Retiring to a New Life in Portugal

By: Antonio Oliveira

Officially known as Portuguese Republic, Portugal is a country rich in history. The reality that it was home to historical personages like Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama makes Portugal a perfect place to retire for the Old World European lover.

Climate in Portugal
Portugal is a country subject to two different types of climate, oceanic and Mediterranean. Northern Portugal has a climate consisting of the former, which means that that the temperature and weather in the north are almost always moderate, not so hot during summers, not too cold during winters.
The Southern part is dominated by the Mediterranean climate which might consist of very hot summer days.

Portugal is known to be one of Europes warmest countries. In truth though, its average yearly temperatures of 18 degrees Celsius in the south and thirteen degrees Celsius in the north are still much cooler than any tropical countrys.

There are parts of the country which may exhibit extreme weather conditions. Examples are the extreme north locations which may reach temperatures of up to minus 4 to 6 degrees Celsius during the winter and the south locations with summers reaching up to a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius.

Government in Portugal
The constitution laid down in 1976 formed the government of Portugal to what it is today. With Lisbon serving as its capital, the government of Portugal is divided into four elements. The division of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial components is granted by the powers of the countrys constitution.

The first element of the Portuguese government is the countrys president. The presidential seat is merely supervisory and non-executive with a term lasting up to five years. The second element is the countrys parliamentary body called the assembly of the republic. This parliament is unicameral consisting of 230 seats for deputies with terms lasting for four years.

The next element, the government, is ruled by a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the one responsible for appointing state secretaries and ministers which make up Portugals Council of Ministers. The two political parties dominating both the parliament and the government in Portugal are the Socialist and Social Democratic Parties. The last element of the Portuguese government, the courts, is organized into judicial, fiscal, and administrative.

Tax System in Portugal
The tax rate for Portugal for the year 2007 was between 10.5 percent to 42 percent. Some residents with incomes of specific types are granted tax exemption. For example, a resident with less than 149,753 Euros in annual income will be waived his or her annual tax fee. If you decide to move to Portugal and become a resident, you will be liable to pay taxes. Someone who works in Portugal will be taxed for earnings made in the country.

For you to be recognized as a resident of Portugal, you must have been living in the country for a minimum of 183 days. Sometimes, even less than one hundred eighty three days would suffice if you have a property in Portugal you can declare as your main residence. December 31 is the end of a taxable year in the country. Individuals are expected to file the tax details by the 30th of April.

Medical Care in Portugal
Despite being a developed country, the health care in Portugal is ranked among the lowest in the Western European regions. However, the country does present peace of mind regarding medical care since it has a ratio of 2.9 doctors to 1,000 patients which is higher than that of its neighbouring countries. These health care practitioners, however, are centred in the urban areas of Portugal, meanwhile even the rural areas which were before permanently in need are better served.

Portugal has a health system which pays for a residents hospital and medical bills in full. The system is offered by major urban hospitals, the regional ones, and several health centers.

Shopping in Portugal
Shopping centers in Portugal usually operate seven days of the week from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. Since Portugal is a member of the Euro zone, its currency is in Euro. Different banks exchange for different rates and with varying commissions charged. Currently, MultiBanco (MB) ATMs are all over the country which charge currency exchange commission of only 2 percent. Standard credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are accepted in Portugal. Eurocheque cards are also accepted and travellers cheques are exchanged without any problems.

Cost of Living in Portugal
Cost of living in Portugal has risen in the last decade. Still, it remains cheaper than the rest of its neighbouring Western European countries. As expected, high-end places in Portugal like Algarves golfing areas are expensive, but away from the countrys fashionable destinations, prices are quite low. To reduce every day costs, steer clear of plush supermarkets and venture to the street markets popular all over the country with fresh produce straight from the farms.

Real Estate in Portugal
Some years ago the majority of the rural areas in Portugal had no supply of electricity which prompted the residents to move to urban establishments. This caused over-population in Portugals urban dwellings, especially in Lisbon, where there is estimated to be 200,000 illegal housing structures.

The rental percentage in Portugal is 60 percent. In fact, even the opulent residents of country opt to live in rented apartments that the city of Lisbon is riddled with high-end buildings for their usage.

The most expensive regions of Portugal are Lisbon, Oporto, Estoril and Cascais. The most reasonable place to live on the other hand is in the Silver Coast, Central Portugal, Alentejo and the northern parts of the country.

Portugal continues to be an excellent retirement country, comparing to the world wide offer.

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