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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Lisbon: A Place to Build a Home, but Not a Career

Expats in Lisbon find it easy to settle in, and the city also makes it into the top 10 for Quality of Life. But career prospects are low.

Lisbon comes 12th out of 49 in the Expat City Ranking 2023. Portugal’s capital is one of the places where expats find it easiest to create a personal network (5th) and to feel at home (6th). But the city ranks among the bottom 5 for its local job market (46th), and moving there doesn’t improve expats’ career prospects (46th). Still, overall, an impressive 82% of expats are happy with their life in Lisbon (vs. 72% globally).

It's no wonder that Europe’s only capital along the Atlantic Coast has a high Quality of Life (10th). Almost nine in ten expats (89%) love the city’s climate and weather (vs. 62% globally), and even more (95%) enjoy the surrounding natural environment (vs. 84% globally). The air quality (12th) is also a highlight. “I enjoy the climate, the air quality, the nature, the landscapes, and the travel options,” says a Brazilian respondent. In addition, Lisbon makes it into the top 10 for freedom of speech and self-expression (5th).

Expats in Lisbon also benefit from a welcoming culture which they can integrate into effortlessly, resulting in an 11th place in the Ease of Settling In Index. Expats not only stress that they’re happy with their social life (77% vs. 56% globally), but that they feel at home in the Portuguese capital (77% vs. 62% globally). “It’s the home I always dreamed of having,” says a Lebanese expat.

This shiny city image gets only slightly tarnished by a bottom 10 ranking in the Working Abroad Index (42nd). Lisbon places among the bottom 5 for its local job market (46th), and only 45% say that moving there has improved their career prospects (vs. 59% globally). It doesn’t help that the city also gets bottom 10 rankings for the state of its economy (42nd) and working hours (40th). A Mozambican respondent explains: “My rent just doesn’t match my salary, and working hours are very long.

Something that bugs expats is Lisbon’s bureaucracy: 60% find it hard to deal with local authorities (vs. 38% globally). A British expats shares: “I’ve been waiting almost a year for my driver’s license, and good luck, trying to get into the immigration offices.” And while 71% of expats agree it’s easy to live in the capital without speaking the local language (vs. 50% globally), they don’t find Portuguese that easy to learn — the city ranks 31st for this factor. Overall, Lisbon places 33rd in the Expat Essentials Index.

On the bright side, survey respondents are quite happy with their Personal Finances (12th). Lisbon ranks 13th for general cost of living, and 47% say that their disposable household income is more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 44% globally).

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