Living your dream in another country does not eliminate the day to day business that we all deal with in every day life. Some of that business is unique to whatever county you have chosen to call home. Some is universal.
One of the first things that needs to be addressed for someone who is not a citizen of any of the EU countries is the limitation of days that you can stay in any EU country under the Schengen Agreement. Schengen Information
A short summary of the impact of the Schengen Agreement is that even if you are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa to enter an EU country, you are limited to a 90 day stay in any 180 day period. For more details on how this plays out when traveling, see the link above for Schengen Information.
So, one of the first questions you need to ask is does the country you are interested in moving to have a process to apply for residency status allowing you to stay for more than 90s days,
In Portugal the answer is yes. There are a variety of different options for extending the 90 days. This online Portugal Immigration Guide does a good job of outlining the options.
If your plan is to live here for most of each year you need to start with a Portuguese resident visa which must be applied for at the nearest Portuguese Consulate to your permanent address in your home county. The link I have provided is for Consulates in the United States.
You must have the Portuguese resident visa before you can apply for a Portuguese resident permit (non-EU). The resident permit will be applied for in Portugal once you arrive. The residence visa gives you 120 days to complete the resident permit application at the nearest SEF office. The English translation for what SEF stands for is Immigration and Borders Service.
I found the best way to work through the process was to gather everything on the list that was obvious and then to email the Consulate with specific questions about anything of which I was unsure. Then I waited until 90 days before my planned departure for Portugal (the window allowed) and mailed off my application.
My application was approved and then came the scary part. Mailing my passport to the Consulate for them to attach my Resident Visa just ten days before I was to board my flight to Portugal. My passport arrived back to me with my much anticipated visa just a week before I flew off to start living my dream.
Next up for me in this residency process – my appointment with SEF the end of this month to obtain my Portuguese residency permit. I will share more about that process after it is completed.
Any questions? Ask me in the comments section. Any readers with experience to share on obtaining a resident visa for Portugal or elsewhere?