Retiring to Portugal
It has been half a century since modern-day Britons latched on to the easy and affordable life that Portugal offers. They have been following in the footsteps of the British who have had a 650-year close association with the Portuguese – mainly over the matter of port wine.
Interest has largely focused on the Algarve coast in the south – home to dune-fringed sandy beaches and one of the most temperate climates in the world, with more than 3,300 hours of sunshine, sunnier than anywhere else in Europe.
But there is more to the country than its sunny southern coastline, and there are other reasons why the British feel drawn towards it as a place to retire – one of them more than six centuries old.
The near 650-year long alliance Portugal has enjoyed with the UK is proof of the enduring mutual respect between these two maritime nations and part of the reason why so many Britons choose to live there.
Other incentives for choosing Portugal include a relatively low cost of living coupled with significantly lower property prices. It also has the third largest British expat community in Europe after Spain and France and, uniquely in continental Europe, it shares the same time zone as the UK.
Portugal has traditionally been seen as enjoying a low cost of living – a compelling reason for retiring there. But low prices do not apply across the board, and the reality is that – apart from in certain key sectors – Portugal is not a particularly cheap country to live in any more.
In common with most other countries on the European continent, the cost of living is much higher in the cities than in rural towns and villages. The disparity between Lisbon and a rural community in the Alentejo is confirmation of this, with the cost of basic commodities and utilities in the former likely to as least twice that in the latter.
However, the average cost of food and drink in Portugal is significantly lower than other western European countries. Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially if bought at local markets, are remarkably good value. So is seafood, testament to Portugal’s near 1,800km coastline and its vibrant and productive fishing industry.
The cost of imported consumer goods and domestic fuel is high, as are international and regional telephone calls, new and second-hand cars and the cost of prescription medicines.
In general terms, the cost of living in Portugal – not taking into account rent – is 32% lower than the UK, and rent is 51% lower than in the UK.
As an EU citizen, you can remain in Portugal for up to three months without registering your residency. If you intend to stay longer, you must apply for a registration certificate from the Town Hall in the area where you live within four months of arrival. This certificate will be valid for five years from the date of issue, or for the period of intended residence. After that, you can apply for a permanent residence certificate from the Immigration authorities (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).
Permanent residence is available to EU nationals who have lived legally in Portugal for five years. Permanent residence permits should be renewed every five years or whenever your personal information changes.
See our ‘Brexit Update’ pages for how your retirement to Portugal may be affected as the UK leaves the EU.
‘Retiring to Europe‘ provides you with the key information you need to consider when planning your retirement to any of the most popular countries in Europe. The following subjects are comprehensively covered for each destination:
Cost of Living
Retiring to Europe
Europe remains a popular retirement destination for Britons. But where best to retire in Europe? The full-colour, 264-page book ‘Retiring to Europe’ considers the pros and cons of the popular options. It examines in detail climate, lifestyle, language, travel connections, the affordability of property, access to healthcare and the tax and other financial implications of residency in ten European countries.
It focuses on the areas of Mediterranean Europe that Britons prefer to retire to: France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It also looks at the UK as a retirement option.