Moving to Portugal from Australia

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Written by: | Last updated on February 8, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes
This article is available in: en_US

For many Australians, the allure of Portugal goes beyond its picturesque landscapes and rich history. While both nations share a deep affinity for sun-kissed beaches and a vibrant surf culture, Portugal offers these familiar comforts without the hefty Australian price tag.

The lower cost of living in Portugal, combined with its strategic location, provides Aussies with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a diverse culture while being just a stone’s throw away from the rest of Europe. This proximity unlocks a world of travel and exploration, making weekend getaways to neighbouring countries a delightful reality.

Moreover, the prospect of obtaining Portuguese citizenship after a mere five years of residency adds an enticing layer to the relocation decision. For Australians seeking a blend of familiar comforts and new adventures, Portugal emerges as an enticing destination.

Reasons to move here

There are plenty of reasons to move to Portugal but for Australians, there are a few reasons that stand out.

  1. Affordability and Lower Cost of Living:
    • Overview: Portugal’s cost of living is significantly lower than Australia’s, especially when compared to major cities like Melbourne and Sydney. From housing to daily expenses, your dollar stretches further in Portugal.
    • Implication: This affordability allows Australians to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without the financial pressures often experienced back home.
  2. Gateway to Europe:
    • Overview: Portugal’s strategic location offers Australians unparalleled access to the rest of Europe. Whether it’s a weekend in Paris, a culinary journey in Spain, or exploring the history of the UK and Ireland, Europe’s treasures are at your doorstep.
    • Implication: Say goodbye to the feeling of isolation often felt in Australia and embrace the connectivity that Portugal offers.
  3. Path to Citizenship:
    • Overview: After just five years of residency in Portugal, Australians can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
    • Implication: This not only solidifies your place in Portugal but also opens doors to the entire European Union, offering flexibility and freedom to live, work, and travel across member countries.
  4. Superior Internet Connectivity:
    • Overview: Portugal boasts faster internet speeds compared to Australia, making it a haven for digital nomads and professionals reliant on robust online connectivity.
    • Implication: Whether you’re working remotely or streaming your favourite shows, Portugal’s internet infrastructure ensures a seamless experience.
  5. Education Opportunities:
    • Overview: Pursuing higher education in Portugal is notably more affordable than in Australia. Moreover, with Portuguese citizenship in hand, Australians can access educational institutions across the EU, often at local tuition rates.
    • Implication: This provides a pathway for Australians to access world-class education without the exorbitant fees, while also broadening their cultural and academic horizons.

Naturally, there are some downsides to living in Portugal too. As an Australian, one major downside is that you will be quite far from friends and family – unless they decide to move here too.

Another downside is that you will need to bring your own income, whether that’s a pension or remote job. There are jobs in Portugal, obviously, but salaries are much lower than Australia. If you’re earning in AUD, be aware that currency fluctuations can have a big impact on your spending power too.

Australians should also speak to an accountant to discuss how their income, whether from a pension or a remote job, is likely to be taxed in Portugal.

Finally, bureaucracy and housing quality are two major complaints for expats, regardless of where they move from.

Obtaining Residency

There are a number of ways that Australians can obtain residency in Portugal. Those that have an EU passport will find it much easier to move here: all they need to do is move here and obtain their CRUE from their nearest town hall (Cámara Municipal). And spouses and other qualifying members can come too.

Those that aren’t in that fortunate position will need to apply for a residency visa. The good news is that Portugal’s residency visas are some of the most attainable in Europe. A few interesting options include:

  • Golden Visa: Tailored for those looking to invest in Portugal, this visa grants residency in exchange for a significant financial commitment. The beauty of this visa is its minimal residency requirement, necessitating an average stay of just 7 days annually in Portugal. A popular investment choice for many Aussies is channelling funds into avenues like venture capital funds. The standard investment threshold stands at €500,000.
  • D7 Visa: Designed for individuals with a steady passive income stream, the D7 is ideal for Aussies drawing a pension or earning from rental properties. The income benchmark for this visa is set against the Portuguese minimum wage, requiring applicants to demonstrate a monthly income exceeding €820, as of 2024.
  • Digital Nomad Visa (D8): Catering to the modern remote worker or freelancer, the D8 visa is for those who can financially sustain themselves in Portugal. As of 2024, the income criterion for this visa mandates applicants to have a monthly income north of €3,280.
  • D2 Visa: For the entrepreneurial Aussie spirit, the D2 visa paves the way. It’s crafted for those keen on kickstarting a business venture in Portugal, be it a quaint guesthouse or a dynamic marketing firm.

Where to Move to

Naturally, Aussies can move anywhere in Portugal, however, there are a few locations that stand out.

  1. The Algarve:
    • Overview: Often dubbed the jewel of Portugal, the Algarve is a top pick, especially among retirees. Its pristine beaches and consistently warm weather make it a sun-seeker’s paradise.
    • Considerations: While it boasts some of the best coastal landscapes, property prices can be on the higher side. Additionally, certain areas can become quite touristy, especially during peak seasons.
  2. Lisbon:
    • Overview: The bustling capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a magnet for digital nomads and remote workers. With its rich history, vibrant nightlife, and cultural landmarks, it offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle infused with Portuguese traditions.
    • Considerations: A perfect blend of urban energy and cultural immersion.
  3. Surf Hotspots:
    • Overview: Portugal’s coastline is dotted with renowned surf destinations like Ericeira, Nazaré, Lagos, and Sagres. These spots resonate with Australians who have a penchant for riding the waves.
    • Considerations: Ideal for those who want to combine their love for surfing with the Portuguese coastal vibe.
  4. Porto:
    • Overview: Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern amenities. While its winters are wetter, it provides a more authentic and less touristy experience than some other regions.
    • Considerations: A more affordable living cost and a genuine taste of Portuguese culture make Porto a compelling choice.
  5. Central Portugal:
    • Overview: Gaining traction among expats, Central Portugal offers diverse living options. The Silver Coast is seen as a budget-friendly alternative to the Algarve, while areas like Castelo Branco present opportunities for those keen on property restoration projects.
    • Considerations: A region that offers both coastal beauty and rustic charm, depending on your preference.
  6. Madeira:
    • Overview: This archipelago is a haven for those seeking consistent mild weather throughout the year. Its temperate climate, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a top choice for retirees and digital nomads alike.
    • Considerations: Perfect for those who prefer a climate that’s not too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter, coupled with stunning landscapes.

Healthcare

Like Australia, Portugal offers tax-paid universal healthcare. This means that it’s usually free (or very affordable) to visit a doctor or hospital in Portugal.

There is also a private healthcare system, which many expats prefer to use, particularly for smaller surgeries and treatments. This is due to the waiting times in the public healthcare system, which, like most European countries, can be longer than desirable.

Written by

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.