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Portugal

Living in Lisbon: A Guide for Foreigners

Updated: 12 April 2022

Portugal is in the southwest corner of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. The stunning geography of the country makes it an ideal choice for living permanently. But if you’re not sure which city you should choose as your second home in Portugal, Lisbon, the capital might be your best choice.  

In this article, we’ll give you an introduction so you can make better planning before moving to Lisbon.  

In this article, we will cover the following:

Where Is Lisbon?

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is located two-thirds of the way down from north to south of the country. The capital city reigns on top of seven hills, and you will never get tired of the mesmerizing view while living in Lisbon Portugal. The outskirts of Lisbon are surrounded by beautiful beaches, which makes the cosmopolitan center a perfect holiday destination.

Top Reasons for Living in Lisbon

A few top reasons to choose Lisbon as your current residence are as follows:

Outstanding Business Location

The capital city of Portugal is one of the leading centers of startups in the world. If you want to open a new venture in the high-tech sector, Lisbon is one of the best locations for it. 

Setting up a new business in Lisbon with appropriate legislation, incentives, and exemptions is quite easy. You can also get great deals on office prices and seek guidance from highly-qualified professionals. The city is quite dynamic in terms of offering a favorable environment for a new business. 

Safe and Tolerant

You can consider Lisbon a safe city to live in with low crime rates. It competes with Helsinki and Vienna to become one of the top three metropolitan centers in Europe. Apart from being safe, Lisbon is quite liberal and welcoming to foreigners. 

People are accepted in the city of Lisbon despite their gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or social status. Whether you are an immigrant or a local, you will find your own space in the city. The accepting atmosphere ensures that various cultures can coexist in the city. 

Beautiful Beaches

While most European capitals are far from the coast, Lisbon is an exception. Praia de Santo Amaro and Praia de Carcavelos are two of the numerous attractions close to the city. A perk of living in Lisbon is visiting a beach even in the middle of a workday. Some of the city’s distant but striking beautiful beaches are Estoril and Cascais. Caparica is another great beach to visit if you want to try surfing.   

Tax Benefits

Portugal offers tax benefits to foreigners through the NHR scheme. This scheme allows you to be exempt from tax on most of your foreign income. NHR has been a great incentive for many foreigners from all around the world to make Lisbon their second home.

Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon

Some of the best neighborhoods for living in Lisbon, Portugal, are as follows:

Alvadale

If you are looking for a residential neighborhood with lush carpets of green, Alvadale is your ideal destination. The neighborhood reminds you of Paris with its charming cafes and restaurants. If you take the metro from the city center, you will reach Alvadale within twenty minutes. People who want a peaceful life in Lisbon should settle in Alvadale.   

Avenidas Novas

A property in the Avenidas Novas district may be excellent for you if you want to be close to the city center yet away from the tourist crowds. It’s a neighborhood where you can live like a local. However, there aren’t many options if you’re seeking a lively social life.

Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto, Portugal’s most famous district, is also one of Lisbon’s oldest. It is known for its beautiful skyline and historic architecture, which has attracted journalists, writers, and painters for ages. This neighborhood boasts many Portuguese restaurants and scenic pubs where you may have a drink before embarking on your next trip or stop by an old favorite fado house.

Baixa

Baixa neighborhood is located right at the heart of Lisbon. The district has various magnificent eateries, shops, and plazas. Due to the popular attractions, the neighborhood remains quite busy during the daytime. But if you want to taste the hustling life in Lisbon, this neighborhood is perfect for you.

Campo de Ourique

The neighborhood in West Lisbon is quite popular among middle-class families. You can find magnificent nineteenth-century buildings coexisting with modern architecture. The food market is quite big in this neighborhood, and it also boasts of some great cafes and restaurants. Jardim da Parada is a small central park in the neighborhood where people of all ages can be seen spending time.

Chiado

Chiado, one of Lisbon’s most fashionable neighborhoods, is a popular location for having coffee in ancient cafés and shopping in high-end boutiques. If you choose to live in Chiado, you’ll have theatres, bookshops, and historic places nearby.

Principe Real

The neighborhood is one of the most tasteful ones in Lisbon. It has some of the best bars, restaurants, art galleries, and shops in the city. The neighborhood has people of multiple cultures living together. It means that you can taste food from different corners of the world at the local restaurants. 

Buying or Renting a House in Lisbon as a Foreigner

One of the biggest worries when moving to a new location is the limitation on foreigners purchasing or renting property. However, Portugal’s policies are flexible, and you can easily buy or rent a house in Lisbon.

Buying a Home in Lisbon 

Lisbon delivers a high quality of life, which attracts retirees, young professionals, and digital nomads. If you’ve made up your mind about living in Lisbon full-time, you may easily buy a home in Lisbon. While there are certain steps to follow, the procedure is simple.

Renting a House in Lisbon

Rents in Lisbon, like most European cities, are significantly higher than in the rest of the country. This makes it a little more difficult to find rental apartments in Lisbon, but it’s not impossible. You will be able to find your home in Lisbon with patience, research, and advice. However, note that some landlords are unwilling to sign long-term rental agreements. Instead, they prefer to rent to tourists on a short-term basis.

How To Find a Rental Property
in Lisbon Click to read >

How To Live in Lisbon as a Foreign Citizen: Residence Permits and Visas

Living in Lisbon as an EU Citizen

If you plan to stay in Lisbon for longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a registration certificate. You can apply for this certificate after entering the country. The registration certificate is valid for a period of up to five years. 

Living in Lisbon as a Non-EU Citizen

If you wish to live in Lisbon and are from a non-EU nation, you must apply for a Portuguese residency visa before arriving. Once your visa expires, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit.

Living in Lisbon With Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa is a visa granted to non-EU citizens who invest in Portugal through property purchases, fund investments, capital transfers, donations, or company formation. If you plan to live in Lisbon for a long time and don’t want to deal with a lot of paperwork, Portugal Golden Visa may be the best option for you.

Living in Lisbon With D7 Visa

If you have a steady passive income, you can choose to live in Lisbon under a D7 visa. It’s a popular route for many retirees who want to avoid the high costs of living in their home country. 

Cost of Living in Lisbon

If you’re thinking about moving to Lisbon, you might be wondering how much money you’ll need to spend on food and housing, which are two key necessities. After that, you’ll want to go out for dinners, parties, wine, Fado, and whatever else you enjoy. In this section, we’ll give you estimated figures for the cost of living in Lisbon.

Accommodation

If you’re going to rent, see below for estimated monthly rents:

  • Studio apartment (approx. size 20m²): €650
  • 1-bedroom apartment (approx. size 50 m²): €800
  • 2-bedroom apartment (approx. size 83 m²): €1,100
  • 3-bedroom apartment (approx. size 120 m²): €2,000

Food 

Food isn’t too expensive in Lisbon. You can find good quality and fresh food at very affordable prices. 

Below chart will give you an outline of grocery expenses in Lisbon:

Eating Out

Lisbon offers many alternatives for eating out. You can find small local bars, also known as tascas, which offer traditional eating out experiences at affordable prices. If you want to splurge, you can choose one of the Michelin-starred restaurants. There are 10 Michelin-starred restaurants in Lisbon.

A meal in an average restaurant will cost you around €10 approximately. In a mid-range restaurant, this can go up to €50 for two.

Transportation

You should buy a monthly pass if you want to save money on transportation while living in Lisbon Portugal. A monthly pass costs around €40. One-way bus ticket costs €1.50.

Schools

You’d better become familiar with some of the best schools for your children before moving to Lisbon Portugal. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • British School of Lisbon
  • Oeiras International School
  • Astoria International School
  • Redbridge School
  • Lycée Français Charles Lepierre

As a legal resident of Lisbon, you can also enroll your children in a public school which is free. However, you need to plan ahead of time as state schools require a lot of paperwork.

Getting Around

Some transport options to get around the city of Lisbon are as follows:

  • Tram: You will find the historic Remodelado trams and the modern Articulado trams in Lisbon. Being a favorite mode of transportation for tourists and locals, trams in Lisbon are almost always crowded.
  • Train: All the major villages and towns in Lisbon can be reached by train. The trains are on time with comfortable coaches and affordable tickets.
  • Buses: It is one of the most flexible modes of transport to get around the city of Lisbon.
  • Metro: Boarding the metro is one of the fastest ways to move from one corner of the Portuguese capital to another. 
  • Taxi: You will find that taxi rides in Lisbon are particularly cheap. You can also book an Uber to move from one part of the city to another.

Apart from transportation options, you can easily explore the city by walking. Luckily, the majority of the city’s attractions are located in the city center. But note that as the streets are cobbled, you’ll need good walking shoes.

Shopping

Lisbon is a city that embraces high fashion and the latest trendy trends while maintaining a strong commitment to family-owned businesses and traditional marketplaces.

Lisbon has glittering shopping malls and international designer stores, but it also has a thriving artisan and creative culture. The Avenida da Liberdade, studded with high-end shops and designer boutiques, is Lisbon’s most popular shopping strip.

Healthcare

Anyone residing in Lisbon gets access to public healthcare through Portugal’s National Health Service (SNS – Serviço Nacional de Sade). In Lisbon, there are also a number of private hospitals and medical facilities to which you can go if you have health insurance or if you pay cash. The CUF Hospitals and the Hospital da Luz Torres de Lisboa are two examples of well-known hospitals.

Language

Many expats who have made Lisbon their second home say value the fact that English is extensively spoken in Lisbon compared to other Portuguese cities.

However, learning some Portuguese will be useful to integrate into your new neighborhood and immerse yourself in the Portuguese way of life.

Weather in Lisbon

Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate with pleasant weather all year. Summers are hot and sunny, while winters are mild. The hottest month is August, with an average temperature of 24°C, and the coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 12°C. November is the wettest month, with a lot of rain.

Festivals and Attractions

You can experience various Lisboa live events throughout the year. The events include art exhibitions, film and food festivals, concerts, and others. Some popular Lisboa live events are as follows:

  • New Year’s Concert: Like every big city in the world, Lisbon also welcomes the new year with grandeur. A grand concert is held on the evening of January 1 every year at the CCB.
  • Lisbon Carnival: The month of February sees excited party-goers crowding the streets of Lisbon. 
  • Lisbon International Triathlon: The event is held in May, with more than 800 participants from more than 30 countries participating in swimming, cycling, and racing.
  • Arte Lisboa: It is the contemporary Art Fair held in Lisbon every November. The four-day exhibition displays artworks by renowned and emerging artists.  

Living in Lisbon: Pros and Cons

In this section, we’ve summed up some of the advantages and drawbacks of living in Lisbon.

Advantages

  • Affordable cost of living compared to other European capitals 
  • Great weather 
  • Thriving international community
  • Great nightlife and social scene
  • A short train ride to the beach
  • Good business opportunities

Drawbacks

  • The stairs and cobbled streets
  • Slow bureaucracy
  • Overtourism in summer
  • Challenge to find rental apartments 
  • No central heating

Is Lisbon Safe?

According to the Global Peace Index, Portugal is the third safest country in Europe, and internationally, it ranks fourth.

As the capital, Lisbon has a little higher crime rate than the rest of the country, but it is still a very safe and calm location to live in.

The Bottom Line on Living in Lisbon Portugal

Living in Lisbon provides all of the benefits of being in a lively and international city, as well as the benefits of great history and a relaxed pace of life. Retirees, families, or digital nomads who search for a fresh start might consider moving to Lisbon Portugal. The city offers an abundance of entertainment and cultural opportunities, as well as vibrant nightlife, pleasant weather, and exquisite dining at affordable costs. 

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