Why Portugal is the no.1 place to retire to in 2020

08 Jan 2020

Portugal bar Portugal has claimed its title in InternationalLiving.com’s 2020 Annual Global Retirement Index as the number one retirement destination this year. It excelled in the healthcare, climate, and housing categories, while also doing well in the fitting in/entertainment and development sectors. 

"Safety, quality affordable healthcare, a relaxing lifestyle, a rich history and culture, savory cuisine, geographic diversity—you'll discover all these elements in Portugal—on about a third of your current budget," says Tricia Pimental, International Living Portugal Correspondent. "I know. It's where I've spent the past seven years and I love it.

"Portugal offers so much to retirees. Expats typically find their expenses in Portugal run about one-third of what they were in the States. Even with a fluctuating exchange rate, we still live a comfortable, although not extravagant, lifestyle for about $2,500 a month," Tricia says. "If you choose to live in Porto in the north, Lisbon, or in the expat havens of Cascais or the Algarve, you probably want to bump that up to $3,000.

"Rental and housing markets offer fairly diverse options. Naturally it is more expensive in prime areas like Lisbon and its environs and in the southern region of the Algarve. But by simply searching within 20 minutes of a specific town, you can find a gem that fits your budget," says Tricia. "If you're looking for land and a 'get away from it all' lifestyle, there are plenty of opportunities to invest and enjoy the breathtaking countryside Portugal is famous for."

Portugal topped the charts with its healthcare system, boasting some of the best-qualified doctors and finest medical training available. Portugal is home to the School of Health Services at the University of Minho in the north, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Coimbra in the centre (which is known for its costly research fields and Ph.D. programs) and the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the New University of Lisbon in the south. Most doctors graduating from any of these universities often proceed to undergo residencies in the UK and other European countries, resulting in highly-qualified and knowledgeable professors. 

"Professional healthcare, both public and private, is available in clinics and hospitals throughout Portugal," says Tricia. "Private insurance averages $46 per person monthly. We pay $40 a year per person for insurance entitling us to half-price doctor visits, and either use public healthcare (a privilege of residency), or pay discounted prices in the private system. Cost per person for catastrophic insurance is $90 per month."

Portugal is also home a moderate climate, with warm temperatures and dry weather in the summer, and cool wet winters. 

These features have awarded Portugal the number one place to retire to in 2020. It has also however, garnered the attention of tech enthusiasts, making it also a top destination for those interested in anything and everything digital. 

"Since the late 2000's, Portugal has been implementing a plan to develop a preeminent, state-of-the-art infrastructure," says Tricia. "That's evidenced by one of the highest per capita fiber optic networks in Europe, and also what is arguably the most modern highway system, per mile driven, in all of Europe. The speed of this development has attracted international high-tech firms, even luring the Web Summit a few years ago from its home in Ireland to a ten-year contract in Lisbon."

Furthermore, Portugal was rated the third-safest country in the world as per the 2019 Global Peace Index – and its security comes along with beauty. 

"I have absolutely no regrets about moving here," says U.S. expat Jacira Paolino. "I do know it can be scary picking up and moving to another country. I only really had one friend here when I came—someone I've only known socially for a few years, but I've made new friends and continue to meet new and intriguing people.

"In the U.S., I worked long hours and was usually so tired when I finished, all I wanted was to walk my dogs, eat, and sleep. Here, it is a time-honored tradition to have a coffee with a friend, or dinner, or listen to music, get a drink, or go dancing. People actually live here, and get together with family and friends. They go to the beach in the summer, to a jazz club, to any of many amazing restaurants.”

Portugal won the number one spot in this year’s Global Retirement Index.