Living in Portugal vs Canada: A Candid Look

If you’re torn between living in Portugal and Canada, this guide provides a straightforward comparison of both countries’ climates, cost of living, job markets, and lifestyles.
April 25, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
April 25, 2024

If you’re torn between living in Portugal and Canada, this guide provides a straightforward comparison of both countries’ climates, cost of living, job markets, and lifestyles. Uncover the significant aspects that will affect your life abroad without wading through fluff—just pure, essential insights tailored for your big decision on living in Portugal and Canada.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal typically enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, whereas Canada’s diverse weather offers different opportunities for outdoor activities and experiences regional variation in both weather patterns and natural disaster risks.
  • The cost of living in Portugal is generally lower compared to Canada, including housing, everyday expenses, and healthcare, with cost advantages contributing to the quality of life for residents.
  • Employment opportunities and economic stability differ in Portugal and Canada, with various sectors flourishing in each; however, Canada has a higher average monthly net salary, whereas Portugal has recently seen a slight decrease in its employment rate.

Climate and Environment: Embracing the Weather Patterns

Portugal and Canada environment

Portugal, with its warm Mediterranean climate, and Canada, with its diverse weather conditions, provide unique experiences for their inhabitants. Portugal typically experiences higher daily temperatures, while Canada’s climate varies from harsh winters to warm summers, offering different opportunities for outdoor activities.

Seasonal Variations

Portugal’s seasons are characterized by their variability due to factors such as latitude, orography, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Here is a breakdown of the country’s precipitation patterns:

  • Winter sees the majority of the annual precipitation
  • Summer is notably drier
  • The mountainous regions of Minho experience the highest average annual rainfall
  • Several inland areas have the lowest average annual rainfall

On the other hand, the temperatures in Portugal differ significantly across regions. Cities in the inland north and center experience average annual temperatures between 6°C and 9°C, while warmer regions like the eastern Algarve and Guadiana valley see temperatures above 17°C.

Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters

In Portugal, natural disasters range from wildfires during periods of high temperatures and dryness to severe weather conditions like heavy rain and wind storms. Portugal also lies in an active seismic zone with a history of potentially devastating earthquakes. These disasters can disrupt communication and transport, and pose additional hazards. Different regions face different types of disasters affecting their living conditions.

On the other hand, Canada also experiences natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, and ice storms. While the specifics of these disasters are not covered in this section, it’s worth noting that they too can significantly affect living conditions and operate differently in various regions.

Outdoor Lifestyle

Outdoor Lifestyle

When it comes to outdoor activities, both Portugal and Canada have unique offerings. Portugal is favored for its surfing opportunities, thanks to its warm Mediterranean climate and beautiful coastal line. On the other hand, Canada, with its vast wilderness and diverse landscapes, is a more ideal destination for wilderness camping.

Conversely, Portugal is known for its glamping, which allows one to enjoy the great outdoors with the convenience and luxury of indoor amenities. These diverse outdoor lifestyles provided by the climates of Portugal and Canada offer unique experiences for residents and visitors alike, enriching their life experiences and fostering a love for the natural beauty of each country.

Cost of Living Analysis: Portugal vs Canada

When considering a move to a new country, cost of living is a crucial factor. Portugal generally has a lower overall cost of living than Canada, with expenses being roughly 22% less, and dining out costs approximately 70% less than in Canada.

Housing Market Dynamics

Housing Market Dynamics

The housing markets in Portugal and Canada have their own unique dynamics. Over the years, housing prices in Portugal have increased due to the influx of foreign buyers and favorable residency programs such as the Golden Visa. On the other hand, Canada’s housing market has seen significant price rises in urban areas, driven by demand outstripping supply, particularly in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

In both countries, real estate agents play a crucial role in navigating the market for real estate buyers, providing legal and tax advice. The rise in real estate prices has led to higher rents in Portugal, posing affordability challenges for residents. Renters in Canada face similar challenges, especially in metropolitan areas.

Everyday Expenses

Everyday expenses for basic necessities such as milk, bread, and rice are significantly more expensive in Canada, with prices at least 78% higher than in Portugal. Therefore, residents in Portugal enjoy a cost advantage for daily sustenance, which helps them stay above the poverty line.

Transportation costs also differ. A one-way local transport ticket is about 19% more expensive in Canada, although owning a car can be more affordable in Portugal due to lower average new vehicle prices. Utilities for an average 915-square-foot apartment in Canada are more costly by 32.2%.

Healthcare Costs

Health care systems and associated costs also affect the cost of living. Canada’s healthcare system, known as Medicare, provides universal coverage for all Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and is free of charge at the point of use. Portugal’s public healthcare system, delivered through the National Health Service, offers universal coverage and integrates services from both public and private sectors.

The Portuguese healthcare system is characterized by high-quality medical services and includes unique public-private partnerships, in addition to private health care insurance schemes. In terms of costs, residents in Canada typically do not pay directly for most healthcare services due to its publicly funded system, while in Portugal, the mix of public and private healthcare options can affect access to services and related out-of-pocket expenses.

Employment and Economy: Seeking Opportunities

When contemplating a move, employment opportunities and the state of the economy are key considerations. Both Portugal and Canada offer different attractions for those seeking broad work experiences tailored to different stages of life and professional development.

Job Availability and Sectors

Canada’s job market is diverse, featuring significant employment opportunities in sectors such as technology, healthcare, scientific fields, energy, and mining. Specific roles in high demand include those of nurses, web developers, electrical engineers, truck drivers, welders, veterinarians, licensed practical nurses, industrial electricians, pharmacists, and accountants.

In contrast, Portugal offers employment opportunities primarily in the tourism, automotive, and technology industries. The contrast in job sectors and roles in high demand in both countries highlights the diversity of work experiences one can gain through comparisons Portugal has with other nations.

Work Benefits

Work benefits, particularly annual leave and maternity leave policies, play a crucial role in work-life balance, further impacting average life expectancy. Workers in Portugal are guaranteed a minimum of 22 vacation days annually, while Canadian workers are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of vacation per year. This demonstrates the importance of considering work and life experience when evaluating the overall well-being of employees.

When it comes to maternity leave, Canada offers up to 18 months, whereas Portugal allows for 120 days at full pay, with an option for extended leave at a reduced salary. These differences reflect varied approaches to work-life balance in Portugal and Canada, which may influence the overall life expectancy in each country.

Economic Stability

Economic stability is a key factor to consider when deciding where to live. Canadians have a significantly higher average monthly net salary after tax compared to the Portuguese, with a difference of approximately 149%. However, Portugal’s employment rate decreased slightly to 56.9% in the last quarter of 2023 from 57.4% in the previous quarter.

These economic indicators play a vital role in determining the quality of life in each country. While salary might be higher in Canada, the cost of living and other benefits might make Portugal an attractive option. However, choosing between the two countries can be a completely subjective decision.

Education and Family Life: Raising Children and Pursuing Knowledge

Education and family life form the backbone of any society. Portugal offers free public education until the 12th grade, with private education being a common choice for those seeking different curricula or religious instruction.

Canada, on the other hand, offers public and private education options, with a high emphasis on quality and diversity in educational programs,. Both countries have a range of universities with varied specializations; Canada boasts several world-renowned institutions.

School Systems and Universities

Canada offers a wider variety of higher education institutions and programs, including a larger number of universities than Portugal. Canadian universities are recognized for their research contributions and high global rankings, attracting a diverse student body. On the other hand, Portugal’s universities are integrated into the European Higher Education Area, appealing to international students with various academic programs.

However, private education costs, such as international primary schooling, are approximately 30% higher in Canada than in Portugal. These differences in educational costs can significantly influence a family’s decision when choosing between the two countries.

Child Wellbeing

Portugal is considered a better place for raising children due to its friendly and family-oriented culture. It’s often perceived as a family-friendly country where children can be raised in a safe and nurturing environment. On the other hand, Canada is known for its family-friendly policies, including access to a variety of educational programs and a supportive public education system.

The cost of childcare services, however, is nearly 90% higher in Canada than in Portugal. This could be a significant factor for families with young children when choosing between the two countries.

Continuing Education for Adults

Continuing education for adults is an important aspect of personal and professional development. Both Portugal and Canada provide continuing education programs aimed at adults, promoting lifelong learning and skill development.

Portugal's involvement in education initiatives of the European Union has an impact on adult education opportunities, offering a variety of options for personal and professional growth. On the other hand, Canada offers a variety of adult education programs, including those focused on career advancement, retraining, and personal enrichment.

Cultural Vibrancy and Lifestyle: Old World Charm vs New World Diversity

Cultural vibrancy and lifestyle are significant aspects of living in any country. Portugal is filled with cultural experiences that contribute to one’s life experience, such as immersive Fado music in Porto and historical tours in villages like Óbidos.

On the other hand, Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver celebrate their multicultural identity with various festivals and events.

Gastronomy and Traditions

Gastronomy and Traditions

Portugal is renowned for its gastronomy, characterized by a variety of dishes, from creamy pastries like pastéis de nata to rich stews like cozido and summer favorites such as grilled sardines known as sardinhas assadas.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Canada’s culinary scene mirrors its multicultural society, featuring dishes like:

  • poutine from Quebec
  • butter tarts
  • tourtière
  • seafood from the Maritimes
  • game meats from the Northern regions

Dining out in Portugal is significantly cheaper than in Canada, enhancing the gastronomic experience.

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and entertainment form a significant part of the cultural fabric of any country. In Canada, cultural events and entertainment options encompass world-renowned film festivals like TIFF, indigenous art exhibitions, and performances by various multicultural community groups. Toronto, Canada’s cultural capital, is celebrated for its outstanding museums, dynamic music venues, vibrant art galleries, and being a hub for professional sports teams.

On the other hand, Portugal offers a quintessential cultural encounter in Porto that harmonizes the soulful tunes of Fado music with the traditional flavors of Port wine at the Cálem Wine Cellars. The cultural scene in both these old world countries offers a rich tapestry of experiences for wine lovers, residents, and visitors alike.

Community and Social Life

Community and social life are crucial aspects of settling down in a new country. Social life in Portugal is characterized by its focus on local festivals, religious holidays, and family gatherings that foster community cohesion. The country has developed a supportive network of recreation centers offering activities like physical exercise, cultural events, and social interactions, which are particularly beneficial to enhancing the quality of life for the elderly.

In Canadian cities, the diverse community life is supported by a variety of cultural centers, neighborhood festivals, and social organizations, catering to the multicultural fabric of the population. The diverse social life and community support networks in both countries make them attractive destinations for prospective immigrants.

Digital Nomad's Corner: Connectivity and Mobility

For digital nomads, Portugal and Canada offer varied attractions. Portugal is a popular destination due to its reliable internet access, lower cost of living, and warm climate, which complements the mobility and lifestyle of digital nomads.

Tech Infrastructure

Both Portugal and Canada offer robust tech infrastructures conducive for internet-intensive activities, attracting digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and tech professionals. Canada ranks 7th globally in technology, demonstrating a competitive edge in mobile tariffs, handset prices, and comprehensive coverage of at least 3G mobile network for its population.

On the other hand, Portugal’s internet infrastructure boasts modern and reliable services with average speeds around 50 Mbps and the availability of up to 1 Gbps in some areas through fiber optic connections. These factors are crucial for digital nomads who rely heavily on internet access for their work.

Co-working Spaces and Communities

Portugal offers a variety of co-working spaces designed for digital nomads, complete with amenities like high-speed internet and ergonomic furniture. These spaces provide an environment that promotes productivity, collaboration, and networking.

On the other hand, Canada also offers numerous co-working spaces, particularly in urban areas. These spaces are designed to cater to the needs of digital nomads and remote workers, providing a conducive environment for work and networking.

Travel and Transport

Portugal offers a comprehensive transportation system for both residents and visitors, including:

  • Airports that provide a range of international and domestic flights to accommodate travelers
  • A well-developed train network that facilitates travel across various regions
  • Efficient metro systems in urban areas make commuting and city exploration convenient.

On the other hand, Canada also has a reliable and efficient transportation system that connects different parts of the country. The country has a vast network of highways, railways, and airports that facilitate travel across its expansive territories.

Health and Wellness: Balancing Mind and Body

Health and wellness are significant aspects of lifestyle in any country. Both Portugal and Canada are known for their high standard of healthcare, with Portugal’s system ranked among the best in Europe,.

Both countries also emphasize healthy living and disease prevention through public health campaigns,.

Medical Services

Both Portugal and Canada are known for their high-quality healthcare services. Portugal’s healthcare system is renowned for its patient-centered care, ranking third globally, and offers a mix of public and private services. On the other hand, Canada’s healthcare system achieves high rankings in health-adjusted life expectancy and has a good record of handling ambulatory care-sensitive conditions, although there are notable challenges in access and equity for services like dental care and prescription drugs.

In terms of international standings among world countries, Portugal holds the 17th position in the 2021 World Index of Healthcare Innovation, while Canada’s healthcare continues to be highly regarded for its influence on general wellbeing.

Fitness and Recreation

Portugal and Canada both offer a wide variety of fitness centers and recreational facilities catering to different physical activities and sports. Some features of fitness centers in Canada include:

  • Trainers
  • Steam rooms
  • Saunas
  • Whirlpools

These amenities are widespread and accessible to the public.

Canada also boasts an extensive network of fitness and recreational facilities encompassing gyms, public parks, and sports complexes that the public can easily access. These facilities contribute to the overall health and wellness of residents, promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.

Mental Health Support

Mental health support is an essential part of healthcare services. Portugal provides mental health support services that include emergency services, psychiatric hospitals, and private practices for psychological and psychiatric care,.

On the other hand, Canada also has a comprehensive mental health support system, offering a wide range of services, from counseling and therapy to support groups and emergency services. These services are widely accessible and are aimed at promoting mental wellbeing in the population.

Settling Down: From Visa to Citizenship

If you’re considering making the move to either Portugal or Canada, it’s important to understand the process of settling down in each country, from obtaining a visa to becoming a citizen.

Immigration Policies

The Canadian government aims to welcome over a million newcomers within the next three years to fill job vacancies and support the aging workforce. Certain Canadian provinces deploy Provincial Nominee Programs to specifically attract skilled workers for in-demand jobs. Visitors aiming to enter Canada need to apply for a visa and must submit specific documents, which can vary based on the intent of travel, whether it’s for tourism, business or other purposes.

On the other hand, Portugal offers various visa options, including the Golden Visa program, that provides a path to residency for significant investments. This program has made Portugal an attractive destination for many foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

Integration and Support Systems

Portugal and Canada both have formal systems in place designed to support new residents, including integration courses and community programs. Portugal offers a welcoming environment for immigrants through various support services aimed at social insertion and integration.

On the other hand, Canada is known for its strong support systems that facilitate immigrant settlement, including:

  • Language training
  • Settlement services
  • Access to language classes
  • Orientation sessions

These resources are instrumental in helping new immigrants integrate successfully into Canadian life.

Citizenship Journey

The journey to citizenship varies between Portugal and Canada. In Portugal, the requirements for citizenship include:

  • Legal residency in the country for at least five years
  • Maintaining the investment for a minimum of five years to qualify for permanent residency through the Golden Visa program
  • Demonstrating language proficiency in Portuguese
  • Having a clean criminal record

In Canada, applicants need to meet the following requirements to apply for citizenship:

  • Have lived in the country for at least 1,095 days out of the five years before applying
  • Provide proof of language proficiency in either English or French
  • Pass a citizenship test and interview

These requirements ensure that new citizens have a thorough understanding of the country’s culture, history, and values.


In conclusion, both Portugal and Canada offer unique experiences in terms of climate, cost of living, employment opportunities, education, culture, tech infrastructure, healthcare, and the journey to citizenship. While Canada offers a diverse multicultural environment with a wide range of opportunities, Portugal offers a relaxed lifestyle with a rich cultural heritage and a lower cost of living. The choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preferences and lifestyle priorities. Whether you’re drawn to the old-world charm of Portugal or the vibrant diversity of Canada, both nations offer rewarding opportunities for a fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the cost of living in Portugal compare to Canada?

The cost of living in Portugal is generally lower than in Canada, with expenses being roughly 22% less.

What are the job opportunities like in Portugal and Canada?

The job opportunities in Canada span diverse sectors like technology, healthcare, scientific fields, energy, and mining, whereas Portugal primarily offers employment in the tourism, automotive, and technology industries. Consider these factors when considering job prospects in each country.

How does the healthcare system in Portugal compare to that in Canada?

Both Portugal and Canada offer high-quality healthcare services, but Canada's system is publicly funded, while Portugal's includes a mix of public and private services. This makes a comparison between the two systems quite complex and dependent on individual needs and preferences.

What are the immigration policies like in Portugal and Canada?

Canada aims to welcome over a million newcomers in the next three years, while Portugal offers various visa options, including the Golden Visa program for residency through significant investments. Both countries have proactive immigration policies.

How does the process of obtaining citizenship compare in Portugal and Canada?

In conclusion, both Portugal and Canada require legal residency, language proficiency, and a clean criminal record for citizenship, but the residency period and process specifics differ.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property search, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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