- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Portugal Guide (PDF)
Expats moving abroad often lose themselves in the process of making parallels between their new destination and their home country. While this can be a natural part of acclimatisation, it's important not to get too bogged down in what one may perceive to be apparent positive and negatives.
That being said, some preparation for what people may deem the good, the bad and the ugly is necessary. Here are some pros and cons of moving to Portugal.
Culture in Portugal
+ PRO: The people are friendly and welcoming
The people of Portugal are incredibly friendly and helpful. Neighbours will often bring homegrown tomatoes, share their wine and talk to expats quite happily despite the language barrier that might exist.
- CON: The slow pace might take some time getting used to
Expats may find the Portuguese people to be frustrating, as they're not generally in a hurry to resolve issues or deal with problems. The phrase 'devagar' will often be heard – it means 'slowly' in Portuguese.
Weather in Portugal
+ PRO: Portugal experiences warm summers
The weather is great. Generally, March to October is warm, with July and August being really hot. Temperatures can climb to 104°F (40°C).
- CON: Winters can be cold
It's not, in fact, sunny 12 months of the year. The winters can be cold and very wet, but apart from the mountainous areas, there is little snow. Inland frost is common.
+ PRO: Portugal has beautiful beaches
For those who like beaches, they stretch along the entire western and southern areas of the country and are white and clean. Only in July and August are the most popular beaches ever crowded.
Visas for Portugal
+ PRO: Visa submissions are easy to understand
The Portuguese authorities will take the time to explain which papers foreigners need to submit.
- CON: The red tape of bureaucracy can be frustrating
Bureaucracy is thick and not fast. Information from public offices can also be inconsistent.
Communication in Portugal
+ PRO: Locals are interested in speaking English
Younger Portuguese people learn English at school, and they are always keen to practice it with expats.
- CON: The Portuguese language can be difficult to learn
Portuguese is a difficult language to learn and pronounce, but a little of the language goes a long way in goodwill.
Transport and driving in Portugal
+ PRO: The traffic tends to be lighter than elsewhere
The traffic in Portugal is considerably less than in northern European countries, except in the large cities where traffic jams at peak hours are bad.
- CON: Driving can be dangerous
Portuguese drivers are keen to drive fast and impatient to overtake. This causes numerous accidents, so caution is advised.
+ PRO: Portugal has good road networks
There is a good network of highways or dual carriageways in Portugal, and the main ones are not very busy.
- CON: Road tolls can add up
National motorways are toll roads, and while they are excellent and there is less traffic, the tolls can make them expensive.
The cost of living in Portugal
+ PRO: General produce is affordable
Food, wine, bread and normal shopping commodities are generally very reasonably priced. It’s easy to obtain British foods if expats really need them.
- CON: Consumer goods tend to be more costly
Consumer goods can be very expensive, anywhere between 20 to 50 percent more expensive than expats might be used to. British foods are available but are more expensive.
► Education and Schools in Portugal is essential reading for all expat parents
► Cost of Living in Portugal gives a great overview of various everyday expenses expats will incur while living in the country.
"We have experienced no real negatives here. Sometimes it's hard to find certain things that we are accustomed to at the grocery stores, but that's to be expected." Read more about Bob's experiences in Portugal.
Are you an expat living in Portugal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Portugal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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