Would you prefer to spend your retirement in Portugal or France? See the pros and cons of each country and choose your European destination.

Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by Maryam Siddiqui

Southern Europe is a dream for retirees worldwide; it gets very confusing to choose just one among all the fantastic destinations! But between two romantic destinations, which would be ideal for you and your partner? Would you rather spend your retirement in Portugal or France?

In this article, we’ll compare what the two countries have in common and the benefits of each. Of course, they’re both pretty amazing; that’s why they’re famous. But, which country fits your lifestyle better? There’s only one way to find out. Follow up!

Retirement in Portugal or France? Why expats choose them

Your retirement is sacred; you’ve spent your entire life working hard, providing for your family, and rarely getting the time to enjoy life fully. So choosing which country you want to spend your retirement years in must be well-thought-out.

Portugal and France have many things in common. Both are great travel destinations, as you may already know, with rich cultures and cuisines.

The lifestyle in these countries is very different from other countries; things always seem more beautiful, organized, and fun. People feel good to be there regardless of what they do that day.

We don’t want to sound biased; we obviously love Portugal more, but all for good reason!

Just to exemplify this, Portugal is elected the fourth best country to retire by the Annual Global Retirement Index 2022, while France is in seventh place.

This is just one reason why Portugal and France are some of the top destinations expats choose to live in when they retire and why Portugal is often preferred.

Portugal vs France for expats

Even though both are great countries to live in, there are spots that are unique to each other. So, depending on your perspective, retirement in Portugal or France may be a challenging decision for you. 

Let’s take a deeper look at what it’s like to be retired in these countries:

About retiring in Portugal

Portugal is one of, if not the most popular destinations for retiring foreigners. In addition to being the 4th safest country in the world, it’s also much cheaper to live in than most developed countries, has delicious food, magnificent scenery, and a large expat community.

The perks of retiring in Portugal

The French, British, Irish, and even Germans are some nationalities that have formed the main groups of retired expats in Portugal for decades. Portugal is increasingly aware of this and has started to invest in benefits for those people who, in exchange for getting to live in the country, contribute to the Portuguese economy.

The main regions in Portugal where people spend their retirement are:

  • The Algarve coast: the sunny southern region of Portugal;
  • Cascais and Estoril: Portuguese riviera at 1 hour away from Lisbon;
  • Madeira: a Portuguese island in the middle of the North Atlantic;

In order to move to Portugal and spend retirement, non-EU citizens must apply for a visa or residence permit. However, obtaining them is surprisingly easy if you comply with the Portugal visa conditions. 

As a retiree, all you need to do is prove that you have enough passive income to support you in Portugal or to invest in real estate in the country, for example.

About retiring in France

France is also a favorite place for expats to spend their retirement in Europe. It’s charming, magical, and certainly worth the hype.

This country, so romantic and romanticized by the media in the last century, is a wonderful place to live. If you have a higher budget for monthly expenses, you could live in France happily. 

Like Portuguese people, the French are also welcoming, friendly, and polite. If you can learn a few words of their language and communicate with them, they’d be over the moon.

Retirement in France

The main regions where people spend their retirement in France are:

  • Côte d’Azur: Provence and the French riviera are a true paradise in southern France;
  • The attractive Nouvelle-Aquitaine region: the jewels being Bordeaux, Pau, and La Rochelle;
  • Occitanie: a cheaper yet deeply cultural region to experience the true France.

Comparing Portugal and France

Choosing to spend your retirement in Portugal or France is not an easy thing to do. 

However, things are much easier once you know your preferences. Keep reading to explore both countries to get an idea of which is the best match for you. 

Let’s look at some key factors that determine a retiree’s choice between countries:

Cost of living in each country

There are so many similarities, but still many differences. A comparison between the cost of living might be the defining factor that helps you decide. 

It’s a known fact that the cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Europe for expats.

According to estimates from Numbeo, the cost of living in France is, on average, 55.35% higher than in Portugal. Likewise, rent in France is, on average, 20.55% higher than in Portugal. 

Now you know why more than 40,000 French expats have relocated to Portugal.

Check out the table below for some estimated figures that’ll help you compare:

DataCosts in PortugalCosts in France
A single person estimated monthly costs (without rent)€545€854
1-bedroom apartment in the city center€711€762
Family of four estimated monthly costs (without rent)€1,914€3,069
3-bedroom apartment in the city center€1,248€1,628

Data is from Numbeo (as of August 2022).

As you can tell from the table above, the price difference is quite significant. You can live in some of the most luxurious cities in Portugal with the same budget that wouldn’t get you an equal quality of life in France. 

Everything comes down to your budget; there’s something for everyone in Portugal, whether you want to retire near beaches or some of Europe’s best golf courses.

  • The beautiful island of Madeira should be on your list while exploring possible regions for retiring in Portugal. Discover the Cost of Living in Madeira and prepare to be surprised!

Purchasing a property in Portugal or in France

If you’re thinking about investing in real estate, it’s good to know the prices and the market before moving on with the analysis. 

Portugal’s real estate market has been booming, and foreign investors are keeping with the trend. At the same time, properties in France are also getting pricier, but there’s a massive difference between average prices. 

Depending on what type of property you fancy, you can estimate spending almost twice the amount of money in France while purchasing real estate.

See the average price to buy a property of 100m² in the main city of Portugal and France in the table below:

DataLisbon – PortugalParis – France
The average price for a 100 m² apartment in the city center€288,700€632,400
The average price for a 100 m² apartment outside the center€197,900€447,500

Data is from Numbeo (as of August 2022).

From an investment point of view, both Lisbon and Paris are safe cities to invest in. But Lisbon is the one with the greatest chance of growth. In fact, nowadays, some people call Lisbon the new Paris.

If you’re looking for a much more affordable property in Europe, even the most expensive places in Portugal will be priced lower than other averages. But the best part is that the quality of life is at par with any other country! 

Taxes

France is one of the European countries with the highest tax rates, which makes many wealthy French citizens leave the country in search of tax benefits somewhere else. Even so, taxes in France return to the citizen with benefits in public health infrastructure, for example.

Portugal, on the other hand, offers tax benefits to foreigners who wish to bring their capital to the country, as long as they invest or live there. Tax benefits are offered through the famous Non-Habitual Resident Regime

The Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime favors non-habitual residents with no tax residence in Portugal (in the last 5 years) with up to 10 years of tax benefits! It’s a very competitive regime and attracts many foreigners with passive income streams.

Both countries are known for their bureaucracy in public services, that’s why people recommend getting professional advice.

Climate

Most expats can agree that both France and Portugal have pleasant climates. However, Portugal is known for having much warmer summers, while France has much colder winters.

Retirement in Portugal or France

The table below shows average temperatures in both countries for all four seasons:

RegionSpringSummerFallWinter
Portugal15.4 ºC
(59.72 ºF)
21.4 ºC
(70.52 ºF)
18.1 ºC
(64.58 ºF)
11.8 ºC
(53.24 ºF)
France10.8 ºC
(51.44 ºF)
18.9 ºC
(66.02 ºF)
12.3 ºC
(54.14 ºF)
4.5 ºC
(40.1 ºF)

Data is taken from the Climate Data website.

It’s worth knowing that temperatures and climates vary across the two countries. But, in general, France is more attractive to those who prefer lower temperatures. 

Portugal is warmer throughout the year and also tends to rain less. But it’s good to learn more about the specific region you want to move into before making a decision.

Security

According to the Global Peace Index 2021, Portugal is the 4th safest country in the world. In the same index, France appears in 55th place.

This symbolizes the reality of both countries. Portugal is, in most regions, a place where you feel very safe. Serious crimes are very rare; people are progressive and have inclusive mindsets.

Pickpocketing is an unfortunate concern, as with every tourist hotspot, so you should keep your belongings near as you would in other countries.

Away from crowded urban centers, people often know their neighbors by their first name and rarely lock their doors. Usually, in Portugal, you only hear about violence on the TV.

France is also a safe country, but it has more records of crimes per inhabitant and events with the potential to turn violent, such as the common protests. Also, organized crime in France is internationally known, especially in the south. 

And let’s not forget the occasional terrorist attacks that take place in France every once in a while. However, we can say that, despite some problems, France is indeed secure. Especially if we leave the big cities, day-to-day life in France is very calm.

Entertainment

The entertainment options in France and Portugal can please people of all ages and interests. Of course, knowing how to speak the local language helps you a lot to integrate with the inhabitants and have fun more easily. But there are also good offers for the international public living in these countries.

Apart from social activities in France, there are always good museums to visit, well-preserved monuments, and a vineyard to discover.

Portugal is also not far behind in terms of viticulture, and the country has wonderful natural parks and beaches for outdoor lovers.

  • What do leisure and nightlife look like in Portugal? Read all you can do while Living in Cascais, from fancy casinos to cozy bars with great food!

How to get a visa in each country

In order to live in Portugal or France, non-EU citizens must obtain a residence visa and a residence permit. That also includes the British since Brexit.

Portugal has a visa program designed specifically for retirees who want to move there. It’s the D7 Visa (Passive Income Visa), a residence visa that gives holders of passive income permission to enter the country and obtain a residence permit.

France does not have a visa for these cases. Pensioners who want to move to France can apply for a long-term visitor visa (known in French as the long séjour visitaur). 

However, a limitation of this option is that you are not allowed to work. But if you just want to enjoy life in France, that’s not a problem!

For both Portugal and France, the visa-issuance process is done through the embassy or consulate in your country of origin. You’ll need to prove your visa status, attend a personal interview, and then find out whether or not the visa will be granted. For the visa process, you will need to submit documents such as:

  • Completed visa form;
  • International health or travel insurance;
  • Proof of income (retirement or other);
  • Recent passport valid beyond the length of stay;
  • Proof of accommodation in the country;

Application prices for visas can range from €90 to €140 and take up to 3 months to be processed by the authorities.

Bottom Line: Retirement in Portugal or France?

As you can see, choosing between retirement in Portugal or France isn’t very easy, and there’s no right answer either. One country is not better than the other; both have unique attractions that make them special in different ways.

The type of climate you prefer and whether you are willing to pay more or fewer taxes should be considered when choosing France or Portugal to retire.

In addition, your relationship with the country also weighs heavily in the decision. If you are passionate about French culture, Portugal will look strange. The same thing happens if you love the Portuguese culture.

The only person that can decide where you should retire is yourself. Now that you know a little more about the life of retirees in these countries, you may be a little bit closer to the decision.

We hope you have a great adaptation to your new country, be it Portugal or France.

Do you need help retiring in Portugal?

Now that you know what makes each country unique, you’re probably wondering what the next step is. Retiring in Portugal or France can be a difficult decision to make, but you’re not alone.

We have an online community of more than 7,000 Portugal enthusiasts that you can learn from. Join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats and connect with people who had the same dilemma as you. We’re sure you’ll find your answer!

If you need any professional assistance with obtaining the correct Visa on time, finding a property, or relocating to Portugal, we’re here to help! Contact us now, and let’s make your dream come true.

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