14 Reasons for Moving to Portugal from USA in 2023

Explore 14 Reasons for Moving to Portugal from USA in 2023. Enjoy a superb quality of life, cost-effective living, and captivating culture.
July 18, 2023
Ana Fankhauser
July 18, 2023

Have you ever dreamed of living a European adventure surrounded by stunning landscapes, rich history, and a vibrant culture? Portugal might be the perfect destination for you! This beautiful country offers numerous benefits for American expats looking to embrace a new lifestyle. So, why should you consider Moving to Portugal from the USA in 2023? Let’s dive in and explore the advantages of living in this charming European country.

Short Summary

  • Portugal offers a superb quality of life, cost-effective living, and captivating culture.
  • Visa options available for Americans include the Golden Visa Program and the D7 Passive Income Visa.
  • Portugal is safe with great healthcare, transportation, and job opportunities—perfect for retirees!

The Allure of Portugal

beach, sunset, portugal

Imagine waking up every morning to the sound of waves crashing on pristine beaches, strolling through charming cobblestone streets, and savouring delicious Portuguese cuisine. Portugal offers:

  • A superb quality of life
  • Cost-effective living
  • Stunning landscapes
  • A vibrant history and culture

These factors make it an appealing destination for Americans looking to move abroad and obtain a residency visa, potentially leading to permanent residency.

Whether you’re a history buff, a beach lover, or a food enthusiast, Portugal has something for everyone. You'll be enamoured by the beauty and diversity of this captivating country, which ranges from the bustling capital city of Lisbon to the picturesque countryside and coastal towns.

Ready to start your Portuguese adventure? Let’s explore some of the most compelling reasons to move to Portugal from the USA.

Beautiful Landscapes and Beaches

Portugal is a treasure trove of natural beauty, boasting a diverse landscape that includes stunning coastlines, lush forests, and rolling hills. The Algarve region, in particular, is famous for its breathtaking cliffs, golden beaches, and crystal-clear waters, making it a paradise for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

With a pleasant climate and an abundance of picturesque scenery, it’s easy to see why so many Americans are drawn to this European gem.

Rich History and Culture

One of the most attractive aspects of Portugal is its rich history and cultural tapestry. The country’s storied past dates back to the 12th century and is deeply intertwined with the Age of Discovery, during which Portuguese explorers set sail and established colonies around the globe. As a result, Portugal has developed a unique and diverse culture that blends:

  • European
  • African
  • Asian
  • South American influences

This truly sets it apart from other European countries within the European Union.

From ancient castles and monuments to vibrant cultural centers showcasing art, film, and music, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to immersing yourself in Portugal’s history and culture. The city of Coimbra, for example, is home to Portugal’s oldest university and boasts stunning architecture and a lively student atmosphere.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply appreciate the beauty of diverse cultural experiences, Portugal is sure to captivate and inspire.

Visa Options for Americans

visa, approved, journey

If you’re an American considering a move to Portugal, you’ll be glad to know that the Portuguese visa process is relatively straightforward and full of exciting possibilities. US citizens don’t require a visa for business or tourist trips to Portugal for a period of up to 90 days. For Americans, visiting this country is an easy and hassle-free experience. For those looking to establish a more permanent presence in Portugal, there are several attractive visa options, such as the Golden Visa Program and the D7 Passive Income Visa.

Both the Golden Visa Program and the D7 Passive Income Visa offer unique pathways to obtaining residency in Portugal, each with their own set of requirements and benefits. Whether you’re looking to invest in real estate, secure a stable income through pensions or investments, or simply experience the joys of living in this beautiful country, there’s a visa option tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Golden Visa Program

The Portugal Golden Visa Program, also known as the Portugal Golden Visa Program, is an enticing opportunity for those looking to gain residency in Portugal through investment and potentially work towards obtaining Portuguese citizenship. This program offers a range of investment routes, such as purchasing real estate, transferring capital, creating jobs, or investing in research or cultural activities. You must open a Portuguese bank account to take part in this program. Additionally, you need to acquire a NIF (tax identification number).

One of the most significant benefits of the Golden Visa Program is the freedom it affords you within the Schengen Area. With a Golden Visa residence permit, you’ll have the right to live, work, and study in Portugal, as well as travel freely across the 26 Schengen countries without the need for additional visas. This makes the program particularly appealing for those looking to explore Europe while enjoying the comforts and benefits of life in Portugal.

D7 Passive Income Visa

If you have a stable income from pensions, investments, or other sources, the D7 Passive Income Visa may be the perfect option for you. This visa allows Americans to obtain a Portuguese residence permit by demonstrating a secure income of at least €760 per month. The process for obtaining a D7 Visa is relatively simple, with resources and support available through online communities like the Facebook group Americans and Friends.

One of the main advantages of the D7 Visa is the tax benefits it offers. As a Portugal tax resident, you’ll be required to declare your worldwide income to Portugal every year, but you may be eligible for exemptions or reduced tax rates under the country’s tax system. Additionally, the D7 Visa can be renewed for further periods, providing you with ongoing financial benefits and security as you enjoy your new life in Portugal.

Cost of Living Comparison: Portugal vs. USA

coins, calculator, budget

When it comes to the cost of living, Portugal is an affordable European paradise. From housing and real estate to everyday expenses like groceries and transportation, the cost of living in Portugal is generally lower than in the USA. This makes it an attractive destination for those looking to stretch their dollars further without sacrificing quality of life.

Whether you’re planning to live in a bustling city like Lisbon or a more tranquil countryside setting, you’ll find that Portugal offers an excellent standard of living at a fraction of the cost of living in the United States. This affordability, coupled with the country’s natural beauty, rich history, and warm climate, makes it easy to see why more and more Americans are choosing to call Portugal home.

Housing and Real Estate

One of the most significant factors contributing to Portugal’s lower cost of living is its affordable housing and real estate market. Compared to the USA, property prices in Portugal are generally lower, making it an attractive option for those looking to rent or buy a home.

From charming city apartments to spacious countryside villas, there’s a wide range of housing options available to suit various budgets and preferences.

Everyday Expenses

In addition to lower housing costs, everyday expenses in Portugal are generally more affordable than in the USA. Groceries, dining out, and transportation all tend to cost less in Portugal, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Plus, with Portugal’s abundance of fresh produce and delicious local cuisine, you won’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability when it comes to your daily meals and treats.

Healthcare System in Portugal

hands, massage, treatment

A critical aspect of any move abroad is ensuring access to quality healthcare, and Portugal does not disappoint. The country’s healthcare system offers both public and private options, providing high-quality and affordable care for residents. As an American expat with a valid residence permit, you’ll have access to Portugal’s low-cost or free public healthcare system, known as the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS).

However, if you prefer a more personalized healthcare experience, Portugal also boasts a robust private healthcare sector with exceptional quality and growing popularity. Private healthcare providers often have shorter wait times and more extensive coverage, making them an attractive option for those seeking additional peace of mind when it comes to their health and well-being.

Public Healthcare

Public healthcare in Portugal is accessible and affordable, offering comprehensive care for citizens and legal residents. With a network of public hospitals and community health centers, the public healthcare system ensures that everyone has access to essential medical services.

While public healthcare is not entirely free, its costs are significantly lower than those in the United States, making it an attractive option for expats seeking affordable healthcare solutions.

Private Healthcare

For those who prefer a more personalized healthcare experience, private healthcare in Portugal offers additional options and shorter wait times. With a range of private hospitals, clinics, and specialists available, you can receive tailored care that meets your specific needs and preferences.

Private health insurance plans are also available for expats, and their costs are generally much more affordable than those in the United States. This combination of quality care and reasonable prices makes private healthcare an appealing choice for many American expats.

Education and International Schools

kids, girls, writing

Whether you’re moving to Portugal with your family or planning to start one there, it’s essential to consider the educational options available in the country. Portugal offers a range of Educational choices, including public education and international schools, catering to the diverse needs of its residents.

Public education in Portugal is free and compulsory for children aged 6–18 and is taught in Portuguese. However, if you’d prefer an education in English or another language, international schools are available, offering American and other international curricula.

Public Education

Public education in Portugal, supported by the Portuguese government, provides a solid foundation for children and is available at no cost to families. Schools across the country adhere to a national curriculum, ensuring a consistent and comprehensive education for all students.

While the primary language of instruction in public schools is Portuguese, many schools also offer foreign language classes, making it an excellent option for expat families looking to immerse themselves in the local culture while still maintaining ties to their home country.

International Schools

International schools in Portugal offer an alternative for expat families seeking education in English or other languages. These schools typically follow American or other international curricula, providing a familiar educational environment for children from various backgrounds. With a focus on multiculturalism and global citizenship, international schools can help ease the transition for families moving to Portugal from abroad.

Additionally, these schools often have smaller class sizes and more personalized attention for students, ensuring a high-quality education tailored to each child’s needs.

Job Opportunities and Work-Life Balance

job, office, team

If you’re considering a move to Portugal for work, you’ll be pleased to know that the country’s job market is competitive and growing, with opportunities in sectors such as IT, tourism, and online business. While knowledge of Portuguese can be beneficial in some industries, the ability to speak multiple languages is a valuable asset in fields like hospitality and tourism.

Moreover, Portugal is renowned for its excellent work-life balance. With shorter working hours and more vacation days than many other countries, Portugal places a strong emphasis on leisure and family time, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds: a fulfilling career and a relaxed lifestyle.

Job Market

The job market in Portugal is thriving, with a variety of opportunities available in sectors such as IT, tourism, and online business. In recent years, there has been a surge in the tech and startup scene, with Lisbon often being compared to San Francisco in terms of its dynamic and innovative atmosphere.

As the country continues to develop, new job opportunities are emerging, making it an exciting time for professionals seeking a fresh start in Portugal. For those considering the move, contacting the Portuguese consulate can be a helpful first step in the Portuguese immigration process.

Work-Life Balance

One of the many reasons people are drawn to Portugal is its outstanding work-life balance. The country offers a relaxed pace of life that allows you to truly enjoy your free time and focus on the things that matter most, such as family, friends, and personal well-being.

With a strong emphasis on leisure and family life, Portugal provides an ideal environment for those seeking a healthier balance between work and play.

Language and Integration

to learn, school, language lessons

Learning Portuguese and integrating into local communities can greatly enrich your expat experience in Portugal. While English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, knowing the local language can help you navigate daily life and build connections with locals.

Additionally, engaging with local communities and participating in cultural events can help you feel more connected and integrated into Portuguese society.

Learning Portuguese

Learning Portuguese is an excellent way to:

  • Get the most out of daily life
  • Establish meaningful relationships with locals
  • Feel more at ease in less populated areas
  • Open up opportunities for deeper cultural experiences

While it may not be essential for navigating daily life in major cities, knowing some Portuguese can be beneficial.

There are numerous resources available for learning the Portuguese language, such as language courses, online materials, and language exchange groups, making it easy to get started on your language learning journey.

Local Communities

Getting involved with local communities and enjoying cultural events are great ways for expats to feel more connected and embraced by Portuguese society. Some examples include:

  • Participating in neighborhood gatherings
  • Attending local festivals
  • Joining community organizations or clubs
  • Volunteering for local causes
  • Taking part in traditional activities or workshops

These opportunities allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture and make lasting connections with those around you.

By engaging with local communities and embracing the unique aspects of Portuguese life, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the richness and diversity of your new home. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the local Portuguese consulate for guidance.

Taxation and Financial Benefits

tax, forms, income

Portugal offers an incredibly attractive taxation system and remarkable financial benefits for expats, including the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) program. As an American expat living in Portugal, you’ll have the opportunity to pay taxes on your American earnings in the USA and taxes on your Portuguese earnings in Portugal, allowing you to take advantage of the country’s favourable tax rates and exemptions.

Before making any financial decisions related to taxation, it’s essential to seek advice from a qualified US tax advisor with cross-border knowledge. This will ensure you make the most of your move to Portugal and enjoy the financial benefits available to you.

Tax System

Portugal’s tax system is generally advantageous for expats, with attractive income tax rates and various exemptions available. Residents in Portugal for tax purposes are taxed on their worldwide income at progressive rates varying from 14.5% to 48% for 2023.

Additionally, there is a convenient flat rate of 20% for income earned in Portugal, making it an appealing option for those seeking a more favourable tax environment.

NHR Program

money, home, coin

The Non-Habitual Residency Program (NHR) is an incredibly beneficial Portuguese tax program that provides reduced tax rates and exemptions on certain types of income for new residents. To qualify for the NHR program, you must:

  • Live abroad and be eager to move to Portugal
  • Stay in Portugal for 183 days a year or have your primary home there
  • Enjoy the special status for up to 10 years

With the NHR program, you can enjoy a flat rate of 20% tax on most Portuguese-sourced income and potential exemptions on pension income, foreign-sourced income, and capital gains.

Popular Destinations for American Expats

belém tower, belem tower, lisbon

When it comes to choosing the perfect place to call home in Portugal, there are several popular destinations for American expats, each offering its own unique charm and amenities. From the bustling capital city of Lisbon to the historic charm of Porto and the stunning beaches of the Algarve region, there’s a place in Portugal that’s perfect for you and your lifestyle.

Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant urban life of Lisbon, the picturesque scenery of Porto, or the laid-back coastal vibes of the Algarve, each of these destinations offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty that caters to a wide range of preferences and interests. No matter where you choose to live in Portugal, you’re sure to find a welcoming community and an exceptional quality of life.


Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, offers a vibrant urban lifestyle that effortlessly blends modern amenities with a rich cultural scene. As you explore the city’s charming neighborhoods, such as Baixa, Chiado, and Alfama, you’ll discover a diverse array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, all set against a backdrop of stunning architecture and historic sites.

With its bustling energy, warm climate, and excellent public transportation system, Lisbon provides an exciting and dynamic setting for those seeking a cosmopolitan European experience.


Located in northern Portugal, Porto is known for its historic charm, picturesque scenery, and affordable living costs. The city’s stunning riverside setting and vibrant arts scene make it a favourite destination for tourists and expats alike.

As you wander through Porto’s narrow streets and explore its beautiful parks and gardens, you’ll quickly fall in love with the city’s unique atmosphere and friendly locals. Whether you’re searching for a quieter, more relaxed lifestyle or a thriving cultural scene, Porto offers an enticing blend of both.


portugal, algarve, sea

For those seeking a more laid-back lifestyle, the Algarve region in southern Portugal offers:

  • Stunning beaches
  • Warm weather
  • A relaxed atmosphere that’s perfect for retirees and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life
  • Picturesque coastal towns
  • World-class golf courses
  • Delicious local cuisine

The Algarve is an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy the finer things in life while basking in the natural beauty of Portugal’s sun-kissed coastline.

The region is home to a variety of activities, from swimming to sunbathing on the beach.

Safety and Security

toddler hand, child's hand, hand

One of the many reasons people choose to move to Portugal is its reputation as a safe and secure country. Ranking sixth in safety globally, Portugal provides a welcoming environment for families and individuals alike.

As you settle into your new life in Portugal, you can rest assured that you’re living in one of the world’s safest countries, allowing you to focus on enjoying the incredible experiences and opportunities that this beautiful country has to offer.

Driving and Transportation

road, pavement, landscape

When it comes to getting around in Portugal, you’ll find that driving and transportation are generally safe and efficient, with well-maintained roads and public transportation options available in major cities. Whether you’re navigating the bustling streets of Lisbon or exploring the picturesque countryside, you’ll find that driving in Portugal is a pleasant and stress-free experience.

And, with the country’s extensive public transportation network, it’s easy to explore all that Portugal has to offer without the need for a car.

Retiring in Portugal

Retiring in Portugal offers numerous benefits, including affordable living costs, excellent healthcare, and a relaxed lifestyle, making it an attractive option for American retirees looking for a European home away from home. With its beautiful landscapes, rich history and culture, and welcoming communities, Portugal provides the perfect environment for a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement.

So why not take the leap and experience the unique charm and unparalleled quality of life that Portugal has to offer?


In conclusion, moving to Portugal from the USA in 2023 offers an exciting opportunity to embrace a new way of life in a beautiful, welcoming, and affordable European country. With its stunning landscapes, rich history and culture, excellent healthcare, and attractive visa options, Portugal truly has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking new career opportunities, a fantastic retirement destination, or simply a change of scenery, Portugal is the perfect place to call home. So why wait? Start planning your Portuguese adventure today and discover all the wonders this incredible country has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an American just move to Portugal?

You can move to Portugal as an American if you have a residence permit and comply with their residency requirements.

After five years of residence, you may be able to apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.

How much money do you need to immigrate to Portugal?

You’ll need approximately $19,000 to move to Portugal and obtain a D7 visa, the most common one.

This amount includes having 8,000 euros in your Portuguese bank account.

Is Portugal friendly to American expats?

Yes, Portugal is an extremely welcoming and friendly country for American expats. It ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, and expats who move there are often satisfied with their lives. Violent crimes are rare, and tourists and locals alike can live without fear.

Is it better to live in Portugal or the USA?

Living in Portugal is much more affordable than living in the USA due to significantly lower rent prices, restaurant prices, and grocery prices.

You can save a lot of money by moving to Portugal!

What are the visa options for Americans moving to Portugal?

Americans moving to Portugal can benefit from the Golden Visa Program and the D7 Passive Income Visa, making their transition easy and hassle-free.

These visas provide a range of benefits, including the ability to live and work in Portugal, access to the country’s healthcare system, and the ability to open a business. They also provide a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship.

Written by
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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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