If, like many Canadians, you’re on the search for somewhere warmer and more affordable, there’s a good chance that Portugal is on your shortlist. With great weather, a lower cost of living than most of Canada, and a laid-back culture, it isn’t surprising that more and more people are thinking of moving here.
And the good news is that, yes, Canadians can move to Portugal. However, unless you already have an “EU passport,” you will most likely need to qualify for a residency visa. Thankfully, there are a number of different visa options to consider.
Portugal offers a number of visas that allow non-EU passport holders (e.g. Canadian passport holders) to move to Portugal.
Some of the most popular options include:
- The Golden Visa – Aimed at those with cash to invest, such as into a property or investment fund. This visa uniquely only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal and so offers much more flexibility than other visas.
- The D7 – Aimed at those with a passive income such as a pension, dividends, or income from a rental property.
- The Digital Nomad Visa – Aimed at those that have a remote job or freelance income.
- The D2 – Aimed at those that want to start a business in Portugal or transfer an existing one here.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to properly move to Portugal but just want to escape Canadian winters every now and then, you can spend up to 90 days in every 180 days in Portugal through the Schengen Tourist Visa.
5 Reasons Canadians Should Consider Moving to Portugal
- Cost of Living – Although the cost of living is increasing in Portugal, it’s still much more affordable than Canada. This is particularly the case with renting and buying property, but also in terms of food and drink, which is typically more affordable in Portugal.
- Weather – Portugal generally has much better weather than Canada, particularly in regions like the Algarve and on the Island of Madeira.
- Taxes – Portugal isn’t necessarily known for being a low-tax country but taxes in Canada are high, and Portugal has a number of schemes, like the NHR tax regime, which are designed to attract new residents to the country.
- Ease of Exploring Europe – Portugal is one of the most fascinating continents to explore and having your base in Europe means that you will not only be able to explore Portugal but also countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
- Portuguese Citizenship – Portugal is one of several European countries where you can apply for citizenship after just 5 years of living here. And once you have a Portuguese passport, you’ll then be able to move anywhere in the EU.
Places to Live
While you have the whole of Portugal to consider, there are a couple of places that stand out for Canadian expats.
- The Algarve – Home to some of the best beaches not just in Portugal but in the entire world, and more than 300 days of sunshine per year, the Algarve is a popular destination for Canadian snowbirds who prioritise vitamin D above everything else. Forget wintering in Florida, Mexico, or anywhere else in Latin America: Portugal (Lisbon) is just a 7 hour flight from Canada.
- The Silver Coast – If the Algarve is out of your budget, there are other parts of coastal Portugal to consider, like the Alentejo and The Silver Coast. Situated between Lisbon and Porto, the Silver Coast is more affordable, more authentic, and closer to a big international airport.
- Lisbon – Ideal for those that still want just a little bit of cosmopolitan buzz, the Portuguese capital combines capital city life with great weather, great food, and a laid-back pace that you won’t find in other European cities like London or Paris. Rents are higher than the rest of the country, but if you’re a remote worker or digital nomad, your Canadian salary will probably go a lot further here than it does in Toronto or Vancouver.
- Madeira – Situated off the coast of Africa, the Portuguese island of Madeira is popular for its beautiful scenery and fauna and mild weather, which rarely gets too hot or too cold. It has traditional been a destination for retirees, but in recent years has grown popular with younger expats, particularly digital nomads.
What About The Cons?
Sure, there are a lot of upsides to moving to Portugal, but there must be some downsides as well.
- Healthcare – You’ll be leaving the Canadian healthcare system, widely considered to be one of the best in the world. However, the upside is that, although the Portuguese healthcare system doesn’t rank as highly as the Canadian one, you have the freedom to use the Portuguese private healthcare system as and when you want.
- Job Opportunities – Portugal tends to work well for those that have their own source of income, whether that’s a pension or a job with a company in another country that they can do remotely. If you’re relying on the local job market, you’ll find opportunities are fewer and wages are lower.
- Housing Issues – The weather is better in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold and damp here. And, unfortunately, houses are often badly insulated, which means that despite it being warmer than Canada, it can feel colder inside.