Moving to Portugal from Hong Kong

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Written by: | Last updated on March 6, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 7 minutes
This article is available in: en_US

For those considering a move from Hong Kong, Portugal continues to be one of the most popular European considerations. There are a number of reasons for this but they primarily come down to safety, affordability, and ease of obtaining a residency visa.

Portugal is one of the easiest EU countries for Hong Kong nationals to move to. Once here, you can benefit from other selling points like great weather, affordability, an affordable public health system, and safety (both in terms of personal safety and political stability). After just 5 years, it’s possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship, which would then allow you to live, work, and retire anywhere in the EU.

In recent years, the golden visa has been one of the most popular ways for Hong Kong citizens to move to Portugal. Although the program has changed slightly, it continues to offer a way for people to invest in Portugal and obtain residency here.

Reasons To Move Here

The following are some of the main reasons Portugal is so popular with people from Hong Kong considering a move to Europe.

  • Safety: Portugal is considered extremely safe, both from a personal safety point of view and in terms of political stability. This is somewhere that men, women, and children can feel comfortable walking around, even late at night (although be sure to use common sense).
  • Visa Options: From the golden visa to the D7 or retirement visa, Portugal offers a number of easy ways for Hong Kongers to move to Portugal.
  • EU Citizenship: Portugal offers the ability to apply for Portuguese citizenship after just 5 years of residency and only requires you show an A2 level of Portuguese. In comparison, many other countries require as many as 10 years of residency and often a B1 level of the local language as well.
  • Universities: Portugal is home to a number of great universities, including Coimbra University, which is one of the oldest universities in the world. After citizenship has been obtained, it’s also possible to easily and affordably study at other European universities as well.
  • Public healthcare: Like most European countries, Portugal offers a tax-funded public healthcare system. While there is also a private healthcare system, by enrolling in the public system, you always have a safety net to fall back on if you need it.
  • Cost of Living: It should come as no surprise that Portugal has a lower cost of living than Hong Kong. Even Lisbon, which has seen rental and general costs increase over the past few years, is considerably cheaper than Hong Kong. Naturally, the rest of the country is even cheaper again.

There are a lot of pros to living here but, naturally, nowhere is without its cons. For those moving from Hong Kong, some of the main cons are limited local job market, slower pace of life, and quality of housing. However, for most people moving here, the pros typically outweigh the cons.

Visa Options

Portugal offers a number of residency visas, but the following are the most popular, particularly for those considering a move from Hong Kong.

The golden visa is especially popular as it only requires a physical stay of 7 days per year on average. Most other visas require around six months physical stay on average [source].

  • Golden Visa: This visa offers residency in return for making an investment in Portugal, the most popular type of which is investing in a fund, such as a venture capital fund. This visa is especially popular as it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal.
  • Digital Nomad Visa: The digital nomad visa or D8 is aimed at those that work remotely or have clients they freelance for. Essentially, it’s suitable for those that are still employed or self-employed but are able to work from Portugal.
  • D7: The D7 is aimed at those with a passive income such as income from a pension, rental property, dividends, or royalties. It’s popular with retirees, and is often called the retirement visa, but is suitable for anyone with passive income.
  • D2: The D2 is aimed at those that want to start a business in Portugal. It can be any type of visa, from a guesthouse to a marketing agency, or whatever else you feel would be successful in Portugal.

Other Visa Options

Where to Live

While you can live anywhere in Portugal, the following are some of the most popular places to consider.

  1. Lisbon: As the vibrant capital of Portugal, Lisbon offers a mix of modernity and rich history. The city is a hub for digital nomads and remote workers, thanks to its cosmopolitan atmosphere, excellent infrastructure, and plethora of co-working spaces. The picturesque neighborhoods, historic trams, and riverside views make it a favorite among expats.
  2. Porto: Located in the north, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and is known for its stunning riverside landscapes and world-famous port wine. The city boasts a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums, theaters, and historic sites. Its more laid-back vibe compared to Lisbon, combined with its culinary delights, makes it a top choice for those seeking a blend of tradition and modernity.
  3. Algarve: This southernmost region of Portugal is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, golf resorts, and picturesque coastal towns. The Algarve offers a relaxed pace of life, making it a favorite destination for retirees, digital nomads, and families. The region’s sunny climate, friendly locals, and affordable living costs add to its appeal.
  4. Madeira: An archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira is known for its mild year-round temperatures, lush landscapes, and world-class hiking trails. The island is a haven for retirees and digital nomads seeking a tranquil environment. Funchal, the capital, offers a mix of modern amenities and historic charm, making it a popular choice for expats.
  5. Coimbra: Situated in central Portugal, Coimbra is home to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in the world. The city exudes a youthful energy, thanks to its large student population. Its rich academic history, combined with its beautiful riverfront and medieval architecture, makes Coimbra a unique place to live and study.

The Process: from Visa to Citizenship

  1. Visa: Apply for a residency visa, such as the golden visa or D7.
  2. Residency: Live in Portugal for 5 years, being sure to meet the residency requirements. Most residency permits are valid for 2-3 years at a time, so you will need to renew your residency part way through.
  3. Citizenship: Apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years. Aside from paperwork such as birth and marriage certificates, the main requirement is to show an A2 level of Portuguese (or higher) and ties to the Portuguese community.

Universities

If you have children at university age, there are a number of universities for them to choose from, but some of the most popular choices include:

  1. University of Porto (Universidade de Porto): Founded in 1911, the University of Porto is the second-largest Portuguese university in terms of student numbers. It is a leading institution for those who are keen on pursuing scientific studies and is known for its cutting-edge research and academic excellence.
  2. University of Coimbra: Established in 1290, the University of Coimbra is the oldest university in Portugal. It ranks between 401-410 in the QS World University Rankings. Located in the city of Coimbra, the former national capital, it boasts a significant international student community and offers a wide range of programs across eight faculties.
  3. University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE): Located in Lisbon, ISCTE is a renowned institution known for its academic rigor and diverse student body. It has a significant percentage of international students and offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

FAQs

Can people from Hong Kong move to Portugal?

Yes, Portugal’s visas (such as the golden visa or D7) are open to non-EU/EEA nationals, including those from Hong Kong.

Can people from Hong Kong obtain Portuguese citizenship?

Yes, those from Hong Kong can apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of residency in Portugal.

Is it easy to move to Portugal?

By European standards, Portugal is relatively easy to move to as the visa requirements for visas like the golden visa and D7 are very attainable by international standards.

Why is Portugal so popular?

Portugal has become incredibly popular for a number of reasons but primarily reasons like safety, affordability, and ease of obtaining a residency visa.

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.