Expat Exchange
Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal

Retire in Portugal

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Retirees share their experiences living in Portugal. What are the challenges and rewards of retiring in Portugal?

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What is it like to retire in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

"Cascais is a very vibrant city. There are many things going on all the time, and there is a lively expat community in Cascais. There are international people from all over the world, and there are many networking opportunities. There is music, sports, you name it. Lisbon is just a 30 minute train ride away and the list of things to there is endless and enticing," explained a retiree in Cascais.

"Portugal is a country steeped in the arts, where many event or show is always going on , whether it be music, dance, visual arts, etc. There is a large British expat community here; I have only met one other American. There are all sorts of groups, from crafting, to card games, to outdoor enthusiasts," explained one retiree living in Tavira .

"There is a very active expat community, especially for women. There are many cultural attractions in the Lisbon area with lots of recreation. Lisbon has a lot of nightlife opportunities and transport to Lisbon is very easy from Cascais," said another member in Cascais.

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What advice do overseas retirees have for others considering retiring abroad?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

"Have an adventure while you still can. Experience a different pace of life. See some new sights. Live to the fullest while you still can - It's a big old wonderful world," remarked another retiree in Cascais.

"I just don't want everybody to rush over here and over-populate this beautiful, sleepy country," said a retiree who moved to Tavira , Portugal.

"I'm very new to this, but, so far, it's wonderful. It's everything I hoped for - and more. I would encourage anyone with a sense of adventure and desire - to go for it," said another retiree in Cascais.

What are the most challenging aspects of retiring in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

"Certainly the bureaucracy in Portugal is daunting, although we have found most people very helpful - Having learned some Portuguese has come in very handy - People are very appreciative to hear you try to speak and understand," said another retiree in living in Cascais, Portugal.

"Learning Portuguese and dealing with the bureaucracy," explained a retiree in Tavira .

"Adjusting to using public transportation instead of a car, setting up a household in a country where I don't speak the language, and starting the process of making friends and learning the language," explained one retiree living in Cascais.

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What are the most rewarding aspects of retiring in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

"I love the people, the weather, our beautiful home and my doctor! I have already made some very good friends who have helped me find a decent used car, taken the day to go with us to get our papers, in case there was a language barrier. The people I have met are very helpful," remarked another retiree in Tavira .

"I love living by the sea, utilizing the Mercado for shopping, learning new things almost every day, being challenged and energized by my new home. I'm really enjoying getting to know people from many countries and seeing the similarities and differences. I'm also enjoying all the walking I'm doing since I've chosen to not have a car," said a retiree who moved to Cascais, Portugal.

What are healthcare services like in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

We asked retirees if they have access to good medical care in Portugal. They wrote:

"Yes, we have access to Portuguese National Health which is quite good depending on where you go. And we have a supplemental at 48 Euros per month which gives us choices and pays out quite a lot of the out of pocket expense. If we see doctors and dentists and opthalmologists who belong to our plan, costs and copays are controlled and quite low. The care has been excellent," said another retiree in living in Cascais, Portugal.

"Very easy access and very good. Rated 11 by WHO forchealthcare. I have never had to wait too long to see a doctor or have a procedure done," explained a retiree in Tavira .

"There is a CUF private hospital in Cascais. So far, the care is excellent and the prices are a fraction of what they would be in the US," explained one retiree living in Cascais.

How do I meet people in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Portugal about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Volunteer with dog/cat shelters Join local groups on FB Become a regular at a coffee shop," commented one retiree living in Foz do Arelho, Portugal.

"Queen's Fitness, Obidos Lagoon, Baleal Beaches, Peniche Beach Figeuria Da Foz Beaches and Obidos main park," explained one retiree living in Obidos.

"International Women in Portugal, Women's Royal Volunteer Service and Royal British Club," said another retiree in living in Cascais , Portugal.

"There are a wide number of groups that you can join in Lisbon that will help any newcomer get situated. For women, I would recommend: Lisbon Girl Gone International. For digital nomads: Lisbon Digital Nomads. For expats looking to make a move to Portugal: Portugal: The good life Meetup.com is also a great site for events and meet ups," explained a retiree in Lisbon.

"Americans in Portugal ( and on facebook) offers social activities to mark the US holidays and some informational meetings on taxes or similar topics during the year; International Women in Portugal is also helpful on a broad basis related to settling in," explained one retiree living in Cascais.

"In my experience, restaurants and cafes afforded me the opportunity to meet new people, develop friendships, and practice speaking the language. At nearly every turn, I was able to find people willing to speak English with me and to offer useful help in developing the ability to speak Portuguese. For my part, I have not made any attempts to join expat communities. Instead, a little humility and lots of hard work trying to learn the language has opened doors to friends and families in the local community. All this began by trying to frequent the cafes and restaurants that had employees and clients who were willing to communicate," said another member in Lisbon.

What is life like in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Portugal what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Foz is a quiet town on the Atlantic, or Silver Coast. It also has the benefit of the huge Lagoon which offers a variety of water sports from kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing, sailing, and swimming. The water in the Lagoon is calm and shallow which make it warm enough for families to swim. The beach itself is very wide and has a good offering of restaurants right on the sand. In town there are also a good selection of restaurants, a butcher, two small grocery markets, a bank, hair salon and doctor," said another retiree in Foz do Arelho.

"Obidos is a tourist area for the castle. In Caldas it is a university town for art students, so you will see many different types of arts displayed," commented one retiree living in Obidos, Portugal.

"All of the things you mention. There is a wide range of social activities and sports but a lot of young families with children. The city provides many fun activities and festivals during the year," explained one retiree living in Cascais .

"Lisbon is a great city for socializing. There are many expats and digital nomads here who are always open to meeting new people. It is great for young people, as well as older expats with is wide range of options and close proximity to the beaches and lots of bars, clubs and restaurants," said another retiree in living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"Without a doubt, the vast majority of folks that I have met are first and foremost concerned with quality of life. This begins with family and friends. Sure, the economic crisis is hitting hard in Portugal, so one can expect to hear a lot about the hardships and difficulties being wrought by the austerity measures, but one can also begin to feel right a home with new friends. Conversations can certainly be started by anyone interested in football, and any chance to question locals about the rich cultural history is met with excitement and enthusiasm. Basically, if one opens their hearts and minds to Portugal and the Portuguese people, they can expect to meet warm caring people with a propensity for eating, drinking, and sharing times with friends," explained a retiree in Lisbon.

"There's a little bit of everything in Lisboa (Lisbon). Public transportation is a must in this city. There are a number of outdoor cafes where you can enjoy a coffee and people-watch. However, sports is the priority in Lisbon. Futebol (Soccer) is king here. Sporting and Benfica are the top soccer teams in the city. Be careful about wearing green (Sporting colors) in the Benfica neighborhood," explained one retiree living in Lisbon.

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What do I need to know before retiring in Portugal?

Live in Portugal? Answer this Question

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Portugal, they said:

"Don't expect to find another version of your part of America. Expect to embrace change and a new lifestyle (I go every morning to my local coffee shop to read my news online)," added another person in Silver Coast.

"Foz do Arelho is small, quiet and beautiful. It is only 8-10 minutes from Caldas da Raihna with all of the big grocery stores as well as a decent size mall. The weather here is very much like Newport Beach, CA - mild with some foggy mornings, a little sea mist late at night and lots of sunshine. I arrived in the winter which was very mild - I didn't need my puffy coat at all. It rained in mid March and in April. Not every day, and not all day. Enough to give spring flowers their needed water. I enjoy living here for its charm, tranquility and proximity to the beach, Caldas and then Lisbon is only 55 minutes away. It is an excellent place to live," remarked another retiree in Foz do Arelho.

"Obidos is a great place to visit or to live if you do remote work. If you want more of a social life move to Caldas which is five minutes away," said a retiree who moved to Obidos, Portugal.

"Don't live in the old town unless you want to deal with an influx of tourists in the summer. Be aware that housing is expensive. Get involved with clubs and organizations as soon as you can. Be aware that living here may spoil you because it's so beautiful and wonderful," said another retiree in Cascais .

"I would tell them to meet as many local people as possible and to learn some Portuguese to get situated quickly. Even though most people speak English, knowledge of the language would help them get settled and find good accommodation deals that otherwise would be hard to find," commented one retiree living in Lisbon, Portugal.

"After basic research using internet sites, so you understand the cost of living and ease of speaking English, spend time here--two weeks or so--before making any commitment. Renting for a few months or longer is most common and affords the flexibility to try other towns, as the life style varies quite a bit between city and village or rural life. This is not a dirt-streets beach town; it is historic, relaxed, casual yet chic," explained one retiree living in Cascais.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Porto, Portugal

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Portugal GuidePortugal Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in Portugal.

Portugal Forum Portugal Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Portugal on our Portugal forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Portugal Index Portugal Index
An index of all of our site's Portugal information.

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