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The American dream in Portugal

What has happened in America? What attracts American buyers to Portugal? What makes thousands of Americans want to venture into parts and cultures unknown, not only as holidaymakers, but as homeowners?

Sao Martinho do Porto Bay - Portugal’s best family beach
Sao Martinho do Porto Bay - Portugal’s best family beach

The great American migration is real. According to a Coldwell Banker report, 92% of high net-worth Americans have actively considered investing in property outside of the U.S., with an estimated 67% already owning property overseas. These are staggering statistics, and it’s not just the super-wealthy. We are seeing record increases in middle income earners looking to make the trip across the Atlantic for a new life in Portugal. But why?

I deal with hundreds of clients looking to purchase real estate in Portugal, roughly 50% of these are made up of Americans and Canadians. Everyone has different reasons why, but here are some commonalities that I have picked up in the last few years.


Ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, Portugal’s calm lifestyle and low crime rate are attracting many.

It is well documented that America has a problem with gun violence and school shootings, this is almost non-existent in Portugal.

For people looking to be in a place where their children are safe at school, where there is very little violent crime, where streets are safe at all hours day and night, then Portugal is incredibly appealing.

Political stability

Politically speaking, Portugal is relatively stable. The country is predominantly social-democratic and has been this way for decades. It is a country that very much knows where it has been and where it wants to go and while there is always room for improvement, the political system is solid and there isn’t the animosity that one experiences in the U.S. between Republicans and Democrats.

The people

When asking ‘Why is Portugal special?’, look no further than its people.

Portuguese people are incredibly warm, open and welcoming.

Most of my clients feel this immediately upon arrival. Welcoming and helping is very much part of Portuguese culture and DNA, no matter where you are from.

Portuguese people are happy to communicate in English, love taking time to have a conversation, are curious and generally respect people’s private choices and beliefs. Family is at the centre of Portuguese life, children are loved, cared for, valued and it’s commonplace, still today, for teachers to hug their students and for random strangers to help with your children.

Portugal is a country that can be best described as warm, not just the weather, but the way this place makes you feel. A calm lifestyle, peaceful surroundings, a connection to nature and friendly people will make just about everyone feel at home.

Cost of living

In comparison with many locations in the U.S., the cost of living in Portugal is very affordable. Wine is exceptionally good and well-priced, eating out is reasonable, grocery shopping is inexpensive and utility costs are much lower than in many other places in both Europe and the U.S. A middle to high-income household can live comfortably in Portugal, even more so when one moves out of the larger cosmopolitan areas.

Quality of life

Americans and Canadians in particular are looking for warmer winters. The climate all over Portugal is superb, with plenty of sunshine, no hurricanes or tornadoes, unpolluted air and plenty of beautiful beaches and green areas throughout the country.

For some, Portugal reminds them of childhood and time gone by, with traditional farmers’ markets very much part of daily life.

Parks and beaches are free and available to everyone. Taking time to enjoy a beer or a coffee on an outdoor terrace and watch the world go by is part of daily life. People come here to escape the rush, to slow down and live a simpler life.

Vale Furado Beach in the Silver Coast
Vale Furado Beach in the Silver Coast

Infrastructure and social system

Portugal may appear, at first glance, to be stuck in time and old-fashioned, but this could be no further from the truth. The country boasts a well-established infrastructure.

A superb public transport network, efficient banking system, good motorways and fast internet make living the simple life more comfortable.

In addition, Portugal boasts one of the best medical systems in the world. Whether private or public health care, residents have access to top-notch healthcare.


"Moving to Portugal from the U.S. takes a lot of coordination, focus, paperwork, and patience. When we finally arrived, we were exhausted but elated to start a new, easy-going, stress-free life. But there is still so much to learn and navigate that it takes more time than you’d expect to feel that things are truly easy-going and stress-free. When it came to buying our new apartment though, we were in good hands with PORTUGAL REALTY from day one. (...) And now that we have moved into our beautiful new apartment, we are at ease and happy to have our own bit of paradise in peaceful Portugal."

Portugal Realty clients Emily and Rick, from the USA

Portugal Realty clients Emily and Rick, from the USA


Article by Dylan Herholdt, Certified Realtor at Portugal Realty


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