Living Your Dream: Immigrant Retirement in Portugal

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Deciding to retire abroad is a major life choice. To make it and enjoy the outcomes, you’ll have to weigh numerous factors. Be it climate, cost of living, healthcare, or overall quality of life, there is no way to lean toward any particular factor over others: they are all equally important. It is no secret that Portugal, with its mild Mediterranean climate, affordable living costs, and rich cultural heritage, has become a popular retirement destination for many expatriates. There is certainly a valid reason for it. In 2024, the allure of retiring in Portugal remains strong. Yet, choosing the right region to live in when you retire is a hugely important decision and to have no regrets afterward, contemplating both the associated perks and challenges is a must.

So, why Portugal?

Portugal meets you with its warm climate boasting over 300 days of sunshine annually. This is an ideal place for those who prefer sunny and pleasant weather. The country’s diverse landscapes, from the stunning beaches of the Algarve to the verdant hills of the Douro Valley, offer a picturesque backdrop for a peaceful retirement.

The cost of living in Portugal is relatively low compared to other Western European states. A couple can live comfortably on an estimated EUR 2,000 per month, which includes housing, utilities, food, and leisure activities. This affordability extends to real estate, with reasonable property prices, especially outside large urban centers.

Healthcare in Portugal is of high quality and accessible, with both public and private options available. The country’s national health service (SNS) provides comprehensive coverage, and many retirees opt for additional private health insurance to make sure they will have access to a broader range of services and shorter waiting times. Here, you will also find several leading clinics that specialize in age-related diseases. Plus, you’ll be happy to learn that the cost of medical procedures in Portugal is generally lower than in many other European nations.

If you are a culture lover, Portugal will amaze you with its blend of traditional and modern experiences. From historic towns and monuments to contemporary art galleries and festivals, there is always something to explore.

Tax considerations

One of the significant advantages that drew retirees to Portugal was the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) initiative, which provided tax benefits for approximately ten years. However, with the closure of the NHR program to new applicants at the end of 2023, retirees moving to Portugal in 2024 will need to consider standard tax rates, which are rather high. Despite this, Portugal still offers attractive tax incentives for seniors, especially those involved in high-value activities related to scientific research and innovation, the industries that the amended NHR regulations directly target.

Residency and visas

For non-EU citizens, Portugal offers retirement visas, e.g., the D7 visa, which is ideal if you have a stable source of passive income, like pensions or rental income. The Golden Visa program is another option, allowing retirees to make a qualifying investment in the country and potentially apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years. However, please, keep in mind that in October 2023, Portugal’s Golden Visa Program underwent significant revisions. NB: These amendments do not apply retroactively and will not impact applications already submitted. Moving forward, the program will no longer include real estate acquisitions or investments in real estate-related funds as eligible options to qualify.

Joys and challenges of living in Portugal

It is true that Portugal offers many perks to admire, and it may make you feel like you are in a true paradise. Especially so if you happen to be one of the folks in love with a relaxed way of life. Yet, like with everything else, there are things here you won’t probably enjoy as much.

For deeper integration into the local culture and handling your day-to-day administrative tasks, some basic Portuguese is a necessity so most likely you’ll have to learn it. Some expatriates also find the bureaucratic processes in Portugal quite frustrating and eventually decline the idea of moving to the jurisdiction for good.

Everyday mundane things and routines may also be an issue. Some are completely unaware that Portuguese homes often have no central heating. This is likely to become an unpleasant surprise, especially during the cooler months. Although for sure the country has its climate variations and it is important to choose a location that suits your preferences to have no regrets in the future.

In metropolitan areas of Portugal, the public transportation system is rather developed and it successfully caters to the majority of urban dwellers’ requirements. However, in rural regions, the situation is significantly more challenging. Frequently, the absence of a personal vehicle or access to car-sharing services is a major inconvenience. Plus, don’t forget that Portugal’s roads are often perilous and winding, a characteristic attributed to the unique nature of the country’s terrain.

Retiring in Portugal: what to expect

Immigrant retirees in Portugal in 2024 may find a life filled with cultural richness, leisure, and relaxation here. The local expatriate community is thriving, with many retirees from around the world calling Portugal home. This creates a supportive network for newcomers, easing the transition and providing opportunities for socializing and community involvement.

Whatever you might want you will most likely get it in Portugal as an immigrant retiree. Get ready to indulge in the world-renowned Mediterranean diet, enjoy the country’s excellent wines, and participate in various activities, from golfing to hiking. Portugal’s cities and towns offer a blend of historical charm and modern amenities, providing you with every opportunity to access everything you need for a comfortable lifestyle.

Not sure what region to choose? The Algarve remains a top choice due to its warmer climate, stunning beaches, and large expat community. Alternatively, for those seeking tranquility and a taste of authentic Portuguese culture, the Alentejo region offers unspoiled landscapes and a quieter lifestyle. Urban retirees might prefer the cultural richness and historical charm of cities like Lisbon or Porto. It is safe to say that In Portugal, you will find a perfect retiree haven in each region of the country.

Still not sure about your retirement choices and options in Portugal? Contact the International Wealth team and get all the answers you need!