Located on the western edge of Europe, Portugal’s location and its history of exploration have combined to create one of the world’s unique cultures. Infused with elements of its Iberian, Latin-American, Asian and African adventures Portuguese culture is among st the most diverse and exciting in Europe. When you consider that Portugal also boasts some of Europe’s best weather (some places see over 3,000 hours of sunshine every year!), it’s easy to see why it has become one of Europe’s top destinations for British expats and why more people than ever are living in Portugal.
When it comes to a guide of the best places for buying property in Portugal, where else to start other than in Portugal’s capital city?
Located on Portugals Atlantic coastline, Lisbon is one of Europe’s great capital cities. Offering a perfect mix of the old (with its Roman Walls and medieval fortresses) and new (the sprawling pedestrianised shopping areas and trendy nightlife of Barrio Alto), Lisbon indeed has something for everyone.
If youre a foodie, never fear, youre well catered for in this charming city. Boasting some of the finest seafood youll find anywhere (grilled fresh sardines, anyone?) and the world famous Lisbon custard tart, its a city guaranteed to test your waistline!
Combine all that with over 3,000 hours of sun each year, and a low cost of living compared to the other capitals of western Europe, you end up with a perfect location for the Brit looking to buy a house in Portugal.
Renting a place before you decide to live in Portugal permanently is a great way to test drive life as an expat before making the move. There are plenty of apartments for rent in Lisbon so you can try before you buy.
Portugals second city, located on the Atlantic coast to the north of Lisbon, is no less historical or breathtaking than its big sister. In fact, its so deeply steeped in history that the ancient heart of the city is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Currently the hidden gem amongst the top British expat communities in Portugal, Porto is unlikely to stay that way for long. Offering low prices and a small, but ever-growing, expat community there may not be many better choices than Porto if youre considering moving to Portugal.
Enjoying slightly less sun than Lisbon (a mere 2,463 hours per year as opposed to 3,000), Porto still offers a climate that is the envy of the UK. Famed for its cobbled streets, churches and palaces, Porto is undoubtedly the place to be for history buffs.
The most rural of all the areas weve covered, Tomar is the choice for anyone looking to enjoy their own little taste of the good life while living in Portugal. Considered something of a historical jewel, Tomar was the last city whose construction was ordered by the Templars.
Amongst the smallest locations in this guide, with a population of just over 40,000, Tomar is perfect for anyone wishing to shun the larger expat communities and immerse themselves fully in the Portuguese way-of-life while remaining close to Lisbon and its transport hubs (Lisbon Airport is just an 80-minute drive away) for ease of access.
Despite its small size, theres no shortage of things to do in Tomar. Museums, markets, and a fantastic range of restaurants utilising the great produce originating in the region ensure that youll never be short of culture, or good food.
Acknowledged as the oldest city in Portugal, Braga is something of a must-see for anyone with an interest in history. Boasting stunning ruins, Braga is considered one of the most beautiful cities on the Iberian peninsula.
Amongst the cheapest of the top British expat communities in Portugal, the cost of living in Braga is a little over 11% lower than the nearby Porto. In a country with an already low average cost of living thats impressive!
While not renowned as a party town, Braga has quite the mix of restaurants and bars, and the 20,000 students who call it home during the school year ensure that things are never dull. With an impressive blend of boutique and modern superstores Braga has something to offer shopping enthusiasts.
Throw in a pleasant climate that sees average temperatures of 24°C in the summer and 12°C in the winter, and you have somewhere that deserves to be considered if youre seriously considering living in Portugal.
Known as the ‘Venice of Portugal, Aveiro is a small coastal city to the north of Lisbon. A surprising and beautiful city, its a place where new and old combine to create a flourishing town with a vibrant nightlife and energy.
A small city of some 80,000 people, Aveiro attracts fewer tourists than some of the neighbouring towns. This means youll enjoy a lower than average cost of living and be part of an expat community smaller than many of the others in Portugal.
Boasting a system of canals flanked by traditional houses decorated with glittering traditional tiles, the canals are sprinkled with colourful wooden boats similar to those seen in Venice. Its proximity to the fisheries of the Atlantic ensures the city’s many restaurants are able to serve incredible seafood dishes fresh from the ocean.
British expats are drawn to Aveiro by its warm climate, and as the city grows, more and more tourists are discovering this beautiful city. A fact that bodes well for the value of any property purchased as more people look to buy a house in Portugal.
Located in the rural heartlands of Portugal, halfway between Lisbon and Porto, the university town of Coimbra enjoys warm summers and mild but rainy winters.
This quiet, traditional city, offers property bargains aplenty, within Coimbra itself and in the surrounding areas. A fascinating and historic city, Coimbra boasts stunning medieval architecture and a university that is one of the oldest in the world.
But this lovely old city is by no means old-fashioned. It boasts a bright, fashionable waterfront park packed with bars and restaurants, alongside substantial modern shopping complexes. There really is something for everyone in Coimbra, and if youre serious about living in Portugal, then Coimbra is a city you must visit while conducting research.
Like Braga, a healthy student population ensures a lively atmosphere to the city. Youre going to experience some great nightlife and a fun atmosphere. Throw in the fact that the setting is beautiful: old houses and buildings tumble down the hillside to meet the river, and you have a city that must be considered if youre serious about living in Portugal.
Located on the southwest tip of Portugal, between Lisbon and the Algarve, is the city of Setubal. A medium-sized port town, Setubal is situated ideally for exploring the wetlands, beaches, forest and estuaries that are nearby.
Most famous for its seafood (we recommend that you try the fried cuttlefish) and excellent wines the city also boasts some interesting architectural gems, including the famous 15th century Gothic church.
Home to a good number of expats, many of whom are retired or work in the tourism industry, Setubal is an ideal starting point in your journey into buying property in Portugal.
A region as opposed to one city, The Algarve is the most popular choice for British expats living in Portugal. Straddling Portugals southern coast, The Algarve is home to both busy resorts, and quiet rural areas mostly untouched by tourism.
More developed in the western and central areas, the eastern part of The Algarve region (between Faro and the Spanish border) is quieter and attracts fewer tourists. If youre serious about buying a property in Portugal, and you have your heart set on this region, youre sure to find something that ticks the right boxes.
Portimao and Faro are the top British expat communities in the region. Both enjoy a stunningly hot Mediterranean climate. The closeness of an international airport to Faro makes the area perfect for hopping back and forth between Portugal and the UK.
Do you intend to open a bank account in Spain? This might be because you’re planning to emigrate to the Iberian peninsula with your family, to start a new life in Marbella or the Costa Blanca. Alternatively, this could be because you want to buy a Spanish holiday home, to enjoy year-round escapes to sun, […]
By Jessica Roberts
Excellent service, clear and unambiguous advice and I was given an expert insight into currency fluctuations and the potential for gains as well as losses. Ultimately, they saved me money which is always a bonus when your uncertain about who to trust with your money. My advice? Don’t use your bank, it will save you thousands by using Foreign Currency Direct.
Having tried Transferwise and HiFx, Foreign Currency Direct is cheaper whilst still providing a very personal and professional service. I now wouldn’t use anybody else.
They are patient, constructive and always seem to look for the best possible way to assist their clients. Importantly, they do what they say they will do in the time frame they commit to. Emails and phone calls have a quick response – communication has always been excellent. Foreign Currency Direct plc will continue to be my first choice.
Good honest advice, simply the best.
Brilliant, fuss free service as always. They always deliver exactly what they say and in super fast timescales. Reliable, helpful and approachable.
FCD keep you informed and are there when you need to talk to them. Add to that the excellent rate and speed of transfer and you have the perfect company for your money.
Excellent experience every time. I always feel as though it is a personal service with the staff getting to know me as a person rather than just a customer. Special thanks to Dayle Littlejohn.