The top Portuguese destinations for British expats

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Portugal is one of the world’s top countries for British expats. This fact would be obvious to anybody who’s ever visited.

We could speak for days about the sunny beaches and the easy-going lifestyle that Portugal has to offer. But beyond that, there are vibrant cities, museums like no other, and some of the friendliest people you’re ever likely to meet.

The first question any expat will ask themselves is where to relocate? Each Portuguese destination has its own unique character. Some locations are more suited to young professionals and families, while others are the ideal places to retire.

We’ll go into five of them here.

The Portuguese capital has blossomed into one of Europe’s more charming cities over the past twenty years and contains the best of what Portugal has to offer.

Lisbon’s population includes a healthy number of expats and a lot of younger travellers, giving it the same multi-cultural atmosphere you’d find in Berlin or Paris. Yet, it still maintains its small-town feel.

As well as the cost of living – which can be as low as half the rate in cities like London or New York – Lisbon boasts what many capital cities don’t — beaches, sand and sea. Whatever you’re looking for from Portugal, it’s likely that’ll you’ll be able to find it in Lisbon. No surprise, then, that it’s just as popular with retirees as it is with younger travellers.

Portugal’s second city is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The elegant architecture gives it a real ‘holiday-all-year’ feel, but without the tourist-y vibe of Lisbon.

Porto has a real party atmosphere most of the year round. At the height of the summer, the Festa de Sao Joao (Festival of St John) brings thousands of people into the streets to celebrate.

One of the finest cities in the world for wine drinkers, Porto’s wine cellars and caves dot the streets. You could probably try a new vintage every night of the week without running out.

It’s not just about the city life. From the centre of Porto, it’s less than fifteen minutes’ drive to the coast and the beautiful blue of the Atlantic Ocean.

One of Europe’s most charming university cities, Coimbra’s serpentine streets and alleys carry a real sense of history. This, combined with buzz of a city and an enjoyably relaxed pace of life, make Coimbra worthy of anyone’s consideration.

From the National Museum of Machado de Castro in the Alta to the Roman forum of Aeminium, Coimbra is also a culture-lover’s paradise. Students have been heading here since 1537 to soak in the ambience of the city.

Of course, it still has everything you could possibly need from a Portuguese town: beautiful weather, exquisite food and drink and a chilled, relaxing pace of life. Beach lovers, meanwhile, aren’t too far from the Figuera da Foz, which is an active expat town in of itself.

Ask a person to name an expat destination, and you can bet that a fair few of them will say the Algarve.

Brits have been heading here for over 40 years, eager to enjoy sand, sea and some of the finest food and drink in Europe (Not to mention the golf courses, which are some of the best in the world).

Four decades of investment have driven property prices up beyond the national average, with the Algarve’s so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ dotted with multi-million-pound properties. It’s not quite the bargain paradise it used to be.

However, with road access to the east and west now considerably better, and Faro airport close by, residential developments across the Algarve continue to spring up, so it’s still accessible to most looking for a new home.

An easy train ride from Lisbon itself, Cascais is a vivid, colourful oceanside city with a lively atmosphere and a strong expat community. Many expats consider it one of Portugal’s hidden gems. Whatever your taste, you’ll find something to enjoy here.

There’s live music and live sport, as well as a vibrant nightlife. Alfresco lovers, meanwhile, will find every kind of dish and every kind of drink within one of the many restaurants and bars, all within walking distance of the city centre.

Beach lovers are well served, too. Cascais’s three beaches seem to glow gold beneath the Portuguese sunset, winers and diners heading to the city’s popular waterside Marina.

Exchanging currencies
Once you’ve found your dream destination, it’s time to think about the practical aspects of moving to Portugal. Namely, moving your money from pounds into euros.

Where many people fall down here is in using their bank to exchange currencies. At first, this might seem like the easy thing to do. But this level of ease comes at a cost. Banks very rarely offer competitive exchange rates, and usually add on hidden fees.

Your best bet is to find a reliable foreign exchange broker. A good one will be able to offer you a much better exchange rate than a high street bank. An even better one won’t add on any hidden fees.

We’re Privalgo — specialists in foreign exchange. We are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an Electronic Money Institution.
Through leading exchange rates, zero fees and innovative solutions, we help Brits save money and time when they move to Portugal. Get in touch today to see how we can help you build a rewarding foreign exchange strategy.