Some say that it is not easy to be an expat. If you are thinking about moving to Portugal know that this is not the case. Portugal is a simple country, people are friendly, the food is excellent and the conditions for buying property are outstanding.  Portugal’s highly popular Golden Visa scheme is also considered invaluable for non-Europeans looking to reside legally in Portugal. On top of the huge tax benefits the country offers, living in Portugal as an expat is an outstanding life investment.

Why live in Portugal?

Portugal is a safe and peaceful country that offers a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Heritage and tradition are valued by the Portuguese, and they are known for their generosity and openness toward expats. Be ready for late-night dinners, days spent at incredible beaches and golf courses, hip parties and events, excellent winery, and gastronomy. Portugal also offers high-quality education and culture, making it one of the best European countries to live in.

Advantages of living in Portugal as an expat

There are plenty of advantages of living in Portugal as an expat. From a practical point of view, the cost of living in Portugal is low and it’s relatively easy to buy property — which has the lowest values in Europe.

Other advantages include:

  • Many Portuguese people speak English
  • There are lots of job possibilities for expats
  • Things like opening a bank account is reliable, fast and easy

What is the cost of living in Portugal?

The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low, compared to other European countries. Taking into account the high quality of properties, the good standard of education and healthcare institutions, as well as the excellent commodities and products on offer, we can safely say that Portugal is a very affordable and comfortable country for expats.

Price of property

The property prices are reasonable, so you can buy an apartment in Lisbon for around €120,000. The price per square meter is around €1,111. The best part about buying a property in Portugal as a non-EU citizen is that you can benefit from the Golden Visa program — a scheme that offers legal residency to expats in exchange for a qualifying property investment.

Cost of living

In Portugal, you can find high-quality properties, food and drinks, technology, and all the commodities of a stable country at accessible prices. Most foreigners consider the cost of living to be low. According to UBS (Prices and Wages), the Consumer Price Index is only 67.4 compared to New York, where it equals to 100.


Portugal’s entire coastline stretches for 1187 km, with plenty of gorgeous picture-perfect beaches for surfers and water sport enthusiasts. Most of the beaches have family-friendly modern facilities.

Useful Portuguese phrases

The basics bom dia (good morning), boa tarde (good afternoon) or boa noite (good evening), and the general phrase tudo bem? (how are you doing?) are commonly used phrases among the Portuguese. If you were to say these words to a Portuguese person, you’d likely end up speaking like old friends.

Surely, all the long talks will make it easier for you to learn the language fast and efficiently. You will also benefit from the expansive mannerisms and expressions that accentuate very much the messages transmitted.

Other useful Portuguese phrases may be:

  • Eu venho de … (I come from – insert country)
  • Eu gostaria de pedir… (I would like to have a…)
  • Poderia ajudar-me? (Could you help me?)

Almost all Portuguese speak a second language so if you develop the conversation in English, French, or Spanish, there’s a good probability of being understood.


Portugal is known for its warm summers and mild winters (the average lower temperature doesn’t fall below 11°C/52°F in January). However, the country is in general very humid and many places don’t have integrated heating during the winter months. You can enjoy an African breeze in the Algarve and snow in Serra da Estrela. But the most special thing about Portugal is its golden sunlight, shining almost all year.


Portugal is located physically and historically at the meeting point of three continents — Europe, Africa, and America — and constitutes a privileged entry point into the Schengen area. Manueline art, tiles, and fado are unique expressions and symbols of the Portuguese and their contribution to world heritage. In Portugal, UNESCO has already made 24 classifications for architectural monuments, landscapes, and heritage.


The hospital network in Portugal consists of modern units that are well-equipped throughout the country. An integrated medical emergency system provides care for anyone who is injured in an accident or who suddenly becomes ill. The World Health Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the Portuguese health system in 12th place globally.


The Portuguese, in general, are demanding when it comes to the quality of their properties, transportation, and other facilities. It is important to note that the quality and speed of technologies are also highly valued. As a general rule, for the Portuguese, comfort is essential.


Portuguese public transportation is not at the European level. There are a lot of shortcomings here in terms of network coverage and schedule continuity. If you are going on a long journey by public transport in Portugal, be prepared for long waits and possible delays. Transportation, however, is clean and of high quality, especially in large cities. That being said, most use a car to get around. Unfortunately, cycling isn’t considered popular in Portugal due to the unevenness of the ground and few bike lanes.

Coworking spaces

Coworking spaces in Portugal are becoming quite popular, but they mainly exist in big cities. Lisbon is home to the world’s largest digital nomad community with regular meet-ups and co-working spaces popping up all over the city to accommodate the influx of freelancers and startup companies. There are over 50 co-working spaces available, catering for freelancers, startups, and small businesses in Lisbon.


Portuguese nightlife offers good surprises for those looking to party in a friendly country. The cities host a young, bohemian, multicultural soul and, above all, there are nightlife options to cater for all tastes and budgets.

What are the most popular Portuguese cities for expats?

According to InterNations, it’s easy for expats to get settled and make friends in Portugal. Home to a buzzing nightlight, wonderful beaches, and picturesque castles,  it’s no wonder why Lisbon
was named the hottest travel destination for millennials in 2019.

It’s also easy to get around Lisbon if English is the only language you speak. However, Portugal is so diverse that you’ll feel at home in other cities such as Vilamoura, Cascais, Ericeira, Nazaré, and Porto.

Portimão and Albufeira are very cosmopolitan and full of life both day and night. If you are a water sports lover and especially enjoy surfing, then you’ll find plenty of beaches to enjoy your hobby. Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, and Almancil — the so-called Golden Triangle of the Algarve — are increasingly sought after by foreigners looking for comfortable homes. Tavira, a symbol of the Mediterranean Diet UNESCO heritage is more famous among the Portuguese, with a flourishing high-end real estate market.

Let’s put it this way: Cascais is Lisbon’s best beach destination. Every corner is beautiful and has a lot to offer. This is the place where people come to enjoy the nice weather and go diving. There probably are a few hundred expats living in Cascais as a lot of people find it to be peaceful, attractive and, above all, very welcoming. Some expats keep in touch through Facebook groups such as Expats Cascais.


Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are by far the most popular destinations in Portugal. Because of this, most visitors do not venture further inland. It is a real shame because the central Portugal region is equally as scenic and picturesque as other regions in Portugal. In particular, Nazaré and Ericeira are known for their surfing culture, Óbidos is known for their chocolate and sweet (but strong) drink ginjinha, and Fatima for its spirituality.

The cost of living in Lisbon for an expat is around 1,254€ per month, which is considered much cheaper than other popular European cities. Currently, Lisbon is in first place in Nomad List’s best places to live and work in the world, and it’s also one of the best places to invest in real estate in 2020.

Like Lisbon, Porto is also a very safe city, making it perfect for expats and it’s considered cheaper to live in compared to Lisbon.

Frequently asked questions by expats interested in Portugal

What are the job opportunities like?

It is not difficult for an expat to find jobs in Portugal. There are now many companies interested in working with professionals who speak second languages, the startup scene is growing and the Portuguese people naturally promote integration.

Which jobs are available for expats in Portugal?

Just like many capital cities around the world, most of the jobs for foreigners are in Lisbon. You can look for jobs among dozens of startups and agencies all over Lisbon. Look through the sites Jobs in Lisbon and Expatica to find your perfect job.

Can you work remotely for a foreign company?

In Portugal, technologies are fast and reliable, and remote work is very possible. There are a lot of coworking spaces that cater to remote workers, plus almost all cafes have good, reliable wifi.

Is it a good idea to buy a property in Portugal?

Expat buyers have a high degree of protection under Portuguese law. While the pitfalls should never be ignored, buying a property in Portugal is usually a safe and secure investment. At present, there are tens of thousands of foreign owners in Portugal and several million Portuguese homeowners, the vast majority of whom are satisfied with their purchases and who have found few or no problems when buying their homes. On the bonus side, you can get legal residency if you invest in portugal. This is done under the Portugal Golden Visa Program (certain conditions apply.)

What is the property rental market like?

On average, housing in Portugal costs around 1,100 EUR (1,200 USD) in rent per month. This number grew considerably from the €800 (880 USD) registered just a year before. Rent prices will vary greatly depending on the part of the country in which you choose to live and the type of housing you seek.

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