Are you prepared to move to Portugal from Canada? As relocation specialists, here are 10 things we recommend you keep in mind.

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Laila Oliveira

Are you considering swapping the snow-capped peaks of Canada for the sun-kissed shores of Portugal? As you prepare to set on this thrilling lifestyle change, some important aspects must be considered. We’ll share 10 things you should know before you move to Portugal from Canada to guarantee a seamless transition.


From navigating the details of Portugal’s visa requirements to understanding the local culture, each step of your journey demands careful planning and consideration. But don’t worry! We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to equip you with the basics needed for relocation.

Whether you’re dreaming of sipping Port wine along the Douro River or exploring the historic streets of Lisbon, knowing the nuances of Portuguese life is paramount. Our curated list of ten key factors will give you the insights and advice necessary to make your move a success. 

Are you ready to trade maple syrup for pastéis de nata? Let’s dive in!

How Can You Move To Portugal From Canada?

When planning a move to Portugal from Canada, there are several key factors to consider. But first and foremost comes the visa application. 

Let’s list all the residency options available to Canadians. 

Visa Types

Familiarize yourself with the different visas available: 

  • D1 Work Visa – If you have secured employment with a Portuguese company, you’ll need a work visa sponsored by your employer. This typically involves a job offer and documentation proving your qualifications and suitability for the position.
  • D2 Business Visa – For businesspersons who wish to invest in Portugal’s diverse landscape and open up a company. 
  • D3 Highly Qualified Activity Visa – Any work that requires specialized technical skills of an exceptional nature. 
  • D4 & D5 Study Visa – If you plan to study in Portugal, you’ll need a student visa. This requires acceptance into a recognized educational institution and proof of financial means to support yourself during your studies.
  • D6 Family Reunification Visa – Allows you to join your family members who are Portuguese citizens or legal residents in Portugal.
  • D7 Passive Income Visa – For passive income earners and retirees who have sufficient means of sustenance. 
  • D8 Digital Nomad Visa – For freelancers and remote workers who wish to live and work remotely in Portugal.
  • Golden Visa—This visa offers residency to individuals who make qualifying investments in Portugal. This includes investing in investment funds, businesses, or creating job opportunities. 

Visa Requirements

You need to meet the following requirements for any visa type:

  • Proof of identity (Passport);
  • Health insurance coverage;
  • Criminal record check;
  • Accommodation arrangements in Portugal;
  • Financial means to support yourself during your stay.

But you’ll need to fulfill specific prerequisites depending on the visa you choose:

Residency Visa:

  • Documentation proving the purpose of your stay (e.g., employment contract, enrollment in a Portuguese institution).

Golden Visa:

  • Minimum investment in qualifying areas.
  • Proof of legal source of funds for investment.
  • Compliance with program requirements outlined by the Portuguese government.

Student Visa:

  • Acceptance letter from a recognized Portuguese educational institution.
  • Proof of financial means to cover tuition fees and living expenses.

Work Visa:

  • Job offer from a Portuguese employer.
  • Proof of qualifications and experience relevant to the position.

Family Reunification Visa:

  • Proof of family relationship with a Portuguese citizen or legal resident.

Read Portugal’s Residence Visas: Types And How To Apply for more details. 

10 Things To Know Before You Move To Portugal From Canada

The list could be longer than 10, but we’re trying to keep it concise. Here are a few things you’ll need to consider when you’re relocating to Portugal from Canada. 

Number one, start by researching the cost of living in Portugal, especially expenses like housing, utilities, and groceries. 

You also want to start your housing search early and consider factors such as location, amenities, and rental agreements. If you have children, explore schooling options, whether international schools or local Portuguese education. 

Then, familiarize yourself with the country’s healthcare system to determine whether you’ll need private insurance or can access the public system. With these top things in line, you’ve got the basics covered.  

After this, take your time to learn about tax implications, setting up bank accounts, and transferring funds from Canada to Portugal. You can even seek professional help in this matter; feel free to get in touch with Viv Europe for accounting services for your ease.

At this point, you’ll have to get around your selected city, so don’t forget to look up transportation options, that is if public transport is the way to go or owning a car is a better option. Lastly, immerse yourself in Portuguese culture, customs, and traditions for a smoother transition. 

While English is widely spoken, learning Portuguese will help you in this transition by catalyzing your networking with locals to build a support network.

Now let’s go over these in more detail.

Relocating Your Belongings Needs Time

Relocating your belongings will require ample time. Shipping goods overseas involves paperwork, customs clearance, and transit time. So start planning early to avoid last-minute hassles. 

At this stage, it’s worth rethinking about what you want to take, what you can buy again from Portugal, and what holds the most sentimental value for you. 

You can research international moving companies with experience in shipping to Portugal. Also, consider what items you’ll sell or store and make necessary arrangements. 

Do factor in shipping costs and insurance, and be aware of restricted or prohibited items in Portugal to avoid complications. Lastly, plan for delivery delays and settle logistical details well in advance. 


Apartment Hunting Takes Effort

Apartment hunting demands effort when you move to Portugal from Canada. Start your search early to secure suitable accommodation and consider factors like location, amenities, and rental prices. You can even utilize online platforms such as Idealista or seek professional real estate services to explore available options more easily.

There will be differences in rental processes and lease agreements compared to Canada. You can arrange viewings and communicate with landlords or property managers in the screening process but you’ll need to understand local housing regulations and tenant rights. 

The real estate market in Portugal is quite competitive and listings get picked out very fast. The process will be slow, but the patience will be well worth the wait. Don’t forget to budget for potential upfront costs like security deposits and agency fees!

Weather Differences

This is definitely one of the biggest differences you’ll feel when you move to Portugal from Canada. Unlike Canada, Portugal enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Compared to Canada, winters are generally milder in Portugal, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing in most regions. 

Summers can be hot, especially in inland areas, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C. Pack your clothing accordingly for both warm and cool weather. Be mindful of the climate variations when planning outdoor activities or exploring different regions of Portugal. 

The weather is sometimes the main reason why many Canadians decide to move to Portugal anyway! 

Stunning Landscapes & Beaches

As a delightful contrast to Canada, Portugal is home to stunning landscapes and beaches. From the rugged cliffs of the Algarve to the picturesque vineyards of the Douro Valley, the country offers diverse natural beauty. Coastal regions feature pristine beaches with golden sands and crystal-clear waters, perfect for relaxation or water sports. 

Exploring the scenic beauty of the Azores or the lush forests of Madeira are classic outdoor adventures. Whether you prefer lounging by the sea or hiking in the mountains, Portugal’s landscapes offer endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.

Living in Portugal, you’ll often find yourself at a beach to unwind and destress. 


Creating Your Bank Account Is A Priority

A non-negotiable is to have your financial matters in order. 

To make managing your finances easier in a new land, choose a reputable bank with convenient branch locations and English-speaking staff. Research the types of accounts available, such as current accounts or savings accounts, and inquire about associated fees and requirements. 

Then, bring essential documents, including your Passport, residency permit, and proof of address, to open your account. Having a local bank account is important as it streamlines financial transactions, such as receiving salary payments, paying bills, and accessing local services. 

Viv Europe can help create your Portuguese bank account remotely so that everything is in order once you’re here. 

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Best Portuguese Cities For Canadians

There are multiple options for expats, depending on your priority requirements and budgets. For example, Lisbon, the capital offers a plethora of job opportunities in various industries. It boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere and an emerging tech scene, making it attractive for career advancement. 

With its charming old town and thriving wine industry, Porto attracts expats seeking a relaxed lifestyle. While job opportunities are available, the city is particularly known for its lower living costs compared to Lisbon, making it an affordable option for expats. 

Faro is another option, and popular among retirees or those seeking a laid-back lifestyle amidst natural beauty. It falls in the Algarve region and is famous for its sunny weather and stunning beaches. 

If you are a student or have dependents studying, you can check out Coimbra. This city is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities and boasts a vibrant student community and academic opportunities. 

There are multiple options that are suited to different needs, and we recommend that you start your research early. 

Living Costs Are (Much) Lower

Living costs are significantly lower when you move to Portugal from Canada. Compared to major Canadian cities, expenses such as housing, groceries, and dining out are notably more affordable in Portugal. 

Check out the table below for some estimates:

Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre€725
(C$ 1,068)
(C$ 1,685)
A single-person estimated monthly costs (without rent)€665
(C$ 980)
(C$ 1,443)
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre€1,212
(C$ 1,786)
(C$ 2,630)
A family of four estimated monthly costs (without rent)€2,348
(C$ 3,460)
(C$ 5,190)
Estimates are from Numbeo (as of May 2024).

You Might Not Need A Car

Portugal’s public transport might be enough for you. With extensive bus, tram, and metro systems, along with reliable train services, getting around without a car is convenient and cost-effective. Public transport is both, efficient and affordable, especially in major cities like Lisbon and Porto. 

Plus the cities are pedestrian-friendly, with ample sidewalks and designated bike lanes. But certain areas, such as the rural areas in Alentejo have restricted public transport options. 

So consider the availability of transportation and walkability when choosing your new neighborhood. Using these alternative modes of transportation can save you money and reduce the hassle of owning a car in Portugal.

Healthcare System & Access For Expats

The country offers both public and private healthcare options, with universal coverage provided by the National Health Service (SNS). Lisbon and Porto are known for their excellent healthcare facilities, with major hospitals and clinics offering quality care. If you move to Portugal from Canada you can access public healthcare with a residence permit and social security number, paying nominal fees for services. 

Private healthcare provides faster access and an English-speaking staff. This is an ideal choice if you’re seeking additional services or specialized care. 

Prepare For Language Barriers

Lastly, don’t forget to prepare for potential language barriers when you move to Portugal from Canada. While English is widely spoken, especially in major cities, Portuguese remains the primary language. You can take language classes or use apps to improve your Portuguese proficiency. 

Even learning short everyday phrases related to placing orders, shopping, or using public transport can go a long way. Remember, once you embrace immersion for cultural integration, you’ll be able to overcome barriers gradually.

Do You Want To Move To Portugal From Canada?

In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of expats from Canada. While everyone has their own reasons, most Canadians have found this beautiful Southern European country to be a safe haven. 

Loved by expats and locals alike, Portugal offers safety, a high-quality lifestyle that’s affordable, and scenic beauty all around. To get started on your dream relocation journey, book a consultation with Viv Europe and discuss your situation! 

In case you need more information or want to connect with other expats from Canada, join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats. See you soon! 



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