A Family Moved to Portugal for $5,000/month, but had Surprising Costs

  • Frances Bo Cordova has lived in California all her life, but found it too expensive recently.
  • In October, she and her husband moved to Portugal together with their son to reduce their living expenses.
  • Cordova claimed that the move cut her monthly expenses in half, but it was unexpectedly expensive to settle.

Some people are moving overseas because of the rising cost of living in America.

Frances Bo Cordova, 32 years old, is her husband. She and her four-yearold son, left the Bay Area in October for Porto, Portugal. Their monthly expenses in California, which were approximately $10,000 per month, have already been greatly reduced by the move.

“We’ve been here only two months, but our costs are in the $5,000-$6,000 range,” she stated. “So it’s been approximately half.”

Cordova was paying a mortgage in the US of approximately $2,500 per monthly. Cordova and her family rent a two bedroom home in Porto for 1,000 euros per month, or approximately $1,062. Cordova was no longer employed as a team leader or operations manager at a small startup in tech before the move. However, her husband continues to work as an engineer at a company that has employees in Europe.

She stated that it was nice to cut down on monthly expenses. But, Cordova added, settling into a new life in Portugal — including the process to apply for and obtain a D7 visa, a document that lets non-European Union residents apply for legal residency — has been both expensive and arduous. 

She stated that “The D7 Process is definitely not for faint of heart.” Before you can embark on this journey, you must be financially stable.

Cordova outlined the main pros and cons of her family’s relocation. She feels that anyone contemplating a similar move should be aware of these important facts. 

Why she chose Portugal to relocate to

Americans have been especially active this year. eager to experience life in Europe. They have looked to buy properties not only in Portugal, but in France, Italy, and Greece — thanks to the rise of remote work and a relatively strong dollar.

Cordova’s research led her to Portugal, however.

“We did not, at that time, know anything about Portugal, but we were curious about it — considering how much we were reading about it,” she said. “We liked the sound and safety of the country, its cost of living, and the fact that so many people speak English. Both education and healthcare have proven to be high-quality and easily available.

Porto, portugal

Porto, Portugal is where Cordova and her family emigrated.


Cordova also considered Spain as a neighboring country, but Portugal’s cost savings were too tempting to ignore.

She stated that Spain’s taxation was the main reason that made them turn away from Spain.

But Portugal has bureaucracy — and it’s not cheap

While Cordova has been able to save thousands of dollars since moving to Portugal in the past, the process of moving there was expensive and time-consuming.

She said that the move to Portugal was likely to have cost $6,000 to $10,000.

To apply for a D7 Visa, you will need a valid passport, proof that you have income, bank statements, proof that you have adequate accommodation by presenting a 12-month lease agreement, among other things. According to Global Citizen Solutions, a London-based migration consultancy firm, the D7 application can cost around $102 and can take up to 60 working days.

Cordova stated that “there’s just a lot paperwork.” “You will need to order copies your marriage certificate, your birth certificate, etc. Each copy costs $20-30 from your US county.

She explained that if each application contains 20 pieces of paper, you would have four people in your household. It adds up very quickly.

Cordova also spoke out about background checks that required visits to a Portuguese application centre in the States. These can be costly depending upon where your nearest application centre is. Luckily, it was just a short drive from San Francisco. 

It was the most costly part of the process to establish proof of accommodation.

The D7 visa requires applicants that they can show proof of a place to live in Portugal upon arrival. Cordova stated that this was probably the most costly part. 

Cordova stated that she found a place for her family to live in Porto (the country’s second largest city) and signed a lease in June. The visa process can take months so Cordova had to pay the $1,000/month rent for several months before she could even step foot in the country. She would have proof ready to show the authorities when she was asked.

Cordova stated, “Very few people have been capable of getting around that.” “That’s several thousands of dollars that you need be prepared to lose, basically.”

Porto Portugal

Another view of Porto.

artem evdokimov/Shutterstock

She also warned that, in addition to paying rent for an empty house, it costs more to move abroad.

Cordova said that moving is expensive from a logistical standpoint. “You will need to purchase additional suitcases. You will need to purchase all the luggage tags, the luggage wrap, and specialty straps. You will need someone to transport you and your bags from the airport to and from the airport. These expenses are often overlooked by people until they are absolutely necessary and at their doorstep.

Cordova believes that even though the move was not inexpensive, the experience will be worth it.

She said, “The longer we stay here, the more it’ll be worth it.”

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