Settling in Portugal – improve your quality of life

5 min read

If you dream of a life in the sun away from the grey skies and the expense of living in the UK, Portugal is a fantastic option. With its reasonable cost of living, excellent healthcare and education systems and affordable property, Portugal is a popular destination for many expats. The friendly Portuguese people, delicious cuisine and laid-back lifestyle (did we mention the pleasant climate?) all make Portugal a top destination for families, retirees and digital nomads. What are you waiting for?

Moving to Portugal post-Brexit

Don’t let the UK’s exit from the EU deter you from moving to Portugal. The process to become a resident is simple to follow and once you become a resident you have a permanent ticket to hours of sunshine and a more relaxed way of life. Becoming a resident also entitles you to buy a property, open a bank account and undertake all the other administrative things you need to do such as taking out a contract for a mobile phone.

Obtaining residency in Portugal

Since Brexit, UK citizens can only stay in Portugal for a maximum of 90 days. To live there longer you will need to be a temporary resident, and after 5 years you can apply for permanent residency.

Good to know

There are several different kinds of visas required for Portugal, e.g. temporary stay, residency and job seeker visas. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives up-to-date information on the visa you will need according to your situation.

To apply for residency you will need to apply to AIMA – The Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (this was previously handled by the Immigration and Borders Service, or SEF).

The documents you will require for temporary residency are:

  • a valid passport
  • visa application form (when initially applying for your residency visa)
  • 2 recent identical photographs
  • proof of income
  • proof of accomodation
  • health insurance
  • confirmation of where you are registered to pay tax
  • your property deeds or rental contract


If you intend to work in Portugal you will also need to apply for a tax identification number (NIF – Número de Identificação Fiscal) from the Fianças (tax office).

Finding the perfect home in Portugal

Where do you want to live in Portugal?

Are you thinking of a property by the sea, renovating an inland ruin or moving into a modern city apartment? Would you prefer Lisbon for its vibrant city life, the Algarve to meet like-minded expats or a countryside location where you can integrate with the local community?

Finding suitable accommodation you’re happy with will help you settle in Portugal. You may also need to consider schools, public transport networks and the local leisure activities available.

Good to know

iad property consultants* have years of experience in the Portuguese property market. We can advise you on both rental and purchase properties, locations, amenities and how to navigate buying a property in Portugal smoothly.

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The Portuguese education system

If you’ve moved to Portugal as a family you’ll need to decide whether you want your children to attend a state or private school.

As residents of Portugal, your children are entitled to free education at a state school. You can enrol your child in the local pre-, primary or secondary school here, in English. Going to a state school has the advantage of your children learning Portuguese in a natural environment and they will soon become fluent.

If you would prefer to send your child to a private school in Portugal you’ll find several fee-paying international schools throughout the country. You can expect to pay between €5,000-€20,000 per year for private education, which tends to follow the British curriculum.


The national health service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde – SNS) provides free healthcare in Portugal to everyone with a temporary or permanent residency card. While you are waiting for your card you should have private healthcare.

To register with the SNS you should visit your local health centre which will assign you a ‘número de utente’, or SNS number, which is your unique health number. You will need to take:

  • Passport or ID
  • Proof of address
  • NIF number
  • Proof of residency, such as your CRUE (Certificado do Registo de cidadão da União Europeia) or residency certificate
  • Portuguese mobile number

Opening a bank account in Portugal

You will need a Portuguese bank account to receive income and pay bills and taxes. Having a bank account will also help you integrate into the banking system and the community. To open a bank account you will need :

  • photographic ID
  • your tax ID number (NIF)
  • proof of address
  • proof of income
Good to know

Banking in Portugal, especially in small towns and villages, tends to be more personal than in the UK. Your bank manager will know you by name and offer you guidance on your financial affairs.

Integrating into the Portuguese community

Becoming part of the local community is key to settling in Portugal. You’ll make new friends, both expats and Portuguese and take part in the Portuguese culture. The British expats are mostly living in either the Algarve region or Lisbon and its surroundings.

The best ways to integrate include :

  • Learn the language – investing time in learning the language will greatly enhance your ability to communicate with locals and participate in community activities.
  • Engage with the community – seek opportunities to engage with the locals. If you have children talk to other parents about after-school activities. You can also join community groups related to your interests – why not try a walking, dancing or wine appreciation group?
  • Participate in local festivals and events – to gain a deeper understanding of Portuguese culture. Whether you’re invited to a children’s birthday party or a local celebration, this is a chance to meet new friends and try out your Portuguese.
  • Sample the cuisine – visit local markets, restaurants, and bars to taste authentic Portuguese dishes and learn about regional specialities.
Cost of living in Portugal


Moving to Portugal is a wonderful opportunity to embrace life in this beautiful country and live your dream. Settling is easy if you follow our practical advice and integrate with the locals and fellow expats. You’ll meet people from all over Europe who have decided to make Portugal their home and you’ll quickly make a vast network of new friends.

How can we help?

Whether you want to know the best areas to settle in, are looking to rent before you buy or know where you intend to live and need to find a property, we’re here for you. iad Overseas property consultants* have a wealth of experience in the Portuguese property market and moving to Portugal and will be delighted to assist you with achieving your dream.

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