Nowadays it is very popular to move to Portugal, especially among retirees. Portugal is located in the far west of Europe, between Spain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Portugal also includes the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. It is about the size of South Korea, but has only 10 million inhabitants instead of 50 million.
It is part of the European Union, the currency is the euro, the capital is Lisbon, and the official language is Portuguese. There are about 1 million immigrants (10% of the population), most of them coming from the former colonies, first of all Brazil.
Due to the sea, beautiful weather, delicious food and low cost of living, Portugal has become a very popular tourist destination in recent years. Currently, thousands of European retirees live in Portugal because of the special tax benefits granted by the Portuguese state and for this reason they have decided to move to Portugal and especially to the Portuguese coast.
Many young people come to look for work and opportunities in this country, which is praised in the press as one of the cheapest in Europe. But lately this is changing and prices are rising. In any case, you can check the cost of living Portuguese cities
To settle in Portugal and especially to work there, you need to know Portuguese, unless you work in a call center. This language belongs to the group of Latin languages. Those who already know Spanish or Italian have an advantage in learning this language. Portuguese is spoken by around 250 million people around the world and is one of the 10 most spoken languages in the world.
Move to Portugal
You need a visa to visit Portugal, (even for a short stay), if you are citizen of one of the following non-UE countries, see the list below:
Citizens from other non-EU countries do not need a visa to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days.
You can find all information about visa on the official government website
EU EEA citizens only need a ID, to move to Portugal. Please note that in some cases the “criminal record’ (criminal record certificate) may be required before signing the employment contract. If you have been in Portugal for at least 6 months, you must present the Portuguese criminal record, which must be requested from the offices of the loja do cidadão. Otherwise, you will need to bring it from your country (so I recommend bringing it with you).
If you want to look for a job there, the first thing you need to do is apply for the NIF (tax identification number). This can be applied for by anyone who wants to work, study, start a business, open a checking account and buy a property in Portugal. There are two types:
- NIF for resident: To obtain it, you need your ID and a ‘comprovativo de morada’: a document proving your residence in Portugal, such as a rental contract, a house purchase document, or a Portuguese guarantor who testifies that you live with him or her
- NIF for non-residents: If you do not have a Portuguese address, you will be issued a non-resident NIF using your home country’s address that appears on your ID card or on a utility bill (gas, electricity, bank statement, etc.) in your name. Once you have found a place to live in Portugal, but no later than after three months, you must change the NIF from non-resident to resident using your Portuguese address
You can request the Nif from:
- Portaldasfinancas, Portuguese Tax Agency
- Loja do cidadao, offices that group togheter many public services
After 90 days from your arrival in Portugal you will must register in the Certificado de Registro de Cidadao de Uniao Europeia, for more information visit the SEF website, (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras). You can also obtain this document from the Loja do cidadão.
Once you have found a job, you must apply for registration with the NISS (número de identificação de segurança social). You can also apply for this document at the Loja do cidadão. In most cases, the employer will apply for it directly for you.
I refer to the official government website, Moving to Portugal, which contains useful information.
Move to Portugal, finding accomodation
Once you arrive, you need to start looking for accommodation. There is a good supply of accommodation, which until a few years ago had really affordable prices. Recently, the cost of renting has gone up a lot. Keep in mind that some landlords are reluctant to rent to foreigners or require a Portuguese guarantor. You will need to pay a deposit of one/two months’ rent when you sign the contract.
In tourist resorts, it is not uncommon for landlords to offer annual rents only in theory, because they then expect the tenant to vacate the flat during the summer months. Or they may offer to pay you a portion of the rent under the table.
To protect yourself, I recommend that you ask for the lease to be registered with the ‘Autoridade Tributaria’ as required by law, and that you ask for a regular monthly invoice for payment of the rent.
Real estate websites
- Idealista, international real estate site
- Custojusto, classifies website
- OLX, classifies website
- Casa Sapo, popular rental website
- Bpiexpressoimobiliario, website for rental
- Imovirtual, real estate from different rental agencies
Keep in mind that in Portugal, on the south coast and in the cities (Lisbon, Porto, etc.), a room in a shared apartment costs about €300/350 per month and a one-bedroom apartment costs about €500/600 on average; inland or on the north coast, the cost drops. In a country where the average salary is around 800 €, this is quite disproportionate. Unfortunately, rental prices do not depend on the level of wages, but on the high demand for housing.
Thank you to the tax exemption of pensions and the demand for real estate by the British, French, Italians, etc., the number of pensioners remains high and prices continue to rise.
The result is a progressive emptying of the cities and especially of Lisbon, where many Portuguese are forced to move to the suburbs or neighboring villages, where rents are more affordable.
Moving to Portugal, healthcare
The public health system, known as Servico Nacional de Saude (SNS), is managed by the Ministry of Health. There is a co-payment for services used, which is calculated based on your income. Since the public system does not provide complete coverage, it is also possible to purchase private insurance. Private coverage is more comprehensive than public coverage and offers shorter waiting periods for medical exams and the ability to consult specialists. The cost of private insurance varies depending on age, coverage, etc. However, you should expect to pay €50-100 per month.