Moving to Portugal: Your Next Expat Adventure!

moving to Portugal - Porto feature image

Are you dreaming of picturesque coastlines, charming villages, and a vibrant cultural scene? Well, look no further than Portugal – a land that has been capturing the hearts of expats from all over the world, including our friends from Canada, the USA, and other European Union countries. Join us as we explore the irresistible reasons why so many are choosing to call Portugal home!

Unveiling Portugal’s Allure

Picture this: golden beaches stretching into the horizon, bustling city streets adorned with historical wonders, and a rich tapestry of traditions and festivals. That’s Portugal in a nutshell! This small but mighty nation has a magnetic pull that draws people in like a siren song.

Calling All Canucks: Why Canadians Love Portugal

Oh, Canada, you’ll find a piece of home in Portugal! Canadian expats are lured by the warm climate, friendly locals, and a more affordable cost of living compared to some parts of Canada. Don’t worry if you’re not fluent in Portuguese – many Portuguese speak English, making the transition smoother than maple syrup.

Plus, Portugal’s growing economy offers exciting job opportunities, especially in technology and tourism sectors. And let’s not forget the delicious wine, seafood, and pastel de nata – a true paradise for foodies! The welcoming atmosphere and the strong sense of community make Portugal feel like an extension of Canada, but with a delightful European twist!

Visa Requirements

Lucky for Canadians, Portugal offers various visa options catering to different needs and circumstances. As a Canadian citizen, you can enter Portugal as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. For longer stays, there are a few visa options to consider:

  1. Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV): This visa is perfect for retirees or individuals looking to live in Portugal without engaging in any paid work. To qualify, you’ll need to demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself and comprehensive health insurance coverage. The NLV allows you to stay in Portugal for up to one year, and it’s renewable for additional periods.
  2. D7 Visa for Passive Income: The D7 visa is ideal for individuals with steady passive income sources, such as pensions, rental income, or investments. With this visa, you can reside in Portugal and enjoy the country’s lifestyle without the need for traditional employment.
  3. Freelancer Visa (Digital Nomad Visa): If you’re a digital nomad or freelancer, Portugal has a visa option tailored just for you. The Freelancer Visa enables remote workers to work from Portugal legally for up to one year. To qualify, you’ll need to prove that you can support yourself financially and have the means to work remotely.


As a resident of Portugal, you’ll have access to the country’s public healthcare system, known for its high standard of care. You’ll need to register at your local health center to access these services. Additionally, Portugal has a dual private-public healthcare system, and many expats, including Canadians, choose private health insurance to complement their public coverage, ensuring they have access to private clinics and English-speaking medical professionals.

Hello Americans! Why Many are Flocking to Portugal

Hey, Americans! Portugal is your European haven. The country’s welcoming atmosphere and mild weather have charmed many, making it an appealing destination for retirees, digital nomads, and young professionals alike.

With English widely spoken, you’ll have an easier time navigating the day-to-day while you soak up the rich history and diverse landscapes. And guess what? Portugal also offers a special tax regime for foreign retirees, which can be a huge financial perk for those looking to enjoy their golden years surrounded by beauty and charm.

Visa Requirements

For American citizens, Portugal also offers an attractive visa process. Similar to Canadians, Americans can enter Portugal as tourists for up to 90 days without a visa. For longer stays, there are several visa options to consider:

  1. D7 Visa for Passive Income: Similar to the Canadian D7 visa, this option is perfect for individuals with passive income streams who wish to reside in Portugal without engaging in regular employment.
  2. Freelancer Visa (Digital Nomad Visa): The Freelancer Visa is a great fit for American digital nomads and freelancers looking to base themselves in Portugal while working remotely.

Photo courtesy of iVisa

In search of a VISA to a specific country? Contact iVisa for support.


Portugal’s healthcare system is renowned for its quality, making it a significant draw for American expats. As a resident, you’ll be eligible for public healthcare, and many Americans find the system to be affordable and efficient. While English is not as widely spoken in public healthcare facilities, major cities often have English-speaking doctors and medical staff. Some Americans choose to maintain private health insurance for additional peace of mind and to access private healthcare options.

EU Citizens: Your Smooth Move to Portugal

Fellow Europeans, rejoice! Thanks to the EU’s freedom of movement, relocating to Portugal is a breeze. Embrace the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle and enjoy seamless integration into the Portuguese community.

From the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley to the bustling streets of Lisbon, Portugal offers diverse experiences for every EU expat. Plus, Portugal’s central location makes it the perfect launching pad for exploring the rest of Europe. For EU nationals, Portugal’s allure lies in its ease of transition and the opportunity to explore a vibrant country with a rich history and culture.

Visa Requirements

For citizens of other EU countries, relocating to Portugal is relatively straightforward, thanks to the EU’s freedom of movement. As an EU national, you have the right to live and work in Portugal without a visa or residence permit. Simply register with your local town hall within the first few months of arriving, and you’ll be all set to enjoy the Portuguese way of life.


As an EU national, you’ll be eligible for public healthcare in Portugal, just like Portuguese citizens. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a replacement Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will provide you with access to necessary medical treatment during your stay. Some EU nationals opt for private health insurance for additional coverage or faster access to healthcare services.

Living Healthy and Happy in Portugal

No matter which country you’re coming from, you can rest assured that Portugal prioritizes the health and well-being of its residents and expats. The country’s excellent healthcare facilities, combined with a generally healthy Mediterranean lifestyle, contribute to Portugal’s reputation as one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for expats.

With a range of visa options catering to various circumstances, including digital nomads and freelancers, and comprehensive healthcare options available, you can focus on embracing the captivating Portuguese lifestyle. Whether you’re basking on the sun-kissed beaches, savoring delectable cuisine, or immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, Portugal is sure to capture your heart and make you feel right at home.
So, what are you waiting for? Embrace the adventure, discover the magic of Portugal, and start an exciting new chapter of your life in this beautiful and welcoming land!

Living the Portuguese Dream

Are you curious about the Portuguese lifestyle? Time seems to slow down in this enchanting country, where family and friends are cherished, and every meal is a celebration. Embrace the ‘work-to-live’ mindset and savor the moments spent sipping wine on sun-kissed terraces.

The Portuguese Lifestyle and Culture

Portuguese Way of Life

Get ready to embrace the Portuguese way of life – a delightful blend of history, tradition, and a relaxed Mediterranean vibe. The Portuguese are known for their warm hospitality, genuine friendliness, and strong sense of community. Family values are cherished, and gatherings with loved ones over a delicious meal are an essential part of daily life.

Portugal’s pace of life is refreshingly laid-back, allowing you to savor each moment and truly appreciate the little pleasures. You’ll find yourself adopting the art of “saudade,” a uniquely Portuguese term expressing a bittersweet longing for something cherished in the past or yet to come. As you immerse yourself in the local culture, you’ll discover that the Portuguese treasure moments of connection, joy, and togetherness above all else.

Cultural Events and Traditions that Expats Can Embrace

Living in Portugal means experiencing a rich tapestry of cultural events and traditions that will captivate your heart and soul. Throughout the year, Portugal comes alive with vibrant festivals and celebrations, each with its own unique flair. From religious processions to colorful carnivals, the Portuguese embrace their traditions with infectious enthusiasm.

One of the most iconic Portuguese celebrations is the Festa de São João, held on June 23rd and 24th in Porto. This joyful festival is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and is marked by lively street parties, music, dancing, and the joyful practice of hitting each other on the head with plastic hammers!

Carnival is another spectacle not to be missed, with cities like Loulé and Torres Vedras hosting extravagant parades and masked revelry. And let’s not forget the stunning Holy Week processions that take place throughout the country, displaying a profound sense of faith and devotion.

As an expat, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in these festivities, embracing the Portuguese way of life with open arms. Join in the revelry, witness the unique customs, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Local Cuisine and Food Culture

Prepare your taste buds for a gastronomic journey like no other! Portuguese cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors, influenced by centuries of maritime exploration and cultural exchanges. Fresh seafood takes center stage in dishes like grilled sardines, bacalhau (salted cod), and succulent prawns. Pair these delectable delights with a glass of locally produced vinho verde or a rich Douro wine, and you’ll be in foodie heaven!

Indulge in hearty stews like cozido à portuguesa, a flavorful meat and vegetable dish, or sip on caldo verde, a comforting soup made with kale and potatoes. And of course, no culinary experience in Portugal is complete without sampling the beloved pastel de nata, a delectable custard tart with a crispy, flaky crust.

Beyond the culinary delights, food culture in Portugal revolves around the joy of sharing meals with family and friends. Long, leisurely lunches and dinners that stretch into the evening are the norm, offering ample time to savor both the cuisine and the company. So, don’t be shy to partake in the lively conversations and create lasting bonds over shared dishes.

As an expat in Portugal, you’ll be embraced by a culinary culture that celebrates tradition, flavor, and the joy of coming together over a good meal. Indulge in the local fare, explore new tastes, and let the Portuguese cuisine become an integral part of your daily life.

Living in Portugal means immersing yourself in a lifestyle that cherishes heritage, celebrates life’s simple pleasures, and embraces the present with open arms. Embrace the warmth of the Portuguese people, join in the lively festivities, and savor the exquisite flavors that define this enchanting land. From the lively streets of Lisbon to the quaint villages in the countryside, Portugal will welcome you into its heart with its captivating lifestyle and rich cultural heritage.

Making Portugal Home: Navigating the Essentials

Finding Your Nest: Housing Options

Worried about finding a home in Portugal? Fear not! The real estate market in Portugal is diverse, offering various housing options to cater to your preferences and needs. Whether you’re looking for a cozy apartment in the heart of Lisbon, a traditional villa in the Algarve, or a tranquil countryside cottage in the Azores, Portugal has something for everyone.

Renting is a popular choice for newcomers, offering flexibility and the chance to explore different neighborhoods before committing to a long-term purchase. Many expats find comfort in gated communities or expat-friendly neighborhoods, where they can easily connect with like-minded individuals while adjusting to their new surroundings.

Getting Around: Public Transportation in Major Cities

Portugal’s major cities boast efficient and affordable public transportation systems, making it easy to navigate urban landscapes without a car. In Lisbon, the extensive metro and bus networks seamlessly connect neighborhoods, historical sites, and vibrant districts. Porto and other cities also have reliable public transport options, making commuting a breeze.

Exploring Portugal: Traveling by Plane and Train

One of the joys of living in Portugal is the opportunity to explore its stunning landscapes and charming cities. When it’s time for a weekend getaway or a longer adventure, you have convenient options for traveling both within the country and beyond its borders.

  • Air Travel within Portugal

Portugal is well-served by domestic flights, with regular connections between major cities. Hop on a short flight, and you’ll find yourself in a different world. From the golden beaches of the Algarve to the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley, each region offers a unique and captivating experience.

  • Traveling to Nearby EU Countries

Portugal’s strategic location in southwestern Europe makes it an excellent base for further exploration. With several international airports, including Lisbon, Porto, and Faro, jetting off to neighboring EU countries is a breeze. Spend a weekend in Barcelona, Paris, or Amsterdam, or immerse yourself in the rich history of Rome – all within a few hours’ flight from Portugal.

  • Trains: A Scenic Route to Adventure

If you prefer a more leisurely journey, Portugal’s railway network offers picturesque routes that showcase the country’s stunning landscapes. The Alfa Pendular high-speed train connects Lisbon and Porto, making it a quick and comfortable trip. For a scenic adventure, consider the Douro Line, which takes you through the picturesque Douro Valley, or the Alentejo Line, revealing the beauty of Portugal’s rural heart.

  • Exploring the EU by Train

Portugal’s rail connections extend beyond its borders, allowing you to embark on European train journeys with ease. From Lisbon, you can venture to Spain, France, and beyond, experiencing the continent’s diverse cultures and landscapes from the comfort of a train carriage.

Crossing Borders with Convenience

As an EU member state, Portugal allows EU nationals to travel freely within the Schengen Area. This means you can explore neighboring countries without the need for additional visas or border checks. Enjoy the freedom of spontaneous trips and discovering new cultures just a train ride or short flight away.

Embracing the Challenges, Savoring the Rewards

Of course, no journey is without its challenges. Language barriers may seem intimidating at first, but fear not – locals appreciate any effort to speak Portuguese, no matter how rusty! And don’t worry about bureaucracy; just take it one step at a time, and you’ll soon find your way.
With a little determination and an open mind, you’ll overcome any obstacles. Soon enough, you’ll be living the good life, Portuguese-style! Embracing the new culture and forming connections with locals will enrich your experience and open doors to exciting opportunities.

Additional Resources

If you’re feeling inspired to make Portugal your new home, there are plenty of helpful resources and organizations available to support you throughout your journey. Whether you need assistance with visa applications, want to connect with other expats, or seek guidance on various aspects of living in Portugal, these resources have got you covered:

  1. Embassy or Consulate: Reach out to the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country for up-to-date information on visa requirements, residency permits, and other legal matters.
  2. SEF – Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service: SEF is the official government agency responsible for immigration matters. Visit their website for detailed information on visa applications, residency permits, and other relevant procedures.
  3. Expatriate Associations: Join expatriate communities and associations in Portugal, such as Americans in Portugal or Canadians in Lisbon, to connect with fellow countrymen and share experiences and advice.
  4. Online Forums and Social Media Groups: Platforms like Expats Portugal or Internations offer online forums and groups where you can ask questions, share insights, and interact with other expats living in Portugal.
  5. Language Learning Platforms: If you’re not familiar with Portuguese, consider using language learning platforms like Duolingo or Babbel to get a head start on the local language.
  6. International Schools: For families relocating with children, researching and contacting international schools in your area of interest will help you navigate the education system.
  7. Health Insurance Providers: If you opt for private health insurance, research reputable international health insurance providers to find coverage that suits your needs.
  8. Public Transportation Websites: For information on public transportation networks in major cities, visit the respective websites for schedules, routes, and fares.
  9. Expat Blogs and Guides: Read blogs and guides written by fellow expats in Portugal to gain firsthand insights and tips on living, working, and adapting to the Portuguese lifestyle.
  10. Local Chambers of Commerce: Local chambers can provide valuable resources for those planning to work or start a business in Portugal.

Obrigado Portugal!

So, dear adventurers, are you ready to take the plunge and embark on your Portuguese journey? From the breathtaking landscapes to the warm-hearted locals, Portugal welcomes you with open arms. Whether you’re from Canada, the USA, or any EU nation, you’ll find a second home in this captivating country. So, pack your bags and get ready to savor the taste of Portugal!

Bom apetite, and see you in Portugal!

Remember that these resources are there to assist you in making the most informed decisions and ensure a smooth transition to your new life in Portugal. Embrace the adventure, and may your journey in Portugal be filled with unforgettable experiences and cherished memories!

Postcards from the Road