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Retiring in Portugal – 15 Pros and Cons

retiring in portugal pros and cons

Are you dreaming of a retirement filled with sun and scenery? Portugal’s vibrant culture and ideal climate may be just what you need to live your picture-perfect retirement.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the best aspects of retiring in Portugal, while also looking at some of the disadvantages you should consider. So get ready to embark on an exciting journey as we weigh the pros and cons of retiring in Portugal, ensuring you’re prepared for your dream retirement. Let’s get started!

Pros of Retiring in Portugal

Before we get into the cons, let’s start with the best aspects of living in Portugal. Portugal has some fantastic benefits on offer for retirees. So, let’s break them down:

Low Cost of Living

Who wants to be stressed over money after retiring? One of the most appealing benefits of retiring in Portugal is the low cost of living, especially when compared to other Western European countries. This includes housing costs, groceries, dining out, and much more. For example, in comparison to the US, your typical expenses will be approximately 42% lower in Portugal. This covers everything from your morning coffee to your monthly electricity bill.

Laid-Back Lifestyle

Retirement is the beginning of the golden years of your life. It’s important to appreciate the simple things in life, and Portugal is the perfect place to wind down. Even in the bigger cities such as Lisbon and Porto, life moves at a much more relaxed pace than what most people are used to. So after years of hard work, you can finally slow down and enjoy your surroundings.

Low Crime Rate

Is safety one of your top priorities? Good news! Portugal frequently finds itself near the top of the list of the World’s Safest Countries according to World Population Review1. Currently, Portugal ranks #7 in the world, with a Global Peace Index of 1.333 over the past year. 

In addition, you will find that locals in Portugal are very friendly and welcoming to expats. This is a testament to the high quality of life, further enhancing life for retirees in Portugal.

Diverse Scenery

Whether you plan on retiring near the beach, in a rural hideaway, or in a vibrant city, Portugal has it all. 

If you have been dreaming of throwing your feet up near the beach during retirement, the south of Portugal awaits! With endless golden beaches and a chilled-out lifestyle, regions like the Algarve may have just what you’re looking for.

If you are not too keen on the heat, Northern Portugal offers an array of national parks for nature enthusiasts, where the climate is a little cooler than the south. Here, you’ll find a wine-lover’s paradise at Alto Douro, or some of Portugal’s most beautiful cities such as Porto and Braga.

Alternatively, you may be looking for Portugal’s serene countryside, which you will find in the center of the country. Located east of Lisbon, you will find Portugal’s rural heartland – Alentejo. If you love exploring, the region is dotted with small villages, Roman ruins, and ancient castles, you will never get tired of exploring. Or for the more tranquil-hearted, you can bask in the sun surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.

High-Quality Healthcare

Retiring in Portugal means access to some of the best free public healthcare in Europe. This accessible system means you no longer have to worry about the costs associated with your health! In addition, private healthcare in Portugal is extremely efficient. For those who want faster appointments, this is a great option.

And it gets better! The majority of healthcare professionals within the private system also speak English, resulting in stress-free visits to the doctor.

Affordable Travel Within Europe

Retiring in Portugal means that you can now visit the cities you have dreamed of, for an affordable price! Budget airlines are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, with airlines such as RyanAir, EasyJet, and Vueling operating in Portugal. You can easily travel to popular destinations throughout Europe via airports in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. So it’s finally time to start ticking cities off that bucket list!

Delectable Cuisine

The food scene in Portugal is some of the best in Europe. Portuguese cuisine is renowned for its fresh ingredients and unique flavors, making every dining experience one to remember. Throughout the country, there are famous dishes, such as Bacalhau or Polvo à Lagareiro for seafood lovers, and Francesinha and Porco preto are a must-try for meat-eaters. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love a Pastel de nata.

The Mediterranean influence on the Portuguese dishes results in healthy options in every meal. A diet emphasizing fresh meat, fish, and vegetables as well as olive oil to enhance the flavors. 

Retiring in Portugal means adopting a food culture steeped in history and years of refining age-old recipes.

Large Expat Community

Portugal has become increasingly popular for expats over recent years, mainly due to the factors we have mentioned above. As a result, there is a large number of English speakers living in Portugal, making your transition to life in a new country less stressful. 

You will find that more and more Portuguese residents are now speaking English. Hotspots such as Lisbon, The Algarve, and Porto all have a significant number of people who can speak English.

Higher Quality of Living

Finally, the quality of life for retirees in Portugal is second to none. As you accumulate all of the pros we have discussed above from safety and top notch healthcare to the amazing scenery, weather, and food, it’s easy to see why the number of expats retiring in Portugal continues to rise. As we have mentioned already, your retirement years are the golden years of your life, so be sure to consider Portugal as a top destination.

Now we have given you 9 of our favorite advantages of retiring in Portugal. So, if you’re feeling tempted be sure to reach out to our dedicated team of lawyers to learn how we can help make retiring in Portugal a breeze!

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Cons of Retiring in Portugal

retiring in portugal pros and cons

The benefits of retiring in Portugal are plentiful. However, there are, unfortunately, some downsides to retiring in Portugal too. So read on to discover some of the less favorable aspects of Portugal to be aware of.

Language Barriers

More English speakers are moving to Portugal, and despite the growing number of foreigners relocating here, language barriers are becoming less of an issue.

However, if you want to live in Portugal, you should begin learning the language. This will help make daily interactions more pleasant and locals will appreciate the effort you are making. It is also necessary for any trips you need to make to governmental offices and can help with day-to-day life in Portugal.

The good news is that learning a language has never been so accessible, with many apps now available as well as online tutorials. So why not make learning Portuguese your new pastime?

Slow Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is a major problem for not only expats but even for Portuguese citizens themselves. Maybe it’s a result of the laid-back lifestyle in Portugal, but most people will agree that anything involving paperwork can be painfully slow.

Whether you’re looking to extend your visa or apply for your driver’s license, you should do so as early as possible because be prepared for lengthy waiting times. 

Cold, Rainy Winters

In winter, temperatures average around 10 degrees, so those who like milder weather could relocate to the south of Portugal.

However, as you move further south through Portugal, you will find milder winters. You may still get some days where the temperature reaches close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in areas such as The Algarve. Be prepared for temperatures to plummet in the evening time as it drops to roughly 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Expensive Energy

While the cost of living in Portugal is lower than in most other major European countries, the price of powering your home is relatively high. This is because Portugal relies on imported energy, which makes up the majority of its energy consumption.

The good news, however, is that Portugal has invested heavily in renewable energy in recent years, with a focus on wind and solar power. This has helped with stabilizing energy prices and making energy more affordable.

Rising Cost of Living

The cost of living in Portugal is on the rise. Aside from the high price of electricity, properties, groceries, and land have seen their prices creep up over recent years. Several factors have led to the increase in daily expenses, from increased demand to logistical complications for imports.

While Portugal remains one of the cheapest countries to live in Western Europe, be prepared for prices to continue to rise over the coming years. 

Cashless Payment Often Not Possible

Although it’s 2024, it may come as a surprise that some establishments in Portugal do not accept card payments. Technological improvements have resulted in most of us getting used to contactless payment or even paying for goods with our phones or smartwatches. In Portugal, it’s very important to keep some cash on hand at all times to avoid any awkward situations. Usually, if a location only accepts cash, they will have a sign outside that makes it clear before you enter.

On the other hand, the MB way is a new method of payment that has been introduced, allowing you to make instant payments with your phone number. 

Now that you are aware of some of the most important pros and cons of retiring in Portugal, you are on the path to living your dream retirement. There are downsides no matter where you live, but the easy-going lifestyle in Portugal may be just what you’re looking for.

Requirements to Retire in Portugal

retiring in portugal pros and cons

So you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of retiring in Portugal and you’re still interested, now what? Well, depending on where you’re coming from, the processes may vary. Fear not, next, we will break down the key steps to retire in Portugal whether you’re coming from the EU or the US.

Retiring in Portugal as an EU Citizen

If you’re planning on retiring in Portugal as an EU citizen, you’ll be glad to know the process is relatively straightforward. There is no need for a visa or residence permit. However, if you plan on staying in Portugal for longer than 3 months, you must get a Registration Certificate from your Local Council.

Retiring in Portugal as a US Citizen

Now, if you want to retire in Portugal as a US citizen, the process is a little more difficult. There are 2 visas you can consider pursuing, the Portuguese Golden Visa, or the D7 Visa.

The Portuguese Golden Visa

The Portuguese Golden Visa is a popular option for US citizens planning on moving to Portugal. This visa grants investors and their families the right to live, work, and study in Portugal and, in turn, the EU.

Several investment options can help you get your golden visa, and we have listed them below:

  • Make a contribution to a qualified investment fund worth €500,000 or more
  • Donate at least €250,000 to the arts or the reconstruction of national cultural heritage
  • Make a scientific or technological contribution of at least €500,000
  • Create and maintain at least 10 jobs
  • Incorporate a company and invest at least €500,000 with the creation of at least 5 permanent jobs

Some of these amounts may vary slightly depending on the region in which you are donating.

In addition, you will have to stay at least 7 days of the year in Portugal and submit all of the necessary documents to the Portuguese government. You can learn more about the Portuguese golden visa here.

The D7 Visa

The D7 Visa allows individuals with sufficient passive income to maintain themselves to reside in Portugal. This can come from a pension if you are retired.

You must be earning at least €820 per month from your pension to be eligible for the D7 visa. As a part of your application, you must also submit essential documents, such as the D7 application form, your valid passport, proof of income, a clean criminal record, and proof of health insurance.

If your application is accepted, your residence permit will be eligible for up to 2 years before you can apply for an extension.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retiring in Portugal Pros and Cons

How much money do you need to retire comfortably in Portugal?

The amount of money you need to retire comfortably in Portugal depends on your location and spending habits. Typically, you could live a modest lifestyle in a less expensive area for roughly €18,500 per year. If you want to live a more comfortable lifestyle in a larger city, you should aim for over €35,000 per year.

Where do most expats retire in Portugal?

It’s no surprise that the top destination in Portugal for retirees is the Algarve, mainly due to its mild climate year-round. Another coastal area that’s increasing in popularity is Costa de Prata. Of course, there are also many expats choosing Lisbon and Porto for their retirement.

Do retired expats pay taxes in Portugal?

This depends on their residency status and the source of their income. Portugal has Double Taxation Agreements with many countries which means you may only have to pay tax in Portugal while offsetting taxes in your home country with tax credits.

Where is the cheapest place to retire in Portugal?

Outside of your typical places to retire in Portugal such as The Algarve and Lisbon, we will look at some cheaper alternatives.

Costa de Prata is a great, affordable option with many beaches and good amenities in towns such as Leiria, Caldas da Rainha or Aveiro.

In Northern Portugal, you will find beautiful green landscapes and historical sites in the Minho region, or if you’re a wine enthusiast, Douro Valley is another option.

Can Lexidy Help Me Retire in Portugal?

Absolutely! Retiring in Portugal is an amazing opportunity to enjoy your life after a successful career. No matter what your reason is for making the move, the legal eagles at Lexidy are on hand to guide you through the process.

Whether you’re drawn by the stunning scenery, the vibrant culture, or the favorable cost of living, our team of immigration experts is ready to guide you through every step of the process. If you’re ready to make your dream retirement a reality, don’t hesitate—fill in the form below to get started. Let us help you navigate the legalities smoothly so you can focus on enjoying your golden years in beautiful Portugal.

  1. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/safest-countries-in-the-world ↩︎

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