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Moving to Portugal as a developer

To help you plan your career and move to Portugal to work in our growing tech scene, we interviewed 5 developers on their experience with changing country and working through an Outsourcing company. Here’s the juice on working in tech Outsourcing abroad as a developer in the competitive global market:

Here’s a special thanks to our #KWANfam for accepting our interviews. Let’s get to know them a little first:

  • Guilherme Marques is a .NET and AngularJS Developer living in Portugal for 8 months.
  • Marcius Armada is a Java Developer living and working in Portugal with his family for 4 years.
  • Marina Catão is a Business Intelligence Analyst, studying and working in Portugal for 2 years.
  • Rômulo Mencalha is a .NET Developer that has been working in Portugal for over 4 years.
  • Victor Guerra is a Ruby On Rails Developer; he’s been in Portugal for 2 years.

When moving abroad to work you’ll have to start with some research about the conditions in all the different countries you’re considering. In this blogspot we’ll cover Formalities and paperwork, work-life balance in Portugal, Salaries, Currency & cost of living; contract flexibility and access to technology in Portugal with quotes from our interviews with Guilherme, Marcius, Marina, Rômulo and Victor. We’ll also highlight challenges and surprises when moving to Portugal and working in IT outsourcing with KWAN.

Formalities & paperwork

To work in Portugal as a developer you’ll need to start your citizenship process.

Here’s an overview of the main steps, to help keep you organized:

Before you move to Portugal:
1. Update CV & LinkedIn
2. Job search
3. Job offer, contract promise & responsibility form
4. Temporary accommodation & flights
5. Tech Visa

Once you arrive to Portugal:
1. Work contract & family visa
2. Foreigners and Borders Service
3. Residence Permit, Social Security number & Bank account

The details may change according to your country of origin. But essentially you’ll have to start your job search for your favourite tech stacks here in Portugal. You should update your CV and LinkedIn and you can start contacting Outsourcing companies like KWAN for screening interviews (Bonus tip: look up websites like Glassdoor for reviews) or you can search websites like ITjobs for jobs in your tech field.
Why start now? Well, you’ll need a job offer to apply for citizenship here in Portugal. Then you’ll need to get all your paperwork in order plus a contract promise and a responsibility form from your company to apply for your visa.
You’ll also start organizing a temporary accomodation and flights to Portugal as part of your paperwork to present at the Portuguese consulate in your country. Your Tech Visa will then allow you to come to Portugal and sign your work contract here. If you’re moving with your family, different terms may apply, but be sure to talk things over with your company, they will help you sort everything out.
Once you arrive in Portugal, you’ll have a meeting at our Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF - Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and then you’ll need a Residence Permit, a Social Security number and a bank account to start your day-to-day life in Portugal.

Work-life balance


Life in Portugal is quite relaxed and safe. Big city centres offer tons of entertainment, nightlife and culture with amazing parks and beaches a short car-ride away - a great idea for those amazing remote-work days. People are warm and welcoming, and the safety is visible.

I'm always comfortable and safe here. I only focus on work and enjoying myself during my free time. I enjoy myself much more in Portugal than before I moved. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

I applied for the United States and New Zealand. I even did the challenges, but I decided to try out living in Portugal first. People here are open and happy, all the neighbours like to chat. I had no trouble fitting in. Portugal is always surprising me. The health system is accessible and works well; public transports are effective and clean; and I feel a lot safer here. The freedom of going out without being harassed. It's a whole new world of citizenship and respect with a 9h difference. - Rômulo Mencalha, .NET Developer @ KWAN

Portugal is accessible for foreigners. Having a degree is one of the requisites to move to Portugal, but it's easier than other countries that demand tougher qualifications. I've met people from all over the world in Portugal. When you meet different cultures and learn about people's life stories you grow a lot as a person. - Guilherme Marques, .NET and AngularJS Developer @ KWAN

If you're thinking about moving abroad, try it out. Take the risk, you'll discover things you never imagined. If there's a glimpse of this urge in you, believe in it and take a chance. It will be worth it. - Marina Catão, Business Intelligence Analyst @ KWAN

Salaries, currency & cost of living

Living in Portugal isn’t expensive. The minimum wage here is 635€, each city includes different expenses, with Porto and Lisbon as the main tech cities. In Lisbon, the average price for a whole furnished apartment is 1.300 €/month. The housing market has been getting quite expensive for locals, but food, groceries, health and education are cheaper in Portugal than in most european countries. In Lisbon, there’s the Navegante transport card (passe Navegante) that allows you to use all public transport in the city for 40€ a month. If you consider working on a Nearshore or Offshore project, it might turn out to your advantage: consider currency exchange rates and cost-of-living in Portugal and at the project’s location. You can earn an extra margin with these details. To figure out if you're being paid a fair salary you can check our tech salary calculator.

If you're looking to move abroad, consider Portugal. No doubts. Do your research and see if it's for you. Lisbon is a big city with a peaceful energy. I wanted to move abroad and I discovered that the development and technology market are rising in Portugal. I looked for the tech stacks I like the most and found the job opening I wanted with KWAN. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

If you work in tech, rest assured you'll have plenty of opportunities. It's a life quality improvement. People here are used to foreigners. Come over, you'll be happy here. Before we were always concerned with safety. So we thought of moving abroad. Our son was at a good age to have an international experience in college. So we gave it a shot. - Marcius Armada, Java Developer @ KWAN

Project flexibility

Working with an Outsourcing company can save you a lot of pains in these early stages. Since you’re probably not completely familiar with the portuguese tech scene having flexibility with projects and clients can be a life saver! Outsourcing companies will provide your services to their clients which means that if you’re unhappy with your project for any reason you can change easily without the need to terminate your contract. The Outsourcing company can arrange for you to get a new project or a new client. This flexibility can be a very powerful leveraging tool for your career. Precious, especially in your first abroad experience.

KWAN gives you all the support for your professional development with events, training, workshops and meetups. It makes you feel comfortable at the company because they care for you also with the client and project flexibility, and the relaxed environment where you can talk openly with anyone, even if it’s your boss. - Guilherme Marques, .NET and AngularJS Developer @ KWAN

If we're honest and open, the feedback sessions with the KWAN Ambassadors can lead us to a better place, fulfill our needs and accompany us. It's like talking to a friend about your work, future and expectations. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

From the moment I signed my contract, KWAN improved my career. When a company supports you, gives you emotional stability and everything you need, that makes you grow. You'll want to give back what you get. - Rômulo Mencalha, .NET Developer @ KWAN

Access to technology

The Portuguese tech scene is growing. Web Summit has been held in Lisbon since 2018 and there’s a booming tech environment in Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra and also in the Algarve. Our Universities are considered some of the best in the world with programmes linking them to MIT, so moving to Portugal is also a great opportunity for you to study and improve your tech skills. There’s also an impressive amount of free tech meetups you can join. Working on a Nearshore or Offshore project in Portugal also means you’re not limited to portuguese projects, this means you can work remotely with your favourite technologies while living the sweet life in Portugal.

I sent so many CVs. I needed a special authorization and a contract to work and study at the same time. KWAN was the only one who gave me a chance to work and study at the same time. All I needed was a chance to show who I am. KWAN trusted me, I'm very grateful for it. If it weren't for KWAN. I wouldn't be where I am today. - Marina Catão, Business Intelligence Analyst @ KWAN

I wanted to move abroad and I discovered that the development and technology market is rising in Portugal. I looked for the tech stacks I like the most and found the job opening I wanted with KWAN. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

I've been working with Ruby on Rails, and in two years I've improved a lot. I've also been exploring Python and Elixir and the Meetups at KWAN help to discover new skills and technologies even when they're not directly linked to what I'm working on. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

Challenges and Surprises of moving to Portugal

We’re not sugar coating it, moving abroad might mean you’re away from your friends and family and that can be challenging. But Portugal is also known for its welcoming people, good food and climate and safe environment.

I've brought 2 friends over. They're both developers. The biggest difference is going out and not worrying about coming home early because I feel safe in the streets. I recommend all my friends to move to Portugal, they love it here. Public schools are great. If you have kids it's a wonderful place to bring them up. I've made so many friends here I hardly spend any weekends at home. - Rômulo Mencalha, .NET Developer @ KWAN

I came for the peace of mind. The peacefulness of living in Lisbon is the biggest difference. I evolved professionally as well as the organization of the companies I worked at. Lisbon is a big metropolis where we managed to feel at home. It was a surprise. - Marcius Armada, Java Developer @ KWAN

When I first moved to Portugal I used to worry I'd be all alone if anything bad happened or if I became ill. But everything went fine; I think I worried much more than I needed to. - Guilherme Marques, .NET and AngularJS Developer @ KWAN

Being away from my family was the hardest. But I earned something much greater. I started living for myself, doing what I wanted without worrying about anyone else. I left my comfort zone. I grew so much. - Marina Catão, Business Intelligence Analyst @ KWAN

Working with KWAN

In Guilherme, Marcius, Marina, Rômulo and Victor's own words.

My first contact with KWAN was in October 2017. In March 2018, I was contacted again because a job opening for my profile turned up. I went for the interview and the process was simple and fast.” - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

You always get feedback at KWAN. Where you're doing good and what you can improve. You know what your boss says about you. It's very interesting. I'm always in touch with my Ambassadors. If my environment is good, my chair, my computer, the AC. It's really wonderful to want your employee to feel this good. - Rômulo Mencalha, .NET Developer @ KWAN

I did one interview, and it was my only interview. I discovered KWAN through social media. I was looking for work on IT Jobs and I saw an interesting offer with a test and I decided: "Ok, I'll do the challenge." I was called for an interview and I got the job. You can move to Portugal. You'll make friends. It'll go smoothly. They take the pressure off all the normal procedures before starting a new job. - Marcius Armada, Java Developer @ KWAN

I like the way we're treated here. It's like a family, you know? We're all on the same level, everyone is welcoming and always available to help. It's amazing. The biggest difference is knowing you're cared for. I can feel that the Ambassadors really care for us; and I'm not sure it's the same at other companies. - Marina Catão, Business Intelligence Analyst @ KWAN

KWAN is a young company, relaxed. This doesn't mean work is unprofessional, rather that people are close and friendly. the energy is good. Working with KWAN's clients will add a lot of value to your work experience. I would without a doubt recommend KWAN both to my colleagues at other companies as well as the ones that would like to move to Portugal. It's a company that has positively surprised me. - Guilherme Marques, .NET and AngularJS Developer @ KWAN

If we're honest and open, the feedback sessions with the KWAN Ambassadors can lead us to a better place. It's like talking to a friends about work, future and your expectations. - Victor Guerra, Ruby On Rails Developer @ KWAN

Find out what your developer career can look like when you move to Portugal and get in touch with us for our free Career Coaching service. If you’re thinking of moving to Portugal to work in IT Nearshoring, we’ve gathered some feedback from our developer fam here at KWAN, check it out.

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