My dear dudes,
As you know, I am canceling my contract in Germany in May to move to Portugal for good. There is a ton of reasons to do that, and I’d like to share them with you. In fact, I wanted to do this a long time ago, but a combination of expensive renovation costs for RP#3 and the fear of living without a salary for a while made me put my decision off for a few months. Not it’s settled! I am canceling my contract and moving to Portugal for good.
Without further due, let’s get to the reasons that made me move to Portugal. Most of them are exactly the reasons why Portugal is such an awesome country. Here are they:
1 – It is dirt cheap (especially in <100k-inhabitant cities) to live in Portugal
The cost of living in Portugal is really low. As a post-doc in Portugal (I am actually posting on this subject on Friday because I am looking for post-doc positions in Portugal right now), you earn about €18.000/yr (about 19k USD as of February 2017). Most post-doc researchers are grant holders and grants do not pay taxes, so the $19k would be net. The government will pay your contributions for a domestic 401k, but only in the minimal bracket (essentially, you have no control over it, you can’t cash out till you’re 60 something and you can’t max it out).
Let us assume I become a post-doc for $19k/yr. I have calculated my monthly expenses in Germany and in Portugal, and there is a substantial difference:
On top of that, I can eat out a lot more often (I do do that as much in Germany because it is too expensive).
For instance, you can find awesome meals just like this one costing less than $5 in Portugal:
Groceries are way cheaper too. On top of that, I actually shop less and less often because I can afford to eat out a lot more often. I spend more in gas because it’s more expensive in Portugal but I also drive a lot more.
Heath-care is really the downside of Portugal when compared to Germany. In Germany, I have free healthcare access (because my employer offers me full insurance). In Portugal, the public healthcare system is not expensive, but it is slow. At the end, you gotta do to a private clinic to get proper, fast treatment. That is expensive. A consultation comes out at about $75. Insurance is usually way cheaper in Portugal too.
The great upside is rent. I would only have to pay for property taxes and condominium fees. Utilities are not that cheap, though. Entertainment is so expensive in Germany that I usually don’t spend money on that. In Portugal, it is actually very affordable (watching a movie at the cinema costs about $7 bucks). Memberships are also way cheaper (the gym membership sucks $50 out of my pocket every month in Germany…).
I have noticed that Portugal became a top destination for non-European citizens to retire because there was a recent change in legislation, which eliminates local taxes on foreign pensions and other retirement income. As a result, this also lowers taxes on capital gains, dividends and what not.
2 – It’s paradise on earth
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the images in this section. Where are loaded directly from the source.
This spot is in the Berlengas. Have a look at this water! I think that only Croatia can compete with these waters (I will do a post on Portugal vs Croatia at some point). The good news is that you can find this very same water all over the cost:
The in-city sights you can get are fabulous. Have a look at Porto from the river:
and then we have the islands (this one is Azores):
(the previous pictures link to www.visitportugal.com – I recommend you to have a look at it).
Do you like to surf? Garrett McNamara surfed Big Mama, often described the largest wave ever surfed, in Nazaré (in the Portuguese coast). Nazaré has a great reputation among surfers because it offers large and challenging waves all the time (and it is not a popular destination for tourists for the most part of the year).
3 – The weather is awesome
Imagine if on top of the awesome landscape the weather would be awesome all the time. Really, whatever location you pick in Portugal you’ll find a sunny spot. There are about 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, meaning more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe.
The Algarve (the most southern state/region) has a longstanding reputation as a top destination in central Europe. I personally love it in March-April; for me its the best timing to go there – most restaurants charge low prices because their customers are mostly locals, it is not too hot and guess what, beaches are pretty much empty. 🙂
4 – People are great
I am fortunate I can speak Portuguese. But if you’re thinking about retiring in Portugal, you’ll get along just fine with English. The Portuguese are really great at the European scale when it comes to English – it is widely spoken (putting the natives aside, the Dutch are awesome too!). If you want to learn Portuguese, I actually find it very similar to English, grammar-wise, although complex to learn (Portuguese from Brazil is easier).
What I love the most about the Portuguese is their ability to improvise and make things flexible. Most people are extremely easy going and friendly (especially in the north) and the culture is similar to that of southern states in the US, although doing business can be a little hard because capitalism is not as natural as in the US.
Portugal ranks number 17 in the safest countries in the world. Security reports claim that safety breaches happen primarily at very touristic spots and these are pretty much reduced to the busy tourist season. Violent crime is rare.
One of the countries with more history in the world (probably top 3, in my opinion). In the so-called “Golden age”, Portugal has discovered so much land it’s almost impractical to cite them in this article. The history of the country is just immense. I am, just think about it. The country split the world with Spain in the 15th and 16th century, having colonies all over the world. Luckily, we got the best part: Brazil.
This video summarizes the country’s history in 7 minutes (it’s extremely compacted and it sure falls short in many things, but still a great introduction):
Portugal is also part of European Union, so as a resident you can travel around with your residence permit. It is also cheap to fly to both north and south America.
Other great things about Portugal include great and modern infrastructure, some of the best golf courts in the world, and, as I have mentioned many times, an undervalued Real Estate market. If you want to buy a guide for Portugal, I definitely recommend this one (Affiliate link). I want to leave you this video on the Algarve’s coast (in the south) so that you have a US perspective of this area:
If you want to add more to this post, please send me a message to fromcentstoretirement [at] gmail [dot] com.