Portuguese American Journal

Opinion | More Americans choosing Portugal to relocate | by Len Port

Portugal has emerged as a highly appealing destination for US citizens wishing to relocate abroad. 

More and more North Americans have been coming here over the past three years, some to take advantage of the Golden Visa program, others to study, work or live in retirement.

The Americans are generally made welcome by local communities and this adds greatly to the fact that Portugal is physically and economically one of the most popular countries for immigrants in the whole of Europe.

“The country’s breathtaking landscapes, rich history, affordable living costs and high quality of life make it an attractive option for those seeking a change of scenery,” says Marla Benner, a specialist US adviser on Golden Visas.

“According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, US investors who planned to make investments in Portugal before November last year faced high costs. However, considering the strength of the US currency they can now purchase prime real estate in Portugal and get a Golden Visa.”

Marla Barrett continued: “Additionally, recent statistics from the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF) indicate that among a total of 649 successful applications for Golden Visas filed in the first half of this year, 124 (19%) were from US nationals, while only 105 were from Chinese citizens. This data demonstrates the significant interest US citizens have in Portugal’s Golden Visa program.”

The program only appeals to the very wealthy, those willing to invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate. Among other things, the granting of a visa allows holders to travel for business or leisure activities throughout the European Union’s 26-nation Schengen area. Benefits are extended to financially dependent family members. Residency can lead to EU citizenship.

Golden Visa applications were frozen from February this year, but there has been no official announcement regarding the deadline to end applications. The Portuguese Prime Minister stated that new measures to the Golden Visa program would be terminated sometime in 2023, but according to SchengenVisaInfo.com,” golden visas for entrepreneurs will remain available for those interested, which enables foreign entrepreneurs who want to develop a project in this field in Portugal to do so. These new visa applications are assessed by considering the economic, social, scientific, technological or cultural relevance of the investment”.

The Portuguese government’s February statement said it would be ending the Golden Visa scheme, but the legislative process has not quite finished. The scheme could, however, be wrapped up at the end of this month.

There have been criticisms of the scheme, including allegations that it has brought dirty money into the country. It is also thought to have inflated property and rent prices during a national housing crisis, which is why the government decided to end the scheme.

Meanwhile, Portugal is a much sought-after place to study, work or retire. This is because of its relatively stable and growing economy in addition to its well-developed, if currently far from perfect, education, healthcare and transport systems. This has allured many US expats, especially from California. Portugal and California have similar Mediterranean-type climates, though Portugal usually has even more sunshine and the winters here are milder.

For the first time ever, the number of foreigners living in Portugal has reached almost 700,000. That’s almost 7% of the total population. The latest study on the subject reported that this was positive as it provides an increase in the workforce without which many business sectors would collapse. And the country is far from over-populated; it is only eighteenth among the EU’s 27 states with foreign ex-pats.

The cost of properties in Portugal can vary significantly depending on the location one chooses. A decision on where to buy will largely depend on the specific purpose of the acquisition. For instance, retirees often gravitate towards the coastal towns in the Algarve or Cascais due to their desired lifestyle, whereas young professionals tend to favor more urban areas like Lisbon or Porto.

The price range for properties is diverse, offering options for different budgets and preferences. In general, coastal regions and popular tourist destinations tend to have higher property prices, particularly in much sought-after areas with beautiful beaches or stunning views. On the other hand, inland regions and less-populated areas can offer more affordable options.

Portugal is always open to those interested in relocating here, but one has to fulfill certain requirements to get a visa. The official Portugal Visa Application form is downloadable from the visa portal. The requirements for a normal visa are much the same as for a Golden Visa. What is needed is a valid passport, two passport-size photographs https://mybiometricphotos.com/visa-photo/portugal/, proof of having obtained health insurance valid in Portugal https://visaguide.world/international-health-insurance/ and proof of having no previous criminal records and a certificate from any country where you have lived longer than one year. The certificate has to be issued by the relevant authorities within the previous three months and translated into Portuguese.

Applicants will also need a sworn statement that they will maintain their investment for a minimum period of five years, a payment receipt from the ARI portal, any documents related to their investment.


LPLen Port is a journalist and author. Born in Ireland, his first written pieces were published while he was working in the Natural History Museum, London. Since then he has worked as a news reporter, mainly in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Portugal.

In addition to reporting hard news for some of the world’s leading news organizations, he has produced countless feature articles on all sorts of subjects for a range of publications. Now living in southern Portugal, his books include travel guides and children’s stories. His ebooks – People in a Place Apart and The Fátima Phenomenon – Divine Grace, Delusion or Pious Fraud? are available from Amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. His blog posts can be viewed at  http://www.algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt



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