Leaving the US and moving to Portugal is all you can think about. Nonetheless, given that international relocation is a huge step to take, you have some doubts. You’d like to weigh the pros and cons of living in this beautiful country before you get the process started and actually move there.
You should know all the advantages and disadvantages before making any choices, so here we want to bring Portugal a little bit closer, at least enough so that you can picture what your life there would be like.
You are wondering what you should know when relocating there. What are the benefits of relocation, and how much money you should allocate for a living? Worry no more – you’ll find all the answers in this guide. Let’s not waste any more time and get down to business.
Expat’s Guide for Moving to Portugal
Expats are mostly satisfied with every aspect of life in this beautiful country. It has a variety of opportunities to offer, whether you’re planning to relocate internationally for a job or you’re just looking for a place where people are warm and welcoming like Portuguese people are.
Now, before you get to this enjoyable part of your relocation to the westernmost European country, there’s a little less fun, yet, necessary step – taking care of the documents you need when traveling or relocating internationally.
Visas and Work Permits
As Portugal is a part of the Schengen Area, people coming from any other member state don’t even need an entry visa if they’re staying there for up to three months. Others have to apply for a short-stay visa. For this process, the applicant is required to submit the application form, passport, proof of means of subsistence during the stay, as well as the reason for the trip. To get a work permit, you first need to have your visa approved, either the Temporary Stay Visa or the Residence Visa.
Living in Portugal as an Expat
There has been a rising number of expats flocking to this country for a reason – living as an expat here comes with a series of advantages apart from fascinating culture and excellent weather that you get to spend at dreamy beaches. To make your life as an expat easier and more comfortable, you should put in some effort to learn Portuguese. People there will greatly appreciate it, plus, you’ll find it easier to communicate, especially with the elderly. In addition to these practical reasons, there’s one more – it is only when speaking the language that you can fully immerse yourself in another culture, and the rich culture here is surely worth the trouble.
Cost of Living is Lower Than in the US
Compared to the US and other Western European countries, the cost of living is significantly lower. In fact, it is exactly this factor that drives a number of people to live there. Naturally, it is more expensive to live in major cities such as Lisbon and Porto. Still, you don’t need the fortune to live even there, especially if you move to a suburban area or anywhere outside of the city center. Anything from housing to groceries is quite affordable.
Just like most expats, you’re probably concerned about rent, but you shouldn’t be. You can rent a two-bedroom apartment for just $375 somewhere in the interior, while in Lisbon, for instance, you’ll pay at least $650 for the same square footage outside of the city center.
As for the utilities, these usually amount to around $80 a month for a mid-size apartment. The utility costs are usually low in most of the country due to the mild climate (it’s almost as if you don’t have to heat the place at all).
Transportation is quite affordable, too. In Lisbon, a metro ticket costs about $1.60, while in Porto, it’s around $1.30. It’s even more affordable if you get a monthly pass, which costs $38-$44. For a three-hour drive from, say, Lisbon to Faro, you can buy a return ticket for around $22.
When it comes to food, the prices are quite low here, too. For instance, it’s enough for a couple to allocate about $250-$400 a month for groceries. When you get tired of cooking, you can eat out and not dread the bill – dinner for two will probably cost about $30, wine included.
All things considered, whether you’re moving with kids or just with your significant other, the cost of living is definitely one of the main pros to consider.
Finding Work and Paying Taxes in Portugal
With an unemployment rate of 6.6% and the economy still recovering from the latest financial crisis, Portugal might not be a perfect place to look for a job. You should also keep in mind and learn more about taxes in Portugal. The standard VAT is 23%, while there’s also the personal income tax, which can range from 14.5% to as much as 48%, depending on your total income. If you happen to spend more than half the tax year there (183 days), your total income will be taxed regardless of where it was produced, i.e., you will be treated as a resident.
Job Market in Lisbon
Just like in most countries, you’re most likely to land a job in the capital. The job market in Lisbon offers somewhat better opportunities than many smaller places. The city is mostly known as a good place for startup businesses. Other than that, tourism is also well-developed. If you don’t speak Portuguese, the safest bet would be one of the big international companies such as Nestle, Samsung or Nokia, if, of course, you’re qualified to apply for a job there.
Keep the Following Steps in Mind Before Renting a Place in Portugal
The most common ways of finding a place to rent include online search or hiring a real estate agency. Choose whatever you find more convenient to find your new home as soon as possible. The latter option is advisable if you don’t speak Portuguese. Once you find your dream home, you’ll have to take these steps before you can move in.
Get a Portuguese Fiscal Number
Portuguese individual tax identification number (known as NIF, from the original Número de Identificação Fiscal) is necessary to sign a tenancy contract, so you won’t be able to do anything without it. If you’re a temporary resident, you still need NIF, you’ll just be issued a temporary or tentative NIF until you become a permanent resident.
Sign a Contract
Once you get your NIF, it’s time to sign a contract. They are quite flexible with these, so you’ll probably get to choose between a fixed-term and open-ended contract, depending on how long you’re planning to stay there. The former usually lasts for two years, while the latter is convenient if you won’t stick around for that long or you’re still not sure for how long you’ll live there. In this case, keep in mind that you’re supposed to give two to four months’ notice when you decide to end the contract.
Pay Security Deposit
Finally, before you get the keys to your new home, you’ll be required to pay the security deposit, which usually amounts to two months’ rent. In addition to the security deposit, some landlords might also ask you to pay the rent for the first and the last month in advance. As for the deposit, it will probably stay with the landlord or the real estate agency (if you hired one) until you move out when it will be returned only if there are no damages in the apartment.
What Life is Like in Portugal?
Whether you’re moving abroad for love or any other reason, you won’t make a mistake. You’ll have a lot to fall in love with, from beautiful beaches to a rich culture and history. You’ll surely enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and the work-life balance that people cherish there. The people are hard-working, but they value their family the most, so they’ll always make time to spend with their loved ones. They will also stop for coffee and spend quality time with their friends. Life is often described as bohemian. If this is something that would suit you, that’s another big plus to add to your list of pros and cons of relocating to making this marvelous place your new home.
Amazing Weather and a Variety of Opportunities to Travel with Light Baggage
One of the many perks of living here is the chance to enjoy pleasant weather and spend it in the even more amazing places, including beaches and other open spaces. Due to the Mediterranean climate, the average annual temperature is around 54°F. Summer temperatures are not too high, and during winter, you don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures. Talk about ideal weather, right?
If you’re among those who do enjoy winter and snow, don’t worry, there’s something for you, too – the inland mountains are an excellent destination for skiers.
Due to its geographical position, the country is also an excellent starting point for further adventures. Given that it is located at the meeting point between Europe, Africa, and America, you can’t really picture a better place to plan your traveling from. Even if you don’t want to leave the borders, you’ll still have an abundance of places to explore and enjoy, from those along the Atlantic coastline to inland mountains and plains.
You won’t make a mistake if you fit into this kind of lifestyle. And you certainly won’t make a mistake if you enjoy the rich culture, excellent cuisine, and the company of welcoming and friendly people. Even if you eventually decide to go somewhere else, you won’t make a mistake because whatever time you spend there, it will be a precious memory one day, that’s for sure.
The only thing that can spoil your move is the relocation process itself. One of the best tips on handling the relocation day stress is to share the burden with someone, preferably an expert who can speed the process and ease your move. Professional movers can handle the packing and provide you with boxes and packing supplies. They can also deal with overseas vehicle shipping in case you decide to take your car with you. You should be able to focus on the exciting part of your move and think about your new life and home somewhere near the Atlantic coast and leave the troublesome part to experts.