Today, we want to tell you an unusual story. We are often asked, “why do you recommend Portugal for your move? The answer is simple – we are madly in love with this beautiful country and want each of you to get to know it. You will hear the story of Yulia, a young girl from Samara, who will tell you everything you need to know about life and holidays in Portugal.
How it all started
My story of moving to Portugal began long before I bought a one-way flight ticket to Porto. It happened when I was almost 10 years old because my parents got divorced and my father went to Europe for a permanent residence. Only later did I found out that he settled in Portugal. By the end of high school, I did not think about the next 6-8 years in Russia because I wanted to go to university in that country.
With the fear of the unknown, sometimes the desire to reach new heights was stronger. All the more so because there, 4,500 kilometers away from Samara, was my support and encouragement. At that time I was 17, and my father had been living in Portugal for 5 years.
How did I get a residence permit in Portugal
There are several options for registering Portugal residence permit, which gives benefits to enjoy almost all the benefits available to citizens. This is high-quality medical care, visa-free travel throughout the EU, employment, and much more. To live permanently in the country is essential.
I received my residency permit as a child when my father took over all the financial obligations to support me and arranged the move. This way is family reunification with a resident. He obtained a residence permit in the past for an investment in real estate, and later strengthened his position by setting up a business in Portugal.
Foreigning a residence permit is also possible through:
- Enrolling in an educational institution.
- Opening a business or investing in the economy.
- Marriage with a Portuguese citizen.
- Accomplishments in scientific activities.
- Services to the state.
Each case has its own nuances and difficulties in obtaining a residence permit; you only need to analyze the possible risks and personal possibilities.
With no problems within six months of the application, Dad obtained a residence permit for me. In just two weeks (that’s how long it took to process and collect documents), I left Russia for Porto unburdened and determined for a better future in Portugal, unknown to me at the time.
Studying in Portugal
I’ll be honest, although I imagined my life in Portugal as cloudless, I had no idea how it would actually turn out. At 17, I was serious about studying. Still, my Portuguese was very minimal. It was hard to communicate with my peers and professors.
Before enrolling in university, I went through a preparatory program for a year. At that time, I was already 18 years old, the right age for such studies. I took a lot of courses in Portuguese, which was quite easy to learn. Not surprising because I was immersed in a português environment.
There are several types of institutions in Portugal:
- General Universities
- Polytechnic Institutes. They differ from general universities by having additional specializations: medicine, accounting, early childhood education, industry, and manufacturing.
- MBA business schools. They have a modern level of professional training and specialize in specific areas: marketing, management, advertising and PR, and other related fields.
Higher education institutions are also divided into public and private. The latter are less popular because they are inferior to state institutions in terms of technical equipment and the level of training of the teaching staff.
Education in the country is at a good level, many programs are taught in English. When applying to the university, it is important to know Portuguese at least at a basic level, and during your studies, attend courses to learn it. The average cost of a student year varies from €2,000 to €6,000. It is possible to pay every month – thus, the most budget program costs €140-200 per month. The student can even pay his or her own tuition by moonlighting.
After my preparatory year, I entered one of the best universities in the country, the Universidade do Porto, with the second-largest number of students after Lisbon, at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (Psicologia e Ciências da Educação). In addition to my passion for Psychology, professionals in this field are in demand and highly paid, not only in Portugal but all over Europe.
In total, I completed 6 years at the university: 3 at the undergraduate level, 2 at the master’s level, and 1 year in the preparatory program. After the successful defense of the final project, I had the diploma in my hands, well, almost. I received it 3 months later – in this country, everything is affected, more or less, by the slowness of life, characteristic of the Portuguese.
What happened next? Planning to move to a neighboring country, Spain. An unexpected decision, but I thought about it for a year, and after graduation, I even applied for membership in the regional board of psychologists in Spain. The fact that all EU countries accepted my education made it easier and opened many doors for me. The idea of moving took shape for several reasons, but more importantly, what turned my plans around.
How my intentions to move to Spain changed
At the age of 20, with excellent knowledge of Portuguese and English, a degree in hand and a permanent residence permit in Portugal, I was about to leave to take a job in another country. It seemed to me that I would have a better future and better prospects. But when I looked at other areas of life, I had a change of heart about Portugal.
From the moment I arrived as a teenager in Porto with my father and during my 6 years of study in the same city, I was rarely in another region. Yes, I grew to like the Portuguese, loved the local food, mastered English and Portuguese to perfection, but I didn’t see my place in the country.
Till I went on a trip with classmates around Portugal. They expressed concern about my decision to move to a foreign Spain and decided to change my mind; a Russian girl fixated only on studying and building her career. We were all making good money during our studies then, so financially, we could afford a long trip before diving headfirst into the intricacies of the professional sphere.
We drove around the regions of Portugal in a private car for 4 months, and during that time, I learned a lot about the country, the climate, culture, food, entertainment. Such a long vacation left me with many pictures, impressions, and a strong conviction that I won’t be coming back to Spain again. Portugal is where I want to work, rest, and enjoy life.
I want to dedicate most of my story to the specifics of living and vacationing in Portugal. I know that many people love the country for its nature, climate, sea, and cheerful disposition. It was this aspect that influenced my decision not to leave and let many happy events happen to me later on.
Best cities to live in Portugal
Besides studying and working, you should also be able to relax in Portugal – advice for anyone who has gone to conquer Europe and make a career. There are a huge number of lovely places that not every guidebook would write about. Everyone who comes to the country permanently has a unique opportunity to explore the country in detail, “without rushing” – in the spirit of Portuguese life.
But first I will tell you about the best cities to live in in Portugal. Year after year, Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Faro, and Aveiro are on the list. By the way, I have been living in Porto for 10 years already.
Let’s look at why these cities should be considered first and foremost for living:
- Lisbon. The largest city and capital of Portugal, the oldest Western European metropolis with a population of 505,000 people. It has a mild climate, clean beaches, interesting architecture, plenty of entertainment and attractions that allow you to actively spend your leisure time both during the day and at night.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the center is €715. The cost of living per adult is €1,360.
- Porto. It is located quite far from the capital, 320 kilometers away, and the population is half that number. It is an industrial city, loved by many sports fans and the soccer club of the same name. Compared with Lisbon, it is somewhat cheaper to live here. This city is considered the center of entertainment and culture.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the center will cost €550. The cost of living per adult is €1,130.
- Coimbra. A quiet coastal town located in the center of Portugal, midway from Lisbon to Porto. With a population of 138,000, it is home to students from the country’s oldest university, founded in 1290. The place is popular with university students and retirees for its ability to lead a measured life.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the center will cost €430.
The cost of living per adult is €1,085.
- Faru. A place with tourist avenues touting a quiet life on the seaside. Connoisseurs of warm climate and beach scenery will find their paradise here. The population is half the size of Coimbra. Faro is located in a picturesque location on the picturesque coast of the Ria Formosa bay, next to the Cape of Santa Maria. It has good transport links and a small airport.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the center will cost €525. The cost of living per adult is €1,100.
- Aveiro. The city with a population of 82,800, known by its name “Portuguese Venice,” is located in the country’s center. Here, the beautiful river canals framed by ancient architecture clearly resemble the famous Italian place. The cost of living in Aveiro is considered one of the most affordable in the country, and the low price of real estate disposes to choose this city for foreign investment.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the center will be € 395. The cost of living per adult is €1,060.
*I listed the average prices for 1 month and the cost of living per adult.
Leisure types, regions and resorts in Portugal
The impressive vacation opportunities in this country and the number of unique, amazing and beautiful places are amazing. And don’t get any ideas that the local climate, attractions, and nature can’t impress you.
Even the pickiest of people will find something to do in Portugal that goes beyond the weekend to the bar or the park just down the road. After all, the country has so much more to offer – and luxurious beach holidays on the warm sea coast, and a fun snowy trip to the ski resorts, and wellness programs to suit everyone’s needs. To that, I can add rustic vacations, sightseeing, hiking and biking trails, nightlife, and much, much more.
Beach vacations in Portugal
The country’s coastline is dotted with beach lines of various origin. The Algarve and the Lisbon Riviera have fine white sand; Madeira is known for its artificial and pebbly coastline. The official beach season is from June 15 to September 15.
The Carcavelos beach, close to the capital, delights visitors around the clock. During the day, everyone enjoys tanning on the wide beach, swimming in the warm and gently sloping sea. Here they like to surf and have a tasty snack in one of the beach bars. When the sun goes down, it becomes a trendy party spot where the music doesn’t stop until dawn.
Ribeira da Illas, the watersports beach near Ériceira, has earned the unofficial title of “world-surfing reserve.” The same is true of Guincho, in Cascais, which is beloved by surfers and kiteboarders. There are always consistently high waves and strong winds, which pleases extreme surfers. Nearby are the beaches of “Riberia” and “Torre” for quiet swimming and leisure.
Traditional beach relaxation can be caught in the south of Portugal. One of the most famous resorts here in Lagos, which belongs to the Algarve. A versatile place for everyone – you will find both mountain tunnels and equipped sunbathing areas, nudist corners.
Different from the classic beach spots on the seaside is the recreation area by the Albufeira do Azibu reservoir, with white river sand and the Blue Flag mark of quality recreation.
Diving in Portugal
The country has many interesting places for divers of various levels of training. Despite the cold sea in places due to the Gulf Stream, the sea has excellent visibility at various depths and interesting underwater terrain.
Madeira is the center of all diving abundance of natural scenery: underwater caves, reefs, shipwrecks. The Garajau Nature Reserve is known for its abundance of beautiful barracudas, perch, tuna, mantas, the Máxico coast is decorated with rare black corals, and the underwater part Reis Magus beach is most active at night.
Professional divers choose to dive in the waters of the Azores. Whale sharks, blue sharks, dolphins, whales, and huge fish of various species are found here.
Gastronomic vacation in Portugal
To enjoy the maximum number of flavors and compare their different shades, it is better to go on a gastronomic tour. Such a trip usually lasts several days and includes visits to several cities, settlements, vineyards, and cellars. More immersion in the atmosphere is often arranged at night in the “posadas” – medieval castles converted to hotels. Often the gastronomic tour ends with a beach holiday.
The concept of gastronomic tours is approximate as follows. In the capital, accompanied by a local restaurant chef, a visit to a food market is planned, followed by a tasting of a dish in a restaurant. The next point is the monasteries of Pasteis de Belem and Geroninus, tasting the country’s tastiest sweets. The most delicate oysters await gastro-tour participants in Setubal, an impressive wine cellar is in Portinho de Arrabida, a tasting of delicious wines in Obidos.
Ski holidays in Portugal
Ski holidays are often of interest to locals and residents pampered by beach leisure activities. Another option is ardent fans of snowy peaks and extreme descents.
The country’s most famous ski resorts are the Serra de Estrella and Civilian. The first one is in the northeastern part of Portugal. Here high-quality slopes are prepared for both professionals and beginners in the snow business. There is all the infrastructure, points to rent equipment, a school with instructors. The resort is open from the beginning of winter to spring.
The resort of Covillan is known not only for its high-speed ski slopes but also for mountain hiking and mountain climbing opportunities. In warmer times, you can visit local historical and cultural sites.
A lesser-known side of recreation in Portugal, but no less popular with knowledgeable people. There are 5 thermal springs in the country, almost all based in hotel or spa complexes: in the natural parks of Peneda Jeres, Serra da Estrella, Monchique, Vidago, Luso. Among the programs in high demand are detox, thalassotherapy, anti-stress, weight loss, Ayurveda, wellness courses.
Amusements and attractions in Portugal
The rich history of Portugal is reflected in the many man-made attractions scattered throughout the country. Numerous fortresses, castles, churches, monasteries, and cathedrals have survived in satisfactory and good condition. Visitors to Lisbon, for example, will first encounter the monumental Castel Sant Gheorghe, while the palaces of Mar and Queluz provide aesthetic pleasure. In the capital, there is Belém Tower, in authentic style, which is under UNESCO protection. The Aguas Libriç Aqueduct is a must-see symbol of the city.
Porto is a city of imposing buildings, with Guimarães Castle standing out above the rest. There are long rows of bustling markets and cozy wine cellars. The Ribeira neighborhood is authentic, and the Botanical Gardens are stunning in their scale of green spaces of varying magnitude. In the city, the Port Wine Museum is interesting to visit, where you can learn all about the history of the drink, the technology of production and taste the world-famous drink.
In the religious center of the country, Braga, every believer, and admirer of the spiritual side of life will be impressed by the residence of the Archbishop, an iconic shrine for Catholic people – the Church of Christ on Calvary. Pilgrims will surely want to see the site of the apparition of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, revered by thousands of believers.
Besides cultural enrichment, you can devote your time away from work to a variety of entertainments. I have tried almost all of them in the last four years. The capital has a wonderful zoo with a huge collection of exotic animals. Going to the city from the best angle and capturing stunning views is better than the Gloria funicular. Lisbon is proud of its oceanarium, the only one where the underwater inhabitants of all world oceans are gathered.
Madeira is known for its extreme entertainment – many visitors and locals climb Pico Ruivo Mountain to test the nerves. You can also get your adrenaline fix in the Algarve, on the extreme rides that many people love.
A surprising place, which surpasses many natural places put together, is the westernmost tip of the world, Cape Roca. I stood on this cape for the last time a year ago and still remember the feeling of freedom, natural power, and admiration to tears for the beauty of this world.
Why I chose to stay in Portugal
As with any other place on earth, one seeks personal happiness. I fell in love with Portugal from the bottom of my heart, although I didn’t notice many amazing things for several years of my life. Russia will always be my first home, but that past and my present and future are connected to Portugal not only in words and in documents.
For a couple of years after graduation, I was actively traveling around the country. I got a job in my profession; I developed a good customer base. I soon met the man I love, got married, and now we have a baby on the way. I am immensely in love with Portugal, and I hope that the story of my life in the last 9 years here will help, if not to answer all the questions, then form the right idea of this incredible country and the specifics of life.
Know why moving to PORTUGAL is a great solution for 2021.
*The material reflects the story of the hero of the article as interpreted by the author; concerning the described methods and processes of obtaining a residence permit – they may not coincide with the actual opinion of the editors of move to cascais on this subject.