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Retire in Lisbon Guide

If Lisbon is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Lisbon Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.
|-Retire in Lisbon Guide

Retiring in Lisbon is a dream come true for many international retirees. The city offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities, with a cost of living that is significantly lower than many other European capitals. The warm climate, excellent healthcare, and friendly locals make it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy their golden years in comfort and style. However, like any major move, retiring in Lisbon also comes with its own set of challenges, from navigating the residency process to learning a new language.

Cost of Living

One of the biggest draws for retirees in Lisbon is the affordable cost of living. On average, living expenses in Lisbon are about 30% lower than in other major European cities. This means that retirees can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is typically around €800 per month, while a meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around €15.


Lisbon boasts a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The city enjoys more than 2,800 hours of sunshine per year, making it one of the sunniest capitals in Europe. This makes it an ideal destination for retirees who enjoy outdoor activities and want to avoid the harsh winters found in other parts of Europe.


Portugal has a high standard of healthcare, with many excellent hospitals and clinics in Lisbon. The city is home to several internationally recognized medical institutions, such as the Champalimaud Foundation and the Santa Maria Hospital. Many doctors and medical staff speak English, making it easier for international retirees to communicate their health needs.

Public Healthcare System

Portugal’s public healthcare system, the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), is available to all residents, including international retirees. However, many expats choose to take out private health insurance to supplement the public system, as it can offer faster access to specialists and private hospitals.

Residency Options for Retirees

Portugal offers a range of residency options for retirees, including the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) scheme, which offers tax benefits for a period of ten years. There is also the Golden Visa program, which offers residency to those who invest in Portuguese real estate or create jobs in the country.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Lisbon is a city that loves the outdoors. From the expansive Monsanto Forest Park to the beautiful gardens of Estrela Park, there are plenty of green spaces for retirees to enjoy. The city is also home to several golf courses, tennis clubs, and marinas, offering a wide range of recreational activities.


Lisbon’s culinary scene is a delight for food lovers. From traditional Portuguese fare at restaurants like Cervejaria Ramiro and A Cevicheria, to international cuisine at spots like The Decadente and Pharmacia, there’s something to suit every palate and budget.

Learning the Language

While many people in Lisbon speak English, learning Portuguese can enhance your experience of living in the city. The Lisbon Language Café offers language exchange events, while the Portuguese Connection Language School offers classes for all levels.

What Locals are Like

Portuguese people are known for their friendliness and hospitality. They are generally welcoming to foreigners and are always willing to help out if you’re having trouble with the language or finding your way around.

Weekly Market

The Feira da Ladra, or Thieves’ Market, is a Lisbon institution. Held every Tuesday and Saturday, this flea market is a great place to find everything from antiques and vintage clothing to handmade crafts and local produce.

Meeting People and Volunteering

Joining local clubs and organizations is a great way to meet people and get involved in the community. The Lisbon International Club and the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce both offer networking events and social activities. For those interested in volunteering, the Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome is always looking for help with their food bank.

Housing Options

Most retirees in Lisbon choose to live in apartments, which are plentiful in the city. Popular neighborhoods for retirees include Estrela, with its beautiful park and basilica, and Graça, known for its stunning views of the city.


Lisbon is a walkable city with an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and a metro. Many retirees find that they don’t need a car and prefer to get around on foot or by public transport.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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