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Home Country Reports The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven

Discover The Cheapest Place to Live and Retire in Western Europe—Sophisticated and Historic…Sun-Drenched Portugal

In Portugal, summers are long and costs are low. Café-lined cobblestone streets, ancient Moorish castles and pristine golden-sand beaches beckon. In this sophisticated, low-cost paradise you can enjoy a first-world quality of life…on a budget as low as $1,250 a month


Dear Reader,

Imagine living in the most relaxed, affordable country in Western Europe…a diverse landscape where local markets thrive next to ultra-modern shopping complexes…where ancient palace fortresses cast shadows across bustling cosmopolitan art centers…and where you can sample some of the best surf in the Atlantic one day and sip cool, pure water from a trickling mountain stream the next.

Here you'll find the best of ALL worlds…

…where terms like 'world-class' and 'ultra-affordable' apply to just about everything: ski resorts, golf courses, wineries, fine dining and infrastructure…

…and where some of the world's most sophisticated cities are just a stone's throw from long, empty stretches of beach, quiet country retreats and spectacular national parks—so it's always easy to find your own private slice of peace…

Just ask Jamie Lung, who left her home in Santa Monica to make a new life in Europe. She hadn't planned on settling in Portugal when she first arrived, but was soon seduced by the delectable food and wine, palatial architecture and meandering streets of Porto, Portugal's second-largest city…

"There is just something about this place that hooks you and makes it almost impossible not to stay.

Living here, I can afford to enjoy a coffee and a long talk with a friend in the afternoon sunlight at one of Porto's many outdoor cafes. I can walk through old streets without a destination, knowing I will discover a new set of favorite little corners. Life in Porto is full of these kinds of moments."

Jamie was also amazed at how little she was spending to live here:

"If you want a quick breakfast, you can buy a tosta mista (ham-and-cheese melt) and a galao (latte) for less than $3.25. Or, if you want to enjoy a drink with a friend, a cup of Super Bock—the most popular beer—costs a little over a dollar.

For about $5.50, I can walk away from a family-owned produce shop with a bag full of bananas, grapes, pears, apples, kiwis, plums, garlic, spinach, onions, carrots and cabbage. No matter how many times I buy fresh produce from this place, I am still pleasantly shocked every time I get the bill."

Portugal's cost of housing is another bonus that's hard to resist: Jamie lives in a charming Portuguese house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large foyer, living room, kitchen, dining room, studio and balcony. The rent, including expenses, comes to around $780 a month. And if you only need a single room, Jamie says it's common to be able to find a place for less than $210 a month.

"For someone who was paying $1,500 per month for a room in a 2-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica, California, this dramatic decrease in living expenses has allowed me to spend less time working just to pay the rent…and more time actually living and experiencing life."

And in Portugal, You're Ideally Placed to Explore The Rest of Europe, Including Your Near Neighbors: Spain, France and The UK

But here's the thing…you may want to stay just where you are, since as soon as you step outside Portugal's borders, you'll be spending more money… because this off-the-radar country is definitely the cheapest spot in Western Europe.

Kevin Casey, a globe-trotting copywriter who regularly travels to Europe for lengthy stays, was pleasantly surprised at the costs when he first visited Portugal:

"As a digital nomad, I spend months at a time in different parts of Europe and all around the world, but when I made my first trip to Portugal, I was blown away. I'd been to Spain, and found Portugal cheaper—especially in day-to-day things like groceries, getting around, entertainment, meals out and places to stay.

I'd heard that Spain was the most economical place to go in Western Europe, but Portugal beats it hands down, especially when compared to cities like Madrid. There may be parts of Spain that are cheaper than Portugal, but overall, it's no contest: Portugal was definitely more affordable for me—and the Wi-Fi was totally reliable everywhere I went, which is important for a writer. On the Continent, you'd have to travel across to Slovakia, Romania, Poland or other parts of Eastern Europe to find a cost of living that rivals Portugal."

According to long-term Portugal resident Tricia Pimental, Portugal's cost of living—as of January 2017—was calculated at more than a third lower (and up to 50% cheaper in certain areas) than the US.

Stacked up against the rest of Western Europe, this expat haven also comes out on top for affordability with a first-world lifestyle…

In France, for instance, you'll expect to pay nearly 50% more for groceries and restaurant meals than in Portugal…

A meal for two in a mid-range restaurant in Portugal is only €30 compared to €50 in France. To enjoy a local beer in Portugal, you'll pay only €1.50, that's 70% less than the cost of a local beer in France, which is €5.

Even Spain—long considered the ultimate bargain destination by European travelers and expats—has a cost of living index and rental prices around 12% higher than those in Portugal. In late 2017, Numbeo figures showed the following rental property price differences between Portugal and Spain:

  • Lisbon—17.27% lower than Madrid
  • Albufeira—24.88% lower than Marbella
  • Faro—28.79% lower than Malaga
  • Porto—38.78% lower than Barcelona

…and if you're after a beach hideaway and are comparing Portugal's Algarve region in the south of the country with Spain's Costa del Sol, the news is just as good: based on a recent study of nearly 9,000 houses on a popular Spanish real estate website, average property prices along the Costa del Sol run at $421,600, while another real estate company lists average prices in the Algarve at $265,800—with over half of the available house listings coming in at under $216,000.

Imagine enjoying a leisurely two-course dinner with a glass of wine and dessert for only $13 per person…at these kinds of prices, it's easy to see why Portugal should be one of the first countries on your retirement radar, especially if you're on a fixed income.

Of course, some parts of Portugal will cost more than others. A meal in Lisbon or Porto will cost you more than one in the quieter Alentejo region, for example…that's to be expected….but even in Portugal's main cosmopolitan areas, you'll still pay less than other cities such as London, Paris or even Madrid:

  • A three-course dinner for two in France will run $53.50(€50), while the same in Portugal is $32.10 (€30).
  • With beverages, the news gets even better: a half-liter draught of domestic beer will set you back $5.35 (€5) in France, while in Portugal you're looking at $1.60 (€1.50).
  • And according to Numbeo, living in New York City will cost you a whopping 99.85% more than living in Lisbon.

And here's the clincher—you don't even need to be based in a large Portuguese city to immerse yourself in enchanting old-world culture, fresh, wholesome food and stunning scenery…because it's absolutely EVERYWHERE.

Tricia says, "After moving to Portugal, we found we could live on approximately one-third of what it had cost us in a small town in north-central Utah. An expat with a source of income from a private enterprise, retirement fund or savings will discover that the cost of living is remarkably low. In the palace town of Mafra, a half-hour drive from the capital of Lisbon, a one-bedroom apartment can be had for a few hundred dollars per month.

Need more room, or prefer privacy? A three-level, four-bedroom, four-bath detached home with a churrascaria (a separate structure containing a built-in barbecue) and a garden with fruit trees costs approximately $1,100 per month. A house fitting this description would probably sell for less than $250,000. Expect to pay about $165 per month for water, gas, and electricity combined."

Tricia recommends renting in or near a Portuguese beach city if you're looking to 'test the waters' (literally and figuratively!) before committing to a longer stay. For her, rock-bottom prices were only part of Portugal's appeal:

"Fresh seafood is everywhere, and there are organic sections in many supermarkets if you can't make it to the local farmer's market. Wonderful wines abound. A bottle that elsewhere might run $25 in a store and $40 to $50 in a restaurant runs about $8 on a Portuguese store shelf, with a good table wine under $5. As—or more-important-as—the affordability factor, though, is the overall quality of life offered by this gem of a nation. Its people are patient yet proud. They understand the meaning of family, tradition and hard work. They love music. They love language."

Here, You'll Enjoy a Similar Level of Amenities To What You're Used To In the US But At a Fraction Of The Cost…Including Reliable Public Transport, Superb Healthcare, High-speed Internet and Great shopping

What makes Portugal such a desirable destination for travelers, digital nomads, expats and retirees? It's the fact that even though you're paying much less than you may be used to, you're not sacrificing your quality of life. You still have some of the most efficient infrastructure and modern living in Europe… coupled with a slower pace that lets you truly appreciate each day.

What does 'quality of life' really mean in Portugal? It means you can:

  • Rent a comfortable apartment in the most beautiful parts of the country for just a few hundred dollars a month
  • Enjoy one of the world's lowest crime rates (Portugal was ranked #3 in the world for safety by the Global Peace Index in 2017)
  • Experience first-rate, affordable medical care (The World Health Organization ranks Portugal #12 out of 190 countries for its international-quality healthcare)
  • Sun-worship to your heart's content—Portugal boasts 497 miles of magnificent shoreline and around 3,000 hours of sunshine a year… and the Algarve region, home to more than 100,000 foreign resident retirees, has more sunny days than almost anywhere else in Europe
  • Communicate easily with the locals (many Portuguese speak some English, especially in expat-popular coastal regions)

Living in Portugal gives you an abundance of choices: you can base yourself in a sleepy fishing village, a thriving beach resort, a mountain retreat or in the heart of vibrant Lisbon—where the restaurants, museums and attractions rival anything else in Europe. Whatever private hideaway you choose, you're sure to make new friends quickly…because Portuguese people are some of the most relaxed, family-oriented, helpful and courteous folks you'll meet anywhere.

In this enchanting expat oasis, there's so much to see and do…

  • Gaze across the Atlantic from the westernmost point in continental Europe…
  • Walk, jog, bike or drive along Lisbon's 10.5-mile-long Vasco de Gama Bridge—the longest in Europe…
  • Jump on a cable car and wind along Lisbon's cobblestoned streets to reach your favorite restaurant with sweeping bayside views…
  • Spend a lazy day cruising the Douro River on a wine-tasting tour…
  • Stroll through the shelves at Porto's Livrario Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores on earth…
  • Visit the mesmerizing natural sea caves near Carvoeira in the sun-soaked, white-sand bliss of the Algarve…
  • Sample a francesinha, an iconic northern Portugal sandwich that's layered with pork, smoked sausage and bacon, then topped off with medium-rare steak, a fried egg and a thick layer of cheese sauce; you'll need the remainder of the day to digest it…
  • Escape the city and head to the breathtaking Serra da Estrela mountains, where you can hike, canoe, ski in winter or soak your cares away in the thermal hot springs…

So What's The Hardest Part About Living In Portugal? It Could Be Deciding In Which Stunning Part of The Country To Base Yourself…

Whether you're just conducting a short-term 'recon mission' to explore the possibilities or thinking seriously about moving to Portugal, you'll find no shortage of spectacular locations, lifestyles and options to choose from. Although you can expect to pay more in major cities in general, a couple can live quite comfortably on about $1600 (€1500) per month.

Low-key beach and riverside living…

In the wind-surfing hotspot of Esposende (pop. 56,000) on the 'Green Coast' of northern Portugal, you'll discover a laid-back lifestyle along the Rio Cavado with fine dining, a romantic lighthouse and uncrowded beaches, where a 3-bedroom apartment rents for $320-$540 a month…or you can buy a one-bedroom apartment for just under $107,000.

A recent real estate listing offered a large 3-bedroom, 3-bath home—close to town, a few miles from the beach and surrounded by over 4,300 square feet of property—for $588 per month. If you like to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life and slow your pace right down, Esposende is well worth a look.

Gourmet delight…

Or sample life in Vila Nova de Famalicão, a pleasant inland town of 133,000 people just a half-hour drive northeast of Porto… where you'll have access to two international airports, over a hundred cafes and restaurants and a weekly farmer's market. Slip into Tentacaões Gourmet shop for a chat with Elsa (she speaks excellent English) and grab a homemade pastry, a cup of strong, fresh coffee, a glass of wine or some chocolate fettuccine.

For a 2-bedroom apartment in this part of the country, monthly rent is around $430-$590, with purchase prices between $85,600 and $149,800. A 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment was recently listed for $92,020. Life is good… and good value… in this quiet town 15 miles from the beach.

Porto paradise…

Life in this chic, historic city has everything you could ask for: a vibrant seaside ambience, friendly locals, mild weather and quality food and wine at appealing prices.

Wind through the maze of medieval alleys in the Ribeira district in your search for a new restaurant…visit a wine bar along the Douro River to sample world-renowned port and then stroll across the famous Dom Luis I bridge. Lose yourself in leafy parks, beautiful churches and elegant public buildings…

Portugal's second-largest city is popular with expats and known for its year-round livability and pleasing blend of cosmopolitan sophistication and old-word ambience. When International Living's European Correspondent Glynna Prentice recently visited, she discovered an exciting range of affordable housing options:

"In an upscale residential neighborhood just north of Boavista, an elegant, modern 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment with lots of light, a huge living room with balcony, hardwood floors throughout and 1,722 feet of space is currently for sale for $171,093.

Prefer to live in central Porto? If you're after a well-located one-bedroom/one bathroom apartment, one was recently on offer in the upscale Aliados region. With wooden floors and a small balcony, this apartment puts you right in the action in Porto. Its asking price: just $55,640.

Central Porto is home to only about 250,000 people, giving it a small-city, manageable feel (the greater Porto area is home to 1.5 million). You can stroll from the outskirts of the old city down to the waterfront—the Cais da Ribeira—in as little as twenty minutes."

Glynna says that for shopping and entertainment, the Matosinhos neighborhood—not far from the airport—is an attractive choice. It's conveniently close to Norte Shopping, a giant complex with 267 stores, 30 restaurants, 8 cinema screens, childcare facilities and a health and fitness club. A 5-bedroom, 2-bathroom house there was recently on the market for $224,700.

Your own secret mountain hideaway…

Want to start your new life surrounded by mountains, farms and parks? Then take a look at Guarda—the highest city in Portugal at 3,320 feet. Here in the country's interior, you're only a couple of hours from Porto but you'll feel a world away, with 20 frontier castles to explore and all the fresh air you can handle.

There is currently a finely renovated home available there for $144,450 with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and handy access to river beaches, mountain hiking and the Guarda center.

A rich life at low cost in Portugal's capital…

Portugal's largest city, Lisbon, is one of Western Europe's jewels…where every neighborhood seems to offer stunning views and you can choose between the culture and history of Belem, the sizzling nightlife of Bica and Barrio Alto or the bedroom communities of Oerras or Loures—where daily life is less frenetic but you're still close to everything. In Lisbon you may have to pay a bit more…but you get more convenience, entertainment, infrastructure and nightlife for your money.

Some typical Lisbon real estate options:

A two-bedroom, furnished apartment in a remodeled building in historic Chiado, close to the Metro and some of Lisbon's best restaurants, was listed for $1,124 per month. In the upscale Alcantara area, a refurbished 2-bedroom apartment was on offer for $729 a month.

In the prime residential area of Restelo, you're close to trains, schools and beaches, so how about a 4-bedroom villa with garage and views of the river, ocean, city and mountains…all for $636,650? Or maybe you'd prefer the trendy Benfica area, where a remodeled, semi-detached 4-bedroom home in great condition can be bought for $395,793.

One of the best things about Lisbon is how easy it is to get around…whether you own a car or not. If you like, you can forget about driving, live like a local and hop on the trams instead!

Affordable luxury on 'the Portuguese Riviera'….

20 miles west of Lisbon, the popular tourist and expat hub of Cascais has all the grandeur and elegance of the French Riviera…but at much lower prices. Being close to the palaces and castles of historical Sintra, the capital of Lisbon and the wild beauty of Guincho beach, this seaside oasis is ideally located and welcoming, as Colleen Marlotti discovered when she visited with her family…

"Our typical spring day in Cascais consisted of rich coffee and delicious homemade Portuguese tarts at Bijou de Cascais. For under $10, our family of five could enjoy coffee on the patio in the golden morning sun. After an afternoon beach walk, we might find ourselves dining al fresco at Cafe Galeria's raw foods bar.

Our children would wrap themselves in the blankets provided, get comfy in the handmade furniture and sip fresh fruit smoothies as the stars became visible over the darkening Atlantic Ocean."

Colleen says that finding an apartment here is much easier than on the French or Italian Riviera, and the friendly locals and chilled-out atmosphere create a warm, authentic feel.

"A two-bedroom apartment near the Cascais marina can be rented for about $1,500 a month, with all the amenities like a pool, parking and a patio included. A comparable apartment in Nice, France would easily set you back $3,000 a month."

Other real estate examples from this area include a 5-bedroom duplex near the beach with a little garden for $573,530, a 3-bedroom apartment for sale at $127,330 and a nice two-bedroom apartment between Estoril and Cascais that's renting for $804 a month.

The Algarve: Sun, Sand and Sparkling Scenery In Southernmost Portugal…

If an average winter temperature of 77°F sounds like your style, then set yourself up in the Algarve. Once just a collection of sleepy fishing villages perched on low cliffs, this region is now a legendary destination for global sun-seekers, golfers and active expats… a place where every beach town is as attractive as the next and bright sunshine is the norm.

Dine with friends on the cliff tops…

Along the numerous sand coves lining the Portimao coastline, you can spend your days beach-hopping and then your nights relaxing at Praia da Rocha's cliff-top promenade, where the restaurants and nightclubs buzz and the views are divine.

Typical rentals in the area run about $477 a month for a studio apartment and twice that for a one-bedroom. Recently, a one-bedroom on the marina slope with 699 square feet of living space was for sale at $107,000.

Albufeira is the largest of the Algarve resort towns, but relaxing here is easy too. Rental property prices vary considerably, but recent offerings include one-bedrooms between $482 and $642 and three-bedrooms from $856 to $1,284 per month.

In Faro, you have access to an international airport but are still smack dab in the middle of some the loveliest beaches on the coast. Faro exudes a less touristy, more local vibe and is worth checking out for real estate bargains. A recent offering, just five minutes from town, was a small farm with orange orchard—for sale or rent. Boasting a two-bedroom home on more than three acres of land, its selling price was $208,650…or you could rent it instead for $642 a month.

Rent With Ocean Views For $390 a Month On The 'Pearl of the Atlantic'…

Imagine a small, mountainous island nestled in clear blue waters, where tiny villages of colorful houses sit among the island's rocky, green hills and small fruit and vegetable farms spread down to the seashore…an ocean jewel where you'll find reasonable housing prices, a temperate climate and English is widely spoken…

Welcome to captivating Madeira, home to around 260,000 residents, and which local expat Isabel Santos calls 'the most likeable people in the world':

"Although this is a small island, there's plenty to keep you busy. Thrill seekers will love the options for canyoning, paragliding, mountain biking and hiking. For something less strenuous, dolphin and whale watching off the coast has become popular in recent years. If the great outdoors isn't your scene, the latest movies are shown in Funchal, small local art and music festivals offer some culture and there are plenty of coffee shops for relaxing with a coffee and a slice of bolo de mel (a traditional honey cake).

"Home to almost half the archipelago's population is the capital city of Funchal, which is where I rent a one-bedroom apartment—with Atlantic Ocean views—for $390 a month. Rents like this are not unusual in Madeira…you can easily find apartments, generally fully furnished, from $446."

Affordability is just part of the appeal of quiet island life… Isabel also loves the weather:

"Madeira has a temperate climate, which means warm and pleasant weather. Temperatures in summer can hit around 85°F, but it's comfortable heat. In winter the rain comes and the temperature drops to a manageable 55°F…but most days are crisp, clear and sunny."

For a quieter, more low-key lifestyle, try the charming little town of Tavira, just 16 miles west of the Spanish border; it's the perfect base for exploring the eastern Algarve. Here, a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment just listed for $642 per month or $129,363 to buy—this could be your own private oasis, away from the bustle of the central Algarve.

So…What's The Best 'First step' Toward Living Your Dream Life In Sophisticated, low-cost Portugal?

If you've ever thought about making a major, positive change in your life and living in a sun-soaked place that lets you stretch your dollars… while enjoying sophisticated living in the midst of medieval history, natural splendor, a laid-back beach lifestyle and first-world infrastructure… well, that place is Portugal… and the time is now.

As the mainstream media continues to spread the word about the benefits of retiring to Portugal, this country's charms and affordability won't stay a secret for long. It's inevitable… the bargains you can still find in Portugal today WILL NOT last forever. But if you act now, you can still make Portugal your idyllic new home…at prices you never thought possible…provided you don't wait too long.

All you need to make it happen is the insider knowledge that can help you answer all the important questions, like:

  • What does a typical weekly shop at the grocery store cost in Portugal?
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  • How do I qualify for residence status or arrange an investment visa?
  • What kind of Internet speed and mobile phone coverage can I expect…in and outside of the major cities?
  • Where can I find authentic, high-quality restaurants and modern supermarkets?
  • What do I need to know about taxes if I decide to relocate to Portugal?
  • How do I go about shipping all my belongings across the Atlantic…including my pet…and how much will it cost?
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  • How can I get local professional help to navigate the legal aspects of real estate transactions?
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The Most Complete Guide to Traveling, Living and Retiring in Portugal We've Ever Published

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Meet Your Own Personal Guide to The Wonders Of Life In Portugal

When Tricia Pimental and her husband decided to move overseas in 2012, they looked at a number of options: Ecuador, Colombia, Spain, France…even Malta. They'd vacationed in Portugal and remembered how exciting and different their experiences were.

They sat in rapt attention as a fadista in a rural village near Porto bared her soul, singing of the glory of Portugal. They puzzled at youngsters joining a festival parade at midnight…on a school night! They watched fishermen bringing ashore their catch of sardinhas and carapau.

And they quickly realized something… in the midst all this country's cultural richness, they found that for lodging and meals, they were only spending a slim percentage of what they'd experienced in other European countries… or back home in Utah.

So they decided to return.

"That's when life changed from relishing a few weeks of vacation to living a casual lifestyle in a place more budget-friendly and accommodating than we'd ever imagined", Tricia says.

After moving to Portugal, Tricia discovered they could live on approximately a third of what it had cost them in the US. And she believes the situation is even better for aspiring expats now, with the decline of the Euro against the dollar.

When Tricia graduated from Brooklyn College of the City University in New York with a B.A. in French, she began to travel…to France, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Turkey, Israel, Russia, the Baltic states and most of Europe. She's the author of three award-winning books, including A Movable Marriage: A Memoir.

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It's all here…everything you need to know…and EXACTLY what you need to do to make your dreams a reality…

Order The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven And You'll Also Get A Free Bonus Report

When you order The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven, you'll have everything you need to start planning your dream life in sunny Portugal. Plus, we'll also send you a special bonus report, Four of Portugal's Best-Kept Secrets. In it you'll learn more about this country's gorgeous hidden treasures, from Algarve beaches and budget-friendly cities to the tranquil country life of the Alentejo region. Discover festivals for every taste… check out our insider guide to hassle-free renting in Lisbon… and much more.

If this extra report were to go on sale in International Living's Bookstore, we would charge $29.95 for it. But we're offering it as a special bonus for readers who order The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven. Yes, you read that right—you'll receive our all-inclusive, one-of-a-kind Portugal Report PLUS our FREE bonus report Four of Portugal's Best-Kept Secrets… all for the unbelievably low price of $69.

And As Always, Your Satisfaction is GUARANTEED

I'm so confident that The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven will help you realize your dream life in Portugal that I'll offer you this guarantee:

If, for any reason, you're not completely happy with your The Old World Charms of Portugal, just let us know within 30 days. You have our 30-day no-hassle money back guarantee…

We'll refund your $69, no questions asked…

Once you read about everything Portugal has to offer… and read the stories about the people who are living the good life there, I expect I'll meet you in Portugal someday very soon. I look forward to it!

So what are you waiting for? Portugal's low-cost, old-world charms are waiting for you!

You've got nothing to lose… and so much to gain.

You won't find information like this anywhere else… at any price.

To order, simply click on the link below and follow the instructions.

It could be one of the smartest decisions you make this year… or in your entire life.

Jackie Flynn

Jackie Flynn
Publisher, International Living

P.S. The comprehensive and all-inclusive The Old World Charms of Portugal: Europe's Little-Known, Low-Cost Retirement Haven is not available anywhere else… at any price. If you're interested in living the laid-back, low-cost European lifestyle (full- or part-time) but not interested in paying typical European prices, Portugal should definitely be front and center on your radar.

Order now and we'll also send you the special bonus report, Four of Portugal's Best-Kept Secrets, for FREE.

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