Living in Lisbon

Living in Lisbon

Dore and more English speakers, from Europe or elsewhere, are asking themselves the question of an expatriation to Lisbon, Portugal. The country and the city have been in the spotlight in recent years with a booming economic and real estate market and a growing tourist affluence. Events such as the European Cup, Eurovision and Websummit (this major meeting of the World Tech) have allowed the world to learn a little more about Portugal and its many attractions. Here I will try to touch on the important aspects of life and expatriation in Lisbon, which may make it easier for you to make up your mind.

Living in Lisbon, Portugal

Life in Lisbon

Lisbon, a city famous for its charm that stands out for its authentic architecture, the kindness of its inhabitants, majestic monuments to visit that have remained as if frozen in time, but also full of little insignificant things that on a daily basis make you feel simply great. The city is extremely dynamic, is constantly developing and today has nothing to envy other European capitals.

The Portuguese capital, in addition to its great climate which allows you to eat on the terrace in short sleeves in the middle of winter, is eager to please, to offer cultural activities and attracts every year not only retired expatriates but also entrepreneurs who come to enjoy the advantages of the country and try their luck in the sun. All this makes the capital more and more dynamic and pleasant to live in. It will delight retirees as well as entrepreneurs, sportsmen and women, party-goers, music, museum and history enthusiasts…

Even though I would never advise you enough to learn Portuguese before coming to live in Lisbon, the English-speaking community is extremely present here. And if you are afraid to live in a big city like Lisbon, there are many places around where you can live like on the other side of the April 25th Bridge, further east or west along the Tagus River. The transport network in and around Lisbon is very developed between train, tram, metro or bus, you can be far from the centre but still stay close enough.

The main negative points if you want to come and live in Lisbon are :

  • Work: if you don’t speak the language, then you will have to work in the call centers looking for English employees in the meantime. I met a lot of people who felt very comfortable there. They help you at the beginning to find a shared apartment, for some administrative procedures and pay better than most Portuguese employers.
  • The real estate market: You will have to accept the fact that real estate prices in Lisbon and Portugal have become excessive and that you will probably have to live in shared accommodation if you are alone or further away from the centre of Lisbon if you are with your family. Given the situation between properties for sale, for purchase, price per m² and rental prices, it is much more interesting to buy real estate in Lisbon than to rent.

Living in Lisbon with a Portuguese job and salary is unfortunately difficult, even if some people manage it very well.

live in lisbon

I will not go into detail about the different prices of consumer goods in Lisbon and Portugal, you will find all this on the internet. But I would still like to warn you about the many articles announcing that life is cheaper in Portugal.

I think this may be the case for a single person or if you go somewhere else than Lisbon but if you come to the capital with your family, then apart from food, you will probably pay the same or even more than elsewhere in Europe on many points such as access to the health system, rents, schools, health insurance in Portugal, transport subscriptions (they have recently been reduced)… And you can quickly get used to frequenting bars, restaurants or places which, because you are in Lisbon, are much more expensive than elsewhere in Portugal.

Work and salary in Lisbon

This is an important part of life in Lisbon: pay and standard of living. It is no secret that the minimum wage in Portugal is no more than €600. It is therefore much more interesting to come to Portugal to set up a business but for the past few years, more and more companies from Portugal or Europe or elsewhere have been coming to Lisbon and are looking for skills that are easier to find among expatriates (such as web expertise for example).

It is also quite possible to find a job in English in Portugal. This is what many telephone platforms such as Téléperformance, for example, offer. They offer the certainty of working with many English speakers in Lisbon, of getting help with housing on arrival or advantages such as a good mutual insurance company, which is not negligible compared to the cost of private health systems in Lisbon and elsewhere. You will find websites that list all the job offers in english in Lisbon, but they are often call centres, some being more interesting than others. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice on Facebook groups, many members work in these centres.

English job in Lisbon

For more qualified jobs, it will probably be necessary to speak several languages and have experience that will benefit your profile rather than that of a Portuguese person whose salary will be lower. You can go to some websites like Linkedin jobs targeted on Lisbon which are able to keep you informed about the jobs that are sought in Lisbon and for which you will be able to apply. For students looking for adventure, you can easily become a Tuk Tuk driver and don’t be fooled by appearances, the commission salary can be very very advantageous!

The quality of life is very interesting and you will find a few points on this article. Don’t rely on what you read on the internet about the cost of living being much cheaper than in many European countries. In my experience this is not always the case and you can end up with a standard of living quite close to that of other English speaking countries depending on your requirements. I advise you to contact directly people living in Lisbon and ask them for information that will be as true as possible. Mutual assistance is a very important point for the english-speaking community in Portugal.

Administrative procedures in Lisbon

This is a point that should not be overlooked if you want to settle down and start a new life in Lisbon or even elsewhere in Portugal. The administrative procedures for living in Portugal can be extremely difficult to set up due to the very functioning of the administrations. The different stages of setting up can be long and it is not uncommon to have to go back and forth to the relevant administrations several times or to spend several hours waiting before going and hearing that one or more documents are missing: back to square one !

Administration Finanças Lisbon

As an example: to rent an apartment in Lisbon you will need a Portuguese TIN (Tax Identification Number) but to obtain this Tax Identification Number you will need an address in Portugal. It is therefore necessary to first obtain a temporary TIN to rent an apartment before returning to the administration with your definitive address to obtain a permanent TIN. One thing among others to know to avoid disappointments.

You will find on our website a lot of information about the administrative procedures for living in Lisbon, which I invite you to consult for more information. If you would like to be accompanied in the constitution of your file and directly in the administrations by a Portuguese person who speaks english, contact me via the button below, I will answer you as soon as possible.


Rent or buy real estate in Lisbon

Another important point of expatriation in Lisbon is property research. Things have changed a lot since I moved here 3 years ago and prices are higher. The quantity of properties to buy compared to those to rent is a specificity of the real estate market in Lisbon. There is indeed a big gap between the flood of seasonal rentals in the centre of Lisbon on the one hand and the scarcity of properties to rent compared to the demand along the Tagus river between Cascais and Lisbon on the other. Rentals are becoming more and more scarce and more expensive: it will be easier and sometimes cheaper to buy your property.

Buying a property in the region still keeps great opportunities but I think it is important to inform you about two or three points and advices that can help you if you decide to come and live in Lisbon.

Real estate standards in Portugal

It seems to me that this is an important first point. You will be able to find many properties to buy in Portugal and in the Lisbon area, but most of them will involve quite a lot of work. Apartments or houses may look perfectly habitable but most of them are not isolated at all and others simply justify their prices by their location or surface area but are in a more than questionable condition. This makes it more difficult to make a ready-to-buy property purchase here, which adds delays and a significant additional cost.

Property search in Lisbon

Housing estates Lisbon

Another important point will be the complexity of real estate research in the Lisbon area, due to a number of points that need to be known:

  • Many ads on the web are presented as active but have not been active for years. They are used as an appealing product so that you can contact the agencies that put them online.
  • Many ads are exclusive to certain real estate agencies in Lisbon and are not present on the internet. This means that you will have to contact most of them in order to make sure that you don’t miss an offer that is not in the catalogue of the agency you have chosen.
  • The most recent constructions are also much more expensive. They can indeed more easily provoke the blow of heart but are not in my opinion the most interesting financially speaking because often sold in mass by promoters who build to resell by pulling a little string on the prices. Find out more about the real prices per m².
  • The advertisements of houses sold in the Lisbon area or elsewhere in Portugal by individuals are very numerous and there are still good deals to be made. I advise you to consult ads sites such as OLX real estate with individuals or Custojusto (The Good Portuguese Corner), you could have good surprises. The purchase will still require you to call an english lawyer in Lisbon to make sure everything goes smoothly.
  • It is often much more interesting to use a Portuguese real estate agency or broker rather than a European living in Lisbon. They often speak english but are more expensive. Local resources will satisfy you and Portuguese people are not known to be as greedy as other Europeans!

Living in Lisbon for a French

Despite the many advantages of the city that will jump out at you on your first visit, the fact remains that the country practices the Portuguese language, which can be a strong barrier to expatriation if you don’t practice it. It is therefore important to be reassured on this point since there are many integration facilitators for French speakers in the country. However, I would not advise you to come and live in Portugal or Lisbon without speaking Portuguese!

French-speaking communities of Lisbon

When you arrive in Lisbon, you will not be alone as there are many associations or groups of French-speaking people living in Lisbon. This applies both on a professional level with networks such as the French Upers and on a personal level with Facebook groups dedicated to each city around Lisbon. These groups can help you to develop your network through conferences, aperitifs or events that will facilitate your meetings and your integration.

Frenchupers Lisbon

There are also some French associations in Portugal that can guide you on certain specific points or service providers such as Essencial portugal, which will accompany you in all the administrative procedures necessary for your installation in Lisbon. I advise you if you have already made your choice to make as many contacts as possible before your departure.

French School of Lisbon

French High School Charles Lepierre Lisbon

You may have children who will accept to follow you in the adventure of settling in Lisbon, but it is still a real change in terms of the environment, the language and also the school curriculum. Different diplomas, different courses in Portugal and in a language that is not the same and of which they know nothing, as long as they have chosen German LV3 in France!
You should therefore know that there is the French school in Lisbon (The French Lycée Charles Lepierre) which will help to limit this change in your children’s schooling. This school is open to Europe and the world and is part of a large network of 461 French schools abroad. You will find all the information on the website of the french school of Lisbonne.

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that it is quite possible to have a document certified here, which can be a diploma for example, and which will thus become valid in Portugal. You will find some information on this page and can contact me for more information.

Languages: French and Portuguese

Even if it may seem very difficult for you to learn a new language, you should know that Portuguese is accessible to French people. You will of course have to take lessons but many words are the same. The main difficulty is in pronunciation and the lessons will help you to work it out correctly. You will find very easily through social networks individuals who give lessons, small companies created by French-Portuguese people or even associations and schools that offer to learn Portuguese for free or for a very low price. It’s all a question of willingness and the time you wish to devote to it.

After reading these few points and if you want to take advantage of the best real estate opportunities as easily as possible, you can contact me using the button below. I have many contacts in Portugal, speaking English and who will be happy to accompany you in your real estate search in Lisbon and its region. They will contact you directly to discuss your search criteria and will prepare with your agreement a selection of properties that match and to visit. A time saving that you will appreciate!


quality of life lisbon

Essencial Portugal

Get in touch with trusted English-speaking professionals based in Portugal to help you with your administrative or expatriation procedures. 

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