Portugal Or Spain: Which Is The Best?

Ana Fankhauser
February 14, 2023

The world is full of possibilities; you can establish a home anyplace you like. Traveling to and residing in a different nation brings its own set of intriguing and unexpected adventures. Expat life can be both thrilling and hard, from finding comfort in an unknown nation to experiencing culture shock and learning to empathise with the contrasts that unite us.

Many people consider relocating to Spain or Portugal. Both have a similar climate, shared histories, and are positioned directly near to each other, so it's obvious why so many people confuse the two.

Regardless of which country you choose to live in, you'll be right next to the other, with plenty of opportunities to travel between the two. However, traveling is one thing, and living somewhere else is quite another. Therefore it's critical to find the finest country for you to reside in. Both have advantages and disadvantages in terms of living, which we will discuss. By the end of this post, you should be better prepared to choose where to spend the next several years of your life.


Spain and Portugal are both located in the southwestern part of Europe and have similar Mediterranean climates. However, there are some differences in the climate between the two countries.

Spain has a diverse climate due to its large size and varied topography. The country has hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters in the south, while the north has cooler temperatures and more rainfall. The central region of Spain has a more continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters.

Portugal also has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The country is generally warmer than Spain, with temperatures in the south reaching up to 40°C (104°F) in the summer and dropping to around 10°C (50°F) in the winter. The north of Portugal has a cooler climate, with temperatures ranging from about 20°C (68°F) in the summer to about 5°C (41°F) in the winter.

Overall, both Spain and Portugal have Mediterranean climates, but the specific temperature and weather patterns can vary depending on the region and the time of year.

Living Costs

Over the last decade, Spain has lost a large number of job seekers who have relocated to other countries to expand their skill sets. However, the country has just embarked on a new path, reviving the economy. Startups have begun to spring up in major cities, industrial jobs have resurfaced, and new generations have rediscovered wine production and exports. Ex-pats from all over the world are flocking to work in Spain. 

This might be the place for you if you're interested in the food and beverage or hospitality industry. In comparison to the United States, the cost of living is 44% lower, yet there is no sacrifice on quality or level of life, with simple and inexpensive access to social activities and healthcare. Even for cross-country travel, the public transportation system of trains and buses is cost-effective and comfortable.

On the other hand, Portugal's economy is more confident and has numerous prospects right now. The country's economy is booming, partly due to rising tourism and the cork sector, which generates half of the world's commercially used cork. Portugal has a cost of living that is 48% lower than New York. The fundamental health and education standards are respectable. Food and clothing are both inexpensive. Both of these countries have low living costs, making them ideal for expats.


It's impossible to say which nation is superior in terms of language, but Spanish is undoubtedly more practical for travel because it's spoken throughout much of Latin America. Although Portuguese is spoken in countries other than Portugal, most people choose to visit Mexico or Chile over Guinea-Bissau or Angola. The distinction between European and Brazilian Portuguese is likewise considerably bigger than the distinction between European and Latin American Spanish.

Although it is questionable if one language is more difficult than the other, most people will agree that Spanish is easier, particularly when compared to "European Portuguese" (as opposed to "Brazilian Portuguese"). Spoken Portuguese is difficult to comprehend, and there are many more TV episodes and films in Spanish to learn from.

English is more widely used in Portugal; this isn't necessarily a good thing since it may make it all too easy to be lazy and just get by with English. You may have a conversation in bad Spanish in Spain, but many Portuguese will quickly switch to English because they may get a bit upset with your slow speed and the way you would be stumbling.

Living Expenses

It's impossible to compare the cost of living in Spain and Portugal because the former is so diverse. Madrid and Barcelona have a somewhat higher cost of living than Lisbon, which is already quite costly to live in. Most individuals will wish to compare the cost of living in places like Alentejo and Andalucia without taking into account the higher expenses in Lisbon and Madrid.

Many people assume that it must be less expensive because Portugal has a lower minimum salary (about €775 per month) against roughly €950 per month). Alternatively, they may use websites such as Number, which, while useful, are not always accurate. Many blog postings are now out of date due to considerable increases in property rental and buying prices in Portugal.

Comparing food and drink pricing is also ineffective and even misleading. Despite having lesser purchasing power, Portugal is more expensive than Spain in several areas, including automobiles, electricity, and petrol. You'll notice air conditioning units on every apartment balcony when you go through a Spanish town. Not so in Portugal, where operating them is more expensive.


Portugal has attracted numerous expatriates, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads to the nation thanks to the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program. Certain taxes may be avoided if you use NHR. For more information about NHR, see our full guide.

Furthermore, Portugal is a crypto-friendly nation as long as you aren’t into proper trading. You are allowed to hold cryptocurrency but frequent transactions may end up inviting up to 48% tax as it will deem you as a professional trader.

Non-residents in Spain have access to a similar scheme. You have been deemed a tax resident if you intend to stay in Spain for longer than 183 days. Your income in Spain is taxed at a rate of 24 percent under this arrangement. In Portugal, under NHR, foreigner income is exempted from taxation for a period of tenure if it is sourced from countries that have signed DTA (Double Taxation Agreement) with Portugal.

We recommend speaking with a tax adviser before planning your relocation to either nation. It's possible that you'll have to deal with certain complications.

Co-working Environments

In both Spain and Portugal, finding a co-working space is simple. Because both nations are home to a large number of digital nomads, coworking spaces have exploded in popularity. Lisbon and Barcelona aren't the only cities with coworking spaces. Even in small towns, you may locate a coworking space that suits your needs.

Both nations provide a laid-back way of living. As a result, there are several excellent coffee shops and locations where you may work while simultaneously socialising with the people.

In Barcelona, a monthly hot desk membership costs on average €250. It costs roughly €225 in Lisbon.


Region and industry affect Spain and Portugal's job markets. Both countries have higher unemployment than the EU average. Tourism, service, and construction offer many jobs.

75% of Spain's GDP comes from services. Tourism, finance, and healthcare are services. Spain's tourism industry is a key economic contributor and job creator. In 2019, the tourist industry employed 12% of Spain's entire workforce, or 2.6 million people.

Spanish construction is equally noteworthy. Construction jobs have fallen in recent years due to the country's economic slump.

Service accounts for 75% of Portugal's GDP. Tourism, trade, and industry are Portuguese mainstays. Portugal's tourist industry is a major economic contributor and job creator. Tourism employed 8% of Portugal's workforce in 2019.

Trade and industry, including textiles, clothes, footwear, and food and beverages, fuel the Portuguese economy. 22% of Portugal's GDP comes from industry.

Spain and Portugal have a strong job market, with many service and tourism jobs. In both nations, the labor market is competitive, and expats may have trouble finding work in particular fields. Expats should explore the local employment market and learn the local language to boost their chances of finding jobs.

Entry Requirements And Visas

Both are members of the European Union and the Schengen Area. You'll need a visa to live in Portugal or Spain if you're from a nation outside the EU. Before making a commitment, it's a good idea to double-check your visa requirements with your consulate.

Both nations have a Golden Visa program that is quite popular with ex-pats. The program offers residence in exchange for a financial commitment. Getting a Golden Visa may be excellent for you if you want to avoid the hassles of bureaucracy and enjoy your time in Europe. If you want to become a European citizen, Portugal is better than Spain. If you spend an average of seven days in Portugal each year, you may be eligible for Portuguese citizenship after five years. The Spanish passport is valid for ten years.

It's tough to tell whether Spain or Portugal is a better place to reside for ex-pats. We've attempted to provide an overview to assist you in deciding on your future digital nomad destination. In the end, two factors will determine your decision: practical considerations such as visas and citizenship and which one you fall in love with.

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Ana Fankhauser

Ana has worked in many startups and moved to a few countries, which led her to create MovingTo. She believes that remote work is a growing trend that is here to stay and that digital nomads will move to countries that have more to offer than the ones you were born into. She mostly writes opinion pieces for MovingTo.

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