How to Move to Portugal from Ireland

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

For many Irish individuals and families, the idea of relocating to Portugal presents an enticing opportunity. The promise of consistently warmer weather is a significant draw, especially for those looking to escape the often unpredictable climate of Ireland. 

Beyond the allure of sunnier days, Portugal offers a lower cost of living, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle without the hefty price tag. Much like Ireland, the Portuguese are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality, making the transition feel like a home away from home. 

With stunning beaches stretching along its coastline and the prospect of a fresh start in a culturally rich environment, Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those in Ireland seeking a change of pace and scenery.

While there’s a lot of information about moving to Portugal from the UK or the USA, there’s very little information for Irish people wanting to move to Portugal. The good news is that it’s much easier for Irish people to move here as both Portugal and Ireland are part of the EU. 

Reasons to move here

  • Better Weather: One of the most compelling reasons to move is the vastly improved weather. While Ireland has its own charm with its green landscapes, the frequent rain can be a dampener. In contrast, Portugal promises sunnier days and ample vitamin D, especially beneficial during winter months. Even in regions with higher rainfall, like Northern Portugal, the summers remain pleasantly warm.
  • Affordability and Lower Cost of Living: While property prices might be on the higher side in certain areas, such as Lisbon, the overall cost of living in Portugal is notably lower than in Ireland, especially Dublin. For many, the significantly cheaper price of a pint stands out as a major bonus!
  • Healthcare Options: Both Ireland and Portugal face challenges with their public healthcare systems. However, Portugal offers an edge with its private healthcare system, which is often more affordable than its Irish counterpart. This can be a boon for those seeking timely and quality medical care without breaking the bank.
  • Exceptional Food Quality: For those keen on embracing a healthier lifestyle, Portugal is a paradise. The country boasts fresher and higher-quality fruits and vegetables, ensuring that every meal is not just tasty but also nutritious.
  • English spoken: English is widely spoken in Portugal, particularly in places like Lisbon and the Algarve. While it is important to learn Portuguese once you settle here, being able to speak English initially can make settling in a lot easier.

Naturally, there are a few downsides to living in Portugal too.

Bureaucracy is the biggest one, followed by the quality of housing: properties here typically don’t have air conditioning or heating, although this is something that you can get installed.

Another con is that while there are jobs available locally, wages are much lower and Portuguese is often a requirement meaning that most people who move here come as remote workers or pensioners while others move here and start a business.

There is a growing startup scene in Portugal, particularly around Lisbon. It’s nowhere near as big as the tech scene in Dublin, but tech companies typically pay better than non-tech companies in Portugal. If you work at an international company, it’s also worth looking at whether you can get an internal transfer.

Obtaining Residency

Irish citizens can visit Portugal without needing a visa and stay for up to 90 days. Many people stay for longer than this without registering, however at this point you should register with the local council (known as the câmara municipal). It’s also worth noting that you may be considered tax resident after you spend more than 183 days in Portugal.

Unlike those outside the EU, which now includes British citizens, Irish people don’t need a residency visa to move to Portugal. As an Irish passport holder, you can move to Portugal and then apply for your CRUE (Certificado do Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia) at your local town hall (Câmara Municipal). 

You will typically be asked to prove that you can support yourself, whether that’s through savings, a remote job, or a pension, but you won’t have to jump through the same hoops that you would if you were applying for a visa like the D7, digital nomad visa, or golden visa. 

The following documents may also be asked for:

  • ID (e.g. passport or ID card).
  • Proof of address (e.g. property deeds, mortgage statement, rental contract, utility bill, NIF document).
  • Three month’s of bank statements.
  • NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal).*
  • A statement confirming that you have the necessary financial means to support yourself (e.g. pension or savings), are working, or are a student (document provided by câmara).
  • Fee (around €15).

Those with non EU spouses, partners, and other qualifying family members can also bring them to Portugal as well. 

* Irish residents can normally apply for a NIF number by visiting their local Finanças or Loja de Cidadão office, and are able to get the NIF number for free and without needing a fiscal representative.

Where to Live

While you can move to anywhere in Portugal, there are a few places that are particularly popular with Americans.

The Algarve

Beach in the Algarve
  • Overview: Often the first place that comes to mind when thinking of Portugal, the Algarve is renowned for its stunning beaches and consistently sunny weather. Some newspapers have referred to it as the California of Europe.
  • Why It’s Popular: Many Irish individuals have fond memories of summer holidays spent here, making it a familiar choice.
  • Community: The region boasts a significant Irish community, complemented by a diverse group of expats from countries like the UK, Germany, and the US.

Lisbon

funicular tram in Lisbon
  • Overview: As Portugal’s bustling capital, Lisbon offers a vibrant urban experience combined with historical charm.
  • Why It’s Popular: The city is a magnet for remote workers and digital nomads, thanks to its cosmopolitan vibe and connectivity.
  • Community: A decent-sized Irish community calls Lisbon home, ensuring newcomers have a touch of the Emerald Isle in the city.

Porto

A view of Porto and the Dom Luis Bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Overview: Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto, is known for its rich history, port wine, and picturesque riverfront.
  • Why It’s Popular: While offering many of the amenities of a large city, Porto is generally more affordable than Lisbon. However, it’s worth noting that winters here can be wetter.
  • Community: While the Irish community is smaller than in Lisbon or the Algarve, it’s steadily growing.

Central Portugal

square in Caldas da Rainha
  • Overview: For those seeking a more rural and authentic Portuguese experience, Central Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular choice.
  • Why It’s Popular: The allure of off-the-grid living, property restoration projects, and a quieter life draws many to this region. The Alentejo and Northern Portugal are also favoured for similar reasons.
  • Community: While Americans and Brits dominate the expat scene here, there’s a growing number of Irish individuals and families making Central Portugal their home.

Madeira

madeira hills
  • Overview: An archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira offers a unique blend of natural beauty and mild climate.
  • Why It’s Popular: Those seeking consistent, year-round pleasant weather find Madeira appealing. Its mountainous terrain and ocean views are added bonuses.
  • Community: The island attracts a mix of digital nomads, looking for a scenic workspace, and retirees, drawn to its tranquil pace.

Portugal vs Spain

At first glance, Portugal and Spain, the two dominant nations on the Iberian Peninsula, seem strikingly similar. Both offer rich histories, vibrant cultures, and stunning landscapes. However, when diving deeper, some distinct differences emerge, especially for those considering a move.

Visa Accessibility

  • Overview: In recent years, Portugal has gained popularity among expats, largely due to its more attainable visa programs.
  • Implication for the Irish: While this is a significant factor for many nationalities, it’s less relevant for the Irish. As EU citizens, the Irish don’t require a visa to live and work in either country.

Property Prices

  • Overview: Traditionally, Portugal was seen as the more affordable option when it came to property. However, this gap is narrowing as Portugal’s real estate market heats up.
  • Exceptions: Major Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona remain notably expensive, often surpassing their Portuguese counterparts in terms of property prices.

Language and Communication

  • English Proficiency: The Portuguese generally have a higher proficiency in English compared to the Spanish. This can make initial transitions and daily interactions smoother for English speakers in Portugal.
  • Learning the Local Language: While Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, many find Spanish easier to learn, especially if they’ve had prior exposure in school or through popular culture. This can be an advantage for those considering Spain, as having a grasp of the local language enriches the living experience.

For the Irish, making the move to Portugal is a relatively straightforward process, especially when compared to many other global relocations. While there’s no visa hurdle to clear, it’s essential for most Irish expats to have a stable source of income, be it from a pension, remote job, or other means, to ensure a comfortable life in their new home.

Even though property prices in Portugal have seen an uptick, the overall cost of living remains appealingly lower than many parts of Europe, including Ireland. This financial aspect, combined with the undeniable allure of sunnier winters, pristine beaches, and a more relaxed pace of life, makes Portugal an increasingly popular choice for the Irish.

In essence, while the practicalities of finances and logistics play a role, it’s the promise of a warmer, laid-back lifestyle that truly beckons many from the Emerald Isle to the sun-kissed shores of Portugal.

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.