Situated on the west of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal's beauty abounds with long stretches of white beaches and imposing mountains. A population of just over 10 million leaves plenty of room for expats to enjoy themselves and explore Portugal's architectural treasures and archaeological gems without the claustrophobia of large crowds.

Living in Portugal as an expat

Portugal offers expats a high quality of life at a low cost. Apart from the appealing warm weather, another reason expats move to Portugal is the warm environment created by the local people. Portuguese culture revolves around family, and locals are usually friendly, welcoming and helpful. That said, the Portuguese approach and the tedium of government bureaucracy can be frustrating for expats doing business in the country. Employment is also difficult to find, and wages are generally lower than in other European destinations.

Cost of living in Portugal

To make up for lower wages, the cost of living is by far one of the most reasonable in Europe. Expats will find good quality local fruit and vegetables as well as affordable, well-made wine. Eating out is relatively cheap, as are soft drinks, beer and coffee.

Property is also reasonably priced outside the main tourist areas and, unlike in other expat destinations, expats living in Portugal prefer to buy property rather than rent. For those with money from other investments, moving to Portugal can be financially prudent, and it makes for an attractive retirement destination.

Expat families and children in Portugal 

Expats moving to Portugal with children will be pleased to know that there are plenty of high-quality international schools clustered in and around large cities. Public healthcare facilities are manned by highly capable staff with a good knowledge of English, but understaffing and limited facilities make relying solely on the public sector unadvisable. We recommend expats secure private health insurance for themselves and their families before moving to Portugal.

Climate in Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal are more often than not self-confessed sun lovers. The long, hot summers are certainly one of its greatest lures, and many move to the country to enjoy their retirement on its warm shores.

Portugal is well positioned in regard to the rest of Europe, with air links to most destinations from the main airports at Faro, Porto and Lisbon. Expats looking for natural beauty, friendly people, good weather and a slower pace of life will love living in Portugal.

Fast facts

Population: About 10.2 million

Capital city: Lisbon

Neighbouring countries: Spain

Geography: Portugal is located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, which divides the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the Atlantic coast of the plateau and crossed by several rivers.

Political system: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Catholicism

Main language: Portuguese

Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. The country has a well-developed banking system, and many international banks have a presence in the main Portuguese cities.

Tipping: A standard 10 to 15 percent tip can be added to the bill if the service is good.

Time: GMT+0 (GMT+1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Round, two-pin plugs are most common.

International dialling code: +351

Internet domain: .pt

Emergency numbers: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Portugal. Public transport in the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon and other major urban hubs is of a good standard, but national transport systems aren't usually in line with standards that expats would be accustomed to in the rest of Europe. It's worth considering buying a car if expats wish to explore the country.

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Moving your family abroad can be intimidating, but learning about medical options such as family health insurance early on can help you settle successfully.

  • Comprehensive Family coverage, wherever you go
  • Paediatric coverage for well-child visits & immunizations
  • Access to dental and orthodontic care
  • 24/7 multilingual Customer Service

Get a quote from Cigna Global (10% off family health plans in June)

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