Updated: March 29, 2023
Each person moving to Portugal will delight in what the country has to offer and will probably comment on something different — the friendly locals, the traditional food, the fact that it costs a balmy 60 cents for an excellent coffee. Indeed, the quality of life in Portugal is right up there with the best in the world, with an excellent climate, pristine landscapes, and an easygoing vibe.
In this article, we’ll delve into ten reasons to move to Portugal (there are many more than this) and why life in Portugal for expats is very special indeed, to quell your excuses and provide a clear picture of the quality of life in Portugal.
For extra insights into Portugal’s Quality of Life, our citizenship and residency division recently unveiled their Quality of Life Index. The Portugal quality of life ranking stood in 12th position. You can see more here.
1. Soak up the rays
Most of Portugal has warm summers and temperate winters. The Algarve boasts more than 300-days of sublime sunshine per year, where you can regularly sit out in just a t-shirt, even in January. The average maximum temperature in January and February was 61°F(16°C), and in July and August was 84°F (29°C) in the Algarve.
Indeed the Mediterranean climate of Portugal is one of the key reasons why tourists and expats have been flocking to Portugal’s shores. Many celebrities, including Sir Cliff Richard and Bonnie Taylor, have come to call the Algarve home because of the sunny weather and warm climate (our article on celebrities who bought homes in Portugal can be found here).
While Northern Portugal is also warm, particularly compared to other European countries further north, it can get cold in the winter months. However, with beaches dotted across the country, it is usually possible to don a coat and head out and enjoy the day. If you are moving to Portugal as a family, expect days exploring nature with your children, be it hiking, biking, or trying out different watersport activities, there is always something to get stuck into.
2. Friendly locals
The Portuguese locals are notoriously friendly, with the Expat Insider Survey conducted by InterNations identifying them as being the friendliest people in the world. If you need directions or information on the best things to see in a city, you can easily find someone friendly to provide you with some good advice. The Portuguese, in general, speak very good English, particularly the younger generation, so you should have no problem getting by. And if you do manage to learn a little bit of the language, it’s a good way to impress the neighbors.
In 2021, Portugal ranked among the top 5 countries for expats. Indeed, foreigners make up 6.4 percent of Portugal’s population and 84 percent of expats who moved to the country were satisfied with their lives. This is higher than the global average satisfaction rate, which is 75 percent.
3. The fourth safest country in the world
Portugal is not only one of the friendliest countries in the world, it is also a very safe place to live. According to the 2021 Global Peace Index, Portugal ranked as the fourth safest country in the world, after Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark.
Portugal has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. Particularly the two autonomous Portuguese islands, Madeira and Azores, are renowned for being safe and hospitable. Portugal’s Crime and Safety report stated that there are lower crime rates on both islands than in continental Portugal. In Madeira, the local news is sometimes viewed as comical due to the lack of “proper” news stories.
4. Affordable cost of living
Portugal is a very affordable country to live in, from the affordability of property to daily essentials. Note that in Lisbon, the cost of living is higher than in other parts of the country.
However, you should still be able to get by easily. A couple with a solid, mid-range income can live well in Portugal’s interior cities for around €1,700 per month and a couple in Lisbon can live from €2,000 per month in Lisbon. If you are a single person, you will be able to get by on €1,200 per month in a busier city and even less in the country’s quieter towns.
When it comes to eating out, you should be able to find many places where you can eat very well for under €10 for lunch, which will likely include a coffee and a sobremesa (desert). Transport is also very affordable and convenient, with very good metro card deals in Lisbon and Porto.
When it comes to education and healthcare, this is also affordable when compared to neighboring countries. If you live in Portugal and are a Portuguese resident, you will be covered under the National health service (SNS). Although the service is usually free, you will need to pay more for certain procedures, such as X-rays and scans.
With education, fees are typically around €7,500 a year for an international private school.
You can see our article here about the cost of living in Lisbon.
5. Beautiful landscapes and beaches
Portugal wouldn’t be half of what it is without its beautiful diverse landscapes —sublime beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs, and quiet parks. Wherever you are in the country, you will be close to some dazzling natural scenes. Perhaps the relatively small size of Portugal is to thank for the close proximity to wonderful nature, wherever you may live in the country.
The Algarve has simply stunning beaches, the Silver Coast has incredible cliffs and a quieter, peaceful air, and the national parks across the country —such as Arrábida Natural Park or the Sintra-Cascais national park—each make Portugal a very picturesque place to live, if you like sweeping views, nature walks, and the vast ocean to enjoy.
6. Steeped in History
Portugal has a long history — there are remains of Moorish design, Roman influences, and even impressions from the Celts. If you visit any town in Portugal, you will likely see some historic artifacts. Take Porto for example, which was called “Portus Cale” in Roman times, and in Coimbra, where you have the impressive Roman aqueduct. The Moorish castle in Sintra, and countless Moorish influences, particularly in the south of Portugal are further evidence of the country’s rich history.
Indeed, historic lovers (and even those who are not so interested in history) will be thrilled to piece together the rich fabric of the country.
7. Favorable tax benefits
The non-habitual residence (NHR) is simply excellent if you are a foreigner that has just moved to Portugal. The regime was first implemented in 2009 to attract investors and expats to boost the country’s international competitiveness. If structured correctly, individuals can reap significant tax benefits for up to ten years.
The statistics tell the story for themselves — with over 10,000 non-habitual tax regime residents in Portugal, the scheme has proven to be highly successful.
8. A rich lifestyle and gastronomy
Portugal has an excellent Mediterranean cuisine that is perhaps somewhat overlooked in favor of better-known Italian and Spanish foods. However, with a focus on fresh fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables, Portugal can definitely compete with the very best. The wines in Portugal are also exceptional — try a rich Douro, fruity Alentejo, or Vinho Verde (green wine) and you will be instantly converted.
The Portuguese also have a love for art and music. Whatever you are into, you will likely find it in Portugal, from classic and historical art exhibitions to more modern influences and international exhibitions in the larger cities. From music festivals and concerts attracting the biggest international stars onto the stage to candle-lit evenings in Alfama, the old town of Lisbon, you will have something to enjoy.
9. Moving with a family
Portugal has a very good education system and there are many very good international schools, particularly in Lisbon and Porto.
The fact that you can spend much of the year outside is another large advantage of moving to Portugal with a family. Imagine sunny beach days, hiking in the Sintra mountains, or relaxing by the pool. There are many activities to get involved in.
What’s more, and perhaps most important of all, is that the Portuguese are very family-centered. It is very common for young people to head to their parents or grandparents for a typical Portuguese lunch on Sundays, so expect to strengthen family ties if you live in Portugal.
10. Retiring in Portugal
Portugal has long been favored as a top retirement destination. What could be better than countless sunny days, excellent food, and significant tax benefits? Whether your passions are golf, hiking, or yoga, there are many clubs and communities that you can enroll in and meet fellow expats to get to know people in the country. The golf courses are amongst the best in the world, with individuals coming from the world over to dust off their golf clubs.
Overall, Portugal offers an excellent quality of life to its inhabitants, both local and foreign. In fact, foreigners make up 6.4 percent of the Portuguese population. In 2021, Portugal ranked among the top 5 countries for expats and 84 percent of expats who moved to the country were satisfied with their lives. This is higher than the global average satisfaction rate, which is 75 percent. As you can see, Portugal is an extremely popular country among expats for many good reasons.
Check out our article Why Portugal is the Best Country to Live In.
Goldcrest – your buyer’s agent in Portugal
If you are looking to move to Portugal and are looking to buy a property, but are not quite sure where to begin, then we are here to help you.
Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent based in Lisbon, with years of experience in the market. We provide expert advice on real estate transactions, from scouting to acquisition. We provide a tailor-made service to ensure that you know the best property deals and the most desirable locations to buy a home.
You can book a call today to discuss your options, whether you are looking to retire to Portugal, put your foot into the door of the Portuguese property market, or are moving with family.
For more information that you may find interesting, you can see the articles below: