Portugal is fast becoming a top destination to relocate to. From the country’s friendly local population, low crime levels, amazing stretches of Atlantic coastline, to thriving cities, here is what Americans moving to Portugal should know.
What is life like in Portugal?
The minute you set foot in Portugal, you can see why it’s so popular among expats. Indeed, it is incredibly easy to live in Portugal. Who doesn’t love the temperate climate, wide beaches, golf courses, and natural beauty throughout the country? Its cities and towns range from timeless, fairytale-like villages like Obidos to the hip neighborhoods of Lisbon. And, of course, there’s the genuinely friendly spirit of the Portuguese that makes it such a natural choice for anyone moving to Portugal.
Living in Portugal has many advantages: a warm climate, stunning landscapes, the ocean on your doorstep, and a relatively low cost of living. The country has a low crime rate, very good education and healthcare, and there are significant tax advantages for residents. Although the Portuguese generally speak very good English, it is worth knowing some basics if you are committed to living in the country. Also, when it comes to the cons of Portugal, it is good to have some cash on you, as some places have yet to take up card payments.
For more information on life in Portugal, check out our guide to expats in Portugal.
Cost of living in Portugal vs USA
One of the most appealing aspects of spending time in Portugal is its affordable living costs. Whether it’s buying a coffee or the menu do día (menu of the day) from a typical Portuguese bakery or taking a train trip from Lisbon to Porto, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the affordable prices.
Your food budget will be noticeably less if you don’t buy lots of expensive imported goods, and eat fresh produce from local markets and buy local wine (of which there are many great varieties).
You’ll also notice that the more you go outside of the main cities, the living costs are cheaper. Lisbon will always be more expensive than just about anywhere else in Portugal. Public transport options outside the cities are also cheap and efficient.
How To Move to Portugal From the USA
Moving to any country can be difficult. Moving to Portugal from the USA, there are certain things that you should be aware of, such as which visa is best for you, how to ship your goods, and about the healthcare in the country. That said, if you have the right information, you should be able to, without much trouble, be able to move easily to Portugal. Essentially to stay and live in Portugal, you will need to have a Portuguese residence permit. This can be obtained if you find work in the country, enroll in a long-term course of studies, marry a Portuguese citizen, or invest in Portugal’s economy. Here, we’ll provide you with some information on the visa process, and on two popular routes, the Portugal Golden Visa and the D7 Visa.
The Visa Process
If you are moving to Portugal and you’re from outside the EU, you’ll need a visa in order to establish residence. Some of the most common visa options include:
- The Golden Visa
- D7 Visa
- Schengen Visa (these are short-term, tourist visas required from some countries)
Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program or the Residence Permit Program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme open to non-EU nationals. It is part of Portugal’s move to welcome foreign investors into the county.
Introduced in 2012, the program offers different investment routes to investors, including:
- Purchase residential real estate in designated interior areas of Portugal, worth at least €500,000 or €350,000, if investing in a rehabilitation project. If the residential property is located in a “low-density area”, then a 20% discount will apply.
- Buy commercial real estate anywhere in the county worth at least €500,000 or €350,000, if investing in a rehabilitation project. If the commercial property is located in a “low-density area”, then a 20% discount will apply.
- Buy real estate on the autonomous islands of Madeira or the Azores, worth at least €500,000 or €350,000, if investing in a rehabilitation project.
- Make a contribution to an investment qualified fund, that is worth at least €500,000.
- Make a capital transfer of at least €1.5 million.
- Make a contribution to scientific or technological research worth at least €500,000.
- Support the arts or reconstruction of national heritage with a donation of at least €250,000.
- Company incorporation and the creation of ten jobs, amounting to a minimum value of €500,000.
Benefits of Golden Visas
The Portugal Golden Visa is granted based on an investment in Portugal. Golden Visas have been very popular with expats who wish to buy real estate in Portugal – though there are a number of other investment types that will qualify. Golden Visa benefits include:
- 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 citizenship after five years as long as you fulfill those separate requirements