19 Reasons to Move to Portugal from USA in 2023
Do you want to move to Portugal from USA? Are you an American citizen considering moving to Portugal and becoming a Portuguese citizen? If so, read on. With its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and welcoming people, Portugal has become a popular choice for expats looking to escape the stress and fast-paced lifestyle of their home country.
In recent years, Portugal has seen a surge in immigration from the United States, with many Americans moving to Portugal, attracted to the country’s low cost of living, high-quality healthcare, and excellent infrastructure.
Whether you’re a retiree seeking a peaceful retreat, a young professional looking for new career opportunities, or a family hoping to provide your children a multicultural experience, Portugal has something to offer everyone.
Can a US citizen move to Portugal easily? In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about moving to Portugal as an American citizen, from the visa requirements and housing options to the best places to eat, drink, and explore.
1. Quality of Life
Portugal is widely regarded as one of the best places to live in the world, with a high quality of life that attracts residents from all over the globe.
The country’s appeal lies in its warm climate, stunning beaches, rich cultural heritage, and friendly people. Portugal offers a safe and secure environment with a strong sense of community, making it an ideal place to raise a family or retire.
Its universal healthcare system is highly regarded, providing quality medical care to all residents regardless of their social status or income.
The country’s rich history and cultural diversity are reflected in its vibrant arts scene, which offers a wide range of music, food, and art. Overall, Portugal offers a high standard of living at an affordable cost, making it an excellent choice for American expats and others seeking a better quality of life.
2. Affordable healthcare
Portugal offers an affordable healthcare system that provides its citizens and residents with high-quality care. The Portuguese healthcare system is a mixture of public and private health insurance providers, with the public system covering most of the population.
Under the National Health Service (SNS), Portugal’s publicly funded healthcare system, citizens and residents can access various medical services, including primary care, hospital care, and specialist care. The SNS is funded through taxes and contributions from employers and employees.
The cost of healthcare in Portugal is significantly lower than in many other developed countries, including the United States. Prescription drugs, medical procedures, and consultations with healthcare professionals are all more affordable in Portugal than in many other countries.
Expats not covered by the SNS can also access affordable private healthcare services in Portugal. Private healthcare providers offer various medical services, including specialist care and more personalized services.
The Portuguese healthcare system is highly regarded for its quality of care, affordability, and accessibility. The system is regularly ranked as one of the best in Europe.
Portugal’s high life expectancy and low infant mortality rates testify to the quality of care provided. For those seeking affordable healthcare, Portugal is an excellent option.
3. Access to the Schengen zone
One of the advantages of living in Portugal is easy access to the entire Schengen zone, a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passports and other types of border control at their mutual borders.
As a member of the European Union, Portugal is part of the Schengen zone, which means that Portuguese citizens and residents can travel freely throughout the zone without needing a visa or going through border checks. This includes countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and many others.
Non-EU citizens who obtain residency in Portugal are also granted the ability to travel freely throughout the Schengen zone.
This means they can take advantage of the many cultural and educational opportunities available in other European countries without additional visas or permits.
In addition to the ease of travel, access to the entire Schengen zone also provides economic and business opportunities. Entrepreneurs and business owners can easily travel throughout the zone to attend conferences and meetings or explore new markets and opportunities. This can help to expand their businesses and increase their profits.
Living in Portugal provides easy access to the entire Schengen zone, which offers many benefits for individuals, businesses, and the economy.
The ability to travel freely throughout Europe without the need for additional visas or permits can provide new opportunities for personal and professional growth. It can enhance the overall quality of life for residents.
4. Stunning natural beauty
Portugal is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and diverse culture. From picturesque towns to dramatic coastlines and lush forests, there are countless stunning places to explore in Portugal.
Here are just a few of the most breathtaking places:
Sintra: Located just outside Lisbon, Sintra is a charming town known for its fairytale castles and palaces. The most famous of these is the colorful Pena Palace, which sits atop a hill and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The Douro Valley: The Douro Valley is a scenic region in northern Portugal known for its vineyards and terraced hillsides. Visitors can take a river cruise along the Douro River, sample local wines, and explore the charming towns and villages in the area.
The Algarve: The whole Algarve region is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches and clear blue waters. Visitors can enjoy water sports, explore picturesque towns like Lagos and Tavira, or relax on the beach.
Lisbon – Portugal’s capital city, is a vibrant and historic city known for its colorful neighborhoods, lively street art, and rich culture. Highlights include the Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the charming Alfama district.
Madeira – Madeira is a picturesque island off the coast of Portugal known for its stunning natural beauty, including lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and stunning beaches. Visitors can explore the island on foot or by car, sample local wines and cuisine, and enjoy the breathtaking views.
The Azores: The Azores are a group of nine volcanic islands located in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, including hot springs, volcanic lakes, and rugged coastlines. Visitors can explore the islands by foot, bike, or boat and sample local cuisine and wines.
Portugal has stunning places to explore, from charming towns and villages to dramatic coastlines and lush forests. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a beautiful place to relax and unwind, Portugal has something for everyone.
5. Political stability
Portugal is known for being a politically stable country. Since transitioning to democracy in 1974, Portugal has had a stable political environment with a multi-party system that functions effectively.
The Portuguese political system is based on a parliamentary democracy with a President as the head of state.
The President has limited powers and is mainly a figurehead, while the Prime Minister, appointed by the President, is the head of government.
Portugal has a strong tradition of political and social consensus, with a history of compromise and dialogue between political parties. This has contributed to a stable political environment, even during times of economic crisis.
In recent years, Portugal has faced significant economic challenges, including high public debt levels and unemployment.
However, the country has maintained political stability and pursued reforms through collaboration between the government, the opposition parties, and social partners.
Also, Portugal is a member of the European Union, contributing to its political stability. EU membership has given Portugal access to resources and support and a framework for cooperation and collaboration with other European countries.
Portugal’s political stability is vital to its economic growth and development. Its solid democratic institutions, the culture of consensus-building, and membership in the EU all contribute to a stable political environment that allows business and investment to thrive.
6. Low gun crime
Portugal has one of the lowest gun crime rates in the world, although it has relaxed gun ownership laws.
The possession of firearms in Portugal is limited to those with a legitimate reason, such as hunting or target shooting, and a license is required to own a gun. The rigorous licensing process includes background checks, training, and psychological evaluations.
Additionally, strict laws regulate the transportation of firearms, and all guns must be stored securely when not in use. The penalties for violating these laws are severe, and there is a zero-tolerance policy for gun-related crimes.
Portugal’s low gun crime rate is also attributed to its strong focus on social welfare and crime prevention.
The country’s well-developed social welfare system helps to address underlying issues such as poverty and unemployment, which can contribute to crime.
Moreover, Portugal’s police force is well-trained and equipped to deal with crime. There is a focus on community policing, which involves building relationships with local communities to help prevent crime.
Overall, Portugal’s strict gun control laws, social welfare system, and focus on crime prevention have contributed to the country’s low gun crime rate.
For those prioritizing safety and security, Portugal is an excellent destination with one of the world’s lowest gun crime rates.
7. Easy residency visas
Portugal offers easy residency visa pathways to foreigners looking to live and work there. You must have a Portuguese visa to live in Portugal. The Portuguese government has implemented various programs to attract foreign investment, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals, making it an attractive destination for those seeking a change of scenery.
One of Portugal’s most popular residency programs is the Golden Visa Program. This program allows non-EU citizens to obtain a residency or permanent residence permit by investing a minimum of €500,000 in real estate or creating at least ten jobs in Portugal.
The program offers a fast-track route to residency and citizenship and the right to travel freely throughout the EU and is an attractive option to enter Portugal and obtain a permanent Portuguese residence permit.
In addition to the Golden Visa Program, Portugal offers residency visas for entrepreneurs, start-up founders, and highly skilled professionals.
These programs have various eligibility requirements, including a minimum investment or job creation in Portugal.
Still, they offer excellent opportunities for those looking to relocate to Portugal, start a new business, or pursue a career there.
The Portuguese government has also implemented measures to simplify the visa application process and reduce bureaucratic hurdles, making it easier for foreigners to obtain residency visas in Portugal.
There is a Portuguese visa called the D7 visa, also known as the Passive Income visa or a Retirement visa. It is a residency visa for Portugal designed for individuals wishing to retire or live in Portugal without engaging in any work activities.
The visa is also popular among individuals with the financial means to support themselves and their families without needing to work in Portugal.
The D7 visa is granted for an initial period of one year, which you can extend for another two years and then renew every two years.
The visa holder must prove they have sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents while living in Portugal without needing employment or welfare support from the Portuguese government.
To be eligible for the D7 visa, applicants must meet several criteria, including:
They must demonstrate that they have a regular and stable income source, such as a pension, investments, or rental income, sufficient to support themselves and their dependents.
- They must have adequate health insurance coverage for themselves and any dependents.
- They must have a clean criminal record and not pose a threat to public order or national security.
- They must not have any outstanding debts or liabilities in Portugal.
- They must demonstrate that they have a suitable place to live in Portugal.
The D7 visa is an attractive option for individuals wishing to retire or live in Portugal without engaging in work activities.
It provides a straightforward route to residency in Portugal and access to the country’s excellent healthcare system, affordable cost of living, and high quality of life. Before obtaining a visa, you must visit the local Portuguese consulate and obtain a luggage certificate declaring the possessions you plan to bring to Portugal.
8. Generous tax breaks
Portugal offers generous tax breaks to individuals and businesses, making it an attractive destination for investors and entrepreneurs.
For individuals, Portugal has implemented several tax incentives aimed at attracting foreign residents to the country.
One of the most popular is the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) regime, which offers a 10-year tax holiday to individuals who become Portuguese tax residents and who have not been tax residents in Portugal in the previous five years.
Under this regime, individuals can receive their pensions, rental income, and capital gains tax-free and a reduced tax rate of 20% on their employment income.
Additionally, Portugal has implemented several tax incentives for foreign investors, including the Golden Visa Program, which offers a fast-track route to residency and citizenship for those who invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate or create at least ten jobs in Portugal.
The golden visa investment program also offers tax benefits, including reduced tax rates on foreign income and the possibility of a tax-free remittance of funds.
For businesses, Portugal offers a competitive tax regime with one of Europe’s lowest corporate tax rates. Portugal’s standard corporate tax rate is 21%, significantly lower than in other European countries such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Additionally, Portugal has implemented several tax incentives to promote research and development and support small and medium-sized enterprises.
Portugal’s generous tax breaks make it an attractive destination for individuals and businesses looking to reduce their tax burden and maximize their income.
Combined with Portugal’s excellent quality of life, affordable cost of living, and beautiful scenery, the country is an attractive option for those seeking a change of scenery or looking to establish a business in Europe.
Portugal is considered a safe country with a low crime rate, making it an attractive destination for tourists, expats, and retirees.
According to the Global Peace Index, Portugal ranks as the third safest country in the world, behind only Iceland and New Zealand.
The country has a low incidence of violent crime, with the most crime in Portugal being non-violent property crimes such as theft and burglary.
The Portuguese government has implemented several measures to maintain public safety and reduce crime, including increased police presence in public areas and using surveillance cameras in cities.
Additionally, Portugal has implemented strict gun control laws, which have resulted in a low incidence of gun-related crime in the country.
Portugal is also known for its excellent healthcare system, providing residents and visitors with high-quality medical care.
The country has a free or low-cost universal healthcare system for all residents, including foreigners with residency visas. Portugal also has a well-developed emergency medical system, with ambulances and emergency services available nationwide.
Overall, Portugal’s reputation as a safe and secure country makes it an attractive destination for those seeking a peaceful and secure lifestyle.
With its low crime rate, excellent healthcare system, and beautiful scenery, Portugal is a popular destination for expats, retirees, and tourists.
10. Five years to EU Citizenship
Portugal offers a path to European Union citizenship for non-EU citizens who obtain residency there.
This path to EU citizenship is available through the Portuguese Golden Visa Program, which allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency in Portugal by investing in the country.
Under the Golden Visa Program, foreign investors can obtain a residency visa in Portugal by investing a minimum of €500,000 in real estate or creating at least ten jobs there.
The program offers a fast-track route to residency, with investors typically receiving residency permits within a few months of their application.
After five years of continuous residency in Portugal, many foreign investors here can apply for Portuguese citizenship, which is permanent residence but also grants them European Union citizenship.
This means they will have the same rights and privileges as any other EU citizen, including the ability to travel freely throughout the EU, work and study in any EU country, and access EU healthcare and social benefits.
To obtain Portuguese citizenship, applicants must demonstrate that they have a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language and have integrated into Portuguese society. They must also have a clean criminal record and not pose a threat to public order or national security.
Overall, Portugal’s Golden Visa Program offers a unique opportunity for non-EU citizens to obtain residency in Portugal and, ultimately, European Union citizenship.
This program is an attractive option for individuals looking to establish a business in Europe or to take advantage of the many benefits of EU citizenship, including the ability to travel, work, and study throughout the EU.
11. The slower pace of life
One of the appealing aspects of living in Portugal is the slower pace of life. Compared to many other Western countries, Portugal has a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle centered around family, friends, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
The Portuguese have a different attitude towards work, with a greater emphasis on work-life balance.
Work is important, as is leisure time and spending quality time with loved ones. This means that people in Portugal typically work fewer hours and take more time off to enjoy their hobbies and passions.
The slower pace of life in Portugal also means that people are generally less stressed and more relaxed.
This is reflected in the country’s social culture, where people take the time to enjoy long meals, strolls, and engaging conversations with friends and family.
Portugal’s slower pace of life also allows for a greater appreciation of nature and the outdoors. With its mild climate, beautiful beaches, and stunning countryside, Portugal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and surfing.
Overall, the slower pace of life in Portugal reflects the country’s cultural values and traditions. The Portuguese can enjoy a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle by placing a greater emphasis on leisure, family, and community.
This is a significant draw for many people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy a simpler, more relaxed way of living.
12. Affordable cost of living
Compared to many other European countries, the cost of living in Portugal is relatively low. Housing, food, and transportation costs are generally lower than in the US, and many options exist for affordable entertainment and leisure activities. This can make it easier to enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank.
Housing costs in Portugal are generally lower than in many other European countries. While prices can vary depending on the location and type of property, finding a comfortable and spacious apartment in a desirable neighborhood is possible for a relatively low cost. Many expats also purchase property in Portugal, as it can be an affordable way to own a home in a beautiful location.
Food and dining costs in Portugal are also generally lower than in the US. Locally sourced fresh produce and seafood are readily available and affordable, and there are many markets and grocery stores where one can find quality ingredients for home-cooked meals. Dining out at restaurants and cafes is also relatively affordable, with a meal at a mid-range restaurant typically costing around €15-€20.
Transportation costs in Portugal are also relatively low, with many affordable options for getting around. The public transportation system in Portugal is extensive and reliable, with options including buses, trams, and trains. Taxis and ridesharing services are also available at reasonable prices.
Overall, the affordable cost of living in Portugal can make it an attractive option for those looking to enjoy a high quality of life without spending much money. This can be especially appealing to retirees or self-employed people who can work remotely from anywhere in the world.
13. Education Opportunities
Portugal has a long and proud tradition of higher education and is home to several excellent universities. These institutions are highly regarded both within Portugal and internationally, and many offer programs taught in English.
Some of the top universities in Portugal include the University of Lisbon, the University of Porto, and the University of Coimbra. These institutions offer various programs, including medicine, engineering, business, and the humanities.
In recent years, Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for international students. Many are drawn by the country’s relatively low cost of living and high quality of life, and its reputation for academic excellence. In addition, Portugal has several scholarship programs available for international students, which can help offset tuition and living expenses.
If you’re considering moving to Portugal to further your education, it’s worth doing some research to find the program and institution that best fits your needs. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Portugal has various options available.
14. Business Opportunities
Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for entrepreneurs and small business owners in recent years due in part to the country’s favorable tax laws and supportive business environment.
Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest corporate tax rates, with a flat rate of 21%. This compares favorably to other countries in the region, such as France and Germany, which have rates of 28% and 30%, respectively. In addition, Portugal has several tax incentives to encourage entrepreneurship and investment, including a reduced tax rate for certain types of small businesses and a tax credit for research and development.
The Portuguese government has also made starting and operating a business easier in the country. In recent years, the country has streamlined its business registration process, making setting up a new venture faster and more straightforward. Portugal also offers support services for entrepreneurs and small business owners, including mentorship programs, access to funding, and networking opportunities.
Finally, Portugal’s location at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Americas makes it an ideal base for businesses looking to expand into new markets. The country has a well-developed infrastructure and strong connections to other countries in the region, making it easy to do business across borders.
Portugal offers a supportive and business-friendly environment for entrepreneurs and small business owners, with favorable tax laws, streamlined processes, and access to various support services. Whether you’re looking to start a new venture or expand an existing one, Portugal could be an excellent choice.
15. Digital Nomad friendly
Portugal is considered one of Europe’s most digital nomad-friendly countries, with a range of benefits for remote workers. The country offers a vibrant start-up culture and a variety of co-working spaces, cafes, and other work-friendly environments.
The cost of living in Portugal is also relatively affordable compared to other European countries, which is an attractive feature for digital nomads looking to live and work abroad. Portugal has modern infrastructure with fast internet speeds, making it an ideal destination for remote workers who require a reliable internet connection.
Additionally, the government has introduced various initiatives and programs, such as the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime, to attract foreign residents, remote workers, and entrepreneurs to the country. Portugal’s digital nomad-friendly environment makes it an excellent destination for those looking to work remotely.
16. Rich history and culture
Portugal has a rich history and culture deeply embedded in its traditions, arts, and architecture. The country is known for its unique blend of influences from its history of Moorish, Roman, and Celtic settlements and its exploration of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.
This history is visible in the country’s architecture, with stunning examples of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles found throughout the country. Portugal is also renowned for its art, with the works of celebrated artists such as Josefa de Óbidos, Almada Negreiros, and Paula Rego showcased in museums and galleries across the country.
The country is also famous for its music, including the traditional Fado, recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Portugal’s culture is further exemplified by its vibrant festivals and celebrations, such as the Carnival of Torres Vedras, the Festas de Lisboa, and the Festa do Avante. Portugal’s rich history and culture offer visitors and residents a unique and unforgettable experience.
17. Delicious cuisine and wine
Portugal is renowned for its delicious cuisine and high-quality wine. The country has a long history of winemaking, with many regions producing distinct and flavorful varieties. Some of the most famous wine regions include the Douro Valley, known for its port wine, and the Alentejo, known for its full-bodied red wines.
Portuguese cuisine is famous for its fresh seafood, hearty meat dishes, and flavorful spices. One of the most famous dishes is bacalhau, a salted cod dish that is prepared in a variety of ways. Other popular dishes include grilled sardines, cozido (a stew made with meat and vegetables), and francesinha (a sandwich filled with cured meats, cheese, and a spicy tomato sauce).
Portugal’s culinary culture is deeply rooted in tradition, with many recipes passed down through generations. The country’s emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients and simple preparation techniques make for an unforgettable dining experience. Whether enjoying a meal at a local taverna or dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, Portugal’s cuisine and wine will delight your taste buds.
18. Vibrant nightlife
Portugal’s vibrant nightlife is a major draw for tourists and locals alike. The country has a lively and exciting social scene, with something for everyone.
You’ll find various bars and nightclubs in Lisbon, from trendy rooftop bars to underground clubs playing the latest music. The Bairro Alto neighborhood is popular for bar-hopping, while the Docas area is known for its waterfront bars and clubs.
Porto is another city with vibrant nightlife, particularly in the Ribeira district, where bars and clubs open late into the night. The city is also known for its Fado music scene, best experienced in one of its traditional Fado houses.
The Algarve region is another popular destination for nightlife, particularly during the summer months when beach bars and clubs are in full swing. Cities like Albufeira and Lagos have various nightlife options, from laid-back beach bars to upscale nightclubs.
Overall, Portugal’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a relaxed evening at a local tavern or an all-night party at a trendy nightclub.
19. Welcoming and friendly people
One of the best things about Portugal is its friendly and welcoming people. Portuguese people are known for their warm hospitality and genuine kindness towards visitors.
From the moment you arrive in Portugal, you’ll be greeted with a smile and a friendly “Bom dia” (good day) or “Boa tarde” (good afternoon). Whether you’re in a small village or a bustling city, you’ll find that people are always happy to help you and make you feel at home.
Portuguese people are also very proud of their country and culture and love sharing it with others. You’ll often find locals eager to recommend their favorite restaurants, sights, and activities, and they’ll go out of their way to ensure you have a great experience in their country.
Overall, the friendly and welcoming nature of the Portuguese people is one of the many reasons why so many visitors fall in love with the country and choose to return year after year or move here permanently.
Portugal is a hidden gem in Europe that offers many benefits for those looking to relocate from the USA.
Portugal has much to offer, from its political stability and affordable healthcare to its stunning landscapes and easy access to the entire Schengen zone.
The slower pace of life in Portugal is also a major draw, as it provides a more relaxed and balanced lifestyle that allows for a greater appreciation of nature, family, and community.
Whether you’re looking to retire, start a new business, or enjoy a change of pace, Portugal offers a welcoming and supportive environment to help you achieve your goals. With its friendly people, rich culture, and high quality of life, Portugal is a great place to call home for American expats.
FAQs about moving to Portugal from the USA
Do I need a visa to move to Portugal from the USA?
US citizens need a visa to stay in Portugal for over 90 days. Several visa options are available, including the D7 visa for retirees and the Portugal Golden Visa program for investors.
How long does it take to get a visa for Portugal?
The processing time for a visa can vary depending on the type of visa and individual circumstances. Generally, obtaining a visa can take several weeks to a few months.
Do I need to speak Portuguese to live in Portugal?
While it is not necessary to speak Portuguese, knowing the language will make navigating daily life in Portugal easier. Many locals speak English, especially in urban areas, but speaking Portuguese can help you better integrate into the community.
What is the cost of living in Portugal?
The cost of living in Portugal is relatively affordable compared to other European countries. However, the cost can vary depending on the location and lifestyle. Generally, housing, food, and transportation are cheaper than in the US.
Is healthcare affordable in Portugal?
Yes, healthcare in Portugal is affordable and accessible. The public healthcare system is free for residents and provides universal coverage. Private healthcare options are also available and are generally more affordable than in the US.
How is the job market in Portugal?
The job market in Portugal can be competitive, but opportunities are available, particularly in fields such as technology, tourism, and finance. English teaching is also a popular option for expats.
How safe is Portugal?
Portugal is generally a safe country with low crime rates. However, like in any country, taking basic safety precautions and being aware of your surroundings is essential.
Can I bring my pets to Portugal?
You can bring pets to Portugal, but specific requirements must be met, including microchipping, vaccination, and documentation.
How long does it take to become a citizen of Portugal?
US citizens can apply for Portuguese citizenship after legally residing there for five years. However, several requirements must be met, including knowledge of the language and passing a citizenship test.
How is the weather in Portugal?
The climate in Portugal is generally mild, with warm summers and mild winters. Coastal regions tend to be more temperate, while inland areas can be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
What is the education system like in Portugal?
The education system in Portugal is similar to that of the US, with a range of public and private schools available. Education is free and compulsory for children aged 6 to 18.
Is it easy to make friends in Portugal?
Portuguese people are generally friendly and welcoming to expats. It can take time to build friendships, but there are many opportunities to meet people through work, social events, and community activities.