Moving to Portugal From India

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [Disclaimer Policy]

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

The historical connection between India and Portugal is deep-rooted, with Goa serving as a testament to the centuries-old ties. This shared history has paved the way for a unique cultural understanding between the two nations. Today, many Indians are drawn to Portugal, not just because of these ties, but for the promise of a better life in one of Europe’s safest countries.

Safety is a significant pull factor. Portugal consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in Europe, offering peace of mind to those relocating. Additionally, the prospect of obtaining Portuguese citizenship after just five years is enticing, especially for those looking to expand their horizons to other European nations like Ireland or Germany. Portugal’s residency visas are among the most attainable in Europe, thanks to the country’s relatively lower cost of living. Whether you’re a retiree, an investor, a student, a remote worker, or an entrepreneur, Portugal has a visa pathway tailored for you.

However, it’s essential to approach the idea of relocating with a balanced perspective. While Portugal offers many advantages, there are challenges to consider. Wages in Portugal are notably lower than in many other Western European countries. The rising cost of living, coupled with stagnant wages, especially in manual labor sectors, can make it challenging to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Many Indians find themselves in manual labor jobs, which, while abundant, often come with meager wages and less-than-ideal working conditions. Furthermore, the limited job opportunities, especially for those who aren’t fluent in Portuguese, can pose a challenge for newcomers seeking professional roles.

In essence, while Portugal offers a blend of historical familiarity and modern opportunities for Indians, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits against the potential challenges to make an informed decision.

Reasons to Move Here

The following are some of the main reasons that Indians choose to move to Portugal.

  • Safety: Portugal is renowned for its safety. Instances of violent crime are relatively rare, making it stand out in comparison to many other countries.
  • Family Reunification: Portugal’s visa policies are inclusive, allowing you to bring along your spouse, partner, and certain other family members. Even after settling, there are provisions for further family reunification.
  • Quality of Life: Portugal promises a high quality of life, characterized by pleasant weather and a relaxed lifestyle. The country places a strong emphasis on family values. However, it’s essential to note that the Portuguese often work long hours and, on average, earn lower wages compared to other Western European nations.
  • Attainable Visas: Portugal’s visa requirements are relatively lenient. For instance, the D7 visa requires just a passive income (like a pension or income from a rental property) of €820 or more per month, as of 2024.
  • Citizenship: After residing in Portugal for five years, you become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. The language proficiency requirement is set at a manageable A2 level in Portuguese.
  • English Proficiency: English is commonly spoken in Portugal, especially in major hubs like Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. This linguistic advantage can ease the initial transition for newcomers. However, it’s still recommended that you learn Portuguese if you want to integrate and increase your employment options.

Naturally, there are downsides as well. The bureaucracy can be challenging, for one, and the quality of housing, particularly the more affordable housing is also an issue. Mould and noise problems are common.

There are also a number of downsides related to employment. By Western European standards, Portuguese wages are low, the hours are long, and work conditions are often not as good as they should be. For this reason, many Indians opt to move to other European countries, like France or Germany, instead.

Obtaining Residency

  • Golden Visa: A popular choice for those looking to secure residency through investment, the Golden Visa offers a unique advantage. With a requirement to stay in Portugal for just an average of 7 days annually, it provides flexibility for those not ready to make a full-time move. As of 2024, many are gravitating towards investment in funds, especially investing in funds such as venture capital funds. The standard investment amount is set at €500,000.
  • D7 Visa: Tailored for individuals with a consistent passive income, the D7 visa is an excellent option for those receiving pensions or income from properties like rentals. The income requirement is benchmarked against the Portuguese minimum wage, necessitating applicants to prove a monthly income of more than €820, as of 2024.
  • Digital Nomad Visa (D8): Catering to the needs of the modern workforce, the D8 visa is designed for remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a monthly income exceeding €3,280, as stipulated in 2024. This option is popular with Indians that work in tech, such as programmers and web designers.
  • D2 Visa: For Indians with an entrepreneurial spirit, the D2 visa offers a pathway to start and operate a business in Portugal. Whether it’s an Indian restaurant or shop, a tech startup, or a marketing firm, this visa provides the opportunity to venture into diverse industries in the Portuguese market.

These aren’t the only visa options, and there are others, including student visas, as well.

Where to Live

  • Lisbon: As the capital city, Lisbon offers the most diverse job opportunities. It’s a vibrant hub of culture, business, and entertainment. However, the cost of living, especially accommodation, can be steep. Given the city’s allure, it’s often challenging for those earning a minimum wage to comfortably afford housing here.
  • Porto: Often referred to as the “second city,” Porto provides a slightly more affordable alternative to Lisbon. The city is known for its rich history, iconic bridges, and the world-famous Port wine. It offers a blend of urban life with a touch of traditional charm.
  • Algarve: Renowned for its stunning beaches and picturesque towns, the Algarve is a favorite among tourists. For those who choose to reside inland, the cost of living can be more manageable. The primary employment sectors here are construction and tourism, offering job opportunities that align with the region’s seasonal demands.
  • The Silver Coast: This coastal region is gaining traction among expats and locals alike. With small yet bustling cities like Coimbra, known for its historic university, and Aveiro, often dubbed the “Venice of Portugal,” the Silver Coast offers a serene lifestyle combined with the amenities of urban living.

Cultural Differences

The following are some of the main cultural differences between life in Portugal and India.

  • Pace of Life: Portugal, especially in its rural areas, is known for its laid-back and slower pace of life. This contrasts with the bustling cities of India, where the hustle and bustle are a constant. While cities like Lisbon and Porto are lively, they still maintain a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Indian metropolises like Mumbai or Delhi.
  • Family Dynamics: Both India and Portugal place a significant emphasis on family values. In India, extended families living together or in close proximity is common. This isn’t the norm in a lot of Europe in general, but it is more common in Portugal due to lower wages and the cost of living.
  • Cuisine: Indian cuisine is characterised by its rich spices, diverse flavors, and regional variations. Portuguese cuisine, while flavourful, is rarely spicy and leans heavily on seafood, especially codfish, and dishes like pastéis de nata. The use of olive oil, garlic, and wine in cooking is prevalent in Portugal.
  • Language: While Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, India is a linguistic mosaic with 22 officially recognised languages and hundreds of dialects. However, English is widely spoken in both countries, especially in urban areas and among the younger generation.
  • Work Culture: Portuguese work culture is more relaxed compared to the competitive environment in India. However, it’s worth noting that Portugal has longer working hours compared to the European average, while India has its own challenges with work-life balance.
  • Social Interactions: Portuguese people are warm, friendly, and open to conversations, much like Indians. However, initial interactions in Portugal might be more reserved compared to the immediate warmth and hospitality often displayed in India.

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.