The Complete Guide to Moving to Portugal with Family

Reasons to move to Portugal

Embracing a New Life: The Complete Guide to Moving to Portugal with Family

Are you considering moving to Portugal with your family? Making such a move is an exciting yet significant decision, and our comprehensive guide is here to point you in the right direction.

Tailored specifically for families relocating from the UK, this guide addresses all your crucial concerns – from the nuances of cost of living to the ins and outs of schooling and healthcare in Portugal. We understand that moving to Portugal with children brings its own set of challenges and opportunities, and we’re here to help you navigate these with ease and confidence.

Dive into our guide to discover the best places to live, understand how to adapt to the cultural nuances, and learn how Portugal’s family-centric lifestyle can be a perfect fit for your loved ones. Portugal is more than just its sun-kissed beaches and rich cultural heritage; it’s a nation with a heart that beats strongly for family values and community.

1. Embracing Family Life in Portugal

In Portugal, family life is deeply valued and plays a central role in society. Families who settle here often find a welcoming community where their welfare is important and their happiness is considered a priority.

The Portuguese culture is inclusive of children in many aspects of social life, from dining experiences to local festivals, highlighting the family-friendly nature of the society. Beyond the cultural aspects, there are also practical support systems in place for families. This includes a family allowance designed to assist with various expenses, such as education in both public and private schools.

Embracing Family Life in Portugal

Additional provisions like prenatal family allowance and support for single-parent families are also available, offering further assistance to those raising children in Portugal.

One must take note of the Portuguese education system.

The country provides free public preschools, and there are discounts available such as reduced railway ticket prices for children and free entry to museums. In addition to this, the cost of living in Portugal is relatively affordable for families.

Benefits of living in Portugal

Portugal ranks just above the UK for general child wellbeing, showcasing the country’s commitment to creating a safe and nurturing environment for children. The country offers families an array of educational institutions, including international schools, and a plethora of enriching extracurricular activities for children.

The cityscape is adorned with green spaces, parks, museums, and family-friendly attractions. Visitors can explore and be entertained by attractions like the Lisbon Zoo and Oceanarium. Moreover, Portuguese culture is reputed for its warm and inclusive ethos, especially towards children and family members, who are exuberantly involved in social gatherings like weddings and local festivals.

Outdoor Lifestyle

The weather in Portugal is a treat for those who love the great outdoors. The favourable weather conditions allow children to enjoy an active and engaging environment, contributing to their overall well-being and happiness. The wide range of outdoor activities that children can participate in is impressive, including:

  • Soccer
  • Cycling
  • Numerous playgrounds for toddlers
  • Skate parks
  • Floodlit football pitches that cater to the needs of teenagers

Portugal’s dedication to promoting an outdoor lifestyle enhances its appeal as a destination for families eager to revel in the country’s natural beauty and variety of recreational opportunities.

Social Inclusion

Portuguese culture is known for its warm and inclusive nature, especially towards children. They are joyfully included in social gatherings such as weddings and local festivals, where they often enjoy free entry and are valued as integral members of the community. Grandparents in Portugal play a very active and nurturing role in their grandchildren’s lives, helping with childcare and household tasks.

Around the age of 12, older children begin socialising with friends without direct adult supervision, reflecting the society’s trust in their maturing independence.

2. Choosing the Right Location for Your Family

Choosing the right location for your family is a key ingredient in the recipe for a successful move. Portugal offers a variety of fantastic locations for families to call home, each with its unique charms and attractions. Some options include:

  • Lisbon, the capital city, is a lively urban environment that is perfect for families seeking a balance of city life and cultural immersion.
  • Porto, the country’s second-largest city, is a historical gem with a strong sense of community.
  • The Algarve region, famous for its beautiful beaches and warm climate, is an idyllic retreat for those seeking a laid-back lifestyle amidst nature.

While Lisbon offers a variety of family-friendly neighbourhoods such as Lapa, Santos, Avenidas Novas, and more, the Algarve is known for its pleasant weather, slow pace of life, beautiful beaches, the large international community, and choice of schools.

On the cost front, Lisbon is only 11.9% more expensive than Porto, so maintaining the same standard of life would require around €3,954.2 in Lisbon compared to €3,400.0 in Porto, assuming you rent in both cities. Each locale boasts its unique advantages and amenities, rendering Portugal a land of options for families intending to relocate.


Lisbon, the vibrant capital city, offers an exciting urban environment with a mix of historical charm and modern amenities. The city has a wide variety of educational institutions, such as international schools. There are also many enriching extracurricular activities available for children..

For instance, St. Julian’s has fees that commence at just under €10,000 per year. The estimated cost of living for a family in Lisbon is around €3,736 per month, which covers various expenses in the city, making it quite manageable for a family to live comfortably.


Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and strong sense of community. The city is home to top-rated schools such as the International College of Porto (CLIP), Colégio Luso-Francês, and the Lycee Francais International School in Porto.

Porto is also abundant with child-friendly parks and playgrounds like Parque da Cidade and Serralves Park, perfect for family outings and for children to play and explore.

Although Porto’s crime rates are slightly above Lisbon’s, both cities maintain relatively low crime levels in comparison to other Western European capitals, offering comfort to families contemplating a move to Porto.


The Algarve region, famous for its beautiful beaches and warm climate, is an ideal location for families seeking a laid-back lifestyle. The weather in Algarve, Portugal is delightful, with:

  • Warm springs averaging around 20 °C to 21 °C
  • Hot summers with July averaging 24°C
  • Mild winters with January being the coldest month at an average of 12°C.

The cost of living in Algarve offers a wide range of options for families, with expenses typically ranging from €800 to €2,600 per month. Living here, you can enjoy a sense of community in areas like Lagos and Portimao.

When it comes to education, families moving to the Algarve have the opportunity to choose from several top educational choices, including Nederlands Onderwijs Algarve Portugal, Aljezur International School, and Colégio Santiago Internacional.

3. Navigating the Education System

For families planning to relocate, it is pivotal to grasp Portugal’s education system. The country offers a variety of educational options, including public, private, and international schools.

The Portuguese education system is well-organized, with a basic education system divided into three cycles (1o, 2o, and 3o Ciclo) which lasts nine years, followed by the secondary education that usually begins at the age of 15. Portuguese is the main language of instruction in schools across Portugal, with English widely taught from a young age.

Education System

Families also have the option to choose from various schools that offer the UK curriculum, catering to the needs of British expat families.

In Portugal, there are three main types of schools:

  1. Public schools: These schools offer free education and the main language of instruction is Portuguese. They provide an opportunity for families to learn the language and integrate into the community.
  2. Private schools: These schools offer alternative educational options, often with smaller class sizes and additional resources.
  3. International schools: These schools cater to expat families and offer education in various languages, following different curricula.

Public Schools

Public schools in Portugal provide free education, with the main language of instruction being Portuguese. On top of that, public healthcare in Portugal is free for all children, making it a small price to pay for quality care.

Public schools are designed to provide education in four stages, ensuring that children from the ages of 6 to 18 have the opportunity to learn and grow.

Private Schools

Private schools in Portugal are full of advantages, such as:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Adherence to the national curriculum with a reputation for higher educational standards
  • Specialised programs that can meet the varied interests and needs of students.

The cost to attend a private school in Portugal ranges from about €400 to €500 per month, from primary to high school, offering a wide range of educational opportunities and resources.

International Schools

International schools in Portugal provide a diverse and enriching educational experience for expat families, offering instruction in multiple languages and following a variety of curricula.

International schools offer an array of curricula and educational styles, including the British curriculum and the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

One such school is the Aljezur International School, offering a fantastic experience for the students.

4. Language Learning for the Whole Family

Mastering the language is vital for integrating into Portuguese society, providing opportunities for the entire family to learn in unison. Families have the opportunity to learn Portuguese together through options like:

  • Language exchanges
  • Homestays
  • Utilizing language learning apps
  • Online courses meant for kids
  • Taking classes or lessons with a tutor

Children and adults alike can avail of language classes, fostering fluency and boosting confidence to speak Portuguese. Language exchanges provide opportunities for families to practice their language skills with native speakers in a relaxed and informal setting.

Language Classes

Portugal offers a wide range of Portuguese language classes, catering to various age groups, including children aged 11-14 and citizens aged 16 or over. You’ll find both paid options listed on Language International and Cactus Language, as well as free Portuguese courses provided to expats, such as the certified Português Língua de Acolhimento (PLA) program.

There are also fantastic online resources for learning Portuguese, such as Memrise, FluentU, Reddit, Pimsleur, and more.

Language Exchanges

Language exchanges in Portugal are a wonderful way for families to connect with others and experience hospitality on a reciprocal basis. The advantages of language exchanges for language learning in Portugal include practicing speaking with a native speaker, cultural immersion, and increasing speaking practice.

Families can easily find language exchange partners in Portugal through websites like and, where they can connect with Portuguese speakers for face-to-face conversations or exchange emails.

5. Healthcare Services for Families

Portugal’s healthcare services, accessible through both public and private sectors, guarantee families access to top-notch medical care. Portugal excels in providing high-quality paediatric care, with specialized healthcare services tailored to children’s unique needs, including paediatricians and child psychologists.

Healthcare Service for Families

Public healthcare is provided by the state, with free or subsidized services for children and families. Private healthcare options are also available, offering additional services and shorter waiting times through insurance policies.

Public Healthcare

Public healthcare in Portugal is provided by the state, with free or subsidized services for children and families. Registering for public healthcare in Portugal is an opportunity to take care of your health and well-being.

Public healthcare in Portugal is mostly free, with expenses usually within 5 to 20 EUR (6–22 USD).

Private Healthcare

In Portugal, private healthcare necessitates paid health insurance, with rates commencing from approximately €10—20 monthly. The advantages of private healthcare include additional services and shorter waiting times.

Two of the top private healthcare providers in Portugal, which include private hospitals, are Cigna Global and Médis.

6. Family Activities and Attractions

Portugal presents a broad spectrum of family activities and attractions, spanning cultural experiences to outdoor adventures. Portugal has some amazing historical sites perfect for family visits, such as:

  • Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
  • Castelo de S. Jorge
  • Castelo dos Mouros
  • Palacio da Bolsa
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Pena Palace

The country also offers a range of outdoor activities, such as:

  • Visiting beautiful beaches like Barril
  • Participating in the Ria Formosa Natural Park’s nature explorations
  • Joining Pirate Ship Cruises
  • Taking a refreshing swim at Pego de Inferno near Tavira
  • Engaging in open-air activities typical to the region

Cultural Experiences

Families can explore Portugal’s rich history and culture through museums, historical sites, and festivals. Children can look forward to exciting experiences at the 3d Fun Art Museum, Museu do Brincar, Planet Cork Museum, and Centro Ciencia Viva do Alviela – Carsoscopio in Portugal.

They can also visit historical sites like Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Castelo de S. Jorge, and Pena Palace.

Outdoor Adventures

Outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and water sports are popular among families in Portugal. The country’s breathtaking natural landscapes offer the perfect setting for a wide range of outdoor activities, from visiting beautiful beaches like Barril to joining Pirate Ship Cruises or taking a refreshing swim at Pego de Inferno near Tavira.

7. Practical Considerations for Moving to Portugal

Practical aspects to consider when moving to Portugal encompass visa requirements, accommodation options, and transportation. There are various visas you can apply for, including Short Stay visas, Temporary Stay National visas, Long Stay National Visas, residency visas, Job Seeker visas, and Schengen visas.

Moving to Portugal

Portugal offers an exciting range of housing options for new residents, including:

  • Quintas
  • Condos
  • Villas
  • Apartments
  • Townhouses
  • Resort properties
  • Development opportunities

The country also has well-maintained road networks and efficient public transportation systems available.

Visa Requirements

Understanding visa requirements is essential for a smooth relocation process. You can apply for a Portuguese visa by following these steps:

  1. Select the appropriate visa type for your needs.
  2. Complete the necessary application forms.
  3. Book an appointment to submit your application along with the required documents.

The processing time for Portuguese Family Visas is typically six to eight weeks, with the application fee being around €84.

Housing Options

Housing options in Portugal range from city apartments to rural villas. The housing market in Portugal offers a wide range of options for expat families, from modern apartments in Lisbon with amenities priced between €1,200 to €2,000 per month, to small apartments in the interior of the country that can sometimes be rented for USD$315-$385 per month.


Efficient public transportation and well-maintained road networks make getting around Portugal easy and convenient for families. Portugal is full of public transportation options, such as etro systems, trains, trams, buses and taxis.

Using public transportation in Portugal is quite affordable, with one-way ticket prices ranging from around €1.50 to €2 in Lisbon.

8. Support Networks and Resources for Expat Families

Available support networks and resources in Portugal can assist expat families, facilitating a smoother transition and fostering connections. The main expatriate communities in Portugal where families can find support are:

  • Lisbon
  • Chaves
  • Porto
  • Braga
  • Aveiro
  • Coimbra
  • Setúbal
  • The Algarve

There are also dedicated online forums and social media groups such as the Expats Portugal Community Forum, Expats Portugal Facebook Group, and British Expats Portugal Forum that serve as valuable resources for expats living in Portugal.

Expat Communities

Expat communities provide opportunities for families to connect with others in similar situations, offering advice and friendship. They can use resources like Expats Portugal, which provides assistance to people relocating to Portugal, or Internations, which offers the opportunity to meet other expats through local events and gather insights about living in Portugal, thus enhancing their expat life.

Parenting Support

Parenting support services, such as workshops and network groups, are available to help families navigate the challenges of raising children in a new country. There are fantastic parenting network groups for expats in Portugal, such as Expat Parents in Portugal and Lisbon for Parents and Families, all aimed at providing great support for expat families.

Moving your belongings to Portugal

In our exploration of Portugal, we’ve uncovered the many reasons why it stands out as an ideal destination for families looking to start a new chapter in their lives. Portugal is not just about picturesque landscapes and rich culture; it’s about the tangible benefits it offers – a welcoming education system, efficient healthcare services, and a supportive environment for language learning and integration.

Ready to turn your dream of living in Portugal into a reality? Start by visiting our ‘Removals to Portugal‘ guide for in-depth information and assistance. For a personalized moving plan and a quote that suits your unique needs, contact Simpsons International Removals today.

Our comprehensive package takes care of everything from professional packing to customs clearance and delivery, making your transition as smooth and stress-free as possible.

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