The best places to live in Portugal

A selection of some of the best places to live and work in Portugal for expats according to the criteria of Nomad List.

Where to live in Portugal
Where to live in Portugal
23 August 2021, Emma Donaldson

Portugal is an expat-friendly country with spectacular beaches, charming and safe cities, pretty beach towns and historical fishing villages. Where are the best places to live in Portugal? This is a frequently asked question by expats considering moving to Portugal, but depending on your needs, lifestyle, and personal preference, the answer to this question will vary. While some will opt to move to the golden beaches of the Algarve or to one of Portugal's islands such as Madeira or the Azores, perhaps even to retire to, others will prefer lively city life and choose popular destinations such as Porto, Lisbon or Coimbra.

Portugal is an increasingly popular country with expats from all over the world. To help you with your decision of where the best place to live is, we’ve put together a list of the best places to live in Portugal. These results are based on the cities and towns that are recommended by Nomad List and are based on a range of factors such as cost of living, healthcare, weather, safety, family life and other factors. This list primarily highlights the best places to live and work remotely in the world.

Lisbon

Live in Lisbon
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Lisbon is a diverse city, great for expats, families and students, and has a thriving LGBT+ community. Portugal's capital city has it all and is an excellent choice for anybody wanting the buzz of a big city, while also having a beautiful historic centre and being close to beautiful beaches.

Many people speak English in Lisbon and the city is also a popular place to live for tech nomads and remote workers. With the increase in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lisbon is filled with co-working hubs, has a high-speed internet connection and plenty of job opportunities with some of the highest salaries in Portugal for those who aren't able to work from home. Lisbon currently is in first place in Nomad List’s best places to live and work in the world and is also one of the best places to invest in real estate in 2021

Pros of living in Lisbon

  • Safety
  • High quality education
  • Family friendly

Cons of living in Lisbon

  • Can be crowded
  • Healthcare could be better
  • More expensive than other cities in Portugal

The cost of living in Lisbon for an expat is around 1,274€ per month, much cheaper than other popular European cities.

Porto

Live in Porto
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Portugal’s second city, Porto, is often overlooked by expats moving to Portugal due to its more northern location, but this beautiful city on the banks of the River Douro should not be ruled out. Like Lisbon, Porto is also a very safe city, making it perfect for families and is also a cheaper option compared to Lisbon.

If you choose to live south of the river in the Vila Nova de Gaia neighbourhood for example, house prices and the general cost of living will be even cheaper than in the city centre, and the area is also not as popular with tourists, as well as being a good area for real estate investment in Porto. Porto is famous for its port wine, incredible local gastronomy and its colourful streets, while English is also well spoken in most cases.

Pros of living in Porto

  • Great healthcare
  • Safety
  • Affordable

Cons of living in Porto

  • The city centre can be busy with tourists
  • Cold winter weather

The cost of living in Porto for an expat is around 1,120€ per month.

Braga

Live in Braga
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Braga is one of Portugal’s oldest cities and a great option for those looking for a cheaper and smaller city beyond Porto and Lisbon. The city is one of Portugal's up and coming cities and is becoming more and more popular amongst expats. Braga is known for its lively nightlife, as well as rich history, as Braga is home to one of the oldest cathedrals in Portugal. Braga has an ideal location, just 30 minutes from the beach, 15 minutes from the mountains and 40 minutes from neighbouring Spain, as well as being family friendly with well known schools. In 2020, Braga was voted as one of the best cities in the world to retire in, as well as one of the happiest cities in Europe.

Pros of living in Braga

  • Location
  • Great healthcare
  • Very affordable
  • Less tourists

Cons of living in Braga

  • Cold winters
  • Not much English is spoken

According to Nomad List, the cost of living in Braga for an expat is around 864€ per month, making it one of Portugal's cheapest cities.

Funchal (Madeira)

Live in Funchal
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Madeira isn’t a destination that expats immediately think of moving to, but this Portuguese island is becoming increasingly popular, especially with remote workers who have chosen island life as their destination of choice. The island’s biggest city, Funchal, is an up and coming city and offers a beautiful setting with warm weather all year round. The island is not overrun with tourists and suffered much less in the coronavirus pandemic than mainland Portugal. People on the island generally speak basic English.   

Pros of living in Funchal

  • Very safe
  • Family friendly
  • Beautiful surroundings

Cons of living in Funchal

  • Life on an island could feel isolating
  • Fewer employment opportunities

The cost of living in Funchal for an expat comes in at 1,172€ per month.

Ponta Delgada (the Azores)

Live in Ponta Delgada
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From one Portuguese island to another, the Azores are one of the most beautiful places to live in the world. The main city in the Azores archipelago of São Miguel is Ponta Delgada and although the city may seem a little remote, the island’s beauty makes it one of the best places to live in Portugal. Like Funchal, Ponta Delgada is not too touristy, but is more expensive in terms of cost of living and known for its sustainable tourism initiatives.

Pros of living in Ponta Delgada

  • Good air quality
  • Family friendly
  • Beautiful surroundings

Cons of living in Ponta Delgada

  • Life on an island could feel isolating
  • Fewer employment opportunities
  • Unreliable public transport

The cost of living in Ponta Delgada for an expat is around 1,728€ per month according to the latest data from Nomad List for 2021.

Aveiro

Live in Aveiro
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The charming town of Aviero is located close to Porto and is a truly authentic Portuguese place to live if you want to live outside Porto. The city is famous for its canals, and although Aveiro is small, it is rich in history, culture and charm. Due to its smaller size, English is generally spoken less. However, the quality of life is known for being high and is particularly popular with students, as well as pensioners due to the relaxed way of life in the city.  

Pros of living in Aveiro

  • Very safe
  • Close to Porto
  • Not touristy

Cons of living in Aveiro

  • Further from the coast
  • Less English spoken
  • Healthcare needs improvement

The cost of living in Aveiro for an expat in 2021 is around 1,293€ per month according to Nomad List.

Coimbra

Live in Coimbra
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Coimbra is another Portuguese city that has something for everyone. Once the capital of Portugal, Coimbra is a relaxed city and has a low cost of living. The oldest university in Portugal is located in Coimbra, giving the city a lively feel. On top of this, the city is also well connected to other parts of the country by train, Lisbon and Portugal for example. Coimbra is another safe city and has lots of beautiful architecture and culture to be enjoyed, not to mention the delicious local food.

Pros of living in Coimbra

  • Very safe
  • Well connected
  • Great nightlife
  • Good healthcare

Cons of living in Coimbra

  • Further from the coast
  • Changeable weather

The cost of living in Coimbra for an expat is cheaper than other parts of Portugal and is around 1,085€ per month.

Portimão

Live in Portimão
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A list of the best places to live in Portugal would not be complete without mentioning the Algarve, home to golden beaches, a dramatic coastline, and some of the best weather in Portugal. Popular with pensioners and people retiring to Portugal, sunny Portimão has a relaxed feel and lots of trendy beach cafés and places to soak up the atmosphere in the historic town centre. It's important to note that transport in the Algarve is generally worse than the rest of Portugal and you may need a car, however, Portimão, the second largest city in the Algarve, is fairly well connected with other main destinations in the Algarve such as Lagos and Faro.

Pros of living in Portimão

  • Large expat community
  • English generally widely spoken
  • Beside the beach

Cons of living in Portimão

  • Fewer employment opportunities
  • Can become busy in the summer months with tourists

The cost of living in Portimão for an expat is cheaper than other parts of Portugal and is around 1,749€ per month.

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