Portugal has long been a retirement hotspot. With so many advantages of retiring in Portugal, it doesn’t take long to figure out why – sun, sea, and beautiful landscapes; friendly locals, a vibrant culture, historic cities, and a killer food scene. Portugal certainly catches the eye.
Indeed, Goldcrest is here to guide you through the buying process of property in Portugal, to discover the perfect location for you, and help you to find your dream home. With years of experience, our aim is to make the process as hassle-free as possible, so that, before you know it, you will be perched on your sun-drenched balcony, or perhaps by the pool, with a cold glass of vinho verde (green wine) in hand. Book a call here to kickstart the process and speak with a Goldcrest advisor.
In this article, we’ll cover the aspects of what makes Portugal a paradise to retire to. Following this, we’ll provide you with some of the most desirable locations to look for a property and run over practicalities that you should know, such as healthcare in Portugal.
Considering retiring in Portugal?
There are many reasons to choose Portugal as the country for you to retire in. Portugal ranks as the third safest county in the world in the 2020 Global Peace Index, trailing only Iceland and New Zealand. With a stable socio-economic and political environment, you should be at ease in the country. The Portuguese are amongst the friendliest people in the world, according to an Expat Insider Survey conducted by InterNations.
Healthcare in Portugal is also very good, with 225 hospitals in the country. With English now widely spoken in healthcare facilities, the National Health Service has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years with modern, well-equipped units.
Alongside good healthcare, the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) tax scheme provides another practical benefit of moving to Portugal. If structured correctly, you will be able to live with significant tax benefits for ten years. For retirees, this is a godsend as retirees are able to live off their pensions income and dividends from investments.
With an average of over 300 sunny days a year, even the winters can feel like Spring (consider Madeira, where you are living in eternal summer) and you should always have your sunglasses close at hand. This makes it easy to stay active, and with many desirable locations to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. The delicious wines and top cuisine are the cherries on top. Indeed, it is not difficult to see why Portugal regularly tops the charts when it comes to the best countries to retire to.
Retiring in Portugal – most desirable locations
There are many beautiful locations in Portugal. Each will have its own traditions, cultures, foods, and individual quirks. Finding the perfect location for you is one of the first things that you should consider when buying in Portugal. There are many expats in Portugal – particularly in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, so you should be able to find a good community of English speakers to be part of if you so desire.
Are you after glorious sun filled days, spent relaxing on the beach? Or is a quiet, historic town more to your liking, where you can roam the quaint cobbled streets? Or would you rather fill your days in a renovated farmhouse in the depths of the Portuguese countryside, with rolling hills visible through your windows? Portugal has some remarkable regions, it is about asking yourself what exactly am I looking for?
Here, we provide some of the most desirable locations. However, with countless potential areas to consider, you can book a call here to speak with an experienced Goldcrest advisor to determine the best location for you.
The Algarve was ranked as the best country to live in or have a second home post-COVID-19 by Forbes. Indeed, the incredible coastline, pristine beaches, and quaint white-washed towns are truly special.
The Algarve is diverse in itself. If you are looking for luxury properties, consider the central Algarve, where the likes of Vilamoura and Portimão will provide buyers with incredible properties with waterfront views.
Those looking to stay active, and lovers of nature and watersports, should set their sights on Lagos in the west, whereas those looking for peace and tranquility, in the most “authentic” part of southern Portugal should consider Tavira, a picturesque, quaint, history-filled haven.
An overview of the various regions in the Algarve, including the price ranges, can be found here.
Lisbon and Cascais
It would feel incomplete to provide a rundown of the most desirable locations in Portugal, and not mention the magical capital, Lisbon. The city of the seven hills has a rich history, beautiful architecture, and some of the best cuisine in the country. Simply head to Praça do Comércio and marvel at the stunning views – the vast river with boats bobbing along, and the San Francisco-styled Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in the distance.
While Lisbon is unquestionably special, it is the capital. While there is always something going on, some new restaurant to try, and it is easy to find your favorite local haunts, it can be busy and may not be the best option if you are looking to relax in a quieter spot – for this consider Tavira in the Algarve, the Silver Coast, Alentejo, or the north, which remains relatively undiscovered.
Not far from Lisbon, you have Cascais. A short 30-minute drive by car, this little seaside town has everything you could want, including luxury restaurants, beaches, and a permanent holiday vibe. If you are looking to retire and would like to be close to the capital and the airport, then Cascais could be the perfect place for you. You can see our article on Cascais here.
For history lovers, Porto is a welcome option. Less busy (and cheaper) than Lisbon, Porto boasts an incredible cuisine, charming cobbled streets, and the Douro River is simply fabulous, with the wine houses on the opposite side of the river.
You have many places where you will find beautiful properties to retire to if you would like to live outside the city. Take Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite side, where you can fully appreciate the views of Porto, and where you have spectacular beaches, up-and-coming restaurants, and some peace and quiet.
Elsewhere, just 20-minutes away from Porto by the coast, you have Foz do Douro. This is a coastal neighborhood, where the River Douro meets the Atlantic Ocean. The area has a long promenade where you can go for long walks and breathe in the tang of salt in the air. The properties here are spacious and many have sweeping views of the ocean. Foz do Douro is an excellent location if you want the perks of city life, but also the benefits of the ocean.
Elsewhere in the North of Portugal, there are other, quieter areas that can provide you with a relaxed lifestyle in a quaint, historic city. The towns of Braga, Guimaraes, and Ponte de Lima, each have their own unique traditions and cultures. If you are looking for a country house, the surrounding countryside is relatively undiscovered. You should be able to find a lovely villa or renovated farm, at a very affordable price – indeed, the north of Portugal is where you will find some of the most wallet-friendly properties.
The Silver Coast
While the Algarve is a favorite with retirees, if you are looking for something quieter, less-tourist heavy, and perhaps where you will find a better sense of the true “authentic” Portugal, then consider the Silver Coast. While Nazaré and Ericeira may be better suited to surfers, Peniche would make a pleasant place to retire, a picturesque town where life has not seemed to change for decades, and where the friendly locals bring a sense of community to the town.
Coimbra, close by, would also be a great location if you are looking for a historic city to live in. As a university town, there are several cutting-edge restaurants, bringing a relaxed atmosphere to the city.
The Silver Coast is an excellent location to be an expat in Portugal. You can see our article on the Silver Coast here for options to buy real estate in the region.
Considered the “breadbasket” of Portugal, the Alentejo is where most of the produce is grown in Portugal and where fabulous Alentejo wines come to life. This region is where the Portuguese tend to go on holiday, instead of heading to the tourist-heavy Algarve. Here, you can get to the very heart of Portugal, and should be able to find a renovated farm, or even a vineyard for sale if you would like to put your lifelong ambition to become a wine producer to the test.
For those looking to move to Portugal for tranquility, sunshine, and some of the best food and wine that you will ever taste, the Alentejo is the spot for you.
The autonomous island of Madeira has killer views from almost any location on the island. Funchal, the cosmopolitan capital, may surprise you. Its luxury restaurants, sleek shopping amenities, and five-star hotels may seem out of place on a small island. Indeed, with a steady flow of tourists all year round, and increasing numbers of foreign investments, Madeira has all the amenities that you could possibly need.
Madeira real estate is really coming into its own. With breathtaking landscapes, top-quality food, and many activities to live an active life, Madeira comes highly recommended as a retirement destination. There are also many expats here, so you should be able to easily blend into the community. You can delve more into Madeira real estate here.
Practical information about retiring in Portugal
Moving to another country can be a hassle, and there are several things that you will need to consider. Here is some practical information about retiring in Portugal – in essence, a few things that are good to know about settling here.
Retiring in Portugal – Healthcare
The National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) (SNS) in Portugal is excellent. They have been implementing personalized care programs for patients. If you are resident in Portugal, you will have access to the national health service and will need to only pay minimum costs for treatment. Note that for X-rays, scans, and other tests, you will need to pay an additional fee. Private healthcare is also an option and is becoming increasingly popular with expats in Portugal.
If you are retiring to Portugal, rest assured that the Integrated Medical Emergency System offers very quick response times.
Travel in Portugal
While traveling by car is probably the easiest way to get around the country, Portugal has excellent transport links from the north to the south that are both efficient and cheap – both trains, buses, and the metro are each convenient to use – just excuse the times when the buses are running slightly late.
Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) scheme
The NHR scheme allows individuals to live with significant tax benefits for up to ten years. In order to qualify, applicants must:
- Have the right to reside in Portugal
- Not having been a Portuguese tax resident in the five years prior to taking up residence in Portugal
Note that to maintain residency in Portugal, the individual must have a place of abode in Portugal on the 31st of December of that year. The property needs to be intended to be used as a habitual home.
Retiring in Portugal – lifestyle
It is very easy to move to Portugal and live an active lifestyle. With the Portuguese climate – 300-days of sunny days per year, mild temperatures in the winter months, and even the winter sun encouraging you to go outside – you can easily live a very active lifestyle.
There are many watersport activities that you can try. For those that prefer to keep their feet on dry land, the golf courses in Portugal are some of the finest in the world. Activities range from yoga to cooking classes, and everything in between.
The cuisine of Portugal is also generally very healthy, despite the Portuguese sweet tooth and love of pastries – try the famous pastel de nata or bola de berlim and you should see why. The cuisine has a strong focus on fresh fish, salads, and fruits. Indeed, it is very easy to keep up a healthy, and active, lifestyle.