Ways of Being and Doing

Living in Portugal, the Perspective of Foreign Residents

How to live in Portugal Foreign residents in Portugal

The InterNations platform is a global network of foreign residents (expatriates) with more than 4 million members. In addition to support for those who want to settle in another country, it provides information through its expatriate members, in more than 420 cities worldwide. It therefore includes what foreign residents in Portugal think and the experience of how to live in Portugal.

An analysis is presented of the various countries where they go to live or work, according to their respective experience.

What Foreign Residents Say About Living in Portugal

To provide information on the degree of satisfaction and how they feel in the places where they have settled, expatriates are interviewed and this information is compiled and provided on the platform.

One of the indicators that InterNations provides is the Accommodation Facility Index, that is, how the foreign resident is integrated in this new environment.

For this there is a questionnaire, in which the interviewees have to classify several factors that fall into four categories. These categories, friendliness of the local population, feeling at home in the local culture, the ease of finding friends and the local language, are finally included in an index that is called the Ease of Accommodation Index.

For the results to be reliable, InterNations considers that a country can only be eligible to enter this ranking if there are more than 75 inquiries answered.

The latest index available is that of the 2019 Expat Insider Report, which includes 64 countries.

Portugal ranks fourth in the Accommodation Facility Index.

The top three are Mexico, Bahrain and Malaysia.

Table 1 - Top 15 in the ranking; Source: Expat Insider, InterNations
rank20192018201720162015
1MexicoBahrainBahrainMexicoMexico
2BahrainMexicoMexicoCosta RicaNew Zealand
3MalasiaCosta RicaCosta RicaUgandaEquador
4PortugalUgandaPortugalMaltaMalta
5PhilippinesPortugalMalasiaNew ZealandPortugal
6OmanMalasiaOmanPhilippinesCosta Rica
7KenyaSpainPhilippinesRomaniaBahrain
8SpainEquadorUgandaEquadorKenya
9EquadorColombiaCambodiaSpainPhilippines
10Costa RicaPhilippinesNew ZealandTaiwanUganda
11SingaporeKenyaMaltaOmanOman
12IndonesiaCyprusKenyaBahrainRomania
13ColombiaServiaCyprusCanadaIreland
14TaiwanCanadaSpainCyprusCanada
15VietnamTaiwanColombiaArgentinaArgentina

In 2019 there are only 2 European countries, in this top 15. Ireland was in 13th place in 2018, but it disappeared from this group, as well as Romania, which was in 7th position in 2016.

With the exception of 2016, Portugal has been between the 5th and the 4th place, in this index of ease of accommodation.

Table 2 - Accommodation facility index, Portugal; Source: Expat Insider, InterNations
Portugal20192018201720162015
Accommodation Facility Index454165
Feel at home13192
Friendliness of the people351103
Meet friends101012239
Language2120212327

In the quality perceived by foreign residents living in Portugal, there are two categories that contribute strongly to this position:

  • The friendliness of people and
  • The way these expatriates feel welcome, as if they were at home.

European countries in the top 15 where expatriates feel best

In addition to Portugal, the only European country in the top 15 is Spain, whose rankings have the following evolution:

Table 3 - Spain, Accommodation facility index; Source: Expat Insider, InterNations
Spain20192018201720162015
Accommodation Facility Index8714919
Feel at home35654
Friendliness of the people1114171226
Meet friends1915231415
Language1319232532

The language is the category in which Spain, in the 13th position, has an advantage over Portugal, which in this category is in the 21st position.

We can think that to live in Portugal and be happy, what the Portuguese soul is, the friendliness, the way we welcome people and even make friends is well understood and appreciated by foreign residents.

Our language is difficult, but we cannot change it, it is also part of our soul. We try to help people, speaking their language, most of the time in English, French or even Castilian. But, nothing better than also understanding Portuguese and learning has actually increased.

The Last in the Ranking, in the Foreign Residents Classification

In the last places in the ranking of European Countries, there are Denmark (63) and Austria (62) who remain in the same positions consistently between 2015 and 2019.

Table 4 - List of the latest accommodation facility index; Source: Expat Insider, InterNations
European countries20192018201720162015
Greece2120322741
Ireland2717202313
Belgium3945454446
The Netherlands4337364640
Hungary4460595145
United Kingdom4548443528
Poland4657554339
Italy4743414538
Estonia4854------
Finland5156605962
France5250535359
Norway5452506357
Sweden5763496252
Switzerland5965616458
Germany606656--54
Austria6261645455
Denmark6364656561

Germany has been at the bottom of this accommodation facility index.

Ireland stands out for having had the worst ranking in 2019 since 2015. It went down ten places, from 17th in 2018 to 27th in 2019. Two categories mark this fall in particular: foreign residents feeling at home in the culture and make new friends. The report focuses on a Canadian resident's lament "the locals (Irish) interact with sympathy but will never be your friends".

Who are the ones living in Portugal

In 2019, the total number of foreign residents living in Portugal increased by 23%.

A significant increase.

39% come from Europe, 17% from the African continent, the majority from Cape Verde and Angola, 29% from America, with relevance from Brazil and 15% from Asia, in particular from China.

Table 5 - Foreigners in Portugal; Source: Pordata, 24/6/2020
Origin Nationality20152016201720182019
Grand total 383 759 392 969 416 682 477 472 588 976
Total Europe 155 137 166 414 182 694 202 298 230 285
Spain 10 019 11 133 12 526 14 066 15 848
France 8 440 11 293 15 319 19 771 23 125
Moldavia 6 945 6 113 5 207 4 834 5 098
United Kingdom 17 230 19 384 22 431 26 445 34 358
Romania 30 523 30 429 30 750 30 908 31 065
Ucrania 35 702 34 428 32 420 29 197 29 706
Total Africa 93 583 88 157 85 887 89 771 102 617
Angola 18 088 16 876 16 764 18 310 22 592
Cape Verde 38 346 36 193 34 706 34 444 37 110
Guinea-Bissau 16 817 15 306 14 951 15 960 18 780
Mozambique 2 787 2 823 2 814 2 999 3 488
Sao Tome and Principe 9 405 8 840 8 478 9 023 10 078
Total America 89 728 89 462 94 108 117 965 168 271
Brazil 80 515 79 569 83 061 104 504 150 919
Total Asia 44 969 48 563 53 552 66 941 87 196
China 20 815 21 953 22 698 24 856 27 780
India 6 852 7 142 7 901 11 340 17 584
Nepal 4 795 5 829 7 435 11 487 16 847

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