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Making the decision to immigrate to another country is a pretty big deal. Take a glimpse of what it would be like to live and retire in Portugal beyond the beautiful natural scenery, culturally rich heritage, and delicious cuisine. Learn more about the economy, education system, healthcare policies, and employment rates, and get the full picture of what it is like living and retiring in Portugal with this guide.
Similar to other western European countries, Portugal is now a predominantly service-based economy. Although there is still a percentage of manufacturing and agricultural output, international tourism is one of the main contributors. By encouraging direct investments and partnerships with other countries and international organizations (e.g. eurozone, NATO, EU, WTO, and UN), Portugal is doing its best to continue fostering and sustaining its development process. Compared to the previous years, Portugal’s inflation rate is 0.3%, while overall GDP is currently US$237.71bn. The growing economy and high standards of living are why Portugal is a first-world country.
The affordable living costs, relatively cheap properties and attractive tax regime make Portugal a highly popular immigration and retirement destination. Although prices are slightly higher in Lisbon and Porto, the two economic capitals of the country, other parts of the country are very affordable in terms of cost of living and property prices. Additionally, because of the double taxation agreement with many different countries, the cost of items is kept on a minimal level. Similarly, the non-habitual tax regime allows for massive tax savings for residents who have not lived in Portugal for the last five years.
There has been significant progress in the Portugal education system that directly benefits those living in Portugal. Free universal education is available for citizens and residents from the age of four until the age of 18. The school network is organized into school clusters with their own administration and management bodies. There are also numerous private schools that have smaller class sizes. In Lisbon or other major cities, there are options for international schools with an American or English curriculum taught in English. Through numerous initiatives and schemes over the years, the government has successfully reduced the number of school dropouts and significantly improved the Portuguese students’ performance in international comparative tests.
Since the collection of public hospitals and health centres are government-funded, the public healthcare system provides free or very low-cost medical care for its permanent residents and nationals. However, it is only available for foreigners who are permanent residents. Those who have not fulfilled the requirements to become permanent residents will have to buy private health insurance while they are living in Portugal. Fortunately, private health insurance is still competitively cheap. A basic monthly plan can cost around €20, while a comprehensive one is about €80.
As a growing economy, there are many startups and tech companies that are quickly emerging. Most in-demand jobs include those in the healthcare, tourism and IT sector. Although some sectors may not require knowledge of Portuguese, traditional sectors, especially fields that directly interact with locals, will require a certain level of Portuguese.
The minimum wage per month is €635, which is approximately US$752. Social security contributions are shared by the employee and the employer at rates of 11% and 23.75%, respectively. Non-permanent residents working and living in Portugal may be exempted from social security if they are contributing to a compulsory social security system in the EU or a country that has a bilateral social security agreement with Portugal. Overall tax is based on worldwide income unless you are eligible under the non-habitual tax regime. With social security, you can gain access to unemployment, maternity and paternity, sickness and disease, invalidity, work injuries and other health conditions, old-age pension, and death benefits.
Portugal is recognized as one of the best countries to retire abroad because of its attractive retirement tax laws, low crime rates, and relatively straightforward immigration process. The slow pace of life and large English-speaking community also makes it an easy transition. With the non-habitual tax regime, those retiring in Portugal that are eligible for the program can benefit from a discounted flat income tax rate. Those who have at least 15 years of social security contributions while under Portuguese employment can claim for a contribution-based state pension. The low cost of living can mean that any savings, social security, or pension can go a long way. Retirees do not have to worry about healthcare as free national healthcare is offered to residents and seniors above the age of 65.
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