Cascais: why this city in Portugal is so popular with expats?

Cascais: why this city in Portugal is so popular with expats?

Vikram Iyer
5 July 2023

Cascais has become Portugal's largest expat hub for a reason. Its popularity is the result of systematic joint work of the authorities and locals, who have set themselves the goal of making the city as attractive as possible for immigrants.

What makes Cascais unique is its combination of safety, transportation accessibility, a developed community, a wide range of international schools and excellent ecology. And this is not a complete list of its advantages.

Developed expat community

Moving with your family to a new country can be daunting with its uncertainty. That's why people often prefer to move to places where they know what to expect. These are usually locations where there is already a strong expat community and it is easy to make social connections with those who have already moved and can share their experiences. It is Cascais' active multinational community that contributes to the fact that new immigrants and digital nomads often consider it as a first option on par with Lisbon.

Preliminary data for 2021 shows a sharp increase in the foreign population in Cascais. Between 2011 and 2021, the city's population increased by 3.5% and the number of foreign residents by more than 53%. Emigrants from about 100 countries make up about 16% of the city's population.

Because of this multiculturalism, there is virtually no language barrier in Cascais. “English is so widespread in Cascais that, to be honest, I'm even too lazy to learn Portuguese. That's a big plus," says Migronis founder and Cascais resident Anatoly Letaev.

Whatever you're looking for - the best schools for your kids, the best grocery stores or weekend getaway ideas - it's easier to get information when you're in an active community of other immigrants. The dynamic expat community provides invaluable support for those who have recently relocated.

Great environment

Local authorities strategically avoid any changes that could affect the quality of life in Cascais.

For example, a third of Cascais is a national park, an area protected from construction. There will never be mass residential or industrial development here.

Also, local laws prioritize the preservation of open spaces and authentic architecture. Cascais has height restrictions for new buildings, which should help preserve the special atmosphere of a resort town.

The authorities also carefully focus on quality over quantity for future growth and development. Instead of promoting big factories employing low-wage workers, the town seeks to attract reputable higher-education institutions, highly-skilled workers, and entrepreneurs.

Cascais authorities clarified that they favor technology-oriented startups that benefit the community over polluting factories employing low-skilled workers. Instead of promoting large factories, the city seeks to attract solid universities, highly skilled professionals, and entrepreneurs. Thanks to strict building regulations, a ban on high-rise buildings and a commitment to the green agenda, Cascais remains a place with clean air and unspoiled nature.

Safety and security

Benefits such as friendly locals, expat community and beautiful environment will not matter, there are immigrants and their families will not feel safe.

The good news is that Portugal in general, and Cascais in particular, are literally the safest locations in Western Europe. Since 2017, Portugal has consistently ranked among the best countries for safety, from the second safest country in 2017 to the sixth safest country in the world in 2022. In comparison, Spain is ranked 31st, Italy 32nd and France 55th in the Global Safety Index 2022.

To ensure the well-being of residents of different nationalities, Cascais has created three police units with English-speaking officers.

To understand how safe Cascais really is, the experiences of locals can help. Here is what Anatoliy Lyetayev says, “When dining in a restaurant, I can safely leave my phone or even my wallet on the table without worrying that someone might steal it. I often don't lock my car, and I don't worry if I suddenly leave my house unlocked".

It speaks volumes about the town's safety when even the country's President can freely walk around without needing guards or security personnel. Anatoliy further highlights this by recalling an exciting incident, "Last year, I took a picture with the President of Portugal right on the beach in Cascais. He also lives in this city and walks without guards. Seeing him living in this city and walking without guards indirectly reflects the high level of security here."

All this makes Cascais a truly ideal destination for immigrants looking for tranquility and security.

Proximity to Lisbon

Cascais is a smart choice for busy professionals as it is in the same time zone as London and Lisbon. It's a convenient time zone, allowing you to work with European countries and the US as well as Asian countries.

You can get to the center of Lisbon from Cascais in half an hour by train or a little faster by car. Although there may be traffic jams at the entrance to the city, they are incomparable to traffic jams in the steep European metropolitan areas. Surprisingly, people who live in the same city as their place of work, such as New York or Hong Kong, can get to work more than those who commute to Lisbon from Cascais for work!

Cascais is also a strategic choice for frequent travelers, as it boasts a convenient location within a 15-20 minute drive to Lisbon International Airport. The excellent road network and seamless connections to major cities around the world make it ideal for entrepreneurs and senior executives who travel frequently for work.

Living in Cascais gives you the best of both worlds, providing easy access to Lisbon's infrastructure, entertainment, shopping and nightlife, while avoiding the drawbacks of living in a bustling city.

Diverse leisure activities

Cascais is easy to get around on foot and by public transportation. Also, the city has a very developed network of bicycle lanes and bicycle infrastructure. You can easily reach secluded beaches by bicycle.

There's plenty to do outdoors: seven golf courses, 16 museums, two city parks, a riding school and a long walking path along the Atlantic coastline ensure you won't want to stay at home.

There are also plenty of options for those who want to explore the country on the weekend. For example, within an hour and a half's drive are Nazaré, which beckons surfers with its famous colossal waves, and Aveiro, known as Portugal's Venice. History buffs can enjoy the ancient fortifications of Obidos or head to the atmospheric fishing town of Setubal.


International education for children

Access to quality education is crucial for immigrants, especially when it comes to ensuring a child's smooth transition between educational systems. Cascais has many options to suit different needs, making it much easier to choose a school and program for children.

There are now nine international schools in Cascais, with more coming soon. Well-established schools such as King's College School, Cascais, St John's School and Saint Dominic's International School are popular, along with recently opened options such as Aprendizes and Brave Generation Academy.

These schools offer a variety of academic programs including British, American and International Baccalaureate. There are also schools here that work on the Montessori system. Tuition for kindergarteners ranges from €9,000 to €12,000 per year. For high school students, fees can range from €14,000 to €16,000 per year.

In addition, Cascais aims to become a center of higher education. Along with renowned institutions such as the Nova School of Business & Economics, which is considered one of the best in the world, it is home to the Estoril Higher Institute of Tourism and Hospitality and the Alcoitão School of Health Sciences.

Cascais offers many opportunities, but you need to realize that along with the increased interest from expats, these benefits are also driving up house prices. Property prices in Cascais can range from €1.35 million to €1.65 million for a three-bedroom house of 350-400 m2. Monthly rent for the same house can reach €9,000-10,000. The cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment starts from €2000.

However, these prices do not exceed what New Yorkers pay without the benefits of living on the ocean in the midst of magnificent nature. Factors such as proximity to the capital, coastal location and safety make Cascais a good alternative to the big and noisy cities.

If you are planning to move to Portugal and are looking for a safe and welcoming place for you and your family, Cascais should definitely be at the top of your list.

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