Written by Ben Taylor,
Last Modified: 15th December 2021

If you plan to move to Portugal and hope to find work in the country, these handy tips should help you.

Just five years ago, looking for work in Portugal might have been a dispiriting process. Back then, the country was in the grip of a financial crisis, with even locals moving out of the country to find work.

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While there hasn’t been a full recovery, there are now plenty of positive signs. 2016 was a record-breaking year for tourism, the economy is growing again, and Lisbon is attracting tech firms and start-ups. There’s no doubt that things are looking up for people seeking work in Portugal.

Lisbon is attracting tech firms and start-ups. Things are looking up for people seeking work in Portugal

But if you’re going to succeed in the country, you need to be realistic, focused, and get the timing right. These five tips will give you a good start:.

1. Don’t underestimate seasonality

In a country where tourism contributes so much to the economy, timing is everything when it comes to finding work. During the summer of 2016 there were numerous seasonal vacancies. You can start applying from well before Easter and even find work when the busy period is in full swing. Portugal – the Algarve, in particular – can feel like two completely different countries in terms of work availability, depending on the time of year.


There’s an abundance of employment opportunities in the Algarve during the peak summer season

2. Learn Portuguese!

If you arrived in the UK unable to speak English, your employment prospects would be poor and the same goes for someone arriving in Portugal who cannot speak Portuguese. If you want to work somewhere that involves interacting with anyone other than expats and British tourists, you NEED to speak Portuguese. Is learning Portuguese so hard? Frankly, no. Most jobs don’t require full fluency, just basic communication.

Is learning Portuguese so hard? Frankly, no. Most jobs don’t require full fluency

3. Be realistic about earnings

Average salaries in Portugal are low by most European standards. Thankfully the cost of living is relatively low too. However, it’s important to research what your skills will realistically earn you in Portugal, and not assume that you’ll earn the same as you did in Britain, because you won’t.

4. Consider specific industries

There are industries where English fluency is of primary importance, most obviously the airline industry. Thanks to Portugal’s booming tourist trade, more and more airlines are setting up routes in and out of the country. Various airlines frequently hold recruitment events in the country, resulting in pilots and cabin crew being able to choose Portugal as their home base.


Similarly, industries such as technology, property and sports are examples of sectors where opportunities do exist for expats – it’s often just a case of looking hard enough and being willing to both ask, and sell yourself when given the chance. You are looking at starting an amazing new life in Portugal so be bold and blow your own trumpet even if that’s not a traditional British way. Channel your inner Mourinho – you are the special one!

5. Don’t forget freelance options

Many expats in Portugal bypass the local job market and set up on their own, with plenty enjoying success with apartment rental businesses, retail and hospitality.

If all else fails, commuting back to the UK each week is now feasible while you improve your language skills and look for opportunities in Portugal

The internet also makes it possible to access freelance opportunities all over the globe – with clients who have no interest whatsoever in whether you can speak Portuguese. More and more people “telework” from Portugal and other enticing destinations – with a bit of planning, you could join their ranks.

If all else fails, commuting back to the UK each week is now feasible while you improve your language skills and look for opportunities in Portugal. The growth of accommodation “sharing” sites like Airbnb has brought accommodation costs down and year-round budget flights operate from both the Algarve and Lisbon.

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The Portugal Buying Guide is designed to support you through each stage of buying property in Portugal, providing relevant, up-to-date information and tips from Portugal property experts and expats who have been through the process themselves. It helps you to:

  Impact of Brexit
  Find your property
  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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