Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Portugal Makes Expats Feel at Home

Expats enjoy the high quality of life, find it easy to settle in, and are happy with their personal finances in Portugal.

Ranking 4th out of 52 destinations overall, Portugal also comes fourth in the Quality of Life Index. In fact, 24% of expats moved to Portugal for a better quality of life, the most common reason for relocating there. And the country did not disappoint: more than nine in ten (94%) enjoy the climate and weather (vs. 62% globally), and 89% are happy with the air quality (vs. 65% globally). Portugal ranks seventh in the Leisure Options Subcategory: expats are particularly happy with the opportunities for recreational sports (87% vs. 75% globally).

Safe & Open

Beyond that, 93% of expats find it easy and safe to get around on foot and/or by bicycle (vs. 77% globally), and 82% feel that they can openly express themselves and their opinions (vs. 64% globally). For the latter factor, Portugal actually ranks first worldwide. When asked what they like most about life in Portugal, an expat from India mentions “the good environment and peaceful life”.

A Place to Call Home

Portugal lands in another top 10 spot in the Ease of Settling In Index (7th). “I enjoy the beauty of the country and the relaxed way of life of the Portuguese people and their kindness,” shares an expat from the Netherlands, and a respondent from Germany points out that “people are friendly and open”. In fact, 82% of expats describe the Portuguese as generally friendly (vs. 66% globally), and 80% consider them friendly towards foreign residents in particular (vs. 65% globally). They also find it easy to make local friends (51% vs. 42% globally) and are happy with their social life (67% vs. 56% globally).

Maybe this is why 77% generally feel at home in Portugal (vs. 62% globally), and 41% even feel completely at home there (vs. 30% globally). Overall, 45% of expats intend to stay in Portugal forever, while just 35% of expats worldwide say that about their respective host country.

Low Costs — Low Salaries

The low cost of living (8th) is another highlight of expat life in Portugal. More than seven in ten (71%) rate the general cost of living positively (vs. 45% globally). However, just 63% are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 60% globally), and 74% feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally) — both shares are just slightly above the global average.

But the cost of living is not the only thing that is low in Portugal — so are the salaries. Close to two-thirds (64%) make less than 50,000 USD per year, compared to 53% globally, and 24% even earn less than 12,000 USD annually (vs. 18% globally).

On the one hand, a high share of expats in Portugal are retired (27% vs. 10% globally). Out of those who do work, 34% only work part time, which is twice the global average (17%). On the other hand, 25% also do not feel paid fairly for their work based on their industry, qualifications, and role, compared to 20% globally.

Unpromising Career Prospects

Expats are not only unhappy with their income. More than one in five (21%) also rate the state of the economy negatively (vs. 17% globally). Portugal ranks among the bottom 10 worldwide in the Career Prospects Subcategory (43rd): expats are unhappy with the local job market (39% vs. 27% globally) and their personal career opportunities (27% vs. 22% globally).

Overall, 27% even say that moving to Portugal has made their career prospects worse, compared to 18% globally. Portugal ranks 48th for this factor, only ahead of Cyprus, Greece, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

Accomplishing Admin Tasks Is Not Always Easy

Lastly, Portugal ranks 19th in the Expat Essentials Index. While it shows an average-to-good performance for most factors surveyed in this index, this is not the case for administrative topics. More than half the expats (52%) find it hard to deal with local bureaucracy/authorities (vs. 39% globally), and 24% are unhappy with the availability of administrative/government services online (vs. 21% globally). “Dealing with the government bureaucracy is a significant challenge and a paperwork nightmare at times,” says an expat from the US.

Further Reading