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Portugal Fast Facts

Porto is one of the best places to retire in Portugal

Population: 10,116,436
Capital City:Lisbon

Wooden footbridge to beautiful beach Praia do Camilo near Lagos

International Dialing Code: 351
President: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

Portugal: A Peaceful, Surprisingly Affordable European Destination

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Praia Grande, Portugal

Portugal wasn’t a well-known destination and attracted very few foreign visitors: It remained largely undiscovered until the mid-1990s, when Europeans began immigrating en masse.

The country is described as a peaceful and surprisingly affordable European destination.

Expats enjoy its beautiful landscapes, historical architecture, stunning beaches, and welcoming residency programs.

Nowadays, Portugal is home to 700,000 expats: mostly Europeans and North Americans. Most importantly, Portugal ranks as the 6th safest country in the world.

The origin of the name Algarve is Al-Gharb, meaning “west” in Arabic.

Despite its small size (225 kilometers wide and 612 kilometers long), Portugal rewards the visitor at every step, offering a mild climate, and hospitable locals.

You’ll enjoy beautiful white-sand beaches throughout the country… almond trees in the African-looking Algarve region… fields of golden wheat in Alentejo, ranches in Ribatejo… ox-driven carts across Minho… and vineyards in Douro.

The country is rich with artistic and cultural treasures, tasty cuisine, and a unique architectural style (called Manueline).

Live In Portugal

Lavradores market in Portugal
Adobe Stock/Mauro Rodrigues

When deciding whether or not to live in Portugal, expats want to know is: do people speak English in Portugal? The answer is yes. English is widely spoken by most of the locals (especially in urban cities such as Lisbon or Porto).

Living in Portugal avails itself to be a very different pace of life compared to the United States and Canada, or even compared to other European destinations.

Everything tends to move at a slightly slower pace in Portugal, with the culture being heavily geared towards taking your time with life and enjoying yourself.

For example, instead of a one-hour lunch break at noon, most Portuguese take a two-hour lunch break.

This should be seen as a pro, and not a con. After all, if you are looking for somewhere with gorgeous architecture, rich history, a hefty wine culture, stunning beaches, and more, then Portugal should be at the top of your list.

No matter where you choose to go in Portugal, you will always find the shoe that fits you.

If the luxuries and amenities that Portugal has to offer are what you are looking for, then you are looking for somewhere where you can take your time, enjoy your day, and relax (while still getting plenty done).

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Cost Of Living In Portugal

The cost of living in Portugal is extremely affordable, which is what makes it such a sought after luxury destination.

While more and more people are migrating towards Portugal and the varied lifestyles it has to offer, the prices are competitive and affordable on a budget.

Compared to other countries in Western Europe, the cost of living in Portugal is on average 30% to 35% cheaper. When you compare it to the United States, it’s on average 37% cheaper.

No matter where you are coming from, moving to Portugal will cut your budget in about a third of what it already was.

Portugal is an enviable tax destination for new residents, and offers bargain real estate opportunities outside of Lisbon and non-tourist areas.

Getting To Portugal

Since Portugal is a peaceful and surprisingly affordable European destination, you’ll find the ideal destination: Wonderful Mediterranean weather, charming and welcoming people, tax benefits, beautiful beaches, plenty of wine, and a relaxing lifestyle.

Getting to Portugal from the United States and Canada is simple and extremely affordable.

A round trip flight from the U.S. or Canada costs on average US$800 up to US$1,200.

You can fly from most major cities in the United States and Canada directly (New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal). The cities you will land in Portugal are Lisbon, Faro (in the South), and Porto (in the North).

Best Places To Live In Portugal

The cities and areas we recommend in Portugal are the Algarve region, Lisbon, Porto and the North, and the Silver Coast.

In The Algarve Region is where most expats end up, especially in cities like Lagos and Tavira. If you love cliffs, old towns, medieval walls, and stunning beaches, then look no further than Lagos.

For something closer to nature then the smaller coastal town of Tavira is where you should be looking.

Lisbon, the capital of the country, has one of the lowest cost of living of Portugal and most other European capitals. The locals are charming and welcoming.

The city of Lisbon has an old feel and plenty of things to do: Wonderful cuisine, unique architecture, and a vibrant lifestyle.

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, and is widely viewed as the culture capital of Portugal: You can find a historic center, the Ribeira district, which is an UNESCO world heritage site.

On top of history, aesthetics, and culture, you will find plenty of beach resorts and luxurious amenities in the nearby areas.

Last but not least, we recommend the Silver Coast: A 150 mile stretch of beach along the North of Portugal, directly competing with the Algarve Region in the South.

While the weather is not as consistent and idyllic as the Algarve, the Silver Coast is seen as more authentic and is attracting plenty of expats to its beaches.

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Health Care In Portugal

Health care in Portugal is fantastic. The state provides health care which is free for all citizens and legal residents in Portugal.

The general rule of thumb for health care in Portugal is that it is free for all procedures except for dental care and cosmetic surgery.

You can expect to pay minor fees when it comes to visits to the emergency room, your family doctor, or requesting an ambulance (these fees are extremely affordable and range from US$6 to US$22).

Health care in Portugal is made for the people. The health care systems and the medical staff are highly qualified, and the public hospitals in the larger urban cities are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

Once you are a resident in Portugal, register yourself with your local health center, your centro de saúde: You will be appointed a family doctor, or put on a waitlist for the next available doctor that will be assigned to you and your family.

For private facilities and primary care facilities, you will also be required to pay for a percentage of the diagnostic exams and the appointments.

While health care in Portugal is free and available to all, you will still be expected to pay some fees.

Depending on your needs and whether or not you mind waiting for your turn in public hospitals, it’s a good idea to also get private insurance to balance out the extra fees incurred.

On average, per year, private health insurance in Portugal will run you from US$440 (for a basic plan) to US$1,100 (for a fuller plan).

In conclusion, health care in Portugal is cheap, excellent, and covers everything you would need in an emergency. Add it to the cost of living and you’ll see why Portugal is such a popular retirement destination.

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Expats Are Welcome!

A panorama of Carvoeiro at the dusk in Algarve region, Portugal.

The Algarve Region is the southwesternmost coast of mainland Portugal. Bordering the Atlantic, this is already home to more than 100,000 expats.

What does The Algarve offer? It’s the best of the Old World, from medieval towns and fishing villages to open-air markets and local wine, plus some of Europe’s best beaches.

Nowhere in the world could you embrace a better overall foreign visitors than in Portugal’s Algarve region.

Above all, Algarve arguably boasts some of the world’s greatest weather: It enjoys 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, more than most anywhere else in Europe.


Tipping in Portugal differs from the States and other European destinations and those who choose to spend time in Portugal should learn the local standards.

You have no obligation to tip in restaurants, hotels, bars, or personal service locations like salons and spas. However, a tip is always appreciated by the service provider and tips are more common in tourist areas or places with a high expat population.

Fun Facts

The Vasco de Gama Bridge in Lisbon, over the Tagus River. is the longest bridge in Europe at 10.7 miles long.

a pile of old booksThe oldest bookstore chain in the world,Livraria Bertrand, is from Portugal and was launched in 1732.


Portuguese is spoken by more than 230 million people worldwide and is the official language of nine countries.

Portugal - FAQs

Where is Portugal?

Portugal is on the Iberian Peninsula, in the southwest corner of Europe. Portugal shares that peninsula Spain, its larger neighbor.

What Is Portugal Known For?

Portugal is known for Fado music and also for being the largest cork producer in the world.

When Are The Best Months To Travel To Portugal?

Portugal’s high season is during July and August, especially to coastal areas. Expect to pay at least a 30% premium on accommodation and encounter warm weather across the country.

Is Portugal A Good Place For Retirement?

Yes, Portugal is a sought after retirement destination. In fact, it’s one the world’s top retirement havens.

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