same. Now I can get health insurance and treatment at a much lower cost than in London. Besides, I admire sunny weather.

Retiree from the UK

Activities for retirees in Portugal

Golf. Golf is hugely popular in Portugal, and golfing trips often lead people to discover the country’s charms in the first place. The Algarve is usually the first place that springs to mind. The area is renowned for golf and is home to famous courses like the Quinta do Lago South Course.

Hiking. There are many walking trails in Portugal, including one that spreads for the entire width of the Algarve. You will also find a vast community of enthusiastic walkers. If you enjoy walking, you could see it as a great way to meet other overseas residents.

Boating and kayaking. For many, a dream is to retire in Portugal and buy a boat. You could acquire a small pleasure craft to explore the local coastline or something far more impressive to head further afield. Just beware that strict laws around licences and training exist, so ensure you do your research.

One thing you won’t need a licence for is a kayak. Kayaking is incredibly popular in Portugal because it lets you explore the most stunning and often deserted islands and landscapes. It’s an extremely healthy activity. Many small companies run by expats run kayak trips around the Portuguese coast. These start at as little as around €25. 

Also, locals are fond of surfing, fishing and diving.

D7 visa Portugal
In 2021, Portugal picked up several awards at the 28th World Travel Awards despite the Covid‑19 pandemic. The Azores region won the “Best Adventure Tourism Destination” while the Algarve won the “Best Beach Destination”. Madeira won the “Best Island Destination”

Taxes for retirees in Portugal

All residents of Portugal are taxed on their global income, meaning your pension transferred from abroad could be liable to a Portuguese tax.

Retirees can apply for a Non-Habitual Resident, a status that offers expats a reduced tax rate and avoids double taxation.

The flat tax rate for pensions from other countries is 10%. The rule applies if the recipient changed his tax residence to Portuguese and received the Non-Habitual Resident status after April 1st, 2020.

Tax residents of Portugal without Non-Habitual Resident status pay a pension tax as an income tax: on a progressive scale of up to 48%.

Non-EU citizens who wish to transfer their state pension to a Portuguese bank should check the terms and conditions of their country regarding pension transfers abroad. Portugal has tax and social security agreements with several non-EU nations to make things easier for people migrating abroad.

Frequently asked questions

How much money do you need to retire in Portugal?

It depends on the Portuguese region. The highest prices are in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, and Madeira. 

For example, the average cost of buying an apartment in Lisbon is €3,414 per m². The lowest price is on the Azore islands — €1,149 per m². The cost of renting a residential property varies between €14.2 per m² in Lisbon and €4.4 per m² in Vila Real.

How can I get a Portugal Retirement Visa?

You can apply for a Portugal D7 visa and get a residence permit eventually. It’s a non-investment route. Applicants must provide monthly passive income.

The Portugal Golden Visa is one more way to retire in Portugal. Senior people can get residence permits immediately and apply for a Portuguese passport in 5 years.

How long does it take to get a retirement visa for Portugal?

Up to 6 months if you apply for a Portugal D7 visa. The visa is valid for 4 months. You must submit documents to SEF and get a residence permit card during this time. 

The Portugal Golden Visa processing time is 8- to 10 months.

Does Portugal levy taxes for expat retirement income?

Yes, but retirees can apply for an NHR — a Non-Habitual Resident, a status that offers expats a reduced tax rate and completely or significantly avoids double taxation.

What are the benefits of retiring in Portugal?

Portugal is one of the top five countries to live in. So, in 2022, it took 4th place in the Global Peace Index. This indicates a high standard of living and security in the state.

Foreigners who receive the status of a residence permit can also receive a tax holiday for 10 years.

The mild warm climate allows for gardening and water sports all year round. Ecological cleanliness, natural diversity and developed infrastructure make it possible to relax interestingly and with health benefits.

Portugal is a great place to live and a reliable backup plan in the resort part of the European Union.

Is it easy to retire in Portugal?

Yes, the locals are friendly and welcoming to foreigners. 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%.

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Retiring in Portugal: low cost of living but the high quality of life, and other benefits