Why Live in Portugal? In recent years, many established expats and those that dream about moving abroad have chosen Portugal as their new home base. This is for good reason as the small country at the western edge of Europe undergoes a sort of post-recession renaissance. After years of being overshadowed by its closest neighbor Spain and other Mediterranean countries, Portugal is finally getting its spot in the limelight. Here’s a guide to why expats and digital nomads want to live in Portugal.
Perfect Weather, Gorgeous Scenery, and Stunning Beaches
The Portuguese mainland is located on the Atlantic Ocean between 37 degrees and 42 degrees North, which puts it in the path of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Although the country is direct across from the likes of Washington DC, New York, and Boston, its climate is much warmer during the winter, rarely dipping below freezing. It is also quite temperate in the summer, averaging highs just over 80F (27C). The northern half of the country receives plentiful rain in the cooler months and the southern half is semi-arid. The island territories of Madeira and the Azores, which sit far into the Atlantic Ocean, have oceanic climates full of forested hills and lush greenery.
While not as renowned for beaches as its neighbor Spain, Portugal has its fair share of white sand beaches in between long stretches of stunning rocky coastline. The sunny beaches in the south are famous for their incredible scenery. The Azores have been relatively untouched and see few visitors besides tourists from the mainland. The incredible beauty of the islands is defined by volcanic black-sand beaches, while further inland, vibrant forests and lakes make for attractive hiking trips.
The Ever-Present Seafood and Fantastic Local Cuisine
Though Portugal doesn’t itself touch the Mediterranean Sea, its cuisine is very similar. The defining feature of Portuguese cuisine is seafood, owing to its long history and relationship with the sea. The former Portuguese Empire stretched across the world, from modern-day Brazil to Angola, from Mozambique to India, and from Macau to Japanese islands. The colonists were largely responsible for much of the spice trade and they brought seeds between different continents, influencing many regional cuisines.
Modern Portuguese cuisine is highly regarded among culinary enthusiasts as cutting edge while retaining traditional touches. Some famous Portuguese dishes include those with bacalhau, dried and salted cod, and the francesinha, a delicious meat sandwich covered in cheese and tomato sauce. As the Portuguese economy has grown, so has the fame of its delectable cuisine.
The Portuguese are Warm, Approachable, and Humble
As many expats have experienced before, during, and after moving to Portugal, the locals are very accommodating and interested when visitors are sincerely trying to experience their way of life. The country’s long history of international influences has led them to be accepting of foreigners and are typically happy to find a way to communicate, whether it’s through their typically fluent spoken English or your rudimentary Portuguese. As a culture, they hold family and close friends in very high regard, often using the term saudade, which describes the feeling of longing for someone or something you deeply care about.
A Decent Chance at Getting By Using English
As mentioned in the previous section, you can usually expect that Portuguese people will be able to converse with you in fluent English.. English is taught as a foreign language in all public schools starting in the fourth year of primary school. This has resulted in a fairly large proportion of the Portuguese population speaking conversational English. Of course, the numbers are higher in larger cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve, but areas near the coast see a high proficiency due to the tourism industry. Many expats have found daily life manageable while largely in English as they start to acquire basic Portuguese. Foreign films are even shown in their original language along with Portuguese subtitles, so you can catch Hollywood blockbusters in English at your local cinema!
A Relatively Low Cost of Living for Western Europe
When compared to most other countries in the developed world, Portugal has a low cost of living. This can be seen in the capital and most expensive city, Lisbon, where a typical 1 bedroom apartment will go for €650 per month while average living expenses in the city were €593 per month in early 2021. Portugal’s minimum wage is the lowest in Europe, making expenses more difficult to cover for locals, but that also makes the prospect of doing remote work for foreign employers from within Portugal the driving force for many expats to make the country their home base.
A Flexible and Open Immigration System
Why Live in Portugal? The options available for expats looking to move to Portugal cover a wide range of age groups, working abilities, financial assets, and lifestyle goals. Many visas follow traditional routes such as skilled work paths, education, or family reunification. However, Portugal has also gained renown in recent years because of the addition of several non-traditional visa paths, such as the D7 visa for retirees and the digital nomad visa for remote workers.
Straightforward Pathways to Permanent Residence and Citizenship
Once you establish your residency in Portugal, you’ll have most of the same benefits as Portuguese citizens including healthcare, travel rights, and the right to start a business and own property. If you are laid off from a job, you may also collect unemployment benefits. After five years of maintaining a temporary residence permit in Portugal, you’ll be eligible to apply for either permanent residence or citizenship. The only other requirement at this point is a certification showing basic proficiency in the Portuguese language, which you will be sure to acquire after five years. Best of all, as a new Portuguese citizen, you probably won’t need to hand back your old passports as Portugal allows dual citizenship.
Why Live in Portugal? A Tax Regime That Accommodates Foreigners
Portugal has a tax category for so-called Non-Habitual Residents, exempting foreign nationals from paying taxes from certain sources. Foreign-sourced income, or income received from outside of Portugal, is typically exempt from Portuguese taxes for up to 10 years. If you receive income from within Portugal, such as working for a Portugal-based employer, this tax category enables you to also pay a flat 20% income tax on your earnings rather than typical rates of up to 48%. These tax benefits make Portugal an even more attractive place to call home!
Portugal is a Burgeoning Tech Hub
Portugal is positioning itself to be one of the most important countries for the technology industry in Europe and beyond. Many tech giants, such as Google and Amazon, have opened regional offices in the capital city of Lisbon in the past few years. Meanwhile, Portuguese and foreign entrepreneurs are setting up shop in Lisbon and Porto, where Expat Empire is based. As a barometer for the exciting prospects in tech in Portugal, the world-renowned Web Summit technology conference gathering tens of thousands of attendees from across the globe has taken place in Lisbon every year since 2016. New government grants, startup incubators, venture capital investments, and foreign company subsidiaries are being announced in Portugal on a regular basis, so the prospects for business and employment opportunities in the country are looking as exciting as ever!
Many expats have found that a wonderful life has been waiting for them in Portugal. We want to help you do the same. Check out our guide at Moving to Portugal where we will assist with detailed information and firsthand experience with relocating to this beautiful country. Whether you are looking to move abroad or just country hop for a while, Expat Empire is here to assist you with those big questions. Take a look at our consulting services and Expat Tools to see which of them will take you to the next step in your journey abroad!