Moving to Portugal – Expat Guide for Smooth Relocation

Have you ever thought about the advantages of moving to Portugal?

The Atlantic Ocean, surrounding mountains, a pleasant climate, and a low crime rate, accompanied by a generally inexpensive cost of living, are just a few things that make a living in Portugal worth it.

Does the idea of combining all the best aspects of Europe, from picturesque beaches to breathtaking landscapes, sound tempting to you? In that case, IMovingTo will take care to assist the complex process of relocation fully!

Portugal old town on the Douro River

Brief Introduction to Portuguese Culture

Portugal is famous for its rich and varied cuisine, which combines influences from the Mediterranean and the East. Sometimes, food is even the centerpiece of a year-round cultural activity in cities and communities.

Various museums and a collection of ancient buildings can be found throughout many cities and villages. Portuguese tiles, a national landmark, are found on the walls of numerous significant public buildings and monuments and are used to illustrate various historical events.

Portugal is quite compact. However, the country’s climate varies significantly depending on where you are. Portugal can be divided into 5 unique climate zones, so you will definitely find a preferable environment.

Portugal has a warm, temperate climate, with dry summers and winters, with average high temperatures reaching 21 degrees Celsius.

Cost of Living in Portugal

Portugal offers affordable living expenses, including accommodation, dining out, and public transportation.

With just €1,500 a month, a couple can live comfortably in one of the smaller cities or the countryside. The monthly cost of living for a couple in Lisbon ranges from €2,000 to €2,500.

If you’re seeking more bedrooms and fancier areas, the rent prices rise significantly. However, considering the quality of living in Portugal, prices are still relatively affordable.

Cities in Portugal are home to a wide array of traditional markets and supermarkets. Locals find delight in going for walks and obtaining their monthly groceries, which are thought to cost around €200 per month. 

You should be aware that many products that are considered luxuries abroad, like wine and olive oil, are typically inexpensive in Portugal because they are produced locally. For instance, a decent bottle of local wine might only cost you €4.

For clearer visibility, here are additional price-related numerical indicators:

  • Monthly transport pass: 40 EUR
  • Cinema ticket for one person: 7 EUR       
  • Three-course meal for 2 people in a mid-range restaurant: 36 EUR          
  • Cappuccino: 1.45 EUR        
  • Fresh White Bread: 1.12 EUR

Visa Types & Work Permit Requirements

As a member of the EU, citizens are not required to obtain any visas in order to live and work in Portugal. All foreign nationals who intend to work and live in Portugal will need a passport valid for at least 3 more months than the length of time they expect to spend in Portugal before submitting their application for residency and a visa.

For foreigners moving to Portugal, there are 3 categories of visas:

  • A short-term visa costs about €80 and is valid for up to 90 days.
  • A temporary stay visa costs about €75 and is valid for up to 1 year.
  • A residency or long-term visa costs about €90. 

Keep in mind that you should be able to demonstrate your ability to sustain yourself financially during your stay in Portugal to be granted a temporary or long-stay visa.

The D7 (passive income) visa for Portugal is recommended for retirees. You will need to demonstrate your ability to pay down at least €8,460 annually from your pension, plus an additional 50% for each specific provision, in order to be eligible.

The D7 visa also acts as a category of visa for freelancers. A formal document from your employer confirming your eligibility to work remotely and outlining your salary is required if you are going to Portugal as a digital nomad.

Portuguese Healthcare System & Insurance

The healthcare system in Portugal combines public and private services. The Portuguese National Healthcare System (SNS) is in charge of managing public healthcare. You first should register with your local council to benefit from your access to state-funded medical services, which cover all basic healthcare needs.

British people may utilize the UK Global Health Insurance Card, while EU citizens with an EHIC are allowed to use Portuguese healthcare services freely.

In fact, Portugal ranks 23rd in the world for life expectancy, with an average of 82.6 years, ahead of both the UK and USA, even though government spending on healthcare is significantly lower than in other OECD nations.

International health insurance is a requirement for those who do not qualify for Portuguese state healthcare or for families who want to guarantee a higher standard of healthcare. When foreign nationals in Portugal purchase private medical insurance, they can access private healthcare when needed.

What Are Legal Requirements to Move to Portugal?

Portuguese immigration does not require a work visa for citizens of other EU countries. However, to stay permanently, they need to apply for a residency card to stay permanently. Non-EU citizens should undergo a more complicated process that typically involves visas. Expats almost always require a job offer before they relocate.

Most Americans obtain a type 1 residence visa. As a part of the application process, you will be required to submit a criminal history check and take part in an interview at the closest Portuguese consulate.

The staff will demand documentation regarding financial capabilities and accommodations. Permits for visas of type 1 usually have a 1-year duration, and extensions last for 2 years. After 5 years, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.

How to Relocate Your Household Belongings?

If you follow Portugal’s customs regulations, especially if you are coming from outside of Europe, moving there is quite a simple process. If you don’t, Customs will restrict your belongings, in which case you will need to be persistent in order to get them back.

You will require a full description of your belongings and a baggage certificate from the Portuguese embassy or diplomatic mission.  Your items must arrive no later than 90 days after your entrance into the country.

Due to the country’s geographic location, you may have a wide range of options for transporting your household items to Portugal:

    • Air freight — Fast and costly


  • Sea freight — Affordable but slow


  • Road freight — Reasonably quick and affordable

How to Find Accommodation in Portugal?

It is a wise idea to search for properties online prior to relocating to Portugal. Portugal’s real estate is more affordable compared to other countries in Europe, and as a response, the country’s real estate market is growing. There are lots of qualified agents who can assist you and your family in moving to Portugal. You might look into:

  • Idealista
  • Casa Sapo
  • JLL

Instead of buying a house, most foreigners choose to rent an apartment. Expats should present their passports and proof of income when signing rental agreements. People without regular employment may be required to offer a guarantor, who needs to be in possession of pay stubs or tax returns.

As the tenant, you can anticipate paying a deposit of 1 or 2 months’ rent. Rental agreements in Portugal typically have a 2-year validity. For flexible tenants, longer and shorter lease terms are still an option.

Best Portuguese Cities to Live In

If you’re considering relocating to Portugal, there are a few wonderful places that offer their own unique character and beauty. Here are some of the best places to stay in Portugal as an expat, regardless of whether you want to live in the center of a thriving city or enjoy a laid-back lifestyle by the sea.


Lisbon offers a diverse range of daily life, from bustling commercial districts and vibrant nightlife hotspots to cozy, limited quarters and gorgeous seaside locations. Lisbon is characterized by its unique historical center, gorgeous architecture, colorful ceramic tiles, and delicious cuisine. Additionally, it has a fascinating past full of dynasties, invasions, and reconstructions.


Chaves is known for its range of spas and thermal baths claimed to have therapeutic effects. For instance, since Roman times, various diseases have been cured in the cabana in Caldas da Rainha. Even now, the location is a modern thermal complex filled with a green park and numerous bars.

Outstanding cuisine is another reason to relocate to Chaves. This region’s various sausages, smoked meat, and pork meat are hard to resist.


Porto is among the most popular cities to visit in Europe. 6 bridges and a beautiful old town on the Douro River are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Amazing Beaux-Arts and Baroque churches, palaces, and other buildings are widely spread across the city.


The narrow streets crowded with bustling cafés and elegant stores define this fashionable city. The picturesque city center of Braga is wholly pedestrianized and has attractive plazas, bustling market lanes, and lavish gardens.

Pros & Cons of Moving to Portugal


Charming climate

Portugal is the place for you if you enjoy the outdoors and often daydream about living somewhere sunny and warm. For instance, Lisbon experiences 10 hours of daylight throughout the winter.

For expats looking for warmth and sunshine, Portugal is an oasis. Where you settle in Portugal will determine the climate. The temperature rises as you travel farther south. While it can get cold up North, especially in the winter, you will find that even Portuguese winters are typically pleasant.

Affordable living cost

Portugal’s cost of living is significantly lower than that of many other countries, including the UK, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, and Portugal’s neighbor, Spain. Portugal is one of Western Europe’s affordable countries, especially for expats and digital nomads.

One of the best things about living in Portugal is its reasonably priced location. Just to give you an idea, the cost of living in the US is about 42% higher than it is in Portugal.

It is also worth mentioning that Portugal offers premium real estate, dining options, supplies, and commodities at quite reasonable costs.

Outstanding diversity

Portugal’s 1800 km of coastline provides its residents with a stunning variety.

The northern region of Portugal is ideal for active nature lovers due to its national parks and ski resorts in the winter. Porto and Lisbon’s vibrant, multiracial cities are where you should stay if you’re craving city life. Moreover, if you prefer sun-drenched beaches and breathtaking landscapes, the South of Portugal is the place to visit.


The necessity to learn Portuguese

If you are an expat living in Portugal and don’t speak Portuguese, you can get along with your English in the streets and tourist areas. Still, Portuguese is the language usually spoken at government offices.

It can be a little challenging to get things done if you don’t have someone with you who knows Portuguese, as most employees in government agencies only speak Portuguese and are not fluent in English.


One of the primary issues facing both foreigners and Portuguese citizens themselves is bureaucracy. In Portugal, most procedures may take a long time, and paperwork moves quite slowly.

Even applying for or obtaining a driving license may take several months. Additionally, scheduling an appointment before visiting the office itself requires time.

Final Thoughts

Considering the combination of all the best aspects of Europe, from picturesque beaches to breathtaking landscapes and a great climate, Portugal is indeed a preferred moving option for expats.

So, dare to seek new adventures in a new country, such as Portugal, and IMovingTo will assist you in obtaining comprehensive guidance on all available international relocation services.

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