Retiring in Portugal: a complete guide
A great healthcare system, low cost of living and abundance of beautiful locations makes Portugal a wonderful place to live.
wonderful place to live.
Life as a retiree in Portugal combines a multitude of benefits. As one of the safest countries in the world, you can enjoy a peaceful existence whether you opt for urban or rural life.
The cost of living is significantly lower than in the States, and the healthcare system is known to be excellent. Plus, public transport is efficient, and in the more densely populated areas, many locals speak English.
What is the average cost of retiring in Portugal?
The cost of living in Portugal is approximately 29 percent lower than in the US. Of course, this statistic comes with the caveat that your monthly outgoings will depend heavily on the lifestyle you want to lead as a retiree and the location in which you want to retire.
In a smaller Portuguese city, you could get by comfortably on around $1,400 monthly. This would increase to approximately $2,000 per month if you lived in one of the country’s major cities, like Lisbon.
Weighing up your finances is a crucial part of retirement planning, and the age you retire may influence the lifestyle you can afford.
What visas do I need to retire in Portugal?
Visas are an important consideration when moving to a foreign country. Portugal’s visa system is similar to others in the European Union, with a relatively easy application process. This is no accident; in recent years, the Portuguese government has made the process less complex to make expatriate retirees feel more welcome.
You'll need to visit your nearest consulate to apply for a Portuguese resident’s permit. Alongside an application form, you’ll also need to provide various documents that offer proof of identity, income and health insurance. A successful application will grant you a temporary resident’s permit that lasts five years. Once this expires, you can reapply for a permanent permit.
There is a way of fast-tracking your citizenship application, but this is only available to applicants with significant wealth. This “golden visa” program is available under certain requirements, which include:
Investment of €500,000 or more into scientific research
Purchasing of real estate worth €500,000 or more
Making a transfer of €1.5 million or more into a Portuguese bank account
Where are the best locations in Portugal to retire?
Everyone has their idea of a perfect retirement spot, ranging from a sleepy fishing town on the coast to urban sprawls bursting with culture and excitement. But Portugal can offer both in equal measure, along with charming historic towns and beach resorts, too.
If your chosen location depends on your financial situation, it’s best to do additional research to find the perfect spot for you. However, some of the most popular locations for retirees to move include:
Madeira and the Azores
What are my healthcare options in Portugal?
Portugal’s healthcare system is widely considered to be excellent. The national health service – Serviço Nacional de Saude – offers free healthcare to Portuguese nationals, so once you have a permanent resident visa, you can utilize this.
In the meantime, private healthcare plans can come at a fraction of the price you’ll face in the US. They start at around €50 per month, although prices can increase with age. Still, the figures are generally far smaller than what you may be expected to pay stateside.
Understanding the housing market in Portugal
As with anywhere, the price of renting or buying a property in Portugal can vary depending on the location.
Smaller, less urban towns or villages will cost far less than internationally renowned cities like Lisbon and Porto, for example. However, even in Portuguese cities, housing costs are generally lower than in many US places, with monthly rent coming in at an average of $1,000.
What happens to my retirement benefits if I retire in Portugal?
You’ll still be eligible for Social Security payments in the same way as in the US. So, if you would’ve received them back in the States, then the same would apply were you to live in Portugal.
In the same vein, you’ll still be taxed on your income if you move abroad. As a retiree living in Portugal, you won’t be exempt from filing your tax returns as expected in the US.
The bottom line
Retirement in Portugal is an attractive prospect. Not only can you enjoy the European sun all year round, but the cost of living is lower than in the USA. Depending on the lifestyle you want to lead, retiring to Portugal could be well within your grasp, particularly when the visa process isn’t too complex. Before making any firm moves, though, it can help to speak to an expert to weigh up your options.
It’s always worth consulting a financial expert when making significant life decisions like moving abroad – so why not speak to a financial advisor and get their take? A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.
Senior Content Writer
Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.