Remote Work Possibilities: How to Live in Portugal on Your Own Terms

Remote Work in Portugal
How to Live in Portugal

Remote Work Possibilities: How to Live in Portugal on Your Own Terms – It’s the dream of so many people from around the world: to work without the cramped cubicle confinement and formal dress code of an office, without the hour-long commutes in each direction, and without the restrictions of dedicated office hours. That dream has been realized in the form of remote work which has seen a dramatic increase in interest from every corner of our globe largely due to calls for better work-life balance and safety during the pandemic. 

An additional benefit of remote work is that it may also make it possible for you to complete your work from another city or even another country. As expats and nomads around the globe live out their dreams of living abroad, many have done so by finding a way to work remotely. Portugal, in particular, has emerged as one of the most friendly countries for remote work owing to a relatively low cost of living in the European Union (EU), a straightforward path to residency for non-EU citizens, tax benefits, compatibility with many time zones, and of course the wonderful Portuguese lifestyle. Let’s explore some of these reasons why remote work is so popular with expats in Portugal.

Remote Work Possibilities: How to Live in Portugal on Your Own Terms - Low Cost of Living in Portugal by Expat Empire

Maintaining Higher Salaries with a Lower Cost of Living

A common trend among expats from both the EU and other countries is to maintain their jobs from their home countries while living in Portugal through remote work. The reason for this becomes clearer when you consider that the minimum wage in Portugal is the lowest in the European Union at €705 per month as of 2022. Though you can certainly find salaries at tech companies for example that are meaningfully higher than the minimum wage, they will still not be likely to rival the salaries you can enjoy in other European startup hubs like London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. 

What this means for expats is that finding in-person work in Portugal, no matter the level of expertise, will likely involve accepting lower wages than with similar jobs in other EU countries and certainly lower than in high-demand positions in the United States. Many expats have responded to this disparity by working as freelancers for companies offering remote positions or building their own remote businesses from Portugal. Of course, developing this relationship with your employer or clients may be a challenge, but if you can manage it, then you may be able to afford a more comfortable lifestyle while working from Portugal.

Remote Work Possibilities: How to Live in Portugal on Your Own Terms - Friendly Culture in Portugal by Expat Empire

Friendly to Foreigners: Portugal’s Visa Programs and Path to Citizenship

Many of the countries in the EU are notorious for having visa and immigration programs that are quite restrictive and sometimes functionally impossible for most applicants. Portugal is not one of those countries. As part of the government response to the economic crisis of the last decade, Portugal has rolled out a series of visas designed to attract foreigners to the country with accessible living and working prospects.

One of the most popular Portuguese visas in recent years is the Passive Income Visa, also known as the D7 Visa. This visa enables non-EU citizens to qualify for residence and eventually permanent residence and citizenship based on their income from outside of the country. That income can come from a variety of different sources such as remote work, dividends from investments, pensions, and much more. As such, Portugal is currently one of the only countries in the EU that openly allows non-EU citizens to get a residence permit through remote work arrangements. They even allow residence permit holders to apply for permanent residence or dual citizenship after only five years living in the country.

Beautiful Living in Portugal
Remote Work Possibilities: How to Live in Portugal on Your Own Terms

Favorable Tax Options for Foreigners in Portugal

One of the biggest issues that expats run into in their time living abroad is figuring out their own tax situation in a new country. Depending on their passports and the countries where they have tax residence, expats may even be obliged to file taxes in multiple countries. The United States, for instance, requires all citizens and residents to file taxes on all income while abroad, even if they haven’t earned income in the US or set foot in the US during that calendar year. 

One way that Portugal makes things easier for expats is through offering the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax status. After obtaining NHR status, expats do not have to pay income tax in Portugal for 10 years on foreign-sourced income if it could be taxed in another country. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to pay any taxes at all in Portugal, this program could certainly help to significantly lower your overall global tax burden for the first decade you reside in the country. Please know that we aren’t tax accountants or lawyers ourselves, so we strongly recommend working with one of our talented tax partners who can help you to figure out how to best take advantage of these opportunities in your unique situation.

Portugal's Location in the World

Portugal’s Advantageous Location and Timezone

Portugal’s position on the western edge of Europe has several advantages when it comes to time. The Portuguese mainland and the island group of Madeira use the same time zone as the United Kingdom throughout the year, which is known as UTC+00:00 (Coordinated Universal Time). Meanwhile, the island group of the Azores is one hour behind at UTC-01:00. This means that a business in Portugal shares business hours with places as far east as Jakarta and Bangkok and as far west as Denver and Calgary, as well as the majority of the world’s population in between.

Even with the flexible hours that may come with remote work, Portugal places its residents in an advantageous position of being able to communicate with business across Europe, Africa, North America, South America, the Middle East, and South Asia during normal business hours. This has led to a large influx of service and tech companies to Portugal, especially the Lisbon metropolitan area.

Located on the western edge of Europe, Portugal is also ideally positioned for travel to the Americas and to the rest of the continent. Though its international airports may not be as well connected as other international travel hubs in the region, Portugal’s location next to Spain and the rest of Western Europe as well as being just across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States is ideal for many expats and nomads. 

Enjoying the benefits of living in the country by Expat Empire

Enjoying the Benefits of Living in Portugal

Even without the positive prospect of remote work, many expats have chosen to move to Portugal to enjoy all that the country has to offer. Our founder, David McNeill, is one of those expats that originally came to the country with his wife after falling in love with the Portuguese way of life. He initially started working in an office with a local company, but due to the pandemic, he found himself working remotely. Eventually, the company went through a series of layoffs and David transitioned to work on Expat Empire full-time and continued building his remote-first business.

At Expat Empire, we have written many times about various aspects of life in Portugal and why it’s so attractive to expats. The country has an incredible work-life balance that few countries can match. This is further enhanced by a low cost of living, even in the large cities of Lisbon and Porto. The entire country benefits from a Mediterranean country that is drier in the south and Madeira, and wetter in the north and the Azores. To see more reasons why life in Portugal can be so great, check out our blog on the topic. 

What you need to get started remote working by Expat Empire

Remote Working in Portugal: What You Need to Get Started

Moving to Portugal and Remote Working are two concepts that go hand-in-hand for many expats. Between the favorable visa opportunities and tax situations, moving to Portugal and working remotely is an enticing prospect. With a rapidly expanding economy, a good position in global time, and a wonderful work-life balance, moving to Portugal has never been more exciting. Read our comprehensive guide on how we can help you move to Portugal if you’re interested in getting started. 
The consulting services available from Expat Empire are personally designed to make your move abroad easier. Whether you decide to find a new job that allows remote work or building your own freelance business, consider using our Remote Work Roadmap to get started. If you do plan on finding a new local job to help you to move to your target country, we also offer our comprehensive International Job Search service. Before you make your first moves and decide on anything, however, make sure to check out our Free Consulting Call to make sure we can mutually decide on which of our services will be the right fit for you.

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.