A GUIDE TO: EMPLOYMENT (WORKING IN PORTUGAL)
??? The big question ???
After the question of “What amount can I live on per month in Portugal?” the next question most people ask me is “How difficult is it to get a job in Portugal?” so I have decided to write a basic post on Employment in Portugal.
Salaries and the national minimum wage
The first important thing to know is that the salary you will earn here in Portugal will most likely be way lower than your your salary from your home country (especially if you live in the U.K). I know a few Portuguese people who have relocated from Portugal to the U.K solely for a higher paid salary (my ex husband being one of them (he is qualified to degree level in Structural Engineering and relocated from Lisbon to Bristol, U.K). Believe me no one would leave this beautiful country behind unless they had a valid reason. The national minimum wage in Portugal is based on a salary per month calculation, as opposed to the salary per hour regulations in countries such as the U.K and is currently just €740.83 per month which equals €8,890 per annum! The average annual salary in Portugal varies by profession, qualifications and years of experience. The cost of living is cheaper than the U.K and other countries so you have to explore your full expenditure. I have a post detailing all our monthly outgoings – monthly budget, if your interested. Just for example a builder or handyman can charge just 75 euros per day plus materials. A Plumber and Electrician can charge as little as €10-15 per hour. This can be a shock to some who are used to much higher salaries.
What we do for jobs (money)?
We have purchased our house out right so we have no rent or mortgage which enabled me to give up my job in the U.K and become a lady of leisure. Although there is not a lot of leisure going on as I’m busy with all the renovation projects and writing this blog! My job role in the U.K was a Transition Coordinator (SEND) working in education supporting students with special educational needs and my salary was only £27,000 per annum. We now live solely off of hubby’s salary (which is very good). Hubby is skilled and qualified as a Software Engineer (IT). This field is very well paid and a lot of jobs are offered remotely so you can work from home. My hubby works from our home here Mon-Fri FT for the same company he worked for in the U.K where he was office based in Bristol. Since moving here he started working remotely then everyone had to follow and work remotely due to Covid-19. He also had to take a 10% pay drop and others were furloughed. The company are now making substantial redundancies but he is safe for now.
There are plenty of IT jobs offered remotely and working for Portuguese companies too. The IT based jobs here are far less salaries than hubby’s current remote job. The average salary for him here in his line of work is around €40,000 per annum, which is significantly lower than his current salary. Don’t forget that when you are on a higher salary in the U.K you will pay a higher tax bracket. Here in Portugal you may be able to apply for NHR which sets the tax at a basic rate of 20% for 10 years so please explore this as you only have a limited time to do this. It’s worth considering all these factors as a similar skilled job here may result in a substantial pay drop compared to your salary in the U.K but once you have considered the lower tax you will pay and the cost of living which is cheaper, you might be pleasantly surprised. It also depends on your lifestyle and how frugal you wish to live. It’s worth looking at the whole picture not just salaries alone. I am hoping to look for a PT job once I have mastered the language. I’m quite happy to try my hand at anything e.g. work in a cafe meeting the locals etc. or maybe an estate agent – house viewings if I can master the driving! I am also considering becoming a builders mate as my wall building skills are coming along like a dream – that’s a joke, my garden wall is structurally unstable, a bit like me (ha ha).
Do you need to speak Portuguese?
Ideally yes, your chances of finding a job in Portugal will be higher if you can speak Portuguese and English and other European languages are an advantage. If you are looking to work remotely for a U.K or English speaking country based company then obviously Portuguese is not necessary but you will still want to learn Portuguese to integrate fully into your community. My best tip for you would be start learning NOW, don’t wait until you get here. It’s a tricky language to learn, well that’s my opinion. If I want citizenship in 5 years I need to learn Portuguese to A1 & A2 standard and there is a writing, speaking and listening test, god help me! (ha ha). Apparently the pass rate is a modest 55% so there’s hope for me yet!
Job opportunities – finding work
There are job opportunities here in Portugal but generally it is not that easy to find work. The growing number of international companies based in Portugal has made it easier for expats to work here. There are many jobs within the IT/Software (for Developers) especially in Lisbon. I suppose you need to ask yourself: What would you like to do for work in Portugal and what are you qualified to do? Some people I know were teachers, lawyers or tax accountants in the U.K so have come here and carried on with that line of work e.g. teaching English, property conveyancing, accountancy and book keeping. Others I know freelance in careers such as graphic design, architecture, marketing and copywriting. Others I have talked to have changed careers completely as they have moved from London to avoid the rat race and are no longer working long office hours but are self employed running Eco B & B’s/glamping business, yoga retreat/lessons. Some have significant land or small farms so make money from selling produce e.g. cork (trees), olives, cherries, honey etc. Others make homemade products e.g. soaps etc. and sell them online or at a local market. Tourism and hospitality is obviously very big here too along with agriculture, farming and forestry. I also know people who have started their own translating and interpreting business.
My hubby explored job options here and it appears that the main jobs for him with a base so not working remotely but from an office would be based in a city e.g. Coimbra, Porto or Lisbon. So it is important to know that the cost of living will be higher in a city compared to living in Central Portugal in a more rural area. Rent and house purchase prices will cost more in a city too. If you decide to travel to work and it is some distance by car, don’t forget to factor in fuel, as petrol is expensive here. There are also many summer jobs if you are exploring seasonal only jobs e.g. call centres, fruit picking, bartending, waiter/waitressing, property/real estate agents, airlines e.g. TAP – Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, surfing schools etc. There are a lot of companies looking for people who speak German, French or Spanish, so if you speak more than one language this opens up more opportunities.
Useful websites for finding employment
You can also view the classified ads of major newspapers.
Working remotely from home
As I have already mentioned there are many jobs that that you can work remotely from the comfort of your own home and these include working for Portuguese companies. There are a lot of remote IT programming and developer, tech and marketing jobs advertised here and my son works remotely from the U.K for an American gaming support company and they are often advertising for staff and pay extremely well. I know some people who also teach English lessons from their home or run their own business here so the options are endless if you have access to a laptop and good internet connection.
It is important to know that some qualifications will not be recognised and accepted here. If you are qualified or have a trade in the U.K or the country where you are from e.g. Medicine – Doctor/Nursing, Electrician, Personal Trainer etc. your qualifications may not be valid here which means you will need to go back to school, re qualify (you may need to speak and understand the Portuguese language to do this) and adapt your knowledge to Portuguese regulations. Other things to consider are insurances. I am a qualified Holistic Therapist and have enquired about working here in the future in this field. Apparently personal indemnity insurance is tricky to get here. So it is important to know that just because you are qualified in the country where you are from it might not be as simple as pop over to beautiful Portugal and start working.
If you are a citizen of a third country, you will need to apply for a visa. Previously EU citizens have not required a visa. I have no clue how Brexit will affect EU citizens after Dec 2020. It is likely if you arrive after the transition period of Brexit you will have to jump through more hoops so please check this out.
As I mentioned please register for NHR if you are entitled to do so. Please refer to my post: A GUIDE TO: APPLYING FOR NHR (NON-HABITUAL RESIDENTS TAX).
Alternative to working from home – shared office space
There is a great Coworking place next to Arganil market at the Centro Empresarial e Tecnológico de Arganil (CETA). You can hire a desk/office shared space. The basic cost gets you a shared office space desk with access to the internet. You pay extra for phone calls, printing and photocopying. You can hire the space daily for €2, weekly €10, monthly €30 or yearly €300. If you visit them they will kindly show you the space and give you a blank contract with terms and conditions. If you want to do this you need to complete paperwork at the Arganil Câmara. They check with the finance office that you don’t have any outstanding debts. There are larger coworking spaces in bigger cities like Lisbon.
Homestays, volunteering and working holidays in Portugal
Bollinger3 years ago
Great post. You might have mentioned it in another post but are you both going to access a local tutor to learn the lingo? That’s the one thing that gives me pause. I’m rubbish at languages. Being Scottish, my friends ask me when I’m going to learn English. Cheeky feckers.:)
Helen3 years ago
Lessons are held at a local high school but they run Sept – June. As we enquired in Feb, I was worried I had missed too much and would be behind the level of class mates so put it off until Sept 2020. Then Covid-19 hit and who knows what is going to happen with the lessons come Sept. There are so many online lessons, some groups and others 1:1. Currently I am practising daily for 10 mins online via Memrise. We do need to have face to face lessons as the language is such a barrier and can be frustrating. I think I may need to just start some 1:1 online lessons and pay. I love the fact that some Scottish TV programmes have subtitles just in case us English can’t understand the accent speaking English ha ha.
Bollinger3 years ago
There was a funny bit in Rab C Nesbit, the Scottish comedy series from the late 80’s, where they used English subtitles when Rab was visiting in England. Very funny.
Helen3 years ago
Rab C Nesbit, that takes me back ha ha.