What are the best places to live in Portugal?

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Are you planning to live in Portugal or are you curious about the best places to live in?

If you prefer larger cities and dense urban areas, Lisbon and Porto will be the right choices, if you prefer quieter cities with less population density, district capitals are the best option.

If you are looking for less dense cities or rural areas, the interior of Portugal has many locations that will satisfy your needs, if you prefer to be closer to the sea, the central and southern coast of Portugal will be the most suitable areas.

What is the best Portuguese region to live in?

Before we choose the city most appropriate to your lifestyle, you have to understand Portugal geography and the way that regions are organized.

There are official structures that split the country into several regions, but for a more simplified explanation I will use a more conventional model that splits the country into 8 regions:

  • North Region
  • Greater Porto
  • Center Region
  • Greater Lisbon
  • South Region
  • Algarve
  • Azores Island
  • Madeira Island

These are the largest Portuguese regions, organized based on a structural division of the country into large regional areas.

In addition, there is also a virtual line that separates the continental country into coastal areas and interior areas, that illustrates the localities or regions that lie along the coast and those in the interior of the country.

If you prefer to live closer to the sea, the choice will always be the coast of the country, otherwise, you can opt for the interior.

If you have a preference for less warm areas, the most suitable region will be the north of Portugal, the closer you come to the south or the Algarve, the milder the temperatures become.

The interior of the country, particularly in the south, is warmer than the coastal areas and in summer the difference is even greater.

Finally, if you are looking for a place further away from the mainland or if you would like to live on an island, then the islands of Madeira or Azores are what you are looking for.

As I mentioned, before deciding on which city or the locality you want to live, this is the data you should work with to choose the area of ​​the country most suitable for you.

What are the best cities to live in?

Changing a city or country is always a challenge, we have to look for a house that is appropriate to our lifestyle, if we have children, we have to see if there are schools nearby, we need to check what public transport we have available and many other facilities that guarantee the quality of life we ​​seek.

If you prefer more dense urban areas or if you are looking for larger cities, the most suitable cities will be Lisbon and Porto.

There are other alternatives, but these two are the largest cities in the country and they allow you to have access to virtually everything you are looking for.

If you prefer to be closer to Lisbon or Porto, but do not want to live in the center of a big city, you can choose the suburbs that offer you the conditions you are looking for, not far from the city center.

Examples of this are the cities of Sintra, Cascais or Loures in the region of Lisbon and the cities of Vila Nova de Gaia, Maia and Ermesinde to the north, near the city of Porto.

In any of these options, you are always less than 1h away using public transport or using your own transportation.

It should be noted that the cost of living in a larger city is always higher, which you will need to take into consideration if you decide to live in a large city.

These are also the cities that have more job offer and where GDP per capita is higher but where the unemployment rate is higher.

What are the quietest and most remote cities?

The largest cities, such as Lisbon and Porto are the most cosmopolitan but there are several options if you prefer a smaller or a quieter city.

These are also the cities that offer the most resources and services and where most of the large and medium-sized companies are located.

The district capitals in Portugal are usually medium-sized cities that you should take into consideration.

They are smaller cities that meet the best conditions for basic services provision and allow quick access to the vast majority of the services we need for our day-to-day life.

An example of this will be the cities of Braga, Bragança or Vila Real in the north of the country, Leiria, Coimbra or Aveiro in the center and Setúbal, Beja or Évora in the southern region of Portugal.

If you have chosen one of the Islands, then you have Funchal and Ponta Delgada as the best options.

If you are looking for a more pleasant area and decide for the Algarve region, then there is the city of Faro which is located in a more central area, otherwise, you will have Lagos, Portimão or Albufeira in the west and Loulé, Olhão or Tavira in the eastern Algarve.

These cities are usually those where regional services are located and those that allow access to most of the minimum services we need for our day-to-day life.

These are cities whose job offer is inferior to the capital, but where the employability is superior.

What are the least urban areas to live in?

If you have a preference for quiet areas away from urban and the city life, you need to decide what lifestyle you are looking for and which services you can live without because there are many options to choose from.

In the vast majority of these areas, we only have access to minimal services and this is something that you will have to weigh when you make your decision.

The main road networks are the motorways that cross these regions and the local accesses are carried out by national and regional roads.

The northern of Portugal is historically a more industrial region where there are many companies, most of which small and medium-sized.

The GDP per capita in the northern region of Portugal is the lowest in the whole country. This value increases as we approach the Algarve which is the region with the highest per capita GDP in mainland Portugal, excluding the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto.

This factor can be decisive in your choice and can have an impact on the quality of life you are looking for in Portugal.

In the interior of the country, you will have a more rural lifestyle, where most activities are related to agriculture. Here you will certainly find a calm, quiet and relaxed life.

The existing services, as I mentioned earlier, are always less than the ones you will find in larger cities, but they are certainly the ones you will need to satisfy your basic requirements.

In the central coast, although there are some primary activities, we are close to the main axis of the country that connects the cities of Lisbon and Porto.

In these regions, you will find small to medium-sized cities that offer good habitability and where access to the minimum services are always assured.

You will also find cities with good access that will allow you to be in one of the biggest cities in less than 2 hours, which can be an advantage if you like to live in a quiet and less dense area, but at the same time,  not to far from a bigger city like Lisbon or Porto.

In the northern and southern coastal region, you will find mostly small towns with access to the minimum services, but at a greater distance from the larger cities.

In the coastal Algarve, excluding the city of Faro, all the other cities are smaller and since this is a touristic region, the main activity is related to tourism and related services.

Here you will find mostly small companies in tourism and leisure services.

The quality of life found in the region is in line with the rest of the country and the biggest differences are the seasonality and the labor sector in which most companies focused.

Regarding employment, the regions where there is more seasonality, as is the case of Algarve, are also those where the rate of employability is more variable and in low times the unemployment rate is higher.

This region has the particularity of being the most pleasant region of the country, which allows it to combine leisure activities associated with the sea for a longer time.

Conclusion

The options available to live in Portugal are many and each of them with particularities that may interest you.

From the coastal areas that allow you to be closer to the sea, to the southern zone of the country, whose temperature is milder, passing through the interior that offers a quieter lifestyle, you will surely find what you are looking for.

Portugal offers many options and excellent conditions to live in, certainly, you will not have difficulties in your choice.

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