I had dreamed of moving to Portugal for a long time. But something always stopped me. In my home country I had a business, not bad enough, my children were in school, my wife had a stable job. But when another crisis started in the country, it was as if everything stopped. One day I woke up thinking that it was time to change something. My wife was completely supportive, and my children were even excited about the opportunity to move to another country. So it was just a matter of deciding where to go and collecting documents.
How we moved to Portugal with kids: personal experience
So, the first thing I started with was getting down to the question of exactly how to immigrate to this country. Started to explore all the possible options to eventually choose the most suitable one.
I began to explore all the options.
So, the first option involved reuniting with the family. It was a good way to go. But it was definitely not for us, because we never had family in Portugal. By the way, in case anyone is considering this option, it is worth noting that the number of relatives to be reunited with, the Portuguese include children, spouses, brothers and sisters.
The second option is a startup. It can be opened by any entrepreneur. But there are small conditions. First, there must not be any problems with the law. Secondly, it must not reside in the Schengen countries. By the way, this option is especially good for those who use modern technology and are willing to create jobs. But I discarded this option as well.
Another category of people who have the full right to obtain a residence permit in Portugal – investors. All that is required is to buy a piece of property, the value of which is not less than 500,000 euros. It can be an apartment, a villa and the like. It is also possible to contribute to the reconstruction of the building, in which case the amount will be lower – from 35 000 euros. You can invest in the business or economy of the country.
Students have the right to reside in Portugal – those who study in this country. But I had no plans to go to university. So I decided on the last option, the most acceptable to me – business. The most popular direction in the country is tourism. And here I could feel like a fish in water. After all, in my homeland I was in the tourism business, so I knew all the ins and outs and was ready to do this business. Of course, this is not the only direction which entrepreneurs can choose. You can also engage in poultry farming, grow fruit, olives – whatever is closer to you. I, on the other hand, decided that I would continue the business I had started in my homeland. But before opening my own travel agency, I had to work for some time in a Portuguese company.
First, I tried to organize the move on my own. But it turned out to be more difficult than I thought. Of course, there was a lot of information, but I could not pull it all together. And if the city we have decided (always dreamed of Lisbon), with everything else was uncertain. For example, very worried about the question related to school. Of course, we were leaving at the beginning of summer, but starting in the fall it was necessary to accommodate our son and daughter.
Some sleepless nights searching for a solution, and I gave up. I decided I needed to seek professional help. I remembered that my acquaintances, when they were moving, cooperated with a consulting agency movetocascais. I found their contacts, I contacted them, and I can say I forgot about all the problems.
First of all, we were given a list of all the documents that we had to collect and told what should be done in the near future. In general, with the help of specialists, everything went quickly and smoothly. By the way, they also told us about the education system in Portugal.
What documents do I need?Perhaps the most difficult task is to collect the necessary documents. Be prepared that they will have to tinker with, and run through the necessary authorities to collect all the papers. First of all, the list includes a signed employment contract or job offer. Such an offer I found, to do it was not difficult. By education I am a programmer, for some time I successfully worked in my specialty and even have some good references. Therefore, I did not have any particular difficulties in finding a job. As for my wife, then initially she went on a tourist visa. But soon after was able to find a good job right there. She holds a degree in design and speaks several foreign languages.
In addition to the invitation to work, you’ll need the following documents:
- certificate of criminal record;
- bank statement that proves you have funds;
- confirmation of the qualifications that are mentioned in the job offer.
Naturally, we need passports for each family member traveling to Portugal. Having collected the documents, we queued up to take the biometric. After this procedure, we have to wait a few months. Then we received a notice of approval. Then we packed our bags and prepared for the move.
Where to find a job?As noted, I was going to Portugal on a work visa, so it was only a question of finding a job for my wife. With a tourist visa she entered the country without any problems. And on the spot she began to look for a suitable option to earn money.
Even though unemployment is rampant in the country, it is possible to find a decent job, especially with higher education. Due to the fact that we originally planned to stay here permanently, the search has been difficult. We were warned right away that illegal work would not do, because violations of labor laws are severely punished and can lead to deportation.
In order to obtain a work visa and residence permit, my wife had to find an employer and sign an official contract with him with spelled out rights and responsibilities. This not only guarantees that you will not be deported, but also guarantees your social security, as insurance payments will be deducted from your salary.
My wife took a job as an English translator at a small company. After that she applied for a one-month residence permit. The next residence permit we received together for a period of two years. And after we had lived in Portugal for 5 years we applied for permanent residency.
This is our personal experience. As for the rest, there are several options for finding a job. First, it is best to look for a job while at home, and already with a call (invitation) go to the country. The next is to follow my experience.
You can also come on a tourist visa and while in Portugal, find a suitable accommodation and buy it. About this option I told a few above. According to the notarial deed you can stay in the country. In the meantime, enroll in language courses, learn to speak and find a job according to your professional level.
If you have a degree in a profession that is in demand (medicine, construction, architecture, IT), you can safely count on a well-paid job. But knowledge of the language is a prerequisite. If you do not have such an education, but you know the language, it is easy to get an administrative position. And those who do not have a degree can be offered work in construction, agriculture, etc.
On the other hand, there is no bureaucracy in the country, which offers good prospects for future businessmen. The optimal company format here is LLC.
To register a business, you will need about 600 euros. Additionally have to pay a lawyer who will help arrange everything correctly. The registration process takes about a month, after which the businessman receives a plastic card with all the details of the company. Immediately after that, you can get a residence permit, and after five years – to collect and submit documents for permanent residence.
We had no problem with that, we got help from a consulting agency. The guys took over the search for a suitable apartment for us. We were offered several options and we chose the best one that satisfied all our needs. For the first time was enough time, now we have our own apartment, which we were able to buy after a year of living in Portugal.
Another fact worth considering. Most apartments are rented without furniture and necessary appliances. And finding a fully furnished apartment can take more than a day.
Trouble with the languageMy spouse and I are fluent in English, but not everyone in Portugal understands the language. Before I left, I studied Portuguese for a short time. But there was no practice. The best practice was communicating with locals.
You can also find courses right there if you want. I didn’t need one, but my wife did for a while.
There is a subway in Lisbon. The fare depends on the metro area – the farther you ride, the more you’ll have to pay. Buses are also very popular. Fares are quite high, so it is best to buy a card and recharge it regularly – it will give you the opportunity to save a lot of money.
As accessible and convenient as public transport is, as in our country, the best transport in Portugal is a car. Despite the fact that gasoline is not very cheap, it is much more convenient to travel by car. From personal experience: it saves not only time, but also nerves.
By the way, after obtaining a residence permit, the domestic driver’s license becomes invalid here, and within three months they must be replaced by the Portuguese. If you apply later, you will need to take the exam without training. At that, while you are waiting for the invitation to the exam, the old license will be taken away, but a temporary one will be issued, and it will be valid only on the territory of Portugal.
Of course, the number one question that has come to a head is the education of children. Again, the counseling agency helped a lot. They told us about the education system and found us an institution. Of course, we were very worried how the children would feel in a new school and whether they would be able to find a common language with the children and teachers. But our fears were unfounded. We were very well accepted and helped to adapt. We’re very lucky that the school is in Russian.
When we moved here we knew nothing about education here. Now I can already give some advice to those who are planning to move here. The first advice is to send your children to a private institution. Although Lisbon is full of public schools, we chose a private one.
Why? It was more convenient for us from the very beginning. Don’t worry that you can’t afford the school. Not at all, the fees here are not that big. That’s partly because many private schools are state-sponsored. Children in high school need to decide on a profile. But after ninth grade it can be changed. By the way, specialized education is a big plus. It gives the opportunity to study in-depth exactly those subjects that are especially useful when entering college.
What else do I want to say about school education? It’s divided into two stages. After graduation from high school the child makes a decision together with his parents whether to continue studying or not. In view of the fact that further education at school is optional, it is not free of charge. After graduation, a certificate of Secondary Secondary Education is issued, which indicates the specialty obtained. Then there is admission to higher education.
We didn’t go the “kindergarten” route, of course, because when we moved to Portugal, the kids were already teenagers and enrolled in high school. Nevertheless, many of my acquaintances who dream of moving to this country ask how things are with kindergartens.
As in our country, there are two types of preschools here – public and private. The education in them is not much different, but there is one nuance. Those who are planning to enroll in a state institution must “stand in line” for at least nine months. In this case it is better to become on the queue immediately after the birth of the baby.
In general, if you move to Portugal and want to immediately place your baby in a kindergarten, you have to choose among private options. Especially if there is no possibility to babysit your child or hire a nanny. As for the differences from our kindergartens, there are virtually none.
Whichever kindergarten you give your child – public or private – you can count on good and adequate care. Many of our acquaintances have their kids in private kindergartens, and many have them in public ones. There are no significant differences, the attitude is the same everywhere, and parents are very happy about it. By the way, you have to pick up the child until 5 pm. In private institutions you can agree on a longer stay – until 7 pm.
There are Russian-speaking groups, but, as for me, it is better to send the child to a place where he will speak Portuguese. It’s a big advantage because your kid gets used to an unfamiliar language quicker. And, in the end, he’ll speak it faster.
I can tell from watching my friends who have small children, that the little ones adjust much more quickly to new surroundings and learn the language more quickly, and that’s great!
I believe that higher education is mandatory for everyone. So already at this stage, while my children are still in school, my spouse and I began to take an interest in the nuances of my children going to university. Of course, we cannot say that absolutely all Portuguese people have higher education, according to statistics, it is not more than 40% of the population. But foreigners themselves are very attracted to Portuguese universities. According to European standards, it is not very expensive to study here.
Portuguese universities are divided into universities and polytechnics. In the first case, you will focus on theoretical studies, in the second – to gain practical skills. By the way, polytechnics are far from what we think of as vocational schools. In such a school you can get a degree in accounting or teaching.
As with kindergartens and schools, institutions of higher education can be public or private. It is much cheaper to study in the former. In the private ones it’s more expensive, but you can get good discounts for diligent study.
In order to enter the bachelor’s program, you need to have a high school diploma with good marks. You also have to pass exams. There are not many institutions in Portugal that teach in English, that is why it is compulsory to know the national language when entering the school. But we have no problem with this, children are already fluent in Portuguese.
When it comes to maternity leave, things are a little different than they are in our country. Any working parent can go on paid leave for up to five months. Up to 3 years old the baby can be taken to nursery, after that – to kindergarten, and then – actually to school.
The health care system consists of three parts: national health service, special social health insurance system, voluntary private health insurance. Except for dental and some other medical procedures, services are free. To cover 100% of the costs, some people prefer to buy private health insurance. Settling in a new country, we of course thought about entertainment, you can’t just sit at home all the time! I must say that you certainly won’t get bored in Portugal! First of all, we toured all around Lisbon. It’s beautiful and wonderful here. You can read more about our itinerary in the article: Leisure in Cascais. What’s the best way to spend your weekend. The Complete Guide.
A week after arriving – went to the ocean. This is probably what the kids wanted and were looking forward to the most. Not only can they enjoy the beautiful sunsets, which probably don’t exist anywhere else in the world, but they can also go surfing. Beginners are coached by instructors, our family learned the sport pretty quickly.
In Lisbon there are many festivals, holidays in which we try to actively participate. There is a world-famous oceanarium, and many other interesting places that are definitely worth visiting. And if you stay here permanently, the opportunities are endless!
Why did we choose Portugal?The move to Portugal was not a spontaneous decision. It took us a long time to get there. Personally, after one visit to this amazing country, I decided for myself that one day I would live here. My wife and I often brought up the topic. She was originally not against the move. But all the time there was something that stopped us. Of course, first of all it was scary. The most frightening was the unknown and lack of understanding of how life would be in a foreign country, whether we would be able to “settle down”, whether our children would be able to adapt.
But all fears vanished as soon as we arrived in Lisbon and entered our first rented apartment. It was a realization that everything would be fine, because it couldn’t be otherwise. For those who still have doubts about whether or not they should move to Portugal, I would like to say one thing: yes, they should.
Well, in addition, and to give you more confidence, I want to emphasize, because of my experience, the benefits that await you in this country. Firstly, the cost of housing is affordable. And whether you plan to rent an apartment or buy your own, I assure you that it will not be too expensive. Working in Portugal and renting an apartment, we managed to save up for our own place in a good area in the first year. I’m sure it will work out for you too!
Another definite advantage is the affordable cost of goods and services. In general, it is almost twice cheaper to live in Portugal than in other developed countries, including Germany, France and so on.
A big plus is that after five years of residence here you can apply for citizenship. This is one of the best and fastest prospects one can find. For example, to become a citizen of Italy or Spain you have to live in the country for 10 years, in Greece – 7 years.
Beneficial here and for businessmen, because the country has a preferential tax regime. New tax residents for 10 years may enjoy a special regime – Non-Habitual Residents. According to it the income tax is reduced to 20% and no taxes are levied on income earned outside the country.
I also personally in this country I have discovered many other compelling benefits. For example the delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The products in Portugal are delicious and healthy. Another advantage of living in Portugal for me personally is a low crime rate. Not for nothing Portugal is recognized as one of the safest countries in the world. And what else does the family, which brings up children?
I really like the local climate. It doesn’t get too hot in summer thanks to the ocean breeze. And it’s comfortable enough in winter. And of course, a lot of sun.
To tell you the truth, my family and I don’t regret at all that we once decided to move to Portugal and stay here. It really is a beautiful country and has many interesting possibilities for anyone who settles here.
Of course, it takes a lot of effort and a tremendous amount of work to achieve what you want. We are now reaping the fruits of our labor. Two years after I moved here, I have managed to open my own business, which is now thriving. My travel agency is not only in demand in Lisbon, but also in the country.
My wife has also been very successful. She is a sought-after designer in her field and is very satisfied with this. Her children have had many additional opportunities. They have already selected their area of study and have plans for higher education in the future.
Portugal is a land of opportunity. It’s open to anyone who truly wants to improve their life and does whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
We are very well and stable right now. We don’t want to leave because everything is just fine. We feel at home now and it quickly became our home country. The people here are very friendly and eager to help, to advise and assist.
Well, I would like to express special thanks to the consulting agency movetocascais. I don’t know if we could have done this on our own. Your help and support has really proven to be essential. And for those of you who are still thinking about it, I want to advise you to move and it won’t be long before your life changes!