Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide

Table of Contents

Why move to Portugal?

Just hearing the word “Portugal” brings to mind the vision of beautiful climate, wide beaches and breathtaking beauty. Life in Portugal has an irresistible atmosphere, and the fantastic year-round weather is one of many reasons why many expats decide to move to Portugal. Add to that it’s various cities and towns that range from the bustling urban neighbourhoods in Lisbon to the anciently mystifying villages like Obidos.

In addition, the nationals are particularly well known for their friendly spirit and hospitable nature. All of that added together, makes living in Portugal an unforgettable experience!

In this guide, we would like to illuminate your way on your journey to move or relocate to one of the most majestic countries in the world!

Cost of Living

Whenever you’re moving somewhere new, the first question you ask is “What does it cost to live there?”. We have great news for you! This country offers arguably the lowest living cost in western Europe.  

Living in Portugal is reasonably cheap. From public transport costs and eating outside to accommodation. A couple can comfortably live in one of the small cities or in the interior with just a meagre $1700 a month! That’s a very attractive price for a new home!  However, if you choose to live in Lisbon, then a couple’s budget varies from $2100 to $2300 a month. Which is extremely low for the quality of life you’re looking at in this haven of a country.

Of course, we understand if the most significant expense in your mind is accommodation. Luckily, rents in Portugal are very reasonable. In small cities and in the interior, you can find a home of one- to two-bedroom for just 375$ a month! In Lisbon, however, living a comfortable half-hour walk from the central tourist neighbourhoods (Baxia, Chiado, etc…) will cost you around $650 a month. Many people choose that option when they move to Portugal!

You can spend a few extra bucks and put down $1000- $1200 if you wish to live in a high quality home, right in the middle of a touristic neighbourhood like the ones mentioned above. You can’t find anywhere else in Europe at those prices!

Food, Of course, is next on the list. Many cities in this country boast a variety of traditional markets and supermarkets. Many people enjoy taking a stroll in the gorgeous weather and buy their monthly groceries which are estimated to run from about $200 a month, depending on how they buy. When you’re moving there, you should know that many items that are considered luxuries elsewhere (Such as Olive Oil and Wine) are produced locally and thus are usually cheap. For example, a decent local wine bottle might cost you only $4, now that’s a bargain!

We have prepared a guide for the cost of living in Portugal for you, which you can consult here. 

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide

What if I want to buy a home?

Then you’re in luck! According to properstar.co.uk, you’ll find that property in Portugal is some of the cheapest in Europe. The National Statistics institute’s figures show that the average home prices have the meagre rate of €1,243 ($1460) a square metre for flats and €1,090($1280) for Houses. Compared to €2,649 ($3115) in the UK or €2,300($2700)  in France, it stands at almost half the price!

For more information on buying property on Portugal, please consult our How To Buy Property In Portugal Guide.

The Job Market

Much like Portugal itself, the job market there is welcoming and competitive. You’ll find that moving to Portugal right now is a very lucrative idea. Due to the growing economy, many new startups and tech companies are emerging quickly. Of course, if you learn Portuguese, you will open more doors for yourself. Let’s take a closer look at how the market looks. 

The IT field or online business very commonly welcomes in expats. Other more traditional sectors, however, usually require knowledge of Portuguese. Even if you don’t speak the language, you can always find some work in the tourism section if you possess various languages. And with a country that attracts people like Portugal, know that there is no shortage of those.

Portugal requires any worker to contribute to social security. The contribution offers protection by the Portuguese Social Security in the following cases:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Maternity and paternity benefits
  • Old age pension
  • Sickness and disease benefits
  • Death benefits
  • Invalidity
  • Work injuries and other health conditions.

What is the minimum wage? 

If you’re moving to Portugal, you should know how to plan your expenses. The minimum salary as established by the law is €635 ($752) a month. The minimum wage is, however, not taxed. You have to pay taxes if you earn more than $780 a month. Yet social security is required for any salary. Social security is taxed at 11% of your income.

What is the Average Salary?

The average salary varies between $1200 and $2000, depending on the experience and qualification of the employee. As we mentioned earlier, a couple will need about 1700$ a month to live comfortably. So with some qualification, when moving there, you can draw a salary that allows you to live with ease.

The most common jobs in Portugal

Portugal’s economy is ever-growing, which is why the job market is always looking for professionals to join from all around the world. 

Here’s a table of the most in-demand professionals and their monthly average salary.  

 

ProfessionMonthly Average Salary
Accountant$1900
Architect$1800
Doctor, General Practice$2400
Help Desk Technician$900
Hotel Manager$7400
Marketing Manager$2500
Nurse$1100
Product Manager$3575
Receptionist$1200
Software Engineer$2000
Teacher$1200
UX Designer$2000
Web Developer$1400

 

Acquiring Visas And Work Permits

How do I get a Portuguese visa?

If you’re not an EU resident, then you will need a visa to move to Portugal. The types of visa depend on the purpose of your visit. A few examples are work visas and permits, and visas for family reunification. 

After you move to the country, you must ask for a residence permit. You can also apply for permanent residency after five years.

Visa processes and applications are carried out by SEF, Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras(The immigration and border service)As of 2019, you can apply for visas online via this platform https://www.sef.pt/en/. The portal has recently introduced an automatic renewal feature of Residence Permits, so we highly recommend that you take a look at it. 

There are various ways to apply for a visa depending on your nationality and purpose of stay. Most nationals must apply for a visa to get a visto para obtenção de autorização de residência (Authorization of Residence). This is valid for four months. You should enter the country within the valid time (you may enter twice). After that, you can apply for a residence permit with SEF.

The Visas will usually cost around $88. The residence permit costs around the same amount. Yet, if you wish to obtain a visa or residence permit for investment purposes, then the cost will be $550 and $5000 respectively.

Applying for a visa could be done by going to a Portuguese consulate abroad. You can also use the online portal. To qualify for a visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have no indication of non-admission in SEF’s information system
  • Not been convicted of a crime
  • Have no indication of non-admission in the Schengen information system
  • Not been prohibited from entering Portuguese territory
  • Be absent of any requirement that might disqualify you for a visa

The documents required for the visa are

  • A passport which is valid for at least three months longer than the duration of your stay
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Portuguese visa application form
  • Valid travel insurance
  • Proof of financial ability to support yourself through your stay, or a term of responsibility signed by a Portuguese citizen or resident
  • If applying through a third-country(not your country of origin), you’ll need proof of your legal stay there
  • If you are applying for an employment visa you will need the additional documents:
    • proof of your qualifications for the job
    • A signed work contract (or promise of work), or a manifestation of interest by an employer
    • A declaration by a competent authority that you are qualified to take up employment in your work sector

Remember that you can be disqualified for a visa if you have an indication of non-admission recognised in the Schengen information system.

How do I get a residence permit?

There are two types of permits that you can obtain: 

Temporary residence permit

After receiving the Portuguese visa, you need to enter the country while it’s valid and apply for a temporary residence. A temporary residence permit for the purpose of employment is $79. Renewals have the fee of $36. The following documents are required to apply for a permit:

  • Valid Residence Visa
  • Passport or any other valid travel document
  • Two recent identical photographs in color with a blank background
  • Evidence of having adequate accommodation
  • Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence
  • Permission from SEF to check your criminal record in Portugal
  • Proof of enrollment or regular payments to social security
  • Supporting documents with the necessary information for registration with the tax authority

This permit is valid for one year. It can be renewed for two years, and then two after that. After five years of residence, you may apply for a permanent residence.

Permanent residence permit 

To obtain a permanent residence in Portugal, you must have lived there for five years legally. After obtaining and renewing the temporary permit, you need an appointment with SEF. The permanent residence costs $240 and requires the following documents:

  • Passport or any other valid travel document
  • A signed standard application form
  • Two recent identical photographs in color with a blank background
  • Valid temporary residence permit
  • Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence
  • Evidence of having adequate accommodation
  • Permission for SEF to check your criminal record
  • Evidence of a basic command of the Portuguese language, for this you have various options:
    • You can obtain a certificate from a teaching establishment which is officially recognised
    • You can complete language studies issued by a teaching establishment
    • You can complete elementary Portuguese studies which are issued by (IEFP) the Institute for Employment and Professional Training
    • You can obtain a Certificate of knowledge of basic Portuguese such as Teaching Portuguese as a Foreign Language (CAPLE), recognized by the Ministry of Education and Science

What are the benefits of a permanent residence?

When you have a permanent residence, you are allowed to travel around the Schengen area. You might also want to know that permanent residents in Portugal get fiscal benefits, such as healthcare and social security. You will have access to education, and you can also apply for family reunification for your family to move with you to your new home.

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide

Portuguese Taxes

Whether you wish to work or be self-employed, in this section, we will explore what the tax system is like in Portugal. What are the taxes on your income and other assets? What laws apply to attract foreign investors? First things first, you need to get a Portuguese Tax number.

The Portuguese Tax Number

The tax number is known as the NIF or Número de Identificação Fiscal. Obtaining this number is essential and should be on the top of your checklist when moving to Portugal.

Applying for a tax number is relatively easy if you know the steps. You just need to go to the closest tax agency (Finanças). There are two types of tax numbers, a non-resident and a resident one. If you’re applying for the former, you need proof of address of your last country of residence and a tax representative.  This person has to be a Portuguese citizen, and they will be responsible for making sure that you pay your taxes. If you’re applying as a Portuguese resident, then you need your proof of address in Portugal. You will need to have an ID in both cases. 

The NHR (Non-Habitual Resident) program

Portuguese authorities implemented the NHR Tax Program in 2009. In an effort to attract investors and professionals, and in order to boost the economy and increase Portugal’s international standing. This Program can allow massive tax savings for those who qualify. Calling this initiative a success is an understatement. Since its implementation, there have been over 10,000 individuals that enjoyed the benefits! 

To apply to this program, you must not have lived in the country for the last five years. You also need to be a resident for tax purposes and register in thetreasury portal as a non-habitual tax resident.

What exactly are the benefits of the NHR program?

This program offers numerous advantages:

  • No minimum residency requirement
  • It’s in a whitelisted tax environment within the European Union
  • No wealth tax
  • 20% consistent rate on certain Portuguese incomes, such as self-employment and some specific professions), compared to the normal income tax in Portugal, which is up to 48%
  • Tax exemption on nearly all foreign income sources (See Double Taxation Agreement below for more info)
  • Free remittance of funds to Portugal
  • Tax exemption on inheritance or gifts to direct family members
  • Personal tax treatment over ten years

Double Taxation Agreement

 The Double Taxation Agreement states that while residing in Portugal as an NHR resident, you will not be taxed for any income that you receive from outside of the country. Of course, this only works with the countries that Portugal signed the agreement with (Check our FAQ section for a full list of countries).

The Tax System

If you live in the country for 183 days in a year, you are considered a resident and are taxed. 

Portugal has an equalising income tax, the more you earn, the more you pay. Tax rates range from 0 to 45%. Any income under $780 is not taxed in Portugal. The highest tax rate applies to those who earn more than $29,000 a month. Here’s a table which comprehensively shows the tax rates based on monthly income and number of dependents :

 

Monthly Income USDNumber of Dependents
012345 or more
Up to7800.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to8120.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to8504.2%0.8%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to8757.3%2.8%0.2%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to9648.2%4.6%1.1%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to109210.4%6.9%3.6%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Up to119011.6%8.2%5.8%1.5%0.0%0.0%
Up to126112.4%9.1%6.7%3.4%0.0%0.0%
Up to135413.5%11.0%8.6%5.2%2.8%0.3%
Up to145114.5%12.1%9.6%6.2%3.7%1.3%
Up to156515.6%13.2%10.8%7.2%4.7%2.3%
Up to168716.6%14.2%11.7%8.3%6.7%4.1%
Up to185017.7%15.2%12.7%10.3%7.8%5.1%
Up to202719.1%16.7%15.2%11.7%9.2%6.7%
Up to221520.5%18.7%17.8%14.9%12.9%12.0%
Up to234221.5%19.9%18.7%15.9%14.9%12.9%
Up to247622.5%20.8%19.8%16.8%15.9%13.9%
Up to262823.5%21.9%20.9%18.0%16.9%14.9%
Up to280424.5%22.9%21.9%19.0%18.1%15.9%
Up to300325.5%24.9%22.9%21.0%19.0%18.1%
Up to327826.5%25.8%24.0%22.0%20.0%19.0%
Up to367727.8%27.1%25.2%23.2%21.2%20.2%
Up to418729.4%29.1%27.5%25.9%25.3%23.7%
Up to487930.5%30.3%28.5%26.9%26.3%25.7%
Up to550932.3%31.8%30.2%28.4%27.8%27.2%
Up to615433.3%32.8%32.2%29.7%28.8%28.2%
Up to696734.3%33.8%33.2%30.6%30.0%29.2%
Up to797036.3%35.9%35.1%33.2%32.8%32.4%
Up to940637.3%36.9%36.5%35.2%33.8%33.4%
Up to1132739.3%38.9%38.5%37.2%36.8%35.4%
Up to1336740.3%39.9%39.5%38.6%37.8%36.4%
Up to2233941.3%40.9%40.5%39.6%39.2%37.4%
Up to2395942.3%41.9%41.5%40.6%40.2%38.4%
Up to2695443.1%42.9%42.5%41.6%41.2%39.6%
Up to2994844.1%43.9%43.5%42.6%42.2%40.8%
Over2994845.1%44.9%44.5%43.6%43.2%41.8%

 

Opening a Bank Account

The steps to open a bank account are pretty straightforward. Here is the list of documents needed:

  • The Portuguese tax number, NIF
  • A valid ID
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of employment

After collecting these documents, you should head down to the branch and apply. Some Banks allow Online applications, but most of the time, you’ll need to visit a branch in person. Our Guide on How To Open A Bank Account In Portugal has all the information you need.

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive GuideList of International banks in Portugal 

Most banks in the country are Portuguese. There are some International Banks, however, who have specific banking products for expats. Such as:

  • ING Bank
  • BNP Paribas
  • Barclays
  • Abanca
  • Deutsche Bank 

Education

Portugal offers free education for citizens and residents up till the age of 18. As with everywhere, there are private schools where there are higher tuition and smaller class size. 

If you live in Lisbon, or in one of the major cities, there’s a good chance you’ll find an international school with an American or English Curriculum, which some people prefer. Here are some of the top school and their expenses according to https://www.international-schools-database.com/ 

TASIS Portugal 

The TASIS family of schools have recently added TASIS Portugal is the fourth campus and most recent addition to. This school aspires to be a world-class school that transforms students’ lives through a love of learning, truth, beauty, and goodness.

 

CurriculumLanguage of instructionAgesYearly fees – 2020/2021
American, InternationalEnglish3 to 13

from: €9,800

to: €15,090

 

United Lisbon International School 

The United Lisbon International School has a strong passion for families and the younger generation. They also have years of experience and a very strong standing in international education.

 

CurriculumLanguage of instructionAgesYearly fees – 2020/2021
InternationalEnglish3 to 15

from: €9,310

to: €15,670

 

International Preparatory School 

Small, friendly, professional, very international and supportive PTA. Happy children are very easy to work with!

 

CurriculumLanguage of instructionAgesYearly fees – 2020/2021
BritishEnglish3 to 11

from: €9,710

to: €13,505

 

British School Lisbon 

The British school Lisbon Aspires to be a world-leading School. This is why they have an incredibly high standard in all they do.

 

CurriculumLanguage of instructionAgesYearly fees – 2020/2021
BritishEnglish3 to 10

from: €11,100

to: €13,800

 

If you need more information, we have prepared a guide on International Schools In Portugal.

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide

Health Care

Private System

The public health system is only available to foreigners who have a permanent residence. So for the first five years, you’ll need to have private health insurance.

Luckily, private insurance is competitively cheap. A basic package can run you between $22-$55 monthly, while a more comprehensive coverage would cost you about $90-110$. 

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive GuidePublic System

The Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) or public healthcare system, provides medical care for free or for very little cost, depending on the situation. There’s a collection of public hospitals and health centres which are funded publicly.

Permanent residents and nationals can enjoy the benefit of this system. Tourists can’t use this system other than in an emergency.

Portugal’s Golden Visa Program

The Portuguese Golden Visa Program is an RBI(Residency By Investment) program. The authorities launched the Golden Visa program in 2012. Since then, more than 8,500 applicants have joined this program (as of May 2020). 

This program grants residency to investors who invest in one of its many investment options.

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide

Most Popular Cities With Expats In Portugal

Lisbon

Living in Lisbon is slightly more expensive than most other cities. However, it’s a small price to pay to have a taste of Portugal life. The light of life always shines through this bustling hub. Besides boasting international schools and banks, the unique experience this city can offer you is well worth the extra bucks. Plus, compared to living costs in other European capitals, you’re getting a bargain! 

Algarve

The Algarve region is what many people have called “Heaven” over the years. The golden coast stretching with clean, gorgeous beaches call many expats and locals alike to this dream of Portugal living. 

Cascais

Compared to Lisbon, Cascais is small. Even though it has over 200,000 inhabitants, it is still considered a village. Which means that village charm is what you’ll find there. Only a half-hour drive from the Lisbon airport you’ll reach warm sunny beaches and friendly village life.

Porto

Americans moving to Portugal often prefer Porto. This antique fishing town holds a mix of classic character and urbanism. It has become a very popular spot for tourists and is a great choice if you decide to relocate.

The Pros and Cons of Moving to Portugal

Unfortunately, just like no “one” is perfect, no “where” is perfect either. Here are some of the pros and cons of moving to Portugal

Pros

  • The local people are specifically well known for their hospitality
  • The food culture there is famous worldwide for variety and deliciousness
  • Fantastic weather is year-round in this haven
  • The cost of living is comparatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe

Cons

  • Unless you are a permanent resident, you are not entitled to health care
  • Outside of the main cities, some services and good might be difficult to acquire
  • The bureaucratic system is a bit complicated to grasp. Though if you book a free consultation with our team through our Portugal portal, then we can help you through the process

How can I move to Portugal?

If you’re considering a move to Portugal, then it’s a good idea to speak with a professional and ask the questions you may have. Depending on your specific needs, a trusted advisor can help guide you in the right direction, saving you time and money.

If you need advice on finding a property or obtaining residency status in Portugal, we would be glad to help. You may get in touch with us to schedule a call.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How easy is it to move to Portugal?

The process of relocating there is relatively easy, if you follow the country’s customs rules, especially when coming from outside of Europe.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Portugal?

A couple can comfortably live in one of Portugal’s small cities or in the interior with just a meagre $1700 a month! However, if you choose to live in Lisbon, then a couple’s budget varies from $2100 to $2300 a month.

What is the minimum wage in Portugal?

The legally set minimum wage is €635 ($752) per month (as of 2020).

Is healthcare free in Portugal?

Public health care is not completely free, but it is available for nationals and permanent residents at a very low cost.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Portugal?

Guimarães is one of the most affordable cities. It connects to Lisbon by train, and it’s close to many tourists attractions.

What jobs are in demand in Portugal?

The most in-demand jobs are usually in healthcare, tourism and IT. Check our Job Market Section above to learn more. 

Do expats pay taxes in Portugal?

If you are a  permanent resident then yes!  If you spend 183 days or more in the country over 12 months you become a permanent resident. However, the NHR program can help you get a personal treatment on your taxes.

How do I retire in Portugal?

The process may take some time, but it is straightforward. You’ll need to prove that you have health insurance and a regular income. For a more comprehensive understanding of retiring there check out this guide.

Moving To Portugal: The Definitive GuideHow much is property tax in Portugal?

The rates for property tax varies depending on the owning individual or party. This ranges from 0.4% for company held properties, to 0.7% for individual help properties. If the property value goes over €1,000,000, then the tax becomes 1%.

Where is the best place to buy property in Portugal?

Setubal near Lisbon is also an expensive place to buy property, while in the Algarve areas such as Lagos, Albufeira, Tavira and Lagoa. For luxury houses and apartments Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura are the choicest neighbourhoods in the Algarve.

Can foreigners get a mortgage in Portugal?

Both residents and non-residents can apply for a mortgage from Portuguese banks. Variable mortgage rates start at 3.3% per year based on a 30% loan-to-value. … Alternatively, fixed rates are available at 4.1% for up to 5 years based on loan to value ratios of up to 70%.

Is food expensive in Portugal?

While meal prices can vary, the average cost of food in Portugal is €30 per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal should cost around €12 per person. In general, you’d pay a bit less for breakfast than you’d do for lunch or dinner.

Can foreigners buy real estate in Portugal?

Portugal allows all foreigners to buy and invest in their real estate market, which is why many foreigners have steeled in Portugal or invested in a second home there.

What is the average price of a house in Portugal?

Property in Portugal is one of the cheapest in Europe. Recent figures from the National Statistics Institute show the average house price at just EUR 1,187 a square meter – EUR 1,243 for flats, and EUR 1,090 for houses.

How can I get residency in Portugal?

There are various ways to obtain residency in Portugal, some of which are:

  •  Marriage
  •  Family Reunification
  •  Study
  •  Work
  •  Investment
  •  Retirement

You’ll need to apply for the relevant visa for each of these if you live outside of the EU. After your visa is accepted you can apply for a residency with the government.

Which countries have double taxation treaties with Portugal?

The following countries have double taxation treaties with Portugal:

Algeria, Austria, Andorra, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, East-Timor, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam.

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