PortugalBuyingGuide.com’s Ben Taylor, a resident on the Algarve, outlines need to know facts for Brits retiring to Portugal

There’s no debating the fact that Portugal is a great country to retire to. After all, thousands of expats have already chosen to do so.

The climate is good and medical care is comparable to that on offer in the UK. While the cost of living is no longer as low as it once was, prices are competitive, especially when it comes to property. If you are planning to retire to Portugal, there are several practicalities you should consider first.

If you are of state retirement age, you can apply for an “S1” form, which should allow you to register for state healthcare in Portugal. Make sure you apply for this before you leave the UK. Full details can be found here.

If you are taking early retirement, things can be a little more complicated. In some circumstances, the UK may issue an S1 for a limited period. If not, you may well find that you cannot register for state healthcare in Portugal unless you are paying Portuguese social security contributions. Many expats choose to register for private healthcare to cover them instead.

Taxation is another issue to consider. You should contact a Portuguese accountant to discuss any pensions or other income. Many expats find that they are better off when they pay their tax in Portugal. However, everyone’s situation is different and expert advice is absolutely essential. Upon arrival in the country, you will find that Portugal is a friendly and comfortable place for a retiree. The Portuguese culture is strong on family values and older people are revered and well treated in bars and restaurants.

Within areas popular with expats, you should find it easy to meet fellow retirees and discover social events to attend. There are plenty of healthy pastimes available in Portugal including world-class golf and superb fishing and boating facilities. Elderly people will find plenty of concessions across Portugal for tourist attractions and travel. Most of these concessions are for over-65s – you will find that it is often have to show identification to prove that you qualify.

There are few disadvantages to retiring to Portugal and it is worth considering whether these are deal-breakers before you make the move. Firstly, if you cannot speak Portuguese, you may feel isolated if you don’t live in an area with plenty of expats. Secondly, it is important not to be fooled into assuming Portugal is a permanently warm country. Winters can be cold, especially away from the Algarve, and a lack of central heating causes many expats to comment that they feel colder in winter than they ever did in the UK!

Healthcare can be fantastic in Portugal, but is subject to the same inconsistencies from area to area that plague the NHS and other state healthcare schemes. If you suffer from any chronic conditions, it would be wise to seek feedback on hospitals in your chosen area. Expats forums can be a valuable source of this information.

Don’t let misgivings hold you back from giving life in Portugal a go. The majority of expat pensioners are extremely happy in the country and enjoy an enviable quality of life. It is also worth remembering that if it doesn’t work out, the UK is less than three hours away!

For details of property for sale in Portugal, visit the Portuguese listings on Rightmove Overseas. One way to save money when buying property in Portugal, or retiring there, is to use a currency specialist when transferring your pounds into euros to complete the purchase of your property. For more information on this, contact Smart Currency Exchange.

To understand the full step-by-step process to buying a property in Portugal, collect The Overseas Guides Company’s ‘Portugal Property Buying Guide