Living In Portugal: A Guide To Moving To Portugal As An Expat

Portugal combines all the best bits of Europe, from picturesque beaches to vibrant cities and incredible landscapes. Plus, with one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, it’s fast becoming a popular destination for expats and digital nomads.

If you too are considering living in Portugal, this handy expat guide to Portugal will help you to get started. Discover the basics of moving to Portugal, including how to find accommodation, arrange your finances and cover your medical expenses.

What to expect from living in Portugal as an expat

Rich history, delicious fresh food, a laid-back way of life, and a family-oriented, predominantly Catholic culture are just some of the many hallmarks of living in Portugal.

The natural and built environments are also huge draws. In the cities, expect to find white-washed villas decked in colourful tiles. The countryside is littered with Moorish castles that tell of the struggles between Islam and Christianity, not to mention those pesky neighbours the Spanish. And of course, there is the Algarve region, where caramel deserts roll into craggy coastlines, upon which are nestled picturesque beach towns like Albufeira, Lagos and Portimao.

Modern times have not been as kind to Portugal. As Europe’s last-remaining authoritarian dictatorship, Portugal was slow to experience urban and social development at the same pace of other European nations in the 20th Century.

This period culminated in a deep recession lasting from 2010–2014, which led to many young people leaving the country in search of opportunities elsewhere. This caused a labour shortage that has further stunted economic development. As such, Portugal ranks just 19th out of 39 in the list of Europe’s strongest economies, with a GDP of US$231 billion euros (compared, for instance, to #1-ranked Germany’s US$3.8 trillion economy).

The upshot is that Portugal is now the cheapest country in Europe to live. The cost of living in Portugal is around 30% cheaper than in the UK, with rent around 33% cheaper. Expats moving to Portugal will find the cost of consumer goods – from food and wine to new cars and property – significantly cheaper than in other parts of Europe.