If you’re considering retirement abroad, you need information, and you need lots of it. But more than that, you need guidance on interpreting that information. That’s what we’re here for, and that’s why we’ve compiled the 2023 Annual Global Retirement Index: to help you with the exciting business of choosing where in the world will best suit your needs.
So, why is Portugal the most popular retirement destination on the planet?
By Terry Coles for International Living
Despite its compact size, the country offers something for everyone. From vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto with buzzing nightlife, culture, history, and culinary delights. To coastal havens along the Atlantic Ocean where camel-colored sand meets the turquoise water embellished with jagged rock formations, caves, and grottoes. For a simpler life head inland where, medieval villages of stone cottages lie beneath ruined castles and emerald rolling hills of farmland dominate the stunning vistas beyond.
The people of Portugal are some of the kindest and most genuine in the world, and they welcome foreigners with open arms and double-cheeked kisses. Since English is taught in the schools many of the locals, especially the younger generation, have a good grasp of the language.
Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, ranked 6th by the Global Peace Index so expats never need to worry about crime. Healthcare in Portugal is both affordable and excellent, ranked 12th by the World Health Organization. Residents of Portugal have access to both the public and private healthcare systems, along with fully accredited Joint Commission International facilities with English-speaking staff.
Infrastructure is on par with the U.S. and Canada with fresh drinkable water from the tap, reliable electricity, and high-speed fiber internet making it easy to work from home or connect with the rest of the world.
Portugal’s highway system is one of the finest in Europe, easy to navigate with ample rest stops along the way for snacks, drinks, or for charging electric car motors. And unlike some other European countries that require foreigners to take the driver’s test in the local language, in Portugal it’s a straightforward exchange of your current driver’s license for a Portugal one.
With over 500,000 foreigners from around the world living in Portugal, it’s easy to fit in and often impossible to tell the expats from the locals. Making friends is easy, especially in the more popular expat havens like Porto, the Silver Coast, Lisbon, and the Algarve.
In the north is Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. Famous for its production of port wine, and terraced vineyards along the Douro River, with a colorful riverfront area, it sees many tourists so English speakers can be found. An international airport, one of three in the country, makes it easy to connect with the rest of the world. Winters in the north are rainy and cold but snow usually only happens in the mountains.
The Silver Coast offers various options for expat living, from coastal villages to mid-sized cities like Caldas da Rainha. Daily markets in and around the historic city center sell fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, meats, poultry, and fish while a weekly flea market is packed with everything including the kitchen sink. On the outskirts of town lush farmland blankets the hillsides while sheep graze and farmers roll by on tractors. Winters along the Silver Coast are cold and wet while summers bring spring like temperatures with little to no need for air conditioning.
For those who desire big city living without a car Lisbon may be for you. Packed with museums, concerts, restaurants, shopping, cobbled lanes, and historic elegance, the mix of expats and tourists make English speakers abundant. Since the city is built on seven hills, hop aboard one of the iconic yellow trams or other public transport to help you get around. Portugal’s primary international airport is here, a great way to connect with the rest of Europe or most anywhere else in the world.
The nearby coastal town of Cascais has long been popular with expats who sip coffee at sidewalk cafes, gather with friends for wine tastings, yoga, or walks on the beach, or to dance the night away at local clubs.
South of Lisbon is the Alentejo region that includes the cities of Beja and Évora. The largest and most rural region of the country, springtime brings fields of fragrant wildflowers that blossom around stately cork oaks, and church bells chime in tiny, historic villages. Outside of Évora less English is spoken so expats who settle here would need to know some Portuguese.
The southernmost region of the country with the best weather, boasting over 300 days of sunshine per year, is the Algarve. Traditional towns like Lagos and Tavira offer an array of Old-World charm with their cobbled centers, thriving café cultures, and sizeable expat communities. For a permanent vacation feel Albufeira offers waterparks, a lively strip packed with tourist shops, restaurants, pubs, and lovely beaches. Expat communities are easy to find everywhere in the Algarve, add to that the summer tourist crowd so expats who choose to live here really can get by knowing only English.
How much do you need to retire to Portugal? As a general rule, a couple can live comfortably on about $2,500 to $3,000 per month, depending on lifestyle and whether you own or rent. To settle in Lisbon, Porto or the Algarve expect to pay a bit more while inland areas cost less.
Source: International Living