15 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Portugal

More people are moving overseas to start a new life upon their retirement. After all, settling down in another country is one way to rekindle your sense of adventure. If you’re considering moving somewhere in Europe, you should consider the 15 pros and cons of retiring in Portugal.

This beautiful country attracts many retirees from around the globe not only because of its stunning views, warm weather, and rich culture but also because of its low cost of living. In many ways, moving to Portugal is a lifestyle upgrade. It was even named as the fourth best country to retire to. 

If you are thinking of a move to Portugal, we’ve gathered 15 pros and cons of retiring in Portugal for you to consider. 

A graphic of the Portugese flag, red and green with a yellow circle

Pros of Retiring in Portugal

Check out 15 incredible advantages of retiring in Portugal below. 

#15 You Can Access Other European Countries Easier

One of the major upsides of retiring in Portugal is it will be easier for you to travel to other European destinations such as:

  • Spain
  • The Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Italy 
  • And many more. 

Its convenient location makes the rest of Europe well within reach.

#14 The Country Is Modern

Leaving your family in your home country is never easy. Fortunately, Portugal is a wired country. Fast Wi-Fi is everywhere. So in case of an emergency, anyone can contact you easily. 

#13 It’s a Great Opportunity To Learn a New Language

It’s never too late to try something new. When you retire in Portugal, you can challenge yourself to learn a new language. 

#12 Taking Care of Finances Is Easy

Opening a bank account in this country is pretty straightforward, and you can do this even if you’re outside Portugal. This benefit will allow you to have more control of your money. 

#11 Live Your Dream Beach Life

An aerial photo of a small, crowded beach. Densley packed houses are in the back, a blue/green sea in the middle

Whether you go to Lagos or Lisbon, you’ll love the stunning beaches of Portugal, including the jagged cliffs that surround most of them. 

#10 Affordable Real Estate

Although many people will tell you that you’ve missed the “golden age” of Portugal’s real estate, there are still great real estate opportunities here, and the prices of properties are lower compared to other European countries, especially in smaller cities. 

#9 Delicious Food

With retirement also comes your duty to eat healthier, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice taste. Thankfully, Portugal offers healthy and hearty meals with only the best local ingredients. You will soon discover that the country’s gastronomy scene features a lot of Asian, South American, and African cuisine. 

#8 Awesome Culture

When in Portugal, you will find yourself immersed in countless cultural activities. The country also has an abundance of galleries, museums, concerts, and festivals that showcase its influences from all over the globe. 

#7 Hospitable People

Portuguese people are incredibly hospitable and warm to foreigners who settle there. Even if you don’t know how to speak Portuguese well, they will be kind enough to help you whenever you need it. 

#6 Safety

Before moving to a different country, you first need to feel safe. Thankfully, Portugal is considered a safe place to live when it comes to security. Here, it is rare to see aggression and danger. Of course, you should still exercise caution just as you would in another country. 

#5 Top-tier Healthcare

As you age, you need to pay attention to your health. Your retirement place should be able to give you access to a public health system. Thankfully, there are many public and private hospitals in this country. However, make sure to take out good health insurance to benefit from lowered prices in the private system.

#4 Great Views

A photo looking over hills and cliffs. Bright red flowers are in the front, a few buildings in the middle, and a large hill/cliff in the back

Whether you want to spend a day by the beach, enjoy the countryside, or visit historical sites, you will never run out of things to do in this country. This is why it’s a popular destination among backpackers and travelers. 

#3 Amazing Climate

Portugal is unique compared to other European countries because its temperature rarely drops below 10 degrees. The country has an average of 300 days of sun annually, so you’ll have the time of your life enjoying the great outdoors, whether you want to walk along its beautiful coastline or have a golf day with your friends.

#2 Low Cost of Living

If you decide to make Portugal your new home, you’ll enjoy its low cost of living. This can be a big advantage, especially if you want a switch to a more lavish lifestyle. 

The cost of living in the country is lower compared to other countries in Europe, including real estate, food, and even wine. Your purchasing power here will be higher compared to your home country. 

#1 Tax Exemption 

One of the most amazing benefits of moving to Portugal is retirees do not have to pay any tax on pensions. 

This is due to two important reasons. The first reason is the Agreement of Double Taxation between your country of residence and country of origin. The next one is the Personal Income Tax regime for non-habitual residents, where the Portuguese state is not allowed to collect tax from foreign pensions. Remember that you need to get the non-habitual resident status to enjoy this benefit. 

Disadvantages of Living in Portugal

A digital graphic showing what Portugal is famous for. Includes ships, soccer, a guitar, a cable car and a few landmarks

We’ve gathered the downsides of retiring in Portugal below.

#15 Intense Paperwork

Whether it’s purchasing a property or applying for resident status, you need to deal with bureaucracy, and it’s quite a challenge in Portugal, so you need to be patient. The hardest part in dealing with the paperwork is figuring out what forms you need to accomplish and who you need to speak to. Of course, this problem is not just unique to Portugal. 

#14 Winter Can Be Wet

A lot of people think the entire country is sunny all year round. However, if you choose to retire in Northern Portugal, you need to prepare for a wet winter. Many people say winter in this part of the country is worse than in Ireland. Even major cities such as Lisbon can also have mild weather in the winter.

#13 Heating Is Hard To Find

If you are renting a house, it’s hard to find a property that has decent central heating, so this may be something you need to invest in, especially during the winter. You may find yourself wearing gloves and a thick jacket even when you’re just spending your time at home.

#12 There Are Also Expensive Things

While food and rent are extremely affordable in Portugal, the same cannot be said for other necessities. The country has one of the most expensive electricity in Europe. The fuel here is also quite expensive, and some people who live near the Spanish border even drive to the country just to fill up. Aside from that, clothes and electronics are also expensive.

#11 Portuguese Is Hard To Learn

A picture of a black chalkboard. Written on the board is DO YOU SPEAK PORTUGUESE?

While in Portugal, it’s easy to communicate in English, especially when you choose to live in major cities. However, you also need to learn how to speak basic Portuguese to be closer to people. Learning the language at a basic conversational level is also a must, particularly if you go to government agencies.

#10 Not All Businesses Accept Payments by Card

Some smaller businesses won’t accept payments by card because payment service providers charge a fee for each transaction. These businesses have slim profit margins that don’t allow this extra cost. Because of this, it’s advisable to carry cash at all times.

#9 Slow Pace of Life

While this can be a benefit for a lot of people, it may be a disadvantage for retirees who want to reside in a lively place buzzing with activities. Residents in this country can be unpunctual at times, and shops and restaurants may also close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.

#8 Crowded Beaches

Portugal is famous all over the world for its beautiful beaches. Unsurprisingly, these beaches can be crowded at certain times of the year, especially in July and August.

#7 Driving Can Be Dangerous

You need to be careful driving around because Portuguese drivers are quite impatient, and it is normal for them to drive fast. This may cause accidents. Just as you would in other countries, always keep an eye out for unexpected movements by other vehicles on the road.

#6 Loud Dogs

A small dog behind a fence, angry looking and barking

Dogs are extremely adorable, but you’ll find that there are tons of stray dogs in some areas of Portugal. This may cause problems, especially at night when they can be noisy. Even if you live in a residential area, you may still hear loud barks. During the day, it is also common for some residents to leave their dogs on their balconies.

#5 Corruption Is Rampant

This is one of the biggest cons of retiring in Portugal. Unfortunately, you’ll eventually encounter this if you make the country your home. Backhanders can be found in local councils and even those who occupy high government positions. Portugal even took 30th place out of 198 countries for corruption.

#4 Subpar Customer Service

If you’re used to customer service in the US, you’ll have a hard time adjusting to retiring in Portugal. Unfortunately, the country has not adopted the nice and smiley customer service agents in some areas of the world. If you don’t speak Portuguese, this may even pose more problems.

#3 Hills Are Abundant

Lisbon is also known as the City of Seven Hills. Unfortunately, it seems like the city has more than 100 hills. Other cities such as Porto are also very hilly. While these hills can be an advantage, particularly when it comes to stunning views and giving you exercise, they can be a disadvantage when you’re rushing.

#2 Shipping Costs Are Expensive

When you get something shipped from another country to Portugal, prepare to pay a lot of money for express shipping because traditional shipping can take months. This can limit your ability to order goods online or receive gifts from family and friends in your home country. The taxes can also sometimes be higher than the cost of the goods.

#1 Overtourism

A photo of a crowded beach. In the back are densely packed buildings in the back.

Portugal is experiencing a tourist boom, especially in Lisbon, Algarve, Porto, and other cities. Unfortunately, these places are not equipped to handle the volume of tourists visiting the area. Its streets are quite narrow, and the cities are also small. Because of this, historical attractions and markets can be overcrowded.

Is Portugal the Right Place for You to Retire?

It may seem daunting, but moving to a new country for your retirement will truly be one of the best decisions you will ever make. 

With its charming architecture, hospitable locals, amazing weather, and idyllic coastlines, it’s no wonder why many retirees want to call Portugal their new home. But just like other countries, it’s not perfect. The key is to set realistic expectations.

Now that you know the pros and cons of retiring in Portugal, you can make a more informed decision on whether you want to move there or not. 

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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