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How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide

01 July 2022

If retirement in Europe is your big dream, then Portugal should definitely be on your list of possible new homes. Being one of the most affordable countries, Portugal offers something for everyone for those looking for a place in the sun. You’ll be blown out by breathtaking beaches, sunny picture-perfect capital, and stunning architecture with medieval castles. That is not to mention the lowest cost of living in Europe and a range of appealing tax benefits. So how to retire in Portugal? Well, Portugal Golden Visa is your best route to a happy retirement.

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

According to the Annual Global Retirement Index 2022, Portugal ranks fourth best country to retire, giving a pass only to Panama, Costa Rico, and Mexico. The country also presented itself well in Natixis Global Retirement Index and ECD Better Life Index, showing an above-average score of 75% for the quality of free healthcare, housing, and work/life balance.

Last but not least is the fact that Lisbon ranks 37 out of 231 cities according to Mercer’s Quality of Living Index. This is better than Paris, Madrid, and London.

From all of the above, it is easy to understand why so many ex-pats have chosen Portugal in order to enter a new and exciting phase of life.
And if you would like to join a thriving ex-pat community and those seeking a lively retirement, here are some basics you need to know first.

Did you know that in Portugal you could enjoy a decade of generous tax breaks?

Enjoy tax exemption on almost all foreign source income due to the NHR, one of the most favorable and competitive European tax regimes. A special draw of the NHR regime for high-net-worth individuals is that it is granted for 10 years!

Read our guide to taxes and get a free consultation to find out even more!

Who can retire in Portugal

To put it simply, everybody can spend their golden years in Portugal. However, the main difference lies in whether you are a citizen of the European Union or not.

EU citizens

If you are from the European Union or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) nation, then you don’t need to apply for a residence permit or visa. With the Portuguese Immigration Service, the process is quite straightforward. However, it is important that if you want to spend more than 3 months there, you must get a Registration Certificate from the Local Council of your place of residence. To start the immigration process in order to retire in Portugal, first, apply to SEF (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).

Non-EU citizens

Here the process is a bit more complicated. First, you need to get a Portuguese residence permit. You can do so with a Portugal Golden Visa, the program approved by the Portuguese government. Or you can do it by marriage, family reunification, or plenty of other methods. It’s up to you what to choose.

But if you are not lucky enough to have Portuguese relatives or a Portuguese spouse, we recommend using a Portugal Golden Visa route, as this is a fast-track route to gain residence rights and later apply for Portugal citizenship.

How to retire in Portugal

Well, it’s not such a big deal. Under the Portuguese law, non-EU citizens should provide the following documents:

  1. A valid passport
  2. Clear criminal record
  3. Proof of income
  4. Proof of health insurance

Want to connect with retirees?

Read an inspirational story of the US entrepreneur John Bondak who relocated to Portugal from the US

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

Moving to Portugal: permanent residency. The best destinations in Europe for a happy retirement

Portugal Visas and Residence Permits

As mentioned above, Portugal’s Golden Visa is a fast-track route to getting a temporary residence permit. Furthermore, this is the best way to start your retirement journey legally and with the best conditions.

What will you get with the Portugal Golden Visa

  1. The beneficial tax regime for 10 years
  2. The high-quality national healthcare system and access to medical services for basic health needs
  3. Quality of education
  4. No need to know the Portuguese language
  5. An opportunity to lower your local bills
  6. Beautiful beaches
  7. A chance to use real estate investments and make rental income
  8. The best climate in Europe
  9. Low cost of living
  10. Ideal spot for digital nomads
  11. The relaxed pace of life
  12. An opportunity to get to more than 180 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival
  13. Bring your family with you
  14. A chance to apply for Portuguese citizenship and become an EU citizen in 5 years

So if you want to get Portugal Golden Visa in order to retire in Portugal, you need to choose one of the options:

  1. Invest in real estate from €280,000
  2. Invest in funds from €500,000
  3. Invest in business from €500,000
  4. Capital transfer in government stocks/deposit from €1,500,000

If you want to know more about this program, do not hesitate to read this guide and get a free consultation!

HQA Visa

HQA Visa is often named a hybrid between the Portugal Golden Visa and a D7 Visa. HQA Visa enables future Portuguese permanent residents to establish a company in Portugal. This is done by investing a minimum of €175,000 in a new business.

What will you get with HQA Visa

  1. The fastest way to get EU citizenship
  2. Fast processing — from 2 months to get a permanent residence
  3. In case of rejection of the application, there is a full return on investments
  4. Beneficial tax status in Portugal (NHR) for 10 years
  5. A clear and transparent process for those who want to get Portuguese permanent residence
  6. Lower cost (as compared to the Portugal Golden Visa)
  7. No-risk refund policy
  8. Flexible program requirements
  9. Access to the Schengen zone
  10. Take all family members
  11. Free healthcare
  12. An opportunity to apply for Portuguese citizenship and become an EU citizen in 5 years

What do you need to get HQA Visa? Reach out to this guide and learn everything about the process! The minimum investment is €175,000.


Let’s see our best examples of Portuguese real estate and learn about conditions of funding to get the Portuguese Golden Visa! 

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis
How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

How much does it cost to retire in Portugal

We all want to retire on own terms. And money should be the last thing to worry about when going for a long rest. However, harsh retirement realities often put the cart before the horse. One reason for thinking ahead and choosing a place to retire is to protect your purchasing power and avoid running out of your retirement savings. Financial planning is truly important.

So how cheap is retirement in Portugal? Can you afford retirement in Portugal?

Most likely, yes. A couple can live comfortably at $1.500-1,700. The monthly retirement budget will be higher in larger cities like Lisbon but sometimes the Social Security benefit can cover all expenses.

Taxes for retirees

Portugal and tax incentives come hand in hand. Everyone wants to get long-term financial security and financial peace of mind. This is crucial to help you enjoy your retirement years. So in Portugal, you can easily benefit from all the years of pension contributions.

First, this is about an NHR regime. The Portuguese government recently introduced a discounted 10% flat income tax rate, which will be available for those who have applied for NHR and were not tax residents in the country in recent years.

Quick note: You will be considered a tax resident if you decide to stay here for more than 183 days.

Another benefit is that Portugal has double treaties with many countries, which could help you avoid double taxation. Last but not least is the fact in Portugal, there is no wealth tax, gift tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax.

However, one should note that all tax residents in Portugal should pay a tax on their worldwide income.

Exploring the tax system of another country may be a great challenge. We’ll help you to break it down with this guide.

Want to know more about the beneficial tax regime NHR?

This guide will explain you everything you need to know, including how to make sure you’re eligible

Where to retire in Portugal

Portugal has many options for retirement, and each one has its own distinct ambiance.

Below you’ll see the TOP-5 best places to retire to with a short review of each region.

5 best places to retire in Portugal

Retire in Algarve

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

Algarve is named the World’s Number 1 Retirement Haven. This region obtained this rank 3 years in a row, so this place has a long-standing reputation as a perfect spot where you can stretch your Social Security payment!

Being very popular with English-speaking ex-pats, Algarve is chosen by 100,000 retirees living in this place alone. Many of them are British. However, Portuguese people are extremely welcoming, making you feel right at home.

With very little crime, this region is recognized as a top golf destination. And there’s plenty to do besides that.

Retire in Lisbon

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

Lisbon has everything you want in such a thriving major city near the Atlantic ocean. In fact, the cost of living in this town is just a bargain when you consider the quality of life it buys.

But keep in mind that Lisbon’s popularity stands high. From busy shopping districts in the city center to diverse local communities, this place is the most expensive to buy real estate. The cost of a square meter here is €3,252, which is higher than in other regions. Even so, expenses are lower than in the other European capitals like London or Paris.

Some cons of retiring in this city include a large number of tourists, especially in July and August, and a high cost of living compared to other Portuguese regions.

Retire in Porto

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

Retiring in Porto creates a sense of perpetual vacation.

There is no need to have a car, as Porto can be called a walkable city. You can get lost in the magic of century-old streets, then switch and get to the busy streets. Porto is an ideal fit for wine lovers. Here you can visit the Port wine Cellars and taste its wine.

While being the second largest in the country, it’s no surprise that you won’t have many issues speaking just English. Getting by as a non-native speaker here is easy. Porto was elected Second best city in 2021 and awarded as European Leading Destination 2018.

Of course, Porto is not such a vibrant place as Lisbon, but much like a wine, you need some time to take to appreciate it.


How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

Madeira is the third-best island in Europe, according to the famous web page TripAdvisor. Madeira offers a taste of life with a Portuguese twist. This place combines all the benefits of island life and mainland Portugal. A laid-back lifestyle is ideal for those who seek peace and quiet. At the same time, Madeira is near the mainland, and this will keep you close to Africa and Europe for business purposes or simple tourist trips if necessary.

In Madeira, you do not need alarm clocks. Instead, a guaranteed daily vitamin D dose will fill you with energy. Last but not least is that Madeira is a TOP choice of British retirees.

Still not convinced? We want to say that all Azore Islands present a relaxing alternative Portuguese lifestyle in a beautiful island setting, and all of them are perfect for retirement.

Centre of Portugal

How to retire in Portugal: Definitive Guide — Migronis

The Centre of Portugal is similar to the northern part. There are also many beautiful beaches and natural parks, of which Serra da Estrela is the most famous. Here you can also find the highest peak in mainland Portugal and the only ski track in the country.

The biggest cities here are Santarem, Aveiro, Leiria, Viseu, Castelo Branco, Guarda, and Coimbra. It is always better to stay on the coastline and choose a place close to the big city, so you will have access to all the necessary services.

Retiring in Portugal: Pros and Cons

Retiring in Portugal is the best way to satisfy your wanderlust after a long time of hard tiring work. Portugal is a go-to place for many people. However, like any other country, it has its own pros and cons, and only you can decide whether you want to come here or not.

Let’s be candid with each other. We’ll show what numerous retirees love about Portugal. It is evident that it can’t all be rainbows and sunshine but stick around till the end to find everything about retiring in this country.

Benefits of retiring in Portugal

  1. Low cost of living.
    The cost of living in Portugal is significantly lower than in most European countries.
    For example, the monthly costs for one person are €543.64 (without rent). This means that the monthly cost of living and a monthly budget in Portugal is, on average, 37.64% lower than for people from the USA or Canada.
    Even the cost of real estate is lower. So your purchasing power would be much higher with pension income in Portugal than in other European countries.
  2. The best climate in Europe with more than 300 sunny days per year
    These are not just empty words. Actually, Algarve was recognized as the region with the best climate in Europe. This place is never too warm or too cold and rarely humid. So here, you can enjoy mild winters and endless summers with temperatures ranging between about 60°F and 90°F. It is a perfect choice for European sun-seekers and those who want to escape Northern Europe’s coldest months.
  3. Tax exemption
    The truth is that all that free time when retiring costs money! Strategic tax planning can certainly help. However, the place you reside can make a significant difference to retirement income.
    American retirees from non-EU countries (and not only they) can pay taxes at lower rates in Portugal. All this is due to the beneficial NHR regime, which gives 10 years of tax holidays, including a flat 10% tax rate for most foreign pension income.
  4. High-quality health care
    It is no secret that with age comes a necessity to pay closer attention to your health. Portugal is ready to boast excellent, quality healthcare across the public and private sectors.
    The first step to getting service here is to get private health insurance. This is important to obtain a residence permit, as private insurance allows one to demonstrate that you would not be a burden to the state by arriving ill or not having adequate coverage. So, according to the apparent paradox, to get health insurance, you need to get health insurance, and once you move to Portugal, you can switch it to Portuguese, which is cheaper than its US counterpart.
    From GP services to maternity, NHS is ready to deal with everything and do it for free. Moreover, the NHS system is based on equality, so you would have the same rights as natives and would be able to access free healthcare, just like Portuguese citizens.
    It is important that Madeira and Azores are not covered by the National Health Services (NHS) operating their own systems.
    Private healthcare is also cheaper than in Western Europe. For example, a simple doctor’s visit would cost €50 in Portugal and $100 in the United States. A hip replacement would be €4,000 in Portugal and €40,000 in the US. A big difference, does it?
  5. Hospitality
    Portuguese citizens are known for their hospitality. They are always ready to receive others with great joy and warmly welcome people from other countries who decide to settle there.
  6. Fantastic real estate opportunities
    Portugal’s property market is huge. Considering that with the Portugal Golden Visa, you’re welcome to buy any real estate, which meets the conditions (in order to get residency in Portugal, one of the EU countries), it is important to say that Portugal offers many apartments for unbeatable prices. Real estate is here a valuable commodity and stays like this in turbulent markets.
  7. Good food and good wine
    There is no doubt that you will be well served in Portugal. Finally stepping out of the shadow of other EU countries, Portugal’s cuisine is famous for its delicious seafood. Portuguese food is a reflection of exploring the state and its geographic location.
    Interestingly, the Azores have the only commercial tea plantation in Europe. The islands can also boast a unique type of wine — green.
  8. Security
    According to the Global Peace Index de 2020, Portugal sets 1st in the ranking of the countries that are the safest in the EU. Most crimes here are non-violent, and locals can walk at night with no issue at all. But of course, it is always advisable to take appropriate precautions.

Drawbacks of retiring in Portugal

  1. Portuguese bureaucracy
  2. Difficulties in understanding a double taxation
  3. A high influx of tourists (in Lisbon, Porto, and some other high-density areas)
  4. The slow pace of life
  5. Getting used to different cuisine

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Portugal a good place for retirement?

Yes, Portugal is one of the best options for retirement. Due to the low cost of living and tax incentives, retirees from all over the world come to settle here.

Does Portugal have a retirement visa?

There are two main routes for non-EU citizens — the Retirement Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa.

Can I retire in Portugal as an EU citizen?

Sure, no barriers prevent you from retiring in Portugal, even if you are from other European countries.

Can I retire in Portugal as a US citizen?

Nothing can prevent you from retiring in Portugal, but first, you must apply for a Portuguese residency.

Can I retire in Portugal as a Canadian citizen?

Canadian citizens are entitled to spend their newfound free time in Portugal in retirement.

Where do most ex-pats live in Portugal?

Lisbon is the most popular place to retire abroad. However, there are also many other good areas in Portugal.

Portugal — a vibrant place of crypto life in the world

Did you know that Portugal hosts a lot of crypto-focused events? (such as the Solana Conference and Web Summit). This helps bring more crypto luminaries and make this country literally a home for crypto-minded people! 

Want to join this thriving Portuguese crypto community? Then Portugal Golden Visa is just what you need!

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