Living abroad has been my dream since I was little. My parents moved us all across the country when I was 10 years old. I grew up in California, then Texas, then Florida, then back to California, then New York, then back to California again.
I always wanted to live overseas. So when I turned 30, I finally got my chance.
Now I am living in Portugal as an American Expat and I’m intending to continue here for at least another decade.
But how is it to live in Portugal as an American?
This question is frequently asked by many American clients that seek specialized services from investment migration consultancy firms.
This article tries to answer most of those questions.
If you want to go more in detail about what’s living in Portugal as an American, read more here. It was written by a specialized consulting firm that has been in the Portuguese market for several years already.
The Decision to Move to Portugal
The main reasons pointed out by foreigners to move to Portugal are mostly related to retirement, studies, starting a business, or working remotely. It’s not uncommon for expats to start working in other fields than their previous professional or academic background in order to move to another country like Portugal.
It’s never easy to move to a new place. There are always disadvantages and advantages when as a foreigner you try to settle in.
However, the most influential part in such a decision isn’t related to the country itself, rather with the person which is willing to move there.
There are some questions that need to be correctly addressed, like:
- Will you need to stay relatively close to your family?
- What kind of housing would suit you best?
- For how long are expecting to move?
- Are you willing to work outside of your background experience to accomplish such a move?
This southern European country has its own pros and cons for Americans willing to move there.
Some of the most commonly pointed advantages pointed by Americans when living in Portugal are:
- the weather
- the food
- the culture and its people
- living cost
- the quality of life
Other factors are also pointed out, depending on whom you ask. For example, the education and healthcare system, the public transportation in larger cities, the beaches just some minutes to major cities, or its proximity to Africa or southern European countries, and the list could go on..
But not everything is perfect or seen as an advantage while living there. In some cases, the biggest disadvantage is the language barrier when outside of the biggest cities. If you need to speak Portuguese, it might not be an easy task. It’s usually difficult to start speaking Portuguese in a matter of months, especially for non-romance language speakers.
Also, when living in interior areas which are distant from major cities, the transportation system isn’t well developed and not widespread as sometimes need. In those places, you will need to rely on a vehicle for more frequent travel.
Looking for other American expats in Portugal?
There are many American expats living in Portugal, mostly in the cities of Lisbon and Porto and the Algarve region. However, there are actually couples or families living in other more interior regions, whether in the south, as for example, Alentejo, or further in the center and north part of the country.
If you want to know what life is like for an American expat in Portugal, articles like this definitely help you in the research phase. However, if you have the chance, always try to connect with Americans that already live in the country for several years or that have recently moved there. Learn by their experience, but also from their mistakes.
Where can you find Americans living in Portugal?
The best place to live in Portugal as an American expat
I’ve lived in many places around the world. If you are willing to choose one of the major cities, I would say Lisbon is one of the best cities in Europe to live in if you’re an American expat. It’s easy to navigate, safe, clean, affordable, and friendly.
If you compare to other European countries, Portugal has one of the lowest living costs. Even if increased recently, housing costs are still among the lowest in Europe, especially outside the metropolitan areas. Food can be considered cheap and served with significant portions in more traditional restaurants.
When living outside of Lisbon or Porto, or another major city, your biggest expense will most likely come from your commutes, especially if you need to travel frequently. And that’s mostly because of the gas prices, but also because of tolls that you might need to pay in the extensive motorway system that crosses the country. Gas is pretty expensive if you compare it to the United States or other EU countries.
Is there free healthcare in Portugal?
Yes! The Portuguese government provides universal health care for all its citizens. It’s called Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). All residents must pay a small fee each year to cover their medical expenses. If you’re not covered under your employer’s plan, you’ll likely qualify for some form of public insurance.
One of the most frequent questions I get is if Americans are welcome in Portugal?? Yes, they are!
Portuguese people are friendly and welcoming, and they love meeting new people and tourists visiting the country. Most also speak English fluently, which makes traveling around the country easier.
Their culture has influenced me greatly over the years. It’s not just the language or food that I love, but their overall lifestyle and pace of life. And I’m sure you can relate to these things too. Will it be the final ingredient for settling in Portugal? I would love to hear if that is the case.