Portugal has become one of Europe’s top countries to move to for English speakers seeking a new place to call home. With its warm climate, hospitality towards foreigners and low cost of living, Portugal offers many attractive places to live for those looking to relocate.
While Portugal has a picturesque countryside and many pretty small towns and villages that would make great places to settle in, from a practical perspective, larger cities provide a more nurturing environment for expats who don’t yet speak Portuguese, allowing them to adapt and immerse themselves in the Portuguese culture in a shorter amount of time.
In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons why Portugal is a fantastic choice for expats and then explore the seven best places to live in Portugal as an English-speaker.
Reasons for choosing to live in Portugal
- Warm Climate: Portugal enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. This inviting weather allows residents to enjoy outdoor activities year round and a high quality of life.
- Affordability: Compared to many other Western European countries, Portugal offers a more affordable cost of living. Housing, food and transportation expenses are reasonable, allowing expats to stretch their budgets further.
- High Quality of Life: Portugal consistently ranks high on the global quality of life index. Its healthcare system is excellent, and residents have access to world-class education, cultural attractions and a laid-back lifestyle.
- Stable Political Environment: Portugal maintains a stable political environment, providing a sense of security for residents, expats, retirees and real estate investors. The country is known for its friendly and welcoming attitude towards foreigners.
- Scenic Beauty: From the beaches of the Algarve to the vineyards of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s landscapes offer a variety of picturesque settings for residents to enjoy.
- English Proficiency: While Portuguese is the official language, English proficiency is widespread, especially in urban areas and among the younger generation. This makes integration and communication easier for English-speaking expats.
- Cultural Richness: Portugal’s history is observable in its architecture, festivals and traditions. Immersing oneself in this rich culture can be a truly rewarding experience.
Discover 7 of the best places in Portugal for English speakers
1. Porto: Top quality of life by the Douro River
Porto, known for its port wine production, is a beautiful city with a unique character beloved by many expats. The city’s hilly streets feature strings of colorful houses, and the Ribeira district along the Douro River is a UNESCO World Heritage site, for a top quality of life at a fraction of the cost of living in Lisbon.
Portugal’s second city, Porto is a growing metropolis with a thriving economy, driven by sectors such as technology, tourism and education. Many international companies have established their offices in Porto, creating a demand for English-speaking professionals in fields like IT, finance, marketing and customer service.
English-speaking expats find a warm reception in Porto’s close-knit communities. The city’s rich cultural scene, from music to art, also provides ample opportunities for socializing with other expats and locals.
Additionally, the extensive public transportation system eases navigation for newcomers. For English speakers seeking a good balance between urban living and a relaxed lifestyle, Porto’s charm is hard to resist.
2. Cascais: A relaxed, upscale lifestyle
Cascais, a gorgeous coastal town near Lisbon, offers beautiful beaches, a stunning old town and a strong expat presence. With its welcoming community, Cascais has become a hub for English-speaking expats, offering a range of international services. This includes language schools, cultural integration programs and support networks.
The town’s tranquility is coupled with access to several outdoor activities, from surfing to hiking in the nearby Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The mild climate and proximity to both Lisbon and the stunning coastline also make Cascais one of the best places to live in Portugal for those seeking a laid-back yet sophisticated lifestyle.
3. Faro: The Algarve fun in the sun
Faro is the capital of the Algarve region, and often the first point of entry for many tourists and expats due to its international airport. The city offers a mix of historic architecture, such as the Faro Cathedral, and modern amenities.
English-speaking expats find a diverse community here, with many events and groups catering to their needs. The Algarve is a popular tourist destination, which means that there are some job opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sectors, especially during the peak tourist seasons.
As a bonus, The Ria Formosa Natural Park, a haven for birdwatchers, and the nearby beaches offer leisure options. Faro’s status as a university city also means a youthful and vibrant atmosphere.
4. Lisbon: Tradition in a big city setting
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, offers a seamless mix of old-world charm and contemporary appeal. Lisbon’s diversity is evident in its fusion of cultures, owing to its history as a major port city.
English-speaking expats thrive here, drawn to the welcoming community and the ease of finding fellow expats. From exploring historic sites like the Belém Tower to enjoying the nightlife in Bairro Alto, Lisbon offers an abundance of activities.
With many locals fluent in English and a large number of language schools, it’s a perfect spot for English speakers looking to settle in Portugal. Finding a place to live in Lisbon is easy due to its generous selection of unique neighborhoods and great housing in all price ranges.
Lisbon also offers a wide range of work opportunities for English speakers due to its thriving economy, large tech sector, tourism industry and increasing international presence.
5. Sintra: Culture and castles
Situated in the hills near Lisbon, Sintra is a fairytale town known for its palaces and lush landscapes. The town’s UNESCO-listed historic center draws expats who are intrigued by its beauty and cultural richness.
While English is widely spoken, expats often find opportunities to learn Portuguese thanks to the town’s friendly locals. Beyond exploring the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, Sintra’s artsy vibe and local markets offer avenues for creative expression and community integration.
6. Aveiro: Small town charm
Aveiro‘s canals and colorful Moliceiro boats have earned it the nickname “Venice of Portugal.” This small town offers a tranquil lifestyle, attracting English speakers seeking a slower pace.
Expats find it relatively easy to settle in, with locals known for their friendliness. The town’s University of Aveiro adds a youthful vibe, while the nearby beaches and the Aveiro Lagoon provide relaxation and water-based activities.
The job market in Aveiro might not be as extensive as in larger urban areas, but there are several areas where English speakers could find employment, including education, tourism and IT.
7. Lagos: Unmatched coastal living
Located in the western Algarve, Lagos is renowned for its incredible coastline and beaches, including Dona Ana and Meia Praia. English-speaking expats are drawn to the welcoming atmosphere and the town’s well-established expat communities.
Lagos’ historic Old Town with its cobbled streets and scenic squares offers a lovely backdrop for exploration. The Western Algarve’s outdoor pursuits, including water sports and hiking, make Lagos one of the best places to live in Portugal for nature-loving people from all over the world.
Find your new home in Portugal
Whether you’re attracted to cities, coastal towns or rural areas, Portugal offers a variety of options for English speakers seeking a new place to live. With its affordable living costs, friendly communities and vibrant cultural scene, Portugal is indeed a top contender for those looking to venture on a new chapter of their lives in a captivating European setting.
This article originally appeared on My Dolce Casa and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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