The status of Cascais as Portugal's largest expat hub is no coincidence. It's a tale of intentional design and collaborative effort, where the town's residents and authorities rolled up their sleeves to create an inviting environment where expats can feel welcomed and truly at home.
What makes Cascais unique is its focus on fundamental aspects like safety and security, which are crucial for all residents, including locals and foreigners. The perks it offers for expats – easy accessibility, a warm and embracing expat community, and world-class international schools – also set it apart from other places.
Vibrant Expat Community
Relocating your family and settling in a foreign country as an expat can be daunting and uncertain. So it's natural to prefer to move to places where other expats have experienced similar challenges. It is this sense of shared experience and community that likely propels the popularity of Cascais among expats making Portugal their new home.
Preliminary data from 2021 shows a sharp uptick in the foreign population living in Cascais. Between 2011 and 2021, the town’s population rose by 3.5%, while the number of foreign residents jumped by more than 53%. Expats from around 100 countries constitute around 16% of the town’s population.
As the Founder and CEO of Migronis and resident of Cascais, Anatoliy Letayev, says, "English is so common in Cascais that, honestly, I'm even too lazy to learn Portuguese. This fact is a big plus compared to, for example, France, Spain, and Italy."
Whether choosing the finest schools for your children, locating the top grocery stores, or identifying the most exciting weekend hotspots and activities in and around Cascais, the well-established and vibrant expat network provides invaluable support for seamless integration into the community.
The local authorities have strategically avoided any policies that could detract from Cascais's exceptional quality of life.
For example, they designated one-third of Cascais as a National Park, a zone protected from construction. Local regulations prioritize preserving the town's distinctive open spaces and quaint summer architecture. They enforce height restrictions on new developments to maintain Cascais' traditional and inviting charm, ensuring the original spirit of the town remains intact.
The authorities also carefully focus on quality over quantity for future growth and development. Instead of promoting big factories employing low-wage workers, the town seeks to attract reputable higher-education institutions, highly-skilled workers, and entrepreneurs.
Cascais takes pride in its forward-thinking approach, as local authorities have clarified also that they prioritize tech-centric startups that bring value to the community, favoring them over polluting factories that employ low-skilled workers. With stringent construction regulations, a ban on towering structures, and a steadfast commitment to environmental preservation, Cascais will remain a clean place free of pollution and rampant ecological degradation.
Efforts like these ensure that every newcomer to the city can relish an experience just as remarkable as those who arrived before them.
Safety and Security Guaranteed
Benefits such as friendly locals, a strong sense of community, expat-friendly policies, and a captivating atmosphere may lose their significance if expats are not guaranteed a safe and secure environment for themselves and their families.
The great news for expats is that Portugal, particularly Cascais, fulfills this requirement with flying colors. Since 2017, Portugal has consistently ranked among the top countries in terms of safety, ranging from the second-safest country in 2017 to the sixth-safest country in the world in 2022. In comparison, Spain is ranked 31st, Italy is ranked 32nd, and France is ranked 55th in the 2022 Global Peace Index.
To ensure the well-being of residents, Cascais established three police forces whose personnel are proficient in English.
The experiences of its residents best describe the safety of Cascais. Anatoliy shares his firsthand account: "When dining in a restaurant, I can safely leave my phone or even my wallet on the table without worrying that someone might steal them. I often don't lock my car, and if I haven't locked the house, I don't worry either."
It speaks volumes about the town's safety when even the country's President can freely walk around without needing guards or security personnel. Anatoliy further highlights this by recalling an exciting incident, "Last year, I took a picture with the President of Portugal right on the beach in Cascais. He also lives in this city and walks without guards. Seeing him living in this city and walking without guards indirectly reflects the high level of security here."
Such personal experiences and observations underscore the sense of safety and peace residents enjoy in Cascais, making it an ideal destination for expats seeking a secure and tranquil living environment.
Accessibility to Lisbon
Cascais is a smart choice for busy and ambitious professionals because it is in the same time zone as London and Lisbon.
A mere half-hour train ride transports you to the heart of Lisbon, while a 25-minute drive offers a quicker option, albeit with the potential traffic congestion upon entering the city. Surprisingly, individuals residing in the same city as their workplace, such as New York or Hong Kong, may commute more than their Cascais counterparts!
Cascais presents a strategic choice for frequent travelers, boasting a convenient 15-20 minute commute to the Lisbon International Airport. Excellent road networks and seamless connections to major cities across the globe make it an ideal haven for entrepreneurs and senior executives who frequently embark on work-related journeys.
Living in Cascais affords the best of both worlds, granting easy access to Lisbon's infrastructure, entertainment, shopping, and nightlife while avoiding the downsides of residing in a bustling, congested metropolis.
Whether commuting to the office, enjoying a day at the beach with family, running errands at the local supermarket, or simply strolling along the picturesque coastline, a 15-minute walk or bike ride can effortlessly encompass many activities.
And there are many excuses to spend time outdoors too. With seven golf courses, 16 museums, two urban parks, a riding school, and a long walking path parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, outdoor life comes naturally to those living in Cascais.
There're a lot of options for those who wish to explore the country on the weekends. For example, Nazare beckons surf enthusiasts with its renowned colossal waves, while Aveiro exudes the charm of Portugal's own Venice. And history fanatics can revel in the ancient fortifications of Obidos or venture into the charming fishing village of Setubal.
International Education for the Children
Access to quality education is crucial for expats, especially when ensuring a seamless transition for their children. In Cascais, they have a range of options for international schools, making it easier to maintain a consistent and high-quality education for their kids.
There are nine international schools in Cascais, with more institutions coming. Well-established ones like King's College School, Cascais, St John's School, and Saint Dominic's International School are popular choices, alongside newer options such as Aprendizes, International Christian School of Cascais, and the Brave Generation Academy.
These schools offer diverse curricula, including British, American, and International programs. Tuition fees for nursery students range from €9,000 to €12,000 per year, while Grade 8 students can expect fees in the range of €14,000 to €16,000 per year.
Located less than an hour away, Lisbon has long been the obvious destination for higher education. However, Cascais has set its sights on becoming a hub for higher education as well. Alongside renowned institutions like the Nova School of Business & Economics, ranked among the top in the world, it is home to the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies and the School of Health Sciences of Alcoitão.
While Cascais offers many opportunities, it's essential to acknowledge that expat-friendly cities often have a higher price tag. The cost of housing in Cascais can range from €1.35 million to €1.65 million for a three-bedroom home spanning 350-400 m2. Monthly rentals vary between €9,000 to €10,000 for the same kind of property. Rental prices for the two-bedroom start from €2,000.
However, these prices could be reasonable for someone from bustling cities like New York or Singapore. Factors such as proximity to the city center, coastal locations, and desired amenities also influence the perceived value.
If you're considering a move to Portugal and seeking a safe and welcoming destination for you and your family, Cascais should undoubtedly be at the top of your list.