Moving To Portugal: The Definitive Guide


Updated: April 8, 2021

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 neighborhoods 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 meager 1,500 Euros a month. If you choose to live in Lisbon, then a couple’s budget varies between 2,000 to 2,500 Euros a month. This is quite low for the quality of life you’ll get in Portugal.

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-bedroom starting at 300 Euros a month. In Lisbon, however, living a comfortable half-hour walk from the central tourist neighborhoods (Baxia, Chiado, etc.) will cost you around 500 Euros a month. The rental prices climb quickly if you are looking for more bedrooms and fancier neighborhoods. Though, they are still very competitive for a European capital.

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 Euros a month. 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 Euros. Now that’s a bargain!

Below, you can find a guide on the cost of living in Portugal. 

cost of living in Portugal

What if I want to buy a home in Portugal?

Then you’re in luck! According to ProperStar, you’ll find that property in Portugal is some of the cheapest in Europe. 

Get Golden Visa is a licensed real estate advisory company in Portugal.  Our local team in Portugal provides an end-to-end solution to finding the right property.

Contact us and talk to one of our experienced team members to help you with any and all your questions.

Get in Contact Now




    For more information on buying property in 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 businesses welcome 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.

    There are many digital nomads that make their way to Portugal as well.  If you are a remote freelancer, check out our article on Digital Nomads in Portugal.

    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.  

    Profession Monthly 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 visas 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 that 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 recognized 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 a 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 that is officially recognized
      • 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.

    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 the treasury 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 below 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 equalizing 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 that comprehensively shows the tax rates based on monthly income and number of dependents :

    Monthly Income USD Number of Dependents
    0 1 2 3 4 5 or more
    Up to 780 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 812 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 850 4.2% 0.8% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 875 7.3% 2.8% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 964 8.2% 4.6% 1.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 1092 10.4% 6.9% 3.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 1190 11.6% 8.2% 5.8% 1.5% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 1261 12.4% 9.1% 6.7% 3.4% 0.0% 0.0%
    Up to 1354 13.5% 11.0% 8.6% 5.2% 2.8% 0.3%
    Up to 1451 14.5% 12.1% 9.6% 6.2% 3.7% 1.3%
    Up to 1565 15.6% 13.2% 10.8% 7.2% 4.7% 2.3%
    Up to 1687 16.6% 14.2% 11.7% 8.3% 6.7% 4.1%
    Up to 1850 17.7% 15.2% 12.7% 10.3% 7.8% 5.1%
    Up to 2027 19.1% 16.7% 15.2% 11.7% 9.2% 6.7%
    Up to 2215 20.5% 18.7% 17.8% 14.9% 12.9% 12.0%
    Up to 2342 21.5% 19.9% 18.7% 15.9% 14.9% 12.9%
    Up to 2476 22.5% 20.8% 19.8% 16.8% 15.9% 13.9%
    Up to 2628 23.5% 21.9% 20.9% 18.0% 16.9% 14.9%
    Up to 2804 24.5% 22.9% 21.9% 19.0% 18.1% 15.9%
    Up to 3003 25.5% 24.9% 22.9% 21.0% 19.0% 18.1%
    Up to 3278 26.5% 25.8% 24.0% 22.0% 20.0% 19.0%
    Up to 3677 27.8% 27.1% 25.2% 23.2% 21.2% 20.2%
    Up to 4187 29.4% 29.1% 27.5% 25.9% 25.3% 23.7%
    Up to 4879 30.5% 30.3% 28.5% 26.9% 26.3% 25.7%
    Up to 5509 32.3% 31.8% 30.2% 28.4% 27.8% 27.2%
    Up to 6154 33.3% 32.8% 32.2% 29.7% 28.8% 28.2%
    Up to 6967 34.3% 33.8% 33.2% 30.6% 30.0% 29.2%
    Up to 7970 36.3% 35.9% 35.1% 33.2% 32.8% 32.4%
    Up to 9406 37.3% 36.9% 36.5% 35.2% 33.8% 33.4%
    Up to 11327 39.3% 38.9% 38.5% 37.2% 36.8% 35.4%
    Up to 13367 40.3% 39.9% 39.5% 38.6% 37.8% 36.4%
    Up to 22339 41.3% 40.9% 40.5% 39.6% 39.2% 37.4%
    Up to 23959 42.3% 41.9% 41.5% 40.6% 40.2% 38.4%
    Up to 26954 43.1% 42.9% 42.5% 41.6% 41.2% 39.6%
    Up to 29948 44.1% 43.9% 43.5% 42.6% 42.2% 40.8%
    Over 29948 45.1% 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.

    How To Open A Bank Account In PortugalList of International banks in Portugal 

    Most banks in the country are Portuguese. There are some International Banks, however, that 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.

    Curriculum Language of instruction Ages Yearly fees – 2020/2021
    American, International English 3 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.

    Curriculum Language of instruction Ages Yearly fees – 2020/2021
    International English 3 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!

    Curriculum Language of instruction Ages Yearly fees – 2020/2021
    British English 3 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.

    Curriculum Language of instruction Ages Yearly fees – 2020/2021
    British English 3 to 10

    from: €11,100

    to: €13,800

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

    International Schools In Portugal

    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 $90-110$. 

    health systemPublic 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 centers that 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.

    Portugal Golden Visa

    Most Popular Cities With Expats In Portugal

    Lisbon

    Living in Lisbon is slightly more expensive than in 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. This 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.

    Get Golden Visa is a full-service investment immigration agency & investment advisory company.  We provide end-to-end solutions on investment advisory and residence and citizenship by investment programs in numerous countries worldwide. We have a local team in Portugal.

    If you need advice on finding a property or obtaining residency status through the Golden Visa program 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 meager 1,500 Euros a month! However, if you choose to live in Lisbon, then a couple’s budget varies from 2,000 to 2,500 Euros 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 tourist 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.

      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 neighborhoods 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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