Living in Portugal vs Spain

Choosing which country you want to move your family to or where you want to spend your remaining years is mostly a personal decision. You are inclined to a place where you best believe all of your needs will be met.

Still, there are some people who have no idea where they want to move to, they just know they want a fresh start in Europe. Two countries who are tied together in more ways than one are Spain and Portugal. There is often an internal debate over which country is best for foreign individuals and both of them have different things that set them apart.

If you wish to obtain a residency or a Passport while moving to Spain or Portugal, which I highly recommend, then you must consider the Citizenship by investment programs that both countries offer.

Portugal has a far superior Golden Visa Program than Spain and a much easier path to citizenship. Not only is it much cheaper, but it is also mostly obstacle free and quite fast if you compare it to Spain and other countries in Europe.

Moving to a different continent usually means that the individual wants to travel and take in their surroundings as much as they can. Spain has a lot more to offer in this regard than Portugal as it is one of the most complete and diverse countries in the world.

Not to say that Portugal does not have an interesting culture or cities, but there is just way more to explore and see in Spain. Spain has many gorgeous locations, proper cities, business hubs, and many other interesting aspects that makes it stand out among Portugal and other European locations.

One of the biggest reasons foreigners say they want to move to another country is to live in a country where they can get the most out of their money. In this regard Portugal is much better than Spain.

Depending on the part of the country you wish to live in, Portugal is much cheaper than Spain. You can enjoy a decent living in Portugal with your spouse for €1,500 Euros a month while Spain requires you to spend more money to cover basic utilities and needs.

When it comes to purchasing property in Spain and Portugal the situation gets a little difficult. Property is cheaper and easier to purchase in Spain as a foreigner, but the value of real estate is greater over the years in Portugal. Portugal’s housing market is growing by the minute and real estate prices are soaring, especially if you renovate the house and it is in a prime location. Spain is stable, but reliably cheap.

The other reasons for deciding where to live are purely personal. Both Spain and Portugal have incredible beaches, interesting culture, resources for European entrepreneurs, and many other details that make them European landmarks. It is always up to you to decide which country you want to call home, we just facilitate the process.

However, there are some factors that might influence your decision between Portugal and Spain

Portugal vs Spain. What country would be best for an expat?

There’s no denying that Spain and Portugal have a lot in common. They’re both European countries situated on the Iberian Peninsula, they speak Spanish and Portuguese, and they share a history, culture and even some weather patterns.

So what makes one country better than another? Which country do expats prefer to move to?

Both Spain and Portugal offer a great quality of life, beautiful landscapes, amazing food, friendly locals, affordable prices, and lots of sunshine. However, there are some key differences between the two countries that make them stand out from the rest.

Biggest Differences Between Living in Portugal Vs Spain

The most obvious difference is that Portugal is much smaller than Spain. In fact, it’s just over half the size of Spain. This makes Portugal feel less crowded and gives expats the feeling of having more space to roam around and enjoy themselves.

On the flip side, though, the small size of Portugal means that it doesn’t have nearly as many attractions as Spain does. For example, the number of museums in Lisbon is lower than Madrid’s, and there aren’t as many touristy places like Seville’s Puerta del Sol.

Another big difference is that the cost of living in Portugal is cheaper than Spain. While housing costs tend to be higher in larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, the price per square meter is lower in Portugal.

In addition, the cost of living in Lisbon is actually lower than the average cost of living across Europe. On the contrary, the cost of living is higher in Madrid than in London or Paris.

Finally, the quality of education in Portugal is generally considered to be superior to Spain’s. There are fewer universities in Portugal, but those that exist are better funded and produce graduates with higher qualifications.

Why Choose Portugal Instead of Spain

Portugal has been systematically in different top 10 countries lists to live in.

It’s no wonder why – the country offers an abundance of sunshine, stunning beaches, amazing food, friendly locals, and affordable living costs.

So if you’re thinking about moving abroad, here are four things that might get you decided to choose Portugal instead of Spain.


Weather plays a huge role in any decision you make regarding your future.

Spain has a Mediterranean climate, which means that summers are long and sunny. However, winters are short and cold.

Portugal on the other hand has a more temperate oceanic climate, which makes its summers much more pleasant than those in Spain. In addition, the country is surrounded by mountains, which help keep the weather cool.

But if weather is a big factor, you should evaluate things like: how are you going to be spending most of your time indoors or outdoors? Do you plan on doing much traveling? What about the cost of living?

These questions are important to ask yourself before you decide to move Portugal. This is because even though it’s a small country when compared to Spain, it has different climates. Whether you prefer more sunny days or cloudy ones, warm summers or cold winters, Portugal can accommodate almost anyone.


Speaking another language is a big plus when you’re considering moving abroad. However, in Portugal and specially in the biggest cities almost everyone speaks a little bit of English.

You will be better of if learning Portuguese though. Not only does learning a foreign language give you the opportunity to interact with others in a completely different culture, but it also opens doors to employment opportunities overseas.

Cost of Living

Moving abroad isn’t cheap. But in Portugal that might be less noticeable.

The cost of living in Portugal tends to be lower than other European countries. However, beware of the life cost in the biggest cities. This is especially true in Lisbon where the cost of living might be higher than in some other European capitals, even though, cheaper than in Madrid.

If you’re willing to sacrifice certain luxuries, you may find that the benefits outweigh the initial investment.

For example, if you’re willing trade in expensive housing for cheaper rent, you may save thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime.


There are plenty of jobs available in Portugal these days.

Whether you’re interested in working in finance, teaching, medicine, or hospitality, there are countless job opportunities waiting for you.

That means that you can choose to work anywhere you want, whenever you want.

With these factors in mind, you should be able to make a better informed decision about whether or not you want to move abroad.

Why Choose Spain Instead of Portugal

Spain is another popular destination for expats. If you’re thinking about moving abroad, you may wonder whether you should live in Spain instead of Portugal.

There are different similarities between both countries, but you might be better off in Spain if:


Taxes are higher in Portugal than in Spain.

In Portugal, taxes include sales tax, value added tax, and property tax.

In Spain, taxes include sales tax and value added tax.

Taxes are a huge factor when deciding where to live. For example, if you earn $€50,000 per year, you’ll pay roughly €19,400 in income tax in Portugal.

However, if you earn the same amount of money in Spain, you’ll only pay around €4,500.00
in income tax. That’s a lot of savings of almost per year!

That said, taxes aren’t everything when it comes to deciding where to live. Other factors, such as the cost of living, play a bigger role.


Both Portugal and Spain have a rich history. Both countries were once part of the Roman Empire, and they share a common language. However, Portugal and Spain are very different culturally.

In Portugal, people tend to be more reserved and formal. People often dress up for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals.

On the other hand, Spaniards are typically more open and friendly. This isn’t true if you go to big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, however. In those areas, you might feel out of place, typical to large cities.

But regarding culture, perhaps the major difference is related to how many museums and art galleries each country has.

Spain preserves a lot of its cultural heritage, which makes it one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe.

Portugal doesn’t have nearly as much of a museum scene. You won’t see any famous works of art in Portugal unless you visit the capital city, Lisbon.

Both Countries Are Great For You If You Like


Both countries score strongly in this category.

Spain has the advantage of having the Mediterranean Sea along it’s coastline. This means the water here tends to be slightly warmer than in Portugal.

In fact, during the summer months water temperatures there can reach anywhere between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius while in Portugal they rarely go above 23. Combine that with the fact that the average temperature in July is around 30 degrees Celsius in Spain and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.

Well, it actually depends how warm can you bare. Because in some regions of Spain it does get too hot for comfort.

The best beaches in Spain are located in the South, close to the portuguese border but also in Canary islands or the Balearic islands, like Maiorca, Menorca or Ibiza. These islands are known for their beautiful beaches and turquoise waters.

If you’re looking for something a little less crowded, then head over to the north part of Spain. There, you’ll find plenty of beachfront hotels and restaurants.

As for Portugal, the Algarve region is home to some of the best beaches in the world. The Atlantic Ocean meets the Iberian Peninsula at the Algarve, which is considered by many to be one of the best coastlines on earth.


Whether in Portugal or in Spain, you can’t get wrong with food (and drinks!)

You’ll find delicious bars and restaurants in both countries serving small portions of traditional dishes, usually accompanied by wine or beer.

Tapas are perfect for sharing among friends. And since they’re so small, you don’t need to worry about overeating.


The two countries are safe to live and work in because of their low crime rates. They always rank in the top countries safer to live, work and study in, according to various reports by Eurostat.

This is somehow related to the fact that both countries have very strict gun laws.

It’s illegal to carry guns in public places in both countries. It’s also not allowed to own them privately either.

However, you will find private security guards patrolling streets and parks in both countries.

Health Care

There are no significant differences when it comes to health care in Portugal and Spain. Both countries offer excellent medical services and a free health care system. That’s something that for many foreigners make them choose these countries over others.

But if you do decide to move to Portugal or Spain, you should know that your insurance might not cover all the costs associated with visiting a doctor.

So, before moving abroad, check what kind of coverage you have and whether it covers emergency visits. But a residence permit or citizenship in both countries will get you access to their almost for free healthcare systems.

Immigration Law

There are two main types of visas available for foreign nationals who wish to live in Portugal or Spain. One type allows you to enter the country without having to apply for a visa beforehand. Another type requires you to obtain a visa before entering the country. Both types require you to meet certain requirements.

With the so called Golden Visa programs, both countries have simplified the process of obtaining residency permits. You only need to invest a specific amount of money into real estate projects or transferring funds in order to qualify.

And such programs give you access to the European Union and the Schengen area.

The European Union allows free movement within the zone without visas for people coming from third countries. This means that anyone living in one of the member states can travel freely throughout the entire area. In most cases, EU nationals do not require visas to enter another Schengen state.

They are considered “third country nationals.”

However, there are some slight differences regarding immigration laws. For example, while Germany requires a residence permit to live in the country, France does not. Also, the Golden Visa program applies to Portugal, while Spain offers a different type of residency called “permanent residence.”

Where To Move as a Digital Nomad: Spain or Portugal

We received lots of emails from expats asking us about our favorite places to live while traveling the world digitally. Many people are interested in moving to one specific country because they don’t like living abroad. So we decided to do some research and find out what countries are best suited for those who want to become digital nomads.

Spain and Portugal are popular destinations among digital nomads, due to the fact that both countries offer cheap housing and great weather. In addition, many Spanish cities are affordable compared to major European hubs such as London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, etc.

The main reason why many people choose Spain over Portugal is because of the language barrier. However, Portuguese speakers can learn Spanish in just a few months. And vice versa.

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each destination.

Pro: Cheap Housing

Both countries provide affordable accommodation options. And this is special true if you choose to live outside of the biggest cities like Madrid or Lisbon. The further away you go, the cheaper your rent becomes.

For example, in San Sebastian (a city on the north coast), you can easily find an apartment for €250 per month. That’s less than half the price of renting something similar in Barcelona.

Con: Language Barrier

If you decide to move to either Spain or Portugal, you’ll be dealing with a language barrier. While English is widely spoken, if you choose to live in an interior or remote area you might be forced to deal with locals speaking their native tongue.

This could make it difficult to communicate. It also makes it harder to get around and explore the country.

If you’re looking for a place where you can speak fluently English, then opt to live in the biggest city centers. Otherwise, these countries aren’t for you. But if you’re willing to put up with a little bit of a language barrier, then that might also help your adaptation to their culture.

Is it better to retire to Portugal or Spain

Portugal and Spain both offer retirees plenty of opportunities to enjoy life after retirement. Both countries boast beautiful landscapes, warm weather, and affordable prices. But while each country offers unique benefits, there are several factors that influence whether or not you’d prefer to retire abroad.

One factor is cost. While Portugal and Spain are both relatively inexpensive places to live, the cost of living varies greatly depending on where you choose to settle down. Some areas in Portugal are much cheaper than others, making it possible to save money by moving there.

On the other hand, Spain offers a wide range of health care options and services, including excellent hospitals and medical centers. So if you’re concerned about having adequate healthcare coverage, then Spain might be a good choice.

Another factor to consider is climate. Many retirees who move to Europe end up choosing warmer climates over cooler ones. Portugal and Spain both have mild winters, but temperatures vary widely from region to region.

Retirees who decide to relocate to either country will likely face similar challenges. Whether you’re considering retiring to Portugal or Spain, it pays to research the area thoroughly before committing to a long-term plan.