In a world where many countries seek to close their borders to immigrants, Portugal is unusual, it’s a country which genuinely welcomes foreigners. Foreign investment has helped regenerate its capital, Lisbon, and the annual influx of tourists is responsible for around 20% of the country’s GDP. Digital nomads flock to Lisbon and Madeira and retirees sun themselves on the beaches of the Algarve. So many celebrities have bought homes in the south of the country that locals have taken to jokingly referring to it as ‘California’. The country is one of Europe’s most popular destinations and despite the restrictions of Covid, there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon. So, if you are lucky enough to be relocating to Portugal here’s a few points that you may or may not have considered.
They speak Portuguese
Well, yes, it is obvious, but there is a general misconception that Portuguese is pretty much Spanish, it’s not. Although both languages share a lot of words, maybe as much as 90%, pronunciation is very different and Spanish speakers have a lot of difficulty understanding Portuguese. Fortunately, most people under thirty speak English and in Lisbon and the south you are unlikely to have much difficulty making yourself understood, however, once you move inland, to the remoter parts of the country, you may find communication a little more difficult. As I have said though, the Portuguese have a welcoming attitude toward foreign visitors and are likely to be patient in their dealings with you.
You can feel safe
The police do carry guns and of course there is crime, but generally Portugal is an orderly, law-abiding country, as evidenced by the fact that it is ranked the third safest in the world.
Affordable property and cost of living
According to the Imovirtual barometer, the average price of advertised properties in June 2022 was 393,542 euros. Lisbon, the country’s capital, is the most expensive area in which to buy property, with an average price of 621,977 euros and Guarda, the cheapest, with an average price of 107,702.
Portugal also has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe and an average of 300 days of sunshine in the south of the country means that your heating bills shouldn’t be too high either.
High quality healthcare
Portugal’s government places a high importance on a good standard of healthcare for all and the country’s provision is ranked 32st in the world healthcare rankings. The SNS is available to all Portuguese citizens and is heavily subsidised by the state, as a resident you will pay a little more, but it still represents excellent value for money. You will need a Portuguese social security number and a supplementary health insurance.
Transport links are good
The country is served by three international airports, each linked to around 120 destinations and there is an efficient and inexpensive, bus and rail network throughout the country. The road network is well-maintained but much of it requires the payment of a toll.
The family is at the centre of the social structure. Society in general is traditional, formal and conservative. Emphasis is placed on good manners and a well-dressed appearance. Rank is treated with respect and there is a relaxed attitude toward deadlines.