Right now, I’m writing this article from sunny Portugal, where Amon and I decided to settle with our family after achieving financial independence and retiring early! We’ve talked extensively about early retirement and retiring overseas, and have even given virtual tours of our homes abroad. So it’s no surprise that so many people ask - why Portugal?
My response: Why not Portugal?!
But, in all seriousness, we put a lot of thought and research into where we would retire. In the end, Portugal won out. Here’s why:
1. Warm and Welcoming
While Portugal is a pretty warm country, I’m not talking about the weather when I refer to Portugal being “warm.” From the first time we traveled here, we found Portugal to be extremely welcoming, particularly to visitors. Amon and I knew that we wanted to retire in a place that felt like a home, or a home away from home, and Portugal really fit the bill!
And it’s not just us who think so. We did a lot of research before visiting, and Portugal was always listed as one of the most welcoming countries for foreigners.
And for us, the research proved to be true. We’ve made many friends here in Portugal, our neighbors are always helping us out, and our girls have adjusted and made so many friends at school. Proof positive that the people in Portugal are incredibly warm and welcoming!
2. Fewer Language Barriers
We’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that Portuguese is a very difficult language to learn. The good news is that speaking Portuguese isn’t a requirement for living in Portugal!
We definitely plan to learn the language, but you realize pretty quickly after arriving here that SO many people speak English. And even if you’re interacting with, say, a shopkeeper who can’t speak it, someone nearby will usually step in and translate for you.
Even signing leases and contracts is an easy process. Our lease in Lisbon was in both Portuguese and English, which is pretty rare for a foreign country and super helpful. It was one of those little things that made us feel like we had made the right decision.
3. Portugal is Diverse
Portugal is actually very diverse - not as diverse as the United States, but it’s diverse. Lisbon, for example, is the biggest city in Portugal. Because it’s such a popular tourist destination, there's so much diversity there. It’s a melting pot of cultures, and so many people speak multiple languages. Diversity is pretty important to us, and coming from America it’s just what we’re used to, so it was another aspect of the country that made us feel at home.
4. The Visa Process Is Easy
Now, when we were looking for places to retire abroad, we ended up in a toss-up between Portugal and Spain. One of the reasons we chose Portugal was that it has a much smoother and easier visa process than Spain does.
If you’ve ever lived abroad you know how stressful the visa application process can be, but Portugal honestly makes it as easy as possible. Not perfect, but better than many other countries.
In the end, we applied for the Passive Income Visa, the D-7. There are a couple of different visa options you can apply for, but this is the type that made the most sense for us. The D-7 is for retirees who are living off of their pension, or their assets (like us).
Getting our D-7 visas approved was super smooth and we’ve actually been approved for residency in Portugal until 2024 (at which point, we get to apply for a longer stay)!
5. The ‘Non-Habitual Residence’ Tax Scheme
If you come to Portugal, you can apply for a ‘non-habitual residence’ tax scheme that allows you to pay reduced tax or even no tax on the income you’re bringing into the country. For Amon and I, we were approved for the NHR status in Portugal - giving us incredible tax benefits here.
Understandably, this was a huge incentive for us to make the move, and we haven’t seen a similar tax scheme for foreigners in any other country we’ve researched.
6. The Healthcare System
Here in Portugal, our family of four pays only $1500 in healthcare insurance per year! As part of our D-7 visa application, we needed to purchase private health insurance, at a very affordable price.
But healthcare affordability isn’t the only incentive to retire here. According to the World Health Organization, Portugal ranks 12th in overall quality of healthcare, meaning they have a better healthcare system than the US.
7. Low Cost of Living
It’s not just health care that’s affordable. Compared to where we were living in the San Francisco Bay Area, living in Portugal has been an absolute bargain! When we lived in Lisbon, our apartment cost one-fourth of our place back in the States. Now that we’ve bought a house (and paid cash for it!) we’re living rent and mortgage free!
Housing costs, food, healthcare, and even our kids’ education are so much more affordable in Portugal. To give you a small example - in the U.S, people often say that if you stopped ordering your daily latte you could invest that latte money and make millions. But in Portugal, that saying is irrelevant because you can generally purchase a latte for less than one euro (compared to 5 dollars back home). In Portugal, you can drink multiple lattes a day without thinking twice!
8. The Education System
Obviously, our children's education was a huge priority to us when looking for a country to retire in. And here in Portugal, there is a huge range of fantastic private and public schools available. And with the education our girls receive here, they can take that education and study further anywhere, including the UK, Asia, or back home in the USA.
And on another note - there are also study options for Amon and me! There are so many different universities in Portugal with so many options for learning for the whole family!
9. Safety First
Being a family of four, with two young daughters, we needed to know that our new home country was as safe as possible. Thankfully, Portugal ranks third on the Global Peace Index, just behind New Zealand and Iceland. Unless you’re living in those countries, your country just isn’t as safe as Portugal!
Whether you’re traveling with children or partners or alone, whether you’re a man or woman, you’ll feel safe in Portugal at any time of day or night. And for us, that’s priceless.
10. There’s Always Something To Do
Just because we’re retired, doesn't mean we want to sit around and do nothing! And Portugal has so many opportunities for us to get up and out of the house. Portugal has beaches, lakes, hiking trails, biking trails, museums, libraries, sporting events, professional sports teams . . . the list goes on!
All in all, Portugal is an amazing country, and we couldn’t be happier with our choice to retire here. And remember: Portugal has so many unique cities to consider. If you’re interested in moving to Portugal, keep doing your research. You might just find your own slice of heaven here, too.
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