Americans living in Portugal: why you should move there right now

For the past several years, Portugal has welcomed a growing number of Americans who want to live here. Drawn by the comparatively low cost of living and some attractive tax benefits, many Americans are living in Portugal and find it the perfect place to be.

Why are Americans living in Portugal?

The benefits go beyond financial, however. Portugal’s mild climate – with more than 300 days of sunshine per year – ranks among the top reasons Americans decide to move to Portugal. Some Americans also opt to retire in Portugal, since the pace of life and affordable living costs are big draws.

Add in beautiful beaches, a relaxed pace to everyday life, and the prevalence of English speakers, and Portugal becomes an ideal place to watch the sunset well into your golden years.

Indeed, Portugal is becoming increasingly popular with Americans, providing them with a high-quality life in a historic and cultural European country. Recent studies reveal that more than 60,000 expats have opted to live in Portugal, and 11% of this number are American citizens.

Where can you find Americans living in Portugal?

American expats tend to live mostly in the more urban areas of Portugal. Access to transportation, ease of doing business with English-speaking locals, and opportunities for education, work, and culture are the main reasons Americans enjoy the cities around Portugal. Here are three of the most popular choices for Americans living in Portugal.

Lisbon

Lisbon is the center of Portugal, filled with youthful energy and urban sophistication. The capital city is always welcoming to Americans, whether they’re looking to study, work, or live in Lisbon.

While the cost of living – particularly real estate – is more expensive in Lisbon than in other parts of Portugal, it’s affordable compared to any urban center in the US. 

Every neighborhood in Lisbon has pros and cons, depending on your tastes and priorities, but some of our favorite areas include Baixa, Belém, and Campo de Ourique.

Cascais

A quick 30-minute drive from the Lisbon airport, the former fishing village of Cascais retains a sophisticated charm, with less hustle and bustle than Lisbon.

Despite having more than 200,000 inhabitants, Cascais is still considered a village. Its traditional architecture, beaches, good restaurants, and nine nearby golf courses make it an easy choice for Americans relocating to Portugal.

Porto

Porto is a gem in the northern region of Portugal. The city is simply gorgeous and is well located for just about any activity you enjoy. Many say Porto feels more “authentic” than Lisbon and gives you a peek at a more traditional side of Portugal.

One downside to retiring in Porto, however, might be the weather. It’s prone to gloom and clouds and has cooler, wetter winters than areas to the south. But it makes up for the rain with an atmospheric moodiness, perfect for lively conversations in a local taverna, or a cozy evening sharing a bottle of Portuguese wine.

The best place to live in Portugal as an American expat

The Algarve

Golden coast of Portugal’s Algarve

The golden coast of Portugal’s Algarve is a great spot if you’re dreaming of life by the sea. With beautiful, long stretches of unspoiled beach, the Algarve region is hugely popular with British visitors – and is being discovered by more Americans.

Vilamoura, in the Central Algarve, is especially popular with expats. Built as a resort town, it offers a 1,000-berth marina and a golf course, luxury hotels, beach clubs, and even a casino. For avid travelers, Vilamoura’s proximity to the Faro airport is another win. 

Albufeira is a short half-hour drive from the Faro airport. But its charm is the real draw: cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, plenty of amenities, and a marina. Albufeira can suit just about any budget. It’s also popular with part-time residents, hosting snowbirds in winter and vacationing families in summer.

Why do Americans live in Portugal?

Affordable cost of living

Although the cost of living in Portugal has climbed the last few years, especially in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, it’s still affordable compared to the US.

Friendly, welcoming people

In general, the people in Portugal are warm, welcoming, and helpful. This is so important to a new expat trying to figure out the language, the bureaucracy, or even where to find a grocery store. A little friendliness on your side will virtually always get the same in return.

Good quality of life

Portugal is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. Violent crime rates are very low; pickpockets are probably the most common problem, and they’re mainly in areas popular with tourists.

Another major benefit is the mild winters, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing anywhere in the country, ever. The only area that sees any snow at all is the Serra da Estrela range up north. Summers are warm to hot, dry, and sunny.

A happy and healthy population

Thanks to a robust healthcare system that combines private care with the public system, anyone who lives in Portugal can access the medical care they need. Coming from the US, you’ll probably be surprised at how affordable healthcare is in Portugal, as compared to America – even if you were to pay entirely out of pocket.

Elderly couple sitting by the beach

The American Embassy in Portugal

US citizens who need consular services have access to the US Embassy in Lisbon. Keep in mind that if you need to come to the embassy for a routine matter, you should make an appointment ahead of time. Scheduling can be done online at the US Embassy website.

If you have a more urgent situation, you can go directly to US Citizen Services at the US Embassy in Lisbon, located at Avenida das Forças Armadas, Sete-Rios, Lisbon. If you’re taking Lisbon’s Metro to get there, it’s on the Blue Line.

For a full list of available services and more information for visitors or residents from America, check the website or email [email protected].

Take a look at our Portugal's NHR tax regime: the complete guide

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American International Schools in Portugal

Because of the unique challenges of moving abroad, American families living in Portugal may want to enroll their children in a school that teaches in English and offers Portuguese (or other) language classes in addition. That’s where international schools come in.

Two excellent options for American students in Portugal are the Carlucci American International School Of Lisbon and the International Christian School of Cascais. Learn more about options for American expats in our full article on international schools in Portugal.

Golden Visa Program

If you have the financial means, buying a property worth at least €500,000 in Portugal can make you eligible for the Portuguese Golden Visa. This government-sponsored program offers a number of benefits to Americans in Portugal, including:

  •   The right to family reunification
  •   A waiver of the usual residence visa for Portugal
  •   A visa exemption for Schengen Area travel
  •   Permission to live and work in Portugal, as long as you spend at least one week in-country during the first year, and at least two weeks during each year after that
  •   The right to apply for permanent residence and for Portuguese citizenship, as long as you fulfill those separate requirements

Learn more about this option in our ultimate guide by experts to the Portugal Golden Visa Program.

How can I move to Portugal?

Before you begin your journey from America to Portugal, it’s always best to work with reputable professionals, to ensure you’re making the right choices for your personal situation. Make sure you have a trusted advisor who can help guide you through the process – and save you time and money!

If you need advice on property investment or residency in Portugal, our specialists are here to help.

Get in touch today to schedule a consult with one of our team members.

Frequently Asked Questions about Americans living in Portugal

Why do Americans live in Portugal?

The fantastic climate, great quality of life and low cost of living are just some of the reasons many Americans choose to live in Portugal. Favorable tax treatment is also a big plus, and Portugal frequently tops ranking of best places in the world to live in.

Where do American expats live in Portugal?

The biggest American expat communities are in Lisbon, the Algarve, and Porto.

Is Portugal a good place to live for Americans?

Portugal is considered to be an excellent place by many Americans to live, mainly due to its picturesque cities, beautiful landscapes and great climate.

How do Americans live in Portugal?

In order to live in Portugal, Americans must obtain residency or citizenship. There are a number of ways of doing this, including through marriage, descent, naturalization, or investment.

If you would like to enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourism, then you will not need a Portuguese visa. If you would like to spend more time in the country, you will need an appropriate visa.

How Much Money Do You Need to Immigrate to Portugal?

The Portuguese government has made it easy for US citizens to obtain residency in Portugal. If you plan to stay for longer than 90 days, you will need a visa. For this, you will need to have at least $1,070 per month.