People came to live in Portugal initially after being triggered by commercial reasons and secondly due to the safety and stability of the country.


The Portuguese island of Madeira, was where English settlers started a privileged society, doing business and trading Madeira wines, considered the most luxurious beverage at that time and still to this day.

During the 20th century the buildings of renowned hotels like the Belmond Reid’s Palace, Funchal and the Royal Savoy, became highly appreciated by Churchill and referenced by Shakespeare, making the little Portuguese heaven a desired luxury destination.


In 1756 there were 30 British families living in Porto and trading its world famous port and wine, today three of them still remain and continue trading and exporting in the fine Port wine sector: The Symington, the Robertson and the Churchill-Graham families.


During WW2, Portugal and Spain were neutral countries, creating diplomatic channels and commercial routes, which brought precious revenue to the Portuguese economy at that time.This strategy held Portugal outside the war zone and created a safe haven for many people, in a world that was going through a modern day Dante’s Inferno.

One of the refugees who chose to live in Portugal during those troubled times was Armenian Calouste Gulbenkian, who has left an enormous contribution to this day through his foundation, supporting culture and education.
Many other European families also came to Portugal to live, to establish business, to retire or/and to exile.

Regarding business, Luiz Oscar Jervell and Yngvar Poppe Jensen started the company AUTO SUECO, today part of the NORS Group.

Dutch families came to Portugal as well, like Van Zeller from the Duchy of Gueldre, of the Netherlands.

During the war in France, tens of thousands of refugees came to Portugal through the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, which issued approximately 30,000 visas and saved the same number of lives.

In the same way, some of the most famous WW2 refugees went to Estoril (Municipality of Cascais), namely Antoine de Saint Exupéry the director Jean Renoir, the German philosopher Hannah Arendt, Peggy Gugenheim, and the surrealism painter Max Ernst.

Portugal became the “centre of the world” in WW2 as royal families, royal house representatives and deposed monarchs, like Eduard VIII (Duke of Windsor at the time) and Juan Carlos (Infant of Spain at the time) also came to Portugal.

They built houses in Cascais and Estoril, seeking the neutral refuge that Portugal could provide, either from war or from political domestic crisis.

Quality of life

Today, Portugal is still a quiet and welcoming country, being chosen by many as the place to live, to work or to retire to, based on several positive factors.

Maybe the biggest advantage of living here in Portugal is safety: We are considered to be the 3rd safest country in the world. Quality of life is also unparalleled and relaxed. The excellent lifestyle in Portugal comes with good weather, perfect food and friendly people.

The cost of living is much cheaper than other countries like England, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, France and Germany, with Portugal being one of the most affordable places to live in Western Europe.

The price of houses and the cost of food can be up to 20% to 30% cheaper in Portugal, obviously depending on the chosen location. Health care is available to residents having access to the Portuguese NHS at a very low cost, considering the type of treatment and quality of service you will receive. There are also private options that work through insurance companies at competitive prices.

The same applies for college and university education with students able to enrol for a low fee in the national universities and a few well ranked Portuguese colleges, which are considered to be engines of progress.

The Oeiras municipality is known as the Portuguese Silicon Valley, hosting many international corporations and being responsible for approximatley 30% of the scientific development in the country.

Non-Habitual Tax Regime

This interesting regime became very attractive to pensioners, talented people and highly qualified professionals, with eligible candidates able to benefit from a fairly reduced personal income tax rate.

What you should know before you come and live in Portugal

Like elsewhere, emigration and similar bureaucratic processes may become complex for foreigners in the country.

Applying for a Visa

The first step should be to choose the right visa to enter and stay in the country, so you can take care of residence status. If you already have family here, there are special options for that situation.

Buy or lease accommodation

There is quite a lot of necessary due diligence before committing to purchasing a house, namely documents and legality check.

Personal documents

All residents should obtain a Portuguese tax number and a Portuguese NHS number, so they can start to access the local services.

Your car

You can bring your car to Portugal and drive it legally under your visa period. But then there are legal procedures to fulfil after that, namely customs clearance and to exchange the driver’s license.

Bank account and company start- up

While opening a personal bank account doesn’t require too much documentation, a corporate account and company incorporation in Portugal may become complex.

This is normal in all jurisdictions due to the recent regulation against money laundering.

Professional help will make it much easier for you

After sorting all of the above - welcome to the beautiful and sunny Portugal and enjoy the lifestyle!

Cláudia de Sousa Antunes
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