- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Portugal Guide (PDF)
Situated on the west of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal's beauty abounds with long stretches of white beach and upward arching mountains. A population of just over 10 million leaves plenty of room for expats to enjoy themselves and explore its architectural treasures and archaeological gems without the claustrophobia of large crowds.
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.
Another reason expats move to Portugal is the warm environment created by the local people. Portuguese culture revolves around family, and locals are 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.
The working world does present some opportunities, but most expats arrive looking for a better quality of life rather than for financial and professional reasons. In line with 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 beer, soft drinks and coffee.
Property is also reasonably priced outside of 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.
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 10.3 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. The main rivers are the Minho, Douro, Mondego, Tagus and Guadiana.
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 10-15 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: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Round, two-pin plugs are most common.
International dialling code: +351
Internet domain: .pt
Emergency numbers: In the event of any emergency expats can dial 112, the general European emergency number. The standard of emergency services in Portugal are generally good. In most tourist areas the staff speak good English.
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.
"I feel like a different person in Portugal: happier, lighter, not stressed. We love the quiet, the birds, the beautiful countryside; all of it." Read more of 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 Julie's tips for coping with 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
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Aetna International, offering comprehensive global medical coverage, has a network of 1.3 million medical providers worldwide. You will have the flexibility to choose from six areas of coverage, including worldwide, multiple levels of benefits to choose from, plus various optional benefits to meet your needs.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.