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Living and Working in Portugal

Reading time: 13 minutes


Many are those who spend holidays in Portugal and are curious about the lifestyle practised here. Many are the foreigners, who, after a holiday in Portugal, decided that this should be their residence country!


Portugal is much more than a small country located in the west of Europe. In the essence of Portugal, there are so many other countries that make it unsurpassed in unique experiences for those who live here. Because visiting and living in Portugal has its differences, we fully understand when expats tell us that they would hardly ever leave this country again.


Is one of your immediate goals to move from your country to Portugal? Find out what makes this country one of the best destinations to live in!


Photography by Julie Aagaard – Pexels


There may be a few questions on your mind when thinking of moving to another country. Therefore, we have gathered some answers in this article to make your move safe and informed.



Curiosities about the Portuguese and Portugal:


Habits are part of any country, and it is these details that make it unique. Get to know some curiosities about Portugal.


  • The Portuguese have a religious habit of starting the day with a coffee, "a bica", or "a cimbalino". All three words mean the same thing, only the region where they are used changes, and they refer to a small cup with coffee in it. Right after you hear "I want a coffee, please", you will probably hear "in a hot mug" or "well served". In Portugal, coffee is a serious, meticulous affair and is a moment that brings several people together around a table on a sunny terrace.


  • The pastry became internationally known through the famous "pastel de nata", but it's not only this delicacy that the hundreds of Portuguese pastry shops have in their window displays. In every region of Portugal, there are countless recipes for convent sweets or small cakes that accompany the sacred act of drinking coffee. The rice cake (bolo de arroz) is the one that everyone knows, perhaps because it is wrapped in paper with its name written on it and delights everyone for being simple and sweet. The napkin (guardanapo) has a double meaning in Portugal, it can be that piece of paper where we wipe our mouth but also, a triangular cake of fluffy pastry with egg jam inside. These are only a few examples that exist in any pastry shop, but there are many more, and we can try a new cake every day of the year.


  • At home or in a restaurant, the drink that accompanies every meal is wine. Red, white, green or rosé, the Portuguese are notably proud of the wine produced in the country and exported to every corner of the world. Porto wine is served to accompany desserts, an aged wine that was widely known in England as a sweeter wine than all the others.


  • It is usual to greet someone you have just met with two kisses on the cheek in Portugal. Unlike other European countries, in Portugal, the little kiss (beijinho), as it is affectionately called, is quite normal to happen as soon as you meet someone. If you're not used to this greeting and to avoid embarrassment, you should give your right cheek first and then your left. Handshakes are only for professional meetings or between two men.


Photo Nick Fewings – Unsplash


Is it easy to move to Portugal? The Portuguese are a curious people, who love meeting other nationalities, so they know how to welcome anyone who wants to live in this beautiful corner by the sea. This is probably the best benefit of all, to arrive and feel welcome in a different country. Young people learn other languages at schools, such as English and French, so the language barrier will not exist, especially in the Algarve region where the population is related to interacting with tourists from all over the world.


To enter Portugal, you need a visa determined by your place of origin, the purpose of your entry and the length of your stay. For European Union and Switzerland citizens, a citizen's card is enough to enter the country for three months until you get a work contract or start a business. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, while belonging to the Schengen area, do not belong to the European Union, but enjoy the same status for three months. If they stay longer, they must apply for a registration certificate. For all other citizens coming from countries other than the European Union or the Schengen area, a valid passport for at least six months and a Portuguese visa are required.


Portugal has agreements with other countries outside the European Union, such as Canada, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. Citizens of these countries can enter and stay during 90 days, for six months, without needing an entry visa. See all the countries that require a visa to enter Portugal, here.



Can foreigners buy a property in Portugal? Yes, this is the quickest answer we can give you. There are no restrictions for those who wish to make this golden coast their home. The Portuguese government encourages foreigners to buy houses in Portugal, and this incentive can come through Golden Visas, which allows residing in the country. This opportunity can only be taken if there is property investment or business investment. This permit allows you to live, study and work in Portugal. Travel within the Schengen area freely is also allowed. After five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residency.


The Algarve is one of the most requested regions for those who want to buy a house, whether to live permanently or just for a few months during the year. Here you will find luxury houses, apartments overlooking the golden coast, and villas with outdoor space, great to spend your days under the mild climate of this region. Casas do Barlavento have over 15 years of experience helping foreigners find their dream home in the Algarve. Contact us, and we guarantee that in no time, you will be able to live your dream.



Can foreigners work remotely from Portugal? Foreigners looking for Portugal find a peaceful country with a low cost of living and attractive job opportunities. Before embarking on the new adventure, you will have to find something within your area by sending your CV. In Portugal, it is common to deliver the Europass CV (model accepted throughout Europe), or another more specific model, depending on your training area. To work in the country, you will have to obtain a 6 months temporary stay visa for the same purpose. In some specific professions, the 6-month visa can be renewed up to a maximum of one year. Professional areas with this benefit are linked to scientific research, highly qualified activities or teaching in universities.


Remote work in Portugal - Portugal is a country with inviting characteristics to digital nomadism and great to insert the Travel & Work concept. Many people fall in love with the country, its untouched landscapes, its proximity to major European cities in the digital landscape, its gastronomy and its low-cost standard of living. Mobility within the country, or between European cities, is advantageous for employees who need to travel regularly to their company headquarters.


Although Portugal does not have a specific visa for digital nomads, the 90-day tourist stay gives you the chance to spend around three months working near the most spectacular beaches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, or to be fully in tune with the countryside in the mountains or plains of this country. If you are a resident of one of the Schengen countries, you'll be able to cross the border without any specific document, but for safety and convenience, always carry your citizen's card with you. Driving licences and bank cards in some countries aren't official identification documents. If you are a foreign citizen who isn't from a European Union Member State or Switzerland, you may apply for a visa at any time at the consulate or embassy of your destination country. You only need to present the free form, duly filled in by each individual wishing to travel. In some countries, it is possible to access the form through the E-Visa platform, facilitating submission through the internet.


Another possibility for those wishing to work in this country full of history is the D2 visas. They are known for being aimed at enterprising emigrants who are not citizens of the European Union and for those who want to settle in Portugal. These visas open doors to all those who wish to live and create their business, fostering growth in the local economy. D2 visas are not indicated for those who want to start a large-scale business, but rather for small to medium scale companies. If you intend to invest in a large-scale company, Golden Visas are best suited for this purpose. D2 visas allow you to live in Portugal with your family and create your business with the following conditions:



  • Structured and viable business plan;
  • The economic, social, scientific or technological relevance for the country;
  • Proof of economic and social capacity/stability to carry out the business;


Request this visa at the Portuguese consulates or embassies or consulates with the Portuguese jurisdiction. Find out all the details of the D2 Visa here.


What are the benefits of living in Portugal? The Portuguese are warm and friendly people, and the country is a jewel overlooking an immense ocean. Many are the benefits of living in this country, such as gastronomy, safety and mobility.  Get to know more about this tiny country.


Portuguese Gastronomy - Besides the friendliness of the people, there is gastronomy with tradition in the Mediterranean diet, considered the healthiest and most sustainable in the world. The diet of the Portuguese people tends to be balanced, with the consumption of fresh and preferably organic products. When it's time to sit at a Portuguese table, be prepared for a whirl of food and long hours of conversation. In the Algarve, where Casas do Barlavento is located, you will find several market stalls selling fish caught in the same morning or various shellfish at attractive prices. In the same market, always look for the vegetable and fruit stalls coming from local producers who guarantee organic products and rich in vitamins, great for healthy meals around the Mediterranean diet.


Travelling in Portugal - Portugal, being a country of small land dimensions, is easily travelled from north to south. You can travel by car, on highways that run along the coast or through the country’s interior, by train with connections between each region, or by plane. Portugal's airports are strategically positioned in Faro, Lisbon, Oporto and on the islands of Madeira and the Azores with national, European and international flights. Get to know the airports of Portugal here. The beauty of travelling from one end of the country to the other is that we come across regions so distinct that it gives the idea of there being more than one country within Portugal. The cities have, in their majority, secular monuments and hidden places that are not seen in the tourist guide books. The endless green landscapes, the deserted beaches with golden sand, the mountains covered with flowers, the colourful plains, everything deserves to be discovered or rediscovered every season. Access this site and start planning your visits to all the Portuguese regions while living in the best destination in Europe.


Security - In Portugal, the security level felt on the streets at night and during the day, is the reflection of peaceful people. The crime rate is low, and most crimes are non-violent. Justice works, flawed as everywhere else in the world, but it does work. In 2020, the Institute for Economics & Peace ranked Portugal in third place in 83 countries ranking, preceded by Iceland and New Zealand in the top three. Walking down the street at night with your belongings is an indescribable feeling of freedom and security, which can and should be experienced by everyone. If there is any doubt about Portugal’s safety, the answer is: if you forget your keys outside your house, someone will likely ring the doorbell to alert you.


Photography Vitor Pinto – Unsplash


What is the cost of living in Portugal? The cost of living in Portugal compared to other countries in Europe is one of the most affordable on the continent. Especially when we talk about the most western countries of Europe, Portugal wins first place followed by Spain. The cost of living in Portugal is suitable for families who want to move to another country, including school children.


Cost and conditions of education in Portugal - Education in Portugal has a very positive evolution compared to the other European member states. Schooling is free from pre-school until the 12th year of schooling. School becomes compulsory at the age of 6, which is when children start the 1st stage of education. It remains compulsory and free until the 12th year, a transition year for students wishing to continue their studies in a university.


Higher education institutions can be private or state-funded, the latter being more affordable compared to private institutions. Private higher education can be as low as €438 per month, depending on the study area. Public higher education can be around 990 € per year, such as the Faro University, with a campus in Portimão, in the Algarve. Find out more about Portuguese education here.


Health costs and conditions in Portugal - In Portugal, health is provided by the National Health System, health insurance plans and the private system. Everyone is free to access any of the options, being a citizen resident in Portugal. Of the three, the SNS (National Health System) is the most used by 80% of the population. This public system guarantees free of charge specialities such as family planning, some vaccination plans and dialysis treatments, among other treatments.


If you are a foreigner, you must have your situation regularised with social security registration to use the public services of the SNS. Once you are registered, you can go to your nearest health centre to obtain your health-user card. To register at the health centre, take with you your social security documents, passport or ID card and your Portuguese residence permit.


The private or insurance plans also work in partnership with the National Health Service. The prices of these two plans should be consulted in each institution.


In an emergency, the number you should call is 112, and if the situation is not urgent, call 808 24 24 24 (Linha de saúde 24), and you will be able to clarify any doubts or do a triage over the phone before entering the emergency service. Read this article for more relevant information about the health sector in Portugal.



Restaurants costs - A meal away from home, i.e., in a restaurant can vary a lot, but what we can guarantee is that most Portuguese restaurants serve fresh food with all the hygiene precautions imposed by the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE). In times of pandemic, all indications are duly fulfilled and regularised according to the norms of this entity.


A meal’s price depends on the restaurant you choose, and you should know the price increases at dinner time. This price increase happens because it is during lunchtime, that some restaurants mark on the menu the famous "Prato do dia"(dish of the day). A menu with a dish, drink, dessert and coffee, all included, can be priced from around €6 to €8. The dishes are made with fresh products, and the drink may be a glass of house wine. The house wine is usually the cheapest on the menu, but the taste is never far behind the more expensive wines!


When dining in a mid/high range restaurant, the price increases, but compared to other European countries, it is still quite affordable. A meal for two with couvert, starters, main course, dessert and wine can reach 70€. For some suggestions of restaurants between Lagos and Alvor, the two places where our offices are located, read the following article.



Get to know Portugal by heart and fall in love with a unique country. Casas do Barlavento wishes you a warm welcome!