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5 Best Places to Live in Portugal – 2 to Avoid

Portugal has emerged as one of the top European destinations for retirees from North America, and it’s easy to see why. With its abundance of sunshine, affordable cost of living, excellent healthcare, a thriving expat community, breathtaking scenery, and widespread use of English, Portugal has become a haven for those seeking a new life abroad. However, choosing the right place to settle down in Portugal depends on personal preferences and lifestyle. Here, we explore five suggested places that offer a high quality of life and two locations that may not be ideal for expats.

  1. Lisbon: As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon presents a perfect blend of historic charm and modern convenience. With its stunning city center, vibrant yellow cable cars traversing narrow streets, over 60 museums, English-speaking theater, family-friendly beaches, diverse cuisine, and a bustling expat community, Lisbon has something for everyone. The nearby beaches of Cascais, the enchanting village of Sintra, and the international airport add to the city’s appeal, making it an excellent choice for expats looking for a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
  2. Porto: Situated on the Douro River and known for its port wine production, Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city. Rich in culture and history, Porto offers a vibrant atmosphere, great shopping experiences, delicious local cuisine, and a strong expat community. The city’s cooler climate and proximity to an international airport make it an attractive option for those who value a lively urban setting with access to the comforts of a close-knit expat community.
  3. Silver Coast: Located just an hour north of Lisbon, the town of Caldas da Rainha on the Silver Coast is a charming destination. Built around a thermal hospital, it offers a lively old town with daily markets, museums, shopping centers, and a beautiful park where residents can enjoy leisurely walks and boat rides. Caldas da Rainha boasts a large expat community, excellent healthcare facilities, and nearby beaches like Foz do Arelho and Nadadouro, making it an appealing place for those seeking a peaceful yet vibrant coastal lifestyle.
  4. Lagos: Situated in the sunny Algarve region, the town of Lagos provides warm weather, picturesque landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage. With its tiled plaza in the old town and remnants of a waterfront fort, Lagos retains its charm while offering stunning coastal views, including grottoes and caves that can be explored by boat. The town has a long history of British holidaymakers, making English widely spoken. Lagos offers a pleasant atmosphere, ample amenities, and excellent healthcare facilities, making it an attractive choice for expats looking for a sunny coastal retreat.
  5. Tavira: Tavira, another gem in the Algarve region, captivates visitors with its whitewashed houses adorned with colorful Portuguese tiles. This picturesque town features cobbled lanes, a slow-paced lifestyle, and a tranquil river, perfect for relaxation. Tavira is home to a thriving expat community and offers a mild climate, beautiful beaches, and a selection of local shops and restaurants. Although some establishments cater more to the British population, it’s only a short drive to Seville, Spain, for American expats to find familiar products.

While Portugal has numerous attractive locations, there are a couple of places that may not be as well-suited for expat living:

  1. Monsanto:
    Considered one of the most Portuguese villages in the country, Monsanto is a quaint and charming destination. However, due to its remote location and challenging terrain with steep, rustic lanes, living in Monsanto may prove difficult for expats. The village lacks English-speaking establishments, and its secluded atmosphere may not provide the amenities and social opportunities that expats desire. While Monsanto is certainly worth a visit to experience its unique beauty, it may not be an ideal choice for expats looking for a more integrated and accessible community.
  2. The Alentejo: The Alentejo region in southern Portugal, with its vast plains and rural countryside, offers a different experience from the coastal regions. While it boasts walled cities, forts, and a rich cultural heritage, the Alentejo is sparsely populated and characterized by extreme temperatures. Summers can be scorching, with temperatures soaring over 100°F, while winters bring cold and bone-chilling rains. The region covers a significant portion of Portugal, but its vastness can make it challenging for expats to find the necessary amenities, healthcare facilities, and social connections. Integration into the Portuguese lifestyle and a good understanding of the Portuguese language would be essential for those considering settling in the Alentejo.

When deciding on a place to live in Portugal, it’s crucial to consider individual preferences and priorities. The five suggested locations—Lisbon, Porto, Silver Coast, Lagos, and Tavira—offer unique experiences, from vibrant city life to tranquil coastal living. These areas boast a strong expat presence, English-speaking communities, and easy access to amenities and healthcare facilities.

On the other hand, places like Monsanto and the Alentejo, while offering their own charm and beauty, may not provide the same level of convenience and integration for expats. These locations require a greater willingness to embrace a more secluded lifestyle and overcome language barriers.

Ultimately, Portugal offers a wide range of choices for expats seeking an enjoyable and fulfilling life. Whether you prefer the cosmopolitan vibe of a capital city, the cultural richness of historical towns, or the laid-back atmosphere of coastal communities, Portugal has something for everyone. With its favorable climate, affordable living, and welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Portugal has become a top destination for retirees and expats from around the world.

By: Mr. WWK

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