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What you should know before moving to Portugal



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 11:45

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Are you thinking of moving to Portugal? Are you dreaming of living in a sunny country? Here is some information you might need to start your move.

When I write this post I have been in Portugal for 3 years and it looks like I’m going to stay here. Moving here was a spontenous decision and I had no idea that I will settle here. I’m surprised myself. To me living here has its own advantages, but there are disadvantages as well. I’m not so in love with the country like I’m always in love with Thailand. I try to be objective in my post and you can be sure that I’m objective when writing this post.

If you want to move to Portugal, you will find all you need to know here.

Why Portugal?

Portugal might seem like a sunny and friendly country, with good cuisine, nice people and affordable prices. That’s why so many people come here to live. They hope it will be better than what they know from home.

Are these your reasons, too?

I came here by a total chance. My partner found a job here and we decided to move to Portugal. Today we both work online and we could live everywhere, but we chose Portugal because it’s quite convinient for us and buyin a property is cheap comparing to other countries in Europe.

Don’t come to Portugal if you’re looking for a job and to make a career. People don’t settle here because of money and opportunities.
One comes here due to the life quality, nature, views and because you are in love with the culture.

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Before you move to Portugal – What you need to know

Moving to Portugal might be easy and pleasant, but only if you know certain things and are prepared for them.

The weather

I put this as the first on the list because, to me, it’s an important aspect.

Recently one of my friends said that Portugal is sunny, but not warm and I agree.

Portugal has a lot of sunny days. February is already the beginning of Spring. But, is it warm? In the Summer, from May to October, it’s warm. August is hot, especially in the South. The weather changes though. The more north you go, the more rain you’ll get. It’s also quite windy.

The winter is the worst. It’s very humid. The temperature drops to 2 degrees. Houses in Portugal are not insulated and don’t have heating, so spending your days inside is not as pleasant as you may think.

Choose a good place to live

Portugal has a great choice of places to live. You can choose between little villages, completely isolated places and busy cities, like Porto and Lisbon. It all depends on where you want to live.

Things you should consider:

  • Transport – in a small town, or in the countryside you need your own car. You can rent it easily in Portugal.
  • Facilities – cinemas, theatres and attractions are only available in larger towns and cities. People who love clubbing and partying should consider moving to bigger settlements.
  • Language – do you want to live in the countryside? It’s better to learn Portuguese.
  • Prices – renting a flat or a room in a city is very expensive and the standard is not that great.
  • Getting to the airport – if you want to travel while living here, Porto and Lisbon are the best places to live.

Najpopularniejsze miejsca do życia to:

  • Porto
  • Lizbona
  • Evora
  • Faro

The most popular places to live in Portugal:

  • Porto
  • Lisbon
  • Evora
  • Faro
  • Braga

Read more here about the best places to live in Portugal.

Cost of living in Portugal

If someone asks me about the cost of living in Portugal, I say that it all depends on what you like doing and how you want to live.

I came to Portugal when I was earning 500-700 Euros per month. Along with my partner, who earned around the same, I managed to live here without any luxuries. However, this wasn’t the life I wanted to have. I think you can live somewhere nice, but don’t enjoy yourself. If you don’t have money to do what you want, you won’t be happy.

For the mentioned amount, we rented a small flat and we could afford to live in Portugal. But, every trip and every dinner outside of our home was an expense and we had to be carefule what we spent our money on.

That’s why I think that living in a city requires more money. You should have around 1000 Euro at the beginning. Check my cost of living in Lisbon and find out if this is what you need as well.

Work and money

As I mentioned before, you don’t come to Portugal because of the money and job opportunities. Portuguese salaries are low. An avarage one in Lisbon is between 700-800 Euros per month.
It’s not always possible to make a huge career in such a small country either.

Portugal doesn’t have any industries.
If you want something more out of your career, then working for a startup might be a good idea. Some banks also keenly accept foreginers.

If you are considering a job offer, find out how much you’ll be earning after tax. I think 1000 Euros should be the minimum you should look for. Outside of Lisbon you might be able to sustain yourself for less than that.

Find out how to find a job in Lisbon.

Finding accommodation

I wrote a bit about finding accommodation in Lisbon before.

The pandemic might have changed a few things on the market. In 2020 the Portuguese government started saying that they might change Airbnb flats into full-time accommodation options. Will this be possible? Will see. At the moment, the situation is the same.

To find accommodation in a good price you have to look for a long time, or be very lucky. The prices of rooms and flats are high and their standard is not adequate to it. It seems like most places are dark, cold and probably not something you are used to in your own country.
In Lisbon finding a small flat for less than 800 Euros is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

  • If you don’t have any help with finding accommodation, rent Airbnb for a month, or two.
  • Use sites like Idealista.
  • Be prepared for paying a deposit, which usually is a month of rent in advance. However, some places might require as much as 5 months of rent.
  • Sometimes the agencies require an employment contract, NIF and a bank account in Portugal.
  • Look for a place with heating or air conditioning. If you can’t find anything like that, make sure that you will be able to afford paying high bills for heating. Also, check the conditions of the walls. You don’t want any humidity or mould during Winter.


Pamiętaj, że jeżeli w Portugalii przebywasz dłużej niż 30 dni, musisz wymienić swoje prawo jazdy na portugalskie.

Portugal is a very interesting country, which is worth seeing. Plan some trips when coming here. You should see all the little towns and villages.

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To do the trips, you can use buses and trains. There are some good connections between the biggest cities. I recommend Omio, a price comparison site for buses, trains and flights.

If you want to go to the countryside, you should consider renting a car. Check out Discover Cars, which will help you with booking your 4 wheels.


I have never used the free, government healthcare. However, I can share some information that might help you.

  • Healthcare in Portugal is free or almost free for all. Sometimes you might have pay a few Euros.
  • If you would like to see a doctor, you can go to the GP surgery – centro de saude. You will find the closest clinic on Google Maps.
  • To use this service, you need to be registered as a resident.
  • I recommend getting the European Healthcare Card if you are a resident of the EU.

Registering as a resident

Remember that you need to register as a resident in junta within 30 days of coming to Portugal. Check the site of the embassy of your country in Portugal to find out what exactly you need to do.

The language

Portuguese is a complicated language, but it’s worth learning it. The people here really like when foreginers make the effort.
Sign up to Italki and buy your first lessons. It will be easier for you to live here if you know how to express yourself in the local language.

Here you will find some advice on how to learn Portuguese effectively.

The internet and your phone

You can easily buy a SIM card in Portugal. You can get your first one at the airport, after you land.

The internet is available almost everywhere. In the cities it’s fast and you won’t have any problems. It’s a bit worse in the countryside.