Moving to Portugal
Situated on the west of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal's beauty abounds with long stretches of white beach and upward arching mountains. A population of just over 10 million leaves plenty of room for expats to enjoy themselves and explore its architectural treasures and archaeological gems without the claustrophobia of large crowds.
Expats moving to Portugal are more often than not self-confessed sun lovers. The long, hot summers are certainly one of its greatest lures, and many move to the country to enjoy their retirement on its warm shores.
Another reason expats move to Portugal is the warm environment created by the local people. Portuguese culture revolves around family, and locals are friendly, welcoming and helpful. That said, the Portuguese approach and the tedium of government bureaucracy can be frustrating for expats doing business in the country. Employment is also difficult to find, and wages are generally lower than in other European destinations.
The working world does present some opportunities, but most expats arrive looking for a better quality of life rather than for financial and professional reasons. In line with lower wages, the cost of living is by far one of the most reasonable in Europe. Expats will find good quality local fruit and vegetables as well as affordable, well-made wine. Eating out is relatively cheap, as are beer, soft drinks and coffee.
Property is also reasonably priced outside of the main tourist areas and unlike in other expat destinations, expats living in Portugal prefer to buy property rather than rent. For those with money from other investments, moving to Portugal can be financially prudent and it makes for an attractive retirement destination.
Portugal is well positioned in regard to the rest of Europe, with air links to most destinations from the main airports at Faro, Porto and Lisbon. Expats looking for natural beauty, friendly people, good weather and a slower pace of life will love living in Portugal.
Population: About 10.3 million
Capital city: Lisbon
Neighbouring countries: Spain
Geography: Portugal is located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula which divides the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the Atlantic coast of the plateau and crossed by several rivers. The main rivers are the Minho, Douro, Mondego, Tagus and Guadiana.
Political system: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Catholicism
Main language: Portuguese
Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. The country has a well-developed banking system and many international banks have a presence in the main Portuguese cities.
Tipping: A standard 10-15 percent tip can be added to the bill if the service is good.
Time: GMT +0 (GMT +1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Round, two-pin plugs are most common.
International dialling code: +351
Internet domain: .pt
Emergency numbers: In the event of any emergency expats can dial 112, the general European emergency number. The standard of emergency services in Portugal are generally good. In most tourist areas the staff speak good English.
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Portugal. Public transport in the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon and other major urban hubs is of a good standard, but national transport systems aren't usually in line with standards that expats would be accustomed to in the rest of Europe. It's worth considering buying a car if expats wish to explore the country.