Life in Portugal: A Guide to Culture and Citizenship

By  //  February 16, 2023

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

The very mention of Portugal conjures up images of a perfect temperature, spacious beaches, and stunning scenery.

Many foreigners find the allure of Portugal’s lifestyle and the country’s consistently pleasant climate alluring. And then there are the many cities and towns, from the thriving Lisbon areas to the ancient, enigmatic places like Obidos.

In addition, locals have a stellar reputation for their warmth and hospitality. When you add it all up, living in Portugal is an adventure you will remember.

Through its services, Global Residence Index assisted hundreds of investors and their families from different nations in relocating to Portugal through an eligible investment.

Hopefully, this essay will serve as a beacon on your path toward a move to Portugal, one of the world’s most beautiful nations. The article’s key points are as follows.

What to anticipate from expat life in Portugal?

Portugal is characterized by its rich history, great fresh food, relaxed way of life, and family-oriented, primarily Catholic culture.

The natural and constructed landscapes also attract significant visitors. Whitewashed villas with brightly tiled exteriors are a common sight in urban areas. Moorish castles dot the region, telling stories of Islam’s and Christianity’s (and the Spanish’s) fights for dominance. And then there’s the Algarve, where sandy beaches and rugged cliffs come together in charming cities like Albufeira, Lagos, and Portimao.

Portugal has not fared so well in modern times. Portugal, the only existing authoritarian dictatorship in Europe, lagged behind its European neighbors in 20th-century urban and social development.

A severe economic downturn from 2010 to 2014 was the period’s climax, prompting many young people to leave the country in search of better prospects. This slowed economic growth because of the shortage of available workers. Therefore, Portugal’s GDP of $231 billion (compared, for example, to #1 rated Germany’s GDP of $3.8 trillion) places it only 19th on the list of Europe’s strongest economies.

As a result, Portugal has become Europe’s cheapest country to live in. Portugal is about 30% less expensive than the UK overall, with rent specifically cheaper by about 33%. Everything from groceries and wine to automobiles and real estate is far more affordable in Portugal than in other parts of Europe.

Is relocating to Portugal fraught with danger?

The vision of Humanity ranks Portugal as the world’s fourth safest country in their Global Peace Index for 2021.

The crime rate in Portugal is extremely low and falling; in 2018, there were just 0.79 crimes per 100,000 people.

According to Numbeo, Portugal has among the lowest rates of crime worldwide. In addition to being one of the safest countries to walk alone at night, it is also one of the safest countries for women due to the extremely low rate of sexual harassment there.

Petty crime is widespread in Portugal, the British government warns.

As reported by the EU Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre, the probability of a natural disaster occurring in Portugal is low but not zero. Foreigners should be prepared for the danger of earthquakes and tsunamis in Portugal. Although it has been quite some time since a natural disaster of this magnitude struck Portugal, the threat remains.

Culture and practices unique to Portugal

There is a persistent bond between Portugal and its history. Many long-established businesses are thriving, like the production of cork and the decoration of tiles. Since Portugal has a long tradition of practicing Catholicism, it is not unusual to find the streets empty on Sundays. Portugal celebrates both the Brazilian-inspired Carnival in February and the religious traditions of Santa Semana (Holy Week, running up to Easter Sunday).

It would help if you tried Portuguese pizza with bananas on top. It’s no surprise that Portuguese foods like pasteis de nata and peri-peri chicken have gained international renown.

Although it ranks low in the United Nations (UN) assessments for gender equality, the country goes further than most in protecting women, earning it the 21st greatest country in the world to be a woman (40th). In 2011, Portugal established a gender identity law that has been recognized as one of the world’s most robust in preserving the status of transgender persons, adding to its already extensive anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community. SPARTACUS’s Gay Travel Index ranks Portugal as the world’s second-most gay-friendly country.

Portugal’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Although 81% of Portuguese citizens identify as Catholic, there is also a sizeable population of Hindus, Jews, and Muslims that call Portugal home. A sizable minority of people (7% at last count) now consider themselves atheists or agnostics.

Instructions for Expat Relocation to Portugal

Portugal welcomes immigrants from its neighbors because of its membership in the European Union (EU). However, unless they were already residing in Portugal before January 1, 2021, British nationals must go through the same process as all other non-EU citizens to migrate there. The process of relocating to Portugal is simple. It’s important to complete the following steps simultaneously:

  • You must apply for a Portugal Residency Visa (good for about three months) or Residency Permit before your 90 days are up (valid for one year)
  • You might think of the Residency Visa as a temporary extension that will buy you time to fill out an application for a Residency Permit. 

Working in Portugal: Jobs, Visas, and Working

Hence, to visit, reside, or work in Portugal, a visa is not required for citizens of the European Union. Anyone else planning to make Portugal their permanent home must have the following:

  • A passport valid for at least three months beyond the time frame in which you plan to dwell in Portugal is required to submit a residency application.
  • A visa: Expats moving to Portugal must get one of three different visas:
  • The price of a short visa (valid for up to 90 days) is approximately €80 or £70.
  • Costing about €75 (or £68), a temporary stay visa is good for up to a year.
  • A long-stay or residence visa costs about €90 or £80, allowing you to enter and remain in the country indefinitely.

You’ll need proof of sufficient funds to cover your expenses while in Portugal if you want to apply for a short- or long-term visa. This could be in the form of a bank statement, tax return, or other documentation verifying a steady source of income or additional savings. You’ll also need documentation confirming secure housing, such as a lease or deed. Finally, a clean record is not required.


It’s a good idea to talk to an expert about moving to Portugal if you have any concerns or queries. It’s possible to save time and money with a reliable counselor, depending on the nature of your requirements.