There’s no doubt that Portugal is among the best places for retirees in the world. Many things make Portugal an attractive option for most retirees, including its incredible weather, beautiful coastline, and cultural variety.
However, retiring in a new place goes beyond these things, and in this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about how to retire in Portugal.
Let’s get started:
Why Choose to Retire in Portugal?
The first thing that comes to people’s minds when choosing the best place to retire is the cost of living. However, before we look at those aspects, let’s look at Portugal as a country and why it makes an excellent place to retire.
Portugal has incredible weather, with most places receiving sunshine all year round. Ideally, Portugal has more than 300 days of sunshine in a year, and its coastline is an attractive place for both locals and visitors.
A Rich Culture Full of History and Traditions
If you are looking to retire in a place full of culture and entertainment, Portugal is the place to be. Portugal has a wealth of culture, traditions, sports events, and religious celebrations.
Portugal has 17 heritage registered sites, including Porto’s historic center, Serra do Pilar, Sintra, and Luiz 1 bridge.
The Carnaval period is the biggest festival in Portugal that attracts people worldwide. This festival happens in February and offers an excellent opportunity to sing, dance, and celebrate.
Besides that, the many festivals and parties during summer in Portugal offer you an excellent opportunity to meet and interact with locals and discover the culture.
Other celebrations and festivals that you may want to participate in Portugal include Fatima Pilgrimage, Holy Week, Festa de São João, Praia Grande Beach Games, among others.
An Easy and Beautiful Life
Freedom and the beauty of life are among the things that people consider when choosing a place to retire. Portugal has maintained its traditional values and charm and is ideal if you want to live an easy, free and beautiful life.
Due to its favorable weather, you can spend more time outside and enjoy the barbecue when returning home. Besides, Portuguese people have a great sense of hospitality that will make you feel good when there. The locals are friendly and open and will greet you and do their best to make you feel good and comfortable.
How Much Do You Need to Retire in Portugal?
Besides the warm weather all year round and the various religious and heritage festivals, the cost of living in Portugal seems to be another thing that makes it an attractive place for retirees from anywhere in the world.
Generally, Portugal is the most inexpensive country in Western Europe. From accommodation to basic stuff like groceries, water, and electricity, you can live comfortably in small cities with a monthly income of below $2,500. Of course, this depends on your lifestyle and the activities that you engage in.
Generally, the cost of living in Portugal is estimated to be 40 percent lower than that of the United States and about 36 percent lower than the UK.
It is also estimated that the cost of rental properties in Portugal is 50 percent cheaper than in the US and UK, making it an ideal place for retirees looking for the best and affordable places to retire from anywhere in the world.
Cost of Renting or Buying Property in Portugal
Accommodation is the primary item on retirees’ budget. Whether you want to buy or rent a property, it is crucial to do some research.
Generally, you can get less costly accommodation in small Portuguese cities. Typically, a one or two-bedroom apartment starts at about $375 a month. You will have to pay relatively higher per month if you want a comfortable one or two-bedroom house in Chiado or Baixa. Of course, the price would still be lower than other European capitals.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to buy your property instead of renting, you can find affordable houses for sale in the interior.
Notably, the average size of apartments in Portugal is smaller than in other countries, especially in North America.
In most cases, a three or four-bedroom house will lay on 1000 square feet and is ideal for a small family. The best thing is that you’re unlikely to spend most indoors due to Portugal’s mild climate.
How to Retire in Portugal – Food Costs
As with accommodation, food costs are lower in Portugal than in other European countries, UK and United States. You can get huge traditional markets in many Portuguese cities and towns, including Lisbon, that offer food items at an affordable price.
Locals produce wine and olive oil in Portugal, meaning you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy your favorite wine.
If you prefer to have meals out from time to time, you are catered. With a small budget, you can have a complete dinner for two.
Who Can Retire in Portugal – How to Get Visas and Residence Permits
Compared to other countries, it’s relatively easy to retire in Portugal. As long as you have a good criminal record and meet the set requirements, you can retire comfortably in Portugal. For instance, Algarve hosts more than 100,000 retirees, most of whom are British nationals.
To have a clear understanding of how to retire in Portugal, let’s look at the available options for different groups:
If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, retiring in Portugal is relatively straightforward. After applying for residency in Portugal, you will enjoy most of the benefits that residents enjoy.
To get your residency in Portugal, EU citizens should apply for a SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), Portugal’s official immigration service office.
According to retirement residency laws, non-EU citizens need a residence permit to retire in Portugal. You can apply for a residence permit at a Portuguese consular office. The requirements for this permit include:
- A valid passport
- Health insurance
- Proof of income
- Clean criminal record
Usually, the temporary residence permit is valid for five years, after which you need to apply for a permanent residence.
Another way that Non-EU residents can obtain residency in Portugal is through the Golden Visa Program.
The Golden Visa Scheme was introduced in 2012, and it’s a great way to attract investors into the country. To obtain the Golden Visa residence card, you must fulfill one of the below requirements:
- Invest a €500k minimum in Portuguese real estate
- Minimum Capital Transfer of € 1 million
- Invest a minimum of €350K in Portuguese real estate older than 30 years. The amount may reduce to €280k in low-density areas.
- Create ten new job posts for a Portuguese business
- Make a minimum investment of €250K toward preserving national heritage
- Make at least €350K in research investment
- Invest a minimum of €350K in private equity funds
The top benefits of a Portugal Golden Visa include:
- Better investment options starting from €280K
- Access to 26 countries in the EU and visa-free travel to 183 nations
- Option to become a non-habitual resident with little to no taxation
- Five years until you get an EU passport
- An investment opportunity that can lead to great returns
Besides the above benefits, you can include dependent family members to the Portugal Golden Visa, including:
- Children below 18 years of age
- Children under 26 years, provided they are yet to marry and can prove that they depend on you financially.
- Parents of either spouse above the age of 55 and dependent
It is also relatively straightforward for US citizens to obtain residency in Portugal. The most popular way for US citizens to establish residency in Portugal is through a 120-day stay visa. In this case, US citizens need to provide proof of a monthly income of at least $1,070.
If you like to continue staying in Portugal after this period, you can apply for a one-year residence permit. You can then renew it for two-year permits successfully. After five years, you can apply for a permanent residency in Portugal.
Portugal grants citizenship to Sephardic Jews, provided they can prove their ancestry and have the necessary documents. The best part is that dual citizenship is allowed in Portugal, meaning you can keep your original citizenship if your country of origin allows it.
What is the Cost of Healthcare for Retirees in Portugal?
Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), the Portuguese National Health Service, provides healthcare to Portuguese citizens and other people residing in Portugal. This service is funded by the government and serves through community health centers, local health units, and hospitals.
SNS services are mainly free, although some fees may apply in some circumstances. Portugal adheres to high-quality healthcare standards, and the government has invested in modern and well-equipped public hospitals.
The majority of doctors in both private and public hospitals speak in English. Making an appointment with doctors is straightforward, and wait time is less than an hour in Portuguese Private healthcare. In most cases, the cost of all healthcare services, including dental healthcare and drugs, is relatively lower than in the US.
As an EU retiree in Portugal, you can access free healthcare through the SNS. You will need an S1 form issued in your country of origin. While you can opt for extra private health insurance, SNS’s healthcare is sufficient in Portugal.
Non-EU Citizens & US Citizens
Non-EU residents, including US citizens, will only qualify for free healthcare after obtaining a permanent residency status in Portugal. That being the case, you may need to get private health insurance for your first five years in Portugal.
Documentation of health insurance is a requirement when applying for residence as a retiree in Portugal. When you get to Portugal, you can consider switching it to a private Portuguese plan as it is relatively cheaper than an international health insurance plan.
Depending on your age, you may be required to pay a few Euros to hundred Euros monthly for your health insurance plan. Ideally, the older you are, the more you will pay for private insurance costs and vice versa.
Tax requirements for retirees in Portugal
Portugal established a non-binary tax residency (NHR) program to attract foreigners to Portugal. NHR exempt retirees from flat tax rates up to 48 percent. This program applies to retirees who have not been tax residents in the last five years.
If you have NHR status, you won’t be required to pay taxes from your international income tax for ten years. Besides that, your wealth will also be exempted from taxation.
However, during this period, the income you generate in Portugal is taxed at 20 percent, much lower than 48 percent outside NHR.
To avoid double taxation, Portugal has tax treaties with EU countries and some non-EU countries.
Can You Move Your Pensions and Social Security Contributions to Portugal?
Fortunately, if you are an EU citizen, you can quickly move your pension from your home country to Portugal. Your social security contributions will become part of the Portuguese state pension.
Retirees in Portugal qualify for contribution-based state pensions. However, you must provide documentation of at least 15 years of social security contributions to be eligible for this pension.
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy for non-EU residents to move their pensions and contributions directly to Portugal from their home country.
You can only do so if your country has mutual taxation and social agreements with Portugal. So be sure to check if such agreements exist before you retire in Portugal.
Best Places to Retire in Portugal
Choosing the best place to retire in Portugal is not a walk in the park. In this part, we shall take you through the best places to live in Portugal and enjoy your retirement.
To make it easier for you, let’s look at Portugal’s major regions and the towns popular for retirees in each area. The major regions of Portugal include:
- Lisbon and Around
- Porto Area
- Central Portugal
What is it Like to Retire in the Lisbon Area?
Lisbon is an excellent place to retire if you want to be part of the city and access the countryside and beaches with ease.
With an approximate area of about 3,000 square kilometers, Lisbon metropolitan has about 3 million people. There you can enjoy great views from the seven hills and the magnificent Tagus river that surrounds it.
You can also enjoy a boat, short bus, or train ride to the beaches close to the city.
However, retiring in Lisbon may not be ideal for you if you are not used to doing many activities and meeting many people. Many activities happen in Lisbon, and you won’t get bored or feel lonely.
Popular towns in Lisbon Area include:
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and attracts thousands of tourists from over the world. Retirees in Lisbon can visit Fado concerts, exhibitions, bars, and restaurants. However, as expected, property prices are much higher in Lisbon than in any other town in Portugal.
Sintra is another excellent place to retire in Portugal. It has a large museum where you can explore the sites and attractive beaches that surround it. Unlike Lisbon, the prices of property in Sintra are a bit lower. It is a great place to retire if you need to have a rural lifestyle but remain close to the city.
Many retirees love Cascais as it is close to the city but has a remote feeling. You can visit the beaches surrounding it and the numerous restaurants and cafes that serve the locals and tourists.
Since Sintra is outside the city, property prices and living costs are lower than that of Lisbon.
Setubal is among the best places to retire in Portugal. Besides the heartbreaking beaches and scenery, it’s known for the best seafood in Portugal. Like many places in the Lisbon area, Setubal offers a more rural lifestyle close to the city.
What is it Like to Retire in Algarve?
Algarve hosts some of the attractive beaches and coastlines in Portugal, making it a popular destination for expats and tourists. Besides, its warm weather makes it an ideal choice for retirees.
Popular places for retirees to reside in Algarve include:
Lagos is known for windswept dunes, long golden sandy beaches, and natural caves in cliffs, making it naturally beautiful. Many tourists visit the place, especially during summer.
Tavira has long sandy beaches and is home to flamingos, spoonbills, and other wading birds. Besides, the medieval center gives Tavira heartbreaking historical views. Unlike Lagos, Tavira is not overrun by tourists during summer, making it an excellent choice for retirees.
Albufeira is arguably the most popular and lively town in the Algarve region of Portugal.
As such, it may not be an ideal place for you if you’re looking to have a more countryside life.
Madeira is an island located in the Atlantic, about 1000 miles off the coast of mainland Portugal. It experiences a warm climate for most of the year, making it an ideal place for retirees.
Madeira is ideal for you if you’re looking for a quiet place away from the city. Here you can experience nature and enjoy an island lifestyle. The cost of living is higher in Madeira than in the Algarve, but you can get a variety of properties to rent or buy at an affordable price.
How to Retire in Portugal – Portal and Northern Portugal
Porto, a city in the Northern area, is home to a large expat community due to its lively yet peaceful nature. It has beautiful countryside and is known as the best place to get fortified wine. It is ideal for retirees who want to live in an area that isn’t overrun by tourists.
Other than Lisbon, Porto is the most expensive city to live in in Portugal. Some of the popular towns in Porto include:
How to Retire in Portugal – Central Portugal
As with Northern Portugal, Central Portugal has beautiful beaches and attractive natural parks like Serra da Estrela in the countryside. It hosts Portugal’s highest peak and many scattered villages, making it an ideal place to retire in Portugal.
The most popular towns in Central Portugal are Nazare and Leiria. Nazare is known for surfing, beaches (especially the half-moon-shaped beach), and its warm and mild climate.
On the other hand, Leiria is a university town and has a great mix of ancient and modern architecture.
The Azores islands are among the great places in Portugal. Its rock formations, mountains, and fertile soil make it an excellent place for retirees. Besides that, the Azores islands are known for Queijo de São Jorge por Queijo de Ilha, the best cheese in Portugal.
It has a warm and wet climate all year round. The Azores islands have a beautiful and attractive nature due to the lush vegetation and deep blue Atlantic waters.
Popular town in Azores include:
- Ponta Delgada
How to Retire in Portugal – Final Thoughts
Portugal is home to thousands of retirees from anywhere in the world. However, applying for Portuguese permanent residence is not easy as it seems, especially for Non-EU citizens. At Bluemina, we provide legal and reliable services on how to get a new home to retire from anywhere in the world. Got any questions on how to retire in Portugal? Contact us today for a free consultation.