Moving abroad to work in a country like Portugal can be one of the most exciting things youll ever do. Theres the fantastic weather to look forward to, new people to meet, great cuisine and untold adventures. Its a whole new lifestyle but only a few hours away from Britain by plane.
If youve decided to pack up and go, or your employer is offering you a transfer to work in Portugal, you must consider your options carefully to ensure everything goes without a hitch. But, with good planning, youll be enjoying your new life under the sun in no time at all.
In this guide, well look at just some of the things to think about instead of daydreaming about living abroad by the beach or the golf course.
You might have a fair idea of where you want to go, be it by the sea, or inland near a golf course or vineyard. Perhaps you want city life in Lisbon or a rustic smallholding in the countryside. You have two big decisions to make: where to live, and whether to buy or to rent. And all of that will depend on your budget.
It pays to visit Portugal several times, if possible, in different seasons, to get a good idea of what life will be like year-round, as opposed to just during the holidays. You wont be living there as a tourist after all, but a resident.
Assuming youve narrowed down your geographical search, then spend many happy hours online trawling through available properties. There are many familiar websites you can use, like the international section of Rightmove, but it also pays to find Portuguese estate agents on the internet to see what theyve got on offer. With a shortlist of targets drawn up, head over to Portugal for viewings. Most of the serious agents there will have English speakers, so its not as daunting as it sounds.
If youre ready to put in an offer, youll need to hire a local lawyer to represent you. Your estate agent might be able to help, but its a good idea to find an expat community online (there are various forums) where you can ask for some advice from Brits who have already gone through it all.
Your lawyer and estate agent will then advise you about the property-buying process, which is not too complicated, but you must follow the rules.
If youre buying property in Portugal and intending to work there, you need to open a local bank account and register with the local tax authorities.
The largest local banks are networked in the Multibanco system, allowing you to use any of their ATMs for cash withdrawals, transfers and even to make tax or social security payments. Its simple for a foreigner to open an account – youll need a couple of forms of ID, so check before you arrive.
You might also want to check which of the banks will make transfers to and from the UK easily since youll be doing this a lot at first.
Having registered with the relevant authorities to purchase your property, you can do so for your local tax payments. If you have an employer, they can advise on your best course of action. If youre self-employed, you may have to file your own personal and corporate tax returns.
Remember to sort out home insurance for your Portuguese property, and ensure you are set up to pay local property taxes, including the Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis (IMI), which is the local equivalent of the council tax here in the UK.
Its easy to rely on the National Health Service back in the UK, but things are a little different. As a UK citizen, you currently have the right to free healthcare in Portugal, but its relatively basic, and locals, as well as visitors, are expected to pay small amounts towards common procedures and medicines.
Certainly, you should register at the local medical centre as soon as you move in. This is like becoming a patient at your local doctors surgery.
Its also advisable, presuming you can afford to do so, to take out some form of health insurance to ensure youre fully covered should the worst happen. If youre working for an employer, you might find this is already part of your employment package.
Moving day will come around much sooner than you imagine. There is a lot to do, so make sure you get organised as soon as possible to reduce the stress before you go.
Arrange a farewell party and make some special memories with your friends, family and loved ones before heading off for your new adventure.
Grab some local currency, so you have some handy for your arrival. Pack what you need to take with you (i.e. a few clothes, laptop, chargers, including adaptors, washing things etc.), and include a folder with all your necessary travel and moving documents kept neatly together.
All being well, youve made it to moving day, and everything has gone to plan. Now, make the short hop to Portugal, meet up with your removals company and move into your new home in the sun.
Enjoy a few free days to unpack and acclimatise, and then get to work. Because you should never forget thats why youre moving abroad in the first place!
For assistance with planning your move abroad, try downloading our moving abroad checklist!
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