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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Portugal

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: October 2014

Family Life in Portugal

The Portuguese are strongly family-orientated. A typical family consists of parents and two children, and, unlike in some other countries, it is common to see three or more generations living together in the same house. In large cities, nuclear families are more common. Parents go out to work and children go to school in the day time. Husbands generally hold the power in the family, while wives take care of the family and house and does not do full-time work. Most people live in houses, though there are many who choose to live in apartments in large cities. It is well known that life in Portugal is at a slower pace than in some other countries. Nevertheless, they work hard and do things professionally.     

For expatriates moving to Portugal with a family, the first thing to do is to find accommodation. You can start your search online, as there will be some advertisements written in English or in your language. You also can get help from estate agents or local newspapers. If you are thinking of buying a property, you should read this article here: https://www.expatica.com/pt/housing/renting/Housing-in-Portugal_16747.html.


Childcare in Portugal

Most usually it is the mother who takes care of children in Portugal. If not, friends, family members or neighbours are used as the next option. It is not common to send children of under three to a nursery. If you are moving to Portugal with your children and it is financially feasible for you or your spouse to look after your children, it is best to do this. This means that you will save time spent looking for carers and the money they cost. Otherwise, it is recommended to arrange for childcare as soon as possible.

Typical childcare services in Portugal are crèches, child minders, nursery schools or kindergartens and international schools. Crèches generally accept children between three months and three years. Their staff are usually well qualified in this field. According to regulations, the children to staff ratio should be lower than 12 to 1 for public crèches and 10 to 1 for private crèches, although there have been reports of ratios of 25 to 1.  Crèches are regulated under the Ministério do Trabalho e Soliedaridade Social (MTSS, Ministry of Labour and Social Security).

You might also consider getting a child minder to look after your children. By law, they must be between 21 and 54 years old and can only look after up to four children at the same time, including their own children under three years old. Furthermore, regulations also stipulate a minimum space in the child minder’s home to be used. However, many child minders are just family members, friends or neighbours, in which case such regulations are rarely observed.

Nursery schools and kindergartens accept children between three and six years; public ones are free of charge. The children to staff ratio is generally less than 25 to 1 and sometimes as low as 25 to 2. Nursery schools and kindergartens are regulated under the Ministério da Educação (Ministry of Education) and the MTSS.

If you are considering taking up residence in Portugal and you are not fluent in Portuguese, you need to think about how your children are going to learn the language. One way of greatly helping with this is for them to attend a nursery school or kindergarten. There your children can develop their language skills, learning to express themselves and communicate with others in Portuguese. Furthermore, children at a nursery school are not simply being looked after, but are encouraged and supervised during sessions of educational play. This will enable your children to prepare better for school in Portugal.

You may find it difficult to find a proper nursery. Normally, the first thing people do to find one is ask neighbours or friends for recommendations. If this does not bear fruit, you can search online on such sites as www.ensinoprivado.com.




Moving to Portugal

If you are considering moving to Portugal or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated Portugal section including; details of immigration and visas, Portuguese forums, Portuguese event listings and service providers in Portugal.


Living in Portugal

From your safety to shoppingliving in Portugal can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in Portugal with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in Portugal

Working in Portugal can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in Portugal, and general Portuguese culture of the labour market.



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