There are many reasons to move to Portugal, including its high quality of life, lower living costs, a relaxed pace of life and of course the sunshine! In an annual Expat Insider Survey by Internations, Portugal was in the top 3 places for expats to live as the country ranked highly in a number of areas, including personal happiness (2nd), health & well-being (7th), and safety & security (8th). There are many towns, villages and cities in Portugal – charming and characterful places that you could call home, and we have put together a few of them in this blog.
Of course, we can’t write a blog on the best places to live in Portugal without talking about the country’s capital. Home to approximately 87 different nationalities, Lisbon is the most popular place for expats to live in Portugal. The diversity of the city makes it a very dynamic and exciting place to live. You can also escape from the city and enjoy some of the Portuguese beaches that are in close proximity to the city. Just one of many is Guincho Beach, which was used as a setting in a James Bond Film back in 1969. To get to this beach you can take a 30-minute train ride from the centre of Lisbon or a 30-minute drive by car. In Mercer’s 2019 quality of living survey, Lisbon ranked 37th in the world, ahead of other cities like London, Barcelona, New York, Madrid, Rome, Chicago and many more. In the 2019 Expat Insider Survey by Internations, Lisbon ranked in the top 10 cities for expats, as in 6th place it came ahead of other European cities like Barcelona. The fact that there are approximately 300 days of sunshine all year round could be a key contributor, as well as the easy and relaxed Portuguese way of life that those living in Lisbon celebrate.
One of the advantages of living in Lisbon is that its size isn’t as daunting as bigger cities like London or New York, meaning it is easier to get around, and the city is mostly walkable by foot with there being many narrow-cobbled streets. Yet Lisbon is still bursting with exuberance, culture and rainbow lined streets due to the colourful neighbourhoods in and around the city. There are many characterful neighbourhoods to live in Lisbon. One of them is Bairro Alto, known for its young and hip feel and being the best place to enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife. Popular amongst young people, there are many hip and quirky bars and restaurants in this bohemian district. Another well-known and popular neighbourhood is Alfama as Lisbon’s oldest area, boasting a traditional feel and a sense of community. Accommodation can be a bit more expensive in Lisbon than smaller towns and suburbs in Portugal, but living costs are known to be quite low. In Mercer’s 2019 cost of living survey, Lisbon was 95th, ranking cheaper than many other European cities, including Rome, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt and Berlin.
As a coastal suburb, Cascais is just 30-minutes from central Lisbon and is known to be quite an affluent area. Boasting an elegance similar to St. Tropez, Cascais is a very desirable place to live for internationals who are after a high and lavish quality of life. You can enjoy plenty of coastal walks and spend some down time at the cafes, bar, and restaurants that are perched on cliffs with stunning views of the sea. Cascais Marina is the largest marina on the Portuguese Riviera and is the stomping ground of many of the wealthy and their yachts, often travelling towards the Mediterranean. The marina is also open to tourists who can walk along the waterfront and visit the shops, bars, and restaurants although high prices can be expected.
Cascais is a popular choice for families, due to an excellent selection of international schools as well the outdoor active lifestyle that is endorsed and the fact that you can live in a bigger house in the suburb but still travel easily into the centre of Lisbon – the best of both worlds! The coastline between Cascais and Lisbon is known for having some of the most pristine Portuguese beaches.
Known as the sleepy fisherman’s village, Ericeira is another coastal town located approximately 40 minutes northwest of Lisbon. If you don’t want to live in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, Ericeira is one of the best places in Portugal to enjoy a quieter and slow-paced way of life. Spend your down time strolling the cobblestone streets and the town square, lined with local cafes, bakeries, shops and beautiful architecture – a great way to explore the Portuguese culture and soak up the sunshine. The accommodation and living costs in Ericeira are lower than Cascais and Lisbon. Living in Ericeira means that you can have a very active life outdoors, with the 40 beaches that surround the town providing the perfect terrain for walks, runs, cycles and not to mention surfing. Ericeira is known to be the first choice for surfers travelling to Portugal with it being a World Surfing Reserve. Many love the small-town and homely feel of Ericeira, where you will not fall short of experiencing the warmth and friendliness of the town’s people.
In Northern Portugal, Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and offers some of the best of Portuguese culture, history and cuisine. You will not fall short of stunning sights, as the city is home to an endless amount of medieval and gothic architecture. The views don’t stop there, as scattered throughout Porto are rooftops and bridges providing scenic views of the river Douro and the city’s beautiful architecture. Beaches are even closer to Porto than they would be to Lisbon, with Foz do Douro as the closest beach being only a 10-minute bus journey from the city centre.
Many love Porto for being just the right size, as it is said to be small enough to walk around by foot as everything is close together, yet big enough that there are plenty of attractions and services throughout the city, all of which you can explore without the congestion of a large city. As a big tourism hub, Porto also has thriving cultural, entertainment and nightlife scenes. Ribeira, which is located on the riverbank and lined with colourful terraced houses, is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Porto as well as the most authentic part of the city, being located in the heart of the old town. Some may prefer Porto over Lisbon due to the accommodation and living costs being slightly lower. Ramalde is a thriving and upcoming area in Porto, which has gained popularity amongst investors.
The Algarve region has been ranked by Forbes and CNN as one of the best places in the world to retire. With year-round sunshine, cheap living costs, picturesque landscapes and beautiful beaches, this comes as no surprise! There is no better place to enjoy the relaxed pace of life, as you spend your days wandering and exploring the Algarve coastline – lined with some of Portugal’s best beaches, charming caves, and clifftop views. The Algarve also boasts low living costs and you can expect to get good value for your money when it comes to accommodation.
Moving all of your possessions to Portugal couldn’t be easier and more affordable with our international luggage shipping service. You can pack up whatever things you need from your home and they can be delivered right to your doorstep in Portugal.
Other Relevant Blogs
The Best Countries to Live In
Moving Abroad Alone: The Pros and Cons
Make a House Home: Building Your Life Abroad