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Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Old Dec 24th 2019, 9:52 am
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Default Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Hoping for some info on the differences between moving to these countries. I've visited both quite a few times (Spain more), and love both. So our decision will be partly based on the kind of property we find, and some practical considerations.

We're so far thinking about the Granada area of Spain, and the Lisbon area of Portugal. In both cases we want somewhere quiet, peaceful, and with countryside - but within easy access of the city and to beaches. It does seem like properties in that area of Spain are cheaper than in the Portugal area, though we're wondering if that expense might be balanced by healthcare, taxes, etc.

We also like that an EU passport only takes 6 years in Portugal v 10 in Spain, and have read that Portugal is much more dog-friendly.

Any advice, opinions, and experience appreciated!

PS: is it okay to cross-post this in the Portugal page, too?
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Old Dec 25th 2019, 9:22 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
Hoping for some info on the differences between moving to these countries. I've visited both quite a few times (Spain more), and love both. So our decision will be partly based on the kind of property we find, and some practical considerations.

We're so far thinking about the Granada area of Spain, and the Lisbon area of Portugal. In both cases we want somewhere quiet, peaceful, and with countryside - but within easy access of the city and to beaches. It does seem like properties in that area of Spain are cheaper than in the Portugal area, though we're wondering if that expense might be balanced by healthcare, taxes, etc.

We also like that an EU passport only takes 6 years in Portugal v 10 in Spain, and have read that Portugal is much more dog-friendly.

Any advice, opinions, and experience appreciated!

PS: is it okay to cross-post this in the Portugal page, too?
First comment - visiting is not sufficient for deciding your long term residence , whichever country you opt for take a rental place for a minimum of six months in your chosen area. It will give you a proper perspective and also enable you to take a more balanced decision.
Property prices are a straight function of the area you choose - Granada and Andalucia will be generally cheaper than the Lisbon region . Moving further inland or further south from Lisbon and you may well see more competitive prices.
The two countries are quite different in many aspects which will impact directly on your lifestyle. Personal opinion only but the Portuguese tend to be more welcoming of foreigners and easier to strike up a relationship with, generally english is more widely spoken which makes for initial bureaucratic process easier to manage. Spain is undoubtedly more lively and more noisy. . Diet is quite different, it depends which you prefer but we definitely prefer Spanish although the Portuguese will claim their's is healthier !
Think communications and Granada has limited flights, Malaga is great Lisbon is well-communicated.
Taxes are similar , you do not mention if you are of pensionable age as Portugal has a special scheme, NHR, which gives considerable benefits.
Healthcare, do not know about Granada but Malaga and Costa del Sol has a high standard - the Costa del Sol hospital is excellent. Portugal as a resident you are entitled to almost free healthcare and while it can be patchy it is generally very good. When you first move to Spain you will need to pay for at least one year of private health insurance before you can enter the public health system.
As for dogs - both countries friendly but we would claim Spanish Vets of a higher standard.

Back to my opening remark - amazing how two countries are so different in many ways bearing in mind their close proximity and many historical links. Go and look more closely.
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Old Dec 26th 2019, 12:23 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Loafing Along
When you first move to Spain you will need to pay for at least one year of private health insurance before you can enter the public health system.
.
Unless you are a UK state pensioner, in which case you are covered from day 1.
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Old Dec 26th 2019, 12:31 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Fred James
Unless you are a UK state pensioner, in which case you are covered from day 1.

... or be holding an S1 (for whatever reason)
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Old Dec 26th 2019, 10:26 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Loafing Along
First comment - visiting is not sufficient for deciding your long term residence , whichever country you opt for take a rental place for a minimum of six months in your chosen area. It will give you a proper perspective and also enable you to take a more balanced decision.
Property prices are a straight function of the area you choose - Granada and Andalucia will be generally cheaper than the Lisbon region . Moving further inland or further south from Lisbon and you may well see more competitive prices.
The two countries are quite different in many aspects which will impact directly on your lifestyle. Personal opinion only but the Portuguese tend to be more welcoming of foreigners and easier to strike up a relationship with, generally english is more widely spoken which makes for initial bureaucratic process easier to manage. Spain is undoubtedly more lively and more noisy. . Diet is quite different, it depends which you prefer but we definitely prefer Spanish although the Portuguese will claim their's is healthier !
Think communications and Granada has limited flights, Malaga is great Lisbon is well-communicated.
Taxes are similar , you do not mention if you are of pensionable age as Portugal has a special scheme, NHR, which gives considerable benefits.
Healthcare, do not know about Granada but Malaga and Costa del Sol has a high standard - the Costa del Sol hospital is excellent. Portugal as a resident you are entitled to almost free healthcare and while it can be patchy it is generally very good. When you first move to Spain you will need to pay for at least one year of private health insurance before you can enter the public health system.
As for dogs - both countries friendly but we would claim Spanish Vets of a higher standard.

Back to my opening remark - amazing how two countries are so different in many ways bearing in mind their close proximity and many historical links. Go and look more closely.
Thanks very much for that - really useful. We've been to both countries quite a few times and have traveled in them fairly extensively (especially Spain) - but you're right, being there in 'tourist' mode is very different from living there, or even thinking about a place those terms. On paper, there are a lot things that seem to be edging us towards Portugal at this point, but much will depend on how we feel once we're there. We do like the quieter attitude. I remember seeing graffiti in Lisbon once that read, "Spaniards! Respect the Portuguese silence!" :-)

Is there a particular area near Lisbon you'd suggest? A village or even country area would be fine, especially if it's on a train line. Perhaps even on the outskirts of the city, similar to the way Sacromonte borders country and city in Granada. We love Sintra, but it seems very expensive, at least in the historic centre.

The tip about the NHR is very interesting indeed. We're not pensionable age, and in fact both our work lives have been non-traditional to put it kindly! We mainly live off savings and investment income from the US and UK, and it seems that it would be tax exempt under the NHR scheme. Even though it's not a lot, +/- 25-30% tax on it is certainly something to consider. That along with the healthcare savings might go a way to balancing out the more expensive property prices. (I don't think we're eligible for S1).

We've read that dogs are not allowed on most beaches in Spain, but are in Portugal. And that it's up to individual bars/restaurants in Portugal whether to allow them, whereas it's illegal in Spain.
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Old Dec 26th 2019, 7:27 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
Thanks very much for that - really useful. We've been to both countries quite a few times and have traveled in them fairly extensively (especially Spain) - but you're right, being there in 'tourist' mode is very different from living there, or even thinking about a place those terms. On paper, there are a lot things that seem to be edging us towards Portugal at this point, but much will depend on how we feel once we're there. We do like the quieter attitude. I remember seeing graffiti in Lisbon once that read, "Spaniards! Respect the Portuguese silence!" :-)

Is there a particular area near Lisbon you'd suggest? A village or even country area would be fine, especially if it's on a train line. Perhaps even on the outskirts of the city, similar to the way Sacromonte borders country and city in Granada. We love Sintra, but it seems very expensive, at least in the historic centre.

The tip about the NHR is very interesting indeed. We're not pensionable age, and in fact both our work lives have been non-traditional to put it kindly! We mainly live off savings and investment income from the US and UK, and it seems that it would be tax exempt under the NHR scheme. Even though it's not a lot, +/- 25-30% tax on it is certainly something to consider. That along with the healthcare savings might go a way to balancing out the more expensive property prices. (I don't think we're eligible for S1).

We've read that dogs are not allowed on most beaches in Spain, but are in Portugal. And that it's up to individual bars/restaurants in Portugal whether to allow them, whereas it's illegal in Spain.
I can't comment on these specific areas but we have a property elsewhere in Spain. I would say that your choices seem very different, so what are you really looking for? Lisbon is on the Atlantic coast and a capital vs a smaller city further inland but closer to the Med. If your decision is based on where you can walk dogs on the beach, Sacromonte won't have beaches that close by anyway and even in Portugal most bathing beaches don't allow dogs during the season.
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Old Dec 26th 2019, 10:55 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

2019 government debt to GDP:
Spain 100%
Portugal 120%
Greece 180%
Estonia 9%

Portugal has very high debt, with Spain only a bit better; where these countries are heading in the medium to long term remains to be seen. Many young people are still leaving for other EU countries. Both countries need to reduce their debt otherwise they'll end up like Greece.

Ex-USSR Estonia was a broken country in the 1990s, now they are doing better then most Western European countries.

Last edited by m2m2012; Dec 26th 2019 at 11:16 pm.
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Old Dec 28th 2019, 8:10 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Thanks for the replies.

@Moses2013 - Like I said, our general criteria are "somewhere quiet, peaceful, and with countryside - but within easy access of the city and to beaches." We like both those cities a lot, and consider them both to be on the smaller side (compared to London or Los Angeles, for example). I don't think central Lisbon is really that much bigger than Granada, even though it does seem to sprawl more widely. We're not sure about living in the city anyway, though Sacromonte appeals because it's sort of countryside/city at the same time. Living in a desert area of the US for 6 years, within an hour is considered "close" to a beach for us. Of course taking the dog to the beach is not the main factor in our decision, but we do consider it to be both a quality-of-life issue and a practical one (i.e., we can't leave him alone every time we want a stay at the beach, nor would we want to).

@m2m2012 - Hopefully things will look up for Spain and Portugal, though our move is based more on cultural and social factors than economic ones. Ex-USSR countries are out for my wife, who grew up in that region and has no desire to return. Not to mention the winter weather, which is a deal-breaker.
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Old Dec 28th 2019, 9:00 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
Thanks for the replies.

@Moses2013 - Like I said, our general criteria are "somewhere quiet, peaceful, and with countryside - but within easy access of the city and to beaches." We like both those cities a lot, and consider them both to be on the smaller side (compared to London or Los Angeles, for example). I don't think central Lisbon is really that much bigger than Granada, even though it does seem to sprawl more widely. We're not sure about living in the city anyway, though Sacromonte appeals because it's sort of countryside/city at the same time. Living in a desert area of the US for 6 years, within an hour is considered "close" to a beach for us. Of course taking the dog to the beach is not the main factor in our decision, but we do consider it to be both a quality-of-life issue and a practical one (i.e., we can't leave him alone every time we want a stay at the beach, nor would we want to).

@m2m2012 - Hopefully things will look up for Spain and Portugal, though our move is based more on cultural and social factors than economic ones. Ex-USSR countries are out for my wife, who grew up in that region and has no desire to return. Not to mention the winter weather, which is a deal-breaker.
At the end of the day you have to be happy. We only have a holiday home in Spain and are about 80km away from Barcelona. It's far enough to not notice your close to a city but still close enough for a day trip. It's in a quiet area 10 mins from the coast so at least you can escape the busy resorts during summer. Our reasons will be different and because we also have the Atlantic (colder waters) at home, we went for Spain instead. Cheaper property closer to the coast was also a reason and area in general offered us what we wanted.

Last edited by Moses2013; Dec 28th 2019 at 9:05 am.
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Old Dec 30th 2019, 6:12 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Moses2013
At the end of the day you have to be happy. We only have a holiday home in Spain and are about 80km away from Barcelona. It's far enough to not notice your close to a city but still close enough for a day trip. It's in a quiet area 10 mins from the coast so at least you can escape the busy resorts during summer. Our reasons will be different and because we also have the Atlantic (colder waters) at home, we went for Spain instead. Cheaper property closer to the coast was also a reason and area in general offered us what we wanted.
We were contemplating the Girona area, and also Tarragona, but after political events in the US and UK we're not too eager to move to yet another area marked by extreme divisiveness and separatist movements. Maybe that's an unfounded concern, though.

In what town is your Spanish home? It sounds like a wonderful area (feel free to send me a private message if you don't want to let the cat out of the bag!)
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Old Dec 30th 2019, 7:48 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
We were contemplating the Girona area, and also Tarragona, but after political events in the US and UK we're not too eager to move to yet another area marked by extreme divisiveness and separatist movements. Maybe that's an unfounded concern, though.

In what town is your Spanish home? It sounds like a wonderful area (feel free to send me a private message if you don't want to let the cat out of the bag!)
I wouldn't worry about that too much and separatist movements have always been around. It's not noticeable near the coast and you'll probably experience more troubles during any kind of demo in any larger city. The people have an opinion and that's fine but so far I've never had a problem. We have the place in the residential areas between Vidreres and Lloret de Mar. Although Lloret is known as a party town during summer you have peaceful urbanisation areas outside the city and in general everything is well kept with all you need close by. Rough location on Google maps 64 Av. Rafael Albertí
https://maps.app.goo.gl/qD746z9FGoD4u1gS6 The big benefit is easy access to the more exclusive parts like Tossa etc. And beaches like this.

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Old Dec 30th 2019, 9:01 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

There's also the different languages to factor in.
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Old Jan 4th 2020, 12:08 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Opinion
There's also the different languages to factor in.
True. I have more general familiarity with Spanish, but not enough to make a big difference. I've also read that English is more widely spoken in Portugal, which would be helpful at first.
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Old Jan 5th 2020, 11:01 pm
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
True. I have more general familiarity with Spanish, but not enough to make a big difference. I've also read that English is more widely spoken in Portugal, which would be helpful at first.
I don't know if that's the case and will depend on the location. If you go to villages far away from tourism many won't speak English, be it Portugal or Spain. A lot will depend on budget anyway. I wouldn't mind living up the hills with a view but can't afford it.

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Old Jan 6th 2020, 12:51 am
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Default Re: Advice for Deciding Between Spain or Portugal?

Originally Posted by Cortiz
True. I have more general familiarity with Spanish, but not enough to make a big difference. I've also read that English is more widely spoken in Portugal, which would be helpful at first.
Definitely the case , even relatively small towns local shopkeepers and so on good english in Portugal compared to Spain. main difference Spanish TV dubbs everything, Portuguese TV does not uses subtitles.
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