Best Places To Live in Portugal For Expats

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
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If you were looking for the ideal spot to relax and enjoy the warm weather and a cheap cost of living, then living in Portugal with 850 kilometres of sandy beaches and 3,000 hours of sunshine sounds just the place.

When you realise this gem is over two hours by jet from London and is a favourite for British expats, you’ll wonder why you never thought of living in Portugal before.

This beautiful country is far from undiscovered but often overlooked as the perfect place for expats.

The weather is almost constantly gorgeous with hot, dry summers stretching into autumn. It’s often sunny and mild well into November.

The food is great. The wine quaffable and the people friendly.

How Much To Rent Or Buy A Home?

Expats can buy a property or rent as they wish without restriction in Portugal.

Like most property markets, prices depend on location, and like many European countries, properties are sold according to floor area.

Like the weather, the property market is hot, with average house prices up 15% in 2019 – which translated to 20% in Porto and 14.5% in Lisbon.

Outside these two major urban areas, prices are much less.

Expect to pay around £1,300 a square metre in Lisbon and nearer £1,400 in the Algarve.

With 60,000 Brits already living in Portugal, mostly around the famed Algarve, here’s a look at some of the best places where expats live.

Lisbon

Living In Lisbon Portugal

The capital of Lisbon tops every list of where expats love to live. A coastal city with a long sea-faring tradition, Lisbon his steeped in history, tradition, and culture. The city sits astride the Tagus River, at 625 miles the longest on the Iberian Peninsula.

The cost of living is around much cheaper than in London. Expect to pay £1,000 a month rent for a large apartment outside the city centre. A three-course meal for two in a nice restaurant is around £30.

Porto

Living In Porto Portugal

Porto is Portugal’s second city with a population topping 200,000 found much farther north along the Atlantic coast than Lisbon.  Famed for making Port wine, the heart of the city is medieval with cobbled streets and alleys that lead to quirky cafes and restaurants.

The pretty buildings are painted bright pastel colours and are a photographer’s delight.

The Algarve

Living In The Algarve Portugal

Top of the list for British expats is the expanse of beaches lining the Atlantic at the tip of Portugal leading to the Mediterranean Sea and Gibraltar. Sandy beaches, rocky coves, top class golf courses and resorts with shiny steel and glass hotels.

The Algarve is the place many Brits choose to retire, so the expat community is a little older than in the main cities.

Faro is the Algarve capital and where the main airport is found. Further along the coast, expats like the bigger city of Lagos, or the smaller towns of Portimao and Tavira.

Coimbra

Living In Coimbra Portugal

Popular with expats but little known outside Portugal. Coimbra is the former capital, has a quaint old town dating back centuries. The city sits midway on the main route between Lisbon and Porto, with great links to both cities and the coast.

Braga

Living In Braga Portugal

Braga is a teeming university city in the far north of Portugal with a history dating back to Roman times and much regarded as a religious centre. Braga is even hotter than the more southerly Algarve because the city sits inland rather than on the wind-cooled coast.

Aveiro

Living In Aveiro Portugal

In a country celebrated for beautiful architecture, Aveiro is famed for bright and breezy canals and a host of art nouveau buildings. Barges that once harvested seaweed now lazily crawl around the canals laden with sightseers.

Cascais

Living In Cascais Portugal

A typical resort town on the Atlantic coast not far from Lisbon. Beaches – tick, marina – tick, bars, and café nightlife – tick. A place to be seen but not somewhere to go to get away from it all. Miles of beaches stretch into the distance, but quiet corners are harder to find.

Best Places To Live in Portugal FAQ

A country with something for everyone just on Britain’s doorstep, Portugal is heaven for 60,000 expats who quit for blue skies and warmer weather.

✅ What’s the cost of living in Portugal compared with Britain?

Much cheaper all round. Day to day living is not so expensive, with plentiful cheap food and drink in restaurants, bars, markets, and shops. Prices are around 25% cheaper than in London.

✅ Is Portugal popular with expats?

Portugal is undoubtedly popular with expats, with a thriving community of more than 60,000 Brits living there. 

✅ What’s the weather like in Portugal?

The weather is much warmer than Britain, with summer sun lingering until autumn and mild winters making the country an all year round place for an outdoor life.

✅ Where do most expats choose to live?

Expats are sprinkled around Portugal, with the two most popular destinations being the capital Lisbon and the famous beach resorts and golf courses of The Algarve on the southern tip.

✅ Can expats by homes in Portugal?

Yes. There is no restriction on foreigner’s buying homes and in some cases, for homes worth more than 500,000 euros, the purchase comes with a ‘golden’ five-year residency visa although other conditions may apply.

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