Pros and cons of living in Portugal? You'll wanna read this.


Have you ever dreamed of moving abroad? It’s an appealing prospect for many, and there are a lot of reasons to consider it. People move to different countries to take jobs, to go to school, to retire, to follow a loved one or even just to experience something new and maybe have an adventure while they’re at it.

Portugal is a country that’s heavily visited by tourists. But would you want to live there year-round? There are both pros and cons to living in Portugal, and you’ll want to know about them before you take the plunge and move there.

Pros of living in Portugal

When you think of portugal, do you envision seafood and pristine beaches? The country is even more than just that. Read on to learn some of the reasons you might want to call Portugal home.

People in Portugal are very friendly

welcoming/friendly people

Visitors and expats alike will find a culture that is warm and welcoming upon arriving in Portugal. Though many people in the country don’t speak English, they’re still friendly and helpful to foreigners. In particular, neighbors are close and often spend afternoons enjoying coffee together.

The cost of living is low

cost of living

Rent and grocery prices in Portugal are much lower than in many other parts of the world, ensuring that you can enjoy a high standard of living for not a whole lot of money. Even in the city center of Lisbon, the capital and most bustling city in Portugal, rent is about a third of what you might see in London, and around a quarter of rent in New York City.

It’s easy to buy property


There are no special requirements for foreigners to buy property in Portugal, and buying a home that costs €500,000 or more may allow you to meet the requirements for a “Golden visa” for the country, which means you can stay as a resident for up to five years. Portugal is still recovering from a major economic downturn, which means home prices are rising, but still affordable at this point. It’s a great time to buy property there.

The beaches are stunning


Need we say more? From Lisbon to Lagos, Portugal’s beaches — and the jagged cliffs that surround many of them — will absolutely take your breath away.

Opening a bank account is fast and easy

bank account

Getting a local bank account in Portugal is pretty simple. You can do it from outside the country, and many banks will even allow you to open an account online. In some cases, though, there are different accounts for those who aren’t Portuguese residents, and they have more limitations than true local bank accounts.

Portuguese is a difficult language

language barrier

Portuguese is a complicated and difficult language, both to learn and to understand. Nonetheless, Portuguese people often speak English. The language is taught at school for 9 years and, for instance, you won’t find movies and tv shows doubled in European Portuguese. People are used to English. Or, if they aren’t fluent, they’ll likely make an effort — so the language shouldn’t be a barrier.

Cons of living in Portugal

Like any place, Portugal has some cons to go with its pros. Here are some of the reasons you might think twice about putting down roots in Portugal

Local salaries leave a lot to be desired


While the cost of living in Portugal is low, so are salaries. In many sectors, the average salaries are not enough to afford a comfortable living. You’re far better off as an entrepreneur, or working for a company outside Portugal.

The weather can really vary


Summers in Portugal are extremely hot, and winters can be cold and damp. While spring and fall are lovely and warm, to some, it’s not worth it suffering through the rain and fog of winter or the soaring temperatures of July and August.

Consumer goods can be expensive

consumer goods/shopping

Despite the relatively low cost of living in Portugal, there’s one thing that isn’t cheap: consumer goods. Things like clothes and electronics tend to come with hefty price tags, which can be surprising to expats from places like the US, where fast fashion and big-box stores guarantee discounts on those kinds of good.

Driving is dangerous and expensive


Roads in Portugal tend to be narrow, steep and windy, unless you’re on the national highways. But those are toll roads, so although they’re easier to drive, their costs can really add up.

Juggling lives between two nations? Want to save money? Wise borderless multi-currency accounts could help.

Think you’re ready to take the plunge and move to Portugal? Or are you just planning a visit to check it out? Either way, you’ll need access to your money while you’re abroad, and that could mean transferring some internationally. If you use your bank or a traditional money transfer service to send money across international lines, you can expect the exchange rate to be marked up by 4-5% — basically a hidden cost that you end up paying just to move your own money around. Instead, try Wise, which moves money at the real mid-market rate, or the actual exchange rate you see when you Google it. All you pay is a small, fair transfer fee that’s spelled out upfront.

Wise also offers borderless multi-currency accounts, which allow you to send, receive and manage money in dozens of world currencies all at the same time. And beginning in 2018, borderless account holders will also have access to consumer debit cards, making it easy to access your money, no matter where in the world you happen to be. Try Wise today and see how easy it can be to move and use your money all over the world.

Considering all of this information, are you sold on Portugal? Whether you think Portugal might be the perfect future home for you, or you want to continue to research other options, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of a country, no matter where it is. Wherever in the world you end up, safe travels and good luck with your move!

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more
Living Abroad

Cost of retiring in Portugal

If 3,300 hours of sunshine a year, beautiful blue flag beaches and a slower pace of life sound like your kind of thing, you may want to consider retiring in...

10.04.17 6 minute read

Tips, news and updates for your location