Updated: May 22, 2024


If you are considering moving to Portugal, you will delight in what this stunning country in Western Europe has to offer. Portugal’s unique blend of warm and welcoming locals, traditional Portuguese cuisine, and affordable cost of living offers an exceptional quality of life that’s sure to steal your heart.   

With a fantastic climate, pristine landscapes, and an easygoing vibe it’s easy to understand why the quality of life in Portugal is so attractive. The country boasts some of the best beaches in the world dotting the Atlantic Ocean, including Praia da Falésia in Albufeira, Algarve, which was voted best beach in the world in TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the top ten reasons to move to Portugal and why life in Portugal is highly sought after by expats from across the world.

1. The Perfect Climate

Compared to other European countries, most of mainland Portugal has warm summers and temperate winters. The Algarve coast boasts more than 300 days of sublime sunshine annually, where you can regularly sit out in just a t-shirt, even in January. The average maximum temperature is 16 Degrees C (61 Degrees F) during January and February, while temperatures in the Algarve region could reach 29 Degrees C (84 Degrees F) in July and August. 

The Mediterranean climate of Portugal is one of the key reasons why tourists and foreign citizens flock to Portugal’s shores. Additionally, there are many celebrities who bought homes in Portugal because of the sunny weather, warm climate, and welcoming Portuguese people. The list of high-profile property owners includes Sir Cliff Richard and Bonnie Taylor, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, and Portuguese footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, who purchased a home valued at approximately €20 million in Cascais, about 20 minutes from the capital city of Lisbon. 

While Northern Portugal is also warm, particularly compared to most European countries  it can get cold in the winter months. However, with beaches dotted across the country, including in the north, it is usually possible to don a coat, head out, and enjoy the day.  

If you are moving to Portugal as a family, there are always exciting outdoor activities you can enjoy together. Expect days exploring nature with your children, be it hiking, biking, or trying out different watersport activities.   

2. Friendly Locals

According to Condé Nast Traveller’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards, Portugal is ranked the seventh friendliest country in Europe. Compared to other European countries and recognized as a must-visit for travelers seeking to explore the authentic coastal and urban European culture Portugal stands for. 

If you need directions, help with public transportation or general information on the best things to see in a city, you will realize that the locals are very kind, friendly, and helpful and it will be easy to find someone to provide sound advice. Many Portuguese residents and Portuguese people speak English, particularly the younger generation, so you should have no problem getting by. If you do manage to learn how to speak the Portuguese language online or through international schools, it is an excellent way of impressing the locals and will help you integrate better into the country. 

 The large expat population is another key reason why English is widely spoken. According to a report by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, the foreign resident population in Portugal increased to just under 800,000 expats in 2023.  

3. The Seventh Safest Country in the World

Portugal is widely recognized for its high quality of life, highlighted by its outstanding safety standards. As per the Global Peace Index 2023, Portugal was ranked as the seventh safest country in the world. 

Portugal has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, especially the two autonomous Portuguese islands, Madeira and Azores, which are renowned for being safe and hospitable places to consider living in Portugal as an American. Portugal stands at 16th on the 2024 Numbeo Crime Index by Country with a 31.2 percent crime rate and an overall safety index of 68.8 percent. You can expect low to moderate levels of petty theft in major cities like Lisbon, but overall Portugal is known for having low levels of serious offences and violent crime.  

4. Affordable Cost of Living

For an EU country, living in Portugal is a very affordable taking into consideration everything from property affordability to daily essentials. However, it is important to note that the cost of living in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is higher than in other parts of the country.  

A couple earning a joint average salary of €2,100 per month can live well in Portugal’s interior cities while a couple living in Lisbon can live comfortably on an average joint salary of €2,400. If you are single, you can 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). Public transport is also affordable and convenient, with excellent metro card deals in Lisbon and Porto.  

Education and healthcare are also affordable compared to neighboring countries. According to Numbeo, Portugal ranks 19th in the 2024 Health Care Index and Portugal spends around €3,833 per capita (average per person) in global health expenditure annually. 

If you live in Portugal as a permanent resident or have Portuguese citizenship you will be covered under the National Health Service (SNS). Although the medical care is usually free, you must pay more for specific procedures, such as X-rays and scans and of course need to have medical insurance or pay extra to visit private clinics.  

Additionally, if you are moving to Portugal with family, education fees are typically around €9,300 a year for private international schools. 

Interested in the Portuguese real estate market? Discover everything you need to know.

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5. Beautiful Landscapes and Beaches

Portugal quality of lifePortugal wouldn’t be half of what it is without its beautiful, diverse landscapes that stretch from Northern Portugal to the Southern region, including sublime beaches, jaw-dropping cliffs, and stunning national parks in Portugal. You can enjoy dazzling natural scenery wherever you are in the country. Perhaps the relatively small size of Portugal is to thank for the proximity to incredible nature, wherever you may live in the country.  

Located on the southern coast of mainland Portugal the Algarve region is known for its simply stunning beaches, sun filled days, and wealth of Portuguese history. The Algarve has become a touristic hotspot and is famed for the area’s world-class gold courses and being a dream destination for water sports such as surfing, kayaking and waterskiing. 

In the Western region of Portugal between Porto’s Green Coast and the Lisbon Coast, the Silver Coast has incredible cliffs and quieter, peaceful air. The Silver coast is conveniently located for anyone who wants to have easy access to major cities yet experience a relaxed pace of life. 

Additionally, the national parks across the country like 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, called “Portus Cale” in Roman times, and Coimbra, where you have the impressive Roman aqueduct. The Moorish castle in Sintra and countless Moorish influences, particularly in southern Portugal, further highlight the country’s rich history. History buffs, and even those not so interested in history, will be thrilled to piece together the rich fabric of the country.   

7. Favorable Tax Benefits

income tax for expats living in PortugalAlthough it came to an end to an end in January 2024, the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR tax regime) has been an excellent program that attracted many expats to Portugal with attractive tax benefits. The regime was first implemented in 2009 to attract investors and expats to boost the country’s international competitiveness. Individuals could reap significant tax benefits including incentives from income tax payable to the Portuguese government for up to ten years if structured correctly.  

In January 2024, the Portuguese government’s State Budget Proposal included modifications that determine the end of the non-habitual resident regime. However, anyone who registered as a tax resident in the country in 2023 and had not been taxed in Portugal in the previous five years can still apply by March 31, 2024, and will have NHR status from the date that they become a tax resident whether that’s in 2024 or in the first quarter of 2025 until December 31, 2033. You can learn more about these changes in the Full Guide to Non-Habitual Tax Resident Portugal by Global Citizen Solutions.  

8. The 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, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, Portugal can compete with the best.

The wines in Portugal are also exceptional — try the 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.

Living in Portugal offers something to enjoy for everyone. From music festivals and concerts attracting the most prominent international stars onto the stage to candle-lit evenings in Alfama, the old town of Lisbon, where you can enjoy emotive Fado music that transcends language barriers whether you speak Portuguese or not. 

9. Perfect Destination for Families

Besides being an excellent tourist destination, Portugal has an excellent education system and many outstanding international schools and Portuguese Universities, particularly in Lisbon and Porto, making these areas the perfect places for many young families and many expats to settle down in.  

Being able to spend much of the year outside is another significant 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, perhaps most important, is that the Portuguese are very family centered. It is prevalent 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 its inhabitants an excellent quality of life, both local and foreign. According to the Global Citizen Solutions Passport Index, Portugal ranks 13th for quality of living, making it an attractive and trendy country among expats for many reasons. 

Can foreigners buy property in Portugal? Find out in our complete guide.

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Why work with Goldcrest?

Goldcrest is a local buyer’s agent based in Lisbon that provides insightful real estate expertise and strategic advice. From sourcing to property acquisition, we offer a tailor-made service for our clients, assisting them in identifying outstanding investment opportunities in some of Portugal’s finest locations, from relocation to investment projects. 

  • Local knowledge: With offices located across Portugal, our presence nationwide allows us to assist you personally across the country. 
  • Independent service: As an independent buying agent, we do not represent any development or project. Our service is entirely tailored toward each individual client, providing you with everything you need to secure the right property at the best possible price. As an impartial advisor on the market, we work solely on behalf of our client and provide a service tailored to your needs and requirements. 
  • Streamlined process: We have a team of estate agents in Portugal, and our service is completely focused on providing you with a hassle-free buying experience, saving you time. 
  • Experienced team: Our expert real estate team has a vast local knowledge of the Portuguese property market. We have cutting-edge technology and metasearch tools at your disposal to provide full market coverage, ensuring the best real estate in Portugal is at your fingertips. 
  • Network of partners: Lawyers, property management services, builders, architects, designers, and landscape gardeners, again saving you time and hassle by providing you with trusted experts in their field of work. 

Frequently asked questions about Portugal quality of life:

Yes, with an incredible climate, a high quality of life, and the seventh safest country in the world, Portugal is a perfect country to live in. Whether you are entering the local job market, moving with a family, retiring, or would like to enjoy the freedom of working as a digital nomad, you will find the country very welcoming.  

Portugal is regularly featured in international studies including the Expat Insider Internation’s study in 2021 and more recently Condé Nast Traveller’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards as one of the best countries to live. The Portuguese are found to be the most welcoming people in the world and Portugal is the seventh safest country in the world, with meager crime rates, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index. 

A couple with a solid, mid-range income can live well in Portugal’s interior cities for around €1,700 per month. In Lisbon, a couple can live for €2,000 per month. If you are single, you can get by on €1,200 per month in a busier city and even less in the country’s quieter towns.  

Yes, if you live in Portugal, you will find that the country has a very relaxed vibe. There is good education, healthcare, and quality of life. In addition, the government is one of the world’s safest and most welcoming countries. While salaries are lower than in other countries, the affordable cost of living is made up for this. 

If you work in Portugal, the salaries can be lower than in other Western European countries. However, living in Portugal as an expat is much more affordable than in other EU countries, from properties to daily essentials. It is worth noting that if you are working freelance or remotely, you will be able to live very well.  

Although Portugal has a warm climate, it can get cold in the winter months if your house does not have sufficient insulation. It is worth making sure to invest in a sound heating system.  

Another con is that Portugal is notorious for bureaucracy, so navigating through paperwork can be a hassle. Our book, Your Expert Guide to Buying a Property in Portugal, has everything that you will need to know about securing the perfect property for you, including tips to navigate the bureaucratic system. 

Portugal presents an exceptional combination of exquisite culinary delights, stunning natural surroundings, and a relaxed way of living. Boasting a pleasant climate, reasonable living expenses, and a hospitable society, Portugal is an appealing choice for individuals seeking a high quality of life.