Financial independence and a full life: how my husband and I retired and decided to move to Portugal

Financial independence and a full life: how my husband and I retired and decided to move to Portugal

Table of Contents

My husband and I, like many families, have probably always dreamed of a peaceful and secure old age. But we never thought that when we retired we would be able to move to another country, namely Portugal. It was a conscious decision, we had been working towards it for a long time and finally our dream came true. Today we are living in a small town on the ocean, enjoying life and being fully confident in the future. Isn’t that the dream of Russian retirees? I want to share our story, and I’ll start at the beginning. I hope you’ll find it motivating, and that after reading it you’ll understand that nothing in life is impossible.

I would like to begin by saying that we are very ordinary people, without much money. I met Sergei, my future husband, a long time ago. I was a young 20-year-old nurse, who was doing an internship in one of military hospitals of my hometown. He was a little older, a military man, a junior lieutenant, served in the same military unit. When we met, we knew at once that this was our destiny.

A year later we got married, received a room in a military dormitory, and began living as many other families of that time. Soon our daughter was born, my husband was promoted, and we managed to buy our own small apartment. What more could one dream of? Life went on as usual, and three years later our son was born.

<That’s how we lived our whole life hand in hand. My husband was a reliable support and backbone for me, and I was always like a stone wall behind him. In 20 years, my husband attained a high rank, moved to the capital city and took the whole family there. I got a job in a local clinic and worked there until my retirement.

Of course, we did not shoot for the stars, but we had enough money for a decent life. We bought a two-bedroom apartment, raised our children, and gave them a good education. Within last 10 years my spouse and I often thought that it was time to live for ourselves. We began to travel more often, visited many countries. But especially fell in love with Portugal. There is something special about it. Life here is very quiet and peaceful, there are beautiful views and it is always warm.

In general, they began to visit the country often, travel around it. And one day, as if in jest, my husband said that when we retired, we would settle in Portugal forever. Of course, I didn’t take his words seriously at the time.

Financial independence and a full life: how my husband and I retired and decided to move to Portugal
Financial independence and a full life: how my husband and I retired and decided to move to Portugal 11

When dreams come true

My husband retired before I did. And after that, he started talking more and more about moving to Portugal. That’s when I realized that he wasn’t kidding when he told me about his dreams.

Somehow it just so happened that we decided to wait until I retired and moved to an ocean-front country. We made a clear plan and followed it. I had three years until I retired. That was enough time to learn everything, to learn the language. My husband was constantly learning new information, thinking about how to implement the plan. We started talking to our fellow countrymen who already lived in Portugal, they told us their stories, shared their experiences, and we realized that one day we would go to Portugal to live there. The main thing is to do it right.

In spite of the fact that there was a lot of information, we decided to turn to professionals for help. We chose the agency MoveToCascais for a reason. We were recommended by our friends, who had recently moved to Portugal, and the employees of the agency helped them a lot, and solved most of the questions. It was here that we were offered an excellent option given our financial capabilities – moving with a D7 visa. But first things first.

Opportunities for pensioners to move to Portugal
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Possible move to Portugal for retirees

My husband and I have long been in love with this amazing and unrivaled country, and our choice was based on those feelings. But, as it turns out, Portugal is attractive to Russian retirees in every way.

There are two ways for retirees to settle in this country. Во-первых, это золотая виза. However, for all its attractiveness and opportunities, this option has a significant disadvantage – a large amount of investment, which, unfortunately, not every senior citizen of Russia has.

The second way is to use a special program. But here, too, there are several “buts”, which lie in the fact that it is necessary to prove that you are financially wealthy. True, we are not talking about the amounts as in the case of the golden visa. To do this you need to buy real estate, but with the understanding that its value will not be below the average in the chosen region. There is an option of registration of long-term lease for a period of more than 1 year.

Another condition is that it is necessary to provide proof that the pensioner can provide himself with a permanent income outside of Portugal. As proof may be the documents from the pension fund on the appointment of benefits, certificate of income as a result of renting housing and so on. The most important thing is that all the papers have official confirmation. They must necessarily be translated into Portuguese, and with the rest of the package of documents to submit to the consulate. This option has become “our”. I’ll tell you a little more about these two options.

Status O residente não habitual
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Status residente não habitual

If you have passive income in your home country, you can get a residence permit with a D7 visa. By the way, it is attractive not only for retirees, but also for anyone who wants to settle in Portugal. To open it, enough to apply to a consulate or embassy and get a short-term special visa. Such a visa will be valid for 4 months. During this period, it is extremely important to come to the country, apply for the D7 and undergo a short interview at the department.

In this period, it is extremely important to come to the country, apply for the D7 and undergo a short interview at the department.

After that, you will be granted the right to live in Portugal for one year, after which it can be extended for another 2. And after five years, you can collect and apply for permanent residency and citizenship.

After that, you can apply for citizenship.

To obtain this status for a retired foreigner is a very advantageous offer. It requires:

  • not be a resident of the country for the last 5 years;
  • Buy a house
  • spend 183 days a year or more in Portugal
  • apply.

By the way, the petition is granted in most cases, so this method is justified and appropriate. After obtaining the status, the foreigner is exempt from paying tax in the home country and in the new place of residence. After living in the status of 10 years, the person begins to pay taxes as the native Portuguese, while receiving a residence permit for pensioners.

For the duration of the alien has the right to rent the acquired housing, work, run his own business. However, in this case, the income is still taxed, but at a special rate of 20%.

My husband and I have studied this issue in detail. It turns out that the law was passed back in 2009. Its purpose was to attract not only large investors, but also smaller ones. For a long time, this proposal did not particularly attract the attention of foreign buyers. But when the financial crisis struck, and the cost of housing fell, the project became quite popular. Who knows, maybe someone will be attracted to such a prospect. We did not have time to wait 10 years, so we settled on another option, and decided to buy an inexpensive income property in a small town – a house for two families. In one part we moved in, the second – was offered to rent to visiting tourists. It is a great option for additional income, but it is worth taking into account that the rented part should be constantly monitored, maintained in good condition, so as not to lose demand.

This is the option my spouse and I took. It was suggested by MoveToCascais, which turned out to be the most attractive. There are three basic things you need to do:

  • MoveToCascais
  • prove financial solvency
  • spend 183 days in Portugal.
There was no problem at all with the latter. After all, it was the move that was our main goal. We enjoyed and still enjoy the sunny country, long walks along the ocean coast, taking part in local festivals, going to exhibitions, visiting clubs. All in all, enjoying life to the fullest! My husband also went surfing. Can you imagine? It turns out that learning to ride a board was his dream a long time ago, and only after retirement he was finally able to fulfill it! And I’ve taken up gardening; we have a small garden at home and I grow amazing flowers which are a joy to look at.

I want to say a few words about buying a home. When we went to an agency we were immediately matched with options. Remember, from the time we decided to move to Portugal until we actually moved there three years ago. This time was enough to choose the best, in our opinion, the option. The only condition was to live in a particular city. As for the money, we were able to save. And, as it turned out, my husband had been saving for a few years without telling me.

Well, and regarding verified income. My husband already had a pension, a pretty good one as a former military man. I had just retired, was assigned above average. In general, there were no problems with the collection of certificates.

In addition to the above, it is mandatory to collect a package of documents for the consulate, without which it is impossible to obtain a residence permit. The list includes:

  • filled questionnaires for visas;
  • three passport sized photos;
  • copied passports;
  • certificates of criminal records (obligatory – international sample);
  • medical insurance.

Golden Visa and its benefits
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Golden visa and its benefits

If you have the financial means, an excellent option to move to Portugal is to apply for a golden visa. Deciding to use this program, you do not have any problems. And if other countries treat Russian pensioners with caution, in this country there will be no problems. If you have the opportunity to invest and become a resident of the golden visa, something supernatural will not be required. It is enough to collect all the necessary documents, submit them and then – enjoy the beautiful life in a beautiful country.

The status of the resident who received a gold visa gives a lot of advantages and opens up really great prospects for every person of retirement age. For example, along with the golden visa you will get the status of an EU resident. It gives the possibility to move freely within the Schengen countries.

Deciding to apply for the golden visa, you can include members of the whole family – children, spouses, parents. In addition, gold residents can easily rent out their homes and receive a very good income for it. For retirees this is very beneficial. For example, let’s make some simple calculations. If the object is worth 300 000 euros, at its delivery you can get about 4% of the amount a year. And that, by the way, 12 000 euros! Plus a small personal profitable business. Agree, this money would be quite enough for a comfortable existence. It would give freedom from pensions, which are always in short supply. So if you have the opportunity to get a gold visa, I sincerely advise you to take advantage of it.

Golden residents have the right to obtain a permanent residence permit under the simplified scheme, and after five years – to apply for citizenship. In this case, the organizational issues are much less, as well as the likelihood of rejection. The requirements for mandatory residence in the country are also low, it is enough to stay for a week in the first year, and twice a week in the next. Very attractive for retirees who do decide to come to Portugal for holidays and spend their vacations here. Why, this option is also quite possible to consider, especially if you do not want to leave your native country, but want to make a profitable investment abroad and still be able to become a citizen of this country.

Alternative Investing

Of course, to become a golden resident of Portugal, unfortunately, not every Russian pensioner has the opportunity. But if you do not have the necessary amount, do not worry, you can consider other available options for investment in order to move here for permanent residence. This could be, for example, opening your own business. Many of our acquaintances have settled on this option. Someone opened a restaurant with Russian cuisine (incidentally, is in high demand among the local population), someone – a hairdresser at home. In fact, there are many options, the main thing – to find the most appropriate and, of course, have a great desire to work.

Benefits of Portugal for retirees
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Perks of Portugal for retirees

The first thing that attracted me and my husband in this wonderful country – a wonderful climate, wonderful, beautiful scenery and friendly people. But the advantages of the country for Russian retirees do not end there. Once again I want to emphasize that it is not too late to move here at any age, and retirement in your home country is a great excuse!

One of the main “pluses” of living in Portugal is the excellent quality of medical care. By the way, according to my personal observations, even people from neighbouring countries often come here for certain medicines, the cost of which is much lower. The medical staff is attentive and respectful to the pensioners, no matter if you’re a local or a visiting foreigner. I know this from personal experience. I often have high blood pressure, I am hypertensive. So I always have to take medication. Well, to get them, you need a prescription. I went to the local clinic to see the doctor, made an appointment and showed up at the appointed time. After listening to me, the doctor ordered the necessary examinations. Everything was quick, I did not have to stand in a queue, I came by appointment and everything went through at once. The equipment deserves special mention as it is new and up-to-date. After my diagnosis was confirmed I was put on the register and medications were prescribed. Now I periodically come to the doctor for preventive examinations. I am very happy with the service.

For me personally the big advantage is that living in Portugal is absolutely safe. Portugal is one of the top twenty safest countries. There are very honest and open people here who trust you and you trust them. Many of our neighbors don’t lock their houses when they leave for work. Others leave their cars open at night. We, of course, are not yet used to this kind of arrangement, we always lock the doors, but it is the experience of living in Russia.

Tax privileges for foreign pensioners in Portugal are very attractive: neither pensions nor other income that comes from abroad are taxed. And if they are taxed, they fall under preferential rates, as, in fact, happens from the letting of our real estate.

Portuguese retirement age
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Portuguese retirement age

It does not matter whether you are male or female, the law is the same for everyone in Portugal. As for the pension benefit, compared to other EU countries, it is somewhat lower. The minimum pension is assigned to everyone who has never worked and has no length of service. By the way, the minimum pension will be assigned and immigrant pensioners who have lived in Portugal for at least 7 years, but on condition that it was legal.

It is also possible to qualify for a higher allowance, but for this you must have a minimum of 15 years of work experience. I would like to say right away that the average pension here is quite sufficient for a comfortable existence. The fact is that the cost of the consumer goods basket in Portugal is not too high, and to pay for utilities is not necessary.

For retirees who are single, all conditions for a decent living are created. In the event of the death of one spouse, half of his or her pension goes to the account of the other spouse. That, in my opinion, is not a bad help.

What to do in retirement?
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What to do in retirement?

There are plenty of options for creativity and relaxation! For example, some of my acquaintances set up a real farm on the outskirts of the city. True, they have been living there long enough. Nevertheless, as an option for organizing employment, this method can also be considered. This is one of the popular types of business in the country, and by the way, the government actively supports the initiatives.

As for recreation, there are even more options. The oceanfront is a real paradise for fishing enthusiasts. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, surfing.

Don’t worry that you will have no one to talk to if you don’t have a friend or acquaintance. In Portugal there are many Russian-speaking diasporas where you will feel at home. They organize regular meetings, hold festivals, concerts. It’s a great way to spend time. You will definitely meet new friends, make friends. And if you need help, our compatriots can always be there for you. We’re a member of one of those communities, too, and we joined it almost as soon as we arrived in the country. And, you know, not once have we regretted it: communication, support, friendly relations – we have all that in full.

Can I transfer my allowance from Russia?
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The most important questions

Moving to Portugal, we do not sever ties with our friends, relatives and acquaintances in Russia. Often we call each other by video link, communicate through social networks. Almost everyone is interested in a lot of questions related to our move. I even made a list for myself of the most frequently asked. I want to share it with you and give you the most truthful answers possible from my own experience in the country.

Is it possible to transfer benefits from Russia?

Naturally, the primary thing we took care of when we arrived in the country was the transfer of pensions here. It is not difficult to do, again you need to collect certain documents and send certified papers to Russia every year, which confirm that you are permanently residing in the country. And, of course, open an account in a Portuguese bank, the details of which will receive money.

It is also necessary to send annually, until December 31, to the pension authority of Russia a document which confirms that the pensioner is alive. That, in fact, is all. There is nothing complicated or unattainable in this matter.

There is nothing complicated or unattainable.

What must a pension be in order to get a residence permit?

There is no fixed amount and it cannot be. It all depends on the minimum wage in Portugal, which can vary. The main condition is that the pension should not be less than this minimum amount.

But what should you do if you do not reach the minimum wage? I’ll tell you right away – do not despair. Passive income in the home country can help. For example, you can rent your apartment, which, in fact, my husband and I did.

The residence permit is issued under the usual scheme – 1 +2 +2. That is, firstly a residence permit is renewed after a year of residence in the country, the subsequent permit is issued for 2 years. To extend it is enough to submit the necessary documents to the migration service in a timely manner and be sure to confirm the passive income, pension, and submit a certificate of residence. When you have lived here for five years, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship, which, in fact, my spouse and I plan to do.

How expensive to live?

I’ll put it this way: if you have your own home, a pension, and also a passive income at home, two retirees can live quite comfortably in the country. And there will be enough not only to pay for utilities, food, medical treatment, but also for entertainment. We also bought an inexpensive car, which gave us additional opportunities to travel and travel freely.

From time to time my husband and I like to sit in a local cafe. We even have our own favorite spot where we enjoy the great taste of local cuisine and fresh seafood. So, answering the question, whether it is expensive to live in Portugal, I can confidently say that not very. At least, retirees here have an active lifestyle. Yes, perhaps, in something someone and denies themselves. But it is not about the essentials.

Is it possible to have a Portuguese pension?

This is a possibility for those who have lived and worked in Portugal for a long time. But only under official conditions, paying taxes to the pension fund for at least 15 years.
A little about expenses
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A little bit about expenses

I am often asked what we spend most of our money on while living in Portugal. I will say this: most of the money of course goes to pay for accommodation (it’s worth considering that our apartment is our property, if you rent, the costs increase). The cost depends on the type of housing, for example, private houses are more expensive than apartments. Also, the price depends on location – in remote areas housing is cheaper than in large cities. But the standard of living there is different.

As for the cost of food, they are not too great. Moreover, once settled in a new place, we began to explore the local stores in search of cheaper prices. There is also a small market in our town where we can buy homemade products very profitably.

Naturally, we spend money on travel, but we try to save money. We drive ourselves, and we explore new places on our own. We also spend a certain amount on entertainment, and sometimes we go to cafes and go on boats.

By the way, my husband and I really enjoy our local health holidays. Few people know that there are as many as five thermal springs in the country. Here you can undergo a program of detox, anti-stress, weight loss, wellness courses. What else does a pensioner need? Once a year we can afford to relax in such a place. After that the whole year we feel energetic and full of energy.

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In our time in Portugal, which is almost two years now, my husband and I have never once regretted the decision to move here once. Yes, it was exciting, but we felt no fear. We are adults, our children are grown up and have families of our own. And we decided it was time to live for ourselves.

What did we feel when we moved here? Joy. Yes, that’s the right word because we knew we would be better off here. And we can always go back home and visit, because we have many relatives left there.

In all this time my children and grandchildren have come to visit us twice. You know, my son was so impressed that he even considered coming here permanently himself. But they are still thinking, deciding, weighing the pros and cons. And, you know, I’m sure that if they decide, as we do, to move to Portugal, it will be the right decision, which will never have to regret. There are great opportunities for work, for career development, for the education of children – both in school and in higher education.

I’m sure that if they decide to move to Portugal, it will be the right decision that they will never regret.

The only advice I would like to give to those who are going to move to Portugal, make everything legal. Of course, you can try to handle the move yourself. But, for me, it is better to seek help from professionals who will help with the paperwork, search for housing, advise what to do so that later there will be no problems.

Summing up all of the above, I will say this: the majority of retirees after retirement in Russia put a cross on themselves and their lives. Many are living in nursing homes, others are barely making ends meet, trying to survive on a meager pension. Portugal is different! Here every pensioner has a financially independent, fulfilling and very fulfilling life!


*Материал отражает историю героя статьи в интерпретации автора; относительно описанных методов и процессов при получении ВНЖ – они могут не совпадать с реальным мнением редакции MoveToCascais по этому поводу. 

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