There’s a world of difference between staying somewhere on holiday and going to live there, and when you are taking your family with you, there’s even more to consider. Don’t be surprised if your children are initially resistant to the idea of a move, remember that you are asking them to give up everything that they have ever known, to leave their friends and relations and move to an unfamiliar culture with a language that they do not speak. Encourage them to see it as a great adventure by telling them about all the opportunities their new life will hold and reassure them that they need not lose contact with those that they know and love.
Moving to a new country is always going to be, to a certain extent, a leap in the dark. Make sure that you have done your best to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises. Here are five key issues that you need to consider.
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As a non E.U. resident you are entitled to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days without a visa, but if you intend to settle in the country, it is crucial that you have applied for visas for yourself and your family. Portugal’s Golden Visa Scheme is well known and has attracted a lot of foreign investment to the country.
For a property purchase of 500,00 euros, though this can be reduced to as little as 280,000 in certain circumstances, a foreign buyer and their family is entitled to residency rights and the option to obtain a Portuguese passport within five years. If you are not able to take advantage of the Golden Visa scheme there are also special visas for students and the self-employed. In order to obtain a Portuguese visa, you will need to apply to your nearest Portuguese consulate at least a month before your departure.
You will need to provide proof that you don’t have a criminal record, that you have health insurance, sufficient income and that your passport is valid for more than six months from your date of entry. You will be called for an interview at some stage, but you can remain in the country prior to this, once your initial paperwork has been completed.
In the past few years, Portugal has experienced a property boom, particularly in the areas popular with tourists, such as the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto. The property platform Imovirtual publishes a monthly report on the average house prices in each municipality. By researching carefully, it is still possible to pick up a bargain in one of the cheaper areas of the country. Guarda is currently the most affordable region in which to buy property in Portugal.
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Day to day living costs
Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, around 28% lower than the U.K. for example. The south of the country experiences around 300 days of sunshine a year, so an outdoor lifestyle is the norm and heating bills are minimal.
It’s important to remember that this is now your home and not behave as though you are on a permanent holiday by taking all your meals out and enjoying daily excursions. Make sure that you are aware of what taxes you are liable to pay as well as any costs that may be incurred for health insurance and local transport costs.
Job opportunities in your sector
This needs thorough research before your departure. Do not assume that you will simply pick something up once you are there. Check to see if your professional qualifications will be recognised in Portugal, it may be necessary for you to undertake additional training in order for your qualifications to be recognised. Lisbon, in particular, has a very good infra-structure to support entrepreneurs and start ups and any job creation will be very favourably regarded.
Portugal is a European country with around 22 million foreign visitors a year, so you are not settling in a country which is hostile to foreigners, however there are cultural differences of which you need to be aware. Portugal is a traditional Catholic country and the values of the Catholic Church underpin much social behaviour. The family is the most important social structure even to the extent that nepotism is regarded as a good thing because it entails employing someone you can trust. Behaviour is formal, conservative and polite and much emphasis is placed on a smart appearance and good quality clothing.
Businesses are structured vertically, and rank is always respected and deferred to, which means that there is something of an authoritarian approach to decision making. Relationships with individuals are valued in business, which is conducted in a formal, polite and leisurely manner.
Initial meetings should be reserved, and physical contact limited to a handshake. Do not use first names until invited. It is considered rude to discuss business in a social situation.
If you are invited to dinner, bring flowers or chocolates, not wine, lilies, chrysanthemums or red flowers, which are considered a symbol of revolution. Formal dress, formal manners and punctuality are all expected at a social event.
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