Where do British expats live in Portugal?

The best places for UK expats to live and buy property in Portugal.

Coastal areas are popular with British expats / Pixabay
8 February 2021, Emma Donaldson

A considerable amount of property demand in Portugal comes from expats who have relocated to the country, and in spite of uncertainties such as Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, the expat population in Portugal continues to grow and moving to Portugal is still a good idea in 2021.

If you are thinking of moving to Portugal in 2021, then there are a wide range of wonderful locations that you could call home. With varied landscapes, each area in Portugal offers its own unique character and charm, and there’s somewhere to suit all tastes and lifestyles. Whether you want to live in a lively city or enjoy life by the sea, let’s find out where British expats live in Portugal.

To complete this study, we have used data from visits to idealista property listings, based on user location.



A good place to start when it comes to the best places to live in Portugal for expats is Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. With a sunny climate, beaches just a short drive from the city and a low cost of living compared to the other cities in Europe, Lisbon is a pretty good choice for Brits looking to buy a house in Portugal.

Lisbon is also a great city for young families with a wide range of international schools, while the city is also a growing field of work with increasing opportunities. And while learning some Portuguese is advisable, the city also has a growing English-speaking community.

The Algarve


A list of the best places to live in Portugal for expats would not be complete without mentioning the Algarve. The Algarve is the most popular choice for British expats living in Portugal and while this region on Portugal’s southern coast is often known for busy tourist resorts, the stunning coastline is also home to quieter areas and idyllic countryside largely untouched by tourism.

The Algarve has a lot of offer expats who move to the region. Portimao and Faro rank as the top British expat communities in the area and are also the areas with the most job opportunities, as well as having the most options when it comes to schools if you’re moving to Portugal with a family.



Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and is a hit with British expats. While the city centre is spectacular and full of history, many expats find this area too touristy and expensive. For this reason, if you’re planning on moving to Porto, then it is definitely worth exploring the outskirts of the city for cheaper prices and a quieter lifestyle. Check out Vila Nova da Gaia which is just south of the city and has a growing expat community.

Although the climate in Northern Portugal isn’t quite as warm and sunny as further south, Porto has much more to offer when it comes to culture, entertainment and history, not to mention its world-famous wine.


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Setubal is a port town located in the south-west of Portugal between Lisbon and the Algarve. The city is becoming increasingly popular with expats due to its friendly size and its proximity to Lisbon, as well as being perfectly located close to nature with beaches, forests and wetlands on its doorstep.

Setubal is an excellent place to start a new life in Portugal and has a growing number of British expats. Its lively town centre and buzzing food scene provide plenty of things to do, and with a wide range of properties for sale and rent at reasonable prices, it’s easy to see why more and more UK expats are choosing to settle in this coastal town.


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Leiria is small city in Central Portugal which is located just off the motorway between Lisbon and Porto. If you want to move to somewhere which is authentically Portuguese with fewer tourists, then Leiria is for you. While the city has a small British expat community, you might want to learn some Portuguese to give you a head start here.

With its beautiful castle and historic cathedral, you’ll fall in love with this charming city. Although Leira is located little further inland, the beautiful beaches of Portugal's Silver Coast are just a short drive away, and being a farther from the coast also means life in Leiria is pretty cheap for expats. You’ll get a lot more for your money when it comes to buying and renting property, as the area is one of the cheapest in Portugal, while things like eating out and public transport are also cheaper than in other parts of Portugal.

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