Can you name a 900-year-old country in the Iberian Peninsula with a population of about 10 million? The answer is Portugal.
Portugal isn't a country that most of us hear about a lot. It has a very stable government, and it's managed to play only a minor role in most of the 20th and 21st-century conflicts, if not avoiding them entirely.
We should be talking about it more, though, because Portugal is a fascinating country and an enticing option for expatriates and immigrants. There are many good reasons to move to Portugal, and we'll talk about some of them in this article.
While no country has pleasant, sunny weather all the time, Portugal comes pretty close. Most days in the country are warm without being too hot.
This has to do with Portugal's location bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the country's size. The ocean covers over 70% of the planet, and the ocean functions like our arteries and veins in terms of how it affects the land.
The energy from the sun hits the water, largely near the equator. The water absorbs much of this heat and energy. The winds and currents then carry the water in a circular motion, constantly bringing warmer water to the poles, and bringing colder water back towards the equator. This helps regulate the temperature of the earth and keep most of it habitable.
Portugal is in a particularly advantageous position. It lies on a coast where the Atlantic currents are pushing warm water towards the poles, so the weather is often warm.
You have a selection of different housing options when moving to Portugal, at a range of different prices. The good news is that houses in Portugal tend to be affordable compared to other places with similar climates.
A 1-bedroom apartment in some of the more expensive areas of Portugal is about $1200 per month or roughly 1,050 Euros. Compare this to apartment prices in California, where the monthly rent is the same, if not slightly more, in much of the state. In major metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago, rent is often several times what it would be in the metropolitan areas of Portugal.
For those who do have more money to throw around, Portugal is one of many countries that offers a Golden Visa program. There are a few different ways to get a Golden Visa, but one of them is investing in real estate.
If you buy or renovate a property worth a certain amount of money in certain areas of Portugal, you will qualify for a Golden Visa. This gives you the right to stay in the country for two years, and from there you can apply for a three-year program, and after that, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
It's not just housing that is affordable in Portugal. The cost of food overall is quite low, and the food is high-quality.
Your grocery bills will likely be much lower than in the US, and there's a good reason for that. Much of the food in Portugal is locally grown or fished. The same is true for the US, but the US is a much larger place.
The US sprawls across millions of square miles from coast to coast and touches both sides of a continent. Portugal, meanwhile, is roughly the size of Indiana.
With food being so much more affordable, the average citizen can also afford to go to restaurants far more often, and by restaurants, we don't mean fast food.
The same way Chicago has its pizza or Philadelphia has its cheesesteak, various regions of Portugal have their specialties. If you're on the Southern coasts of Portugal, known as the Algarve, you have to try Piri-Piri chicken. This dish may look simple enough--grilled chicken with a side of fries, but they marinate the chicken in various sauces and herbs, giving it a unique flavor.
Some of the most popular ingredients in Portuguese food are sardines, cod, and other seafood. There's also a good amount of pork and olive oil.
Another of the many benefits of living in Portugal is its wine production. The country is crazy about wine. Among the most famous are its port and Madeira wines.
Both are the result of mixing brandy in with the wine, except that the hotter temperatures on the island of Madeira altered the flavor and created Madeira wine.
Porto dates back to the 16-1700s, when Britain and France were at war...again, and again, and again, etc. Being in conflict with France so often meant British sailors didn't have access to French wine, so they instead turned to Portugal. The trip from Portugal to England was quite long, so the British added brandy to Portuguese wine to keep it from going bad.
Madeira was infused with brandy for the same reason, except that Madeira wine was often destined for the Americas or the Indies and carried by the Dutch East India Company.
Madeira wine also played a major role in the American Revolution. Many of the founding fathers were quite fond of it and drank it during Continental Congress meetings. It was also a factor during the Liberty Affair when British officials seized a merchant sloop carrying Madeira wine, which caused rioting in Boston and resulted in the British military occupation of the city.
Recent history has not been kind to Portugal. The years between 2011 and 2016 saw a significant rise in emigration, so the country found itself losing more population than it was prepared for.
To remedy this, the Portuguese government has taken steps to attract new immigrants, as well as win back those who left temporarily. To this end, they're offering some attractive benefits, including lowered requirements for a residency visa. All you need to stay in Portugal for a while is to be able to support yourself, obtain travel insurance and a valid passport.
That's in addition to the benefits it already offers, such as a Portuguese NIF. The NIF is a bit like a social security number mixed with a credit card. You can use it when shopping for various goods in Portugal, and you'll need it for certain major purchases, like housing.
Using the NIF comes with rewards, including a type of tax write-off. The NIF was created so the Portuguese government could monitor money spent and keep businesses from attempting to cheat on their taxes. Using the NIF gives you some tax money back as an incentive to work with the government and keep others from defrauding them.
Those who use their NIF will also be entered into a kind of lottery, and the prizes can be very valuable. It's not unheard of for family cars or even sports cars to be given out.
It's not uncommon to hear someone in the United States bemoan the lack of healthy foods in the US and talk about how hard it is to lose weight. This is very true because much of the food in the US is cheap to produce, but also very unhealthy. This has led to the United States having one of the highest obesity rates in the world at 36-40%.
Portugal, meanwhile, has a rate of about 20%, and there's a good reason for this. Since the US is a foreign country, the shipping costs are higher. To compensate for the higher cost of shipping, many countries increase the price of US products.
The result is that the situation in Europe and other areas is often the opposite of that in the US. Much of the processed food is more expensive, while locally-grown foods cost less, meaning it's more cost-effective to eat healthy than unhealthy.
Portugal does have its flaws when it comes to health, though. It has a slightly higher percentage of smokers than the US and consumes much more alcohol on average than the US. Despite that, the average Portuguese citizen will outlive the average American.
While food is the main reason for Portugal's healthier population, it doesn't hurt that the country is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It's bordered by sunny beaches and is filled with rolling countryside, hills, and mountains.
There's more to the place than natural beauty, though. Portugal is an old place, inhabited by humans for over 100,000 years, and a country for almost 1,000. Suffice it to say that there are some incredible landmarks that have been left behind.
From Lisbon to Coimbra, to Evora, you'll find plenty of ancient cities in Portugal, each with its own history to enjoy. You can see one of the oldest universities in Europe at Coimbra, and the Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon, which has been around since at least the Moorish occupation of the 700s. There's also the Chapel of Bones in Evora, a church built with the remains of some 5,000 people in its walls.
Another great reason to move to Portugal is the high quality of life. The cost of utilities, electricity, and other day-to-day needs is quite low.
Portugal has a universal healthcare system, so medical services don't cost much. Those under 18 or over 65 don't have to pay for it, and for everyone else, insurance costs less than $60 per month, and sometimes as little as $20 per month.
The exception to this is pregnancy and childbirth, which are also free, which is a big help since the last thing anybody wants when taking care of a new baby is to figure out how to handle outstanding medical bills. We'd like to take this time to point out that if you're looking for a Visa, we can help.
Keep in mind that not all hospitals are owned by the national system. Only about half of them are. The other half are privately-owned, and the cost of care in these hospitals could be higher.
Though this is true for much of Europe, it should be noted that Portugal has a love of soccer, which they call futbol. Unlike most sports, soccer is played on an international level, with teams from several different countries competing year-round to see who's the best.
By year-round, we mean year-round. There are different soccer leagues that play at separate times of the year, so soccer teams play most of the year, with the exception of a few weeks between the end of one season and the beginning of the preseason.
However, the players aren't too overworked, because league rules state that there must be at least two days between matches, and there is a push to extend it to three.
Many countries have at least one professional team that plays in the league for their continent. Portugal has three, two from Lisbon and one from Porto.
Who doesn't want to pay fewer taxes? In Portugal, that dream can come true.
Portugal has what's known as a non-habitual residents program, also known as an NHR. This gives certain tax breaks to those who are tax-paying residents of Portugal who haven't lived in the country for the past five years and haven't participated in the NHR program before.
These benefits are even greater for those who work in 'high-value' fields. These include management positions, science and medical professionals, those in creative fields, and various kinds of industrial workers.
It's also worth noting that Portugal doesn't tax crypto.
Portugal is a gorgeous country with a very rich history and a mild climate. However, one of the most beloved things about Portugal is the ease of living there.
Everything in life comes at a cost, but a move to Portugal doesn't charge much for most necessities. The biggest cost is housing, but once that's been taken care of, you shouldn't have too many other worries.
There's a lot more to know about Portugal and the legal process of immigrating than can be covered in a single article. You can learn more by visiting our site. You can also ask our community if you have any questions.
Is Portugal a good place to raise a family?
Portugal is a very family-friendly country with many benefits for parents and children. The country has great weather, good quality food, world-class healthcare, good international education and the cost of living is significantly lower than many parts of the world.
Is Spain or Portugal better for expats?
Spain has traditionally been a very popular destination for expats. The good weather, the food, the close proximity to the rest of Europe and the cost of living have all been significant draw cards for people from the UK, Germany, France and other parts of the world.
We tell you how to get the most appropriate visa, how to obtain residency, taxes, education, healthcare and how to optimise your cost of living.