Expat Guide to Living in Porto, Portugal

30 October, 2021

Planning to move to Portugal soon? Choosing the best place to live in Portugal can be a headache. Simply because Portugal have so many beautiful places you can live.


The second-largest city in the country, Porto is a gem for expats. Located along the Douro River in the northern part of Portugal, Porto is one of the biggest tourism hubs in the country. It boasts impressive architecture, world-known wine, and high quality of life. If you decide to live in Porto, here is your little guide to keep handy.

1. Cost of living

If you’ve ever dreamt about living in Lisbon but couldn’t afford it, Porto is a great alternative. It’s less expensive than Lisbon yet the overall cost of living is hard. The majority of residents live on an extremely tight budget with the average salary being €800 per month (after taxes). 

Food is relatively cheap yet it depends on your eating preferences.  When it comes to utilities in Porto, get ready to splurge at least €150 per month. Renting an apartment might drain your budget as well unless you find some accommodation within the city limits. Many expats rent a condo as it’s one of the most affordable options. 

Purchasing a house is hard as the prices are typically skyrocketing. The prices are rising slowly due to the Golden Visa scheme, though. Moreover, buying your own house will save your family budget. It’s important to hire a realtor or lawyer as expats often deal with scams and even have problems with the government. 

2. Healthcare

Expats in Porto who have a residency visa could take part in the national health care system. Consider Servico Nacional de Saude (SNS) or the combination of private and public services to manage your health in Portugal. Both locals and foreigners have the right to get medical help.

3. Commuting

Porto has an extensive public transportation network, which makes moving around the city a breeze. Public transport is affordable and includes trams, buses, as well as underground and surface trains. The underground train (Metro) features six lines serving the city. The public bus service serves the whole city – you can find out more information here.

Porto is home to Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, which is the second busiest in the country. The airport is the home base of the popular low-cost carriers, such as EasyJet and Ryanair.

4. Safety

Porto is a safe city to visit and live in. Portugal is overall known for its extremely low crime rate. Only a few issues are annually reported by tourists visiting Porto. While violent crime is very low, pickpockets are common in the center of the city. 

5. Porto expat community

You can find many Porto expat communities online and see their experiences of what it’s like to move to Porto and provide tips on different topics for expats. Porto expat community is huge and you might always ask for help. Although Porto seems to be a small city, there are tons of things to do and see. Check out Porto Expats to find new friends in Porto or simply connect with other expats.

Both locals and expats enjoy camping around Porto. With a variety of camping sites, you will always find a great place to camp either inland or by the sea. Parque Orbitur CanideloVila Chã Camping, and Parque de Campismo de Salgueiros are incredibly popular among expats. 

6. Professional environment

A growing number of companies and new startups are arising in Porto, providing new job opportunities. Some of those companies are international and often search for international professionals so expats rarely stay jobless.

Porto boasts a welcoming and sometimes international lifestyle. This means you’ll meet people from different parts of the world that bring a new culture into the workplace. Residents are open and friendly, which will help you expand your network and meet professionals to learn and share knowledge and skills.

Is Porto an ideal place to live?

Portugal is among the best places to live. Whether you decide to live in Madeira or Porto, you’ll find each city’s lifestyle comfortable and relaxed. Porto is definitely an ideal place to live. High quality of life, top-notch restaurants and bars, traditional cuisine, vibrant museums, huge shopping areas, and incredible cultural events make Porto the perfect place for expats. It hosts one of the biggest festivals called the Festa de São João that welcomes thousands of people to celebrate.

Porto has an efficient public transport system. Plus, it provides quick access to Spain. The key to living high-quality life in Porto is to find a good job. Overall, if you manage to move to Porto, you’ll be living in one of the most fabulous cities in Portugal. Rainy weather from October to February is probably the only drawback this city has.

How to gain residency in Porto

There are two kinds of permits you can get like Temporary Residence Permit and Permanent Residence Permit. When you submit for a permanent residence, you can freely travel around the Schengen area. Moreover, you will receive fiscal benefits, including social security and healthcare, and have access to education. Your family members can move to Porto if you apply for family reunification.

All Visa applications and processes are carried out by Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) and it’s possible to apply your documents online. Once you get the Portuguese visa, you can enter the country and travel to Porto while your visa is valid and then apply for a Temporary Residence Permit. You can apply for Permanent Residence Permit only after five years.

Health and travel insurance for expats and digital nomads

Living as an expat in Porto is very safe. But you never know when you will need health insurance or travel insurance. We recommend checking out SafetyWing for great travel insurance at reasonable prices for expats.

The final word

Known for its medieval architecture, wine, and rich cuisine, Porto is a perfect destination for expats who are planning to live, study, work, or retire in Portugal. Due to its diverse and dynamic economy, Porto has drawn a lot of local companies that offer job opportunities for expats. 

Porto is a fast-growing international business city that attracts a lot of professionals from all over the world. Although the cost of living is a bit high, you can enjoy quality living in a welcoming environment and warm climate. It’s also a highly safe place to move with the family.