For a country that has a rich history, having played a prominent part in creating some of it as well as being at the receiving end of it, Portugal has come a long way. The Portuguese way of life has been quite a revelation for many an American expat in Portugal.
Overlooked by many who choose other European nations over Portugal, it is slowly finding its place in the sun. In this post, we are going to go on a virtual journey straight into Portugal. We are going to assist you with all the typical questions an American moving to Portugal from the USA have.
Fact: Portugal is the oldest nation in Europe.
Find out all you need regarding key topics like Visa, Citizenship, the Banking system, taxes that you will incur during your stay in Portugal.
We will also throw light on other important aspects that anyone moving to Portugal from the USA will have at the top of their minds such as jobs, the health care system in Portugal, Education, the property, and the housing sector.
We will also help you figure out what is it like immigrating to Portugal from the US and the best places to live in Portugal ending with the culture and climate of the country. Stick with us till the end as we answer all your questions about Portugal.
We are going to explore what are the kinds of visas you need to move to Portugal. As an American, you can get entry into Portugal without a Visa on a valid passport.
Types of Visa
- Schengen Visas: These are short-term visas for a period of less than 90 days.
- Temporary Stay National Visas: which are for a period of a year
- Residency Visas: These are long-term visas for a period of more than a year. One of the easiest and most popular routes to get into Portugal is through its extremely sought-after Golden Visa programme. This allows you to access Portugal through its residency by investment programme.
Other than the Golden Visa, American expats in Portugal also apply for the D7 Visa. It’s been created for attracting retirees with passive income to settle in Portugal with their families.
It’s often said that the Portuguese government makes taking up residency in Portugal for US citizens easy. For all your information regarding visas to Portugal and where to apply them when immigrating to Portugal from the US.
If you think about residency in Portugal for US Citizens, we would say you are lucky as your country and Portugal both offer dual citizenship. You can apply for citizenship after residing in Portugal for 5 years.
Citizenship gives you the advantage of accessing healthcare, work, and other benefits that a Portuguese citizen is privy to.
You will receive an ID card which is a residence card and it needs to be carried on you for all times you are in Portugal.
The cost of procuring a temporary residence permit for the purpose of employment is €72 and it will cost you €33.50 when you go in for renewing the permit.
There are two things that you need to obtain residence in Portugal. Once you receive the Título de residencia you have to approach the Junta de freguesia which is nothing but the neighborhood or parish.
As proof that you are living in Portugal, you will need to register with them. You can apply for proof of residence with a valid ID and address proof. You can make use of your rental contract or lease with your Portuguese address.
All non-Portuguese individuals can open a bank account. There are close to 150 banks indulging in modern banking operations in Portugal. To open a Bank account, you are expected to visit the branch of your Bank at least once.
You have the facility to open a bank account online, however, banking guidelines mandate that you need to visit the branch once for primary verifications.
Some of the banks in Portugal you can consider opening an account with are noted below:
- Caixa Geral de Depósitos
- Novo Banco
- Banco Santander Totta
Opening a bank account is usually an easy process. If you have all the necessary documents, it is not at all difficult for American expats in Portugal.
- You will need your passport or valid identification.
- You will also need a proof of address such as a recent Portuguese utility bill
- Don’t forget to carry your Portuguese NIF number (related to tax)
The taxation system in this country is pretty straightforward. Taxes are levied at both the state level and local level. And taxation is based on your income, expenditure, and whether you own any properties. Talking about the different types of taxes, Portugal has several types of taxes:
- Income tax
- social security
- corporate tax
- value added tax
You need to apply for the taxation number called NIF. For detailed information on applying for NIF and for understanding first-hand the tax implications for an expat.
We can’t really conclude that the taxes are high in Portugal. The country follows a progressive taxation system. You will be taxed higher and higher as you earn more and more. For details on how much will an American expat in Portugal be taxed click here.
Fact: The unemployment rate as of 2020 is 5.6% in Portugal.
The market in Portugal is competitive for jobs. You will have to be prepared for conducting a good amount of research before landing yourself a job. The main employers in Portugal can be found in the service industries like tourism, hospitality, construction and transportation.
Meanwhile, the other sectors such as textiles, footwear, automobile, electronics are also contributors to employment.
Many expats find that there are jobs in Portugal for US Citizens offered by the tech sector. The IT and online business sectors are the most welcoming. The industries can be quite tricky to get into.
The minimum wage which is annually monitored stands at €741 approximately for salary payments made 12 times a year.
The average salary will change from one location to another. However, we can safely surmise that the average annual salary in Portugal is approximately €22,500.
Fact: Portugal has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the world at 99.4%.
The education system in Portugal is pretty interesting. Education gets divided into the following subdivisions:
- Preschool: which is for those under the age of 6
- Basic Education: compulsory and divided into three stages
- Secondary Education: which is compulsory for three years
- Higher education: which is subdivided into university education and polytechnic studies.
Overall, the education system in Portugal is excellent. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) gives an average 15-year-old Portuguese student a rating that is higher than the OECD’s average.
These ratings are based on the student’s performance in areas like reading literacy, mathematics, and science knowledge. Therefore, the education system in Portugal is a much sought-after place for international students.
To find the perfect school which meets your needs you can contact the Direcção Regional de Educação (Regional Education Authority).
There are amazing options available in a number of international schools available and we are providing you a list of international schools which are best for American expats in Portugal:
British International Schools such as British School of Lisbon, Oporto British School among others
American international schools and Advanced Placement such as International Christian School of Cascais, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon among others.
It is a good idea to enroll in these international schools as there is always an option of returning to home country and also the sizes of the class being small and multicultural provide a wholesome experience.
Fact: In Portugal, life expectancy is around 81 years.
Having health insurance is one of the best ways to take care of your health in Portugal. Portugal’s healthcare system is such that you can have easy access to doctors in both the private and public sectors provided you register yourself with a doctor.
The healthcare available in Portugal can be categorized into the following:
- PRIVATE HEALTHCARE: which is accessed through health insurance
- PUBLIC HEALTHCARE: these are accessed through social health occupation-based schemes
- National Health Service (NHS)
Is healthcare good and free in Portugal
Expats who are legal residents can easily access healthcare in Portugal. In Portugal, you don’t get to choose your doctors, dentists or physicians in the public sector. They are assigned to you always. Portugal has a free public healthcare system that can be accessed by all legal citizens.
Portugal offers a surprisingly low and affordable housing market as compared to other neighboring countries. Our research throws out the figure that the average cost per square meter is €1,150. Depending on where you choose to buy a property it will cost you high or low as per this cost.
For anyone contemplating how to move to Portugal from the USA, one of the highest priorities will definitely be where to buy or rent a property.
The bureaucracy can be quite taxing for some during the process of buying a property in Portugal. We would like to offer you our two bits to be prepared for a fairly long-drawn-out process which once done can only help you reap rich rewards.
Since there are no restrictions on foreign property ownership in Portugal, you can decide to invest in a property. Historical lower rates of interest work in favor of people opting to buy rather than rent properties. For complete information regarding buying property in Portugal please click here.
Fact: The world’s oldest bookstore can be found in Lisbon.
Portugal has one of the best qualities of being affordable. If you were to stay in the capital city of Lisbon which has the unique distinction of being one of the cheapest places which are also Capital cities in the whole of Europe, Lisbon would win hand-down.
As an American expat in Portugal, we can confidently say that the living expenses for a couple are about $2500. You can reduce a further $500 if you plan to set base in one of the smaller cities in Portugal.
There are three airports that are considered Portugal’s main airports. They are situated in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro.
Many expats immigrating to Portugal from US do so due to the mild climate and the awesome landscapes available. It also helps that the cost of living is relatively cheaper as compared to the States. An amount of €750 can easily carry you through the month if you are a local in Portugal.
Here are a few facts about living in Portugal
- The cost of living is relatively lower in Portugal.
- Food and drinks are pretty integral to the Portuguese culture
- Portugal culture claims a rich work life balance for those employed
- The slow pace of living can be something you will take time getting used to.
- The Portuguese language can be difficult to learn.
- Petty crimes can be a slight deterrent especially pickpocketing in Lisbon.
Best places to live in Portugal
Fact: In Portugal, most industries, businesses, and financial institutions are concentrated in Lisbon and Porto.
One of the priority questions for anyone immigrating to Portugal from US is which are the best places to set up base. We feel it’s our responsibility to list out the best places in Portugal for you that suit your taste, lifestyle and budget.
Like any other country, Portugal is home to some of the best and not-so-great places to live in. We are listing the best places here and these recommendations have a solid backing of research and observations made based on the choices of other expats.
Now Portugal is relatively a safe haven for expats looking to settle down and wondering how to move to Portugal from the USA and we are here to help:
The capital city in Portugal is also one of the favorites of people relocating here. Home to some of the best hubs for shopping, nightlife and famous historical places you would be in the thick of things.
With the distinction of being the second-largest city in Portugal, it has an excellent cultural and entertainment setup. With property prices comparatively low, Porto is a city of choice for many expats contemplating how to move to Portugal from USA.
Third in size to Lisbon and Porto, this wonderful city houses exquisite boutiques and cafes as also Churches. It also holds the iconic Bom Jesus do Monte.
Home to the second-largest population of American expats, Algarve is the city of beaches. It’s an incredible mix of 19th and 20th-century buildings at the same time modern architecture.
Dipped in rich historical prominence Chaves which means key literally opens the door to embrace the ancient spas and baths with preservation of health and healing. The additional advantage is the lower prices and healthy mix of a cooler winter and short summers.
To the west of Lisbon lies this bustling seaside resort town of Cascais.
Loved by surfers and people who love the beaches and bars.
Of all the islands in Portugal, Madeira is the most popular as well as largest island. It has a pleasant sub-tropical climate loved by everyone who visits.
A one-hour drive away from Lisbon, this city is a very popular tourist destination. Dipped in rich history from medieval times one can enjoy some amazing events hosted throughout the year in this wonderful city.
An authentic seaside Portuguese town, Lagos is a favorite with both local residents as well as tourists. Offering a bevy of restaurants, bars and of course the beaches, Lagos has something for everyone.
10. Costa Nova
The quaint little city with its colorfully lined houses, pedestrian walkways, is a definite recommendation on our list of awesome cities in Portugal. It has the distinction of being the prettiest little town in Portugal.
This is the largest city in Portugal and is home to one of the oldest universities in Portugal. The other attractions that pull people to this city are the botanical gardens, the remarkable Biblioteca Joanina library.
Culture and Climate
Fact: Even though Christianity is the predominant religion, Portugal doesn’t have a state or official religion.
The Mediterranean weather is what sets apart Portugal from its other European counterparts. American expats in Portugal will love the warm sun that Portugal offers.
Also in the offering is the cool breezes that blow in from the ocean. Portugal doesn’t have a snowy winter. However, you can encounter a cold climate as you move north.
What is the best time to visit Portugal?
Usually, the winter ends by the month of February. The ideal time to visit Portugal is in spring, which occurs between February and May. This is also the time when the crowd is quite thin, accommodations can be found at a cheaper rate and you can indulge in a lot of tourist and cultural activities.
Is Portugal warm all year round?
It is difficult to say that it is warm. It does have its diverse climate with summer being really long and hot. It does have its share of winter, autumn, and rains.
Portugal has rich biodiversity and holds the enviable 3rd position in the world ranking for the most diverse flora hotpots.
Speaking about the culture in Portugal, the country boasts of a rich Roman Catholic culture, and a pretty close-knit family-oriented ethic is observed here. When moving to Portugal from the USA, it would do well to understand the core culture of the country you are moving to.
The Portuguese indulge in numerous art appreciation and enjoy celebrating and taking part in music, drama, dance and the arts.
Having a rich history where the first person to travel around the globe was a Portuguese explorer named Magellan. Portugal is often overlooked in favor of the other more famous neighbors like Spain or France.
Portugal though small has a gigantic offering where it has something in it to offer to each and everyone who goes searching. Beaches, rich landscapes, houses, parties, integrating culture, you name it and you find it all in Portugal.
So, if you are thinking of moving to Portugal, Portugal will be happy to provide you with what you seek. From quiet towns in the countryside to hustling bustling city life, Portugal has a lot to offer for one who is willing to take it.
The friendly attitude, open and warm lifestyle and culture, almost pocket-friendly medical facilities are some of the other positives we can tell you about Portugal.
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