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Are You American and Imagining Life in Portugal?

Are You American and Imagining Life in Portugal?

If you are contemplating the opportunity of moving to one of the most vibrant places in Europe,  Americans choose to move to Portugal for a multitude of reasons!

Whether you are more into cities, culture and nightlife or prefer the relaxed pace of nature and peaceful beaches, there is something for everyone to consider in the Portuguese real estate market, both as an investment or a place to start a new chapter in your life.

Table of contents

  • US immigration statistics
  • Types of visas
  • Lawful immigration: residence in Portugal
  • Real Estate in Portugal: Buying
  • Real Estate in Portugal: Renting
  • Property Taxes in Portugal
  • Portuguese Real Estate (market updates since the COVID pandemic)
  • How can we help you?

Nowadays, more and more people are considering Portugal’s real estate market Europe’s best-kept secret.

This guide addresses the main questions that arise when choosing whether to invest or move to Portugal.

While Portugal is one of the most attractive countries to live in Europe, we will explain the main points necessary to be aware of when deciding and selecting to reside in Portugal.

US Immigration Statistics

More and more Americans are moving to Portugal every year.

There are various reasons for this attraction, but it usually starts with a mixture of awe for the incredible climate (mild winters and hot and dry summers), and appreciation for its privileged geographical location(centred  between Europe, Africa, and America).

It’s part of the European Union so that expats can enjoy visa-free travel throughout Europe’s historic cities and striking landscapes. The country connects well with most European capitals, Africa, and South America, where it shares solid cultural and linguistic ties.

As Europe’s most west-sitting country, its time zone is one-hour closer to the US, making communications easier with family and friends in the States. Plus, the journey times are shorter, both of which are significant factors for businesses and entrepreneurs. Overall, this all makes the prospect  attractive to Americans who move to Portugal.

Throughout all of Portugal’s beautiful cities, islands, and villages, there are around 10,000 US citizens. With English spoken widely throughout the country, Americans tend to find it easy to adjust to Portugal, unlike some other destinations in Europe.

Types of Visas for Americans moving to Portugal

One of the reasons Portugal used to be so popular with North Americans is because of its Golden Visa Program. Until recently, it allowed non-EU citizens to legally reside on the continent if an individual made an investment. While the program still technically exists, it won’t be around for much longer. 

In fact, the final proposed updated wording for Portugal Golden Visa applicants is being finalised as you read this (so there may still be time to apply). If and when the wording is approved, it will apply to current Golden Visa applications and revoke contradicting wording.

According to the proposal, the following points are new.

NEW POINTS 2023

  • No retroactive effect will occur for those who have Golden Visas or have approval;
  • New processes and renewal processes will be admitted until the new law is published;
  • Pending applications and future renewals will be converted into the D2 Visa – Entrepreneur Visa– with a residency requirement of 183 days per year once the new law is enforced. Until then, the Government proposes the current special regime of 7 days per year as a staying period.
  • New applications for residence permits relating to investments or support for artistic production, recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage country will remain admitted with the new law;
  • The Golden Visa program will terminate from the date the law comes into force. First, Parliament must vote on it. Next, the President of the Republic must approve it. Finally, it must pass into law.

That said, Portugal’s Golden Visa continues to be one of Europe’s most affordable and offers one of the fastest routes to Permanent Residency as the visa holders become eligible for Portuguese citizenship within five years.

Furthermore, the visa grants the holder access to public services, such as education and universal healthcare, which have high European standards. This is often attractive to Americans moving to Portugal.

Portugal ranks third in the World Index of Healthcare innovation for both patient care and medical infrastructure.

Aside from the attractions of the Golden Visa, Portugal also has an appealing cost of living. In contrast, little as little as $1,500 a month is enough to enjoy a comfortable life and partake in the country’s fantastic food, sights, culture and entertainment.

Lawful Immigration: Residence in Portugal

Image of a gorgeous tiled balcony in Portugal, overlooking the city below.

First, US citizens can visit Portugal visa-free for up to 90 days. The only requirement is that you have a valid passport with at least six months validity from the date of entry.

For more extended stays in Portugal, it’s mandatory to apply for a visa and provide documentation such as a criminal record background check from your home country or country of residency, proof of valid European health insurance and sufficient financial means to support yourself. These are vital for Americans moving to Portugal

The following are the main visas in Portugal:

  • Retirement or owner of sufficient funds (D7)
  • Golden or Property Visa
  • Investor/Entrepreneur Visa (D2)
  • Working Visa (D1)
  • Student Visa

The cost of a visa depends on your nationality and the type of permit you’re seeking.

Real Estate in Portugal: Buying

There are many things to consider when choosing between buying or renting a house. However, here are the main steps for arranging accommodation in Portugal.

Step One: NIF For Americans Moving Portugal

Obtain a Portuguese Tax ID Number (NIF). This is essential to perform any commercial activity.

a. Once you have a NIF, you can use it to open a Portuguese bank account, which will simplify much of the country’s bureaucracy.

b. Appoint an English-speaking Real Estate expert to help you find the property that best suits your preferences.

Opening a Portuguese bank account and hiring an English-speaking Real Estate agent isn’t mandatory. However, we highly recommend doing so in order to simplify your arrival in the country.

Step Two

Assess your mortgage terms – If you’re considering applying for a mortgage, only those that are 30 years old or younger can negotiate a 40-year mortgage.

Step Three

Sign a Reservation Agreement for the property – this contract allows you to have total control when purchasing the property. For example, it can prevent the seller from continuing to list the property.

Sardines, gorgeous tiles, roosters, and other symbols of Portugal on an array of pretty tourist magnets.

Step Four

Conduct Due Diligence on the property – this is usually conducted by an experienced real estate lawyer, who makes it their mission to ensure that their property is suitable for purchase.

In addition, they seek to uncover hidden debts, assess the quality of the asset and apply for possible tax relief. This step also allows for negotiation of the price and other terms

Step Five

Both parties sign a Promissory Agreement when a down payment is made as a guarantee.

Step Six

Sign a Purchase Deed – the parties sign the property’s purchase deed at the Public Notary’s Office.

Step Seven

Once you purchase the property, it’s essential to:

  • Register the property with the tax authorities.
  • Settle all necessary taxes.
  • Contract utility bill companies.
  • Obtain insurance.

Our team of Real Estate Lawyers is well-versed in the process and intricacies of the property purchase process and are ready to help you.

Real Estate Renting for Americans Moving to Portugal

When thinking about moving to Portugal as an American, there’s always a range of options. For example, some residents prefer the flexibility and cost of renting a property instead of purchasing one. With rentals, you can choose the location that suits you best and the type of home you would like to try out while living in Portugal.

Renting is less bureaucratic than purchasing a property as it just requires a contract with:

  • the price
  • duration
  • and contract conditions stated.

Usually, it’s on the tenant to contract utilities such as gas, water, electricity and internet.

Leasing a property is also an attractive option for Golden Visa applicants. Americans can move to Portugal by purchasing a property and making it available to Portugal’s booming rental market. However, being a landlord introduces some requirements. 

For example, the landlord must register the lease with the Portuguese Tax Authorities within 30 days of the signing date. In addition, the landlord is responsible for paying for some repairs in the apartment and issuing an invoice for every rent payment.

Property Taxes for Americans Moving to Portugal

Woman wearing sunglasses, smiling and waving a huge American flag overhead.

Both buying and renting a property are processes that require tax payments. Opening a Portuguese Bank Account will simplify the process. You can open one as a resident or non-resident in Portugal, though the latter needs conversion once the account holder becomes a resident.

When purchasing a property, the buyer must pay the Purchase Tax, known locally as the IMT (Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis). This varies by location and purpose of the property. The purpose of the property could be a permanent home, a second home, or a rural property. Notary Fees and Stamp Duty will also apply, the latter of which must be paid for a variety of transactions within Portugal.

The Purchase Tax can vary from 1% to 8%, depending on the purchase price. However, there are exemptions for specific properties, such as homes purchased for letting by real estate investment trusts. Furthermore, there is no Purchase Tax on the first €92,407 of the property’s value on the mainland and €115,509 in the Autonomous Regions.

The owner must also pay a Property Tax, known as the IMI (Imposto Municipal Sobre Imóveis), every year after purchase, and the Condominium Fees within the same building.

These fees are for everyday building expenses, like cleaning, maintenance of elevators, repairs to common areas, insurance and surveillance, among other services

Portuguese Real Estate Market Since The COVID Pandemic

After the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the Portuguese real estate market has recovered. More than 129,374 homes were sold across the country between January and September 2022.

That’s an increase of 30% compared to the same period last year and 27% compared to 2019, a year before the pandemic.

Prices, which fell in 2020, have increased ever since. As a result, more than €15.5 billion of real estate was sold in the first half of 2021. That’s an increase of 26% compared to the first half of 2020 and 12% higher than the same period in 2019.

As of November 2022, the average price for a home purchase in Lisbon was €3,343.00 per square metre.   It continues to be the country’s area with the highest prices — even though the number of properties transacted corresponds to about 33% of the total sold in Portugal, the values ​​included exceeded the 7 billion euros, practically half of the national total.

Alentejo, where 6,869 were sold in the first half of 2021 for a total value that exceeded €684 million, and Madeira, with 2,040 homes sold for a total value of €324 million, grew the most.

How can we help Americans Move to Portugal?

At Lexidy, we specialise in all services required when investing in the Portuguese Real Estate market. We draft contracts, perform due diligence and other essential property checks, like settling taxes, before recommending a purchase. 

We aim to give our clients a smooth, efficient, and safe investment. In addition, we value being close to our clients.

Updated by Lexidy Staff 6/2023

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