Moving to Portugal with Children: Advantages and Disadvantages

2 de January, 2023

Moving to Portugal with Children: Advantages and Disadvantages

I came to Portugal almost a decade ago. Today I am asked how my experience was. What are the advantages of moving to Portugal with children?
Reading: 7 min

I decided to write this article in first person, because the topic is very familiar to me. I moved to Portugal, almost a decade ago, because I had a daughter and wanted to give her things that I couldn’t have in my hometown. Today, many people ask me how my experience was. What are the advantages of moving to Portugal with children? Many especially want to know what it is like to live here with small children. What I can say is that, whether to visit or to live, Portugal is an amazing destination to be with the family, with or without kids. There are many reasons, and I will explain them throughout this text.

Is it good to live in Portugal with children?

Portugal positively surprised me when I arrived in the country with a baby. Most of the commercial establishments here are prepared to receive children, their bathrooms provide changing tables and seat reducers, restaurants always have children’s car seats, crayons and coloring books. The malls offer free leisure activities for all ages. And most of all: society, in general, respects and treats the little ones well.

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Main advantages of moving to Portugal with the family

Not by chance Portugal was elected the third most child-friendly destination in the world, in a research conducted by Airport Parking Reservations. The survey highlighted the climate, gastronomy, safety, and the more than 2,500 activities children can do in the country. There are many advantages to moving to Portugal with children.

Leisure for all ages

There are many options of activities to do with children in Portugal, including free ones. In parks and public gardens scattered everywhere, it is possible to be in touch with nature. Libraries offer free activities, especially during the vacation season. There are theater, music and puppet festivals, nature and gardening classes. The country has planetariums, zoos, science centers, and water parks. There is everything, you just have to look for it. The public museum services are always offering educational activities. And children are always welcome everywhere.


Portugal offers one thing that is priceless: security. The country is peaceful (the 6th most peaceful in the world) and with a small population (10.3 million). Less crowds, more tranquility. And safety is synonym of freedom, of being sure that you can let your children play in the park. That they can use public transportation when they are older. Freedom also leads to independence.

Child looks at map to move to Portugal

Healthy Gastronomy

Portuguese gastronomy is diverse and healthy. The country is adept at soup as a starter, widely consumed by children and an excellent source of nutrients, even in schools. It sounds silly, but it makes a lot of difference in practice! It is health and practicality being part of the routine.

European Standard Education

Education is another great attraction in the country, in all areas. In Portuguese schools, children not only learn the basic subjects, such as Portuguese and math, or even English, arts and sports. In Portugal, the little ones are used, from an early age, to taking care of the younger ones, organizing their study environment, cooking, eating with a knife and fork (no spoons!), making public presentations, mediating conflicts, and taking on leadership roles in groups. In short: they learn, at an early age (3 or 4 years old), notions of respect, organization, and responsibility.

Another advantage is that, in most schools, classes are held in the morning and afternoon, allowing parents to work while their children study. In general, classes go from 9 am to 4 pm, and may last until 7 pm. In the school environment they study, eat, exercise, and play. They also go on field trips, and from an early age become familiar with cultural spaces, libraries, plays, orchestras, make handicrafts, visit art sites… a little bit of everything! This is definitely a positive point to take into account!

Are public schools in Portugal free?

In Portugal, education is consecrated as universal and free during the period of compulsory schooling, i.e. from 6 to 18 years (from 1st to 12th grade). Public schools are free. Still, parents need to pay for food, field trips and personal school supplies. These amounts can be subsidized by the government, according to the social status of the child’s parents.

Currently, the Portuguese state holds that the 12 years of schooling are relevant to the social, economic and cultural progress of the population and the country. The country offers quality public schools and, although private institutions occupy the top positions in the national ranking, there are also highlights in the public network. About 80% of the country’s students are enrolled in public schools, according to the Education in Numbers report.

The school year always starts in September, with longer vacations in the summer from July to August and a shorter break at Christmas and Easter.


All children in Portugal have access to free health care until the age of 12. Mandatory vaccinations are all administered by the public network. Parents are notified (usually by phone) whenever a new dose needs to be administered. And they insist until the child shows up at the health center. Oral health is also guaranteed, especially during teething. Each child has its own health doctor who follows its growth through frequent consultations.

Find out how public health works in Portugal

What is the disadvantage of living with small children in Portugal?

For those who come from another country, the most difficult part of moving is the fact of being far away from relatives and friends. In addition to the homesickness, you have to deal with the lack of support. Who to leave your children with on a special night or while you have to go to a medical procedure or travel? Who can help pick you up from school when work is late?
In the beginning it may be more difficult. However, this is an issue that is minimized as time goes by and as you establish new relationships in the country.

Moving to Portugal with grown-up children

Parents of teenagers will mainly benefit from the security that the country has to offer. With quality public transportation, these young people will have much more freedom to build their lives independently. In addition, they will have quality universities with fair tuition fees.

Learn how education works in Portugal

What is the best age to move abroad with children?

The younger, the better. Until the age of 5, change is unlikely to cause difficulty. Young children are much more attached to their parents, relationships outside the family are still superficial.

At the age of eight, children begin to develop their tastes, fears and emotions, and form social bonds. In adolescence, these relationships with their peers is even stronger and may generate some resistance from children. From the age of 13 the emotional dependence on their family unit is usually less. Many feel that their friendships are more important than their relationship with their parents, especially when boyfriends are involved. Patience and caution are needed at this stage.

Regardless of age, adaptability also varies greatly from child to child. Planning and dialog are fundamental. We all want the best for our children, so we want the transition to be as smooth as possible. One strategy is to involve them in some aspects of the move, such as choosing the house and its decoration. Another tip is to create a wish list about the new residence and plans about the life they will have in the new country. With love and patience it will be easier than you think. And the reward will follow.

Assure him that he will be able to keep in touch with friends or visit places he likes. Fortunately, with improvements in communication, the Internet, video calls, faster and cheaper travel, missing family and friends is becoming more and more accessible. This is an argument that may help convince them to embark on the move.

Get to know the main cities in Portugal to live with your family!

Living in Europe with Children!

Another advantage of moving to Portugal with your children, whether they are children or teenagers, is the chance to be inserted in a culturally rich continent, with so many diverse countries. This means learning new languages, getting to know different customs, behaviors, foods, and lifestyles. In the long run, it may also mean the possibility of working in other countries, since migration within the European area is facilitated.

There are many other great arguments to show how bringing your children to Portugal can be a great decision. Besides, should you decide to return to your home country after a few years, the experience will be well worth it, both in personal and professional terms. So if you are planning to move to Portugal, don’t waste any more time and talk to our consultants!

*Silvia Resende is a writer at Atlantic Bridge. From Bahia, she arrived in Portugal in 2015 to build a new life with her family. She has a degree in Communication from UFBa, in Brazil, and a Master in Communication Sciences from the University of Porto. She has worked as a TV presenter, reporter, event producer, public relations and tour guide in Porto. She loves to travel and to discover the cultural heritage of each place she goes. She is the mother of Malu, 9 years old, and thinks that Porto is the ideal place to raise a child.


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