Updated: July 15, 2024

Porto, Portugal’s charming second-largest city, is a place of beauty where tradition and modernity blend together in the most perfect way. With the impressive Douro River flowing past, colorful buildings adorned with azulejo tiles, and some of the most innovative restaurants in the country, Porto is, in many ways, the ultimate retirement destination.

Why retire in Porto? The list is a long one, but in this article, we’ll do our best to dissect the key reasons why this historic city should certainly be on your radar. We’ll also delve into the residency options, the affordable cost of living in Porto, healthcare services, and more besides.

Why retire to Porto?

Porto-real-estateThere are countless reasons why retiring in Portugal is a good option. Below, we outline some of the key reasons why Portugal’s second-largest city could be the perfect spot for you to retire abroad.

  • Affordable living: The cost of living in Porto is relatively low compared to other European cities, including Lisbon, allowing retirees to stretch their pensions further. Everyday expenses such as groceries, dining out, and public transportation are reasonably priced, plus the housing market is relatively affordable compared to other Western European cities.
  • Pleasant climate: While not as renowned for its climate as southern Portugal, Porto enjoys a mild climate with warm summers and mild winters, providing a comfortable environment year-round where it is possible to stay active throughout the year.
  • Healthcare: Porto offers high-quality healthcare services that are accessible and affordable for retirees. The public healthcare system is efficient, although there are also excellent private health services. Many healthcare professionals speak English, making it easy for retirees.
  • Rich culture: Porto boasts a vibrant cultural scene with its historic architecture, UNESCO World Heritage sites, numerous museums, and lively festivals, such as the Festa de São João and the Porto Wine Fest.
  • Scenic beauty: The stunning landscapes in Porto include the picturesque Douro River and the surrounding wine country, famous for producing rich Douro reds and Porto wine. The city’s waterfront and numerous parks offer beautiful spots for relaxation and recreation for you to unwind in style.
  • Culinary delights: Porto is renowned for its delicious cuisine, including fresh seafood, traditional Portuguese dishes, and its famous Port wine. The city’s markets and restaurants provide a culinary adventure for food enthusiasts, and you’ll be able to enjoy fine dining in Michelin-starred restaurants or a hearty meal in a traditional Portuguese Tasca (typical restaurant), whatever your preferences are.
  • Friendly community: The locals in Porto are known for their warmth and hospitality, making it easier for newcomers to settle into life in Porto. There is also a continually growing expat community, helping retirees feel at home and making it easy to build new social connections.

Where to Live in Porto: Top Spots for Retirees

There are several top neighborhoods in Porto that will catch your eye if you choose to visit. Below, we outline some of the best neighborhoods in Porto for retirees while also providing you with some information on the cities of Vila Nova de Gaia and Matosinhos, two cities close to Porto that would also be stunning places to enjoy your golden years.

GC-ICON-103Foz do Douro

This upscale district in Porto is renowned not only for its stunning beaches like Praia da Luz but also for its remarkable architecture and top-notch restaurants, offering both traditional and international cuisine.

If you are looking to retire in Porto, here you’ll find many properties with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, where you will be able to enjoy your weekend stroll along the wide promenade. Foz do Douro also has all the amenities that you could want and, as you are just a short ride from the center of Porto, you can enjoy the very best of the city and the sea. A dream location for many.

GC-ICON-103Ribeira

For those seeking to reside in a historic neighborhood with UNESCO World Heritage status in the heart of the city, Ribeira is the ideal choice. Nestled by the Douro River, its charming cobblestone streets, vibrant houses, and bustling cultural and culinary scene make it a favorite among locals and expats alike. You’ll also be able to enjoy the bright lights of the Porto wine houses on the opposite side of the river.

GC-ICON-103Boavista

Boavista is known for its vibrant restaurants and rooftop bars, as well as Porto’s longest avenue, Avenida da Boavista. In this less touristy area, abundant with green spaces, you’ll also discover botanical gardens and a concert hall, providing the perfect spot for retirees looking to soak up the culture of the city and relax in one of the charming gardens.

GC-ICON-103Vila Nova de Gaia

While Porto locals joke that the only good thing about Vila Nova de Gaia is the captivating views of Porto, this is far from the truth. Vila Nova de Gaia is on the opposite side of the River Douro to Porto, home to the Port wine houses, incredible restaurants, and all the amenities that you could ask for. The fact that property prices here are more affordable than in Porto and the beaches hugging the coast are some of the best in this part of the country are two further reasons to consider relocating to Vila Nova de Gaia.

GC-ICON-103Matosinhos

Matosinhos, a city a short journey northwest of Porto, is an ideal choice for retirees moving to this part of Portugal due to its beautiful beaches like Praia de Matosinhos, known for its golden sands and clean waters. The city offers a relaxed atmosphere with excellent seafood restaurants, such as Mercado Municipal de Matosinhos. Its well-developed public transport provides easy access to Porto’s vibrant cultural scene. Affordable living, good healthcare, and a welcoming community, along with lovely parks and promenades, make it a perfect retirement destination for many.

Residency Options for Retirees

The Portuguese government offers several residency visas to attract expats and individuals looking to retire in Portugal, with the D7 Visa and the Golden Visa being the most popular among retirees. Portugal is one of the easiest EU countries to secure residency, with several options on the table.

Note that the below residency options are for non-EU citizens. If you are an EU citizen, then you will simply need to register at the local town hall within three months of arriving in Portugal.

D7 Visa (Portugal retirement visa)

Portugal D7 Visa: The Ultimate GuideThe D7 Visa, also known as the Portugal retirement visa or passive income visa, is designed for retirees who can financially support themselves while living in Portugal.

To qualify, applicants need a passive income of at least €820 per month from sources like pension income, retirement savings, real estate, or financial assets. The application process starts at the Portuguese Consulate in the applicant’s home country. After approval, applicants receive a temporary residency permit and must schedule an appointment with the Portuguese Immigration Agency (AIMI) to obtain a two-year residency permit, renewable for an additional three years.

After five years of having a valid temporary residence permit, retirees can apply for permanent residency. You can also apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided you meet the requirements under Portuguese law, such as passing a Portuguese language test and having a clean criminal record.

Portugal Golden Visa program

The Portugal Golden Visa, introduced in 2012, is aimed at non-EU citizens willing to make a minimum investment in Portugal that then allows them to secure residency in the country. Investment options for Portugal Golden Visas include qualified investment funds, job creation, or contributions to artistic and cultural projects.

Healthcare in Porto for Retirees

Healthcare-in-PortugalPortugal provides universal health coverage through its publicly funded National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS). This system is highly affordable for Portuguese citizens and legal residents, covering essential health needs, accidents, and illnesses.

In addition to its excellent public healthcare, Portugal offers numerous private healthcare options throughout the country. These private services are notably affordable, especially compared to the USA, and typically feature shorter waiting times than the public system. Moreover, private healthcare professionals in Portugal almost always speak very good English.

While securing your residency visa, you will need to have private health insurance. Once you become a resident, you can choose to keep your private insurance if you wish.

You will find many hospitals, medical services, private healthcare clinics across Porto. According to Numbeo’s Health Care Index, Portugal ranks as having the 19th-best healthcare system in the world, ranking much higher than the USA, which is in 38th position, and Germany, in 23rd position.

Cost of Living in Porto

If you are looking to retire in Porto, the low cost of living in Portugal’s second-largest city is a major draw. Portugal is one of the most affordable European countries, and Porto is also a more affordable option than Lisbon, where you should easily be able to make your money go further. In this section, we’ll delve into the living costs, from housing to dining out.

Affordable Housing Options

House prices in Porto are quite affordable, and Porto real estate has become a hot topic in recent years, with the city providing high rental yields, currently standing at 6 percent for the Porto Metropolitan Area. The average asking price for property in Porto City stands at €4,296 per square meter, while for the Porto Metropolitan Area, prices drop to €3,291 per square meter. This is also the asking price, and the sales price can be considerably lower than this as the seller aims to sell the property by a set date. If you are considering buying property in Porto, bear in mind that, in general, as you move out from the city center, prices tend to fall.

When buying property in Portugal, you will need to get a Portuguese NIF number (Tax Identification Number) that you will need to make any major transactions in the country. Alongside this, we highly recommend that you open a Portuguese bank account to save on transaction fees.

With renting, expect to pay around €1,026 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, while outside the city center, this will cost you around €822 per month. For a three-bedroom apartment in the center, expect to pay €1,847 monthly cost, while outside, factor in €1,378 into your budget. If you are unsure which neighborhood you would like to buy property in, Porto, renting can be a good option so that you have a base to explore which part of the city could be best suited to you.

Take a look at our guide to renting in Portugal

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Daily expenses: Utilities and groceries

Your weekly shop will not break the bank, and you’ll find most products to be affordable. Groceries in Porto are almost half the price compared to Washington DC in the USA and around 35 percent lower than in London, UK.

Utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, typically total about €115 for an average apartment, while internet services cost approximately €38 per month, highlighting that, in general, daily living expenses here are relatively affordable compared to US and European cities.

Dining out

Dining out in Porto is relatively inexpensive. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant averages €10, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs about €44. Dining out provides a range of affordable options for residents and visitors alike. If you want to check out one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Porto or other fine dining options, then you can expect to pay international prices.

Lifestyle and Activities

Porto has something for everyone. Whether you are a keen golfer or prefer to get your cultural fix in the city, you’ll find plenty of activities to get involved with.

GC-ICON-69Cultural Attractions and Events

Retiring in Porto, Portugal offers a vibrant cultural scene. The city’s historic Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is perfect for leisurely strolls. Porto hosts numerous festivals, such as the São João Festival, featuring fireworks, music, and traditional street parties. The city also boasts a thriving arts scene, with institutions like the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art and the iconic Livraria Lello bookstore, plus you’ll discover an array of museums and art galleries across the city. Regular concerts, theater performances, and film festivals provide entertainment throughout the year for retirees.

Quiet parks

Retiring in Porto offers access to beautiful parks perfect for relaxation and outdoor activities. Parque da Cidade, the largest urban park in Portugal, provides scenic walking trails, lakes, and picnic areas. The captivating Jardins do Palácio de Cristal offers panoramic views of the Douro River and is a tranquil spot for leisurely strolls. These green spaces, combined with the mild climate, make it easy for retirees to enjoy nature and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

World-class golf courses

While perhaps not as well known for its golf courses as Cascais or the Algarve, Golfing in Porto offers retirees premier courses set against picturesque backdrops. The Estela Golf Club, known for its challenging links-style course and ocean views, provides a top-notch golfing experience. Oporto Golf Club, the oldest in Portugal, combines history with a well-maintained course suitable for all levels, from beginners just starting out to seasoned golfers looking to hone their craft.

Gorgeous beaches

Porto’s coastline features stunning beaches ideal for retirees looking to enjoy the sea. Matosinhos Beach is a favorite for its golden sands and vibrant boardwalk, perfect for relaxing or dining at seaside restaurants. Praia da Luz, with its calm waters, is excellent for swimming and spending time with the simple intention of relaxing. You will also find several stunning beaches close to Vila Nova de Gaia.

Expat Communities

Although Lisbon and the Algarve region may have more retirees than Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city is also an outstanding choice for expat retirees and has a growing expat population. While learning some Portuguese can impress the locals and make life easier, English is widely spoken in Porto, so you should find it easy to get by. Also, with an array of activities, including golf, yoga, and water sports, you will quickly be able to establish your network here. Expat groups can also be a good way to meet fellow retirees living in Porto.

Climate in Porto

The climate of Portugal makes the country a top European destination, and while the Algarve is the perfect place for those chasing the sun, the weather in northern Portugal, although milder, is the perfect climate for many.

Porto is situated in the north-western part of the Portuguese peninsula, with its urban area extending to the Atlantic Ocean on the city’s western side. Summers in Porto are warm but not excessively hot, while winters are cold and wet, although temperatures rarely drop below 1 Degree C (34 Degrees F).

The hottest month in Porto is August, and the coldest is January, and it can also be rainy in the winter months. Whether you choose to rent or buy property, ensure it has central heating for the winter and is well-insulated, as many properties, particularly older buildings, lack adequate heating systems.

Getting Around and International Travel

It is easy to get around within Porto and further afield. In the city itself, there is an extensive Metro service and good bus links to get around, while the tram is also an efficient way to get by. Taxis, Bolt, and Uber are also very affordable compared with other cities in the European Union.

If you are looking to go further afield, the train service allows you to get to Lisbon quickly, in around 3 hours and 30 minutes on average, alongside other key cities.

For international travelers, the Porto Airport makes it easy to get around in Europe and further afield, with regular flights to the USA, for example.

Goldcrest: How We Can Help You

Goldcrest is the first buyer’s agent in Portugal, based in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. We provide local insights and impartial advice on real estate investments and have helped hundreds of expats secure their dream home in Portugal. From scouting out the perfect property through to property acquisition and aftercare, we guide you throughout the entire process.

Should you be looking to retire in Porto and are on the hunt for your dream property, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Check out our ultimate guide to buying property in Porto

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Frequently Asked Questions about Retiring to Porto

Retirees in Porto can access public healthcare through Portugal’s National Health Service (SNS), which offers comprehensive services. Additionally, many opt for private health insurance for shorter wait times and more extensive coverage.

The best neighborhoods for retirees in Porto include Foz do Douro, Boavista, and Ribeira. These areas offer scenic views, a relaxed atmosphere, proximity to amenities, and good public transportation.

To obtain a retirement visa, known as the D7 Visa for Portugal, you will need to prove that you have sufficient passive income, proof of accommodation, valid private health insurance, and a clean criminal record.

The quality of life for retirees in Porto is high, with a low cost of living, excellent healthcare, a pleasant climate, rich culture, and friendly locals, making it an attractive destination for retirees.

Public transportation in Porto is highly accessible for retirees, with an extensive network of buses, trams, and the metro. Senior citizens benefit from discounted fares, making it an affordable and convenient option.

Portugal is ranked as the seventh safest country in the world, according to the 2024 Global Peace Index. Porto is generally safe for retirees, with low crime rates and a welcoming atmosphere. The city has a strong police presence, and common-sense precautions help ensure personal safety.

Yes, retirees can easily buy property in Porto and will face no restrictions. Retirees will need to be aware of the tax implications when buying property, taking into consideration taxes that will need to be paid at the time of purchase and on an annual basis.