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Have you heard a lot about the country or too little? Here’s an honest guide on what the British need to know about Portugal!

Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by Laila Oliveira

Located in southwestern Europe, this beautiful country boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant culture. Every year, hundreds of expats apply for residence Visas to experience this lifestyle. And many end up staying forever. But hold on; there are a few points the British need to know about Portugal before making the move. 


Why does the country appeal to the British so much so that they make up one of the largest expat communities in Portugal? Is it the pleasantly warm climate or the warm and welcoming people that make it easy for expats to integrate into the community? 

Whether you’re interested in exploring historic sites, indulging in delicious cuisine, or relaxing on the beach, Portugal has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of this fascinating country!

How common is it to find British expats in Portugal? 

Portugal has long been a popular destination for British expats seeking a new life in the sun. The allure of Portugal’s pleasant climate, affordable cost of living, and high quality of life have attracted around 50,000 British citizens. And continues to do so every year.

It’s common to find British expats in some particular regions, like the Algarve. A region known for its stunning coastline, expat-friendly environment, business opportunities, and great educational facilities.

Many retirees relocate here to spend their golden years in a relaxed environment with all the amenities they require, along with their families sometimes. This increasingly rising number makes it one of the largest expat communities in the country. 

First things the British need to know about Portugal

We won’t make you wait so long! It’s time to dive into what the British need to know about Portugal before they embark on their adventure. Portugal has been captivating the hearts of many British, and there are plenty of reasons why. Let’s start with the basic ones and elaborate as we go on.

Say hello to more vitamin D and those enviable sun-kissed tans – something every British craves occasionally! And brace yourself for a melting pot of culture and history as well. From the stunning cobblestone streets of Lisbon to the enchanting Silver Coast, Portugal offers a tapestry of experiences. 

Keep reading to learn about everything you, as a British, need to know about Portugal.

Language Barrier

The language barrier is a manageable hurdle! Many Portuguese locals have a good command of English. So if you’re living in the top places mentioned later in this article, you’ll find it relatively easy to communicate with the locals.

Still, learning a few basic Portuguese phrases can go a long way in showing appreciation and making local friends. Plus, it’s always fun to surprise people with your newfound language skills and see their faces light up!

Cost of living in Portugal

For some, it’ll be a shocker to know that Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Europe! 

Rent is way lower, groceries don’t hog up your entire budget, and utility bills are nearly the same in all cities. You can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without putting excessive strain on your finances, no matter your budget. There’s something for everyone.

Offering a more affordable lifestyle than the UK, Portugal allows you to stretch your pounds or euros further. To give you a clear picture, look at the table comparing the expenses of both countries.

Type of ExpenseCost in PortugalCost in the United Kingdom
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre€779
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre€1,322

All estimates are taken from Numbeo (as of June 2023).

Portugal’s Visas

There are a few visa options worth exploring, but the following three are the most popular and helpful for British expats.

The first one is the D7 Visa. Designed for retirees or individuals with sufficient passive income who wish to reside in Portugal. This Visa primarily requires proof of financial means and health insurance coverage.

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner interested in investing in Portugal, the D2 Visa is ideal. It requires a detailed business plan, proof of funds, and potential job creation for locals. This Visa opens doors for business opportunities and allows you to contribute to the Portuguese economy and make good profits.

But Portugal isn’t just for older people; thousands of young and excited individuals have options available for them too. The Digital Nomad Visa is a newer option catering to those working remotely. It provides the flexibility to live and work in Portugal for up to one year. An excellent choice for digital nomads looking for a change of scenery while working.

Working in Portugal

The country’s thriving economy makes it an attractive destination for expats seeking employment. What the British need to know about Portugal and its work is that networking is crucial. 

So, try to join professional organizations and connect with local professionals. Building a solid professional network can open doors to job opportunities.

It’s best to know when it comes to work permits, EU/EEA citizens have the right to work in Portugal without restrictions. But for non-EU/EEA citizens, a work permit or Visa may be required, depending on the circumstances. 

Also, knowing Portuguese can enhance your job prospects. Though English is widely spoken in industries and tourist areas, having knowledge of Portuguese will give you an edge.

Lastly, do keep an eye on job portals, both local and international, as well as social media groups specific to your industry. These can be valuable resources for finding job opportunities in Portugal.

You might notice that the salaries in Portugal are low, but when you compare them to the cost of living, you’ll understand why the Portuguese are happy with what they get!

Great Tax benefits

The British need to know about Portugal and its great tax benefits if they haven’t already heard about it! One highlight is the Non-Habitual Resident Regime which offers attractive tax advantages. Under the NHR, qualifying British expats can enjoy tax exemptions for ten years!

For example, exemptions on most foreign income, such as pensions, dividends, and rental income, and reduced tax rates on certain types of Portuguese income. This allows expats to maximize their income and save more.

Portugal also has a network of double taxation treaties with several countries, including the UK. These treaties aim to avoid double taxation by allocating taxing rights and providing relief to taxpayers. Understanding these treaties to determine how they apply to your specific circumstances will help you benefit from the provisions.

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Expats are very welcome

Did you know that British pubs are scattered throughout Portugal, serving traditional fish and chips and a pint of ale? Undoubtedly, British expats are warmly welcomed in Portugal, just like all other communities. Their presence adds a colorful touch to the country’s diverse expat community. 

The British influence is also felt during festive occasions like St. Patrick’s Day, where expats from the UK and Ireland celebrate. You’ll also find English bookstores, tea shops, and cricket matches in Portugal.

So, whether you’re craving a taste of home or looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant expat scene, Portugal has a special place for British expats to call their own. 

It’s a known fact that Portuguese people welcome their new neighbors with a dinner invite, so welcome friendliness and say hello! 


Religious background

The country is known for its rich religious history and cultural diversity, creating a welcoming environment for expats to practice their beliefs.

While most Portuguese population is Roman Catholic, the country embraces religious freedom. It respects the right to practice any chosen faith. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or belong to any other religious group, you’ll find a place for worship in Portugal.

The country is home to churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues catering to different religious communities. The Portuguese are generally tolerant and open-minded, creating a spirit of coexistence. So you will have the freedom to practice your religion and find a supportive community within Portugal’s multicultural society.


Portugal’s top-notch healthcare makes it a reassuring destination. The country boasts a comprehensive healthcare system with quality medical care. Expats can access healthcare services through the public National Health Service, private clinics, and hospitals.

English-speaking doctors and medical staff are readily available in the popular expat areas discussed later. This eases any little language barrier. And the quality of healthcare is at par with European standards.

You’ll be interested to know Portugal also has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, allowing British expats to receive necessary medical treatment. 

Usually, the British take advantage of the outdoor weather, which positively affects mental and overall health. So, while you soak up the Portuguese sun, know you’ll be in good hands regarding healthcare.


Portugal is a delightful escape for British expats. The country enjoys a Mediterranean climate with long, warm summers and mild winters. In popular expat destinations like the Algarve, you can expect over 3,000 hours of sunshine annually.

Portugal’s weather might remind you of a famous British summer pastime—barbecues! Grilling is a beloved tradition in Portugal, and the pleasant weather provides ample opportunities for socializing over such activities. 

So, get ready to sizzle some sardines or enjoy a leisurely evening with friends and family, relaxing in the warm Portuguese sunshine.

Best places to live in Portugal

An important thing the British need to know about Portugal is that they have several fantastic options in choosing their ideal city. 

For example, the sunny Algarve region offers stunning beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. Lisbon combines history and modernity, while Porto captivates with its renowned wine culture. Each destination has its unique appeal. Continue reading to find out which place best suits you!


The Algarve is a popular choice among British expats. Notably, the city of Lagoa stands out as one of the leading centers of the British community. Lagoa offers a welcoming atmosphere, with a thriving expat presence and amenities catering to British residents.

But other common areas for British expats include Albufeira, Vilamoura, and Lagos. These boast beautiful coastal scenery, vibrant expat communities, and a wide array of services. These are especially ideal if you prefer a relaxed coastal lifestyle with a touch of home away from home.



The vibrant capital of Portugal offers an enticing lifestyle for British expats. British communities usually reside in Chiado and Príncipe Real. These two are trendy areas with a cosmopolitan vibe, boasting shops, art galleries, and a thriving café culture.

Cascais, located just outside Lisbon, combines a coastal atmosphere with amenities and a strong expat presence. Estoril, too, is home to several British expats and is known for its stunning beaches and prestigious lifestyle.

Lisbon provides a blend of city life, cultural experiences, and the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the Tagus River or the Atlantic Ocean.


Porto is a charming city in northern Portugal and is a beautiful place for British expats to call home. Though less prominent than in Lisbon, Porto has a growing British community.

For example, the area of Foz do Douro offers an upscale coastal lifestyle with stunning beachfront promenades and trendy restaurants. Another popular area is Boavista, famous for its elegant boulevards, cultural attractions, and proximity to international schools. 

If you choose Porto, you can experience historic architecture, a thriving arts scene, delicious cuisine, and the chance to explore the picturesque Douro Valley wine region. 

Silver Coast 

The Silver Coast, the Costa de Prata, is a hidden gem on Portugal’s western coastline and a fantastic place for British expats to settle.

Within it, Caldas da Rainha offers a warm and welcoming community with its charming historic center and lively local markets. Another admired spot is the seaside resort town of São Martinho do Porto, famous for its picturesque bay and family-friendly atmosphere. Here, the British enjoy the beaches and explore quaint coastal villages.

The Silver Coast has three main districts; Aveiro, Coimbra, and Leiria. All three of these are equipped with all the fantastic amenities that the country offers. 


The beautiful Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira, guarantees a captivating lifestyle for British expats. Expats love the capital city of Funchal, with its charming old town, vibrant markets, and stunning sea views.

Lido and Estrada Monumental Neighborhoods are also fashionable areas celebrated for their luxury hotels, restaurants, and proximity to the ocean. No different from the other Portugal cities, Madeira also offers a mild climate, breathtaking landscapes, and delicious local cuisine. 

When are you moving to Portugal?

Whichever city you choose, Portugal will ensure you find yourself in a welcoming community that embraces natural beauty and a relaxed lifestyle. That’s all that the British need to know about Portugal.

If you’ve reached the end, you’re probably intrigued to know how you can make this move possible! To help clear out confusion and reach a solid decision, get help from Viv Europe’s experts, that tailor your plans according to your needs. 

And if you wish to learn from others’ experiences, join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats. Ask questions and read stories of British expats that have already made the move. See you soon!



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