Americans Moving to Portugal and Spain

28 de March, 2023

Americans Moving to Portugal and Spain

More and more Americans are moving to Portugal and Spain in search of affordable housing and the quiet, charming climate of Europe.
Reading: 6 min

More and more Americans are moving to Portugal and Spain in search of affordable housing and the quiet, charming European atmosphere. The issue recently gained prominence in The New York Times. According to the newspaper, American citizens, unable to afford the types of homes they want in domestic cities like San Francisco and New York, are moving to southern Europe in significant numbers.

The mild climate, delicious cuisine, safety, and low cost of living are some of the main attractions for Americans, making the region even more affordable with the strong dollar. In addition, many are excited to exchange their car-dependent lifestyle for a cheaper and more vibrant life in European cities such as Lisbon or Barcelona.

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Numbers of Americans in Portugal and Spain skyrocketed

In 2022, a search conducted by Google revealed that Portugal was the most searched European country in 2022 by Americans interested in moving abroad, surpassing Spain, which fell to second place. It’s worth noting that Portugal is about five times smaller in size compared to Spain, which makes the achievement all the more impressive. According to Google, the search for a second citizenship in Europe has increased because of “Major events that have occurred in the United States over the past three years, including the pandemic, major political decisions, gun violence, rising housing costs, and the ability to work remotely.”

Last year, nearly 10,000 American citizens lived in Portugal, an impressive 239% increase over 2017, according to data provided by the Portuguese government.

In 2019, the number of Americans attending the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon increased by 60%, The New York Times reported. Americans now represent a quarter of the school’s student body, up from 16 percent a decade ago.

In Spain, there were 51,000 residents from the United States in 2022, more than in 2021, when there were 48,000. In addition, thehe sales of homes to Americans in this country increased 88 percent from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2022. Americans were among the most willing to spend per square foot.

Why are Americans choosing Portugal?

According to the newspaper, Americans who are putting down roots in Portugal are embracing a life where “the weather is nice, lunches are long, and they can get by with translation apps and a handful of phrases.”Listed here are some of the motivations most often cited by Americans living in Portugal:

Good weather

Portugal has plenty of sunshine. The average is 300 days of sunshine per year, one of the highest in Europe! Portugal has a temperate climate and the seasons are well divided. Summers are hot and dry, on the other hand, winters are cold and wet.

Free health care

In Portugal, healthcare is high quality and a fraction of the cost in the US. And if you become a permanent resident, you can access the national health system, which is universal and practically free.

Learn all about healthcare in Portugal


In 2022, Portugal was considered the 6th most peaceful country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index, which assesses levels of world peace. Besides being a very peaceful country, its overall crime rate is also low.

Quality education at low cost

Many American families come to Portugal also thinking about the education of their children and the freedom they will have in Europe. The adaptation of the children happens naturally. In Portugal, there is a large offer of free public schools up to the 12th grade. For those who prefer to invest in private education, there are also many options of bilingual schools, which facilitate translation. And universities are much cheaper than in the United States.

Low cost of living

Living in Portugal can cost a third of living in cities in the United States, especially California. So, having American standard salaries and Portuguese standard expenses is an excellent business.

Read our article on the cost of living: Portugal vs USA

Safe food

Portugal has very strict sanitary and animal welfare standards. Food is properly labeled, many pesticides are banned by the European Union, which allows a much healthier diet. In some regions, such as Madeira, locally grown produce (such as bananas and avocados) is abundant and low cost.

Leisure and quality of life

In this small Iberian treasure there are all kinds of water sports, the best golf courses in the world, nature, quality of life, wines and unbeatable gastronomy. It is a country that values the family, with many public parks, that preserves its heritage, with many cultural activities geared towards its communities and that respects differences.

Portuguese speak English

Americans say that when they stumble upon Portuguese, locals quickly switch to English, since the language is so prevalent in European cities. Portugal is the ninth best English-speaking country in the world, according to the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) report.

Ease of processes

We know that the process of moving can be laborious and with a lot of paperwork involved. Despite this, Portugal has some advantages over other countries in relation to its immigration programmes. The Non-Habitual Resident Status provides tax benefits for a period of 10 years to individuals who have not been taxed as Portuguese tax residents in the previous five years. The Golden Visa Portugal has low investment amounts, compared to other countries’ programmes, besides allowing family reunification and the possibility of working in the country. Its consular fees are also among the lowest in Europe.

The Portuguese are hospitable and respect differences

The Portuguese are very welcoming and welcome all visitors. The increase in tourism is there to prove it. It is true that the country’s fame has also been a result of the explosion of international articles about its cities, and numerous tourism awards received in recent years. But if tourists were not received as warmly as they are, no matter how many awards Portugal picked up, the results would never be these.

Portugal is a country that respects differences, and even appeared in 1st place on a list of 65 immigrant-friendly countries, according to an Inter Nations study released in 2018 in the magazine Forbes. The study shows that 94% of residents have a friendly attitude towards expats, and that almost half of expats consider staying in the country forever. Isn’t that incredible? No wonder Portugal is the best country for expats in the ranking of the Expat Insider 2022.

Immigration-friendly legislation

Portugal has national legislation that is favorable to immigration, allowing foreigners to regularize their status with relative ease. It welcomes as nationals those who have been residing in the country for more than five years, one of the fastest terms in the European Union. It has different visas for those who decide to enter the country legally, whether to work locally or remotely, study, live as a pensioner, or invest.

Why choose Spain?

It is worth noting that Spain combines qualities very similar to those of Portugal: good climate, gastronomy, safety, good schools, good public health system, low cost of living, cultural richness and a lot of animation, after all the Spaniards are famous for liking a good party! Although Spanish people do not speak English as well, many Americans are more used to the Spanish language, which is more widespread in the United States than Portuguese. In addition, Spain was ranked as the 5th best destination on the planet to live during retirement, according to Expat Insider 2022 research.

Portugal and Spain offer visas for nomads and retirees

Portugal and Spain have recently introduced digital nomad visas that allow remote workers to live in the country for an extended period of time.

For retirees and pensioners, there is also the alternative of obtaining a visa for people with passive income, such as the Portuguese D7 Visa and the Non-profitable Spanish visa.

The attractiveness of Portugal and Spain is easy to explain: the average income in the United States is much higher than in these European countries, making them excellent destinations for American expatriates to live as retirees while maintaining a high standard of living.

Golden Visa Portugal and Spain

Last year, Americans bought more Portuguese gold visas than any other nationality in the world, surpassing the Chinese. It was a dramatic reversal for Americans who, just four years earlier, were not among the top five visa buyers.

At this moment, the Portuguese Golden Visa program is about to be discontinued, which is leading many investors to anticipate their decision to invest in the country. In Spain, the program remains unchanged for those who wish to invest 500,000 euros in a property.

Get to know the Golden Visa Portugal of 280 thousand Euros

If you are thinking of living in Europe, we recommend that you seek the orientation of a specialist. At Atlantic Bridge we help our clients to enjoy the quality of life in Portugal and Spain through the visa that best fits their profile.

Fill out the form and start your journey now! >



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