4 de January, 2023
So why is Portugal one of the most popular retirement destinations on the planet? Despite its compact size, the country offers something for everyone. From vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto with bustling nightlife, culture, history and culinary delights. To coastal paradises along the Atlantic Ocean, where camel-colored sand meets turquoise water embellished with jagged rock formations, caves and grottoes. For a simpler life, head inland, where medieval villages of stone houses lie beneath ruined castles and emerald hills of farmland dominate the stunning views beyond.
The Portuguese are some of the kindest and most genuine people in the world, and they welcome foreigners with open arms and kisses on the cheeks. Since English is taught in schools, many of the locals, especially the younger generation, have a good command of the language.
Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, ranked 6th in the Global Peace Index, so expats never have to worry about crime. Health care in Portugal is affordable and excellent, ranked 12th by the World Health Organization. Residents of Portugal have access to both public and private healthcare systems, along with fully accredited Joint Commission International facilities with English speaking staff.
The infrastructure is on par with the US and Canada, with clean tap water, reliable electricity, and high-speed fiber internet, making it easy to work at home or connect to the rest of the world.
Portugal’s road system is one of the best in Europe, easy to navigate with ample rest stops along the way for snacks, drinks or to charge the engines of electric cars. And unlike some other European countries that require foreigners to take the driver’s test in the local language, in Portugal it is a straightforward exchange of your current driver’s license for a Portuguese one.
With more than 500,000 foreigners from all over the world living in Portugal, it is easy to fit in and often impossible to distinguish expats from locals. Making friends is easy, especially in the most popular expatriate havens like Porto, the Silver Coast, Lisbon and the Algarve.
To the north is Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. Famous for producing port wine, and terraced vineyards along the Douro River, with a colorful waterfront, it receives many tourists so English speakers can be found. An international airport, one of three in the country, makes it easy to connect with the rest of the world. Winters in the north are rainy and cold, but snow usually only happens in the mountains.
The Silver Coast offers many options for expats, from coastal villages to medium-sized cities like Caldas da Rainha. Daily markets in and around the historic city center sell fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, meats, poultry, and fish, while a weekly flea market is filled with everything including the kitchen sink. On the outskirts of town, lush agricultural fields cover the hillsides as sheep graze and farmers drive by on tractors. Winters along the Silver Coast are cold and wet, while summers bring spring temperatures with little or no need for air conditioning.
For those who wish to live in the big city without a car, Lisbon may be for you. Filled with museums, shows, restaurants, stores, cobblestone streets, and historic elegance, the mix of expats and tourists makes English speakers abundant. Since the city is built on seven hills, hop aboard one of the iconic yellow streetcars or other public transportation to help you get around. Portugal’s main international airport is here, a great way to connect with the rest of Europe or anywhere else in the world.
The neighboring coastal town of Cascais has long been popular with expats sipping coffee at sidewalk cafes, gathering with friends for wine tastings, yoga or beach walks, or dancing the night away at local clubs.
South of Lisbon is the Alentejo region which includes the cities of Beja and Évora. The largest and most rural region in the country, spring brings fields of fragrant wildflowers blooming around towering cork trees and church bells ringing in small historic villages. Outside Evora, less English is spoken, so expats settling here need to know some Portuguese.
The southernmost region of the country with the best climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, is the Algarve. Traditional towns like Lagos and Tavira offer a variety of Old World charm with their cobblestone centers, thriving coffee cultures, and sizable expatriate communities. For a permanent vacation feel, Albufeira offers water parks, a lively strip filled with tourist stores, restaurants, pubs, and charming beaches. Expatriate communities are easy to find all over the Algarve, add to that the summer tourist crowd, so expats who choose to live here really can only know English.
How much do you need to retire in Portugal? As a general rule, a couple can live comfortably on about $2,500 to $3,000 per month, depending on lifestyle and whether you own or rent. To settle in Lisbon, Porto or Algarve expect to pay a little more while inland areas cost less.
Excerpt from the article by Terry Coles, published on the International Living website.