Moving to Portugal

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Moving to Portugal

Looking to make an international move to Portugal?

For whatever reason you’re intending to make your move to Portugal, you’ll be wise to accept that although you will have moments of stress, there’s absolutely no need for your blood pressure to rise if you’re prepared to put some time into planning. And we plan to help you make it that way:

  • Make us your GO-TO resource by saving us in your web browser right now because our articles and blogs on Moving to Portugal will give you essential information and advice, and tips and tales.

In this article, we’ve provided you with ‘7 Reasons why the coastal region of the Algarve may be one of the best places to live or retire’ along with a sense around what it’s like to live in Lisbon and Porto, the other two most popular places to live for expats. ‘6 Tips for the best time to move to Portugal’ is next up, followed by ‘5 Little Known Facts about Portugal’ because it’s always great to explore and discover more about your new country. We’ve whetted your appetite for Portuguese cuisine – well, of course, we would! And provided ‘3 Necessary Practical Steps for moving to Portugal’ and there’s a tip or two on health and wellbeing considerations.

Portugal a seafaring nation

 If you love the sea you will be fascinated with Portugal because its history belongs to the sea with centuries of seafaring around the world. Portugal is the third largest consumer of fish in the world behind Iceland and Japan. There are nearly one million expats, out of a total population of 10.3 million,  with most of them living around Lisbon and Porto or in the Algarve.  Mainly northern European, the expats move to Portugal to retire rather than to work. However, if you are bringing children, one of the most important things to consider is whether the standard of education received will be sufficient to enable your child to progress normally if you were to return home and this is especially important if your child is requiring upper secondary level education. Whatever the case, you’ll need an international school because they will education to  IGCSE and the International Baccalaureate (IB) standard,  both of which will allow your child ready access to university or college.

The Algarve is known as a haven for Living or Retiring

The Algarve, Portugal’s most southern province is known for its sunny coast and beautiful beaches. Albufeira is the largest resort town in the region along with Silves and Lagoa. You’ll happily lose yourself as you wonder along the cobblestones and fancy paving stones in the narrow winding streets in the old parts of the aldeias (villages), and medieval towns and fishing ports in the region – but don’t worry, the Portuguese people are some of the friendliest in the world!

The eastern Algarve is less commercially developed, offering a more authentic way of Portuguese life with towns in this area such as Tavira being largely unspoilt.

7 Reasons to move to the Algarve

  1. If you have concerns over hip replacement, dental specialities and aesthetic worries then you’ll be pleased to know that the Algarve boasts an  international standard in healthcare
  2. You’ll enjoy approximately 3,300 hours of sunshine per year because this region has more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe. This does mean that it’s a popular destination for tourists and a top winter retreat for those looking to escape Northern Europe’s coldest months.
  3. Can you imagine 42 golf courses in less than 100 miles? Welcome to the Algarve! For this reason, it is recognised as one of the top golfing destinations in the world.
  4. There are no language problems if you are English speaking. In fact, you can get by without learning the language, thanks to Portugal’s historical links with England.
  5. Portugal itself is one of the safest European countries, violent crime is rare,  as ever, though, tourists in crowded areas and beaches can come under target from pickpockets, but you’ll find that anywhere there is sun, sea and sand!
  6. The country’s highway network and airports have enjoyed great investment. All three major airports – Lisbon, Porto and Faro – give you a great base for exploring all of Europe and Africa.
  7. The cost of Living is amongst the lowest in Europe.


Portugal’s capital city has the reputation of being more relaxed than other European capitals. Within its city borders, Lisbon enjoys great popularity with expats; Lapa and Estrela are the most popular expat districts.  To the west of the capital are the family friendly resorts of Estoril and Cascais.  If you head north up the coast from Lisbon are the beautiful cliffs and beaches of the Silver Coast. This area is another strong draw to retired expats.

image of porto


Another expat retreat is found further north, on the Douro estuary.   Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. The Portuguese word Oporto meaning the port’ gives the country its name. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto is acknowledged as the centre for entertainment and culture in the north of the country. If you are looking for work, Porto and surrounding area offers opportunities for manufacturing related jobs. Moving even further into northern Portugal the country becomes more rugged and rural containing towns such as Chaves and Braganca where time has almost stood still with old alleyways and winding streets to wander your time away.

The best time to move to Portugal – 6 Essential Tips

Of course you can move any time of the year, but let’s think through some facts about moving because you might well save some money, hassle and stress.

  1. International Moving Companies will be at their busiest in the spring and the summer. Logical really, everyone prefers to move in the better weather, especially if they have children, the best times are during the holidays. However, this means prices are higher and waiting times longer.
  2. If price is a top consideration pick low demand months so a month or so before or after major holidays such as Easter and Christmas and other religious dates, this will mean that times when children are at school are always easier to book and cheaper too. Think through where you are currently living, if it is northern Europe where the winters are harsh it might not be the best time to plan a move.
  3. Are there festivals, events or attractions planned in the region? Ensure that your moving date does not coincide. For this reason too, mid-week removals might be a safer bet.
  4. If you’re moving to a tourist area you’ll have heavy traffic to contend with which may mean lots of stops and starts and heavier fuel costs. Are there narrow streets to cause a challenge too? Best to check out the area and discuss with your International Removal Company.
  5. If you are renting, most leases begin on the first of the month. If you are up for negotiating a lease to begin mid-month you will find better prices from your Moving Company.
  6. Are you moving a pet or two? Is your pet anxious, does he suffer from separation anxiety? If you are moving from the UK and your pet can’t be left in the car on the ferry, you will have to consider travelling by Eurotunnel. Plan well ahead because your pet will need to be micro chipped, with his own pet passport, together with up to date jabs.

5 Little known facts

  1. Portugal is a surfer’s paradise. It’s one of the worlds top surfing spots. Biggest wave recorded so far in Portugal is 90 feet.
  2. There is no official religion in Portugal although the majority of the population is catholic.
  3. The oldest alliance in the world – and still functioning – is the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance between England/UK and Portugal. Now you know why you won’t have a problem with speaking English!
  4. The Portuguese seafarers created the age of globalisation. One of the longest-lived colonial powers, Portugal controlled the eastern half of the ‘New World’ including Brazil, Africa and Asia. The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed in 1494 lasting for almost six centuries – from when Ceuta was captured in 1415 until Macau (China) was handed over in 1999.
  5. The Galo de Barcelos (rooster) will become a familiar site, as it is the unofficial symbol of Portugal. 

3 necessary practical steps

  1. First things first, get that all important paperwork in order. Yes, it’s a fact, wherever you go on the planet, paperwork always takes priority. Ensure you have multiple copies of passports, photos, birth certificates, proof of your Portuguese address and all necessary permits before your move.  This goes for you, your family and your pets! Buy a multiple pocket wallet – you know the one you can strap around your waist – so all your paper work is easy to hand. You won’t regret it.
  2. Find that all-important international moving company as soon as you can. They’ll take care of all your needs from door to door. They will be a mine of information with tips and tales of other international moves to Portugal to share.
  3. Planning the care of pets and children’s health and wellbeing weeks (and sometimes months) in advance will always pay dividends. This may mean checking out any medicines and favorite (comfort) foods because if they aren’t readily available in Portugal, consider taking at least two month’s supply with you in order to make settling in to a new country, culture and environment smooth sailing. 

Portuguese cuisine to suit every taste…

The pastries and breads are mouthwatering: look for the Bollycau filled with chocolate in a bun shaped like a hot dog, and the Luncheiras with hot pockets of food for lunchtime snack.
As a seafaring nation, you’ll not be surprised that there’s fresh fish every day at the local markets, including stone bass, sea bass, mussels, oysters, golden bream, clams not to mention Bacalhau (dried codfish).
If you’re not keen on fish, there’s locally grown olives, almonds, pine nuts, grapes and figs. Plus, there are the wonderful cheeses, cured hams and the acorn-fed black pork to enjoy.

 Your Health and Wellbeing is too important to take seriously!

Every country and every venture has its drawbacks, however moving to Portugal will enrich your life, widen your outlook and add to your health and wellbeing. The lifestyle is so relaxed, the people enormously friendly and helpful and English is spoken nearly everywhere. This is not a country where learning the language is at all vital. And as far as medical healthcare is concerned, the Algarve itself is fast becoming known as a tourist medical facility providing an advanced medical service.

As a rule of thumb, it takes six months to attain a semblance of normality after a move within your own country, so do give a move to Portugal at least a year to acclimatize.   There’s already a significant expat community, this can be tapped into even before you move there.  There will be books and blogs by authors who have experienced a move to Portugal for you to check out and once moved, attend as many social or cultural events.   The expats are more than willing to welcome new additions for friendship and support.  Be open to socializing with the locals who will respond warmly too – you may well be relying on them for help with Portuguese plumbing and renovating in the future – it’s always wise to know a few locals, even if you prefer to keep within the expat community.
Just take the leap – remember the saying – Feel the fear and do it anyway! You’ll never be the same and isn’t that a good thing?

 Your next set of essential steps for Moving to Portugal begin here:

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