Discover Porto

Discovering Porto
Updated 2023-11-12 08:08

The process of choosing a city to live in is not easy. We understand the responsibility inherent in such a choice, and therefore, we want to share some relevant information about Porto to help you make an informed decision. Are you a people person? Do you love sunny days? Are you keen on living downtown? Be sure to inform yourself about the city before you take this huge step, and you can start right away by managing your expectations with our help.

People in Porto have great work ethics

To a fault! Usually, in the north of the country, there is a popular saying implying that “Coimbra is the city where people study (home of the oldest university in the country), Porto is the city where people work, and Lisbon is the city where money is spent”, in a frequent critic to a country that insists on focusing too much of its investment, infrastructure and cultural offerings in the capital. Plus, Porto and its outskirts are often considered the main industrial hub in Portugal, serving as home to plenty of factories and blue-collar workers.

As a result, people in the north (including Porto) are generally seen as dedicated and hardworking, often willing to clock in extra hours without gaining anything in return. Fortunately, this last bit is slowly disappearing, as younger generations are no longer available to work for free. Be that as it may, most people in Porto are still quite career-oriented.

Porto is currently going through a housing crisis

Sadly, renting options in Porto are rather limited, and prices have been on the rise, with new leasing contracts signed in the first quarter of 2023 showing that rent prices have gone up 23% since the same period of 2022, reaching an average of 1,064€/month. This is a tremendous challenge for a city where the average wage stands at around 1,200€/month (before taxes), as most locals find themselves priced out of the housing market.

As for buying, and though property prices may seem tame for most Western Europeans, Porto still boasts some of the highest in Portugal. According to the local real-estate website Idealista, property prices have risen 6% since 2022, currently sitting at 2,500€ per square meter. Naturally, prices are way higher in the city center, where the price per square meter reached a staggering 3,865€ (going up 7% from 2022) in July 2023. To put a stop to price escalation, the government has recently suspended the Golden Visa Scheme program in Porto, which allowed foreign investors to live legally in the country and apply for citizenship after 5 years if they bought 500,000€ worth of property.

Porto boasts one of the top 300 universities in the world

According to the famous and reputed Shanghai Ranking, the Universidade do Porto is ranked among the top 300 in the world! Compared to the rest of the country, only Universidade de Lisboa got a better position.

The ranking highlighted the institution's work in Food Science (15th in the world), Veterinary Medicine (top 100), Biomedical Engineering (top 150), Chemical Engineering (top 150), Agricultural Sciences (top 150), Public Health (top 150), Pharmacy (top 150) and Ecology (top 200).

Although they didn't make the ranking, other well-rated institutions of higher education in Porto include Escola Superior de Enfermagem (Nursing), Instituto de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto/ISCAP (Accounting, International Commerce and Corporate Communication) and Universidade Católica Portuguesa (private).

Expats enjoy a favorable tax regime in Porto

Recently launched, the brand-new digital nomad visa provides tremendous tax benefits for digital nomads establishing themselves (and their businesses) in the city for a period of 10 years. If your line of work falls within with one of the designated categories, you can enjoy a flat 20% tax on your income, a percentage that Portuguese workers (or foreign workers without the digital nomad visa) reach when earning over 1961€/month. That being said, if you make more than that amount, you'll be saving on taxes by adhering to the visa. Once again, it is always best to consult with an accountant for further details.

Even if you take advantage of this visa regime, we recommend not bragging about it next to other Portuguese workers/business owners, as it is widely regarded by locals as unfair and unbalanced.

Porto has plenty of beaches and great surfing spots

With many beaches within 20-30 minutes from the city center, surfing is another sport that some Portuguese natives are very passionate about. Most beaches like Matosinhos, Leça da Palmeira and Miramar will have surfing boards for rent and even surfing schools if you are new to the sport. However, keep in mind the north of the country is rather infamous for its icy-cold water, so the experience may not be particularly pleasant unless you are properly equipped.

On the other hand, if you're willing to get in the car (or public transport) and go on a day trip, you have the world-famous “Canhão da Nazaré” just a couple of hours away. This is the place where 7 of the 10 tallest waves ever surfed were recorded (including the tallest one), and granted it's a place only pros should try. The whole area is surrounded by alternative beaches with great waves for amateurs and enthusiasts alike.

Finally, if surfing isn't your thing and just want to enjoy a different day at the beach, you can follow the course of the Douro and try a handful of river beaches in Gondomar, Amarante or Marco de Canaveses.

Porto is the home of port wine

Probably the city's most famous export, this is the land of port wine! If you're a fan, you'll be glad to hear there are countless wine cellars located by the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, where you can have a tour, try a few different varieties, and learn more about this sweet, fortified drink.

Aside from port wine, and given the city's strong connection to the Douro River, “vinho verde” is also extremely popular (and prevalent) in Porto. Produced further north in the Minho region, usually in vast vineyards where grapes are cultivated in terraces by the river, this wine is fizzy and dry and traditionally known for being a “silent killer” – meaning you won't notice you're getting light-headed until you get up from your chair!

Tourism and hospitality are the fields with the highest demand for labor in Porto

Although unemployment rates in Porto are currently low, the cost of living has soared, and most of the opportunities available don't provide much in terms of wages, work-life balance or long-term stability.

In fact, many of these vacancies are entirely related to the recent boom in tourism figures. There is a high demand for cleaning workers, cooks, servers, managers, receptionists — every single job you can consider in the hospitality industry. However, not every company looks for the most skilled professional, and, in many cases, the job gets done by the one who asks for the smallest paycheck. The tourism industry is still a very challenging area, as workers tend to be burdened with overextended schedules and below-average wages.

To make matters worse, most of these workers are often paid minimum wage, which currently stands at 760€/month. It's also not rare for employers to compensate their workers with a little sum “on the side” to avoid taxes, which is obviously an illegal practice in Portugal.

Cordoaria and Galerias de Paris are the best places in Porto for a night out

If you want to party all night and have a great time, there is an insane plethora of discos, bars and nightclubs in Porto that will be happy to accommodate visitors! The Galerias de Paris is the quintessential nightlife street in the city, flanked by dozens of small bars and clubs, and one of the hotspots where everyone gathers on Friday and Saturday nights.

Nearby, Piolho Bar is also a place of academic tradition and part of every student's vocabulary while in Porto. It started off as an ordinary bakery but quickly turned into a small must-visit for drinks and snacks. It is so popular that the name of the old bakery is now used to actually describe the entire area around it. It's located in the quarter of Cordoaria, where hundreds of students gather every single weekend to drink on the streets.

Locals in Porto are nicknamed “Tripe Eaters” (Tripeiros)

Why, you might ask? During the Age of Discoveries, when planning the Conquest of Ceuta back in 1415, King João I of Portugal asked Porto's local authorities for help. Understanding the importance of such a battle, the people decided they would donate every single piece of meat available to the war effort, keeping nothing but the offal. As a result, locals had to put their imagination to the test in order to craft tasty dishes out of the parts no one else wanted.

One of those dishes is called Tripas à Moda do Porto, whose main ingredient is – you guessed it – pork tripe! This has become a staple of local cuisine, and it's still widely served in most traditional joints, earning the “portuenses” (Porto locals) the unflattering nickname of Tripeiros (Tripe Eaters). Though most people from other cities use it in a demeaning way, locals have actually fully embraced it, calling themselves “tripeiros” with pride

Downtown and Matosinhos are Porto's liveliest districts

The Downtown District, or Baixa, is Porto's historical and spiritual core. What used to be a place filled with prostitutes, drug addicts, and all sorts of criminals living door-to-door with humbler families is nowadays a thriving area. This is the district where it all happens and your place of choice if you are looking for a busy, hectic and upbeat lifestyle. However, prices are skyrocketing as days go by, leading to a serious gentrification scenario, with most buildings currently being used for tourism than for accommodating local families.

As an alternative, and though it is by no means a cheap area, Matosinhos is a lovely seaside neighborhood with loads of activities, commodities, and a pretty high standard of living. The sea breeze will become part of your daily routine, and you will get the chance to jog through the promenade, walk your dogs, or simply admire the sea while enjoying some ice cream! Plus, Matosinhos is also served by the rather efficient local metro system, getting you into the downtown in around 30 minutes.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.