October 1, 2021

13 Reasons for Living in Portugal

Article by
Gonçalo Roxo

Discover why Portugal is attracting. The existing tax incentives and the year-round good weather are important factors but they are many other reasons.

Why is Portugal attracting so many expats and digital nomads?

Over the past few years, Portugal has seen a strong increase in foreigners immigrating. Lisbon, in particular, seems to have gone from being a rather quiet and overlooked city with an 80's feel and crumbling buildings on the edge of Europe to the new place-to-be. How did this happen? The existing tax incentives and the year-round good weather are important factors, but they are many other reasons why people are choosing Portugal to be their new home. To name a few: great food, nature, safety, high quality of life, low living costs, a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, widespread use of English, friendly people, accessible high-quality education with international schools and universities, excellent healthcare, gorgeous islands to visit… No wonder the country has been recognised as one of the world’s best destinations!

If the country had already been spotted by retirees, one by one, expats, digital nomads and the like have been arriving in Portugal, falling in love with the country and its cities, deciding to sign leases within a few days of arriving. Happy with their decision after a few months, they started to encourage their friends to move here, who then convinced their own friends to do exactly the same… as a result, Portugal is now home to an ever-growing community of happy expats and digital nomads. The covid-19 pandemic has likely reinforced this movement as many have been searching for nice spots from which they could work remotely during the lockdowns. The country has also been attracting members of the crypto communities since a loose Portuguese tax ruling on cryptocurrencies has led many to see Portugal as a crypto tax haven. 

A vibrant like-minded community looking for the specific healthy lifestyle Portugal has to offer is booming and the effervescence can be felt as one observes these dynamic new incomers developing the real estate, opening businesses and launching international projects and initiatives on Portuguese soil. This trend is set to continue as Portugal's economic rebound gathers pace. Very exciting times are lying ahead!

Beneficial tax incentives

Since the introduction of Portugal’s “Golden Visa” and a special tax regime for “non-habitual residents” as a way to attract international capital into the country in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, Portugal has become a destination of choice for many EU and non-EU nationals. The Golden Visa enables non-EU residents that qualify to not only be resident in Portugal, but to also move freely within the Schengen Zone. The “Non-Habitual Residents Regime” means that they can also enjoy low taxes or, in some cases, freedom from taxation in Portugal. EU nationals moving to Portugal can also benefit from the Non-Habitual Residents Regime. For more information check our blog post about "Everything about Non-Habitual Resident in Portugal".

Great climate full of sunshine

Like Spain, Italy, and Greece, Portugal has a Mediterranean climate – this is despite not actually having a Mediterranean coastline. And not surprisingly, considering its close proximity to northern Africa, Portugal is one of the warmest and sunniest European countries, counting more than 2.500 hours of sun a year. In general, Portugal offers warm and sunny summers, mild winters, and autumn and spring are normally warm however with some wind and rainfall. However, there is some variation between regions: in the north, conditions are generally cooler and wetter while Lisbon, the Alentejo and Algarve regions have long, hot summers. Madeira has a pleasant sub-tropical climate year-round and the Azores islands are a great place to visit in the warmer months, although winters can be windy and wet.

Fresh and delicious food

The food scene in Portugal is spectacular. Portuguese cuisine is rich and varied, playing with multicultural ingredients like grains from North Africa, codfish from the North Atlantic, black pork from the Iberian Peninsula and saffron from Southeast Asia. The country is blessed with fresh seafood access, ideal conditions for local wine production and an arid southern climate allowing for year-round produce seasonality. As a result, Portuguese cuisine is mainly about fish, seafood, meat, wine, and delicious pastries. In Lisbon and Porto, you’ll find some of the top chefs and trendiest restaurants, but also the traditional tavernas and long-time local favorites.

Varied and bewildering landscapes

With the hills in the north, the plains to the south and the Atlantic to the west, Portugal’s geography makes it a very diverse country in terms of landscapes: towering mountains, immense plains, vast sandy beaches with their softly rolling waves, the jagged coastline battered by rough sea… Untouched, dazzling landscapes can be found all over the country. And there are also the Archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, intact sanctuaries of calm and tranquility in the middle of the Atlantic, with lush vegetation, waterfalls, extinct volcanoes and magical lagoons. It is a perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

A very safe country 

Even before climate, safety is a key deciding factor when choosing a specific country in which to buy a house or a holiday home. Portugal has been known for its excellent climate for many years, but what is perhaps less known is that Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world! According to the 2020 Global Peace Index, Portugal is third out of 163 countries when it comes to overall safety. In Europe, Portugal comes second out of 36 countries, sitting right behind Iceland. Portugal boasts one of the world's lowest crime rates, with violent crime being a relatively rare occurrence and usually isolated to certain bad areas. But as in most popular tourist destinations, travellers in Portugal are also at risk of petty theft and pickpocketing if they don’t pay attention.

High quality of life

In a list of 59 countries from all over the world, Portugal was classified as one of the destinations with the best quality of life, occupying the fifth position in the table. And it is even considered "the home of some of the happiest expatriates in the world", according to the Expat Insider 2021 survey developed by InterNations, which included the participation of 12,420 expatriates. In this study, about 84% of respondents say they are "happy with their life in general" in Portugal. Looking at the classification of the other countries in the survey, one can see that Portugal is the only European destination to have a place in the ‘top 10’ of the general classification.

Low living costs

Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe. You can have a comfortable lifestyle with a rather modest budget. However, while still considered affordable, Lisbon is becoming more expensive, especially in what regards accommodation, due to its growth in popularity over the last few years.  

The widespread use of English

English is widely spoken in Portugal, which makes everything easier when you have to deal with real estate agents, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, asking directions, restaurants menus, gyms, stores, and so one. Indeed, Portugal has a “very high” level of English proficiency, according to the 2019 EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI). The country is ranked 12th in the index, joining a restricted group of countries rated with the highest grade. 

A growing entrepreneurial ecosystem

Portugal has been recognised at the international level for its thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and constant promotion of technological development and innovation. After being highlighted in a report by the World Bank as one of the top 40 best countries to do business, Portugal was also classified by the European Innovation Scoreboard 2020 the 12th most innovative country in the European Union – Portugal’s best position ever in this international ranking. No wonder the country has been attracting tech entrepreneurs and startups!

Friendly people

A 2018 survey from InterNations, the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad, was released. The data, supplied by almost 13,000 expats from 188 countries, looked at which countries were the friendliest in the world to live. According to the survey, Portugal is number one, and has climbed nine places since 2016. 79% of those surveyed said that the Portuguese people were welcoming, 94% said they had a friendly attitude towards expats, 58% said they found it easy to make friends and 47% said they were likely to stay forever.

Accessible high-quality education 

Portugal provides education through both public and private schools as well as international schools. Public schools in Portugal will only offer a curriculum in Portuguese but are free for Portuguese citizens and foreign residents. Private schools including international ones offering education in English or other languages, on the other hand, require a tuition fee. While providing high-quality education and international programs, universities stay modest with their fees. It is around 1k per year in public institutions, while private ones go up to 4k. The Portuguese government offers grants and scholarships to both EU and non-EU nationals.

Excellent healthcare

The Portuguese healthcare system integrates both public and private healthcare services and the standard of healthcare in Portugal is high. Also, you will find that many health care workers are fluent in English, which naturally helps when it comes to find the right treatment for your symptoms. The country currently holds the 17th spot on the World Index of Healthcare Innovation for 2021.

Gorgeous islands to visit

The cities of Lisbon and Porto have become the favorite destinations of travellers from around the world and have been experiencing the largest tourist growth in Europe. But Portugal never ceases to surprise with its two superb hidden gems: the two Portuguese Archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean – Madeira and the Azores.  Less known to travellers, both of them stand out for their beautiful nature and tranquility. If you prefer raw natural beauty, greenery and don't mind unpredictable weather, pick the Azores. If you'd prefer sunshine, golden sands and luxury amenities, consider Madeira.

Did you too fall in love with Portugal?

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