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American living in Portugal

Exploring Alternatives to the US? Here’s Why Many Americans Are Making the Move to Portugal

The world is changing, and so are people’s priorities. Many US citizens and residents who have called the States home for years (or a lifetime) are now considering whether to stay or leave.

Why? Many factors are at play. Rising inflation. Barriers to healthcare. Limited and expensive access to quality education. The supreme court effectively ended the constitutional right to an abortion and bolstered gun owners’ right to carry a weapon in public. A political atmosphere that doesn’t align with their personal values.

Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
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And with a presidential election on the way in 2024, many are wondering if Biden will keep office or if the country will see a return to the party of “Make America Great Again.” These are all good reasons to explore other options for countries where they can put down roots and build a different life.

If you’re among those weighing their options, Portugal is well worth putting on your list of potential new homes. As a liberal-minded nation with a fascinating history, temperate climate, and mouthwatering cuisine, it has a lot to offer newcomers. Plus, the D7 visa and golden visa Portugal offers to non-EU citizens provide a fast track to permanent residence and citizenship (more on this below).

In this article, we’ll look at why so many Americans are considering a move to Portugal in 2022 and beyond. We’ll also consider some of the pros and cons of immigrating to Portugal from the US.


Why many Americans are thinking of immigrating to Portugal

  • Accessible and quality healthcare

Unlike many other developed nations, the US does not have a universal healthcare system. This is a huge issue for many Americans, who have to cover some or all of their healthcare expenses out of pocket. Understandably, many live with the fear that they are just one medical emergency away from potential financial ruin.

For this reason, Portugal’s health system may come as a breath of fresh air to many Americans. Consistently ranking high on the Health Care Index and the Euro Health Consumer Index, Portugal’s healthcare program is taxpayer funded and available to everyone who pays into the social security system. There are also private health insurance providers who specifically serve the expat community. While some basic healthcare costs are covered by the individual, they typically amount to 60 euros or less (equivalent to about $60 USD). Dental services are also very affordable, with a checkup costing in the range of 25 euros.

  • A sense of security and belonging

Recent changes in US legislation are another reason why some citizens are thinking of immigrating to Portugal or other countries. The overturning of Roe v. Wade and the introduction of laws clawing back rights for LGBTQ people are just two examples. More may be on the way, especially if the outcome of the 2024 election triggers even more changes.

Portugal is a well-known haven of open-mindedness. It was one of the earliest countries to legalize same-sex marriage (the eighth worldwide) and it earned a seventh-place spot in the ILGA-Europe’s ranking of European countries with regard to LGBTQ rights. Although the country’s population overwhelmingly identifies as Catholic, religious freedom is a point of pride among the Portuguese, with thriving Protestant, Islamic, and Jewish communities to be found across the country. A 2019 Atlantic article even identified Portugal as a rare example of “Where Progressives Are Winning” in Europe, highlighting its forward-thinking policies.

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What to know before living in Portugal

  • Taxes may be higher than back home

Given the country’s highlights, it can be tempting to think of Portugal as a dream destination, where your ideal life is waiting to begin. But it’s important to remember that no place is perfect. Even glorious Portugal will have some aspects of life that aren’t your cup of tea. Like taxes.

Consider that the top tax bracket in the US is 37%. In Portugal, it’s 48%. Then there’s the matter of sales tax. Americans who are used to paying somewhere between 3% and 15%, depending on their state, may be taken aback by the 23% tax rate they encounter in Portugal. A good way to combat this form of “sticker shock” is to remember the money you stand to keep from lower healthcare costs and other affordable social services.

  • Researching visas requirements is a must

No one enjoys paperwork and bureaucracy, but you’ll have to wade through some if you want to move from the US to Portugal. The good news is that Portugal has far fewer hoops to jump through than other nations. The D7 visa and golden visa programs offer a straightforward path to citizenship and permanent residency.

The golden visa in Portugal offers holders the right to live, work, and travel in the Schengen area in Portugal. The main requirement is an investment of 280,000 euros. After five years, visa holders are eligible to apply for citizenship — a process that includes a thorough vetting and assessment.

If you don’t have a spare 280,000 euros lying around, not to worry. Other visa options exist, like the D7 visa. This visa is geared toward people with passive income, such as retirees and other wealth holders. The D7 visa is also popular among freelancers looking to establish Portugal as their main work and life hub, although they have to prove a minimum income in order to qualify.
Like the golden visa, the D7 visa can become a permanent residence permit after five years, provided all of the other legal requirements are met.

Get help moving from the US to Portugal

An international move is a big step to make. Having the help of professionals who know the process inside and out can take a lot of stress out of the process. Pearls of Portugal specializes in helping people make the move to Portugal and start enjoying everything it has to offer. Schedule your free consultation with one of our experts today.

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