Moving To Portugal: The Ultimate Guide
Moving to Portugal: Residency Requirements
Even before moving to Portugal you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the length of your stay (only for non-EU residents.European Union members need not present a passport upon entry. A National ID card will suffice.)
Sometimes they may also require proof of a return ticket out of the country, but that can be debatable depending on your country of origin and the customs officer for that day (when in doubt, always check with your embassy.) The Portuguese Immigration Service can answer all questions (and if you access it using Google Chrome, it will even translate the page for you.)
If you’re coming from Canada, the U.S., or Australia, you can stay up to 90 days without the need for a visa. If you’re an EU national, your visa-less stay has no limit (but you’re required to register for a residence document if you plan on staying more than three months; usually just with the local police department or town hall.)
If you plan on staying longer, a temporary residence permit is good for one year from the date of issue. Once you’ve held a residence certificate for five years (consecutive), you can then apply for a permanent residence certificate from the Foreigners and Borders Service (be sure to make an appointment.) For an extended stay, Portugal requires you to present proof of income, proof of health insurance, and if you’re a student, proof of university enrollment. They need to know that you can support yourself financially and medically in order to remain.
If you’re staying beyond 183 consecutive days in Portugal, you can become tax-eligible. If you’re planning on renting property, it is recommended that you hire a Portuguese guarantor when entering into a lease agreement (for assuring that lease payments will be made no matter what comes up.) It would also behoove you to get yourself the guidance of a lawyer who is experienced in foreign real estate, as well as an international tax planner. Make sure to understand these facts before you move to Portugal.
The Cost of Living in Portugal: Should I Go?
One thing is for sure – living in Portugal will cost you half as much as it takes to live in the U.S., the UK, or Australia.To get a rough estimate of amenity prices like rent, food, transportation, clothing, utilities, and other details, the website Numbeo is a fantastic and extensive resource. Moving to Portugal can be a real deal!
For example, they estimate that
- meal for two at a mid-range restaurant should run you about €30 (for three courses.)
- A pint of beer goes for €1.50,
- cappuccino or soft drink for €1.11
- and a bottle of water should retail at just under a dollar.
If you were to stop at the market for a gallon of milk, a fresh loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, a bottle of decent wine, and a pound each of chicken, potatoes, onions, apples, and bananas, you should expect a bill of around €27.
A monthly local transportation pass costs around €35 (an investment only worthy if you’re based in either Lisbon or Porto.)
Portugal taxi tariffs start at €3.25 and cost around €0.81 per mile. If you were to invest in your own car, a basic new Volkswagen Golf sits in the midrange above €24,000. And a gallon of gasoline averages out to about €6.
And then there’s the most important essential: Internet. You can expect a monthly plan at around €26 for unlimited data at 10Mbps. Basically, moving to Portugal is like living in a European country while paying Latin American prices.
Financial Recommendations: Mind the Bank
If you’re moving to Portugal, then you’re definitely going to want to open a bank account within the country. The entirety of Western Europe hosts common banks like Barclays, HSBC, and Bank of America. But for some reason, Portugal is an exception.
It will be much easier for you if you’re staying for a while, to open a local bank account. Since Portugal is a member of the euro-zone, they deal in euro currency, so at least, there’s that. Expats are allowed overseas bank accounts but are still required to have a Portuguese bank account as well. It makes it much easier to pay for utilities and various taxes when you can just direct-deposit them from a local account.
Opening a Bank Account in Portugal
After moving to Portugal you must open a bank account. To open a bank account in Portugal, you must deposit a minimum of €250. Portugal banking hours are similar to the rest of the world, from Monday – Friday; 8.30am – 3 pm. You can open a current account (checking account) and a deposit account (savings account.)
Be sure to bring
- your passport
- any relevant visas
- residency permits
- proof of residence
- tax cards, etc.
Each bank may have slightly different requirements, so call ahead of time to double check. You can also apply for a bank account from outside of the country, provided that you submit an application by mail along with a reference letter from your current bank.
Once you’ve opened a bank account, you can get a multibanco card, which is akin to a debit or credit card that you can use at ATMs (“multibancos”) to withdraw cash.
Warning: make sure you never overdraw your account, because to do so is considered fraud in Portugal. Not only is bouncing a cheque illegal, but it can also get you blacklisted from the Banco de Portugal, as well as cost you 20% of whatever amount you were attempting to charge. Getting blacklisted means that you could quite possibly be prevented from opening up an account at any Portuguese bank, and that would be extremely inconvenient.
Accommodation: You Should Rent a House
Many expats are afraid of finding the right accommodation when moving to Portugal. Where should I look for a place? How much is the rent? How can I find the right location? - These are the most frequent questions every expat asks.
Generally, housing in Portugal is very similar to housing in other countries across Europe and finding the right and suitable accommodation in Portugal can be easier than everyone thinks. By suitable we mean: nice and spacious, easily reached by public transportation and affordable at the same time.
Portugal offers a great variety of housing options. Some of them are downtown blocks of flats with 1, 2 or 3-room apartments, private semi-detached houses, condominiums and villas. Depending on your budget, these are always available to anyone and can be rented out for at least 1 week.
Where to look
As Portugal is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, the best way to start hunting your accommodation is when you arrive here.
Many people try to find it online from abroad by using various Facebook groups such as [any city in Portugal] Rentals: find or post rooms. Although it seems like a good idea, it does not make any sense because of “first come first served” rule.
You may be interested in a certain room but if you can’t make it to the viewing meeting because you are not in this particular city/ town at the moment, there is no point in messaging the landlord. Thus, it is smarter to look to rent property in Portugal after your arrival - via Facebook expat groups, asking around or using one of Portuguese housing agencies. For the time of your hunting you can use AirBnB or Couchsurfing.
There are two types of rentals you will come across when moving to Portugal: 1)the short-term rental and 2)long-term leases. Because Portugal is visited by so many tourists and expats, short-term rentals are very easy to come by. There should be no problem with finding your accommodation for 2, 3 or even 4 weeks in less than 5 working days.
As for long-term rentals (6 months+), they are also available but not that advertised so you really need to make friends with locals and ask around. They will know how to help you. If you don’t know anyone in the city, the best idea is to visit a housing agency that may easily help you out with finding the right spot for at least half year. It usually costs approximately 100 euros for admin fees and you will be asked to pay one month's rent as deposit money.
Depending on the city you are moving into, there are two types of accommodation standards: newly built buildings and the old ones - all vary from the area you choose. New apartments are usually very neat and modern, fully furnished and located in a very quiet
New apartments are usually very neat and modern, fully furnished and located in a very quiet neighborhood. There should be:
- an air conditioning
- huge car park
- sometimes even an outside gym if you’re lucky enough.
The old apartments, some even built in 1970s, are usually located in the most historical areas of the city. The neighborhood might be busy and a bit overcrowded and you may come across many different problems such as:
- lack of air conditioning and / or central heating
- much higher rent prices due to location and architecture
- not enough space
- lack of car park
- noisy area filled often visited by many tourists (parties).
The majority of both standards should come well-furnished, but you should prepare yourself for buying some extra stuff like cutlery, towels, microwave, etc. To do so, you can either visit local Ikea store or, if you prefer, ship existing furniture from your home country.
Try to avoid living in very touristic areas. The prices of accommodation there are much higher and minor break-ins sometimes occur. Although modern apartments are fitted with deadlocks and shutters, the risk of being robbed is much higher than living a bit further from the city center. Besides, there is less noise and tourists around so you can enjoy your evenings with no screams. The best location for living in a Portuguese city would be somewhere nearby a local park, approximately 10-15 minutes by local transportation or 35-minute walk from the city center.
Renting one bedroom and a living room apartment in Lisbon costs more or less 600 euros per month, excluding bills. Such apartment would be located approximately 10 km from the city center in a quiet area with access to the car park and storage room. If you are interested in renting a single room in a shared apartment, you would pay 350 - 400 euros per month, including bills (water, central heating and wifi).
How to find a job in Portugal?
You've made a decision about moving to Portugal? Congrats! Now, when moving to a new country, finding a job is at the top of most people’s priority list.
If you hold an EU passport, fortunately, you can start working as soon as you enter the country as you don't require any additional work permit. If you're from outside of the EU you might have to check if your potential employer can sponsor your working visa or at least help you get it.
Most visas can be obtained from the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country, but if you're unsure if you need a visa, it’s always best to check before coming to Portugal.
Many people begin their job search before they leave for a new country, which is always a good idea. To gain an insight into the Portugal market and what kind of jobs are available, there are lots of outlets available. Portugal has a shortage of workers in many areas. Check out some of the jobs you can find though our platform.
As a foreigner, however, unless you speak Portuguese you might not get a specialized job in your field straight away, but if you already can speak good Portuguese, obviously you have more options and the combination of fluency in Portuguese and English is quite desirable. Keep in mind that the majority of Portuguese companies expect employees to have a basic knowledge of the Portuguese
Keep in mind that the majority of Portuguese companies expect employees to have a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language and therefore, your CV and cover letter should be written in Portuguese too. If you're not feeling confident enough to write it you can search some useful phrases online or simply ask a friend to proofread your CV for you. However, if you're moving to Portugal in order to either learn or improve your languages skill you might want to look into some hospitality jobs that won't require fluency in Portuguese.
With these kinds of jobs don’t worry about trying to sort out a job before you arrive, it will all work out once you get there. You can find plenty of job offers online, but since you might get an interview right away it's better to be in a country already.
The official legal minimum wage in Portugal might scare you at the first sight as it's only 589.17 euros per month with the average monthly wage is €985. However, you can still earn quite a decent amount of money on tips.
On a good night, whether you're working as a bartender, waiter or a chef, you can bring home up to 50 euros a day in cash. Another opportunity for an English speaker to get a job is teaching. Most schools will hire anyone with an internationally recognized TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Teachers are usually well looked after and although the salary isn’t all that high, you will usually be provided with health insurance and you will only have to work 22 hours a week.