Relocating to Portugal- How to move to Portugal
The Concise Expat Guide on Relocating to Portugal
Key questions to ask yourself are: How much is the cost of living in Portugal? Will I be able to find a job in Portugal? And, how can I find rent a place in Portugal? I made the big move just a few years ago, and here’s what I wish I’d known before I relocated to Lisbon. You need to know exactly how to move to Portugal and what life as an expat in Portugal will truly look like.
Relocating to Portugal: Residency
Paperwork is hell, but here’s the need to knows. If you’re an EU resident you can travel visa-less, for an indefinite stay in Portugal. If you’re from Canada, Australia or the US you can stay (but not work) for up to 90 days without a visa.
For long term stays (and aren’t you in it for the long haul?) you’ll need a residence permit, that lasts 1 year and can be extended. After 5 years you can apply for Permanent Residency . You also need to register at your closest Câmara Municipal (city hall)- do this early in the morning and bring a book to read in the queue.
Portugal provides everyone who is resident with universal healthcare, so thumbs up to that! Luckily, I never had cause to use it.
Relocating to Portugal: How much does it cost to live in Lisbon?
Not too pricey, at least in comparison to many English-speaking countries. Believe me, Paris was much pricier too. However, the minimum wage translates to around 530 a month from 2016, and that is hard for both locals and foreigners. Funnily enough, I taught very few Portuguese students while in Lisbon, but numerous Angolan or Brazilian expats- language classes are a great way to integrate if you have moved abroad.
Here are some of the costs:
A month’s transport pass: 36 euros
A month’s ADSL internet: 25 euros
Meal for 2 in an average place: 30 euros
Renting a 1 bedroom flat in Lisbon per month: 600 euros
A loaf of bread: around 1 euro, and feeding yourself on 10-15 euros a day is very doable
A museum ticket: 7- 9 euros, but many offer free entry on particular days of the month which is perfect for those who have emigrated to Portugal
A beer in a bar: around 2 euros
Relocating to Portugal: Finding accommodation
Strolling around Lisbon you will see an array of derelict properties like this. Locals tell me that they are held in rent control agreements, so the tenants cannot be charged more rent or asked to leave. The landlords tend to give up renovating and let the place decay until the day when the rent can be raised. You can see an example of this from Lisbon in the photo above.
Even if you eventually plan to buy a house or villa, rent first to put down roots and get your bearings. I rented via AirBnB initially as a lodger and that allowed me to move into a shared house as I met people and searched local adverts. AirBnB protects you with offers of a refund, so it’s the perfect option if you are too far away to come and actually see a property before you arrive.
Some good areas in Lisbon to try would be Baixa and Chiado- the central areas, Alfama- where quaint tourist shops and gorgeous cafes abound, Lapa and Madragoa for pricier but calm family housing. You may want to visit but not actually live in the most famous nightlife suburb- Bairro Alto. Or, if, like me, you are a broke traveller with a dream you may rent in the more budget suburbs such as Belem or Cascais.
Relocating to Portugal: Work
Moving to Portugal won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, not least because spring after relocating to Lisbon was really rainy!
The easiest source for flexible casual work was Olx.pt, with Ocasiao.Pt a runner up. These are great ad sites which are very active, and so long as I kept my prices fair I always got great responses. A friend of mine began to run an extremely successful freelance service as a tour guide and trip planner for visitors to Lisbon.
Other Tips for Finding Work in Portugal:
- Tourism is a vital industry in Portugal, as an expat can you use your second language to find work?
- Nokia, Samsung and Portuguese Telecom all run large companies in Lisbon
- You may be able to have your international qualifications legitimised in Portugal through the Bologna Process
Keen to visit short term and not ready to live yet? Take a look at this 3 Day Itinerary to Lisbon.
Cover image adapted from @ Flickr CC-BY 2.0 . Got a question? Tweet me or leave a comment below!