Moving to Portugal
Your Expert Moving-to Guide

Has your love for fantastic seafood dishes, Mediterranean climates, and port wine finally made you give the idea of moving to Portugal a go? If yes, we cannot blame you. After all, Portugal has become an attractive moving destination for many Americans for a reason! To make sure your move from the US to Portugal goes as smoothly as possible, we’ve compiled what you need to know in this handy guide —from moving costs to requirements, we got your back!

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Costs of Moving to Portugal from the US

Before we move on to the fun stuff, we must first get the not-so-fun part out of the way: the moving costs. It probably comes as no surprise that an international move will cost you a pretty penny. But let’s face it, great things in life rarely come at no cost –and an adventure of this caliber is certainly no exception!

Because of this, it’s crucial that you understand the factors that affect your moving costs so that you can get a rough idea of what you can expect a move from the US to Portugal to cost. This is really the easiest way to make sure you prepare yourself accordingly!

To give you a hand with this, we’ve compiled some ballpark estimates for a sea-freight move to Lisbon from both the East and West Coasts of the United States for you below.

Moving from the East Coast to Portugal

Property SizeShipping TimeEstimated Cost
1-bedroom6 – 9 weeks$5,200 – $7,100
2-bedroom4 – 6 weeks$7,100 – $9,400
3-bedroom4 – 6 weeks$12,600 – $16,900
4-bedroom4 – 6 weeks$13,300 – $17,900

Moving to Portugal from the West Coast

Property SizeShipping TimeEstimated Cost
1-bedroom7 – 10 weeks$6,200 – $8,500
2-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$8,500 – $11,400
3-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$15,400 – $20,700
4-bedroom5 – 7 weeks$16,100 – $21,700

Disclaimer: the rates shown above are just mere estimates. Your moving costs will vary depending on your actual point of departure, the size of your move and the service rates of the company.

Keep in mind that moving costs are generally quite hard to estimate, so our pro tip is that you request moving quotes ASAP –this is truly the only way you’ll be able to get an accurate estimation of how much moving to Portugal will cost you!

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A Comprehensive Moving to Portugal Checklist

Nobody said that moving to Portugal would be an easy job. But don’t worry, our expert tips and tricks are here to help you carry out that you move stress-free and with a big smile. 🙂

To start off, we’ve put together this comprehensive checklist of things you must remember to do while planning your move to Portugal:

  • Calculate the volume of your move: Your final moving costs will be largely determined by the size of your move. Not sure how much stuff you’ve got? Our nifty moving space calculator can help you find it out faster than you can say pastéis de nata. 😉
  • Find an international mover: This is definitely a no brainer, but if moving to Portugal is really in your plans, you’ll need to make sure you find the international mover that best suits your needs. If you’re feeling a bit lost, we advise that you give our list of top 8 international movers a look!
  • Gather your legal documents: To avoid any unnecessary legal mishaps during your move to Portugal, we advise that you collect all your legal documents and store them in a safe spot you can carry along with you during transit.
  • Start packing early: When it comes to packing, the earlier the better! If you’re on the lookout for some tips on how to pack fragile items, we got your back –check them out here.
  • Taking your furry friend?: It is possible to take your pet along with you when moving to Portugal from the USA, provided that:
    • Your pet is microchipped;
    • A veterinarian has issued an international health certificate for your pet;
    • Your pet has been vaccinated against rabies;
    • You’re ready to pay the €30 (≈ $36.42) pets entry-fee in Portugal.

Looking for a more extensive moving checklist? Well, look no further! Luckily, we have more than a few tricks up our sleeve that will help you ensure this big move runs as smoothly as possible —check them out here!

Scenery of a cave on a beach in Algarve, Portugal

Things to Know Before Moving to Portugal from America

Let’s face it, moving to a new country can be nerve wracking. The idea of having to navigate an entire new way of living can certainly be frightening at first —but don’t worry, we’re here to help! 😉

Because we want to make sure you’re well prepared for your big move to Portugal, we’ve compiled some relevant information about the residency, financial, and healthcare systems in Portugal for you below.

Visas & Residency Permits

First things first, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who possess a second nationality from an EU country, when moving to Portugal from the US you’ll need to take out a visa to enter the country and apply for a temporary residence permit once there.

The different types of visas you can request for moving to Portugal include:

  • Work visa for:
    • Highly-skilled workers, teachers, or artistic performers;
    • Independent workers;
    • Employees (hired by a Portuguese firm before arrival);
    • Entrepreneurs;
  • Business visa (for short-term stays);
  • Family visa.

The visa application process is carried out by the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF). To find out more about the requirements and costs for each of these visa types, we advise checking out SEF’s website directly.

What About Temporary Residency?

Within the first 4 months of enjoying the good Mediterranean weather and some caldo verde, you’ll be required to apply for a temporary residence permit in order to legally stay in Portugal.

And About Permanent Residency?

Usually, a temporary permit allows Portuguese residency for a period of one year. After the first year expires, you can renew your permit for a total of five years. After this, you’ll be eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit.

Healthcare

Perhaps one of the trickiest things to get used to when moving abroad is the healthcare system of your new country of residence. Luckily, the Portuguese healthcare system is not all that complicated to understand.

Portugal operates under a mixed healthcare system. This means that you will have the option to choose between private and public medical coverage.

The public medical coverage is handled by the Servicio Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and is free off charge for all Portuguese residents under the age of 18 or above the age of 65. If you don’t fall under those age brackets, don’t worry! The system is heavily subsided, which means that you’ll probably have to pay only a small fee for a full-coverage. 😉

Alternatively, if private medical coverage is something you prefer instead, you always have the option of taking out an international health insurance policy with an American company. Under these policies, you’ll often enjoy coverage for both medical emergencies and routine healthcare work.

Financial Arrangements

Alright, let’s talk money. As Portugal is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account for non-residents, we heavily advise opening account before moving to Portugal from the USA.

Do keep in mind that if you open an account online from the States, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to visit the branch in person when you arrive in Portugal to finalize the process.

The required documents to open an account usually include:

  • A valid ID (e.g.: passport);
  • Proof of income that states your profession;
  • A número de identificação fiscal (NIF) –you can appoint a lawyer/representative in Portugal to obtain this on your behalf;
  • Proof of address (either Portuguese if you’re already in the country or your American address)

Remember! As a US citizen your income is still subject to US income tax legislation regardless of where you reside. So it’s important that you carefully check what the tax implications are when moving abroad.

Living in Portugal as an American Expat

Before you pack your bags and hop on the plane for that Portuguese moving adventure, it’s good that you first inform yourself a bit about the life in Europe’s most western peninsula so you can prepare accordingly. Read on to become a moving to Portugal expert! 😎

Costs of Living in Portugal

Good news! Portugal is one the most affordable countries in Europe. All the wonders Portugal has to offer come all at a very reasonable price —score! On average, the cost of living in Portugal is 42% less expensive than in the US.

To give you a better idea of how your money will be spent upon moving to Portugal from the US, we have put together this table which summarizes some of the most common living expenditures you might have.

Life in PortugalAverage Cost
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment€588 (≈ $718) per month
Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment€978(≈ $1,194) per month
Purchase of a property€1,187  (≈ $1,449) per square meter
Utilities (gas, electricity, water, garbage collection)€101 (≈ $123) per month
Groceries€164 (≈ $200) per month
Gym membership€32 (≈ $39) per month

Disclaimer: Keep in mind these are mere estimates. Your average monthly expenditures will vary depending on your lifestyle, family size, and the city you reside in.

Leisure

We have no doubt that with its beautiful countryside, warm beaches, and rich history, Portugal will definitely be able to keep you on your toes.

To help you imagine what your life in this European peninsula could look like, we put together a list of some cool things you can do in the country and their respective costs. 😉

ActivityAverage Cost
Food and wine tasting tour in Porto€61 (≈ $74) per person
Ticket for the Oceanário de Lisboa€19 (≈ $23)
Entrance ticket for the Torre de Belém€6 (≈ $7)
Single cinema ticket€12 (≈ $15)
Ticket for the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian€10 (≈ $12)

Working in Portugal

If you’ve seriously considered moving to Portugal from America, you probably already figured out you’ll need to land yourself a job before arriving to the country —or at least it’s smart to do so, as you won’t be able to get a work visa otherwise, which can grant you temporary residency.

If you’re scouting for a job, it’s good to keep in mind that the most in-demand jobs in Portugal are in the following sectors:

  • Tourism and hospitality
  • IT
  • Communications (e.g.: call centers)
  • Healthcare

Since looking for a job from abroad is certainly just a tad biiit complicated, we’ve put together a list of useful job-scouting platforms to help you start your search:

Aerial view of the Castelo de Paiva in Portugal, showing a landscape of blue skies and mountains

Did You Know…?

  • The world’s oldest bookstore is located Lisbon’s Chiado district. So, if you’re a book worm like us, make sure to give Bertrand bookstore a visit!
  • Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, having the same defined borders since 1139.
  • Tempura, which we often tend to associate with Japanese cuisine, actually originated in Portugal!
  • As of 2018, Portugal ranks among the top 5 safest countries in the world.

Ready for Your Move to Portugal?!

We hope that after this short read you feel like you’re one step closer to moving to Portugal from the USA. It’s time to say adeus to the States and olá to beautiful and sunny Portugal! 😎

In case you might need some extra assistance with your move, at Sirelo we got your back. Check out the articles we have linked below for you –they’ll be of great help!

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