Moving to Portugal from Turkey

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

Moving to Portugal from Turkey can be an exciting and life-changing decision. Portugal, known for its beautiful landscapes, warm climate, and golden, sandy people, offers many opportunities for those looking to start a new chapter in their lives. For Turkish citizens considering this move, obtaining residency in Portugal can bring several benefits.

One of the main reasons for obtaining residency in Portugal is the opportunity to live in a country with a high quality of life. Portugal is known for its relaxed lifestyle, rich cultural heritage, and openness to foreigners, which can be quite appealing. The climate in Portugal is similar to Turkey, with hot summers and mild winters, making it an easy transition for those used to the Mediterranean climate.

One of the main reasons for Portugal’s appeal is the ease of obtaining residency. Portugal offers a number of different residency visas, such as the D7 and the golden visa, designed for retirees or investors who want to make the move to Portugal. Moreover, it’s possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship after just five years, allowing you to obtain all the benefits of an EU passport.

Residency Visas

The following are the most popular residency visas for Turkish citizens considering a move to Portugal:

  • Golden Visa: This program is an excellent choice for Turkish residents seeking Portuguese residency through investment. It requires only an average of 7 days per year in Portugal, offering flexibility for those not ready for a full-time relocation. As of 2024, investing in funds, particularly venture capital funds, is becoming a popular way of obtaining the golden visa. The standard investment amount is €500,000, but there are options where you might enter the Golden Visa program for less.
  • D7 Visa: Ideal for individuals with a steady passive income, such as pensions or rental property income. The income requirement is linked to the Portuguese minimum wage, requiring a monthly income of over €820, as of 2024. This is a feasible option for many from Turkey, particularly for retirees or those with rental properties.
  • Digital Nomad Visa (D8): Perfect for remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads. The D8 visa requires applicants to show a monthly income exceeding €3,280, as of 2024. This visa is suitable for professionals in tech roles, like programmers and web designers, who want to work remotely from Portugal.
  • D2 Visa: For Turkish entrepreneurs, the D2 visa offers an opportunity to start and run a business in Portugal. This could be anything from tech startups to unique business ideas, allowing access to the diverse Portuguese market.

These are just a few of the visa options available, with others like student visas also on offer. Each provides a unique pathway for Turkish residents looking to move to Portugal, catering to various lifestyles and professional backgrounds.

Reasons to Move to Portugal

The following are some of the main reasons to consider immigrating from Turkey to Portugal.

  • Safety: Portugal is renowned for its safety, with low instances of violent crime. This makes Portugal an attractive destination for those seeking a secure and tranquil lifestyle, particularly retirees or those moving with families.
  • Family Reunification: Portugal’s inclusive visa policies allow Turkish expatriates to bring their spouse, partner, and other eligible family members, mirroring the strong family bonds valued in Turkish culture. This factor is significant for Turkish families wishing to maintain their unity in a new country.
  • Healthcare: Portugal, like most EU countries, offers a tax-funded public healthcare system accessible to all residents. There is also a comprehensive private healthcare system, which can be accessed through direct payment or health insurance. Turkish expatriates, especially those accustomed to Turkey’s mixed public and private healthcare system, often find this dual system in Portugal to be familiar and convenient.
  • Cost of Living: Generally, Portugal is more affordable than many major Turkish cities, especially if you choose to live outside Lisbon or inland away from the coast. This cost-effectiveness is a major draw for Turkish people looking for a high quality of life without the high expenses.
  • Quality of Life: Portugal is known for its high quality of life, with pleasant weather and a relaxed lifestyle. This emphasis on family values and a slower pace of life is appealing to those from Turkey, known for its own rich family traditions and emphasis on work-life balance. However, it’s worth noting that the Portuguese often work long hours and earn lower wages compared to other Western European countries, similar to the economic situation in Turkey.
  • Weather: Portugal has hot summers, but they are more manageable compared to the intense heat in some parts of Turkey. While precautions during the hottest parts of the day are advised, the climate is generally comfortable and familiar to those from Turkey.
  • Attainable Visas: Portugal’s visa requirements are relatively lenient, making it an accessible destination for Turkish citizens. For instance, the D7 visa requires a passive income of just €820 or more per month, as of 2024, which is achievable for many. The golden visa, similarly, only requires an investment of €500,000 on average, which is lower than many other European countries.
  • Citizenship: After residing in Portugal for five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship via naturalisation, a significant advantage for Turkish citizens seeking to become part of the European Union. The language proficiency requirement for citizenship is a manageable A2 level in Portuguese, which is attainable for Turkish speakers dedicated to integration.
  • English Proficiency: While English is commonly spoken in Portugal, especially in major hubs like Lisbon and Porto, learning Portuguese is recommended for better integration and employment opportunities, echoing the multilingual abilities many Turkish people possess.

Of course, living in Portugal presents certain challenges that expatriates, including those from Turkey, should be prepared for. One significant issue is the limited employment opportunities, especially for those who do not speak Portuguese fluently. The job market in Portugal is not as robust as in some other European countries, and this can be particularly challenging for newcomers seeking employment outside the major industries like tourism, hospitality, and construction.

Another challenge is the integration into the Portuguese community. The language barrier can contribute to this, making it harder to form social connections and fully engage with local life. Additionally, the quality of housing can be a concern, especially during the winter months when many homes, particularly older ones, suffer from dampness and inadequate heating. This can be a marked change for those accustomed to the well-insulated and centrally heated homes in other countries.

The bureaucracy in Portugal is known for being complex and time-consuming. Navigating the legal and administrative processes for residency, healthcare, and employment can be daunting and often requires a lot of patience and persistence. Furthermore, the generally slower pace of life, while appealing to some, can be a source of frustration for those used to a more fast-paced and efficient environment. This slower pace is evident in many aspects of life, from business transactions to everyday services, and can take some getting used to.

However, every country has its pros and its cons. Living in Portugal means deciding that the pros outweigh the cons.

Where to Live

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

  • Lisbon: As the capital of Portugal, Lisbon offers a cosmopolitan vibe reminiscent of Istanbul but on a much smaller and more intimate scale. It is the heart of Portugal’s diverse job market, brimming with culture, business, and entertainment. However, like Istanbul, the cost of living in Lisbon, particularly for accommodation, is relatively high. This could be a significant consideration for those accustomed to the dynamic urban life of Istanbul but seeking more affordable living options.
  • Porto: Known as Portugal’s “second city,” Porto provides a slightly more cost-effective lifestyle than Lisbon. Rich in history and famous for its bridges and Port wine, Porto blends urban life with traditional Portuguese charm. This makes it an appealing choice for those from Turkey seeking a mix of modernity and historical culture, similar to the balance found in cities like Izmir or Antalya. One downside of living in Porto is the wetter and damper winters, however, this is made up for by the lower cost of living and ease of access to Northern Portugal and the north of Spain.
  • Algarve: Renowned for its stunning beaches and charming towns, the Algarve could remind Turkish expatriates of the coastal beauty of places like Bodrum or Antalya, but with a unique Portuguese twist. Inland areas of the Algarve offer more affordable living. The region’s primary job sectors in construction and tourism present opportunities that might resonate with those familiar with similar economic sectors in Turkey’s coastal regions.
  • The Silver Coast: The Silver Coast is a rising favourite among expatriates, featuring enchanting cities like Coimbra, with its historic university, and Aveiro, often called the “Venice of Portugal.” This region provides a tranquil lifestyle, ideal for those from Turkey seeking a blend of serene coastal living and the accessibility of urban amenities, akin to the experience in areas like the Turkish Aegean coast.
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.