Living In Portugal As An Expat – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Just like any other country, Portugal has a lot of things to offer expatriates. With the warm weather, mountains, low cost of living, Atlantic oceans, the benefits of living in Portugal cannot be overemphasized. Also, Residents are offered tax exemptions with free education and a healthcare system.
Whenever you imagine the old Europe, medieval town halls, crenelated castles on hilltops, Portugal should be the first thing in your mind. Not in a touristy contrived way but as the standard day-to-day life in the country. Moreover, the locals are quite friendly, and the country itself is a magical destination.
Now, you’d be wondering why Portugal is a magical destination for expats, right. Well, we can tell you that the people of Portugal are what make the country a magical nation to retire. More so, its excellent infrastructures, education system, and healthcare are as advanced as what you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Like many other countries around the Mediterranean, Portugal produces good food, olive oil, and wine, at an affordable price. Not only that, but Portugal is arguably Western Europe’s most affordable country. Even with the capital city, the country is rightly famous. Of course, you may have an idea of what you’re looking for.
However, we extend our research by bringing you the best things you’d want to know about Portugal. In this article, we will walk you through the pros and cons of living in Portugal. Aside from this fact, you’ll understand the interesting facts about this country, the national public holidays, and many others, to mention a few.
Top 10 Interesting Facts about Living in Portugal
While the award of the oldest nation-state in Europe goes to Portugal, Lisbon is as well seen to be among the four centuries older than Rome. Due to its excellent trading location, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan in the 16th century. Without further ado, below are the fun facts about living in Portugal as of 2021.
1. Longest Reigning Monarchs
Undoubtedly, Portugal holds the record for the shortest and the longest-reigning monarchs. From research and recommendation, we found out that Henrique of Portugal was the king of Portugal for more than 73 years. On the other hand, Luis Filipe was the king for only 20 minutes before he was dismissed.
2. Home to the Oldest Bookstore
If you take a trip to Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, you’ll definitely see an abundance of independent bookstores crammed into its tiled streets. As a nation of book lovers, it comes as no surprise that the oldest bookstore in the world can be found in the country. On the flip side, the Bertrand brand has become the largest bookstore chain in Portugal, with more than 50 shops.
3. Home to Oldest Countries in Europe
Portugal has had the same defined border as history revealed, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first king in 1139. In addition to this fact, we discovered that the country has since then remained a kingdom for almost 800 years until a successful revolution.
4. A Dead Queen ruled Portugal
According to research, Portugal used to be ruled by a dead queen. In fact, being a monarch for like eight centuries, you can safely bet that there were some weird rulers on the Portuguese throne. This monarchy often exercises its governing power through something that could affect the locals and expats. The problem was, the new queen was killed, and this didn’t stop her reigns as she remained coronated.
5. Home Known as a Surfing Paradise
If you’ve been searching for the country with the best surfing experience, look no further. Portugal is one of the places in Europe to go surfing. Compared to other European countries, the country’s 800km coastline and mild climate have been drawing surfers from all over the world for many years.
To make Portugal extra special, we can say that it’s home to the Nazare resort town. While you may have never heard of it, we’re pretty sure there’s no surfer on the planet who’s not dreaming of hitting the mythical Nazare waves in Portugal. And pretty because it’s the place where McNamara set a record!
6. Land of Affordable Port-Wine
If you’re a wine enthusiast, you probably already know that Portugal has an interesting thing that you’d likely enjoy. Since the country is known as the land of wines, you should expect more. in fact, the country’s national drink, the Port Wine, is made in a magical UNESCO recognized valley which can be found pretty much everywhere.
7. Portuguese Love To Set Records
Portugal is known as the record beaters as they love to set records. Some of the records they’ve set in the past include; smallest newspaper in the world, the largest Aletria, the most espressos made in an hour, the largest human image, the largest Santa Claus parade, most piano hits in a minute, and many others.
8. Most Sun-Kissed Country
Portugal, as of today, is one of the most sun-kissed countries in Europe. Aside from this fact, have it in mind that it’s only the tiny islands of Cyprus and Malta that get more sunshine hours than Portugal. Again, with more than 300 sunny days per year and countless beaches to explore, this country is definitely a prime contender for a summer beach vacation.
9. Virgin Mary Visitation
History made it known that Virgin Mary once visited Portugal. From our research, the miracle happened in May 1917 in the town of Fatima. This visitation was witnessed by three shepherd children who reported a meeting with a lady more brilliant than the sun. Apparently, the crowd observed the sun dancing in an unusual zigzag while immediately drying their rain-soaked clothes.
10. Home to Oldest University in Europe
The University of Coimbra, established in 1920, was ranked as one of the oldest universities on the continent. Located in the historic city of Coimbra, this university is home to over 21,000 students, 10 percent of whom are international students. And this places the university among Portugal’s most international universities and lends the city a cosmopolitan feel with affordable school fees.
Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal
Expats moving abroad often lose themselves in the process of making the right decision about moving from their home country. While this can be a natural part of acclimatization, it’s better not to get too bogged down in what others perceive to be negative about visiting the country. To clear the doubt, we have compiled the pros and cons of living in this country. Now, check it out to know what works best.
People in Portugal are very friendly to locals and expatriates. With this in mind, you should know that visitors and expats alike will find a warm and welcoming culture during their first visitation to the country. Though many people in the country don’t speak English, but you’ll find them helpful to newbies.
Low Cost Of Living in Portugal
Just like other countries in Europe, the cost of living in the country is pretty much lower. Even in the city center of Lisbon, the capital and most bustling city in Portugal, rent is quite cheap compared to the amount of rent in New York City and London. That’s way; it’s easy to buy property as the country is suffering from a major economic downturn.
Portugal’s Attractive Tax Policy
Portugal’s attractive tax policy is another reason to relocate to the country. When compared to other countries, you’ll see that there are attracting investors, self-employed professionals, intellectual property owners, scientific researchers, and expatriates enjoying tax benefits for years.
High Standard of Living
Towards the end of 2019, the Social Progress Index placed Portugal in 18th on the best countries ahead of other nations such as France, England, Spain, and Austria. Moreover, the country stood out because of its performance in terms of freedoms, guarantees, right, and being considered an inclusive nation.
However, Forbes Magazine ranked Portugal as one of the best places to live your retirement years. Not only that, but it’s also referred to as the easiest and safest country in the world.
Diverse Cultural Uniqueness
Portugal has a rich culture that makes it different from other countries in Europe. As expected, for a country with such a long history, their cultural life is extremely interesting and very intense. More so, theatre, shows, international exhibitions, and stage comedies entice expats to relocate to the country. And besides, the country imbibes the cultures of resident communities of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Great Weather Conditions
Portugal is a popular holiday destination among many expats in the world. With that being said, expatriates can enjoy one of the most stable climates in the world. However, in the south of Lisbon, there are over 300 days of sunshine per year, meaning more sunny days than anywhere in Europe. With this fact, Portugal has a longstanding reputation as a top summer destination among European sun-seekers.
Affordable and Spacious Properties
As an ex-pat, this is an important thing to consider when relocating to another country. While accommodation is an essential factor, you should be willing to buy a house in the long run. In Portugal, you can choose whatever kind of spacious apartment that you want. This is because; many charming properties are available, and there’s a growing trend towards heritage-style apartments.
Language barrier seems to be of the major problems expat could face while relocating to Portugal. This is because; there are few native English speakers in the country, and Portuguese is quite difficult to understand and learn for a foreigner. And more so, alternative language makes the language even harder to master.
Low Wages/Salaries (Labour Market)
As of today, Portuguese salaries have been ranked low compared to other European countries. With advances in distance working and online resources, it’s easier to keep living in one country and working in another, which helps to overcome the salary gap. The truth is that there are a number of new opportunities arising in Portugal, but the problem still remains low wages and salaries are given to expats.
Essential Travel Tips to Portugal
If you’ve never been to Portugal, the essential tips could be among the things you’ve been looking for. While you might even fall in love with several outdoor activities in the country, it is better to prepare and make your first trip go as smoothly as possible. Without much talk, below are some of the travel tips.
- Before you travel to Portugal, try and avoid the busiest, hottest, and most expensive months of July and August if possible. Moreover, you’ll likely find great deals and good weather with fewer crowds if you travel to the country off-season.
- If you’re making your own travel arrangements, ensure you have your accommodation booked before time. And if you’re planning to use public transport for transfers, there’s a need to get there on time.
- More and more destinations in Portugal offer a tourist cards for discounts. With that being said, cities such as Lisbon could give you discounted public transport and discount on all manner of typical holiday expenditures.
- Double-check that your document is complete. In fact, ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of travel if coming from outside the EU.
- If you’re planning to rent a car to get around in Portugal, don’t forget that your driving license is essential. Meanwhile, you may need an International Driver’s Permit to check with the rental company and confirm your trip.
- Ensure you have some local currency on you when you arrive in the country. But if you do land in Portugal without Euros, there are ATMs in all international airports and towns to withdraw Euros directly from your bank account
- If possible you might have to exchange your money before traveling to Portugal, try to avoid bringing large bills of more than 50 Euros.
Cost of Living in Portugal
Since Portugal remains one of the most reasonably priced countries in Western Europe, you should know that it offers a comfortable lifestyle to many expats. However, this guide provides an in-depth overview of what you’ll likely expect in Portugal.
With an enviable climate, affordable cost of living, and stunning landscapes, this country is a growing reputation amongst expats. Although living in some parts of Western Europe can be very expensive for expats unless you earn a good salary. But Portugal breaks the mold and offers affordable living.
|Description of Goods or Services||Price in Portugal (EUR)|
|Apple and Banana (1Kg)||2.7 respectively|
|Chicken and a dozen eggs||7.0 respectively|
|A loaf of bread and local cheese||8.20 respectively|
|Local cheese and milk||7.70 respectively|
|Meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Portugal||9.0 respectively|
|Basic utilities (water, electricity, and more)||Approximately 100|
|Transportation cost to get around||Approximately 5|
Additionally, you can see that busses are the most widely-used public transportation if you’re living in Portugal. With this in mind, you should keep in mind that the cost of bus tickets ranges from €1 to €6 respectively. Besides, most location in urban areas could even offer a cheaper cost. And when it comes to education in Portugal, you’ll pay an average of €400-500 per month from primary to high school.
Furthermore, public universities are quite cheaper compared to private universities in the country. For public universities, there’s a fee limit that changes every year, and you’ll need to be aware of that. And when it comes to healthcare in this country, the fee is usually between €5-20 if not free.
Suitable Places to Live in Portugal
Portugal is an expat-friendly country with spectacular beaches, historic fishing villages, and safe cities. Now, the question is; where is the best place to live in the country? Many people have taken to the internet to express their opinion. But, guess what! We’ve got you covered by revealing the places here.
Our explanation doesn’t imply the best places for expats to live, but we’re considering the best city in the country. Lisbon is the first on our list because it’s a diverse city with thriving cultural heritage, beautiful historical centers, and it has an excellent choice for anybody wanting the buzz of a big city. Some of the pros of living in Lisbon include high-quality education, safety, and being family-friendly.
Porto has also made it to the top five on our list. This place is often overlooked by expats moving to Portugal because it’s located in the north. However, this beautiful city should not be ruled out because it is perfect for families and it’s also a cheaper option compared to Lisbon. Also, Porto is famous for its port wine, colorful streets, and incredible local gastronomy. Some of the pros of living in Porto include; great healthcare system, safety, and affordability.
Braga is also one of Portugal’s oldest cities and a great option for cheaper and smaller cities, unlike Lisbon and Porto. In fact, it’s more and more becoming a popular destination for expats. Aside from this fact, Braga is known for its lively nightlife, rich history, and home to the oldest cathedrals in Portugal. Some of the pros of living in Braga include; great healthcare, less tourist, and affordability.
Funchal isn’t a destination that expats would think of. But, this city is becoming increasingly popular, especially with remote workers who have chosen island life as their choice of destination. As the island’s biggest city, Funchal is an up-and-coming city that offers a beautiful setting with warm weather all year around. Again, this island is not overrun with tourists, and it suffered less in the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the pros of living in this city include; beautiful environment, family-friendly, and more.
Ponta Delgada (the Azores)
From one Portuguese island to another, the Azores seem to be one of the best places to live in the world. The island’s beauty makes this city one of the best places to live in Portugal. Like Funchal, the Azores is not too touristy, but it’s more expensive in terms of the cost of living and sustainable tourism initiatives. Some of the pros of living in this city include; good air quality and beautiful surroundings.
Tradition and Cultures in Portugal
Undoubtedly, Portugal is a predominantly Roman Catholic country with a close-knit family ethic and religious background. The country is rich in culture, resulting from many influences, including Celtic, Visigoth, Moorish, and Germanic. In recent decades, Portugal has also undergone a renaissance in the arts, and the cities have all been designated as the European capitals of culture.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese have a deep-seated appreciation of arts. And this is why cities like Lisbon, Braga, Porto, and the university town of Coimbra feature many museums. This means, if you’re looking for a trendy art gallery, look no further because Arte AFK, located in the north of Lisbon, is the best.
However, when it comes to music, Fado and folk music with dancing are Portugal’s most important forms of musical expression. In fact, we can tell you that Fado is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Besides, Lisbon’s style is more popular in Western Europe and other countries.
Festivals and Holidays in Portugal
In towns and villages, year-round cultural activities is a popular thing in the country, and it often revolves around food. Meanwhile, there are festivals of oil, garlic, bread, cheese, wine, and many others, to mention a few. Also, carnivals are widely celebrated, not just on Fat Tuesday before the Roman Catholic but for several days. In June, festivals dedicated to Saints Anthony and Peter take place.
Additionally, Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated on November 11, part of three days called Saint Martin’s summer, usually a period with lovely weather. However, Christmas, Natal, is a family affair that’s celebrated with traditional Portuguese food.
Of course, everyone is certainly different as the Portuguese like to talk. Well, as an expat, this could be an opportunity to make new friends. As one of the oldest nations in Europe, there is more to explore in this country. In summary, read this guide carefully to get a glimpse of what living in Portugal entails.