Living in Portugal as an Expat

Jun 21, 2024 | 4 Min Read

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Portugal is perfect for expats looking for a different pace in life. Voted one of the best destinations for expats, it offers a healthy and affordable lifestyle in its historic cities with easy access to beautiful coastlines. Its top cities, Lisbon and Porto also offer expats access to employment opportunities, global companies and a hub of innovation within its growing Tech industry.


Portugal welcomes both remote workers and experienced professionals. As a result, the number of foreign residents enjoying Portugal's climate and culture has doubled in the past six years. For expats considering a move to Portugal, we have covered everything you need from the cost of living, employment, visa requirements and more.  

As an expat moving to Portugal, it's important to familiarise yourself with Portugal’s own distinct work culture. In general, the laid-back mentality in the country influences its ways of working.  Punctuality is not the biggest priority, so meetings often start 20 - 30 minutes later than they are planned. Face-to-face communication is also preferred over phone calls and emails. Overall, the business culture places a big importance on building long-term relationships with partners and clients.
Portugal’s job market varies for English-only and Portuguese speakers. Expats without the local language will find it harder to secure roles in certain industries like medicine, engineering, and law. For English speakers, it will be easier to find a role in the IT and hospitality sectors. There are also several international companies based in Portugal, including Uber, Google, and Amazon who regularly seek out experienced English speakers. 

Portugal is home to many expats, but thanks to the digital nomad visa, more and more expats are working remotely across the country. The digital nomad visa allows you to stay for up to one year. You will need proof of contract and income for your application. You will also need to have comprehensive health insurance in place for your time in Portugal.

Working remotely in Portugal is easy with its excellent internet speed and coworking spaces readily available across the country. 

Expat families often worry about the education options available for their children when moving to a different country. Portugal offers a wide range of private and international schools, both require tuition fees. Public schools on the other hand are free for all residents but lessons are taught only in Portuguese. This language barrier may pose a challenge for expat teens trying to integrate into the public school system. This is why private education is often the preferred choice for expat families. 
The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low. Groceries are affordable as a lot of produce is grown locally or caught fresh from the coastline. As a result, dining out for high-quality meals is also very reasonable. The affordable and quality food makes it easy for expats to enjoy life outside of work without worrying about finances too much. Living outside of the cities can offer an even lower cost of living. As Lisbon is a popular expat and tourist destination, it has a higher cost of living than other more rural parts of the country. Comparing it against other popular cities in Europe, Lisbon is still 30% cheaper than Paris and 50% cheaper than living in London.  
As a new expat in Portugal, finding accommodation with an estate agent who speaks English can help guide you through the rental process. Alternatively, you will find accommodation easily on rental platforms, Flatio is a popular choice. The cost of accommodation varies with Lisbon having the highest starting at €1300 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Rentals outside of the main cities start at around €400 per month. One main culture shock expats can face when renting in Portugal is the lack of insulation and heating in many apartments. Research also shows that only 1 in 4 properties have air conditioning. You might need to add in a heater or an AC unit once you have moved in.  

Portugal has an extensive tax-funded public healthcare system, run by the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). Once registered, you will be entitled to state healthcare, however not all services are free. You will need to pay for GP appointments and hospital visits. Prescriptions and diagnostic exams also have a charge. As an expat, you should still consider having health insurance coverage before you go. Many visas require expats to have comprehensive health insurance in place for their time in Portugal.


With Allianz, our international health insurance plans offer comprehensive health coverage with access to our Expat Assistance Programme. We offer confidential support for physical and mental well-being 24/7. Contact us today to learn more about our international health insurance for expats.