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Some questions are tricky and subjective. “Is Portugal a good place to raise your family?” isn’t one of them!

Last Updated on December 12, 2023 by Laila Oliveira

As the head of an expat family, you’re worried mostly about your children and their future. It’s a completely valid topic to be concerned about. Not only do you have to think about safety and integration into the community, but also education and the impact their surroundings will have on them. If you’re considering Portugal, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Is Portugal a good place to raise your family?” 

is-portugal-a-good-place-to-raise-your-family

For most families, Portugal just feels different – in the best way possible! Children are valued, safety is a top priority, and weekly family gatherings are a super important part of Portuguese culture. 

Let’s not give it all away. We want to give you the full experience so you can make the best decision for you and your family. Continue reading more to learn all about the quality of life for expat families and what makes Portugal an excellent place to raise your children! 

Why do expats move to Portugal?

Whether it’s entrepreneurs looking for opportunities, retirees yearning for peace, or families looking to elevate their standard of living, Portugal is widely loved by many. And for all the right reasons! 

Living in the seventh-safest country in the world helps expats create a more stable and tranquil way of life. Let’s be honest; who doesn’t want to live like that? 

That brings us to our second question, “Is Portugal a good place for families?”. It’s no surprise that it is. The culture values and fosters family time and encourages safety to protect its residents. When you’re an expat in a foreign land, hospitality is quite literally the icing on the cake! 

Expat community in Portugal

The expat community in Portugal is widespread. But with that being said, Lisbon and Porto are still the top 2 cities with the largest expat communities. You’ll find people from many different cultures and backgrounds. And the best part is that they’re all accepting and welcoming. 

Families and individuals from Brazil make up the largest chunk of expats. Followed by the British and Americans. Apart from the top 3, many people from within Europe also decided to relocate to sunny Southern Portugal. 

The main reason why Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are so popular among expat communities is because of the availability of facilities. This includes access to international education, fewer language barriers, and being close to the main business hub. You could say that this completely eradicates the need to ask, “Is Portugal a good place?”.

If you’d like to explore more about your expat community, check out our article Where Do Expats Live In Portugal? Find Your Community.

Why Portugal is a good place to raise your family

We’ve got a lot of reasons to cover! Let’s break it down to our readers who are new to this without further ado. 

Quality of life in Portugal

The standard of living stands out as one of the most desired features of Portugal. Indeed, there are many more benefits of living in Portugal as an expat. But what makes people leave behind their entire lives in search of better living? 

Portugal’s slow pace of life and laid-back lifestyle, coupled with a low cost of living and safe environment, make it a fantastic destination. If you prioritize being close to nature and love sunlight, you’ll fit right in! The sun shines nearly 300 days a year, and the weather is almost always mild and pleasant. 

The country also prides itself on being one of the top 10 most welcoming countries for expats. Once you interact with the locals, you’ll realize this is nothing but the truth. We’re not done talking about the rich culture and lifestyle just yet – let’s explore what else makes Portugal worth moving to!

Education System in Portugal

Portuguese universities have fantastic standards and a great reputation in the education sector. Lisbon’s top university, Universidade de Lisboa, has nearly 9,000 international students from all over the world. It also ranks #1 in scientific production in the Iberian Peninsula and #5 in the

Ibero-American space.

Between the option of public versus private, expats usually choose to enroll their children in private education because of language barriers. But if your children are young, they will adapt better to the Portuguese culture if you enroll them in public school from a young age.

All legal residents get access to free public education. If you’re worried about your child having trouble adjusting to the environment, you can consider any of the International Schools in Portugal for a more comprehensive educational experience. 

education-for-expats-in-portugal

Safety in Portugal

Standing out as the 7th-safest country in the world, the government works hard to keep its citizens safe. Crime rates are low, and the streets are safe to walk around. The only exception you can come across is being more cautious in high-tourist areas where pickpocketing could be a concern. Unfortunately, that is true for all tourist areas, so you should keep an eye on your belongings.

When it comes to people and their behaviors, the Portuguese are known to be respectful, friendly, and kind. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors invite you for Sunday dinner! 

Healthcare system in Portugal

As per the World Index of Healthcare Innovation (WIHI), Portugal’s in-patient care and medical infrastructure ranks 3rd best. All public healthcare is free for legal residents. And the quality of healthcare follows European standards, which are known to be some of the best. 

The process to access healthcare is pretty straightforward. You and your family must have their Número de Utente, which is assigned to each individual. 

But if you’re more interested in private healthcare, you can rest assured that it won’t burn a hole through your pocket. Expat families may prefer private hospitals because of language barriers and long waiting lines at public hospitals. 

Check out our article on the Top 10 Best Hospitals In Portugal: Public & Private!

Cost of living

Is Portugal a good place to raise your family based on the cost of living? Most expat families say yes, it is! 

The overall cost of living is significantly lower when compared to other European countries, the USA, and the UK. This is why expat retirees make the decision to use their savings wisely and move here! 

Portugal has rightfully earned its reputation as being one of the few European countries with an excellent quality of life on a budget. 

To help you analyze the estimated costs for a family of four, we’ve added some listings below: 

Expense TypeCost
Family of four estimated monthly costs (without rent)€2,168
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre€1,278
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre€995
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child€362
International Primary School, Monthly for 1 Child€642
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car)€28,971
Groceries€250
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment€106

Estimates are from Numbeo (as of December 2023).

Community and Social Integration

We live in an age where migration is extremely common. Portugal has been welcoming expats for a few years now, and it’s safe to claim they don’t mind! Portugal’s strong sense of community makes it an ideal place to raise a family. 

The value of strong family relationships shows in how they celebrate their holidays, festivals, and day-to-day activities. Life is slow-paced, and people like to enjoy their day slowly. Say goodbye to rushed routines and overworking in the office every day! 

From lively local markets to vibrant street festivals, the community encourages families to connect, fostering a sense of belonging that extends beyond the immediate household.

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Outdoor Activities

The country’s diverse landscapes are the perfect spots to immerse yourself in outdoor activities – just like the locals do. 

The emphasis on outdoor activities is evident in the numerous parks, playgrounds, and recreational areas scattered across cities. Even tourists spend most of their time exploring and appreciating the natural beauty all around. 

Thanks to stunning beaches, water sports, and beach activities are common. But so are other forms of activities like hiking in picturesque national parks and exploring historic castles. Your children will always have something exciting and fun to do! 

Best cities for expat families in Portugal

This step can often take up the most time – as it should. When considering relocating with your family, you should take as much time as you need to make the best decision. At this stage, we recommend our clients to do a scouting trip to help them understand what each city is like. 

Doing so will give you and your family the opportunity to assess neighborhoods, nearby facilities, weather, and the overall feel of each city. 

According to our experience and the feedback from our clients, here’s a list of the best cities for expat families in Portugal: 

  • Lisbon: The country’s capital and business hub with lots of opportunities.
  • Porto: The second-largest business hub with a slightly calmer feel to it.
  • Cascais: The luxurious neighbor of Lisbon that attracts affluent expats and those looking for peace.
  • Faro: The Algarve’s biggest tourist hub with fantastic beaches and many expats.
  • Sintra: The small city loved by digital nomads and families who look for hidden gems close to Lisbon.
portugal-for-families

Weigh the pros and cons before you move

Now that you’ve gotten a fair idea of the quality of life in Portugal, here’s an important piece of advice. Not everything has the same level of significance for all expat families. While one family may prefer a connection to nature, another one might overlook it. 

Ask yourself, “What is important to me and my family? What do I want to provide for my children?”

This is a great chance to connect to other expat families via our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats. Get in touch with people who have made the same decision as you and ask them, “Is Portugal a good place to raise your family?”. Some stories are truly inspiring! 

Since we’ve already listed the pros in detail, let’s quickly go over the cons so you can view things holistically. 

Hands down, the most significant difficulty you may face will pertain to language barriers. If your children only speak English, consider enrolling them in some Portuguese classes before you relocate. This will help them to feel less alienated when they’re in a completely new country. 

Another con that might trouble you as the head of the family is renting or buying real estate. This is especially true for larger cities, which are famous for tourism. A way to counter this is by contacting an experienced real estate consultant to help you find the best property for your family’s needs! 

Take your time to analyze the pros and cons of moving to Portugal with your family. Confusion is okay, but remember, your hard work will pay off! 

How to help your children adjust to change

This is a big one. It can often be one of the hardest challenges of relocating to a new country. Your children may not be entirely on board with the idea of moving away, and that’s okay. The first step is to take things slowly. 

Before you start your relocation journey, begin by exploring how they feel about moving to a new country. At this point, you may or may not want to give away exactly which country it is. Take this moment to understand how ready your children feel about this change. 

Sometimes, they could even be more excited than you – that’s fantastic! Nonetheless, they might still face challenges when it comes to adjusting to this move. There will be days when they’ll miss home, they’ll miss their old room, their school, and their friends. It’s okay. Remind yourself that you relocated to provide your family with a better life.

The best thing you can do as a parent or guardian is to choose an appropriate city for your loved ones. Bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto have larger expat communities, which helps new expats feel less alienated. The same goes for choosing your child’s school. International Schools in Portugal are often the best choice because their mind feels at ease when they’re in zones of familiarity.

Lastly, introduce the new culture slowly and make sure to stay in touch with your family and friends back home. No one and nothing can replace them. Have frequent video calls and nurture old relationships to keep them alive. Your children should know there’s no hurry to accept the new culture. 

It’s a long road to acceptance, but you’ll get there. Take a deep breath and trust yourself!

Do you need help moving your family to Portugal?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “Is Portugal a good place to raise your family?”, you’re probably wondering how to start the next step.

Viv Europe has helped numerous families with their dream relocation – you can be the next one! You may have many questions about whether Portugal is a good place; let us answer those for you. From visa assistance and real estate dealings, till you settle in your new Portuguese home, our experts will be right by your side. 

Schedule a meeting with our immigration representatives to work towards your goal of providing your family with a better life. Living in a country with strong family values and an excellent quality of education is unmatched. Your children will thank you in the next few years! 

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