The Definitive Guide to Moving to Portugal as an American Expat

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The Definitive Guide to Moving to Portugal as an American Expat

Taking the plunge and moving abroad can seem overwhelming, but with a little know-how, you can change your life while improving your lifestyle. Portugal is a top destination for American expats because of its thriving culinary and arts scenes, bustling city life, historic charm, and easy access to the rest of Europe. Given the current real estate market and Portugal’s stable political and economic situation, there has never been a better time for Americans to move to Portugal. This guide will provide essential information and tips to make your new adventure across the Atlantic as smooth as possible! 

Why American Expats Recommend Portugal

If you’re looking for a new adventure but aren’t quite sure of your destination, there are dozens of reasons to consider Portugal. In addition to its rich history and stunning natural landscapes, Portugal offers an incredibly high quality of life, from low crime rates to top-of-the-line healthcare. Compared to other European countries, Portugal’s cost of living has remained relatively low, which means you can afford a lifestyle with extra luxuries and amenities. And since Portugal has great transportation, it’s easy to enjoy the rest of Europe from your affordable home-base. Finally, American expats say you can’t beat Portugal’s food, wine, and year-round great weather! 

Understanding the Expat Process

The first priority for American expats moving to Portugal is securing the right visa to comply with the country’s residency requirements. Americans planning to move to Portugal should consult with the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate to get up-to-date information about requirements for their specific situation and how to apply. An immigration lawyer or relocation service can also help with the application process. Fortunately, there are many possible routes for obtaining a visa depending on your situation:

  • Schengen Visa: Americans can stay in Portugal for up to 90 days without a visa. Keep in mind that this visa does not grant long-term residency or work rights.
  • D7 Visa: This visa is only for those with passive income. It is very popular with retirees. You must demonstrate stable income through investments, rentals, or pensions in order to obtain this visa. 
  • Golden Visa: This visa grants residency to those who make a significant investment in Portugal. This could mean starting a business, but expats can also qualify for a Golden Visa by purchasing real estate above a certain value. 
  • Work Visa: If you obtain a job at a Portuguese company, the company can sponsor your residency through a work visa. This kind of visa is only valid as long as you work at the company that is sponsoring you. 
  • Study Visa: If you study at a Portuguese university, you can get a study visa to grant you residency as long as you are enrolled. 

Best Cities in Portugal for American Expats

Every region in Portugal presents unique scenery and benefits, so the right place for you is based on your preferences and lifestyle. Here are some of the cities most popular with American expats:

  • Lisbon: Unsurprisingly, Portugal’s capital is the number one place for American expats. Lisbon is a cosmopolitan city that allows for easy transportation to Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as incredible cultural and culinary experiences. Lisbon also boasts better access to international schools than other cities, making it a popular choice for expat families. 
  • Cascais: If you want to take full advantage of Portugal’s climate by living on the coast, Cascais may be the right choice for you. This beach town is known for its upscale lifestyle best experienced at its pristine beaches and marina. Located close to Lisbon, this is a great choice if you want a combination of beach and city life. 
  • Porto: If you want to move to escape the bustle of daily life, Porto is the choice for you. This historic city offers a slower, more relaxed pace of life than Lisbon. Porto offers historic charm alongside incredible views of grape vines – the perfect choice for a home that feels like a blissful escape.

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