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Are there Age Limits for Moving to Portugal?

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Last updated on April 10, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re approaching your golden years, you may be wondering if there’s a cut-off age for moving to Portugal. 

The good news is that there isn’t an age limit for moving to Portugal. You can move to Portugal regardless of how old you are, assuming you meet the other criteria. Every year, thousands of people of all ages move to Portugal and for many people it results in a much high quality of life spent eating better, exercising more, and soaking up rays of sunshine.  

That said, there are a few practical considerations to think about. 

Health Insurance

If you hold a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizenship, your residency visa (e.g. the D7, which is often called the retirement visa) will normally require you to show valid health insurance. You will be able to register for the public health service once you’re officially a resident, but health insurance is typically required for that initial AIMA appointment. 

Thankfully, there are one or two health insurance providers that don’t have an upper age limit. The bad news is that, naturally, you’re limited to just a handful of providers and given your age, your premiums will be higher–not as high as if you were living somewhere like the USA, but higher nonetheless. 

Healthcare

As a resident of Portugal you will be able to use Portugal’s public and private healthcare systems. The private system comes with costs, obviously, but having health insurance can reduce these costs significantly if you don’t want to pay the entire amount out of pocket. 

It’s also worth considering the practical and emotional elements of using the Portuguese healthcare system. Portugal has a fantastic (albeit burdened) healthcare system, but using a healthcare system in another country is obviously going to be confusing. Many doctors will speak English, particularly in areas like the Algarve and Lisbon, but it isn’t always guaranteed.

However, even if you do find a doctor that speaks English and get to know the healthcare system, many people find that as they get older, they want to use a healthcare system that they’re familiar with.  

Friends & Family

Similarly to healthcare, many people decide that as they get older, and especially if they have health conditions, they would rather be close to friends and family. 

This isn’t to say that you won’t make new friends in Portugal. In fact, you may even make longer and more lasting friendships. However, it’s important to recognise that you may want to move back home as you get older and any friends you make in Portugal will also be facing the same dilemma. 

Cost of Living

Is Portugal an affordable place to live? It depends. 

If you’re moving from somewhere like the US and parts of Northern Europe, then there’s a good chance it will be–especially if you aren’t paying a mortgage or rent. 

If you’re living somewhere like the North of England, Wales, or even more rural parts of the US, it may not be. 

A lot of people look at Portugal’s minimum wage or the cost of eating out and make a decision based on that. However, although the good things in life (food and wine) are more affordable, other items like cars, utilities, and toiletries are usually more expensive. 

Another decision to consider is the quality of housing. The average house in Portugal is usually poorly insulated and so can be quite cold in winter and hot in summer. Most homes don’t have AC (although you can install it) and won’t have central heating either (again, installable, although more expensive to do so). 

So while it is possible to improve an existing home, or to buy a better-built property, these things usually come at a cost. When deciding whether moving to Portugal makes financial sense, be sure to consider the cost of these things rather than basing your costings on the cheapest properties. 

Language

Learning Portuguese may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. 

First of all, there are thousands (if not hundred of thousands) of expats living in Portugal that don’t speak Portuguese. English is widely spoken here, and it’s very possible to get by without ever learning the language. 

That said, you will have a much more rewarding experience if you learn the language–even just a little bit of it. Like everything else in life, this does take hard work, but depending on the level you want to reach, you could comfortably aim for an intermediate level after a few years of living here. 

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.