two retired people walking in a beach in spainWith an affordable cost of living, a sublime climate, developed infrastructure, and excellent health care services, Portugal attracts senior foreigners from across the world. This small yet mighty country located in the Iberian Peninsula also graces retirees with gorgeous landscapes, welcoming locals, and stunning cities soaked in history.

Moreover, Portugal has its own retirement visa, as well as special residence permits for retirees seeking to live in the country.

Not by chance, the country has been selected as the world’s best place to retire, according to International Living’s Top Ten Places to Retire in 2023.

However, navigating the path to retiring in Portugal demands a careful understanding of various factors such as legal prerequisites, healthcare options, the cost of living, and lifestyle decisions. This prompts the crucial question: “How to retire in Portugal?” To address this, we’ve meticulously crafted a comprehensive guide, serving as a valuable resource to assist you in making informed decisions.

This guide encompasses vital information, such as the best towns to retire in Portugal, immigration options for retiring in Portugal, healthcare considerations, and tips for expats interested in retiring in this sunny nation in Western Europe.

Retire in Portugal: The Pros

When retiring in Portugal, there are several points to consider. This includes:

Fantastic weather

Warm and welcoming people

Relaxed lifestyle pace

Thriving culture, food and arts scene

Lower cost of living

Affordable real estate prices

Why retire in Portugal?

Retiring in Portugal is a smart strategy for many reasons. Portugal is one of the safest EU countries, and by obtaining the right visa for you and residency permits, retirees can enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen area, a high standard of living in a developed European Union country, and eventually apply for Portuguese citizenship.

The low cost of living in Portugal also makes the country an attractive choice for expat retirees. In Portugal, they can enjoy beautiful beaches, indulge in the world-renowned Mediterranean diet, and even, with private health insurance, benefit from the country’s excellent healthcare services, making it one of the top choices for English-speaking expats.

With the Portugal Retirement Visa, also called the Portugal D7 Visa, retirees can use their passive income, such as a social security benefit or rental income, to cover living expenses. Non-EU residents can move to Portugal and enjoy a fulfilling retirement destination that combines comfort, security, and the charm of Mediterranean living.

Portugal Golden Visas also offers a smart way for retirees from non-EU countries to retire abroad. The Portugal Golden Visa is perfect for retirees seeking to make an economic investment in the country and eventually become EU Citizens after five years.

Who Can Retire in Portugal?

Portugal is a popular retirement destination with a relatively straightforward process for individuals from various countries to retire there. While the specifics may vary based on nationality, here are general categories of people who can retire in Portugal:

EU/EEA Citizens

Citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) countries, and from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nations have the right to live and retire in Portugal without the need for a visa. They can enjoy the same rights as Portuguese citizens in terms of residency.

GCS-ICONS-47 Non-EU Citizens

Non-EU citizens, including retirees from the United States, Canada, and other non-European countries, can retire in Portugal. However, they typically need to apply for a long-term visa or residence permit. Portugal offers different types of visas, such as the D7 visa for retirees, which is designed for individuals with regular income, such as pensions, to support themselves in Portugal.

How to Retire in Portugal?

For you to retire to Portugal, you’ll need to apply for residency. The process can take some time, but it is relatively straightforward. You’ll need to provide a valid passport, proof that you have a regular income, and health insurance, plus further documents and requirements depending on the residency route you choose. You will also be required to submit a criminal background check to the Portuguese authorities. The official immigration service office that you will deal with is SEF (Portuguese border and immigration service).

All non-EU citizens will need to apply for a residence visa in order to retire in Portugal. Portugal’s retirement visas are the D7 Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa. Both visas offer retirees the possibility to call Portugal home, provided they fit the requirements.

Visas for retiring in Portugal

D7 Visa (Portugal Retirement Visa)

The popular D7 Visa (also known as the Portugal Retirement Visa and the Passive Income Visa) is designed for retirees able to sustain themselves with their own funding during their stay in Portugal. The Portugal Retirement Visa income requirement is to earn a passive income of €820.00 per month. This can include pension income, transferable equity, intellectual property, real estate, or financial equity.

After getting the retirement visa for Portugal, applicants can receive a temporary residence permit, which allows them to legally live in the country. The retiree then can apply for permanent residency in Portugal and even get Portuguese citizenship, provided the requirements are met.

The Golden Visa Program

The Portugal Golden Visa is a residence permit for investment activity. It was introduced by the Portuguese government in 2012 and was designed for non EU citizens who are willing to make a minimum investment in the country.

There are several attractive investment options available for the Golden Visa Portugal. The most popular routes were investing in real estate and making a capital transfer of €500,000; however, as of 2023, these options are no longer eligible for the program. Instead, applicants can make an investment into a qualified investment fund, create Portuguese employment opportunities, or donate to Portugal’s artistic and cultural projects.

This visa grants not only applicants but also their family members the right to live in Portugal and benefit from the country’s spectacular weather, educational system, and healthcare.

Portuguese citizenship for retirees

Introduced to accommodate different profiles of retirees, both of these visas offer a convenient pathway to acquire permanent residence and citizenship. To become a Portuguese citizen, you will need to have legally resided in Portugal for five years and fulfill all the requirements set under Portuguese law. To become a permanent resident, you will also need to have legally resided in Portugal for five years.

As an EU citizen, you will have access to free movement across the European Union and the right to live, work, and study in any of the EU member states.

Discover a world of possibilities: Explore all Portugal Visa Options

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Retirement in Portugal for US Citizens

Retirement in Portugal for US citizens holds considerable appeal due to a combination of factors that contribute to a high quality of life. First, the climate, particularly along the southern coast, appeals to retirees seeking a comfortable and temperate environment.

Portugal is also consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. Low crime rates contribute to a secure and relaxed atmosphere, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. This safety factor is often a significant consideration for retirees seeking peace of mind during their retirement years.

Portugal has a stable political environment, providing retirees from the US with a sense of security and predictability.

The cost of living in Portugal is affordable, especially when compared to the United States. Housing, transportation, and everyday expenses can be more budget-friendly, allowing retirees to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without the financial strain often associated with retirement in some other European destinations.

While Portuguese is the official language, many Portuguese people, especially in major cities like Lisbon, speak English. Additionally, Portugal has a growing expatriate community, and there are English-speaking services available. This can facilitate easier integration for US citizens who may not be fluent in Portuguese.

Retiring in Portugal as a UK Citizen

Retirement in Portugal is an attractive prospect for UK citizens, especially after Brexit, who don’t want to retire in the UK. With its array of visa options for retirees, Portugal offers a pathway for UK citizens to live in Europe legally.

Portugal also offers a cost of living that is generally more affordable than the UK. Housing, groceries, and daily expenses can be budget-friendly, enabling retirees to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without compromising on quality. The affordability factor is especially appealing for UK citizens considering their retirement finances.

In addition, Portugal’s Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild winters and warm summers, provides a stark contrast to the often unpredictable weather in the UK. The abundance of sunshine and generally mild temperatures along the southern coast, including the Algarve, appeals to UK citizens seeking a sunnier and more temperate environment in their retirement.

What You Need To Know Before Retiring in Portugal

Portugal’s living costs for retirees

Portugal is one of the most affordable European countries. The cost of living in Portugal is very reasonable compared to other European countries or the US. You can live comfortably with an estimated €1,300-€1,500 per month in small towns or €1,700 in larger urban areas such as Lisbon or Porto. Groceries, eating out, rent, utilities, and health care are especially affordable in Portugal.

For comparison, the cost of living in Portugal vs the US is 39.2% lower, and rent is 54.2% lower than in the United States. Compared to the UK, the cost of living in Portugal is 35% lower, and rent is almost 40% lower.

Health care for retirees

Health insurance in Portugal has universal health coverage thanks to the country’s publicly funded National Health Service (called the Serviço Nacional de Saúde, SNS). Aside from being very affordable for Portuguese citizens and legal residents, it covers basic health needs, accidents, and illnesses. 

The quality of health care is excellent in Portugal, but it might not match your standards, especially if you have had private health care in your country. Portugal’s SNS is almost, but not entirely free; you’ll need to pay a small amount for certain treatments or procedures.

Please note that while you are in the process of securing your residency visa, you will need to have private health insurance. When you are a resident of the country, you can retain your private insurance, should you so desire.

You can easily subscribe to private health insurance for foreigners at an affordable price. Private health insurance could cost between €20 and €50 a month, depending on your needs and required services. This means you can pay anywhere between €400 a year for a basic plan and €1,000 yearly for more well-rounded coverage.

Portugal’s inheritance law and wills

To retire in Portugal, it’s important to understand the inheritance tax rules. According to the Portuguese government, this tax is governed by the home nation of the deceased. What this means is that unless stated in a will, your estate will be handled and taxed according to the inheritance laws of your respective country.

Buying property in Portugal

With a diverse and stable real estate market, buying property in Portugal is a great investment to make. Due to Portugal’s popularity, the country has seen an increase in real estate purchases from foreign investors in the last years, leading property prices to rise. However, Portugal’s real estate is still cheaper than in many other EU countries. It provides incredible real estate options,  from typical houses and modern apartments to old buildings and barns available for renovations.

Typically, properties located in Portugal’s biggest cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, will be more expensive than properties located in the Silver Coast or the central region of Portugal. If you choose to retire to Lisbon, Portugal, you’ll find that the capital has its own price range, although if you look for properties outside the city center, you may find some bargains.

You will need to have a tax identification number (NIF number) to carry out any financial transactions in the country, which includes buying a property. We also recommend that you open a Portuguese bank account, as having a local bank account avoids foreign transaction fees.

If you are buying property in Portugal, make sure that you are aware of the associated taxes that come into play, such as IMT tax, IMI, and Stamp Duty Tax. You can learn more in our article on Property Tax in Portugal.

What is the best place to retire in Portugal?

There are several amazing places for retiring in Portugal, so your destination will depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and circumstances. If you are looking to live in a buzzing city with lots of entertainment, restaurants, and top health services, Porto or the cosmopolitan Lisbon are ideal choices. Close to Lisbon, the Portuguese Riviera is also a great but more quiet location.

Below is a list of the five best places to retire in Portugal in 2024.

Retire in Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital city, is known for its vibrant culture, historic architecture, and a diverse range of activities. It has a mild climate, excellent healthcare facilities, and a relatively lower cost of living compared to other Western European cities.

The Portuguese capital is particularly appealing to retirees who have an active lifestyle and want to be close to the country’s hustle and bustle.

Lisbon is vibrant and exciting, so retirees will never run out of things to do there.

Retire in Porto

Considered one of the best Portuguese cities for expats, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city, famous for its picturesque riverside, historic wine cellars, and charming atmosphere. Retirees can enjoy a slower pace of life, explore the city’s cultural offerings, and take advantage of the lower living costs compared to other European cities.

This port city also boasts a glorious location in the Douro Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Retirees can spend their weekends wine-tasting in the local vineyards and taking scenic cruises through the river.

Retire in Cascais

Located on the Portuguese Riviera, Cascais is a coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, well-maintained parks, and upscale lifestyle. Retirees can enjoy a relaxed environment, outdoor activities, and easy access to Lisbon, making it an ideal location for those seeking a mix of tranquility and city life.

Cascais is known for its luxurious properties that cater to expats seeking a comfortable and indulgent lifestyle. You can read more in our article on buying property in Cascais.

Retire in Faro

Faro, the capital of the Algarve region, offers a peaceful and laid-back lifestyle. The Algarve is famous for its stunning beaches, golf courses, and warm climate. Faro itself has a historic Old Town, providing retirees with cultural experiences, while the region as a whole offers a variety of outdoor activities.

In fact, the Algarve is the best place to retire in Portugal and is also the most well-known for retirement, and for a good reason. Its incredible beaches, warm water, and endless sunshine make it an incredible place to live. The existing English-speaking community means that there is a considerable amount of administrative support available to help take care of the Portuguese retirement process.

Retire in The Silver Coast

Those looking for a less developed and more authentically Portuguese region pick the Silver Coast or the central region of Portugal. You’ll find plenty of peaceful and tranquil areas filled with nature and space.

Retirees considering the Silver Coast will find a diverse range of options, from historic towns with cobblestone streets to beachfront communities offering a laid-back lifestyle. The region’s mix of culture, natural beauty, and affordability make it an attractive choice for retiring in Portugal.

If you are looking to retire in Portugal from the USA, you’ll be joining many fellow American expats who have fallen in love with Portugal. Many US expats can be found in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, enjoying the sundrenched beaches, exciting cities, and pristine landscapes. You’ll also come across many a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal. At present, there are 17 World Heritage Sites listed in Portugal, with a further 19 on the tentative list.

Retiring in Portugal: What to Expect

Retiring in Portugal offers a unique and enriching experience, combining a favorable climate, rich cultural heritage, and a welcoming atmosphere. Here’s what you can expect when retiring in Portugal.

Big expat community

When retiring in Portugal, you’ll be greeted by many international retirees from all corners of the globe.

The expat community is big and continues to grow in Portugal. The Algarve region in southern Portugal is the most popular destination for retirees, and there are many British and American retirees settled here already. With a large English-speaking population, you’ll feel quickly welcomed.

There are also many expat community groups you can join. Platforms like InterNations and Meetup are great ways to meet like-minded people and make friends.

Cultural richness

Portugal is steeped in history and culture, with picturesque cities, historic landmarks, and a vibrant arts scene. Retirees can immerse themselves in the local way of life, attend cultural events, and explore diverse traditions and festivals.

Favorable climate

Portugal’s Mediterranean climate is characterized by mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. The southern regions, particularly the Algarve, enjoy a sunny climate, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a comfortable and temperate retirement.

Diverse Landscapes

From golden beaches along the Algarve coast to the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley, Portugal offers diverse landscapes for retirees to explore. Whether you prefer coastal living, countryside tranquility, or the energy of urban centers, Portugal has a setting to suit your preferences.

Outdoor activities

Portugal’s diverse geography provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Whether you enjoy golfing, hiking, or simply strolling along the beach, retirees can stay active and enjoy the natural beauty of the country.

Culinary experiences

Portuguese cuisine is known for its fresh seafood, flavorful wines, and a variety of regional dishes. Retirees can indulge in the culinary delights of local markets, traditional restaurants, and cultural festivals.

Travel opportunities

Portugal’s strategic location within Europe allows retirees to explore other European countries easily. The well-connected transportation network makes it convenient to travel within Portugal and beyond, providing retirees with opportunities to discover new destinations.

Taxes For Retirees in Portugal

While you cannot retire tax-free in Portugal, the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) program has excellent tax benefits for foreigners. If structured correctly, you can significantly reduce your tax burdens, such as having to pay less tax on your retirement pension.

If you become a tax resident in Portugal, you will be required to declare your worldwide income each year and pay taxes in Portugal, including income tax. The NHR program, however, may allow you to pay a lower tax rate on your retirement pension, with the possibility of paying no tax on certain other incomes from outside Portugal.

American citizens will probably face double taxation as a result of the tax regulations in the USA. Other countries may have double tax treaties to alleviate tax pressures. For financial planning and to manage your tax affairs, including potential exceptions that you may be entitled to, we recommend speaking with tax specialists to best manage your tax affairs.

Important Note: The Prime Minister of Portugal has recently announced his intention to eliminate the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) regime starting in 2024. While this announcement is currently informal, it should be taken seriously. Read more here: Is The Portugal NHR Program Ending?

Take a look at our Guide to Portugal Citizenship in 2024: All you need to know

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Tips for Retiring in Portugal in 2024

Planning for retirement in Portugal involves careful consideration of various aspects to ensure a smooth transition. Here are some practical tips to make your retirement in Portugal a success:

Plan Your Budget

Factor in costs such as rent deposits, moving charges, legal fees for visa applications or residency processes, and purchasing essential items for your new home. Consider whether you’ll need to purchase furniture and appliances for your new place. You might explore both new and second-hand options to manage costs.

Make sure to also include expenses for setting up essential services like phone, internet, cable connections, and utilities. Compare service providers to find the most cost-effective options.

Hire an immigration lawyer

Consider hiring a Portugal immigration lawyer to guide you through the residency process. They can help with paperwork, ensure compliance with regulations, and provide valuable advice on navigating the legal aspects of your move.

Private health insurance

While Portugal has a public healthcare system, having private insurance can provide additional coverage and faster access to medical services. Evaluate different insurance plans to find one that suits your needs and budget.

Learn the local language

While many Portuguese people speak English, especially in urban areas, learning the local language (Portuguese) can enhance your daily interactions, help you integrate into the community, and make your retirement experience more immersive.

Understand tax implications

Familiarize yourself with the tax implications of retiring in Portugal, both in your home country and in Portugal. Consult with tax professionals to optimize your financial situation and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Embrace the local lifestyle

Embrace the local lifestyle, participate in cultural events, and explore the rich traditions of Portugal. This will not only enhance your retirement experience but also foster a sense of belonging in your new community.

Frequently Asked Questions about Retiring in Portugal

How can I retire to Portugal from the USA?

Apply for residency to retire in Portugal as an American. You can do this via the D7 Passive Income/Retirement Visa or the Portugal Golden Visa. The process is relatively straightforward, but it takes time to complete. You will need to provide your passport, proof of income, proof of health insurance, and a criminal background check.

Gathering these documents is essential for the visa and residency application process. Please note that the required documents will vary depending on the retirement visa you choose.

How much do I need to retire in Portugal in 2024?

Portugal is one of the most affordable European countries, and you’ll find many things are low-cost. You can retire in Portugal with an income of between €1,400 to 2,400 per month, depending on which part of the country you choose to live in. Even with just your retirement savings, you may be surprised by how affordable Portugal is.

Where is the best place to retire in Portugal?

Portugal is a top European destination for retirees. Whether you are looking for a major city, small town, or beachside villa, Portugal can provide it. So it’ll depend on your interests. If you like beaches, then the best spots will probably be in the Algarve, where you will have stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you like big cities, check out Lisbon or Porto. Portugal also has beautiful vineyards, farms, mountains, and quaint villages throughout the country. With most cities in Portugal, prices will drop when you move out of the city center. 

Besides Portugal, where else can you retire abroad?

Retirees have many options to choose from for retirement. A study by International Living recently released a list of the top ten countries in the world to retire in.

How to retire to Portugal as a foreigner?

You can retire to Portugal as a foreigner by either applying for the D7 Visa or the Portugal Golden Visa.

Can you retire in Portugal from Canada?

Yes, you can retire in Portugal from Canada. However, you will need to secure a residence permit through the D7 Visa or Golden Visa program to be able to relocate to Portugal. 

If you are a Canadian citizen interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, you can consult our article: Portugal Golden Visa for Canadians.

Can you retire in Portugal from the UK?

Yes, you should face no problems with retiring to Portugal from the UK. Although it is more difficult following Brexit, it is a relatively straightforward process. You will need to secure residency in Portugal to be able to legally reside in the country, which you can obtain through the D7 Visa or the Golden Visa program. 

If you are a UK citizen interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, you can check out our article: Portugal Golden Visa for UK citizens.

Can you retire in Portugal from Australia?

Yes, Australians can certainly retire in Portugal. You will need to secure residency in the county to be able to live in Portugal, but the process is quite straightforward. Two options are the Portugal Golden Visa and the D7 Visa. 

If you are an Australian citizen interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, you can check out our article: Portugal Golden Visa for Australians.

What are the pros and cons of retiring to Portugal?

The warm weather, affordable cost of living, free health care (with just minor costs), social security benefits, and high quality of Portuguese life are some of the first things that come to mind when considering the benefits of retiring in Portugal. Also, because of the good climate, it is possible to get out and about for much of the year, and there are several activities on offer, from world-renowned golf courses to yoga. 

Some of the cons include the fact that bureaucracy can be quite slow and homes can be quite cold in the winter months – make sure you have good insulation in place. Also, in some more remote areas, you may need to have some familiarity Portuguese language. 

You can check out our article, Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, for more information.

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