Life and Business in Portugal

Living and Working in Portugal – Info and Tips

Are you thinking of living and working in Portugal? This comprehensive guide has all the information you need to make the move to Portugal successful.

Moving to Portugal is a fantastic idea! You’ll enjoy lovely weather, affordable living, excellent schools, healthcare, many different people, safety, and tax benefits for expats. It’s a great place to call home!

But before you decide to move there, we recommend knowing the living and working standards for smooth living. So here is an ultimate guide to living and working in Portugal: 

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Portugal can vary depending on your location and lifestyle, but it’s generally considered affordable compared to many other European countries. Here’s a brief overview of some ordinary expenses you might encounter when moving to Portugal:

Housing: Rental prices vary significantly, with Lisbon and Porto being more expensive than rural areas. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around €400-€1,200 per month.

Utilities: Basic utilities like electricity, water, heating, and garbage for a standard 85m² apartment typically cost around €100-€150 per month.

Groceries: The cost of groceries is reasonable. A weekly shop for a couple can be around €50-€70. Fresh produce is widely available at local markets.

Transportation: Portugal has an efficient public transport system. A monthly transportation pass in Lisbon or Porto costs around €40-€50.

Dining out: A meal at a mid-range restaurant costs approximately €15-€20 per person. Dining at local tascas or cafes can be more affordable.

Healthcare: Portugal offers a high-quality public healthcare system for residents. Private health insurance starts at around €30 per month.

Education: Public education is free, but private international schools can be expensive, with fees ranging from €5,000 to €15,000 annually.

Entertainment: Enjoying cultural events or going to the cinema can cost between €5-€15, while a beer at a local bar is around €2-€3.

Taxes: Portugal has a competitive tax regime for residents, with a 10-year tax exemption for some expatriates.


Portugal’s healthcare system is mainly supported by taxes and donations, assuring universal coverage.

The National Health Service (SNS) of Portugal is the foundation of the healthcare system, providing a wide variety of services from general practitioners to specialized treatment. General practitioners serve as system gatekeepers, sending patients to specialists as necessary. This ensures that care is coordinated and cost-effective.

Pharmacies are widely available and easily accessible; qualified chemists can provide advice and supply over-the-counter drugs. Portugal also significantly focuses on preventative care, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and immunizing inhabitants.

Private healthcare solutions exist and are often used to supplement the public system. Many expats and residents purchase private health insurance or pay for consultations to shorten wait periods for non-urgent operations. Emergency services are rapid and practical, with efficient hospitals in large cities such as Lisbon and Porto.


Portugal’s education system is divided into three levels: preschool, primary, and secondary.

Pre-school education is accessible for children from three to six years old and is voluntary but extensively used. It lays the groundwork for subsequent learning by emphasizing socialization and early growth.

Primary education is required in Portugal for children aged 6 to 18. It is split into three cycles: the first (grades 1–4), the second (grades 5–6), and the third (grades 7–9). The school’s curriculum includes Portuguese, mathematics, physics, and foreign languages.

Students can pursue secondary school after completing primary education, separated into general, vocational, and artistic courses. Due to this adaptability, students can tailor their education to their interests and professional aspirations.

Portugal also has some famous institutions noted for their research and academic quality, such as the University of Lisbon and the University of Porto.


Portugal generally has a Mediterranean climate, with moderate, wet winters and warm, dry summers.

Winter temperatures in northern locations, such as Porto and the Douro Valley, average approximately ten °C (50°F), while summer temperatures can reach 25-30°C (77-86°F). Rainfall falls uniformly throughout the year, leaving the landscape lush and green.

Moving south, cities such as Lisbon and the Algarve area experience warmer winters, seldom falling below ten °C (50°F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures frequently exceeding 30°C (86°F), making it ideal for beachgoers.

However, it is crucial to note that regional variances exist in Portugal. The Azores have a maritime climate with moderate, wet winters and cold summers, but Madeira has a subtropical climate with lovely, mild temperatures all year.


The Portuguese culture is distinguished by its kind and hospitable people who cherish family and community ties. The Portuguese are well known for their love of music, particularly Fado, a passionate and melancholy genre representing the country’s rich past.

Portugal has a rich culinary landscape, with delicacies like bacalhau à brás (codfish with scrambled eggs), pastéis de nata (custard tarts), and vinho verde (green wine) among its signature dishes. These gastronomic wonders demonstrate the country’s love of tasty cuisine.

Family is the foundation of Portuguese society, and it is customary to witness generations living together, cultivating intimate bonds. Festivals like So Joo in Porto and Carnival in Lisbon are exuberant festivities when residents and newcomers unite to relish in Portugal’s joyous spirit. 

The Portuguese are known for their friendliness, and you’ll often find them engaging in cheerful conversation with visitors. Learning simple Portuguese words will help you interact with people and integrate into the local culture.

Work-Life Balance

Portugal has long been praised for its slow pace of life and is frequently seen as a location where work-life balance exists. Many Portuguese people respect their leisure as much as their work obligations. This balance is especially noticeable in their daily activities. 

The workday in Portugal typically begins later than in other nations, enabling individuals to have a leisurely breakfast or spend time with family before traveling to the office. The traditional siesta, or noon break, is still widespread in specific locations, allowing people to rest and reconnect with loved ones. Furthermore, the Portuguese value their weekends, using them for family reunions, outdoor activities, or simply relaxing at a neighborhood café.

 The “Fado” culture is another example of this work-life balance. Fado, a traditional Portuguese music genre, frequently incorporates themes of desire, nostalgia, and love for life’s basic pleasures. It expresses the Portuguese sensitivity to the emotional and intimate aspects of life. Another example is the seaside town of Cascais, where many inhabitants take time off from work to enjoy the beautiful beaches, surfing, and superb seafood.


When considering moving to Portugal, it is critical to know the typical income landscape to adequately prepare your budget. In Portugal, the average gross monthly pay is between €1044. Salaries, however, can vary significantly based on criteria such as geographical location, industry, and experience.

Because of the increased cost of living in big cities such as Lisbon and Porto, incomes tend to be higher. A software engineer in Lisbon, for example, may make roughly €1,800 to €2,500 per month, but the same profession in a smaller town might pay around €1,400 to €2,000.

Jobs in the tourist and service industries may pay less, with monthly incomes ranging from €700 to €1,200. Teaching English may pay well, especially if you have experience or specialized certifications.

Work Hours

Work hours in Portugal typically follow a regular 9-to-5 schedule, including a one-hour lunch break. The country places a premium on work-life balance, allowing employees to enjoy their free time and family life. The typical workweek is 40 hours distributed across five days, Monday through Friday. However, some businesses, such as tourism or retail, can require weekend and nighttime shifts due to seasonal demand.

For instance, a software engineer in Lisbon would work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but a nurse in Porto might work shifts that alternate between morning and evening. Furthermore, the Portuguese work culture promotes timeliness and professionalism, emphasizing the significance of arriving on time for meetings and appointments.

Work Leaves

Work leaves, or “licença de trabalho,” are an essential part of the work environment in Portugal. Employees have the right to various leaves to maintain an excellent work-life balance. Annual paid leave is one of the most popular types of leave, often lasting from 22 to 25 days per year, depending on duration of service. Employees might use this time off for vacations or personal reasons.

Another essential type of leave is sick leave (“baixa médica“), which allows employees to take time off due to sickness while still earning a portion of their pay. For example, if you become unwell, you may present a medical certificate and be reimbursed for your time away.

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