5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal

5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal by Expat Empire
5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal

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5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal – for several years now, Portugal has been one of the most exciting places to relocate. We have written before about what are some of the best aspects of Portugal living as well as some of the challenges that expats may face. Among those that made the jump is our founder, David McNeill, who has resided in Portugal since 2019 with his wife after they fell in love with the country during a visit. With so many expat experiences being made by people from around the world, the prospect of moving to Portugal is still well within reach. 

At Expat Empire, we put the focus on your specific situation and offer consulting and advice to help you achieve your move abroad. Whether you want to work in a local brick-and-mortar company or work from the comforts of your home or neighborhood coworking space, the opportunities of Portugal’s economy are here for the taking. Let’s look at the 5 top reasons that people are looking to start the next chapter of their international careers in Portugal!

5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal by Expat Empire

Waves of New Opportunities: Why Startups and Industry Leaders Are Setting Up Shop in Portugal

The Portuguese economy admittedly doesn’t have the best reputation. With a substantial financial crisis from 2010 to 2013, unemployment rates doubled and the gross domestic product (GDP) fell for several years. Portugal was one of the EU countries that requested a bailout in April 2011 to reduce public debt and spur investment. Since 2014, however, the economy has made a speedy recovery, with the GDP growing by 25.5% by 2019 and the GDP per capita growing by 26.6% in the same period. 

Unemployment rates in Portugal peaked in 2013 at 16.2%, which is the highest rate in modern times. Since then, the unemployment rate has reduced to 6.5% in 2019. This wave of new jobs has been providing confidence to foreign investors and has put the Portuguese people in much better standing in comparison to many of their European partners. With regards to foreign jobs, Portugal has positioned itself as a great place for foreign companies to grow their teams in addition to a hub for digital nomads and expats. This fact means that there are an increasing number of jobs available in Portugal for talented candidates from around the world. 

International Teams in Portugal - 5 Reasons Why Expats are Focusing Their Job Search in Portugal by Expat Empire

A New Generation of Fluent English Speakers

While Portuguese is still clearly the main language that’s used in daily life in Portugal, English has become the lingua franca for business in many contemporary Portuguese companies. Though you may find that much of the older generations of shopkeepers and business owners in Portugal do not have much understanding of English, the trend is quickly changing in younger generations. In fact, you can already see the value being put on speaking English in Portugal when the country achieved the  7th place ranking in the EF English Proficiency Index in 2021 among other leading international business hubs such as the Netherlands, Singapore, and Germany.

As the international business landscape evolves, companies are changing their focus from primarily serving the needs of local Portuguese clients towards addressing the broader global marketplace. As a result, English fluency has increased in importance for the local workforce. This is becoming even more true as foreign workers are increasingly moving to Portugal to pursue job opportunities in these companies. When diverse teams are composed of people from around the world who speak different languages, it’s common for the most important business communication to be conducted in English. 

Hospitality Industry in Portugal

The Strengths of the Portuguese Tourism & Hospitality Industries

Portugal is one of the most popular tourist spots in Europe. This is mostly due to its great weather, historic cities, easy going lifestyle, love for both beer and wine, and incredible culinary scene that focuses around seafood. The small country received over 27 million tourists in 2019, with the largest flow coming from Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Brazil. Unlike most tourist markets, the entire country sees a decent spread across all regions, including the primary cities of Lisbon and Porto, the sunny Algarve region, as well as the fascinating island chains of Madeira and the Azores.

The multitude of positions available in the tourism and hospitality industry not only means that there is plenty of opportunities for work, but also for business growth. Many tour groups, hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, and more have sprung up to support the large influx of tourists to the country. Many locals and foreign investors have even purchased homes and apartments with the intent of renting them out on Airbnb or as short-term vacation rentals. As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal is poised to take an even greater share of the tourists coming to Europe, meaning there will be even more job opportunities in these sectors going forward.

Traditional Industry in Portugal

Craft & Inspiration: A Blend of Traditional and Modern Industries

Portugal is well known in several industries with both old-world leanings and futuristic thinking. The international wine industry, for one, is dutifully supported by Portugal’s production of cork, responsible for over half of the world’s supply. Intrinsically tied with the sea, Portugal is well known for its domineering fishing industry, supplying the globe with both fresh seafood, canned seafood products, and a particular specialty: the delicious salted cod known locally as Bacalhau. Portuguese wines have also gained favor in culinary scenes throughout the world. The textile industry has also long been a big contributor to the economy, currently constituting about 10% of Portugal’s exports. If you have any experience in these fields, then you may be able to leverage your expertise to find great opportunities throughout the country.

Although Portugal has a rich history and many centuries of tradition, the country isn’t stuck looking at the past. The economy has modernized with the times and even inspired progression in the technology and service sectors. Lisbon has, in recent years, become a hub for tech companies in Europe, and other cities like Porto and Braga are next on the list to benefit from this trend. Favorable tax incentives for foreign people and companies such as the Non-Habitual Residency tax status and startup-focused government grants will continue to convince international companies and entrepreneurs from around the world to make Portugal one of their primary European hubs. 

Living Easy in Portugal

Salary Increases & Social Programs: Signs of a Promising Future

The low minimum wage in Portugal has long been a concern for the country. As recently as 2015, the minimum wage was only €505. However, the passing of new laws has quickly improved the standard of living for many Portuguese citizens and immigrants. As of 2022, the minimum wage stands at €705, an increase of 40% in just seven years. This is partly due to the increasing cost of living in Portugal but also comes in response to the recent economic growth. 

While the relatively low minimum wage is not a point in favor of the Portuguese market for job seekers, salaries have been rising more than average in high-demand positions such as in the Information Technology sector. There may also be higher paid opportunities for managers and executives to come from abroad and share their knowledge with both local and foreign companies looking to gain a foothold in international markets from Portugal. 

Remote Work in Portugal

Job Search Assistance in Portugal

As you can see, the Portuguese economy has a lot going for it, and there are many great opportunities for motivated individuals who want to find a job in the country. The avenue that most people take when moving to another country is by obtaining a work visa, which can be much harder said than done. Most countries require having a concrete job offer upfront, including Portugal in most cases. The real challenge lies in finding a company that is willing to sponsor you as an applicant, knowing full well that the visa and moving process will take several months as both parties wait for the work to begin. To overcome these hurdles, many expats have turned to job search services to increase their chances of finding adequate employment in Portugal.
One of the consulting services we offer at Expat Empire is the International Job Search, a personalized service that focuses on making your application more attractive to employers as well as helping you to strategize for finding roles in countries around the world. We also offer the Remote Work Roadmap, which can prepare you for the demands and successes of working remotely, one of the primary ways expats earn income in Portugal. We also have a wide network of partners that may be able to assist in your search, so be sure to reach out to connect with our partners. If you’re not sure on the best way for you to move forward, sign up for our Free Consulting Call to explore how we can best assist you in your move abroad whether it’s to Portugal or anywhere else across the globe.

I'm a writer and former Chef living in Ankara, Turkey. Originally from Evergreen, Colorado, I spent my childhood years in the mountains. I moved to Denver nearby for my education at University of Colorado Denver where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in English - Creative Writing. After graduating in 2012, I rediscovered a passion for cooking and sought to combine that passion with travel. In 2019, I met my future wife, a teacher, in Denver. The COVID-19 Pandemic broke us apart for some time, but we reunited and married in Ankara in 2020 and we continue to live happily in this stunning culinary and cultural oasis.