4 reasons why families should choose Portugal
Sat at your desk daydreaming about a new life in the sun? Goodbye grey skies and long hours. Hello beautiful beaches, glorious weather and lazy lunches relaxing on the terrace. With its warm climate and fantastic quality of life, Portugal is an ideal location for would-be expats. Renowned for its cuisine, culture and coastline, this beautiful country isn’t just popular with retirees, it’s perfect for families too.
1. Life for families in Portugal
In Portugal, children are welcomed and included in almost everything. Everywhere you go, you’ll see families spending time together at cafes, restaurants, concerts, shopping malls, or just hanging out with friends. This inclusive atmosphere makes for a warmer, friendly country, but you might have to push back their bedtime to live like the locals!
If you have fond memories of a free-range childhood, riding bikes, building dens, and staying out until it got dark, with its long summers and mild winters, Portugal is a huge outdoor playground. Persuading kids to put their screens down for a few hours and get outside isn’t hard when the weather’s glorious. It’s safe as well as sunny, and there’s so much to see and do.
Active kids will love it. As well as a great climate, Portugal boasts one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines where you’ll find plenty of sandy beaches and secluded hidden coves. Swimmers can enjoy the crystal clear waters, while surfers ride the waves that roll in off the Atlantic year-round. Portuguese surf culture is friendly and inclusive, so it’s easy for beginners to get started.
2. A land of history and culture
With history literally all around you, there’s plenty to give young minds a workout too. A maritime nation famed for explorers like Vaso da Gama who first linked Europe to Asia by an ocean trade route, Portugal was once a great European power, boasting an empire that stretched from the Americas to Japan. This is reflected in the magnificent architecture that is a melting pot of different styles.
As one of Europe’s oldest countries, Portugal is home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the historic centre of Evora where you’ll find the famous Roman temple. Everywhere you go you’ll find fascinating things to see and visit including historic towns, castles, cathedrals, monasteries, and museums filled with ancient treasures.
With such a rich history and culture, it’s no wonder the Portuguese have so many festivals like February’s Carnaval parade for example. Born out of the traditional feast to use up all of the meat before Lent, today the celebrations are a riot of spandex and sequins. If you love to party Rio-style, the whole family can jump in and join the fun. It makes Pancake Day seem rather quaint!
3. An affordable cost of living
This idyllic lifestyle might sound expensive, but you don’t have to pay a premium to enjoy it. In fact, rent, utilities and groceries are considerably cheaper than in many European countries. And if you’re looking to sell up and buy here, you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how far your property budget will stretch.
When it comes to the weekly shop, food is fresh, local and seasonal, which means lower prices than you’re used to. Learn to cook traditional Portuguese dishes and you can enjoy a diet rich in seafood, salad, vegetables, knocked back with a glass or two of excellent local wine. Eating out is cheaper too and very much part of the culture. Don’t worry about reserving an outdoor table though. Al fresco dining is very much the norm.
4. Portuguese education
As well as a better lifestyle, one of the key considerations for families planning to live in Portugal is education. Like most European countries, Portugal provides all children with state education until the age of 18 when students have the option to continue their studies at a university or polytechnic. Overall, the education system in Portugal is well-resourced and delivers good outcomes, but like anywhere else, the quality of individual schools can vary, and getting a place at your preferred choice can be a bit of a lottery.
Alternatively, you might want to consider a private or international school, especially for older children who might struggle with the language and cultural differences, and this might be more affordable than you think. Younger ones shouldn’t have any trouble integrating and usually make the adjustment quickly.
This topic is covered in more detail in our schools and education guide