Retirement in Lisbon: A Day in the Life

Expats are flooding into Portugal's vibrant capital city, enticed by its beautiful architecture, flourishing culture, city-centre beaches and exquisite food and drink scene. Alex and Nori Trias spoke to CNBC Make It about their retirement and new life in Lisbon.

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Alex Trias is a retired attorney who has been living in Lisbon with his wife, Noki, and daughter, Evie, since 2015. After falling in love with Lisbon during a short trip to the city, he and Noki soon decided to enjoy a few years of their retirement there. They took out a home equity loan on their house in Washington DC, where they had lived for ten years, and began the search for their dream apartment in Lisbon.

I feel like the building gave us a new lease on life.

Alex and Nori bought a two-bedroom, 1,300sqft apartment in the heart of Bairro Alto. The apartment is part of a beautiful white-stone building and former college, which dates back around 400 years. At the entrance, olive and cypress trees gather in a small, walled plaza decorated with blue and white biblical murals.

The cost of living in Lisbon

Alex and Nori bought their dream apartment for $534,000. The cost of visas for the family equated to around $384.

Property taxes are $603 a year, while maintenance fees for the apartment complex are $421. Other expenses include $255 for electricity, $23 for water and $91 for Wi-Fi and cell phones.

The cost of living in Portugal is generally around 46% cheaper than the US. Therefore, with more disposable income to enjoy their retirement, Alex and Nori benefit from a higher quality of life in Lisbon.

A day in the capital

Bairro Alto is a picturesque neighbourhood known for its charming townhouses and bohemian style.

After a morning of investment research and writing, Alex enjoys a simple stroll around Lisbon’s historical centre.

My walk starts at the waterfront, then over the hills of Lisbon, and ends in the historic neighbourhood of Principe Real — home to a hilltop park, botanical garden and some of the finest restaurants in the city.

Príncipe Real (an upmarket area) hosts a farmers’ market every Sunday, where you can pick up beautifully fresh produce at affordable prices—from local cheeses to homemade honey, artisanal olive oil and Algarve-grown lemons.

Just outside of Lisbon city centre are a number of golden beaches—perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking—and various hiking trails through nearby mountains.

Alex and his family also like to take advantage of Lisbon’s many affordable learning opportunities. The Portuguese Connection Language School is just down the road, where you can attend a 30-class program in intensive Portuguese. Evie takes singing and bass lessons for around $20 per class and plays tennis for $27 per one-on-one session. Noki also took a three-day ceramics class for 90 euros.

Where to eat & drink in Lisbon

Alex often calls in at Bettina Corallo Café in Principe Real on his way to the farmers’ market. Here, you can indulge in artisanal chocolates paired with a one-euro espresso.

Marquise is a bakery just around the corner from the National Assembly building. Join the queue at 9am for fresh, warm bread straight out of the oven, and made from heirloom Portuguese flour.

Tapisco serves a delightful combination of Portuguese petiscos (snacks) and Spanish tapas. A great place to go if you’re on the hunt for traditional dishes.

Behind a striking red door in the heart of the city, you’ll find Pavilhão Chinês, or The China Pavilion. This quirky speakeasy will transport you to another era with its exquisite exhibition of chinoiseries, cleverly crafted cocktails, and jazz and soul soundtracks.

When they’re not out transversing Lisbon’s eclectic food and drink scene, the Trias family enjoy relaxing on the terrace of their apartment.

“As we enjoy the cool breeze and watch the sun set, I am reminded of how blessed and fortunate we are.”

Read the original interview with CBNC Make it here.

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