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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.
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.
►Check out some first-hand accounts of moving to this Iberian gem on Expat Experiences in Portugal
"I feel like a different person in Portugal: happier, lighter, and not stressed. We love the quiet, the birds, the beautiful countryside; all of it." Read more of British expat Sarah's comments about life in Portugal.
"Learn as much Portuguese as you can. It really will help you cope with settling in and dealing with the daily puzzles and situations you find yourself in." Check out British expat Julie's tips for coping with the challenges of expat life in Portugal.
Are you an expat living in Portugal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Portugal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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