Hello to all the readers of the MoveToCascais blog! My name is Anya. I’ve been living and working in Portugal for a year now. Today I want to share with you my moving story and answer the most common questions that you can find on the web. How to find a job in Europe? How to find your first place to live, and how much does it cost to rent in Portugal? How to get a residence permit for employment and stay in Portugal forever? I hope you learn something new for yourself.
Starting the journey. How do I decide to move to another country?
The first time I thought about working in Europe was two years ago. At that time, I was working for a large IT company as a full-stack developer. At that time, I worked in my profession for the third year in total, and I wanted some development in my professional sphere. There was certainly a career growth, but I still lived in a one-room apartment on the outskirts of the city, as well as every day I woke up at six in the morning to catch a bus full of other office workers like me, and as I was saving a small sum from each salary to fly to Turkey or Egypt for 2 weeks in summer. I wanted a complete change of scenery and to live in a beautiful warm country, so the idea of working abroad became an obsession for me.
I took the first step toward my new life when my job problems began. If you work for a big company, it’s not uncommon to have situations where there’s simply no available project, and you have to wait on “benches.” This can go on for a week or a month, but sooner or later, something is always found. During one of these free months, I decided to look more closely into the issue and find out how realistic it is to find a job in Europe.
It turned out to be easier than I originally thought. There are programs for labor immigration in every EU country, and they all require skilled workers. With the right knowledge of English and professional skills, anyone can get a job with ease.
That’s what I thought at first. But, in fact, it turned out to be a little bit more complicated.
How to find a job in Europe?
First of all, it’s worth clarifying that it’s not hard to find a job. The problems begin when you try to send out your resume to employers. The first thing you’ll encounter is a lack of any response to your letters. At the most, they will write to you that they will consider your candidacy, but after that – silence. At this stage, more than half of all applicants are eliminated, and for nothing, because a month later, you will miraculously get answers to the long-forgotten feedback. Remember one simple rule, if you did not use the services of a recruiting agency and looking for work on your own, be prepared to wait for the first responses for up to two months. I don’t know what the reason for this sluggishness is, but it’s true. I certainly didn’t know that when I was looking for my first job, so I panicked at first. Did I fill something out wrong? Did I write the letter wrong? Did I choose a bad service for my search? All of these questions kept me up at night, but all I had to do was wait and see.
Before we dive into the intricacies of European migration processes, I want to reveal one important point. A lot of people ask me: “How do I write a good resume for a job in Europe? This is simple: write as you would do in your country, but according to a foreign template. This template can be found at various profile resources. In my case, I got it from the website of the SEF, the Portuguese service for foreigners and borders. The site has a whole section for migrant workers, where you can find dozens of useful articles and tips on employment in Portugal.
Okay, we’ve got the template, but how do we make a proper resume? Here I have some general tips to help you find a job in Europe.
Structure. Your work experience should be stated in chronological order, starting with your last job. At the end of your resume, talk about your first job. Why is it this way? First of all, an employer wants to know about your last, fresh experience. Ukrainians need to take this into account when looking for a job. Employers abroad are unlikely to train you or wait for you to train. They need you to come abroad and start working right away.
Purpose of the resume. Decide right away what your job search objective is, and what kind of work abroad you can do and want to get. What position, based on your experience, you will be able to fill. When interviewing for jobs abroad, your skills will be tested. Even if you have been formally listed in a position but have not practically done the job, it will come out sooner or later.
Your skills will be checked.
Objectivity. When writing your resume, stick only to the real facts. Write only about your professional knowledge, and experience. Be prepared for the fact that you will have to justify and maybe even confirm all the specified information on probation.
Briefness. A resume should usually be 1-2 pages long. So write only what will bring you closer to your goal of getting the coveted position. Provide information that is meaningful to the employer abroad. Be concise and consistent. Don’t write essays with long and complex sentences.
First successes and collaboration with MoveToCascais
Back to my story. I was coming to the end of my second month of trying to find a job in Portugal on my own and, at the same time, I noticed that the downtime at work had somehow dragged on. Of course, the time you wait is paid, but if they don’t find a good project for you in 2-3 months, you can prepare for dismissal. So, of course, at work, they were feeding me the good news and telling me that in just a couple of days, everything would go back to the way it was, but, as I expected, it didn’t end so rosy.
In the meantime, I had a lot of work to do, but it was not as good as I thought it would be.
When I already knew for sure that I was going to be laid off from one day to the next, I certainly panicked a bit. It’s hard to break away from my usual job and go freelance. But after thinking about the situation, I realized that it was for the best. I was planning on leaving anyway, so this would be extra motivation for me.
There was some good news. After two months of talking on various forums and searching for jobs in Europe, I finally decided to move to Portugal.
Why Portugal? There are many reasons. Firstly it’s a coastal country, and I wanted to live by the ocean. In addition, in Portugal, the IT sector is growing every year, and you can already count on a good position.
After figuring out my destination, the whole process went a little faster. I already knew what I had to prepare for and studied everything about the immigration programs in Portugal up and down. But the main question was still open: I need to find a job. So, accepting that I could hardly do it on my own, I started looking for someone who could help.
This is how I found MoveToCascais. From there, everything was simple: the first consultation, the answers to all my questions about moving to Europe, and, of course, the new resume that we prepared together with the staff of the service. At first, I did not expect any quick results. I was even more surprised when I was invited to my first interview a week later.
The first interview, fortunately, turned out to be a success. A young IT company was looking for new employees to expand their staff in the new office they were opening in Porto. Great office location, nice conditions, and I was a perfect match for them. I was so happy! A week ago, I was sitting unemployed with a stupid dream to move to Europe, and today that dream became a reality!
How to find accommodation in Portugal?
The second most common question I get asked by friends who want to move to Portugal is, “How do I find housing in Portugal, and is it expensive to rent there?” I have been living in a rented apartment in a nice area of Porto for almost a year now, and I can safely say: it is not difficult to find an apartment in Portugal, and the cost of renting is low.
But this does not apply to the southern regions of the country. The cost of an apartment depends on the city: in large metropolitan areas, the prices are much higher than in the periphery. In seaside cities during the season, there are always many tourists, so the demand for housing is greater.
The cost of housing depends on the city.
The cost of housing depends on the size of the apartments and the distance from the sea. For example, in Porto, where I live, it is not difficult to find a one-room apartment near the beach for 400-500 euros per month. It must have a kitchen, where you can prepare food and thus save some money. Groceries in Portugal are inexpensive, so eating at home will help save a significant part of the budget.
Housing is best found through online classified ads. For example, Portugal has an interesting system of classifying housing: all apartments are divided not by the number of rooms or square meters but by bedrooms. It works like this:
Indeed, the best way to classify an apartment is to rent it by the number of bedrooms.
- T0 – apartment studio, everything can be in one room or a separate kitchen is possible.
- T1 – one-bedroom apartment: bedroom + hall + kitchen or bedroom + hall with kitchen. T2 – Apartment with 2 bedrooms + living room + kitchen.
The number the letter T: T1, T2, T3, and T4 – always means the number of separate bedrooms in the apartment. Living rooms, too, usually have pull-out sofas, so the T1 apartment, for example, is designed to accommodate 2 to 4 people.
In my case, the T2 and T3 always refer to the number of separate bedrooms in my apartment.
In my case, I, together with the guys from MoveToCascais, found myself a great apartment 10 minutes walk from the office where I work. The apartment itself has everything you need: a bedroom, a spacious living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. In total, I have about 650 euros per month together with the utilities.
First days in a new place and processing Portugal residence permit
That was followed by the simple process of applying for a work visa. Finally, I decided not to complicate my life and got an ordinary D1 work visa. All that is required for its registration is a standard set of documents and a signed employment contract. The whole process of obtaining the work visa took me less than a month, and soon I was preparing for my first trip to Portugal.
First impressions of Lisbon and Porto were simply wonderful: beautiful cities with a huge historical backdrop and a comfortable infrastructure. The people are friendly and sociable, and there is always something to do.
- A duly completed and signed application for a residence permit in the prescribed form.
- A valid passport.
- Two-color photos.
- Proof of sufficient funds to live in Portugal.
- Documents showing ownership of living space – owned or rented.
- Certificate of absence of a criminal record.
- Documentary justification of the reason for granting a residence permit – certificate of enrollment in college, a contract with the employer, the registration of the company, and more.
- Other information, if necessary. For example, certificate of marriage, social security registration, information from the tax authorities, and health insurance.
After you apply, all you have to do is wait. Usually, it does not take longer than six months. In my case, it was even faster – four months later, I got my coveted resident card in the mail.
In my case, it was even faster – after four months, I got my coveted resident card in the mail.
That’s the end of my story. I have been living and working in Portugal for a year now, and in just one month, I plan to renew my residency status. I finally fulfilled my dream and am living where I always wanted to. For me, Portugal has become a second home, and I am madly glad that I decided to move. I hope that everything will work out for you too. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to change something in your life because movement is life!