Portugal is cheap and has a great climate, great food and beautiful beaches. It’s becoming more and more popular among retirees who seek to make the most out of their retirement paycheck. But is Portugal safe?
The short answer is yes. Portugal is safe. But there is more to it.
It all comes down to what kind of safety you are looking for. Safe beaches? Low criminal rates? Good health system? Someone might think safety is low criminal rates while others might think it’s political stability. So let’s talk a bit about this awesome country.
Crime rates in Portugal
In 2016, Portugal had a murder rate of 0.6 per 100000 population. They had 63 murders in the entire year. That is low even when compared to Nordic countries. But the even better news is that most of those murders were related to domestic violence.
A fun fact about crime in Portugal: most neighborhoods where drug traffickers and drug users used to gather, have been demolished! The most interesting case was in the city of Porto where the Aleixo towers, notorious for drug trafficking, were demolished in 2019 and a luxurious building with an awesome view to the Douro river is being built in it’s place.
Safest regions in the country
The two biggest cities (Lisbon and Porto) are worth to visit. But, as expected, there have been reports about pick-pocketing in these cities. Apart from these cities, the chances of you being mugged or pick pocketed are extremely remote.
Is Portugal safe for vacations?
Absolutely yes! I’ve visited the country many many times without a single incident. The Portuguese are people of “brandos costumes”, people of peace. They are friendly and welcoming.
The Global Peace Index ranked Portugal as the 3rd safest country in the world!
Wildlife in Portugal
If you are afraid of snakes, spiders and the likes, fear not! There are no known species of venomous wildlife in Portugal. There are common spiders of course and if you venture into the wild you might see a snake but nothing to worry about.
Swimming in the ocean is also safe. The likelihood of being bitten by any kind of animal in the Portuguese waters is remote. Buuuut apart from the Algarve region, the water is a bit cold… Especially in the north.
Is Portugal safe for retirees?
This is where it gets tricky. And it all comes down to whether or not you will depend on the public health service.
The Portuguese public health system is notorious for it’s huge delays and as you get older, it becomes more likely that you require health care.
If you can afford to use private health care, then yes, go for it and enjoy your golden years. If not, i’d stay away from the country.
Is Portugal safe for your money?
Retirees tend to store their wealth in the retirement country. In this particular case i wouldn’t recommend that.
Being an economically fragile country, Portugal has an history of financial trouble and therefore i would argue your money would be at risk.
If you’re coming from any other country in the European Union you can keep your portfolio in your home country and access it easily. International money transfers are common, cheap and fast within the Union. Also using credit or debit cards from European banks is quite cheap.
If you are coming from the U.S. for example, it might be slower to move money and in this case i also recommend keeping your portfolio in the home country but you should open a bank account in Portugal with enough money for the usual living expenses since you’ll incur in a lot of fees for using non European cards.
Unlike US banks, most Portuguese banks charge almost zero fees for account maintenance.
As a resident, you are required to be vaccinated against the most common diseases such as tetanus. As a traveler however, there is no control as to whether or not you have taken the jabs.
Portugal has no history of outbreaks of any kind therefore you don’t have to worry about any particular vaccine.
In regards to food and water quality, Portugal has the same standards as the rest of the European countries so no worries about that either.
Portugal is awesome!
Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world. And i would argue that it’s one of the best when it comes to price/quality ratio, whether for living as an expat or for vacation purposes.
I’d recomend starting in the Algarve region. It’s sunny and super fun.