22 Downsides to Living in Portugal

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Let’s face it, nowhere is perfect.

There are a lot of pros to life in Portugal: the weather is great, the cost of living is low, the beaches are beautiful…I could go on. This website has hundreds of articles, and almost all the articles except for this one focus on the pros of living in Portugal. But, it’s not all pros. There are a few cons too.

If you read other articles about moving to Portugal, or if you speak to a real estate agent, they never mention the downsides — just the upsides. But, it’s important to get the full picture before you move somewhere which is why this list exists. That way, if you read this and still decide to move to Portugal, you’ll have appropriate expectations.

It’s also important to point out that this is a list of the downsides of Portugal primarily from the point of view of an outsider (although Portuguese people often agree with many of the things on this list). It’s also not a list of things that Portuguese should change, and it’s definitely not a list of things that Portugal will change.

Portugal is Portugal, and you shouldn’t come here hoping for change or expecting change. Moving to any country and wishing it was different is just a recipe for disappointment. Instead, weigh up the pros against the cons and then, being honest with yourself, decide if Portugal is right for you.

In no particular order, here are some of the downsides to life in Portugal. (A special thanks goes out to all of the Portugalist readers who submitted their grievances to this list).

So, So Much Paperwork!


Try to get anything done in Portugal, whether it’s starting a business or applying for planning permission, and you’ll run into a little thing called “bureaucracy.” There’s a lot of it in Portugal.

The hardest part of bureaucracy isn’t the bureaucracy itself. Most people know that bureaucracy exists in Portugal, and aren’t surprised when they come up against it. The hardest part is that you never know which form you need or which person you need to speak to. And, it’s quite rare that anyone ever tells you. You normally have to figure these things out for yourself.

Thankfully, there are a lot of Facebook groups and forums where you can ask questions and hopefully speak to other people who’ve had a similar issue.

This isn’t unique to Portugal, but Portugal does take bureaucracy to a new level. One solution to avoiding Portuguese bureaucracy is simply to pay someone else to do it for you. Whether it’s taxes, NIFs, visas, or anything else, there are companies out there than can help.

Cold, Grey, Damp Winters (In Places)

Aveiro in winter

Although most people associate Portugal with beaches and sunshine, a lot of Northern Portugal can be very damp and wet in the winter. Some even say that the North of Portugal has worse weather than Ireland in the winter, and that’s saying a lot!

Portugal is a long country and regions like the Algarve and Alentejo have different climates. Even Lisbon can be quite mild in the winter, and it’s not unusual for the South of Portugal to get temperatures in the high teens and occasionally even hit above the low twenties.

That’s outside, of course! In the house is another matter entirely.

This isn’t unique to Portugal. Most of Europe is cold in the winter – much, much colder than Portugal.

But Baby it’s cold INSIDE!

Portuguese houses can be extremely cold in the winter. Most properties don’t have central heating, or sometimes heating of any kind, and so you may find yourself wearing a jacket and gloves inside to keep warm. That’s not an exaggeration.

You can find warm properties. Some are lucky that they catch the winter sun and stay warm. Others have a fire of maybe even have a heating system of some kind. But many are just cold.

This is because Portuguese houses are designed with summer in mind: they’re designed to stay cool rather than warm up. Many properties are also build quite cheaply, particularly apartments.

And just because you’ve bought a cold house, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be cold forever. You can improve the insulation or install something like gas central heating or an effective pellet heater. All of that costs money, obviously, but it’s almost definitely be worth it.

This isn’t unique to Portugal, and it’s quite common across Southern Europe. Houses here are more designed for summer rather than winter. Thankfully, there are one or two things you can do to stay warm inside.

Making Friends is Hard

In Portugal, the Portuguese and non-Portuguese often run in different circles. Even people who have lived in Portugal for years will usually be able to count the number of close Portuguese friends they have on one hand.

It takes two to tango, though. While the Portuguese can be quite closed, even to people from other parts of Portugal, very few expats bother to learn Portuguese which really is essential for integrating into Portugal. It’s quite likely that a lot of Portuguese assume that these expats don’t want to integrate, and so it all becomes a bit of a vicious cycle.

But, even ignoring the language aspect, many people who’ve lived in other countries prior to Portugal would say that integrating can be difficult.

This isn’t unique to Portugal. People who’ve moved to other Southern European countries like Spain and Italy, to Scandinavia, or to Eastern Europe often report the same experiences.

Some Things are Expensive

A lot of people think that just because food and wine are cheap in Portugal, everything else is. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

Electricity and petrol are two good examples of things that are really expensive in Portugal. Per kilowatt, Portugal is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. It’s also one of the most expensive countries for fuel, which leads to a lot of people who living near the Spanish border driving across to fill up.

Other things that are expensive include anything second hand, cars, furniture, electronic appliances, books, banking, branded international foods and household products (e.g. cereals), and cosmetics and toiletries.


Portuguese taxes, particularly when combined with social security payments, are high — at least in their simplest form. Portugal doesn’t have the highest taxes in Europe, but it definitely doesn’t have the lowest taxes either.

That said, the Portuguese government does have several tax regimes and schemes which are designed to simplify tax payments and to make Portugal more appealing to outsiders. The most famous is the NHR tax regime, which is designed to reduce the amount of tax you pay in Portugal for the first 10 years and, in many cases, allows you to pay your tax elsewhere.

Read more about the NHR tax regime

Workplace Culture

Sexism, micromanaging, not being allowed to show any initiative — talk to a Portuguese person about the downsides of living in Portugal and one of the main things they’ll mention is workplace culture. It’s not every company, obviously, but it is something that gets mentioned frequently.

It’s a downside that many foreigners moving to Portugal get to avoid as many bring their own jobs here, work for a foreign company, or move to Portugal for retirement.

Learning Portuguese Language is Challenging

For some people having to learn Portuguese to live in Portugal is a fact of life. To others, it’s a big downside.

It isn’t so much that people don’t want to learn Portuguese (although some don’t), but rather that it’s a big stumbling block that prevents you from integrating into Portugal. It doesn’t take too long to learn enough Portuguese to get by in daily life, and even in more difficult bureaucratic situations, but it does take a long time to learn enough Portuguese to really integrate.

Portuguese is nowhere near as difficult as Chinese or Arabic, or maybe even German, but it’s one of the most difficult romance languages.

This is obviously unique to Portugal in that Portuguese is seen as harder than some other European languages, particularly Spanish. That said, it’s probably not any more difficult than German.


Depending on where you’re living in Portugal, dogs can cause problems.

Poop is the most common problem, followed by noise. In the countryside, dogs barking through the night can be an issue and, even in residential areas, it’s not unusual for people to leave their dogs on their apartment balconies during the day.

This isn’t unique to Portugal, and it common in some neighbouring countries like Spain.

Corruption is (Unfortunately) a Fact of Life

Ask a Portuguese person what the biggest downside to life in Portugal is and almost all will say corruption.

Backhanders can permeate every area of life, from your local council right up to the higher echelons of government. It’s just seen as a part of life or a tax for getting around bureaucracy.

According to Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, Portugal was ranked 30th out of 198 countries for corruption.

This isn’t unique to Portugal.

The Slow Pace of Life

The slow pace of life is one of the main reasons that people move to Portugal, but that slow pace of life can also be a downside. When you have something that needs doing, suddenly you find yourself wishing that slow pace of life wasn’t a thing in Portugal.

Even in simple tasks like going to the supermarket, you’ll find yourself queuing for a lot longer than you would in countries that don’t have a slow pace of life. It all depends which you value more: the slow pace of life (for when you do want it) or constant efficiency.

This isn’t unique to Portugal, but common across most Southern European or Mediterranean countries.

The “Glass Half Empty” Mentality

The Portuguese mentality can be frustrating for a lot of people, particularly for entrepreneurs and go-getters. If America has a “can do” attitude, Portugal often sits at the other side of the spectrum with a “can’t do” attitude.

There are a lot of reasons for this difference, particularly historical and cultural reasons, but regardless of them, some people will still find it hard to deal with.

This isn’t completely unique to Portugal, but it does seem to be more common in Portugal than in neighbouring European countries.

The Lack of Customer Service

Customer service, the art of solving customers’ problems and keeping them happy, is an artform but it’s not an artform that’s particularly popular in Portugal.

You may not like the American model of customer service where everyone is overly nice, smiley, and helpful. You might think it’s fake and, being honest, it is. But, when you’re trying to get a problem solved, you’ll wish that Portugal had adopted this approach.

This isn’t unique to Portugal. Many readers living in countries like France, Germany, and Spain have said the same thing.

The Job Market

Portugal traditionally attracts much older expats, particularly retirees. There’s a reason for that, and that’s that people don’t usually come to Portugal to work: salaries are low by European standards, and there are a limited number of jobs here.

The good news is that, even though salaries are still a long way from catching up with other Western European countries, there are an increasing number of job opportunities in Portugal. Many people also bring their work with them — either starting a business here or working remotely for clients outside of Portugal.

This isn’t totally unique to Portugal: Across Southern Europe, job opportunities are fewer and salaries are lower when compared to Northern Europe. That said, Portugal does have some of the lowest salaries in Western Europe.

The “Who You Know” Attitude to Business

To get ahead in a lot of industries in Portugal, it’s all about who you know. This maxim is true in a lot of countries, of course, but it’s especially true in Portugal.

In a lot of English-speaking countries, like the UK and US, who you know opens doors but it doesn’t make it impossible to break into certain industries. In Portugal, not knowing the right people can make it impossible to do business in a lot of industries that you could break into in other countries.

This isn’t unique to Portugal, and is quite common across most of Europe.

The Driving

Whether it’s people flashing their lights because they’re desperate to overtake, drink driving, or only leaving a gap of about an inch between your car and their’s, driving in Portugal is bad.

Indicators are rarely used, touch parking is common in the cities, and in rural parts of Portugal people often park diagonally across two or three spaces.

Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things about Portuguese life that you have to get used to.

Read more about driving in Portugal

This isn’t unique to Portugal. According to Statista, in 2018, there were more road accident fatalities in 10 other European countries like Romania, Greece, and Luxembourg. However, Portugal faired worse than neighbouring countries like Spain, France, and Italy.

The Rising Cost of Living

The cost of living in Portugal is on the rise, particularly when it comes to property prices. This is obviously more of a downside for the Portuguese living in Portugal who typically have less buying power on average, but it’s still a downside for expats as well.

House prices are rising throughout Portugal, but particularly in Lisbon and Porto and the Algarve.

The Cold Ocean

A lot of people move to Portugal for the beaches and are surprised by just how cold the water is. Yes, it can be very cold because it’s not the Mediterranean Sea, it’s the Atlantic Ocean.

It isn’t a big deal for a lot of people, as most only go to the beach in summer, but it can make a difference if you were expecting to spend a lot of time in the water.

This is unique to Portugal. Other Southern European countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus are all on the Mediterranean Sea so usually have warmer waters. France

The Overtourism

queues at pasteis de belem
Queues for Pastéis de Belém regularly extend into the hundreds

In the past few years, tourism has boomed in Portugal. Lisbon, in particular, has become one of the hottest destinations to visit and it has attracted millions of tourists from all over the world. Porto, and the Algarve, likewise, have seen a huge increase in tourism as well.

Unfortunately, Lisbon and Porto are much too small to handle the sheer volume of tourists that are visiting. The streets are narrow, and the cities themselves are quite compact and small. Historical attractions like the Torre de Belém in Lisbon or the Clérigos Tower just weren’t designed to cope with queues of hundreds of tourists.

It’s also led to other problems in the local housing market, and put a strain on public transport and other services. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like over tourism is going to decrease anytime soon and, with no real solutions to the problem, it may just become something that people have to accept. There’s that Portuguese “can’t do” attitude creeping in!

This isn’t completely unique to Portugal. Lots of other cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam are struggling with overtourism.

Getting things delivered

Many people who move to Portugal come from countries where online shopping is extremely developed, to the point where they can get their orders the same day. That’s not the case in Portugal, especially as most online shopping is done with international companies.

As an example, if you want to shop at Amazon from Portugal, you normally shop at Amazon Spain or perhaps Amazon Germany. If you shop from outside the EU, for example at a US store, expect to pay lots of money in customs charges (and for your delivery to be held up).

The challenge of getting things delivered, whether an online shopping order or a letter from overseas, is a constant complaint amount expats. It is something you get used to, though, and, like many of the other things in this list, is a small price to pay for what you get in return.

Noise levels

If you live in an apartment in Portugal, it’s not unusual to hear your neighbours watching TV, talking or arguing, listening to music, or just about everything else. And, if they live above you, you’ll probably hear them walking around as well.

Noise levels in Portugal are nowhere near as high as in neighbouring Spain where everyone seems to walk around their apartments in clogs, but it will take some getting used to if you’re from a country where things are a little bit quieter.

Not all apartments have noise issues, especially the more modern ones, and you can insulate an apartment to reduce noise levels, but it is something to be aware of.

The Smoking

While smoking is on the way out in many countries, smoking is still quite common in Portugal. It’s something that you will get used to with time.

But, even though you’ll get used to walking into a cloud of smoke every now and then, there are definitely times when it can be a downside.

Portugal definitely isn’t the only European country where smoking is common. It’s similar in France, Spain, and Germany.

Comments Policy: This article attracts a mixture of comments: some people who believe the pros of living in Portugal outweigh the cons and others who are frustrated with life in Portugal and want to vent their anger. While comments pointing out the negative sides of Portugal are allowed, there’s a diplomatic and a constructive way of doing this and there’s a way that’s unhelpful and simply negative. Comments that are negative and without any substance will be removed.

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Article originally published on 6 January, 2019

577 thoughts on “22 Downsides to Living in Portugal”

  1. I’ll make this brief because it is a sad truth. I am a retired American woman and got caught in a situation in a very posh Algarve town where I was assaulted by the woman partner of my landlord and systematically abused, had windwhield broken, utilities turned off, signs put on my car and door humiliating me, and the assault was savage. She didn’t like that I was living there and not her. The landlord a known man in town, CTT stole my acceptance for legal aid, the police kept me in the dark until the case was dismissed without me knowing it.
    Tried to reopen it and the Portuguese bullies hacked all my technology. The law enforcement did the bare minimum of filling out a sheet of info. The drunken attackers were protected and everything was done to keep me from any justice…so far. Will keep at it. The police, lawyers, post office, nobody did anything to help me as the victim.

    I would advise that you think about Portugal as this is not an unusual situation. The legal system is terrible.

  2. Forgot also to say I met a Portuguese business guy who had by co-incidence also spent part of his childhood in England. Now lived mainly outside Portugal in South Africa, Brazil and other places, and came back to Portugal occasionally. He said to me “the Portuguese are basically still peasants”.

    Well – he said it. And he knows.

    The thing about the unfriendly cafe. I often encountered that in Lisbon. They seemed suspicious of customers, or at least new customers, faces they hadnt seen before. Again – a backward peasant style mentality. And this was Lisbon, not some place way out in the country. Never experienced it eg in Germany.

    • Now imagine how we “suffer” living in a small village in the Azores 1700 km west from Lisbon, in the middle of Atlantic ocean. The services are terrible, the awful incompetence and ignorance and the cruel dentists, oh my god!!! And the ever permeating “punishments” by the locals spreading false rumours about you and thgen you are unable to do anything or get any help…

      • Sorry to hear that. I would argue that moving into a small village in Portugal, Spain and basically most of the European countries is always a risky move. Those people live next to each other for generations and it is very difficult to fit into such society, one bad interaction and you upset the entire village since most of those people are always kind of relatives. It is also hard to move out since properties in such places are hard to rent or sell. I would not even do it in my own country.

  3. Very good analysis of the downsides of Portugal. Interesting also to read the comments.

    I spent a year in Lisbon, coming from Germany where I have lived for many years as well as in other countries so I have plenty to compare with (expat from UK).

    I had been interested in Lisbon as a potential relocation destination having seen a lot of “digital nomad” location independent type blogs and videos, so then went to the city for 3 weeks to see what it was like.

    Had a good impression, it helped also that it was Spring when I went and not winter. Was aware of the “backward” aspect of some things, plus all the hills – not so good for me because I like cycling. Germany has cycle paths everywhere, whereas in Lisbon if you cycled you were an oddity. I lived outside Lisbon city in a suburb, but even so there was no cycle infra for the most part. It was also extremely hard work with all the hills. People would hoot at you in amusement as they drove past in their cars.

    Anyway, I greatly enjoyed the three week reconnaisance trip. But I then found that visiting and living in a place are indeed two very different things.

    The point about the dogs barking I hadn’t anticipated until I lived there. Practically every house in my street – a villa area, had a dog or often several dogs in the front yards (all locked and bolted – which makes the area seem like a set of fortresses. People in houses in England do not generally live behind locked and bolted gates and high fences.

    Even apartments often had a dog on their balcony barking all day long. Whenever you walked down the street a load of barking would start up from each side of the road, it got very tedious. Keeping dogs like that and just letting them bark all day – and often in the night as well to me seems like a form of backward rural or gypsy behavior.

    In Germany it is just not permitted, illegal. But in Portugal it is accepted as normal. Even the house where my apartment was the owners on the ground floor had two noisy dogs, out in the yard all the time, barking sometimes even after midnight. I think Portuguese consider dogs to be a sort of standard accepted burglar alarm system. Have a house (or apartment?)… then you must have a dog. Or preferably two or three or more. And let them bark all the time.

    There were rows of terrace owner occupier houses – with the most gaudy designs and colors eg pink turrets etc, and with locked front yards, where the dogs would bark and cack on the ground all day while the owners were away at work paying the mortgage. Yuck. Imagine having to clear that up every single day first thing when you come back from work. Rather them than me.

    Other things: the incredible backwardness with e-commerce and internet and also snail post and parcel delivery. Amazon and Ebay dont even have websites for Portugal, people tend to use the Spanish ones instead (and they both have them for Netherlands and Belgium, so it is not due to the smaller size of the country). Also makes running an ecommerce business very difficult.

    Also importing, even from within the EU, the Portuguese authorities obstruct. Lots of protectionism – despite all the bla-bla about “Single Market” and “Level playing field in Europe”. Load of crapola from Barnier and co.

    Cars cost a fortune so I hear. And trying to import one from more cheaper countries in the EU is made intentionally very difficult. More protectionism.

    The winter was not pleasant. In fact I have never been so cold in my life – and I have lived in UK and Germany. Never again. The building did not have any central heating. Clothing and bedding went moldy within 1-2 weeks. It was a horrible experience.

    The locals could be a bit backward. Not just the dog keeping thing, but also things like people tending vegetable/chicken coop plots on derelict building land among the ruins. And this was the suburbs of Lisbon.

    I heard a lot of things from other expats about sneaky and troublesome behaviour of locals, jealousy if a northern European bought a house in their area etc, rumor spreading, making trouble, gossip etc. Again that is all socially backward stuff. Also problems with businesses, services, utilities, bureaucracy. I also experienced this myself.

    I remember a cafe on a beach front, pleasant inside, and on my first trip there had free-wifi. Run by a family, but they weren’t very friendly and seemed even hostile and cold.

    Then when I moved to Lisbon, I visited it again – and found they had removed the wifi. Not only that they now had a notice up in Portuguese and English saying “No working on laptops or tablets”. And they were just as cold and unfriendly as before. So I thought, last time I come here. Pity. And very strange. Funny attitude to business. Once again – backward.

    Also all the tourists in Lisbon got on my nerves. All doing the same dumb things. Tram number 14 or whichever it was, I never went on it, but its the one they all go on. Locals who live on the route cant get on because of all the stupid tourists going up and down. Pickpocket Express so I hear.

    Queuing outside that one custard tart shop in Belem etc (there are other custard tart bakeries!). Etc etc. Not real Lisbon, its a tourist disneyland form of it. But I guess thats a problem everywhere so not solely a Lisbon or Portugal thing.

    All in all I would not move to Portugal to live. Its fine to visit and stay for eg a month or so, but don’t try to live there if you are a northern European, you will be disappointed and frustrated and will curse the place.

    Go to Lisbon to visit, go on tram 14 and visit the custard tart shop where you can queue for ages outside and be fleeced once you get in. But don’t expect much else. Keep Portugal at a distance, dont expect it be better, and you won’t be disappointed.

    As a result of experiences in Portugal I am wary also of Spain. I hear they go in for the barking dog thing…. Also cold buildings in winter. And chaos, chaos chaos. I will stick to Germany and northern Europe.

    • This literally looks you are making an hotel review.
      Its a country not a perfect place for you to live peacefully.
      If you want no noise, no dogs , just a place to make you happy and confortable go to a villa in Algarve .

  4. I moved to Portugal almost ten months ago and I’ve traveled all around to decide where I wish to live. First of all, the people have been most welcoming. From immigration to getting paper work done, only USA immigration officials have been inappropriate and arrogant. Here, you’re treated like a human and not whatever label society has given you. I do notice that the Portuguese are friendly, but keep to themselves. I haven’t entirely been able to integrate with them although I am learning the language and can say a few things here and there. From the Algarve to Porto, each area has its pros and cons. The Algarve seems great for retirees but not for younger folks looking for a social life. Madeira island is a dream of a place if you wish to live on an island. Porto is by far my favorite area, but apparently has terrible winters.
    No place is perfect. All in all, the friendliness of the people (they actually say good morning), the quality of the food, and the beauty of the country, make me feel like I made the best decision ever for my quality of life. I’m also aware that I’m a privileged expat and make more money than the locals. They struggle with low wages but still seem
    much friendlier and happier than many people I have seen around the world.

  5. I would like to mention something about safety since many people take it into consideration, specifically about Portugal being “ranked 3”. The global peace index is relatively useless when measuring personal safety, it includes things like weapon exports, military expenditure, neighboring country relation (good to be an island or having only one neighbor), UN funding etc.

    So how can a relatively corrupt country like Portugal be safer than for example, Switzerland or Japan? It is not. When it comes down to the actual crime index rate, Portugal is placed around ~30. Therefore, it is relatively safe, but behind many developed countries, and certainly nothing overwhelming safe like many of the expat services suggest.
    Furthermore, just like in the most places, you get what you pay for. Cheap apartment in a filthy area – probably not the most pleasant people around.

    • Hi Smith,

      I agree with you on the Global Peace Index.

      Anecdotally, however, I would say Portugal feels safer than some other countries I’ve lived (like the UK) and travelled (like the US), and that’s what a lot of people will be comparing Portugal to. Cheap apartments in filthy areas are best avoided anywhere, but they’re not as bad in Portugal. Still wouldn’t recommend, though.

      Here, I don’t really have to worry about muggings or random violent crime and, generally speaking, feel safe walking around at night in the towns and cities. That’s not to say these types of crimes don’t happen, but it’s less of a concern here.

      • Hello James,

        Indeed, I feel the same, Portugal feels generally safer then UK, France or Italy, and it doesn’t have the extreme crime rate differences between neighborhoods like in the US where feeling very safe/unsafe mainly depends from your wallet. Portugal seems to me like a non-violent culture overall, which is also a big plus.
        My point is only – if safety is top priority there are better choices than Portugal, where you will feel even safer.

  6. I moved to Portugal in May hoping to make it my permanent home base after 8 years on the road as a digital nomad.

    During those eight years, I have lived in Australia, Mexico, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Spain, and now Portugal. And to be honest, of all these countries, Portugal is the place I like the least, by far.

    I have to agree with all of Jame’s assessments. Many are just a minor inconvenience. But the one I have found the hardest to deal with is the Portuguese penchant for being so damn negative about everything. Even the way they carry themselves and the look on their face as they walk down the street is depressing. They have zero positive energy. It’s like permanent-grieving is the national past time here. So even once you make a Portuguese friend, you don’t really want to be around them, because they’re such a freakin’ downer all the time.

    So if you’re like me, and your emotional state is easily affected by those around you, I suggest you consider Spain, where the people are notoriously happy 24-7.

    And then there’s the bureaucracy, which at normal times is bad, but right now is downright dangerous. Give serious consideration to moving here if you have any health issues, or at least until the covid epidemic is truly over.

    As others here have already posted above, no matter how many hoops I jump through, documents I bring, etc, etc, I keep being denied access to a vaccine. That is, unless I want to (wink, wink) pay a 3rd party agency who will then bribe the government official with part of my fee to get me an appointment.

    When push comes to shove, you see the true character of a nation. And a nation that would deny foreign residents access to basic healthcare that could save their life, even though they are law abiding and tax paying, is not a nation I would ever choose to live in. Because no amount of sun, cheap living, or good surf is worth risking my life.

    • Hi Xavier
      Thank you for your input, it was grate to read you!
      It has been very useful to know so many things, that are important for a future life abroad. I was thinking very seriously to move to Portugal, now I will think it better.

    • No wonder they all look miserable – it’s an ugly country, filthy, high prices for very low quality, stuck in another past century, dog poo everywhere, people are loud, ugly and primitive. Portugal is ok only for the rich who come to retire and haven’t a clue about the country is about. It’s a total rip off for tourists.

      • I am curious as to where in Portugal you have been and how long you stayed. I have visited four times since 1974 and have never found the people to be loud, quite the contrary, nor have I found the country to be ugly or primitive. I have been to all the regions except the Algarve as I don’t really care for beaches or hot weather.

      • Please see my post on Quora Whats so bad about Portuguese people? It seems that you have copied me! Intersting how the Portuguese start to insult once you cpomplain about them!

    • Just go to your local public health centre and sign up for the Utente number. After being registered in the public healthcare service you can book your vaccination appointment online. It`s a very simple process. All that talk of bureaucracy and corruption in Portugal is way exaggerated !

      • I doesn’t work that way. As a new resident it takes some time till you get your Utente number, even longer during pandemic. There is a nice form you can fill out without the Utente number, and they are supposed to give you an appointment, but it will never happen. I had exactly the same experience. Only solution – I could pay some agency, or go there and simply be lucky.
        AFAIK, it was recently a topic of the Portuguese government, they know that they made it very difficult for new residents. I don’t think it has been done on purpose, but once again incompetency and “I don’t care” approach.

        Such things are something to consider, I wouldn’t blame Portuguese people though, but the Portuguese bureaucracy and corruption can hit everyone very hard at some point. Do you need some paper work done? There is low predictability how long will it take, and what you might need. At some point you gonna lose money, opportunities, time, or health, because of such things.
        Of course, I could cope with high bureaucracy and corruption in a country with very low cost of living and low taxes, but in a country with developed world prices and over 40% taxes I see it different.

    • My only caveat to your comment is that you can’t really tell the character of a nation regarding foreigners by the individual experience of a foreign resident with healthcare. Perhaps a better measure would be the difference of experience between foreign and national residents in that regard.

      I find it plausible/likely that your experience is unrelated to any attitude of the Portuguese people and/or instututions towards foreigners, but rather a damning statement on the overall state of the Portuguese healthcare system and its inability to cope with present conditions.

      That said, you’re totally on the money that no amount of local pleasantry is worth risking your life.

  7. I agree there is a lot of barking dogs in Portugal, however I do not mind them at all. The real problem here is all the feral dogs and the dogs that people allow to roam free. I have a small dog and he has been attacked here several times by unsupervised or feral dogs. We have had dogs stalk us and I had to chase them away. I have been pretty badly hurt protecting my small dog here. I have had many, many dogs charge at me while riding a motorcycle and I have to kick them to keep them away from me. I was staying on a mini farm in a small city and the feral dogs would kill the animals here. They lost a young sheep, 2 chickens, and a mother turkey and her young child all within a short period of time.

    Aside from the dogs running out into the street I think the driving in Portugal is fine. I would take driving here any day over driving in Southern California or along the US East Coast. The gas here is ridiculously expensive though, probably double to triple what it costs in the US (about $2 per liter).

  8. It’s all okay except the fact that when we order something from a foreign country it takes like 1 to 3 weeks to arrive to Lisbon, but from Lisbon to the Azores we almost always wait for 1 month to 2 months!!! And sometimes the parcels disappear or there are attempts by the CTT staff to steal them from us.

  9. I’m looking forward to moving to Portugal soon, lived in Portugal before, living in the United States now. Considering there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners living in Portugal and only a few hundred that are not happy is encouraging. There are lots of YouTube videos with testimonials from happy expats living in Portugal. Many newspaper and magazine articles with testimonials of expats living in Portugal, most experiences are positive.

    I don’t think Portugal is the right country if you are seeking employment, wages are very low, good jobs are hard to find; But for retirees and people with foreign income, it is a great possibility! Yes bureaucracy is terrible, think California Department of Motor Vehicles. Yes, buyer beware, due your research. Not all homes have bad insulation, not all neighborhoods have dog barking issues, yes, you can buy a home for under $100,000 euros and you can also buy a home for over $20 million euros. The jails in the United States are full of crooks and even more crooks out of jail. Yes, you will have crooks everywhere. Yes, bad contractors in the United States will do bad jobs, recent building collapse in Florida is an example. Yes some restaurants will have bad service, go somewhere else.

    Foreigners in Portugal are a double edged sword. I fear a tsunami of foreigners from all over the world moving to Portugal in the next few years. The Portuguese worry that cost of living will go up due to this, yet foreigners will also help the economy. I think most Portuguese welcome people who want to live there.

    You can live in the Algarve, Lisbon/Cascais, Porto and Funchal without needing to learn Portuguese. However, I think it always helps if you try to learn at least a few phrases.

    I think the judicial system in Portugal is terrible therefore I would avoid situations where judicial courts are needed. I also intend to hire trusted professionals to deal will tax, residency, real estate matters. If you enjoy pain, you can always try everything yourself. As my former boss used to say “Better you than me!”

    • Hey David, I am from the US too. I was looking forward to living here but the real estate market here is a nightmare. Before you move here I suggest that you start researching house prices at least 6 months in advance. Portugal does not release home sale prices to the public, the price a house sells for is kept hidden from everyone. There is no sales comps here, and there is no record of how long a property sits on the market. It takes a very long time to understand market value here. Most homes are priced 20% or more above market value and they will sit on the market a long time hoping that a naive foreigner will purchase it. A home priced near market value will get lots of interest and offers and it will sell very quickly. The real estate companies here are horrible, especially the international companies. I have been hearing many horrible stories about buying a home here, and there is no title insurance here either. We have given up and we are making plans to return to the US. I strongly suggest that if you want to move to Portugal you should consider renting rather than buying. Save yourself the stress!

      • Hello Jerry
        I could not agree with you more. My personal story is I have lived in Portugal for 6 years with one advantage over many expats is; I speak, read and write Portuguese fluently. Although not my first language but proficient enough to tackle my way through the judicial system. It seems to me that nobody in the public service is capable to provide full and complete information requested and with an attitude as if I should excuse myself for disturbing them, UNBELIEVABLE!!! I have heard testimonials of British expats have been taken for thousands of euros (in one case €20k) when they entrusted lawyers through proxy in Portugal and the authorities turned a blind eye. I, personally have been three times in judicial disputes and when I read the judgements rendered I can not believe the belligerent contradictions and when the articles of law were sited and testimonials provided all were completely ignored. Needless to say I lost all the disputes.

        The real estate business in Portugal is at best completely incompetent and dishonest as compared to U.S. and Canada. I can only laugh when an agent offers to do a market study of my property when there are no sales comparatives or any other trustworthy data available. All a sad Joke!!! My experience in Portugal has been a mix of good and bad and a huge culture shock and I am having to rethink my decision to live in this society.

      • Thank you for the input Jerry. I do plan to rent for at least the first year and I do plan to hire both an attorney to look over title issues and contracts. I’ll also be using professionals for tax matters. CNBC the investment channel showcased an American family that just bought their second home in Portugal and no issues with either of the two purchases. One was in the Silver Coast, not sure where the second property was. Youtube has several other videos of Americans and Brits who have bought properties in Portugal, most of them used attorneys and real estate agents . There’s an American lady that lives in Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the Algarve that has helped many expats with real estate purchases. I don’t think she’s an agent herself but she has contacts with several real estate companies in the Algarve and also with Coldwell Banker in Cascais.

    • Portuguese people are generally welcoming to foreigners, the outdated bureaucracy and business culture are not.

      Your plan sounds great, just be careful with “hiring a trusted professionals to deal with tax, residency and real estates” – finding the right and trusted one is just as painful as the rest, yet you can not do a lot without one. In most cases they are not even crooks with bad intention – they simply do not care about customers, and things taking very long, also paying more money does not fix it.
      Definitely rent first.

      • Thank you for the heads up Martin. I do plan to ask for referrals from several expats. I’m at least two years away from moving to Portugal as I have to achieve financial independence before making the move. Renting first for at least a year.

      • Nick best wishes on your possible move to the Algarve! Algarve is one of my possible choices too. I’m at least two years away from a move as I need to achieve financial independence first.

    • It’s all marketing and the government makes it easy for foreigners. Quality of life? Barely meets basics. A very primitive country still stuck somewhere 60-80 years in the past, still excusing it’s inefficiency and laziness on account of the dictatorship (which ended over 50 years ago). If anyone is vaguely still alive and has 2 cells ticking in their brains, they would go elsewhere – somewhere worth it. Definitely not this primitive backwards place.

      • If it is so bad for you, then go live somewhere else. Apparently you do not have good quality of life there so why stay?There are 195 countries in the world according to Google. Go ahead and pick one, live there for a few years and see how it compares.

  10. I’ve lived here for 13 years, ranging from Lisbon, to the central interior mountains, to now near the coast by Figueira da Foz. I speak Portuguese fluently but will likely always have my English accent. I’m now a Portuguese citizen. I’ve been in Rancho Folclórico, briefly in the Bombeiros, and other social groups in Portugal.
    There is a substantial amount of camaraderie amongst males, particularly with alcohol involved.
    (alcohol consumption is one of the few activities that occur socially in many smaller villages. Small villages exist even near to urban areas, and the mentality will be countryside rather than urban)

    I’ve found it difficult to meet any single women. I find it generally a shy culture, despite the boisterous voices in the café. I see plenty of men out and about, and older folks (the old generation still works hard and moves a lot here, it’s inspiring. they “have salt” as it’s said.) walking and carrying things about.
    I generally get a whiff of “don’t bother me please” from women ages 20-50 or so, as if there were pushy men bothering them often. I’m not sure if this is the case, or in which contexts it is (I have female friends who say that the men here on dating apps can be rather vulgur, despite being basically mommy’s boys at age 30-40 still, unable to wash or cook properly etc.) as most of the men I see are either married or act otherwise uninterested in flirtation etc, like they would like nothing better than some beers with the boys.

    I’m not interested in acting pushy or bothering anyone, but it’s been years and years since I dated anyone and I’m not ugly nor poor nor lazy, etc. I’m foreign. I will always be foreign. I will never enter their world, and that basically is clear to me, that underneath all the liberal-minded rhetoric, that one is welcome to be a foreigner spending money here, but that one is probably best off staying in ones own enclave.
    I’m not surprised that many Algarvian Brits find it all peachy, as they rarely leave the English-speaking bubble. I LIVE in the world of Portuguese and can say that I miss:
    Symphonies, classical cultural appreciation, foreign foods (Food nationalism is a thing here.) actual forests with mixed species of trees, and possibly other things. (there’s too much pop music and plastic pop culture here, it’s like total worship for the American Nightmare)

    I can say that here we have:
    Amazing fruits and vegetables, amazing raw materials for good cooks (only partially taken advantage of in culinary traditions) lots of egg-creme pastries, cheap quality tipple, cheap quality meats, compassion for other humans (very important) and great emergency medical care (the SNS is great. consultations can take some time to get bookings for, and generally Concelhos will vary in terms of the competency and friendliness of the local health center and getting assigned a family doctor, etc.)
    It’s a great place to raise children and generally very safe and family-oriented, which is probably the cause of some of the boredom I’ve complained about above. I get the sense that family and village life basically overshadow any independent decisions people make, and they are concerned about social judgement at every turn.

  11. Hi!

    I’m Nenye and I’m a Nigerian who is looking to move to Portugal in a few months with my girlfriend. I have lived in the US and China so I have seen my fair share of discrimination based on the colour of my skin. I was wondering if there are any black persons or people of colour who might be willing to share their experiences living in Portugal( preferably living in Lisbon or Porto)


  12. We are 75 and 86 and are retired English living in the Algarve…have been coming here on and off for many years to our holiday apartment. Loved it so much that we took out residency pre Brexit, and said Tchau to our friends and family back in Blighty. Of course they can and do come to stay, or did before Covid. Yes I miss them all but thanks to social media can keep in touch. So, do we regret our move? No, it is great here, but I do have some regrets.
    The downsides are , for us, the medical issues. Of course we can access the Portuguese national health service and for the one emergency we have had in the last three years, a trip to the local hospital A and E department proved brilliant. Excellent service with timely care and attention. However, our town does not have a family doctor and if we need to renew our prescriptions or see a g.p we have to go to the next large town to the Health Centre to take our chances with whoever is on duty. This might be a Cuban doctor , a Portuguese or whatever, none of whom have spoken English. With my attempts to supply the information needed in rudimentary Portuguese and with the assistance of Mr Google s translations we’ve managed to make ourselves understood. One of us has a long term cancer and the treatment obtained in the U.K. is not available here on the nhs, nor is there a local oncologist…we are met by the Portuguese shrug when we asked for a referral. So, what we do is adopt a pay as you go method. ( we’ve both been turned down for private medical insurance as we are both too old and with existing conditions.)
    We visit a private doctor for a repeat of the regular prescriptions we had in the U.K., pay the going rate, order the medication from the pharmacist, paying the going rate and thus find ourselves self medicating. . Blood tests can be obtained locally from private clinics. If anything is untoward then it would be back to the private quack. So far we remain fit and able to function but we do worry what will happen when we get older and and more frail. I do miss the British NHS where you get a yearly medication check etc and you can at least speak to someone on the phone.
    The other downside is the post Brexit bureaucracy. We’ve had to change our U.K. driving licences for Portuguese ones and the delays on this are immense. No government departments ever pick up the phone. You have to go to them, queue, make an appointment and then wait sometimes months for resolution. We are waiting for a biometric residency card which has been over a year in the pipeline. And don’t get me started on the online application for a proof of Covid vaccination certificate…..a website in my opinion not fit for purpose.
    Another downside…parcels and post. Forget getting international birthday presents and Christmas parcels… you won’t receive them and you can bet the Quinta your parcels won’t reach their destination either! There must be a huge hangar somewhere with abandoned correspondence between Portugal and the rest of the world.
    What else is disappointing? Graffiti, dog poo, barking dogs…yes, all that. But not too noticeable in our area fortunately. Maybe worse in the cities.
    It’s a bit of a cultural desert in the Algarve though maybe I’m just ignorant about what is possible…I’m interested in the history of the Muslim occupation and this isn’t very well documented… or perhaps not well advertised. I’m working on it. Museums are here but. You’d need the cities for theatre though we sometimes get a special orchestra concert in the next town. Still you can travel further afield for this.
    However, we have terrific beaches, boardwalks, nature trails, flowers, mountains, fresh wholesome food, heavenly bread, wine, glorious sunshine, clean public areas, friendly, courteous, helpful honest locals, plenty of societies to join eg. Golf, bridge, yoga, language classes, many charities to whom you can volunteer your time, well stocked markets and shops,bars, cafes, restaurants, a plethora of barbers, hairdressers, nail bars, day spas and so on , churches, crown green bowling, ordinary bowling, football , motor racing, keep fit classes…plenty of different nationalities joining in. No need to feel isolated. If you want peace and quiet you can find places to chill, no problem.
    I mustn’t forget to mention Afpop either who are an excellent organisation to join for help and advice on all things relating to your new life in Portugal. They also provide social outings in different areas to get you started off . They’ve been invaluable for residency queries and help with tackling officialdom since we moved here.
    I can definitely recommend the Algarve for retirees,as we love our life here, but suggest you air and b or rent somewhere before making the final plunge… and try to get the basics of the language before you come, it really helps.

    • As an immigrant in Portugal it’s about time you learn the language. Why should they speak English to accommodate your needs? Try going to the GP in England, speak Portuguese and complain that don’t understand you!

      • I come from a country with eleven official languages (there should actually be 12) and even here English is the common language for the most part. English is the most widely spoken language in the world and thus a default second language for most bilingual people. The same cant be said of Portuguese unfortunately so your suggestion is not really appropriate given the above.

        • Wish you the best on trying to impose your native language in any foreign country….

          Just maybe you should be the one trying to learn the local language when those “12 official languages” are missing.

          Good look old tart.

      • Yeah Bob,
        I hear what your saying. I’m planning on retiring outside the USA. Portugal is number 1 right now. Before I make the move(3 to 5 years) I will learn as much of the local language as I can.
        I really bothers me here in the US when immigrants refuse to learn any English. I’m not going to be that guy.

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for your information.

      May I know which part of Algarve is good for living and daily swimming.
      And why rare English speaking Healthcare staff at Algarve which is well known as English speaking community?

      Why’s “the treatment obtained in the U.K. is not available here on the nhs, nor is there a local oncologist…we are met by the Portuguese shrug when we asked for a referral.”. Shortage of good doctors or SNS does actually cover some diseases?


    • Hi Margaret
      Thank you for your honest, clear and well balanced information.
      I am (or was) thinking to move to Portugal next year, for my retirement.
      I tried to fly one month ago, to visit Portugal, but it was not possible due to the virus.
      Your information is helpful and make me clear that not everything is like a thought. easier, lighter.
      Thank you so much

  13. Amanda, I live in SE Asia and have identified Funchal as a possible second home. Two questions:

    Is the Funchal area good for a bike rider?

    What is the bureaucracy (immigration and social services) like in Funchal? I used to live in a major town in my current country of residence and immigration was a nightmare. Recently moved to a town of 65000 and night and day experience. Immigration is very easy to deal with.

    • Is the Funchal area good for a bike rider?
      Absolutely not! Islands too small for bikers unless you like tunnels full of petrol fumes
      Funchal stinks of fumes from buses and 100’s of taxi’s.
      Search Margaret Fields before moving to Madeira and check the local papers.
      I just read Madeira police stripped naked a 70 year pensioner and chucked him in prison because he had apparently written emails to his debtor in another country.
      On Madeira, the blood line is long and deceit is common. Personally, I’d stay away. Bureaucracy is a nightmare, not just on Madeira but also mainland

    • Funchal has a very dangerous airport, with no alternatives. That’s what prevented me from moving to Madeira. Planes crash in Funchal, people die, because of short runway and terrible side winds. Try São Jorge island in the Azores instead.

  14. Hi

    I’m looking to move to algrave with my gran, we both hold EU passports. We are currently in South Africa where there are power cuts , no water for days and no real government benefits unless you pay for everything yourself. In terms of creating your own job are expats there more of a community and helping other expats or is it basically Everyman for himself? In terms of opening a small business is there a forum anyone could assist with?

    Thank you just so tired of getting no where..

    • Hi Jaci,

      I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle. There is a good community of expats in the Algarve, but I imagine that, like anywhere else, you would have to get to know people before asking for favours. If you start a business, ultimately it’ll be your responsibility, although I think you’ll get plenty of answers to your questions in the various expat Facebook groups (e.g. South Africans helping South Africans).

      Also, the Portuguese government sounds like it’s better than the South African government, but I wouldn’t expect much in the way of support or benefits.

  15. In Portugal most services and companies will more or less spend some effort to attract your money, but after you pay you can forget about it. Once you pay, you are at their mercy and don’t expect high quality of service or goods. Forget about a refund unless it is a box store. They will respond to emails at their convenience and most emails won’t be responded if it creates inconvenience to them. It’s totally unpredictable therefore you must be EXTREMELY CAREFUL (!!!) what you buy and how you send your money. Most means not all. There are honest and hard working companies and serv4ces as well and there are those in the middle range. Yet in general a selfish and unpredictable attitude prevails. Amanhã usually means much much later or never, but never tomorrow or even next week.

    • Completely agree , you are obliged to prepay everything and then you can expect the worst. In more developed cpuntries you pay 2 weeks after delivery and can return the items without any sinister restriction.
      If you call or email them, you need to have patience and perseverance!

      I for my part have decided to refrain from any online purchases alltogether, experience is just too traumatic when you have to deal with lethargic, depressed and unresponsive folks!

      • I feel exactly the same. Online shopping is not an option. They wont deliver it to your home, you have to pick it up or it disappears. Goods delivered are also neither cheap or of good quality. No option of “supporting the local economy”. Amazon is much better, but even then you have to deal with Portuguese shipping companies who don’t want to deliver.

        Other professionals I met like lawyers, repairmen, internet provider or real estate agents are also very unreliable.
        Portugal has some friendly laws/regimes/people, but benefiting from it is another story, because many fundamentals things people take for granted are not working in Portugal. For example, with the documentation it takes to open a simple bank account in Portugal you could open elsewhere several companies

        • I wholeheartedly agree on everything you wrote. We tried to find good quality thermos. Not possible. The cheap ones for say €9 are crap. The more expensive ones for €20-€40 are also crap, break down quickly and don’t hold the heat for longer than 2 hours. One water tap broke into two pieces after 7 days after it was installed. And yes, the “professionals” in Portugal are poorly trained, but I found a couple handymen who are doing a fine work, albeit expensive at €12 per hour. Regarding banking, well, they now charge you to talk to live staff at the bank and one CGD branch has a Master Crook as branch manager. We reported him to the CGD management, ut years later he still works there and the second time I did business with that branch the Master Crook manager tried to pull a much steeper con on me. He made the ATM machine jam with my card inside. Yes, as soon as he saw me walking to the ATM machine (the other ATM was being worked on) he ran quickly to the back of it, from his managerial position, opened the back door of the ATM and did something and them my card jammed and would not come out. I already did the withdrawal digitally, but no cash or receipt or even my card came out! I knocked on the glass door since it was past 15:00 hours and they were closed to the public. Took a while to convince him to talk to me. He then told me that I already got my cash and that my card was in my pocket. Insisted again and again, finally he caved in and took my card out of the ATM and gave me the withdrawal receipt but not the cash. Then I insisted again and told him I will go to the police station and report him to the bank’s HQ., Finally he caved in and gave me my cash. This is how they do it in Portugal. Sure this has happened in the US as well, many times, the cashiers over there are smart and are good psychologists.

  16. Although I appreciate your comments, it is quite obvious you are not from, nor have ever lived in, the “glamorous” city of Miami. Corruption? Bureaucracy? Customer service? Closed social circles? Expensive? Noise? Driving? OMG, I’m on the FLOOR lmao!!! Portugal is a piece of cake, comparatively speaking!!!

    • Right on brother: I live in Edgewater so I will be prepared for Porto and able to “deal.” Living here 30 years has prepared me for all that coming up with the move; here is like New York on the water.
      Noise may be a problems in Porto but not like the cut off mufflers on cars the police don’t do anything about that sound like a bomb exploded and you can hear them still three blocks away!

  17. WOW!! What a bunch of whingers. I get there will be some downsides to living in PT and some of these items raised are no doubt real. Anywhere you live will have bad and good points. Would say you have left somewhere for the same reasons. Wherever you live wont be perfect. Maybe some of you (not all) just are miserable and will be unhappy wherever you live.

    Anyway I am still going to move over there within next 6-9 months. I hope I dont turn into one of the many in hear.

    • I would say it depends.
      Some people might actually have some mental problems and always hope to find paradise, just to be completely disappointed short time after arrival.
      Others are just not that experienced and have no idea what problems might arise when they move to another country. For example, poorly insulated houses in PT. They are not just cold, it makes also noise levels go up like hell. Narrow streets, poor insulation in houses, a lot of motorcycles and dogs all year long results in very noisy residential areas. Good luck as remote worker or noise sensitive person.

    • Aj, thank you for your positive comments on moving to Portugal. My husband & I are considering the same thing next May. We are looking at Lisbon for 3 months then will decide from there. I, too, hope I remain positive through my experience.

    • No AJ; that won’t happen; these folks have prepared us for all the pitfalls so we’ll be aware and work our plan! Thanks people.

  18. Hi James,

    You’ve generated a productive debate, teased out a lot of feedback, thank you. Tales of corruption and neglect are very familiar and are not Portugal specific. It’s more likely to affect immigrants or the poorest of locals, again, like everywhere else. I appreciate how painful the dashed hopes for sunny, orderly, cultural paradise can be.

    At the end of it all is a question – “is it worth it for me & my family?”. This is what expats are saying here, in comments, and I couldn’t agree more. EVERY country has a historic context, a lot of common behaviour is a result of adaptation to adverse conditions of the past (or present). It takes a generation or two for serious changes to take roots. There is no quick fixes. There is no paradise. But it is possible to find a likeminded community where you feel home enough, even if the dogs go spastic barking for hours.

    Thanks everyone for sharing opinions, hope you all find happy living compromise in Portugal. I am going to, once the pandemic is dealt with.

    P.S. I found that Pimsleur European Portuguese audio course is good, old school learn/practice method.

    • Hi Ellie! Thanks for the Pimsleur tip; I may try it. I stumbled on a couple of US expats living abroad for the past 9, Kalie & Josh. A lot of good tips from them. I’m going to have to locate their website again because I thought I heard them recommend a certain language program because it was local portuguese dialect as opposed to general Portuguese that the Brazilians speak. Do you know which one is Pimsleur? Will get back with you to their website videos when I locate it, thanks.

  19. A belated thanks for this very helpful list.

    I am a dual UK/Canadian citizen and was considering retiring to Portugal because of the D7 visa and its much lower income requirement than Spain (now that Brexit has made the UK a third country).

    I couldn’t receive my pensions till after Jan 2021 so can’t clear the Spanish financial bar. Portugal appealed, for many reasons, and I already speak passable Spanish and am learning Portuguese.

    However, research and your list have convinced me to stick to extended visits in the Med instead of upping sticks totally. After all, we still have 90 of every 180 days to spend in the EU. I abhor the extremist, nationalist political climate in England specifically. So six months abroad and a move to Scotland for the other six will suit me. This is a compromise that perhaps more should consider.

    • Hi Lucille,

      It’s definitely an option. Prior to Brexit, a lot of UK nationals were able to do six months in, six months out without every making a commitment. Unfortunately, that’s no longer an option.

      Obviously everywhere has its upsides and downsides and it’s really a case of deciding whether the pros outweigh the cons.

    • Oh you abhor this climate/discussion but prefer to retire in 2 parts of the world with almost no muslims and very homogenic society. You know that’s a little hypocrit do you?

  20. My previous comment seems to have not survived mediation review.
    I took a lot of time to relate my experience, but in the interest of not redoubling that effort, this one will be short.

    Labyrinthine bureaucracy coupled with poor training and incompetence makes for frustration and a hamstrung economy in normal times. In times of pandemic, it is dangerous.

  21. I’ll chime in.

    We’ve been here for almost 4 years, but today, I can officially say I regret our decision to move here.

    I have been trying to get my 79 year old mother vaccinated here. The government has officially declared that everyone, even if they are not legally here, can get the vaccine. My mother has completely legal residency here. I have been to the local health centre three times now, to try to get her ‘utente’ number, without which they will not vaccinate her. They keep asking me for something different that I do not have, each time I go there. They have even asked me for a document that I was able to explain to them made no sense, so they retracted that demand. Today I brought the document they told me was needed last time I was there: they barely looked at it, and asked me for something new.

    Online, the health authority says you need only two things to get this ‘utente’ number: a residency card, and a tax number. I had both of these at the ready the very first time I went there. But in Portugal, there is no such things as standardisation across government offices. In your local offices, they can make up anything they want. You will get a different story about what documentation you should bring, from each new individual you ask. And their word will be law. And you’d better hope that person is there the next time you come in, or the ‘law’ will probably change. And if that person is there, you’d better hope they are in a good mood, like your face, and that they remember what they told you.

    I knew this about Portugal before moving here: we starting having these sorts of experiences from the very moment we called the Portuguese consulate in Melbourne, Australia. And we were able to make our peace with it… until now. Because now, with the pandemic and the risk we take every time we get sent on a new wild goose chase to another office, to get another document that the health centre shouldn’t even be asking for, this is actually dangerous.

    My mother is 79 – they have finished vaccinating her age group here months ago. I even signed her up on a web page for people to get vaccinated with no ‘utente’ number, but nobody ever contacted us. My mother has been in her 1 bedroom apartment, non-stop, for over one year now. Her mental health is suffering. I can put up with all kinds of stupidity, until it becomes dangerous.

    We’re here now. We probably won’t move again. My mother is too old, and my partner and I are too tired. But for any of you who are wondering whether Portugal is right for you: heed my story. If you move here, on a long enough timeline, chances are this kind of tipping point may well happen for you too.

    • Hi there, first of all my sincere apologies not only as a portuguese native but as someone who lived her last 10 years in developed countries such Netherlands, Belgium and UK and just return to be close to my own family. I am really sorry that you and your mother are going through all that, but as a portuguese and as a human being I am making myself available to help. Let me know what clinique you re using and some more details so I can talk with those bastards.

      • Daniela PLEASE run for political office, become Mayor of a town and clean house of the “bastards” as you call them. All countries have their problems and a list of things that need to change. Italy is easily the closest southern EU competitor to Portugal in terms of the lack of regard for people in government buildings. Of course I refer only to non Italians experience when they are visiting these buildings. Actual Italians would never put up with what goes on here in Portugal. Upset Italians about anything, they all go on strike until they get what they want. Pay in Italy is much higher than in Portugal, and Italians get the most paid days off per year of all EU countries. Portugal has an issue with bank corruption. In Italy when an Italian goes to court against a bank, there is a 70% chance the Italian wins the lawsuit. Italian juries side with the people. Their “take no crap” attitude produces results. Remember the yellow vests in France a couple years ago? Bridges, highways…even the airports were blocked by the upset locals. All of that in-the-street action produced results.
        I have a young Portuguese friend who had to wait almost 3 months just to get a drivers license. Ridiculous. In my opinion the Portuguese people settle when they should be mad, organize and demand change.
        We used to live in Costa Del Sol, Spain. Estepona has a mayor that actually cares about doing his job. When campaigning he promised a new stadium, a new hospital, and to reduce debt. He did all. Estepona plants more flowers than much richer Marbella. Getting help while visiting a government building there is a given. Estepona operates extremely different (better) than all the others between Malaga and Gibraltar. All this from a new Mayor/attitude.
        Things can change for the better. It takes people decent people like you to do it.
        Please run for office.

    • Definitely take up Daniela on her offer. I took a pt friend to get set up with medical and she bossed them around until they sorted it out. By yourself they can just keep ignoring you.

  22. The thing about buying an old house in Portugal in the sticks is that most Portuguese don’t want old houses in the sticks. They want new, modern homes. So if you don’t like living there, your pool of buyers will be limited to other ex-pats who are as gullible as you were.

    • But would you really want to live “in the sticks” and on top of that renovate an old house with potentially incompetent trades people. I wouldn’t want to do it.

      • Its true…there is no healthy médium class standard in portugal housing unfortunately, like italy or france..lets Face it, is more ibérica or Arabic quality in portugal.You might get burnt alive in those 70 k prairie houses or petrify inside. And about people what can u say, there s 5 Lovely old women and the rest, is just questionin what the f..is your deal in their country, sort of…can i invade you or are you rich? hahah they re the ultímate trickers(No, we Know…you are better than Brasilians.. sure!), Middle east a bit further up

  23. I have lived in Portugal since few months now, mainly because of the NHR regime, not because I felt love in the country during some tourist trips. In fact, it is my first time here.

    Some of my thoughts I would like to share:

    1. Slow, things are slow. Professionals are slow and quite expensive for the average salaries here and service provided. So, taking a lawyer or any type of professional won’t save you from the bureaucracy.
    2. Weather is quite nice, but not phenomenal like in south of Spain or Canarias, because of the chilly winds. Beaches are great though.
    3. I think people are quite friendly, but not very open to strangers. Finding friends would be probably difficult. Older people are definitely traditionalists and I definitely wouldn’t move to a Portuguese village looking for some modern vibes. Had more good experiences than bad ones, especially with younger people.
    4. It is quite expensive. Gas, rentals, good food, services etc. Living in some trendy places would be even more expensive. It is something to consider for those who can afford only a farm house in rural Portugal but would like to live among academics, think twice. Either you can afford it, or you have to live next to some farmers with barking dogs. It is still better than cheapest areas in USA or Germany with scarier things than chained dogs, but not necessarily a great place to live.
    5. It feels very safe compared to many western countries. However, driving culture is questionable.

    • Hey Martin,

      I’m Junior I am 31yrs old I live In NYC, USA. My girlfriend has her heart set on moving to Portugal sometime in the near future, however I am skeptical about this move as I’m fearful of many of the items mentioned on this list especially the job market. I currently work in IT support and my girlfriend is a lawyer, I did notice in the article most expats bring their work with them. My girlfriend is trying to persuade me by the mention of being able to grow cannabis in Portugal. Point is I was just looking for your thoughts on my background and your current experiences living in Portugal. Also thank you for your post.

      • Hey,
        I will just share my thoughts based on my experience.

        I don’t know a lot of cannabis business here, but I would assume there are many regulations for that, especially if someone wants to do if for profit. Decriminalized use might sounds good, and it probably is, as long we speak about your own use. I don’t think you can grow big quantities and sell it without permits. Not in EU, especially not in Portugal.

        If your girlfriend is a lawyer licensed in USA and have studied the American law, I don’t think that there is a lot of work for her in Portugal. Maybe some international companies which are doing business in USA. Local lawyers companies practicing Portuguese law probably not really.

        Yes, most expats bring their work with them, or are financially independent. Salaries doesn’t seem very high in Portugal, you have to speak the language in the most cases. Furthermore, they have decent amount of immigrants from former Portuguese colonies who speak the language perfectly. Another thing is that the income tax cat get easily over 40%, so depending from what you earn and what you pay now it is something to consider.

        With NHR, which is basically tax benefits program for new residents, you might get a better deal, eventually. Just be careful which lawyer you gonna take who does your paperwork. There are many bad ones.

        You should also consider your immigration situation. A lot depends from which passports you and your girlfriend are holding. If you don’t have an EU passport you probably gonna need a visa.

        • Hi, Martin.
          Like you, I immigrated recently – from Denmark in this case. I am going for the NHR scheme to. Live in a rented apartment in the Seixal area on the southside of the Lisbon river. Am 53 years old and some part time hours on accounting and taxes for danish companies.
          On the NHR, I just had a bad experience on my first try to hire a lawyer and accounting in a 2-person-company to help me on the NHR and other tax and finance related topics. After signing and paying, I get no feedback/help.

          Martin, do you have an advisor on NHT etc that you can recommend ?

          • Hello,
            sorry for my late reply, not checking the comment section very often.

            My first experience was similar, greedy, zero feedback, slow, incompetent – overall work with the “local” in-person lawyer was more like pulling a teeth with a lot of nonsense, but after many weeks I got my residence.

            My second online law firm is called “Lexidy Law Boutique”. NHR process was fast, finance related topics not so much (less responsive, small errors here and there). Not sure if I can recommend them, but they were cheaper and more professional than the first lawyer. First call was also for free.

            Overall, many lawyers were asking me 200EUR for a consultation alone, in order to speak about a very generic and simple task. It is really hard for me to find someone decent. For that reason alone, I had to postpone my plans to buy a property in Portugal.

      • Although decriminalised cannabis isn’t legal. You’d maybe get away with a few plants but anything over 5 or 6 you’d still probably go to jail. Cultivation and owning seeds (weirdly) are contentious issues and you are only supposed to have 10 day supply at a gram a day to get off with a warning which is like a rehabilitation course as far as I can tell.

        Unless you’re a Canadian or Chinese company investing hundreds of thousands € into medicinal to benefit Swiss and Germans forget it as a business.

        Even a small grow is likely to draw attention from neighbours unless in a big city then rents will be high. I’ve overheard myself been accused of being a narco because why would a foreigner move to a small village in Portugal. A lot of older Portuguese are insular and suspect of foreigners in my experience.

        It’s a crazy reason to consider such a big change and I doubt you’ll be satisfied upon further research. Move to another state which is more accommodating of weed or somewhere that has no issue with it and a cheap cost of living like Colombia or Uruguay. Spanish is easier, cost of living is much cheaper, can use dollars and they are probably better places to live and people to be around. Spain is more tolerant, Czech Republic or Netherlands. It’s the worst reason to move here.

      • Heyy,
        growing cannabis is not legal here, You can own it but not sell or smoke it ( at least not legal) so I wouldn’t do that for a living.
        Avarage wages are about 800€ per month and without speaking portuguese fluently it is impossible to find a good job.
        Maybe you should really talk for your girlfriend about it. Right now it seems that you both have good jobs, but here you would either have to work for a forgein company or in a poorly paid job.
        Good luck for the future

  24. Forgot to mention the investigative nature of many Portuguese and their businesses. The ones who sent me half of the goods what I paid for their website asked me whether it I would allow them to record my visits and make research on my shopping throughout internet. Gladly there was an option to say NO. The local phone company when they call me they always know so much about me ad not only them, the everyone else as it seems know me to the very fine details including my neighbours who are watching every step of mine while I say hello to them and talk to them, not everyone says hello in return. That makes Portuguese very intelligent people since they are so much into intelligence.

  25. Hi James,
    Thanks for the counterbalancing post, very enlightening.
    Portugal sounds to me to be a bit like New Zealand… where you move to slow way down and rewind a few decades… but also a place often oversold as paradise, but in which reality can be quite different, if not harsh for some.
    Perhaps an odd question, but I’m just wondering if you feel that the can’t do attitude in Portugal is maybe due to some form of masked depression, or is it more of an isolated cultural perk? Are people in Portugal lively in general?
    Excuse the poetic license, but where I live people seem to have lost their zest / lust for life, there’s no sparkle in people’s eyes, folks are dozing off at the wheel, and are collectively fading into shades of grey, and it’s the main reason I’m looking to move away, before we go fully numb like them.
    I think I can deal with some of the downsides expressed in your post, but I really feel the urge to move somewhere people aren’t affraid of life and still have some sparkle in their eyes if you know what I mean…
    I had the impression most of southern Europe would be more or less “lively”, but the “can’t do” aspect caught me by surprise… wondering if you’d have any thoughts on how those two aspects relate, if at all? Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Bob,

      The “glass half empty” approach is definitely true, but I would say the “can’t do attitude” is at least partly down to a lack of opportunities and different priorities rather than people simply being jaded. In Portugal and a lot of Southern Europe, the lust for life is really for things like food and family.

      Portugal has a slightly more melancholy approach to life than other Southern European countries, but I think some of the can’t do attitude is because people know that so many things involve bureaucracy and other hurdles that it’s not just negative but somewhat practical as well.

      • Thanks a lot James, your insights are much appreciated. The more melancholic aspect is interesting… I suspect the economic hardship of recent decades may also play a part…

    • Hi Bob,

      Where are you at in Portugal? We are thinking of moving there and would love to know more about your observations. Thanks!

      • Hi Thalia,

        Sorry, hadn’t realised my post could be read that way, but I’m not in Portugal. I wrote it from the perspective of someone looking for happier shores and looking at Portugal as a prime candidate to dock my boat.
        I got stuck in a foreign country due to an unexpected illness, followed by surgery and then covid logistic complications, but the experience was such an eye opener with regards to how lively other cultures can be. My kids went from being quiet and shy to sparkly bundles of joy and now showing lots of leadership in school and constant praise from teachers, in a space of just 2 years. It’s crazy how much one is affected by its environment and local culture. I now dread going back home, but can’t stay where we are longterm.
        I’m in IT and planning a new business, so looking at options in Europe with good work life balance and favourable business environment… Portugal is among my top 3 choices, along with The Netherlands and Denmark.
        I feel I’d probably be a better Dad in a place like Portugal, but a more focused businessman in the other two. I’m leaning more towards Portugal atm..
        Have you picked a potential area to live?
        I’m wondering if it’s feasible to live somewhere along the silver coast but commute to work in a bigger center like Lisbon, Porto or Coimbra. I’d probably commute 2 or 3 days a week, and work remotely otherwise…


        • Hi Bob
          As a Dane thinking about partially moving to Portugal at least buying a property there it would be interesting to hear your reasons for your top 2 choices – both Portugal and Denmark and your pros/cons comparing those 😉
          Thanks in advance

        • We are living a bit north of Lisbon for several years and I wouldn’t recommend living too far away from Lisbon. Unless I had heaps of money I also wouldn’t want to live in Lisbon or along the Marginal to Cascais. So, the souther Silver Coast and at least 15 minutes by car away from the Atlantic is pretty good.

        • If you can’t learn Portuguese, forget about learning Danish. I spent a summer there and never got past “Hi.” Fortunately, as a swing dancer, I had a ready-made social scene and met and became friendly with dozens of like-minded people almost overnight. I highly recommend joining a club to ANYBODY moving to a foreign country. If it hadn’t been for swing dancing, I doubt I would’ve made any friends at all.

          Incidentally, your list is very insightful and has nudged me towards exploring my alternatives: Belgium or the Netherlands. Dutch is probably an easier language to learn than Portuguese, and culturally I feel they’re a better fit for me. All the best, and good luck with your decision.

  26. Read reviews of Azores Airlines on TripAdvisor. This is how unprofessional, ignorant, overcharging, dishonest and lazy most services are.

  27. A word of warning, we have moved to rural Portugal some 10 years ago, and we are now trapped here, losing our life savings through being conned and our nievity, all the negatives mentioned are true, and worse, a lot worse, take advice from someone ‘burned’ and please re-think moving here, it is bad below the surface, go elsewhere and do propper ‘on the ground’ research and rent for a good amount of time, so you get the no BS, non-rose rinted spectacle view, good luck.

    • Neighbour is a thief, so we told him so directly into his face. In return he tried to burn our house down.

    • Sorry to hear your situation John. I did the same thing, put all my eggs in one basket and bought there. of the seven countries in Europe I have lived in Portugal was the worst. I have my place for sale and I think it will be a good house/business for someone else but not for me. To much dishonesty at every level and other factors have told me to move on after five years here. I have some friends who wish to move here, and although I have tried to tell them the truth, they are blinded by the sunshine.

  28. UAU! This article brings back memories. I am Portuguese women that have lived in the UK for the last 18 years. I have, very often played with the idea of returning to Portugal. The mentality was what always made me think that I would live my adult life in a more easy-going(yes because easy going and slow paced life are 2 different things in my eyes) and open-minded society. These were my thoughts in the 90’s… Changing our ways as Portuguese is a difficult thing as it is in any culture and not knowing how it is like in other countries just makes it all progress, change, etc, very sluggish.
    My truth is that I absolutely love my country and I do love UK and have the luxury of being a portuguese that had long contact with a culture that approaches life in a very different way.
    I think that the more expats live in Portugal, the richer Portugal becomes. Seeing the negative side to everything is a very treasured Portuguese trait, I remember family gatherings on weekends! If you get the opportunity, is hilarious. My family had this little competition of who finds more faults with a: footbal (number one subject), politics or health conditions. We are so passionate and go to great lenghts of argumentation to make a point – as you can see by the lenght of this text!
    But the real problem was solutions were never discussed, at least practical ones, every thought seamed to end up as “I would show them…” “We should get rid of …” and you carry on 2 hours of lunch putting the wrongs to right, feeling angry with the country and with no clearer idea of how to change it. But this was in the 90’s.
    A lot has changed, now we don’t have to take days off to sort go to social security cues just to find out that we need another form filling in… wait, maybe we still do but nowhere near how it used to be, trust me on this. Goverment has created online services now that simplify alot of the paperwork but is far from perfect.
    I think the solution to improve Portugal’s niggling issues might be “can doers”, positive and pratical people from all over the world that really wants to live there to be part of it. You don’t realise that your way of thinking change us. But we will still be loud, dramatic, and bad drivers in very general terms…
    Portugal has a wealth of goodness and a lot to learn (I see it as a teanager rebelling but not practical).

    • Wow , what a great read and thank you so much , my wife and I are going to live in Lagos six months a year we are selling one of our houses in Brighton to purchase a villa there , we are going to employ a gardener and a cleaner and use local shops and get private health as we are retired now , so we want to be an accent to Portugal 🇬🇧❤️🇵🇹

  29. Myself and my wife were on the cusp (after investing an enormous amount of time looking) of putting an offer in on a rural property in central Portugal. Like a lot of people on here we were shocked but very grateful to you for shedding light on both sides of the coin. We were very much looking forward to more time in Portugal, but after talking with the parents of somebody that we met at a family get together. They had decided to do the exact same thing as us and bought rurally, while they were still (semi) working and could only manage to use their property for 90 days at a time, but were looking to retire there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, their house was broken into on a regular basis in the times that they were not there.

    They had a nice alarm fitted that notified the local police station if breached, but nobody was ever caught.
    Apparently, removing roof tiles to gain access is very common, so metal doors and big locks don’t count for much.

    We were dismayed to hear this as we were not quite ready to fully retire there yet either. We still think (hope) that we will move to Portugal, but now think that we should wait until we can go on a full time basis. Although the barking dogs will definitely be the greatest challenge for us, (We were hoping for the peace and quiet of the countryside)
    followed by the “no-can-do” mentality. The rest of it shouldn’t really affect us unless we let it. After all we are going there to learn to slow down.

    Curious to know if anybody else here has had issues in this dept.

    • David, there are better, cheaper countries in Europe, even in southern Europe than Portugal. Do the research, look around, read the blogs and visit the others before you jump in at the deep end.

    • David,

      The barking dogs is a big deal for us. We’ve been living in Portugal for 4 years and are about to move to another locale, in part to achieve a better noise profile.
      My advice is spend some time in the prospective locales. Don’t be lulled by apparent quiet and always suspect there is a dog next door, just waiting for you to sign the deed before he starts barking.
      We’ve had sellers lie to our faces about whether loud dogs were around. We asked them, and they said ‘oh no’. Three seconds later, the neighbour’s dog started up.

      There ARE pockets with no dogs. You have to find them, and then of course you have to pray the dogs won’t arrive after you’ve bought. But you can find set ups where that kind of thing is not likely to ever be much of a problem.

  30. The local electric power company just did a very long power cut in good weather for 10 whole hours! First they cut power yesterday at 18:00 H (6 PM) after people returned from work and kept it off for nearly an hour! I am sure everyone was pissed being unable to do things after work and it was a Friday night! To add insult to injury the already downed corpse of Friday Night was killed by another rude unannounced (they never announce power cuts though) power cut at 21 H (9 PM) that lasted until 7:30 AM! Whole 10 hours! Add all together and you get 11 hours of absence of power within 24 hours… Just like in the deep deep Africa that it is. Join the African Union. Guess what? The selfish workers cut power off and probably got drunk and left home for a good night’s sleep, those bastards. They always cut power at the most inconvenient busy times of the day for the people. Always! And never apologise nor pick up the phone! I just called them in the morning and they dropped the phone down like a HOT potato in 2 seconds! Just like in a good old Third World country that this place used to be, and in many ways still is. Talking about punishment mentality! Don’t come here to get a job, but also don’t retire here or you will end up with a heart attack.

  31. I have lived in Portugal for a year and a half now and one thing I would like to share with anyone thinking of moving her is the complete lack of service you will encounter when trying to deal with Portuguese social services. I’m mostly referring to the conservatories (civil registries), SEF and pretty much any other social service. The simple fact is that none of these agencies answer their phones. Why even have a phone number if you’re not going to answer it??? Same goes for email. They never respond. When you try to go to one of these places in person to get something done they refuse to help you and simply tell you to call and make an appointment. Haha, ok, but you need to answer the freaking phones! So be warned!

    • Well actually l am dealing with SEF now as l need an extension because l want to apply for a visa and have always received first an acknowledgement that they`ve received my email followed a few days later with a reply and with a phone number included. l`ve also rung them and most of them speak english so l, or a couple of friends are glad to say there were no problems dealing with them but they are a bit slow as things have been put back till next month!

    • Public authorities never answer. I wanted to know more about vaccination and wrote to them three times. no answer I called a phone number that was provided in the automatic reply . NO ANSWER!

      Instead of spending EU money for cycle lanes that lead to nowhere, these folks should be forced to bring their public services to an average EU standard at least before they can claim new funds from the hilarious EU!

  32. I am Asian.
    I want to immigrate to Portugal next year. I want to know if my daughter can study in French universities by having Portuguese residence?

    • Have you googled it yet? There are plenty of websites to look at, also maybe look on government sites in France , l`m sure you`ll find plenty of helpful information on them but my personal opinion is that it would be possible as both countries are in the EU, not sure about cost etc.lf your daughter speaks fluent german then university education is free or at very low cost, around 700 euros a year.

  33. This has been immensely helpful, so thank you all for the real experiences and issues. I’ve only read some very “surface friendly” negatives about PT and I think it’s super important to get a real picture.

    We’re looking to move in about 5-6 years, and we will begin to travel to visit places on our list this fall. My family is composed of two daughters, my husband, my two dogs, and myself. By the time we move my eldest will be an adult (she wants to go to school in France so she’ll come with us wherever we choose) and my youngest a young teenager.

    We’re not independently wealthy, though we will have a good nest egg we won’t be buying in with the Golden Visa. I’ll still freelance and my husband will by then as well. We assume an income of $3-6,000 each month on top of our savings.

    I can’t abide by noise, I’m extremely sensitive to it so it’s disheartening to hear so many stories of the barking dogs & yelling. I see not all have this problem, so maybe we will continue to look as Lisbon – but we we aren’t city dwellers by nature and had hoped to look into smaller towns.

    The other concern is that we will need access to good emergency medical care. I have a brain tumor, and it may stay forever and not be a problem. .Or – – perhaps I’ll need emergency surgery. (How fun.) I’m not going to live my life a slave to it & fear though and I want to be able to experience life as an adventure.

    We are not world travelers, I just want to shake the narrative we’re living out as typical Midwestern Americans. I hate the politics in America, the divide and the ugliness – and I hate the Iowa winters too. We would love an area which had better weather and more to do outside. Bonus is access to cool stuff to see as we love history & art. People are ugly or not all over the world, but I’d love to be somewhere where there wasn’t such a hateful divide.

    Should I still visit Lisbon this fall? Will it hit our checklists? If not, I would love advice on where to look into.

    • Hi Brooklyn,

      This is the downsides of Portugal. There are upsides too!

      I do think you should still visit Lisbon although I would focus more on the outskirts if you’re not city people. Lisbon isn’t a big city, but it’s still a city and you can get more space outside of it.

      For visas, I think you should consider the D7. It’s more suited to your needs and more affordable. The Golden Visa is really for people that don’t want to live in Portugal for the majority of the year. See here: https://www.portugalist.com/d7-visa-residency/

      As for your income, I think that’s perfectly adequate but it does depend on your lifestyle.

      Noise isn’t an issue in every property and I think it’s more of an issue in apartments than houses.

      Emergency medical care is good, but it is worth researching hospitals to make sure you’re close to good care.

      Hopefully some others will chime in with their thoughts too.

    • There are a number of smaller places, that are generally free of bigger cities. Coimbra, Aveiro, Santeram, Caldas da Rainha all north of Lisbon. South of Lisbon there is Setubal. We are moving in exactly 2 months to retire in a old beach town. We’ve visited Portugal, every inch except the northeast corner, for the past 25 years, every year. We finally decided where and bought a house last February just as the virus began to be felt. This is the first time we are able to return and we encountered the Portuguese bureaucracy, not a bad as expect, only took 2 months in the middle of a pandemic, with half the time dealing with US bureaucracy. Portugal is a wonderful country with wonderful people who go way out of their way to help a foreign traveler who doesn’t speak their language. The food is magnificent especially seafood. At least pay it a visit. Spend a few days in Lisbon, it’s a gem of a city. But go into the country, the central region is my favorite for too many reasons to list.

    • Hi Brooklyn.
      I’m also an American looking to move to Portugal. Let me know if you make it there. I’m applying for my D7 Visa in December 2021 and hope to move there by May 2022.
      Completely agree with the political climate here. Toxic.

    • I also hate the ugliness that took over the US and has not died down even with a new administration. I already have a home in Baja Mexico but it has not felt safe enough lately. So I researched the most peaceful countries and the safest countries in the world. Iceland (brrrr) was #1, New Zealand (so far!) is #2 and Portugal is #3. Most of issues mentioned here (especially the cold interiors of the houses and the slow everything and the noise) are also part of life in Mexico and they did not pose a huge problem for me, a single woman pushing 60. I plan to visit Portugal as soon as I get vaccinated. You can work around the problems. In Baja I found a home built to American standards. It was a manufactured house and I paid someone to do the roof and siding to convert it to a stick-built home. I pay people to do things I don’t wish to do like hassle with the bureaucracy. I have ex-pat friends but also a group that studies Spanish at a bar. People are cool if you make the attempt to learn the language. I think you should check out Portugal for yourself. I certainly intend to.

    • Forget about dentists in Portugal or any other medical services. Don’t rely on any services in Portugal. You have money to spend, but there are no decent goods or services to match your income. You will keep cash, lots of it without being able to spend it on quality.

      Here’s one example: If Portuguese airlines can turn off the air supply through the above-seat air nozzles for the entire trans Atlantic flight and ignore your cries for a glass of water what does that tell you about your future life there? They not only respond their emails and phones. It is much worse than that. You will be treated differently as a foreigner. The locals will be served first, at all times, even if you came in first.

      Exactly! It’s more than that. It’s like Africa in the 1980s. The mail now takes 2 months from Lisbon to the islands! And the Portuguese do not care to do work even if they don’t have the money to live on! Eastern Europe now seems like a paradise to compare to Portugal. And don’t start me on those NASTY POWER CUTS! They cut power off for entire hour during the most busy hours! Usually during working day or right after work when people return home… BOOM, power cut and you can’t watch TV, or cook etc. for an entire hour. Unannounced! This is in their blood, it is called PUNISHMENT. Just don’t know why and what they punish with this nasty behaviour. They also cut water supply off at the most inconvenient hours: before sleep or during cooking hours, but never at night when people sleep. Always during most busy hours! And the people are not really friendly as some wrote. They are rather passively nasty and rude. Some are friendly but for absolutely different reasons, mostly for selfish reasons. Very self-centered nation, never help on the road, just like France or Spain. There are always exceptions, but one has to wait a long time for those. And forget about if you need something to be done. They will never place you in a waiting line, no carpenter or other workman will ever hand you a number, so you can know what to expect. You can wait for years and they will never show up. You can go crazy and move out of the country. That’s how “friendly” they are. And don’t start me on the percentage of crooks and thieves….

    • l have visited Faro and Olhao in the Algarve,and although l liked the layout of the town in Olhao better and the waterfront etc it is unfortunately full of barking dogs so l couldn`t recommend it.

      Far nicer in my opinion is Tavira, just a 25 minute train ride away from Olhao, admittedly l`m not as fond of the layout in the town centre compared to Olhao, but it does have a beautiful river and many bridges going over, the best known is the Roman bridge in the town square. There are also lovely riverside walk and cycle paths along the river too, as well as plenty of countryside all around, plus the weather is better in the Algarve and there are definitely a lot less barking dogs around, much less than in Olhao

    • When you look at areas in Lisbon, be sure to evaluate the following noise situations just like in any other city. Check whether you are under an airport flight path. Planes certainly contribute to noise if you like to have your windows open. We stayed at a hotel under a Lisbon Airport flight path and it was particularly noisy. Another thing to evaluate is if the sound of the traffic vibration over the river bridges. Some people find it soothing, others find it irritating. And, of course, consider ambulance noise if you are close to hospitals. Police and fire equipment noises are hard to predict.

    • Hello
      After reading all these negative comments I am baffled. I just moved two months ago, but I have been coming to Portugal for over twenty years on and off on vacation. I am an European citizen and an us citizen, so for me it is easy. I have already found my house in the silver coast 10 m walk to the beach, both on the ocean and on a bay I have a bit if a view, solar panels, heating and an eco friendly house and over 5000 sq feet of yard and a pool! It is not cheap if you want something nice, but coming from LA it seems reasonable. I am not in the sticks, but not in a city either, I have everything I need and Lisbon is 50 m away. But one thing is sure you need money to hire a good lawyer, I got my NIF in a day! So do your research and live a bit in the place to get a feel! I have an injured knee so I had to get an MRI, I have travel insurance, but have to pay upfront but it was 300 euros! MRI i us is 1000$ or more, and the experience was ok, people were nice and I barely speak Portuguese but I managed, many people do speak English in offices. So it is all relative, got sick of the politics and nastiness in general in the us and after a lifetime there I left. But to note, I did not move back to my native country, I wonder why! So it is not paradise but nothing is anymore, but it is a peaceful country that is making efforts to improve every day. I plan to learn Portuguese, not too difficult for me, and the classes at the local school are free starting September. So make you own opinion on a place, and if you like the sea do not live in the country, and if you like comfort do not buy an old house unless you are prepared to put ton of money and work, this in a foreign country! So this is my take, and by the way it is called silver coast because of the grey mist that comes from the ocean, hey but today is sunny! Good luck

      • 50KM from Lisbon is not as far as Peniche. You’re in the honeymoon period, which is lovely and wish it was like that always but.. Let us know how it is a few years in?

      • Turning off the TV doesn’t help and avoiding politics is almost impossible. Every bar, restaurant and doctor’s office in Florida has a news station blaring – and it’s a one-sided conversation, with no attempt at being unbiased. We are considering a move from Florida because of the extreme opinions and belligerent, hateful behavior of so many around us. We tend to keep to ourselves anyway so we may as well live in another country.

    • Junior, Hi. i am a retired New York attorney, living in Brooklyn Heights. I am not Portuguese, but have owned a vacation home near Lisbon for many years. I may be able to answer many of your questions. This article is excellent, but much of the negatives can be resolved by careful and critical study before choosing the area to live and buying/renting the right place. However, the job market can be problematic. You can contact me at [email protected].

      • Hi Gloria,

        Not sure if you would have sufficient context into this but I’m a Nigerian who has lived in USA and China and I have seen my fair share of discrimination and micro-aggression. Do you know what the experience is like for a black foreigner living in Portugal(Lisbon or Porto)


    • Suggest you check out Cascais, a large municipality outside of Lisbon. It has everything, including a recently built hospital. There are many areas that make up the Cascais municipality; one that I know is quiet and lovely is Monte Estoril, with its own small park surrounded by all the stores you would need.

    • You sound exactly like me. Sick of American politics and looking for a move. I’m from Texas and Portugal is at the top of our list right now. We will not have the income you will. My wife and I will only have our social security as an income. Around $3500 a month. We will be using our savings for travel to find a place, and an emergency “escape” fund if we have to move again. We have 3 to 5 years before I can retire, so we are studying. These comments do have me pulling back on the reigns on Portugal a bit. Many expats on FaceBook LOVE living in Portugal. These folks seem they feel it’s a huge mistake.

    • Hi Brooklyn! I like your attitude about living your life without the constant fear that something may happen; hopefully for you it won’t and you’ll enjoy your life. My next door neighbor is 35 and same prognosis and has also that attitude and laughs and smiles a lot. The most devastating prognosis is that of our recent American politics. It looks like we are going to lose our democracy to autocracy like Hungary and so many other countries as it is a worldwide lie in progress. I have a beautiful home in Miami on the water that I can’t enjoy anymore because every time I turn on the tv which I need to watch for Covid updates to be aware, more absurd activities from one particular party defies all norms and the bad people are not held accountable and good ideas are heralded as bad. I loved visiting Lisbon and Porto for 3 weeks at Christmas in 2017. I never had any intention of moving but am now selling my home and moving outside of Porto to a condo, hopefully without any barking dogs on anyone’s terrace. I will hang out in the neighborhood first before I buy. Miami is like a third world mentality under American rule which isn’t such a good rule anymore and storms are getting worse. The noise from cut off mufflers on loud cars can be heard 3 blocks away so politics, mass shootings/guns, weather have me leaving here. Check out the Silver Coast 15 minutes outside Lisbon someone suggested. I have read all above and will never give up citizenship here but will be a dual citizen after reading the online paper The Portugal News every night and hearing about vaccine nightmares. Just the fact that politics in Pt can’t be as terrible as the hate and division has come to here and there are no mass shootings and rarely earthquakes or hurricanes is quite the incentive. I’ll have to navigate all the bureaucracy but I am extremely patient with a New Yorker’s shell around me. The great thing about reading all above from honest, helpful people is now I know what to expect and have a road map to avoid it in retirement. The US is no place for any sensible mind anymore so keep exploring, investigating and reading blogs like this.

  34. Hello there! I really enjoy this website and I went through a lot of comments and I find them very valuable. I might be a bit of a different case than most here and I am still wondering if Portugal should be for me the next country to start a new life in. I am single, 45 and I am used to moving around and living in different cultures and cities. I lived in Germany, Israel and the UK so far. My roots are Romanian though, but never lived in Romania. I would call myself a full blown European 🙂 / I was in Lisbon already twice, in total for 5 weeks and I absolutely loved it but that’s already 8/9 years ago so I imagine quite a lot changed since then. After all my experiences of living in so many cultures I figured out what is the most important and valuable thing to me when moving abroad: Friendly people, that you can make easily friends with. Which gets a taller order the older you get unfortunately. I was surprised to read here a lot that its not easy to make friends in Portugal, but I wonder where in the world it is actually when you are an expat? Though I believe there are better and worse options and I always thought Portugal is for sure better, than Germany or even maybe UK. I generally look for warm hearted, decent, kind, loyal, welcoming and caring people. So I wonder if Portuguese people could be that? That is my main question or concern. After that comes: Good healthcare; not too much corruption – yes I am convinced the corruption is worse than in Germany or UK, but I cannot imagine, it’s worse than Israel. I wonder how Spain does in that department though?; not much hostility towards foreigners – say what you want, but Portugal is one of the few European countries that doesn’t seem to have a right wing or populist movement or party, which is for me a big positive!; work options – I know this is a big problem in Portugal and I am not sure how to solve this, this is for me the biggest concern to be honest, but not sure if Spain would be so much better and they get more and more right wing and to me Spanish people are also too dramatic and loud :D; being a democratic country – it’s not as good as Germany and UK, but its better than Israel! and last but not least being a country where it is okay to be a woman – I don’t expect it to be as good as Germany or UK, but I hope it’s not too bad. // Generally I was thinking of Portugal, Spain or Ireland. But if I compare Spain to Portugal I slightly prefer Portugal for the reasons I mentioned already and in Ireland I am afraid it would be even harder to make friends – that is my main concern, otherwise I would maybe try Ireland. Also because my roots are Romanian I might feel more at home in Portugal than Ireland. So I know this is very specific and I don’t know if anyone can relate to what I wrote here, however if anyone feels giving some feedback I would highly appreciate it 🙂 Thank you so much and sorry for the long post 😀 !! Stay safe and healthy!

    • Hi Vicky,

      Here are some bullet points to answer your questions.

      • The Portuguese are warm-hearted but also reserved. It takes a while to build friendships, but once you push through it’s worth it.
      • Healthcare is a difficult topic to quantify, but most people feel the level of service and care in Portugal is very good.
      • Yes, there is corruption in Portugal but it tends to be more of an issue within government rather than say having to bribe your local policeman.
      • I wouldn’t say there’s much hostility to foreigners, particularly white “expats,” but I have seen/heard people from Brazil and parts of Africa not treated equally.
      • There is a right wing party in Portugal called Chega and they are growing but I don’t think it’s a big concern right now.
      • For work, you normally need to create your own job unless you want to work in a call centre, tourism, or real estate. There are other jobs, of course, but they’re few and wages are quite low.
      • Sexism does exist in Portugal, but like the racism/prejudice it’s not something you constantly come across.

      I’ve lived in Ireland, the UK, Germany, and Spain and I think the reasons for moving to somewhere like Ireland or Germany are probably different to Spain or Portugal. Ireland and Germany are better in terms of job opportunities, healthcare (some would disagree, I’m sure), and public services, but it comes with a higher cost of living.

      Spain and Portugal offer a better quality of life in terms of weather, food, etc but things aren’t as efficient and are harder to live in if you aren’t retired or have some form of income.

      I would start by deciding whether I want to live in the North of Europe or the South of Europe and then narrow it down.

      • Hey James,

        Thank you so much for your reply and your valuable input!

        I am clear, I don’t want to stay in Germany, it’s just not my culture, although I was born and raised here. If I would think that it is easy to make friends in Ireland I would first try it there, but I think its easier to make friends in Portugal, correct me if I am wrong 🙂
        It’s shocking to hear that also Portugal has now a right wing party ;( // For me the most important thing is, where I could find a community that let’s me in. So it has less to do with weather or food, but more with how welcoming people are and I mean by that inviting you to their gatherings etc. Do you think it’s easier to be welcomed in Portugal than Ireland? // and then yes, the job situation would need to be sorted out upfront, especially for Portugal. What made you leave Spain and now living in Portugal 🙂 ? Thank you so much for your help! Best wishes, Vicky

        • Hi Vicky,

          I grew up in Ireland but lived in Portugal as an adult. I don’t think I can properly compare the two in terms of making friends as making friends as a child is easier.

          My gut feeling, though, is that making friends would be easier in Ireland. People are definitely friendlier with strangers in Ireland, but since I haven’t lived there as an adult I can’t really say if that translates into friendships. Portuguese people tend to be more reserved so making Portuguese friends can take a while. Of course, there are large international communities in parts of the country which can fill this gap while you work on those relationships.

          Of course, plenty of people move to Portugal and make friends, whether local or international. I don’t think it’s impossible in either, but maybe slightly harder in Portugal.

          As for Spain VS Portugal, it was a tough choice and Spain had a lot of pros, however, I liked Lisbon as a city more than a lot of the cities I lived in in Spain (Seville and Valencia). I couldn’t afford to live in Madrid or Barcelona, but maybe if I could I would have been won over by them. Also, and I know you’re not so concerned about the food, but I think the food is better in Portugal.

          • James,
            My list is very similar to Vicky’s (so I won’t repeat what she said 🙂 ) but with a few additions:
            I’m from Brooklyn, NY – not Manhattan (which everyone thinks of when they think of NYC) but it is part of NYC and it certainly a large population. From what I hear about Lisbon, it sounds similar in size to Brooklyn alone. I could probably live someplace slightly smaller, but not too small, and I want to be near a transportation hub, which is why I’m leaning towards the Lisbon area. I’m also single, so I don’t want to go into too small a town. I speak Spanish fairly well, and believe it or not I actually studied Portuguese when I was in college (brazilian) so although I know continental Portuguese sounds different I’m at least starting from a place that is closer than not knowing Portuguese at all.

            My neighborhood in Brooklyn has cafes, a museum, a large park and a separate botanic garden, and the main branch of the library, as well as the “downtown” shopping area, a major transportation hub, a weekly farmers market, and a sports arena – all within a mile of my flat. I could be further away from some of those things, but I love the cafe culture and being near the park and the farmers market. What do you think might work for me? Oh, one more thing – I am a multiethnic person with relatively light skin but definitely not white. I have been taken for Latina or North African/Middle Eastern in NYC.

            • Hi Refazenda,

              It does sound like Lisbon might be the best bet for you. Budget permitting, I think a neighbourhood like Principe Real or Estrela (or thereabouts) would give you what you’re looking for in terms of gardens and good café culture. The gardens will probably be smaller in scale, but I think you’ll find a lot of things smaller in Lisbon.

              As for multiculturalism, Lisbon probably won’t be as multicultural as New York but it does have a lot of people from Brazil as well as the other former Portuguese colonies. Hopefully, people will assume you’re from Brazil and then you’ll get a lot of opportunities to practice your Portuguese!

              • They probably will assume I’m Brazilian, and since I studied Brazilian Portuguese and have that accent I might be forgiven for it 🙂

                Any nice neighborhoods that are not quite as “upscale” that I might enjoy?

              • It’s due an update, but I did write an article about Lisbon neighbourhoods before: https://www.portugalist.com/lisbon-neighbourhoods/

                A few neighbourhoods I love include Alcântara, Estrela, Restelo, and Campo de Ourique. They all fall into the upscale category, though.

                Other neighbourhoods I’ve considered before include Ajuda, Alameda, Marvila, and across the water in Almada.

                The metro line is good, so if you’re near a metro stop you can get around the city pretty easily.

              • This is actually a reply to Brooklyn,

                Check out Anjos, it’s the hipster capital of Lisbon, at least on the “not upscale” side of things.

                The country itself, outside of Porto and Lisboa, is mostly “countryside mentality” as it’s mostly countryside and small towns.
                Porto is smaller but more “alt” and “underground” than Lisboa (Lisboa would be House music where Porto is Drum n Bass, lol), but you have more variety in foreign foods and people in Lisboa.

                Foreigner enclaves are in specific areas, typically caused by word-of-mouth “I’ll move in near where my friends are” growth.

            • Hi Refezenda,
              I’m also from Brooklyn, and lived in the same area as you. I live in SE Pennsylvania now and am planning a move to Portugal as a single woman.
              Have you visited yet? I was there in 2016 and spent time in the Algarve as well as Lisbon and agree with James. Lisbon has a great art gallery with a garden, good public transportation and shops. I was planning a scouting trip last April, but pandemic. Hoping to reschedule soon. I studied Spanish in school and am now studying Portuguese. You have a great advantage in already knowing the language. Regards.

        • l would say that lreland, and also Scotland, Wales and most of England, is on the whole friendlier and less reserved than Portugal so easier to make friends. Plus the fact that you speak fluent english helps, although obviously if you speak fluent portugues that would be a big help too. !

          l think also in Germany there are friendly and not so friendly places, l have found Darmstadt, near Frankfurt to be a very friendly place and a lovely town to visit or settle in, also Hamburg or some other areas of Northern Germany as well as areas in the Ruhr Gebiet ie, Hagen, have a strong community spirit due a lot to the industries in the past like the Haspe steelworks, they have gone now but the spirit still survives.

          The UK is probably one of the easiest places for making friends. ln the UK it`s easy to be called a friend, even if you don`t know them that well whereas in Germany, as you know because you grew up there, there is a clear distinction between a freund, many are formed during childhood, and a bekannten, ein aquaintance !

          ln a way l prefer the latter, at least you know where you stand, and it`s easy in the uk, with your so called new ” friend” that you don`t really know very well, to then fall out over any disagreement and suddenly you`re not friends anymore ! Germans take more time to get to know you so that when you`re friends it most likely will last.

          Lastly, but not least, as your roots are Romanian why not also consider at least spending some time there and really getting to know your past, that could be very revealing to you and you might even find you prefer that to any of the others !

        • Hi Vicky,

          If community feel and friendship is important for you I would definitely say Ireland is friendlier to foreigners. I have family in Ireland and go there very often and can tell you that they were never discriminated against because they were emigrants.
          Portugal really depends on where you will live. If you live in a younger community with not many social problems you might find it easy to integrate as most people will try to communicate and if you have a hobby you might find a group to blend in. Other option is to go regularly to your local cafe and say hi to everyone as soon as you come in, do this all the time and people will respond really well to it. If you get shy and don’t talk you might be lucky to get a nosy friendly local starting conversation or, more likely, they will feel intimidated and think you might feel you are better than the locals – silly right (trust me we do have our insecurities 🙂 ). Ultimately you will find really friendly people in Ireland Portugal or Spain. In Spain you have more noise and partying though, if that is a point to consider.

        • Hi Vicky,
          As I was born in Ireland I may be a bit bias but I find the majority of the Irish welcoming and friendly with only a handful of grumps. In Portugal I find it the other way round, the majority grumps and a handful of friendly people, who are in fact exceptionally friendly. Coming to rural Portugal is like stepping back ten years. The bureaucracy is unbelievable and the Portuguese do not know what logic is. It all goes back to the Salazar regime that ended over forty years ago but attitudes have not changed. Everyone is still affraid of government officers and police. I have seen so many people move to Portugal and regret it within a year or so but because it takes so long to sell a house here they get depressed. My house has been for sale for two years and it has not sold yet and it has had major restoration. I have heard of houses for sale for twenty years with people trapped in a place they do not want to be for that length of time!

      • Hi, what is a NIF please?
        Also its nice to hear what you have to say. Almost everything i read on this site is very discouraging.
        Im a 60 yr old retired canadian who wants to move to Portugal, im tired of the winters and high prices, i guess im a little scared to move but i need a change in life, i have a Canadian and maltese passport, does that mean i can live there without all the paperwork since malta is in the European union?
        Is the silver coast nice?
        Thanks alot.

        • Hi Val Sammut,

          A NIF is a fiscal number which you use when making most financial transactions in Portugal. You can read a bit more about them here: https://www.portugalist.com/nif-number-portugal/

          Having a Maltese passport will make it very easy to move to Portugal. You will be able to register with very little paperwork, although it’s never possible to avoid it completely in Portugal.

          The Silver Coast is very nice. It’s becoming very popular with internationals but it’s still affordable and authentic.

          I would highly recommend coming to Portugal and seeing what you think of it.

    • Hi Vickey, I would recommend Itrland if you want a good friendly living. Maybe try Galway to start as there could be a need for you languages. I am Irish but have lived outside Ireland for 30 years & my wife is not Irish but she really loved & was more than accepted by the locals. Good Luck!

    • If you are looking For friendly people, easy integration go to Ireland . I am Polish living in Ireland. Irish people are extremly friendly .

    • Hi, Vicky,
      I’m from Cork in Southern Ireland. If you don’t go with Portugal in the end, try West Cork or Kerry. The people are really friendly and good-humoured. I’m surprised that you got the idea it would be hard to make friends. Just join a salsa or tango class. One of my Salsa classmates was Romanian. There were French, Russian, Mexican, Brazilian, Indian, Spanish, Canadian, German and more. It was like the United Nations each week. 21 years later, I am still in touch with many of them, even after they returned to their countries. I got invited to Brazil ( went 6-7 times), a wedding in Kashmir (my Mexican and Brazilian friends went but urged me not to go. They were both nice and tanned and would blend in locally but I was as white as a sheet 😊and it was a border area famous for unrest so I would have drawn too much attention.

      I have been to Portugal many times. Took my late mum there three times. She much preferred Portugal to Spain. I’m looking at buying a place (must be cheap as I’m poor lol 😄), perhaps a small 2-bed house in good condition close to the Silver Coast.

      As regards Portuguese people. They do have a melancholy turn of mind at times, hence the lonesome passion of the Fado music, but they are good-hearted people. Thieves and crooks you will find everywhere but the average person, especially in rural Portugal, is normal, down-to-earth and no-nonsense and will advise you in a kindly way, if you speak the lingo. I learned Portuguese through my Brazilian friends, and only came to understand mainland Portuguese through that. Don’t take any notice of people who tell you you must speak ‘proper’ Portuguese. Good Portuguese is the kind that you can actually get out of your mouth to make yourself understood. It’s not about having the right accent. It’s about communicating and getting your message across, creating a connection. This you can do in Portugal, in Ireland or anywhere, if you are simply yourself, raise a hand to say ‘Hi’ and just nod and smile until you learn how to say “Bom Dia.” If you come across really grumpy Portuguese people, don’t avoid them but befriend them because these are the most wonderful cooks and the ones who will help you when you are in trouble without you even having to ask. The Catholic ‘love thy neighbour’ ethic is still alive and well in Portugal. Just remember that the commandment does not say they can’t mutter and grumble under their breath as they do so. Follow your heart and your gut feeling, not your head, and you won’t go far wrong. The best of luck with your decision.

    • No right wing party is a big plus Vicky; I live in Miami and the US is on its way down. Im 74 and people say I look 50 so I am always pleasant with people I meet, tend to gravitate towards younger people who want to share their views and I “listen” to people a lot so I don’t have the mindset that I can’t make friends; I am going, getting away from the sinking ship and blessed to have some finances. All the downsides can be navigated in Pt with all the good advice above but I can’t save the US Right Wing hateful politics, take away the guns or change the weather here so it is a good move for my sanity and mental health. I’m sure there are plenty of good people in Portugal as I met some on my last trip. Hope you can agree with the journey.

  35. Hi, after 10 years here this is what i learned.
    Portugal is a great place to retIire and a terrible place to do anything.
    If you find a perfect house to buy or rent , live in it and enjoy it and do nothing other than shopping and leisure, it is Paradise.
    If you try to do anything with officials or so called professionals, lawyers,Police,architects,government officials, builders then you might as burn all of your money to stop them stealing it and jump off a cliff to end the misery.

    • i will add courts and bank financial advisors as things to avoid at all costs, banks have only 1 interest, theirs not yours and the legal sysytem here is so hopeless that all it does is cause stress , take endless time and cost thousands

      • that applies everywhere from my experience!
        banks and lawyers are there first and foremost to make money for themselves. you could be anywhere in the world and likely would experience the same. try to find a reasonably priced lawyer!! I can give you a whole list of lawyers that charge minimum 10 $ per MINUTE. with globalization the banking and legal systems have also become globalized. big names that you find throughout the world.
        These are modern day highway robbers from what i can make out. and they are not limited to portugal.but dealing with all this in a foreign language would probably drive me to despair.

    • Hey everyone. I’m reading these posts with much interest and as a US citizen who lived abroad (Greece) and who is considering going back as a semi-retired person. Many of us are experiencing a very sorry state of affairs where we don’t believe we have enough retirement savings to live comfortably in our later years in our home countries…and are therefore seeking cheaper ways to live abroad. Others are seeking ways to have a more “comfortable” way of life while earning as digital nomads, etc. So, you know, let’s be real. Countries like Spain and Portugal and Greece seem attractive because the cost of living appears lower. But if you’ve never lived abroad and are coming from highly organized countries like the US or the UK, you’re in for some culture shock. A country that’s offering a golden visa is undertaking a form of a get-rich-quick scheme. If you need to earn an income, what does a residence permit get you without a work permit? When taxes are high or the exchange rate is unfavorable, is it economical to move there? If your ideal social or retirement scenario is having lots of free time in a beautiful place surrounded by new friends, what would you think if you knew that the culture you were moving into is hostile or suspicious of foreigners or strangers? If the culture you’re moving to is conservative or closed, meaning people are born into a community, stay there all their lives, marry there and die there–where will you fit in as a stranger? Living abroad away from your family can be vastly lonely and alienating, especially if the language is difficult to learn (hello Portugal and Greece). How much will it cost you to travel back and forth to see your loved ones? If you encounter health problems as you age but you don’t understand the language, how will you determine whether the health system is up to your standards? If you don’t understand the language although “everyone speaks English”, what will it feel like to be out and about and yet not understand what anyone around you is saying when you are not forcing locals to speak your native language? I moved to Greece in my mid-30s with an infant child and had another baby while we lived there. I was so lucky to have arrived during this time because the culture has such reverence for children–which is to say, everywhere I went I got attention for having children (not for being the interesting person that I was, ha!). But in parks and playgrounds I met (mostly nannies) but moms. And this helped somewhat with integration. But it was so clear that I was a stranger and that they expected me to leave eventually, which I did. If you’re middle-aged, or older, are you ready to have mostly expat friends? Are you ready to be treated badly at the post office or grocery store? Are you ready not to understand why so much of life around you seems disorganized or chaotic? Are you ready to spend five years of your life integrating? When you live in a country whose first focus is family and local friends, and you come from a country where people abandon each other for business opportunities or a chance to live in a prime location, are you ready not to be trusted because your values are out of sync? Yes, the food is phenomenal, the housing is cheaper, you can hop a flight to Paris or whatever, but will you be able to have a sense of humor about the status of women or immigrants, or a lack of entrepreneurship, or the treatment of animals (since I’m reading a lot about that)? Most of us are the most flexible as young people but moving between cultures as retirees can require a kind of blindness. I’m saying this as someone who’s payed her dues and loves her adopted country. But I’m not sure how I would have fared if I’d taken this on in my 60s or later.

        • I agree. I am a 64 year old woman thinking of moving to the EU for CV the health care, etc. Definitely not jumping ship…concern is how to have a decent life on $1,200/mth Social Security. Might as well stay in NYC.

          • Hi Lauren,

            It’s definitely possible to live on this amount, however, I think you need to consider a few things.

            * Healthcare is “free” but not private healthcare obviously. I say “free” because you would likely be taxed 10% on your $1200 under the NHR scheme, although I’m sure this would be cheaper than the USA.

            * Your biggest cost will be accommodation. If you’re buying a property and have $1200 left over, that’s plenty. If $1200 has to include rent as well, it will mean living in more rural parts of Portugal or smaller towns.

              • Plenty of people do and it’s not unusual for rent for be 50% of people’s incomes.

                I don’t know if I’d recommend coming all this way for that, though.

      • Thank you for your perspective. My family is American living as expats in Switzerland for the past 7 years and 5 years in London before here. Leaning German is hard and all my friends are expats. Well, one Swiss. We’re researching Portugal for semi-retirement and to see if I can get a Portuguese Passport as my grandmother was born in San Miguel, Azores. My kids e still school-aged though so I found your comment helpful, as I only dream of the weather, the ocean, sustainable communities popping up, and growing my own food! Thanks for the eye-opener.

        • Hello, Deborah!

          If you have a Portuguese Grandmother , you should try to get the necessary information about your requirement in the Portuguese Embasy in Switzerland !

          If you and your family can, visit the country , continental ( the north is very beautifull) and the islands ( Some people call them the pearls of the Atlantic).

          Have you learn some Portuguese with your grandmother?

          although it is a small country in area , It is big in many cultural areas!

          I am probably mispesling every thing so i am stoping here!

          Wish you the the best !

      • As someone thinking of moving abroad to retire (age 55) I can’t praise your post enough, massively interesting, intuitive & informative, thank you

      • Thank you. I had never thought of some of the things you brought up. We are retiring abroad aw well and looking for the right place

      • Great post, Poppy. As an expat for 20 years now in France, I can agree with all that you’ve said. Just curious, are you still living in GR? We are looking at that as a future option.

  36. My husband and I are from California. He was born in Portugal but lived in UK from age 9 and then to US when 40ish. Yearly we return to Portugal to a home we’ve had there since 1999. My husband has negative feelings about permanently retiring there(which I would like to) due to the way the Portuguese government treats their own people while they bend over backwards to make it easier for foreigners with $$ to buy properties instead of helping their own people by giving better pay for jobs….etc….well I could go on but I wanted to give my perspective as an “estrangeiro” that longs to return to Portugal despite the points made in the article above that in my opinion are only somewhat true. I have learned enough Portuguese to survive on my own there if I had to. I have found my neighbors very friendly and helpful with little effort. (We are between Seixal and Setúbal). There are no estrangeiros near us just locals. When I go to the local market the bread lady doesn’t let me have my food until I say my sentences 100% correct. I look forward to this always and will hopefully be at the level where I can ask how her family is,…etc. upon returning this year. I want to be one of the velhas at the local cafe talking about the crazy thing my husband did the day before or what cafe makes the best Sunday cozido. It takes effort to go out of your comfort zone but I have found it to be well worth it. Annoyances, yes……We have been doing some remodeling on the old house and what would take 6 months in US is now on year 3 but partially because we can’t be there permanently throughout the process and the other part bureaucracy. But going into it we expected this and so that is how things are there and negatives need to be weighed with positives. It took my husband 1 year to get his name correct on some of his paperwork at the dreaded “Finanças.” It was only a matter of one government office spelling his first name with a z and another office spelling it with an s……I recommend for anyone on the fence to rent a place there for a year and actually LIVE not vacation. Carry out your daily tasks like you would any non vacation day. Use the time to figure out legal things you need to know. Do your research to see if life there is for you. LEARN PORTUGUESE! It will have its rewards! Locals know it is not an easy language and will respect you for trying to learn it! I have found that AFPOP has contacts that can give you much info about healthcare and other life necessities. I have found that businesses can be helpful if you go in knowing that friendly conversation sometimes goes further than a fast transaction. Expect that if you ask for directions one local may need to go to the local cafe to get another’s opinion of the said directions. It is a different manner of the day in Portugal. Most people are not in a hurry (unless they are in cars which I will leave out of this conversation).:)For me, the quality of life is much better than where I live in California (I do like California). The people in general are warmer and more caring in Portugal in my experience. The dog thing mentioned above is beginning to be worked out but yes it will take some time. I haven’t found smoking a big issue in most places any longer. Well those are my opinions and I hope they have been somewhat useful. Oh another thing I think some mentioned is that if you are depending on your income from US currency you will be a slave to the dollar euro exchange rate and need to take that into consideration. Keep in mind that Portugal is enslaved to the EU so many “rules” will continued to be imposed from that relationship. Good luck to all of you in your quest to enjoy your lives!

    • Good post Lola, thanks from Miami. I was getting a little depressed. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!

    • ♥️I agree that you should always rent for at least one year before you buy and this is from personal experience not even in Portugal but in the US.
      I really feel that if you’re moving to a place that you’re not familiar with you should always rent first, it’s a lot easier to get off a lease than
      a purchase.
      I will be retiring soon and we’re planning on living part time in Portugal but we will be renting. We have our children and grandchildren here in the US we also have some health issues so we want to be able to come back if needed and not have to worry about property left behind.
      I was born and raised in Portugal but have been in the US since 1976 and visited Portugal (Azores) we have visited 4 times and loved it but we don’t want to make a radical move, at this time our plan is to go for 3 to 4 months per year for the first couple years and than decide
      Wishing you all the best

    • Lola, thank you immensely for your honesty. I am from the backwoods of Montana, USA where corruption, crime, and inconvenience are paramount and the mentality is akin to Deliverance. I am looking to move to Portugal to buy bare land of 20-100+ acres to build and create an off-grid green building school as well as permaculture agro tourism business. I am moving with my mother and we will not have the worries of public utility, water, nor gasoline as all vehicles will be electric or natural gas provided by biofuel. All I hear of here are people moving into existing builds, in communities, looking for groups and things Portugal provides to them. We are coming in want of living by our own hands, trading with locals, and providing job opportunities for locals not just spot jobs. I had never been near Italy when I went there alone and ended up living there 3.5 years with zero knowledge or language. I left fluent in Italian and with three new ‘families’. I am not so worried about relations with locals personally. From all my research Portugal is spouted to be one of the most forward promoting of off-grid green living and business, which is my utmost focus. I am curious to know what your thoughts and feelings are as to the pheasability of this plan. Also I was wondering if options such as credit unions exist there? (Client owned banking services instead of actual banks.)

  37. I appreciate the article as well as the comments. Regarding the inexpensive life in Portugal, it surely is very cheap for the Californians who commented, but what would be the comparison to cheaper areas of the US? One concern that I have is the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro. It seems that if your pension and income is coming into Portugal from the US, you’d automatically be paying 17-20% more for an apartment, food, etc. Also, if they are taxing you at 10%, that makes rent & food even more expensive. So, perhaps one might tack on maybe 30% to euro prices if your income is in dollars. If you become a permanent resident/citizen, your tax rates would climb. I may be thinking incorrectly here, but could somebody advise me as to whether or not I am on the right track with my analysis?

    I also have a concern about the government of Portugal changing rules for foreigners. I read that in Ireland, there were Americans who had been living in smaller towns and cities for years with no problems. But then the Irish government raised the yearly income requirement significantly. I read that these expat Americans collected petitions from Irish neighbors attesting to their good character, to no avail. The expats, after becoming accustomed to prices and life in Ireland, had to leave. So, in my mind’s eye, I can visualize the Portuguese government periodically increasing income requirements and taxation in order to attract wealthier expats. This would reduce the numbers of expats but still produce income for the country. Am I thinking straight here?

    It would seem that a flood of expats who are driving up prices for the Portuguese people would eventually cause much resentment among locals, thus presenting expats with an increasingly hostile environment. Does this thinking seem plausible? I read where this had happened in Cyprus. I have read that this is happening in Boise, Idaho against the Californians who are flocking there and driving up real estate prices.

    Finally, I look at the various “Places Rated” annual surveys in the US. Other people look at them too. Everybody flocks to these places. Soon, they disappear from the “Best” lists. Could this not be the same with a place like Portugal? Everybody from everywhere flocks there. The virus ends–everybody is in a rush to travel. Americans bail in droves seeking lower prices and safety. Then Portugal is no longer appealing and it’s on to the next undiscovered “hot spot” in a never-ending cycle of boom and bust. I am in a part of the US where huge apartment and housing complexes have mushroomed in the past three years. Everybody is moving here. People from very expensive states have poured in. They have the bucks to pay astronomical rents. The local people like me are getting priced out of our homes. It’s not fun, and it can’t be fun for the Portuguese people.

    Thanks for any comments that you can supply. I may be all wrong with these gloom and doom scenarios. If so, please set me straight.

    • Where do you live? Sorry to hear about the influx problem. I understand the frustration of Boiseites because the Californians probably won’t change their voting habits which will turn Idaho into the Cali they left behind. And then where is the next place leftie voters will move to and lay waste to? The same thing when new yorkers from Long Island move south. The only thing keeping Florida red are the Cubans.

          • Out of the country would be better Daisy, but not to Portugal, Hungary would be their place now as Tucker Carlson is broadcasting Fox news from there this past week!

        • That alone is depressing when you look at the US turning autocratic. Idaho is a very red state so I would go somewhere else IF I could financially.

      • Ah yes, the Cubans here in Miami. They have been sooooo brainwashed by Fox News and Social Media to believe that without the former guy we will turn into a “Socialist” society. Ahem, SOCIAL Security, Medicare, Unemployment are all programs they take advantage of when it is beneficial for them. They can stay here; I’m moving to Porto!

    • I did not pay high rents, I always bargained, also for respect to the local people, to not raise their rents and prices. I was charged more than the locals, but I never made it easy for them to charge me more. As the result prices and rents did not go up for the locals. Be like that, do not let your money go easy without a “fight”. Soon after they will respect you more as the result.

    • Residency, as in legally processed residency, will not be revoked suddenly on a whim. THAT you can count upon, as that’s part and parcel to being an EU member nation, and while Portugal has it’s own particularities, it’s on the more relaxed side compared to Germany.
      You will probably note that many folks deign to setup residency, and instead count upon being perpetual tourists.
      This can backfire (witness Brexit deliberately ending freedom of movement, and the necessary reciprocity STILL not being enforced, but it’s inevitable) and as in the case of your friends in Ireland.
      There can always be cases in which residency applications are rejected. It’s also quite a bureaucratic PITAS to make a residency application, requiring forms from ones home country and Apostille services and such, but in the end it’s what is required to stay somewhere.
      One certainly cannot compare it to the amazingly uphill US “Green Card” process (and lottery, literally.) and while xenophobia is as rampant in Europe as in the USA or UK, it’s not given as much official legal cover as US or UK policy gives.
      (remind me of the minimum income a foreign national needs to establish residency in the UK circa 2021, etc…)

    • You’re right Franco on several of those fears and I don’t want to experience that but we have to take a chance and hope that it doesn’t happen. We can’t stay in the US anymore with the coup attempt as the next one will work and ALL the signs are we will lose the Senate and House in 2022 with the written voting laws that say IN PRINT that only Republicans can count the votes and change it if they don’t like the outcome; that’s absurd and I’m hoping you have an exit plan. You should be able to sell your home for a high price now and move somewhere cheaper outside the US or if you can’t leave the US, somewhere cheaper. I am sorry to think about your current situation; you just may have to change it. Everything you said above “could” happen but it may not. The thing you missed if you don’t have time to watch a “verified” tv news station is that Covid will be around for another 10 years I’m sad to report because worldwide, half the people won’t take the vaccine so that could have an impact on your theory as variants get stronger by mutation each time so lets pray for the best!

  38. I was lucky enough to live in Lisbon for 3 years, near the zoo. Yes, there are downsides – the cold in the winter being one of them. My apt was all marble and I had only 1 portable electric heater which was extremely expensive to use. However, I only had to use it for a couple of months a year (along with a dehumidier) and the rest of the year was wonderful. And I will say that Portuguese people are very private with strangers but if you are able to make 1 or 2 friends, then you are in because they will then include you and you’ll meet their friends who will include you and so forth. I made a couple of really good friends who I still keep in touch with and visit whenever I go back to Portugal which is often. And trying to speak their language goes a long way as in any country. We wouldn’t like it if a Portuguese person came to the US and expected us to speak their language.

    • In the Azores you will need no heater year round, unless you like to walk around your house in underwear and sit still for hours. Otherwise dress with a sweater, double pants, warm socks and no need for heating ever, since it is 60s through 80s year round and some days 50s.

  39. Greetings from Lisboa…I have been living in Portugal for over 4 years now…I’m from Austin, Texas…Your list is pretty spot on…Ask yourself what are the reasons for leaving a place to begin with…For me it was simple, Austin and the energy was changing…The cost to live in the areas you want to be in, are becoming too expensive for most…It’s no different here in Portugal…Most Portuguese can’t afford to live in the really great areas, and are having to either leave the country, many work in Switzerland and etc. or move further and further away and commute…One Portuguese engineer told me, you don’t move to Portugal to work for a local company, you move to Portugal with money in the bank…retirement, investments and etc. Everything you have pointed out has in one way or another crossed my path…However at the end of the day, I’m in control of my happiness and well being, not Portugal and or the U.S.A. I’ll take the con’s any day, than the cons in the U.S.A. here in Portugal…Get Busy living…

    • You’re right. I live in Switzerland as an expat and the Portuguese here are like the Polish in England. Here for jobs – hard workers, reliable…they go back to their bigger families in Portugal over holidays and send $ home. I should have asked my housekeepers and massage therapist to teach me Portuguese rather than all my German lessons so I could retire in my “fatherland. My paternal grandparents were born in the Azores. Longing to return.

  40. Good God, thank you very much to the person who initiated this blog. You have certainly opened my eyes. I had been doing a lot of research on line regarding living in Portugal (6 mo of the year) and the other 6 mo at my home in the USA. I even looked into learning the basics of the Portuguese language before traveling later this year on a “exploratory/vacation” trip to Portugal. After reading most of the posts, I’ve realized two things;
    1. I’m almost certain that all the positive reviews I’d read on the internet about Portugal, their people, climate, etc. come from biased tourists oriented adv. companies in order to promote their agenda and enrich their pockets. (I’m not saying that it is a horrible place to live, is just that these companies do NOT voluntarily provide the real “cons” of living in any of the countries they promote on their websites.
    2. Retiree from the state of California, I relocated to Texas at the early age of 59 1/2. I can deal with utilities being expensive, homes having poor insulation, etc in Portugal; but the issues I’ll will certainly NOT tolerate are the people “can’t do” attitude, total disregard for the quiet and comfort of your neighbors, utter disregard from communications companies, banking sector and government offices in providing efficient, prompt and courteous customer service.
    At 63 years old, I’m going back to my original plans. Stay in Houston (where cost of living is a 1/4 of what it is in California and access to excellent medical care) and just travel around the world just a little bit at a time once this Covid 19 lightens up. I’m sure Portugal just like the rest of Europe is a wonderful place to visit but I rather take any aggravations here at home where I can resolve them in a more satisfactory manner.

    • I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you personally, but so many move from Cali to Texas, Idaho, etc, and like locusts, vote as a typical leftie Cali voter such that Texas will next become unlivable and like a parasite whose host has died, they will need to move again.

    • You are spot on in your assessment of Portuguese living conditions. I have been living here for 2 years in the countryside. and the indifferent passive attitude of the people drives me crazy. Apart from widespread obesity especiallt the women, I am permanently irritated by careless drivers. unreliable plumbers or carpwenters, noisy yelling kids and complete indifference to your neighbors. On the other hand you have beautiful walks in the natural beauty and clean air, mild climate etc. But I am beginning to miss something and maybe also due to COVID I will come to the conclusion that I have a problem with Portuguese mentality and business conduct.
      Just to make you aware that the Spanish are much more dynamic and open than the Portuguese. However the crime rate in Portugal is much lower and this is really enjoyable compared to countries like Italy which is a chaotic disaster!

    • I’ll take Houston any day for Portugal, but you forgot to mention the total disregard of our lungs by the neighbors. They burn their trash in their owens including toxic plastic and much more toxic chemicals, instead of recycling it, feed it to pigs, then eat the pork, then they get all kinds of cancers and die young from it and come to comfort themselves to their neighbors yard. They throw trash into neighbor yard while the recycling dumpsters are just several feet away.

  41. In Portugal during rainy and windy days the DSL internet and telephone connection is frequently lost. Some days internet is on and off within a couple minutes all day long. Opening a support ticket does not help since technicians are not well trained and are unable to repair the problem, which lasts for months and years at a time. Internet speed is sadly slow whenever internet connection works. Yet crediting the lost time or refund is not on the cards for the Portuguese internet telephone companies.

        • Vodaphone is a joke… and fiber in Portugal is rather a joke, even worse than DSL. When your internet is down they make sure you’re down by doing a harakiri, the power cut for an hour, unannounced.

          • I respect your experience if it is not exaggerated.
            But we’ve had fibre internet in Madeira since 2017, and it has been remarkably stable and VERY fast. Our gigabit connection is about 10 times faster than what was available for the price in Australia.
            In 4 years, we’ve had two faults that have lasted a few days, and a technician had to come out to fix something at the box.
            On the whole, the experience has been really quite good.

        • I would highly recommend a solid daily intake of fiber – very healthy especially for satisfying bowl movements 😀

      • Downtown Lisbon perhaps, in the luxury accomodations such as €3000+ per month for 1 bedroom? Although I seriously doubt it. Not only internet is unreliable. Everything is unreliable. Read all of my posts on here to get the entire picture of this beautiful and wonderful country.

    • You got me scared now Hugo! Not sure if I could handle that. Does the tv come in all day? Is this in big cities like Porto or Lisbon or just the Azores?

      • I’ve also found the internet temperamental on non-fibre connections in the countryside, but it’s less so the case these days especially on fibre connections in urban areas. It’s normally just while the weather is bad, though. Usually once it’s good again, it starts working better.

  42. I’m glad to read this because a lot of ties in with my experience and I’ve not seen much else published that concurs.

    I hear a lot of people saying the Portuguese are friendly. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade; if an immigrant has a positive outlook of their host community then that’s got to be good. But I do feel many times I hear this view, it’s poorly considered or poorly formed.
    In my experience, this view comes from people who:

    Are Portuguese. They can’t give an immigrant’s perspective.
    Have been here on holiday. They don’t know what it’s like to live here and their opinion is based on the hospitality industry. People who are friendly because it’s their job might not be proof of a friendly populace overall.
    Live here but can afford to pay to have all the bureaucracy etc done, and/or mix in exclusively well-off immigrant communities. They also don’t really have great sources for their views.

    I’m rarely presented with solid evidence of why the Portuguese are friendly.

    I’ve lived and worked in 8 different countries and travelled in 50+ more, covering 4 continents. I have friends from host communities of most places I’ve lived. I make friends where I go. I’ve been in Portugal for 4&1/2 years and I don’t have Portuguese friends.

    I have a circle of immigrant friends here from a range of countries. We’re all happy to make friends regardless of nationality, but the Portuguese don’t want to be friends with us.
    When we speak Portuguese in shops, they reply in English – even direct responses that prove they’ve understood us. Why? I think it’s because they see us as outsiders. They don’t smile. They don’t make much effort to help. They don’t reply to messages and mails. Some of these may be just the “can’t do attitude” mentioned often on this page, but it still shows the host community aren’t friendly by nature. Of course, by their own norms, some of these behaviours may be fine, but by global indices, it’s not friendly, and it needs to be global indices by which a nationality is judged.

    Does any of this matter? That depends. I have to live here for family reasons and that ranks more than any lack of host friendliness. It is what it is – if you don’t like it, leave, and if you can’t leave, deal with it. There’s no obligation on the host community to adapt for immigrants. But I do think it’s important for people to know there are views out there other than the brochures, or if they’re here and they’re feeling some negativity, it might not be all their own doing.

    I’m not saying the Portuguese are bad people. They’re not fighting in the streets or smashing places up.. The cops aren’t routinely killing people of different ethnicities. You’ll be OK here. Just don’t believe the hype! In my experience, in other places the people are more polite, more welcoming, more inclusive, more helpful, much more friendly.

    • I second that. Locals are served first in the shops often, even if they came in after us. We are made to wait a long time. Many enterprises including health are especially openly discriminating, but not everyone is like that. We have donated things and money to the locals and organizations. We did have make a friend or two, who are from Lisbon or from Cabo Verde. There are other friendly people here who invite us for a chat. It’s not that bad, but there are not so nice people everywhere in the world. We are planning to donate our property to local parks and organizations once we are done in this life. There is no point to let anyone else inherit it.

    • Thank you Steve, this is very interesting. Would you mind sharing which countries you have found to be the best in terms of friendliness, helpfulness, politeness, inclusiveness and being welcoming?

      • Hi Cathy,
        Regarding being able to make friends among the host community, of the places I’ve properly lived and worked: India, Australia, Turkey, Spain, and to a lesser extent Japan, I made good connections in various circles. With neighbours, in bars and cafes, at the football etc; got to know people and friendships developed.
        If we talk about politeness, and helpfulness in terms of customer service, then Japan wins by miles. But wherever I made friends, they helped me with things I needed.

        But all these places have their own downsides in other areas. In India, it’s hard to rely on anything, Australia is far away and getting expensive, Japan is extortionate, Turkey isn’t well organised, Spain has cold houses in winter like Portugal…..

        And it’s not that you’ll never be treated as an outsider in those places. But in my experience, it’s less than in Portugal. I learned some of the language quicker, I started to understand the politics and popular culture more deeply, things like that, and these were a knock-on effect of feeling more like I belonged.

        • Your posts are very interesting! Your travels have given you a unique perspective – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • One Portuguese told me people were behaving like this because they earn so little and the expats have so much money! Showa you their unacceptable attitude!

      • I get and believe that is the case; it’s envy and we need to have empathy and maybe share a little random act of kindness with them. We have worked very hard to get there. Many of us in the US have experienced being priced out of our neighborhoods from taxes to greed and corruption; its everywhere in the world. That though is a very poor excuse for a negative or lack of response to someone also just trying to get by and it comes back to them in lack of happiness and mental health. I’m sorry to hear that as I have read so much about the “happy” Portuguese people and apparantly not so true and now we can’t even flash a smile. Hope it’s not enough to make paradise lost.

    • I didn’t think I would put in my 2 cents, but here it goes.
      Portuguese people are friendly and caring. There is a difference between the way they behave in their place of employment and the way they behave when at leisure. It’s cultural! In a place of employment, too many smiles comes across as “absent minded/unfocused. It’s a different story when you’re at ease.
      You’re not comparing apples with apples. You’re expecting to have your own society values (of no more than 400 years) to be the same as theirs, a country at least 11 centuries old.
      I would agree that anything related to paperwork takes a lot of patience and time.

  43. My husband and I were planning on retiring in Portugal with out 2 dogs. One reason was safety, affordability and lower taxes. Now I wonder if we should. I dont like the way they apparently treat their animals. I also dont think I could stand the constant negativity. We looked at France but everyone says the taxes are high there as well. Also Italy.
    We receive US social security and US pensions plus savings. I heard Italy charges 43% and France 25% tax.
    Now I’m totally confused as to where to go.

    • Hi Alison,

      European taxes are high, especially compared to the US. It’s just a fact of life, unfortunately, although you do have to factor in things like healthcare into the equation – here it’s paid by your taxes, which may end up being quite low on a pension.

      I would recommend speaking to an actual expert (which I definitely am not) but the NHR scheme here is designed to lower the amount of taxes you pay. On pensions and US SS it should be 10%.

      The things you mention (negativity, treatment of animals) vary, and I would also say they’re common in a lot of other European countries. I’ve lived in France for a little bit, for example, and people aren’t always particularly friendly there. Can’t really speak to Italy.

      Ultimately, if you want to live in a European country like Portugal, Italy, or France, I think you need to come and experience each culture and decide which one you feel you could live in. That country will have cons as well as pros, but that’s just a part of life.

      • Hi James, We have spoken with you in the past…primarily about Portugal taxation of USA Social Security. This is an ongoing discussion for last few years on many blogs and websites…We agreed that the answer is hard to find…without actually paying some legal or accounting consultant to get the info and even then you cant be sure. Last we heard is that Portugal legislature last year passed a law eliminating NHR program Is that true? anyway, if I relocate to Portugal and do not work and have ONLY USA Social Security, is Portugal gonna tax it? and if so, at what rate? the sticking pint seems to be whether Portugal considers SS as a private pension or public (government) pension…which it is.
        Could you possibly private message me on this to my personal email?

      • I have been toying with the idea of moving to Spain or Portugal for a couple of years. I live in Northern California, which is very expensive. I love the weather here, and am looking for a similar climate.

        My husband is in tech and can work remotely anywhere with decent internet. He has lived as an expatriate in Amsterdam years ago. I have never lived outside the US, but I am up for an adventure.

        We could probably live on my husband’s income, but I would like to work as well. Is it hard to earn an income in Portugal? I would need to explore the tax situation as well. We currently pay a lot for health insurance, so if even with higher taxes we might come out ahead. We don’t have young children so schools are not issue.

        My dream is to live somewhere not too far from the ocean. I like to garden, so I don’t think I would like to live in a large apartment complex. I don’t need anything fancy, just something comfortable. Is Portugal suitable for a couple like us?

        • Hi Lindsey,

          I think Portugal (or even Spain) could be a good match for you, but it’s definitely somewhere you should research. The minimum wage here is €665 per month so, yes, you could work, but you wouldn’t earn a lot and job opportunities are limited. I think you’d probably be better trying to find a remote job in the US that you could do from here.

          Tax-wise, the NHR regime in Portugal is a very good deal and is why more and more people are choosing Portugal over Spain. If you’re serious about Portugal, booking a phone call with an accountant/tax advisor is definitely a good idea. Your health insurance will likely be a fraction of what you pay in the US and as a resident you would have access to the public health system as well.

          Essentially half of Portugal’s border is surrounded by the coast, so there are a lot of places to choose from. Popular coastal destinations include the whole of the Algarve, the coastal Alentejo, Setúbal, the Silver Coast, and places near Lisbon like Cascais, Costa da Caparica, and Estoril. It all depends on your budget and needs. You can definitely find a house with a bit of a garden (depending on your budget) although apartments are much more common.

      • ::chuckles:: just moved in July — it’s where my family began in this country! — but looking at Portugal with my husband and newborn because (a) it seems a bit nutty to place oneself right smack dab in the path of hurricane alley. With climate change and man-made interventions from the past, the Louisiana Gulf Coast is losing an acre of land per hour. (B) it seems like the Klan is rising again. le sigh.

        • Hi Marnie! From reading ALL Hugo’s helpful posts I believe he’s a bit of a realist and is trying to either steer us away, prepare us and just make us aware. Get out of the US, after all we’ve experienced here the past 5 years with politics, guns and climate disruption Portugal is a much better fit if you can handle the above concerns.

    • We did 3 years in France. Loved France, hated the French (as a whole!). Unfriendly, arrogant, very introverted with strangers, totally rude and unhelpful if you are learning the language. We moved to Portugal and they are so friendly, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. We had a stranger pay our water bill because they wouldn’t accept our foreign bank card. She just gave us her card and said pop in with the money sometime. 🙂

    • Hello, We came here to Loule, Algarve, Portugal from Scandinavia in December 2020 for a month long Christmas vacation, and today we are still here. I and my husband we work online and our 3 kids are in distance learning, so all of as are online everyday and so far we have found out that Meo internet is better -a bit faster than Nos internet but we dont mind using Nos as well, so far both have been just perfect for online meetings for 5 people. During our stay we have found that Portugal is the loveliest place to live, most helpful and kind people you can find. They even help to carry groceries, the landlords -we have lived in 3 different houses so far -are the kindest people and we become friends even before we moved to their houses. They are willing to do extra anytime even without asking, improving things even without asking, offering help and cleaning, when my computer broke down the maintainance spent weekend to fix it and downloaded everything from hard drive so i was ready for work on Monday morning, we havent done much shopping because of the lockdown but as the stores opened up we got huge discounts and the owners even gave us some items for free as presents. We lived also in a countryside with most wonderful and smiling neighbours, maybe it is different up north, but we live in Algarve and we even have english radio here that gives nice overview of the daily news. People come to Algarve to retire, so english speaking people are everywhere and english is widly spoken, of course they lighten up if I, my husband and kids speak some portuguese we have learned so far but nobody expects us to be fluent. We have lived in many places in a world and we havent seen so kind and helpful people anywhere. And the winter is warmer than Scandinavian summer here in Algarve, and the ocean is as warm as the sea in Sweden during the summer, so our kids have been swimming in a ocean since we came here. People are healty and you can see joggers, runners and cyclers everywhere, the food is amazing and fruits and veggies taste and smell like they should be, and we even pick our oranges and lemons in the morning and we can smell the blossoms in a orange tree. After shopping groceries we are still amazed how little we payed. We can see at least 20 different birds in a garden, and sometimes some frogs and hedgehogs drop by. Life is perfect here!

      • We are confused reading these various posts. Some say the Portuguese are resentful and unfriendly to foreigners and some posts say they are very nice. Sigh. Can’t understand why these perspectives are so drastically different. You would think folks are talking about different countries altogether….

        • Although I’ve met plenty of unfriendly people in Portugal (as with anywhere) I would say that the majority of Portuguese people are very nice, polite, charming, and incredibly tolerant of the thousands of people who’ve chosen to make Portugal their home. However, they’re also very reserved, wary of strangers, and stick to their families and circle of friends, so it can be a difficult place to make friends. Hopefully that explains the contradiction a little more.

  44. One very nasty downside developed in the past year in Portugal. Not exactly in the past year but over the past 2-3 years. The international inbound mail delivery used to arrive at Lisbon and then was distributed across Portugal and the islands within a week’s time. That week turned into 2 weeks and then into3-4 weeks. So for an Azores or Madeira resident a registered letter from say Germany took about 2 to 4 weeks from Germany to Lisbon alone, sometimes faster, but then another month is to wait to receive the mail from Lisbon to the Azores or Madeira. But now quite often one has to wait up to 2 months just to have the mail take the route from Lisbon to the islands! Which is excruciatingly slow and is absolutely unacceptable. Many people are complaining, even the Portuguese, that are used to dictatorship and fascism, themselves are complaining on the internet about the slow delivery of mail and an occasional event when their mail arrives cut open and inspected by the unknown unprofessional entity, sometimes resealed and sometimes wide open. Without any professional seal, signature or even an identifying tape. Resident in Madeira? Prepare to wait at least 2-3 month for your mail to arrive, even from Spain! It takes on average 6 months for ordered goods from China to arrive in the islands. Back to the stone age! This is the XXI century.

  45. In Portugal many (most?) companies and services are unprofessional, lazy, careless, unreliable. They don’t have this or that and they are unwilling to order them for you. If they do, you may receive wrong ones or wrong colour, or broken, bent ones, damaged goods, ugly design, low quality. As it seems Portugal is a dumping ground for lowest cheapest quality goods made by unmarked companies without any brand name and warranty is not respected. Beware oif dentists and their low quality workmanship which can infect you intentionally or ot with a variety of viruses and diseases. Private property is not respected and the neighbours are extremely nosy, can enter your property for any reason or no reason without asking you and take anything they want from it. Primitive and backward society. Seem “friendly” on the surface, but something else deep inside. Thieves and crooks mostly, with a few honest individuals in between. Dishonest and not caring and very selfish indeed.

    • I couldnt agree more. Online orders are prepay only. so you are charged immediately and sometimes have to wait weeks for your delivery. In germany you pay via bank transfer within 14 days of receipt of the goods ordered. From that perspective, Portugal is a 3rd worlsd country., but as financial statistics show, Portuguese private debt and associated default rates are one of the highest in the world, hence their banking crises in 2012 and the dismal state of Portuguese banks which are either stayte owned like Caixa Geral or almost bankrupt loke Novo Banco. A complete disaster this economy. No wonder that Portuguese are leaving in doves for Switzerland Luxembourg, France and the US!

    • Hallo,

      Really don`t know what you mean by “neighbours are extremely nosy, can enter your property for any reason or no reason without asking you and take anything they want from it. ” ??

      l mean, if l rent an appartment or house, or own it then it is ME who decides who comes in and when l go out l lock my doors and windows so l don`t understand your view about this at all, please explain more fully.

  46. Portuguese people often cut in line and are not ashamed to do it. When confronted they act innocent or they act as if they don’t understand what the problem is?

    • I can second this, although we’ve also had people become hostile when confronted.
      It is rare: I’d say this line cutting happens to us maybe 4 times per year, with a hostile one every couple of years. But that’s still 100% more than it happened to us in Australia, NZ, Canada or the UK.
      France has it’s share of this phenomena too…

  47. Very salient points. I’ve lived here for 5 years now. I built and renovated houses in the UK so built my own eco house here with the help of a Romanian firm. Locals did the foundations but from the first truck arriving from Romania I moved in 50 days later. That speed is unheard of here and it isn’t damp or mouldy. I couldn’t live in any of the Portuguese houses I viewed.

    The other biggy for me is animal welfare. I hoped to develop a thicker skin, I haven’t. So I set up a small charity helping old and abandoned dogs. It helps me think I’m making a difference, however small. Attitudes are changing towards animals but it will take time. Having recently spent 4 day in London and the SE I couldn’t wait to get back to the Silver Coast – wet winters and all.

    • They do poison everyone’s cats here, but we did not catch who is doing this. There are plenty of thieves in the neighbourhood who even steal things of low value such as flower pots, ornaments. Everything we had unattached in our front yard is gone now to the thieves and their kids. Once my neighbour complained that their cats have been poisoned and they seemed to suspect… who? Me! So I offered them to provide our newly born kittens to them once they hit a month’s age. We always donate something to the locals and are nice to them, give them jobs, the money etc. Many people are genuinely nice and polite, others are quite rude, but it’s okay. You never know what’s going on inside of someone’s heart or mind.

      • Hi Hugo and thank you, what do you mean they ? meaning most people or some bad people that hate cats? We want to bring our 6 cats with us we were thinking how will travel across Europe from Romania with six cats and now I read they poison cats its really bad, I hope it’s just one case. Do people are so cruel with animals back there? thats such disappointment.

    • Hi Gillian, thank you for your story it’s very inspiring.
      We also want to relocate, we are from Romania, I lived in UK for 10 years I loved it and now I miss it so much, I had to come back to Romania for my family and now we want to relocate to Portugalia because of the weather, latin roots and swimming.
      I am curios to know about the prices they ask if you want to build an eco house not very big and in Algarve. Wanted to know about the Romanian firm may I know the name so we can find out if its a convenient option for us.
      Also what do you think it’s better to buy an apartment renovate it and then rent it and then buy a house or build it ? Regarding the taxes its still unclear whats bthe best option if you want to live and also invest so you cover all the bills plus living costs. Looking forward hearing your input, until then greetings from Romania.

    • Hi Gillian, would love to hear what company you used in Romania for your home. If you wouldn’t mind sharing? We are busy researching options for our own build as well, that is eco.
      Do you mind if I also ask how long it took you to get planning permission to build your house?
      And what company here in Portugal did your foundations for you?
      Would be interested to know to help aid us in our research, if you don’t mind sharing?
      And thank you for the work you are doing helping animals. I am a huge animal lover too.
      Thanks so much, Sam

    • Hi Gillian. I’m totally crazy about animal rescue. I have 5 rescue dogs and just moved to São Brás de Alportel last November from London. I have joined a volunteer group to walk shelter fogs. Where are you situated?

  48. Similar complaints from expats about living Spain. Some are valid points and to some extent true, not deal breakers though. However, my observation about the expats from the western countries like UK or Germany – they often try to escape serious problems and bring them from one country to another. Not willing to learn about the culture or language, most giving up after one lesson and going back to their Biergarten or Pub. Then after years, mostly when their silly business idea falls apart or their savings are gone, they got really mad and are forced to return. And then there is this arrogant “they have to live like us” attitude, why should they? Their standards of living are very high.

  49. Just a quick thank you to James for setting up this site and facilitating such useful conversation about the reality of living in Portugal. The cons are daunting, but I’d like to think a place is what you make of it. And I agree a long term “living” (not tourist) trial is key. Thanks to everyone for your honesty.

  50. Great summary James, very accurate from my perspective after living in the Algarve for two years now. Previously in the USA for 23 years. Most of the items do become normalized after a while but the over tourism is a real show stopper, particularly in the coastal areas. So much so the joke among some friends is that it is a bit like visiting a “Portugal World” at a Disney resort with a few Portuguese thrown in for local color and “authenticity”! The other thing we find hard is the lack of localization due to the single tourist economy. The small town we live in, and medium sized ones surrounding us, have very few amenities which mean by default you have to go to the larger tourist areas for shops, entertainment, better restaurants, sports etc. where there is no differentiation between you as a resident and a Brit or Northern European on a package deal. This does make it harder to feel integrated and part of a community, not to mention gouged rotten for mediocre service. We do miss the sense of ‘home’ we had back in the US whether in downtown Chicago or suburban Oklahoma!

  51. I appreciate the Candid coverage of Portugal, and the supporting comments to that end. I’m trying to escape the bureaucracy Of America, but may have to change my mind on Portugal. And Mold, big problem.

    • I would have thought the USA would be less bureaucratic than most places in Europe. Most of Southern Europe and even places like Germany have extremely high levels of bureaucracy.

      Mold, it depends. For me it’s mainly unsightly but for others it’s a health hazard. You can keep on top of it with bleach or white vinegar though.

    • I wouldn’t change your mind on Portugal after reading these comments. I just moved to Portugal from California a month ago. So far there isn’t anything that would change my mind. It also depends on why you are moving here. I would not come here for work. The taxes and wages, compared to the US, offset the positives. I am semi-retired, but at the moment I still have my IT job from CA. Portugal offers a nice tax incentive for foreigners (NHR… nonhabitual resident), which allows you to not pay tax on any foreign sourced income for 10 years. When one is retired it matters less how long things take to get done and bureaucracy, although still annoying, is not really a showstopper.
      If you are moving here with some money in the bank, many downsides can be mitigated. I paid a couple thousand dollars for an immigration services company to help with some of the bureaucracy and it is worth it. I moved into an apartment in Lisbon, but I specifically chose to live in a newer area (Parque das Nações). It is one of the more expensive areas of Lisbon, but I have central heating/AC, a dishwasher, a clothes washer/dryer and a parking spot in a secure garage. The building is maybe 20 years old. No issues with mold or anything like that. The rent is €1050 for a 1 bd/1ba. I live 1 block from the marina/tejo river. The nearest metro (and mall) is less than 15 mins by foot. Some things I’ve noticed though.

      1. The winters are colder than I thought, but similar to the San Francisco Bay Area in CA.
      Again, living in a newer apartment with central heating is a MAJOR plus.

      2. Although some people are helpful, a lack of knowledge can cause issues. Examples:
      A. I signed 2 contracts with Vodafone to install internet/tv svc. The first one they cancelled
      when I was out of the country for a couple weeks before they could install the service.
      When I attempted to resign the contract, they said service wasn’t available in my
      building. I then confirmed that other tenants had service. Then they said they could
      install service in 1 week. 10 days later I was informed they could not install service
      because of insufficient capacity. So 5 weeks after moving in I gave up and signed up for
      service with MEO. They are scheduled to install this week
      B. The immigration service helping with the residence permit said we would have to wait 3
      weeks for an appointment, but it turns out we could schedule an appointment within a
      couple days. This turned out to be a major inconvenience because my wife had to return
      to the US before she could complete the interview.
      The point behind these two examples is that many people here may try to be helpful, but sometimes they just don’t know what they are talking about. Instead of saying I don’t know, or let me find out, they just say whatever they’ve heard through word of mouth, which can cause you headaches. Luckily, once residence is established and you have a place to live, these things become a non-issue.
      Besides a cost of living that has about half of CA, I have top of the line health insurance for about $100/month, with no deductible. My crappy insurance with my employer in CA costs about $1500/month and has a high deductible. This is a huge plus for living in PT. Also, I moved here because I really like the language, so learning it is a positive for me… but English is very prevalent unlike many other countries in Europe.
      My apologies for the long post, but if you are thinking about moving here from the US, I wouldn’t be deterred, unless your purpose is to move here to work, apart from remote work.

        • Anybody who speaks Spanish can learn Portuguese pretty easily. I speak Spanish (as my second language) and learned fluent Portuguese in 9 months. Never took a grammar class or anything. I applied a lot of the grammatical conjugations from Spanish. But, I love languages, am a language person and grew up with family members who spoke 3 languages.

      • Hi Todd,
        Thanks for all the info you’ve shared about your experience. We need a well heated place with good internet. I really found it very helpful! One question, we have two small to medium dogs, is it difficult to find a place that will allow for well behaved pets?

      • Thank you for explaining a little more. I’m from Brazil and lived in the USA for 7 years now. To be legal here was a very long process, and trust me, people here do not know everything either. I even had a hard time filing my tax return, because SS had my name wrong. So it is a big deal anywhere you go. But as you said, after all of this is gone, you get to enjoy more. I’m planning on going to Portugal, cheaper, and friendly and I do speak Portuguese on top of everything. And the best thing is, my whole family from Brazil can come to visit me, since no one from my family were authorized to enter US soil to visit me ever.

      • How long did it take to get approval for the NHR after the biometrics?

        I’m in the process of the getting the NHR (purchased a qualified home) and just got my application validated, which took 3 months. I have to go to portugal to get my thumb print and then wait to get “approved”, the process is tedious.

      • Hi Todd. One of the best posts. I also live in CA (Sacramento area) and thinking of permanet residency in Portugal. Safety and security is my big concern and I was born in the Azores, have a passport and ID card so that helps. I’m retired comfortably. Thinking of various barrios. I’ve visited Lisbon 4 times and know the city pretty well.I like the Parque das Nações area but would want a studio for the first year. Did you have a realtor? Is s/he still doing same work? I’m looking to May 2022 for move, so still have lots of time. (I’ve done Peace Corps so ‘hardship’ is no problem for me though Lisbon wouldn’t fit that category.) Any help would be appreciated.

      • Hi Todd,

        Thanks for your information.
        “top of the line health insurance for about $100/month, with no deductible”
        May I know which insurance plan are you using ? No deductible , then is there any copay 10% and minimum fee, which are popular at top 2 local insurance firms’ top plan.

        2nd issue is why you choose Lisbon not Algarve which is warmer at winter , as long as you have remote job .


  52. I read through a lot of comments, but dont think I have come across a question that has been bothering me for about a week, since we made the decision to relocate to Portugal (Janes, your article helped understand downsides, but didn’t put us off from calling off the decision). We are US citizens with a young family, and 2 dogs. My wife and I work IT jobs and can work remote (although I prefer to retire), and are ready to make the 250k Euro investment to get the Golden Visa.
    The question I have is — there are a lot of websites available and vying for your business. Since this is the first article that seems to give me a dose of truth, rather than bland platitudes about Portugal, what has been the experience of others – who have moved. Did you guys use a firm, or apply online directly? If you used a firm, would you recommend them? What are the problems you have had?

    • Ravi. I also work in IT and for now my employer is letting me work remotely. Once they change their mind I will quit. I moved to PT about a month ago, but it is only my wife and dog. As she is a EU citizen from another country, it is easy for us to establish residence. As I understand it the Golden Visa requires buying a property. I did not choose this option because I wanted to rent for a while to be sure I want to live here. I also prefer to keep my savings invested in the stock market as my returns have been very good. In order to navigate the bureaucracy and help with some of the red tape, we contacted EI imigrante (http://eimigrante.pt/en/). They have been pretty helpful. The cost was a couple thousand dollars, depending on the services/help you need. I’m not sure if they help with the Golden Visa, but they might be able to provide some direction.

    • Hi Ravi, we used an AMAZING company that have been specialising in helping people immigrate to Portugal for many years. They are so professional and do a fantastic job.I’ve sent a few friends/contacts their way and they all have had great experiences with them too. Company is called Passport to Portugal, ask to speak to Chris and mention that I sent you – he always lets me know when someone has reached out and it feels good to help others go through the process of inmigrating here as smoothly as we’ve experienced. Couldn’t imagine doing it any other way really. Samantha

  53. Who do you believe is my question? An Expat Insider Survey indicated two-thirds of 18,000 expat respondents said making local friends in Portugual was easy. Overall Portugal was rated in the top ten countries for expats to make friends.

    • Hi Patrick,

      I’ve seen this survey too, but haven’t spoken to anyone who felt it was accurate. Would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts.

  54. This article really seems to have hit a nerve with a lot of expats living here. For me the key thing is the CANNOT DO attitude that people have… i simply do not understand it….call the plumber and he will give appointment after appointment till he actually arrives, email SEF and there is no response for week after week till you tear your hair out of frustration, ask vodafone to update your internet plan follow up after followup till something actually happens, message your bank for updating your account again follow up after followup till something happens, i have so many stories of delays for even the most basic things…. i just do not understand it… i can tolerate everything else mentioned in this list, but this extremely strong, frog in the well, if it does not affect me then it does not bother me attitude is simply incomprehensible….. This is why Portugal will never be the next sillicon valley or the next germany or the next spain for that matter, it is not lack of money or lack of locations or lack of talent, it is simply this insouciant attitude of not bothering to do the work in front of you or thinking that it is some one elses problem to solve and not yours.
    I hope someone high up reads this and starts an ad campaign OWN Your Work, Provide regular updates, start finishing and stop starting ……………jesus……even India was not so bad, you would call a help centre and at least someone would pick up and you could talk to a real person….

    • haha, I was enjoying your detailing of your travails, Roland, I said to myself, this sounds like my travels thru India in the late 70s, then I got to your comment re India. Many thanks for the comparison – while I loved it back then in my early 30s, I couldn’t take the grind of it now, in a place like Portugal. So I was very happy to gain the insights of people like you who have had the first hand experiences. And the language does sound daunting.
      Maybe I’ll just suck up to L.A. and hang here:0)
      Much appreciated your comments!

      • haha, and I enjoyed reading your comment in response to Roland’s.
        Don’t give up on Portugal… personally, my experience of it has not been as acute as Roland’s and the positives hugely outweigh the negatives… especially compared to LA.

        I have to say, I have a sneaking suspicion we may have met: I lived in Venice Beach 1997 to end of 1999. I knew a Patricia who would have been about your age. We went hiking together once or twice in Malibu (La Jolla Canyon, Malibu, I think… long time ago now). That Patricia would have been the kind of person to have travelled in India, and to contemplate a move to Portugal!

    • For this reason I could not live there…this would be detrimental to my health, causing high blood pressure from all the frustration. That would literally drive me insane!

  55. Stumbled on your blog/site the other day, James.
    Glad I did, as I found it to be informative and accurate in an honest way.!
    This, based on my own experiences of a much shorter time living in Portugal.
    Only been here permanently for 6 years now.
    I had fun reading through the comments….but can not help asking myself the question that I have asked myself while living in S.E.Asia and in North America…in addition to Europe and a bit of South America…
    why is it that people that leave their own culture to experience a different one, want to immediately find groups of people to hang out with, which are from their own culture.?
    I think I have never been in any major town in the parts of the world that I have seen, where there was not an ‘Irish Pub’ or a “British Pub’ or a German ‘Biergarten’…
    It is baffling to me…
    My own decision to move to Portugal was based on the fact that I could not afford to live a decent retirement in my own country on the pension I am receiving, my distaste for endless amounts or snow or sweltering heat and my desire to live a more calm and peaceful life.
    This seems not to be in a lot of people minds, who commented… perhaps an age thing.?
    I moved to a tiny village in Central Portugal which had exactly one inhabitant…me.!
    The idea was to experience …less.!
    Many of the downsides you mention, I have experienced. There have been frustrations and annoyances. I have lost my calm many times…but found it again, when I walked in the woods or sat in the sun, looking over the valley.
    I do not speak Portuguese…gave up after a year, as my ears are too old and my mind is too scattered it seems. It is an impossible language because people ‘shusss ‘ all the time, and everybody speak a different dialect, so it seems.
    I did, however, plant flowers.
    And after a year or so, the summer-visitors, who of course were all ex-locals, decided to get over their anxiety and started to include me in the summer rites of a Portuguese village.
    They affirmed in me the believe that people will open themselves to you, given time and community can exist without common language or common cultural foundations.
    I do not know how it is in the big cities, but have live din enough big cities to know that it changes people.
    Here in the middle of nowhere, in the hills of Central Portugal, all is well… despite barking dogs.
    Thank you for your efforts,

    • Because when people move they do not realize that they may experience culture shock and miss their host culture. There is no set culture in the states so people do not think of this much. When people move to the states some do the same as well and comparatively speaking we accomodate people more than other places. I am not saying people should be accommodated to btw. I think we should all be kind to expats and immigrants in all places and not judge because judging just does not help.

    • This is one of the most interesting self-aware comments I have read and the most thought provoking. As a 70+ year old American, it gives me pause and is making me think about what I really want. Thank you.

    • Wow. Mali, you are really brave to go to a small village in Portugal without the language skills and I presume, not knowing anyone.

      I’m thinking of Portugal for the same reasons you did. I can live better there than where I am now with my pension in a few years. But also, I like the culture, and out of all the Southern European countries I could go to, I would prefer Portugal.

      I’d like to continue the conversation, if you like. It’s rare to hear about a single female retiree living in Portugal. Thanks, Joanna

    • Thank you, Mali, for your expressed introspection and questions for all of us to consider, “why are you moving?” Your story is so nice and quite similar to how I picture the life in Portugal. I am waiting for my visa application to be approved at the moment. I am moving to be closer to travel opportunities, for a simpler life filled with freshly grown food and less expensive necessities that really shouldn’t be so expensive, like health insurance. The rest will be as it will be for I have fairly few expectations.

      It’s been interesting reading everyone’s comments here and I’m grateful for the perspectives. I’ve read and heard about these things that are troublesome and I’ve also read and heard from expats about a life in Portugal that is sublime, one that greatly outweighs the downsides for those who are open to having that experience. Seems to me that the things that happen depend a lot (maybe more than we give credit) on who we are being in the world. Through the inevitable inconveniences and struggles of life, I continually learn to be more compassionate with myself and others. It gets a little repetitious hearing people complain about things that they can’t do anything about. Perhaps our experience in Portugal or wherever we choose to live is our own responsibility, no matter what is going on at bureaucracy central or in the hood and perhaps a side effect will be a more satisfying experience than what we have anticipated? Just a thought….

  56. Accident happened: car hit the stone wall of my house in Portugal: man seemed to be hurt and the car he drove was badly damaged. The driver broke the windshield of his car with his head upon impact and was bleeding from his cut open head… I ran quickly into the house to call 112. I spoke Portuguese to the operator as good as I could apologising for my weak Portuguese, yet the operator did not budge into English and continued arguing with me while I was telling him “Carrinha avaria, ambulanca po favor” (car accident, ambulance please at this address). He kept arguing telling me I have reached some kind of insurance agency (at 112 number, really?). It seemed like the 112 operator in Portugal was joking with me, arguing, wasting time while the man in the car accident may have needed medical help. Finally after much arguments the 112 operator hung up on me. I called 112 again and told them this is serious car accident and need poliuce and ambulance to help. The operator, already a different voice I think, was again telling me something about “segurança”, so I understood that I need to call the man’s car’s insurance company. But this was an emergency and I seemed to not be able to explain in my weak Portuguese or understand what he was saying, and he did not speak to me in English even if I tried. And then the operator hung up on me again. So I thought they are on the way, but hours later I realized that no one came. So we ended up helping the man, and also pushing his smashed car out of the way and into my yard for storage. What would happen if the man or me or my family member was dying in Portugal…. this is SCARY and this 112 (911 in the USA for comparison) seems to be useless.

    • I forgot to mention that the driver of the car even if bleeding from his head he tried to start the car and to drive away from the place of the accident, so I called 112 not only for ambulance abut also for police since my property was also damaged. I am extremely disappointed in “112” “service” in Portugal and am thinking what to do now because I may need emergency services in the future and I saw how emergency came too late for my neighbour who received a stroke and died in pain taking long 6 months to die while emergency hospital could not help him. Is it possible to improve the 112 in Portugal somehow and how can I help?

      • Hi Thomas!

        I can see you are a good, kind man… But the problem here was that you got completely lost in translation.

        “Carrinha avaria, ambulanca po favor”,
        does not mean:
        “car accident, ambulance please at this address).”
        It means:
        “The van broke down. Please at this address.”

        That’s why they were telling you to call your insurance company – it is legally mandatory to have car insurance – and probably thought that you were keeping the line busy, preventing those in need from getting help. Which is illegal. It made you sound like some sort of a prankster.

        I would humbly suggest that you either learn Portuguese or simpler. Just speak English. They will surely better understand you next time. Everyone speaks some English at that level in Portugal.

        My personal experience: every time I called an ambulance in Portugal – in different parts of the country and throughout different decades – it came in minutes. Even in busy periods such as holidays, Saturday nights and such. But, then again, I do speak Portuguese…

        In regards do the driver fleeing, most likely he had drunk too much and/or had some issue with his car and wanted to avoid the police.

        Again, don’t blame the 112 services for your lack of understanding of the Portuguese language. They work really good. Just speak English next time and you will be just fine.

        • I did speak English too, in addition to my attempt speaking Portuguese: I said: “Car accident, man is hurt and is bleeding, ambulance please”. Also asking for “ambulança” in Portuguese means someone is hurt and not (only) a car accident.

      • If you call 112 you get to the emergency center which also contains like GNR, then you explain what happens and ask them to refer you to CODU (Centro de Orientação de Doentes Urgentes) and explain again what, where, what kind of person , so the usual first aid questions). And they will send you someone for sure… Also if you ask them at the beginning if they speak english they will help you for sure

  57. This article provides a really useful counterpoint to the usual cheerleading. But it seems that most that is written about Portugal concerns the urban areas or the Algarve. How much does it apply to more rural areas, particularly in the north?
    We are looking at retiring to Portugal from (mountainous) western Colorado. We especially want an area with good scenic hiking and road biking. Cold in the winter is okay, but damp not so much. We’re used to dry and like it that way. We’ve always lived in rural areas and aren’t big socialites. Our area is simply beautiful, but politics and lack of civility weigh heavily.
    From what I read, the Minho area looks really nice–perhaps right up to the Spanish border. Farther west in that northern area also seems good. How do those more rural areas rate in terms of pros and cons?
    If we could move anywhere in the world, I think Switzerland would be first choice. That may give you an idea of our general preferences in terms of outdoor rec, people, rules, and governance. But high cost and difficulty of entry preclude that. Portugal has a lot to offer in terms of terrain, climate, and cost of living for those no longer working.
    Any comments will be welcome!

    • Oops–meant “farther east” in the northern region, where it might be drier. The Peneda-Geres National Park is a big draw, so somewhere not too far from there.

    • Hi, I have been living in the Porto area for 2 years – coming from Argentina-, and honestly, those 22 negative points are a sad reality. What affects us the most is the noise level – dogs and construction sites-. They never stopped working, drilling, or jack hammering during the Covid confinement… Lack of civility and negligence are rife here too…
      The Minho: Northern Portugal doesn’t look like Switzerland, but rather like Gaelic Scotland. Hilly and windy, wet in winter, but very hot in summer. You may want to consider a long term visit close to the Peneda Geres National Park to see if it is what you like. Closest town is Braga. Socializing and making friends amongst the locals is not obvious -they are very family orientated and do not invite you in even if you fluently speak Portuguese.
      Now I have to admit it is a question of perspective. For exemple, Brazilians love it here as it is very safe compared to Brazil. But coming from Argentina, I found Portugal tight, narrow minded, noisy, smelly, crowded. But yes it is safe and retirees are only taxed 10% if they can prove they have not been permanent residents for the last 5 years.
      Even outside big cities, electricity, gas, and buying a car are expensive, housing can be cheap inland but houses are often poorly insulated, poorly built, colder and damper inside than outside in winter, hot and stuffy in summer, especially inland. You will have to be ready to face quite a lot of revamping to make a local house comfortable.
      So if you like it dry and warm, Northern Portugal may not be a good choice.
      Southern Spain maybe?

    • I appreciate very much your unbiased report and precise observations. Having lived in Portugal part-time for 26 years I can fully subscribe to each and every point on the list. I had a large quinta in rural Algarve which I left because of the cold and damp climate in winter, and the uneducated neighbourhood. And speaking the language did not make a big difference. Emigrating soon felt like a cultural and civil regression… Later I bought a house in Lagos, yet the cultural traits remain the same, also in urban Algarve. From my work in International Cooperation I know pretty well North African countries and the Arab mentality. For half a millenium Arabs ruled the greater part of Portugal, and Moroccan settlers arrived. This part of Portugal has been Arab for hundreds of years.
      After their defeat, the Arab rulers left, yet the population remained, converted to Catholicism. Whenever I returned from my work in Morroco to my Algarve home I noted a kind of continuum: the same people, the same attitude as over there – the main difference being that they speak Portuguese… And I’m not joking here.
      Today I can only recommend to anybody who reflects on emigrating to Portugal, in particular to the Algarve, to think twice.
      By the way: Germany has become the most attractive destination for migrants (after the US) world-wide. That might surprise some readers from the island whose media socialisation comprises the weekly dose of Nazi films on TV – yet, at present, there’s hardly a better place to live as a foreigner, because here you’re not „um estrangeiro“, you’re respected, it’s easy to make friends, you have a high level of living and public service. And much more diverse and beautiful geographical regions than Portugal – apart from its beaches – has to offer.

    • Hi Dan, we are living in Aveiro, Portugal, for 4 years now and absolutely love it. It’s true, in the northern region and at the coast you have damp climate in winter, we need a humidifier to fight mold, but that happened the same way when we lived near Boston. It’s the downside of the Atlantic climate.
      You might be better off in the center region east of the Serra d’Estrela mountains or in Alentejo. We are in the process of buying a property near Castelo Branco. Be aware of the forest fires in the mountain and coastal region, where they grow a lot of Eucalyptus. This is causing trouble. We decided to buy in an area with Olive orchards with mountains within 30min teach. The eastern Alentejo region is absolutely beautiful, reminded us a bit of Tuscany, but it has more hills than mountains.
      If you have the chance, visit or at least take video tours of the property.
      As for bureaucracy it’s half as bad if you take a local with you and don’t tru to resolve things online. You need to talk to someone in person. It always worked. I found it sometimes worse in the US even though speaking English, as it gets harder and harder to speak to a human representative on the phone.
      However, making Portuguese friends is a bit harder than expected, even visiting a local Baptist Church, but the Brazilians or Angolans are very open and warm hearted, as most Portuguese already have their circle of friends and It’s not very common in the cities to open your house and invite people (might be still linked to the dictatorship which lasted until 1974).
      All in all, Portugal is beautiful, it offers amazing food and a lot of history. Regarding nature, Colorado is hard to beat, but Portugal has its charme, too.

  58. I’ve lived in Évora for over a year now. For me the biggest problem is the noise from both neighbors and their dogs. They just don’t seem to care and are really oblivious to any kind of discomfort they might be creating. They leave their dogs chained up all day, barking incessantly. And this is not just a few people; it’s systematic. When they get together to drink in the street or on their terrace, they insist on shouting at each other even though they’re less than a meter apart. And this can go on all night. I’ve lived in a few different neighborhoods here and it’s the same everywhere. I thought that I’d get used to it but I am just getting angrier and angrier.

    • You are so right about both the dogs barking and the fact that they shout when they`re close to each other. l stayed in a small town near Faro for 6 weeks and there are always dogs barking on balconies, dogs barking in the street and on one occassion l saw an owner with their small dog who she let bark non stop for over 5 minutes and didn`t even seem to notice. Even when it then tried to snap someone`s ankles she didn`t notice and was oblivious to a comment from a lady nearby. This mentality is just unbelievable and something l`ve never encountered either in the uk or Germany !!

    • Hi Kyle, unfortunately you are not alone in this noisy mess, we are suffering from noise pollution too in Porto, not only from dogs but mostly from construction sites -never seen so many cranes in my life.
      During the Covid confinement, Portugal was one of the only European countries to allow construction sites to continue drilling and jack hammering 8 hours a day, driving people stuck inside their houses insane. All his because most politics have a foot in the construction business…
      So there, another aspect of Portuguese life…

      • A lot of people have been complaining about construction during the lockdown period. I spoke to someone who’s had construction going in on a neighbouring apartment for four months now. As Odile says, construction seems to involve a lot of jackhammers and heavy machinery.

      • The non-stop construction has also been a constant in the Netherlands throughout the partial lockdowns – including in apartment buildings. Absolute madness.

    • This article is very good and eye opening. We were planning to move to Portugal in 2021, but this article, along with more research I did today, made us change our minds. I will find very difficult to tolerate a lot of things, but dog noise and their owners indifference is the last and biggest last straw that broke the camels back.

      In fact, I just read that today that yesterday, December 29, three people died in an altercation over a barking dog in a town 30 Km south of Lisbon (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34100488). I’ve been to countries where barking dogs is just normal, and those animals are treated as alarms rather than pets. Therefore, I understand that it’s a cultural problem in Portugal that won’t change any time soon.

      I just read other articles of people being driven to madness by barking dogs, while their owners are oblivious and impervious to it. My research tells me that Spain is about the same.

      We are very sensitive to noise, and living with constant dog barking will be living hell.

      Thanks for the article!

      • I think it depends on where you live. I live in a newer apartment building in a newer (and more expensive part) of Lisbon (Parque das Nações). There are people here with dogs, but it is very quiet most of the time. People seem very civil and normal. The fact that 3 people died in an altercation over a barking dog shouldn’t be a deterrent. I was far more concerned from the level of violence in the US when I lived there. More and more the attitude of many Americans is self-centered and hostile (i.e. F.U., I will do what I want). You can see this in the current political climate and during protests. Portugal is far more civil and less hostile. Of course there is always isolated incidents which you see on the news, but you never hear about all the other situations where things are better.

      • Thanks for the link to BBC article. Sad to hear about that. It’s now been about half a year now since I wrote this comment about the noise problem. Absolutely nothing has changed unfortunately. Tried talking to my neighbors about their barking dogs and that only brings momentary relief (if I’m lucky). The GRN (police) do nothing. You are entitled to make a noise complaint if it is occurring from 11pm to 7am. But nothing ever comes of it. I’ve realized that I just have to accept it. Or move somewhere where I do t have neighbors. Wish there was something more I could do…

        • Hi Kyle are you still in Evora? I’m a Brit and have been living here with my husband for 4 years. Could be good to meet up.

      • I just read the article you cited. While it was a tragic situation, Portugal has a very low crime rate and murders are rare.
        More importantly, don’t you want to live in a place where it’s police run towards trouble at the risk of their own lives to help?
        In this situation, a plainclothes policeman died after running to help. Another policeman also ran towards the trouble and was killed. The third, the son of the plainclothes policeman, also ran towards the problem to aid his father and he too was shot and in critical condition. Isn’t this the kind of country where you could feel safe?

        Relevant section of this article below:

        “A plainclothes officer who lived in the area was shot dead as he ran to investigate the row, and a patrol officer then called to the scene was shot in the head and killed.
        The third victim was reportedly the son of the plainclothes officer who was trying to help his father.”

  59. Most of things James told us here are TRUE. We are a family of 3 and have been living in Lisbon for 5 years, from Vasco de Gama 1 year and moved to this privilege are of Santo António, just junto Av de Liberdade. We love the area and what this city can offer, from cheap Portuguese restaurants to top fancy restaurants, you name it, you get it all, within affordable price range!
    We love the old apartment we live in but noises of creaking on the ceiling while people walking, dogs barking for hours from a balcony that owners often leave them unaccompanied, noise noise!!;
    Without having a proper central system, winter is very cold in the house so I told my husband during winter season Portugal is colder than Switzerland (so get your own movable heaters);
    Most of apartments don’t have a lift so think twice if you want buy something here and your apartment is situated on the 3rd or 4th floor and you aren’t get any younger, and and … house pricing in Lisbon increase crazily over these past years;
    Cigarette buts are all over, internet+TV package are not only expensive but very slow (we started with MEO than moved to Vodafone: same service)… But with these all downsides, we decided to buy something (but not in Lisbon) instead in Sétubal and will soon move there, We don’t know if we will enjoy as much as we enjoy Lisbon 😬
    All the Best!

    • Wishing you all the best but if things don`t work out l would recommend Spain ! Weather just as good as Portugals but house/appartment prices, both for renting and buying, so much cheaper, if you look on the idealista spain website you will find plentyin all areas !

    • Hello,
      My wife and I are planning on moving to Portugal upon my retirement in a few months and Setubal is high on our list. If you ended up moving there any insight or suggestions would be appreciated. We plan on renting for a good while until we’re sure we want to settle. We’ve been looking through Idealista for rentals but there are any other resources you could recommend it would greatly be appreciated as well.

      • Having visited Setúbal many times, I would say be careful about the area you live in. Some parts are a bit rough to say the least. It is a city, and has all that would be expected of a city. However, just up the road is Palmela. Nicer in my opinion and there is one guy in the Câmara who speaks English and is really nice. When we went to Setúbal Loja de Cidadão, we had a much harder time as no one spoke English.

      • Having lived here for over a year now, I have come across nearly all the cons in the list and agree with them wholeheartedly. There are only 2 things which make me frustrated enough to consider leaving Portugal – cold houses and the incredibly slow and inefficient bureaucracy.
        I am sitting in my house with two blankets on me, and it is the middle of the day. My house is reasonably well insulated too. I didn’t move to Portugal to live like this!!
        We had an agent who messed up our NHR application and said we were resident in 2020 rather than 2019 so we were initially rejected. We appealed in July 2020 and are still waiting in January 2021 for a decision from the Finanças. So our tax status is very unsettled. We feel totally out of control of the situation. (Moral of this story, apply yourself, it is much easier than we thought)

        Apart from these two things we can put up with everything else so far. We haven’t had a lot of luck, and several things have gone badly wrong, but we have managed to get through it all with the help of Deepl translator and minimal Portuguese (not met many English speakers in officialdom here). So, I guess, plan for the worst, hope for the best is a good motto here.

    • I would definitely not agree that tv/internet here is expensive. Near San Francisco, CA where I used to live, I paid about $160/month, without cell phone service. My mother lives in Southern CA and pays about $240/month… again without cell service. Now I pay €60 ($70) per month, for 200 channels of tv, 200mps internet service, and cell service with 20GB/month (this is with MEO). There’s no way that internet/tv is expensive here. Perhaps you are from another part of the US or another part of the world where this service is cheaper, but that is hard to imagine. Now electricity on the other hand, is quite expensive. I believe the rate is one of the highest in the EU.

  60. Good list – I’ve only been here a month, but can agree on most things (haven’t seen winter yet, smoking hasn’t been an issue – though I was in Serbia last where indoor smoking is allowed and the vast majority of the adult population smokes, and bureaucracy hasn’t been so bad with the help of a “tax representative” to assist with my NIF, waiting to see what registering for social security during these times will bring, but I’ve been told it’s simpler than the NIF). I’m about to go hunt down some of the neighborhood dogs because there has been almost non-stop barking for going on three hours now from all sides of my apartment in Ovar (south of Porto). And the inner-noise is a thing… I am sensitive, and it’s a nuisance, but thankfully my neighbors upstairs don’t get too crazy. For others used to more insular environments in the US, though, it will be a change.

    People seem to keep talking about gas prices in California… I don’t think they realize it can still be nearly twice that in Portugal.

    Only other thing I’d add is how self-absorbed Portuguese can be, in a rather inconsiderate way. I would actually compare it to L.A., but no fakeness here. People do not give a FUCK about others, and it shows. I’ve already had it out with a couple people on the street for being brazenly rude and aggressive towards me for NO reason, simply walking down the sidewalk. I have no idea how Portugal has been ranked the “third most peaceful country on the planet.” It is filled with loud, self-absorbed assholes who will treat others with utter disrespect as though they live for it. That’s been the biggest culture shock for me here, really, is just how shitty the people can be. It’s not everyone, but….

    • l have to agree that Portugal does have quite a few of those loud mouths around and the customer service, if you can call it that, leaves a lot to be desired, but if you`ve been to Spain, France or Germany l would be interested to hear how you found them !

    • Thank you for this refreshingly honest critique Jack! And thank you James for this wonderful blog/forum. I’ve had it with societal aggression after witnessing the US insanity during Covid/2020 and while I was considering Portugal and specifically the Algarve region for shorter term winter stays (3-4 months) I am now reconsidering this idea. I live in Canada which is an especially friendly place (we say “sorry” a lot) where life is easy to navigate in all aspects (housing, banking, medical care, all amenities, language, etc) and in retirement I would prefer to avoid the challenges that have been detailed in this blog. When the world opens up again I think we will take a closer look at southern Italy/ Sicily instead for longer stays in retirement. I don’t think we could tolerate the noise, the inhumane treatment of animals (dogs) and the uncaring nature of the society in Portugal. We have always enjoyed our visits to Italy and the hospitable nature of the people. Language has never been an issue in Italy and most other European countries since many have at least a smattering or better of English, and when not there is at least an honest attempt to communicate two ways using our phone apps, our hands and facial expressions, etc. Southern Spain in the Seville area is another option to consider as we have also had good experiences there.

      • Hi Rebecca,

        I’ve never lived in Italy but I’ve heard it’s challenging to integrate and there’s lot of bureaucracy. I have lived in Spain and it has a lot of the problems that I’ve seen in Portugal, but I would say it’s slightly easier to live there. I could be wrong, though, as I have spent a lot more time in Portugal than in Spain.

        If you’re only coming to Portugal/Spain/Italy for 3-4 months, and I assume that means not becoming resident here, you will avoid many of the challenges people living here face.

        The noise issues are often avoidable if you go for a house rather than an apartment. Well, sometimes. It can be a bit of a lottery.

        As to the uncaring nature of people, I think that’s a bit to do with where you’re coming from. The way people from Canada and other English-speaking countries interact with neighbours/strangers is quite different to how people in the rest of the world, including Southern Europe, interact. Although I prefer one way, I have to remind myself that’s just because of where I was raised.

        • Where I live in Lisbon it is very quiet and civilized. I work California hours (9-5 Pacific time, 5pm-1am Portugal time), and I sleep in until 10 or 11am. In fact, some days I sleep later. I live in a newer apartment building with good insulation and double pane windows. The neighborhood is clean and I’m 1 block from the Tejo River in Parque das Nações. Although I’ve only lived here about a month, I have no complaints with dogs or any type of noise. This area does tend to be expensive though.

      • Hello, We came here to Loule, Algarve, Portugal from Scandinavia in December 2020 for a month long Christmas vacation, and today we are still here. I and my husband we work online and our 3 kids are in distance learning, so all of as are online everyday. During our stay we have found that Portugal is the loveliest place to live, most helpful and kind people you can find. They even help to carry groceries, the landlords -we have lived in 3 different houses so far -are the kindest people and we become friends even before we moved to their houses. They are willing to do extra anytime even without asking, improving things even without asking, offering help and cleaning, when my computer broke down the maintainance spent weekend to fix it and downloaded everything from hard drive so i was ready for work on Monday morning, we havent done much shopping because of the lockdown but as the stores opened up we got huge discounts and the owners even gave us some items for free as presents. We lived also in a countryside with most wonderful and smiling neighbours, maybe it is different up north, but we live in Algarve and we even have english radio here that gives nice overview of the daily news. People come to Algarve to retire, so english speaking people are everywhere and english is widly spoken, of course they lighten up if I, my husband and kids speak some portuguese we have learned so far but nobody expects us to be fluent. We have lived in many places in a world and we havent seen so kind and helpful people anywhere. And the winter is warmer than Scandinavian summer here in Algarve, and the ocean is as warm as the sea in Sweden during the summer, so our kids have been swimming in a ocean since we came here. People are healty and you can see joggers, runners and cyclers everywhere, the food is amazing and fruits and veggies taste and smell like they should be, and we even pick our oranges and lemons in the morning and we can smell the blossoms in a orange tree. After shopping groceries we are still amazed how little we payed. We can see at least 20 different birds in a garden, and sometimes some frogs and hedgehogs drop by. we have been in Italy as well, but people hardly speak english there, of course Italy is Italy -you can’t beat that, but we love to visit Italy but would not imagine living there. Strangly Portuguese people are the least temperament people -more like scandinavians, silent and happy, you hardly hear them. Life is perfect here!

    • What do you mean ‘hunt down the dogs’??? You don’t sound like a very nice or stable person yourself. If you don’t like it LEAVE. No wonder I prefer animals to people.

  61. Corruption in politics and elsewhere is the norm , and there is total inefficiency , and lack of accountability in all government services , and almost all their procedures are outdated and slow .

  62. Hi All,
    I’m an old Irish guy looking for a civilised place to spend the winters in,and possibly retire to. Portugal appears to have much of what I am looking for. However, I need fairly fast internet speed to help provide an income.
    I am looking to buy a modest apartment outside of Lisbon or Porto but near the sea. If anyone has useful information about internet quality, it would be much appreciated. I,also, don’t drive,so good public transport is important to me.
    Despite getting on a bit, I would like to be somewhere I can have an active,varied social life.
    Any suggestions.
    My Best Wishes,

    • Hi Brian,

      Lots of people live in Portugal and work online. It’s one of the most popular destinations, particularly Lisbon but increasingly also the Algarve. I would say speeds are good overall, and it usually isn’t too hard to find a café that you can work from as well. Cities and large urban areas are (naturally) more likely to have fibre broadband. Unless you require really amazing upload or download speeds, you shouldn’t struggle to find what you’re looking for.

      Public transport and a social life are probably the two bigger issues as both often require you to be close to somewhere like Lisbon or Porto, which means higher accommodation costs.

      A few places I would look into are Setúbal, Costa da Caparica, Cascais, Matosinhos, and some of the towns and cities on the Silver Coast which is becoming quite popular (particularly around Caldas da Rainha and Peniche).

      Start there, and let me know how you get on.

      • James,
        Thank you for your prompt reply. I think Portugalist is a great resource of which you should rightly be very proud.
        When I firm up on plans for a visit I expect I will have a number of additional questions.
        Setubal has certainly interested me with its proximity to Lisbon. The property prices there seem reasonable for my modest budget. I suppose there is a good possibility of a decent rental income there too.
        I will certainly keep you in mind if it comes to needing professional services such as lawyers,accountant,etc,.
        Should I move to Portugal, I would be keen to involve myself in local charitable activities as a public-spirited contribution to my new community.
        I will continue my research.
        Thanks again. I look forward to our next exchange of words.
        Kind regards,

        • Hi Brian I’m not there yet in Portugal but have similar questions
          Would like to be in touch
          I’m presently in India on my way to the UK in a week
          My email I’d is
          [email protected]
          Looking forward to having a conversation regards Zena

          • Hi Zena,
            I live in London and would welcome exchanging views on Portugal with you–have been out of Ireland for many years but am a regular visitor home.
            With the current Covid 19 situation I have put back any plans to visit Portugal until winter at the earliest.
            Please contact me at [email protected].
            Best wishes,

      • Hi James & everyone,

        What a phenomenal resource here!

        We are a couple (one retired, one working remotely in tech) from the SF bay area that are planning/researching a move to
        Portugal (areas of interest right now: Camp de Ourique, Faro, Coimbra).

        We do not speak any language other than english.

        Your 22 cons about Portugal was super helpful. To that point, house vs apt. from a noise standpoint is where we are headed as sleep is pretty important to us. Walkability to shops, produce markets is a pretty important thing for us as well.

        Healthcare: we would have our private int’l plan (Alianz? Cigna? some other provider?) and as my husband has had heart surgery in the past, a good hospital w/acute cardiology services is important.

        This is a lot to address, but your help (and others’ comments would be great).

        Thank you again for “telling like it is”!

        Julie & Phil

        • We are a family trying to move from Princeton NJ to Portugal as well, and your question of “house vs apartment” resonated much, as I am trying to figure that out as well. I am hoping to get to Portugal by Summer 2021, and in case I get there before you, I will update this post. In case you get there before us, I would appreciate if you could let us know your thoughts / experiences.

        • Hi Julie,

          Like you I live in the S.F bay area and my fiancé and I are planning a move to Portugal in the next 12-24 months. I’d love to get together and share information if you are interested.


          [email protected]

        • Hi Julie. I just moved to Lisbon from the SF Bay Area about a month ago. I moved to a a newer neighborhood in Portugal which is relatively expensive (Parque das Nações), but it is quiet. I pay €1050/month for a 1 bd/1ba. Everything was built within the last 20 years so the buildings all seem to have modern conveniences. I have my own parking place in a secure garage, washer/dryer, dishwasher and central heat/AC. I live within a 5-15 min walk to many restaurants, shops, a large mall (Vasco da Gama), and a metro/train station. It takes about 20 mins to get to the center of Lisbon and about 10 mins to the airport.
          I have seen a few negative responses being posted, but have not experienced any of this, except for some red tape and bureaucracy. I suspect one thing that might account for negative experiences depends not only on where you live, but how much you pay. In less expensive neighborhoods, buildings may be more noisy, less insulated and neighbors may have a different mentality. It is possible that in more expensive areas, people may be more respectful and might care about where they live. Where I live there is no trash on the ground and although lots of people have dogs, I rarely hear much barking or noise.

          In any case, I have no regrets about moving and apart from being a little lonely, I do enjoy being here. I also work in tech (remotely) but will likely retire if my employer revokes my work overseas privilege. One word of warning… depending on your age, you may have an issue getting private insurance. I am 47 yrs old and have health insurance through Medis. I pay for the top of the line policy, which is about $100/month. There are no deductibles and I think the policy is very good; however, from my understanding they might not offer a policy to NEW customers who are over 55. If you have the policy before you are that age, they won’t stop insuring you though. BEFORE YOU MOVE, I would verify that you can get health insurance, especially since your husband has heart issues.

          • Hi Todd,

            ” I am 47 yrs old and have health insurance through Medis. I pay for the top of the line policy, which is about $100/month. There are no deductibles and I think the policy is very good”

            Which one policy is your choice?
            I just can see 3 tiers , but the highest one still requests copay 10% and consultancy fee , do you use the same , or have better one without any pay.


      • Hi James,
        Your suggestion of areas in which to look at properties has proved productive,even for the very modest budget I have available.
        I am concerned that I may not be able to visit Portugal for some months given the current public health situation throughout Europe including Britain. I have been living in London for many years. It had been my hope to to sample the winter weather but I cannot imagine travelling anywhere until Spring at the earliest.
        Other concerns are the cold inside buildings plus the noise. Spanish properties seem more varied and possibly of superior construction. It also appears that many of the Portuguese properties are old ones that have been recently renovated or they need considerable updating..
        On the Costa Del Sol I can get close to the coast and in the Canaries I can have both location and winter warmth.
        I have looked at property as north as Aveiro and as south as all along the Algarve coast. There seem to be places like Portimao where it might be possible to get a property of two or three bedrooms within walking distance of a beach. I might be satisfied with something like that.
        I am still unsure about the quality of internet connection for my business activity which is akin to but NOT trading in stocks and shares. I will be keen to try out the internet on my travels when I do make to Portugal.
        To have the possibility of having additional income, I will have to consider where there is likely to be demand for rental space through tourism and/or flatsharing–something I know very little about.
        James,you might know, how much demand there is likely to be for rental income if I bought in Setubal province in more obscure areas?
        Regarding viewing properties without a car will require careful planning and the help of Estate Agents. My rough plan is to spend around a week in the Algarve just to see if I can afford anything there. I would need at least a two bed flat. I further would like to spend about two weeks in Setubal province and the Lisbon coastal region.
        Any sensible suggestions will be appreciated.
        Best wishes and stay safe,
        Brian W

        • Hi Brian,

          I would say that Spanish properties have similar issues to Portuguese properties, although it’s a bigger and slightly wealthier country so there might be some more variation there.

          As to internet quality, I really don’t think you’ll have a problem if you are able to get Fibre. Vodafone is probably the most recommended provider. There are thousands of people running online businesses in Portugal. Yes, I’ve stayed in some places with poor quality internet but you can get very fast internet if this is your priority.

          As for tourism, it’s difficult to say off-hand (especially now), but, if it’s okay with you, I’m going to pass your details into a buyer’s agent based in the Setúbal region who can answer those questions a little better.

          • Hi James,
            I’m happy to talk to a buyer’s agent but disinclined to cotemplate paying the fee they may want. Whereas with the estate agents sharing commission I might be prepared to add a small fee for helping with viewings,etc,
            I will keep following the market and thinking of further questions to ask you.
            An adviser on all the financial side of a possible move might be a useful contact.
            Thanks again,

            • Hi Brian,

              There are two types of buyer’s agents, but the majority in Portugal don’t charge a fee to the buyer – they split the commission with the seller. Both approaches have their pros and cons, but the no fee option is more appealing to most buyers for obvious reasons.

              I will have a think about advisors on the financial side.

              • Having been a top producing Buyers Agent in South Carolina, USA, where fiduciary (representational) real estate is recognzed and scrupulously regulated, and having bought 4 properties in Northern Portual, I can say there is no concept of buyers agency here and there is no regulaton of real estate here. There may be a few individual agents who are ethical, but as a while it is a Wild West and Buyer Beware.

              • Hi Wendy,

                I don’t have experience of the US real estate market, but the Portuguese one is quite unregulated in comparison to many other countries. It’s very easy to get a real estate licence, and this means there are a lot of cowboys out there. You do need to do a lot of research here, and get whatever external help you can get – especially legal help.

                The term buyers agent is a new concept here and, yes, a lot of realtors are just using the phrase because it attracts buyers (esp from North America). There are some good ones out there, though – people who are trying to help you buy a good quality property and who aren’t simply in it to split commissions. If you can find them, these guys are worth their weight in gold.

    • Internet speeds are good in towns and cities, but you must pay for better quality services. As to an active and varies social life. This is not going to happen, even if you speak Portuguese. The Portuguese model for socialization is family and childhood friends with whom you maintain a lifelong relationship.

      Outsiders will be Superficially treated well because it is expected. They will generally not be included in the inner sphere.

      The above list of issues is UNDERSTATED but accurate. Each problem listed is THE NORM, not the exception.

    • Aveiro, Vila Nova de Gaia or Espinho has decent internet speeds. Home office works for me, sometimes connection slows down, but video calls were possible with a few exceptions due to covid and everyone using video…

    • Good point.

      This seems to mainly be a Lisbon issue, though. I’ve had it happen to me in Porto, the Algarve, and even over in the Azores, but it’s much more of a problem than a slight annoyance in Lisbon.

      • And what about the lots of beggars asking from you money in every corner of the city? those who are professional and those who are really need it. I really like helping people and stock up with coins every day but in Lisbon it seems a little bit too much .

        • Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know who are the genuine beggars, the “professional” beggars, and those who are most likely to spend the money on drugs or something else. This is the case everywhere, though.

          It doesn’t answer your question directly, but one option would be to donate to food banks.

        • We live in a village in Central Portugal and regularly have beggars knocking on our door. We gave them money at Christmas but not otherwise. You have to laugh at how quickly they learn the English for money. They are not aggressive though and one of the least annoyances about living in Portugal.

  63. Animals are treated differently here. Dogs are for protection, cats are for catching mice. It’s a bit different in the cities but I don’t like the way animals are treated here. Lots of them abandoned. Very few charities to look after them. Sometimes lots of stray dogs wandering around.

    • Animals are treated differently here, primarily because the owners see absolutely no need to take responsibility. I have a neighbor whose dogs howl and snarl at EVERY person who passes by, at ALL hours. Since they live 15 meters from a popular cafe, this means all day. The owner stands there and watches. Occasionally one will break out and attack passing dogs.

      Good, caring decent pet owners do exist, but the “what can I do, thats how it is” attitude stymies change.

  64. This article on Portugal by James Cave was a breath of fresh air. Thorough and honest. Most companies involved in retiring overseas such as International Living list only the positive aspects of a country. Their descriptions give the impression that it’s paradise, which doesn’t exist anywhere in this world.

    I appreciated, in particular, the difficulty with the bureaucracy. It exists in every country to some degree but appears to be more prevalent in Portugal.

    • Thanks Jim!

      I think it’s important to be realistic about these things. Every country is a mixture of pros and cons.

      • I am glad I came across your article..we were thinking of retiring there and your honesty was a breath of fresh air as all we read was the wonderful aspects of living there. So thank you..we are so put out with the way the USA is turning out that we simply want to move to a safer place to retire..we are set money wise so where would you suggest? Any info is greatly appreciated

          • I’m needing to flee Canada,Portugal is very high on my short list of places to move to. I’ve been to mainland portugal once,and the azores several times. My Portuguese( azores portuguese.lol) is quite good. The “cons” list concerns me a bit,but not enough to sway my decision much. Thanks for your input 😁

        • Hello,
          I’m planning to retire and move to Portugal by the next year.
          I’m sick and tired of what is going on in my country.
          I’m going to sell my house in Pacifica, CA and buy house in Portugal.
          Please, if you find some good and “safe” place in Portugal or somewhere else, share with me.
          Thank you very much, Robert

          • Hi Robert. I was also sick on the nonsense in the US. I also fled the SF Bay Area for Portugal. I would not buy a place here though until you’ve lived here a while, just to be sure you want to stay. I decided to rent and have been here about a month. So far so good. Most places here are much safer than in the US. Although Pacifica is very nice, except for that damn fog. If you don’t mind the same type of weather you can live in the north of Portugal. I don’t like the cold and decided to live in Lisbon… specifically Parque das Nações. It is very expensive for Portugal and one of the more expensive areas of Lisbon, but still about half the price (or less) of the Bay Area. The weather in Lisbon is about the same overall as the Bay Area.

        • Nancy
          We, too, have been considering a relocation. And Portugal was one under consideration. Thanks to James’s honesty we are now scratching it off the list. These quality of life issues sound terrible so people who enjoy peace and quiet.

          There are many safe places in the USA. But finding nice year round weather is impossible.

          We seek warm but not hot, and dry but not desert. A place we can garden. As I’m sure most older people know cold and damp do not agree with age. Appreciate any ideas. We speak a little French and German.

          However sometimes it’s best to visit and to live where “there’s no place like home”. All the stress of learning new societal rules in retirement isn’t for everyone.

          • Hi Jen and Jim,

            A lot of the peace and quiet issues are mainly for those that live in apartment blocks. The damp is definitely an issue and, yes, it doesn’t mix well with age or joint problems. There are heating solutions, such as pellet fires or underfloor heating, that help out a lot though.

            As for learning societal rules, there’s probably no getting around that one (although you can live in a very expat bubble here). Portugal has a different culture and sometimes, like you say, there’s no place like home.

  65. It makes a big difference as to which countries you compare Portugal to. For example, Portugal would beat any African country hands down.

    • Absolutely.

      For many reasons, I can’t compare it to every country in the world. I think it makes sense to draw comparisons between other European countries because people are often looking at living in Portugal VS Spain, for example. I also compare it to the other English-speaking and Northern European countries that I know well enough as this is where many Portugalist readers come from.

      I do hope to write some articles where I interview people from other parts of the world (e.g. South Africa) to get their insights into the differences between life here and their home country.

      • Hello James,
        Thanks so much for administering this great blog. I have learned so much from the differant view points from the readers. We plan to visit for a few months next summer, hopefully the pandemic will be under control by then. We were hoping Portugal could become a new summer home and possibly a new full time place of residency. We are retired 73 and 68 respectively. We live in the USA in Arizona near Mexico. It is an active retirement community, 6,000 plus homes with HOA rules, which is not uncommon in the USA. In the summer when the heat becomes extreme we travel to the East Coast to the state of New Jersey where we have a condo with again HOA rules.
        My question is because of the HOA rules, we live in an envirement that is quiet/peaceful and that brings up a few problems that I have read here about noise and other things. We have nothing against dogs but their barking is not music to our ears. Dog pooh I guess we can expect but does it have to be in our neighborhood? At our age we are use to heat and air conditioning. Is this possible? Mold we don’t choose to have to deal with that. Our condo was built with cinder block and cememt slabs. Can’t hear anyone. Are any apt. or condos built like that?
        We can deal with a lot of he other issues that have been brought up. Language and bureaucracy we can deal with them.
        Any help anyone can give to a couple of old folks will be greatly appreciated.

        • Hi Bruce,

          Issues like mold and barking dogs aren’t an issue everywhere in Portugal, but it is something to be aware of. Most issues like mold, noise insulation, etc are common in older Portuguese houses, or houses that were cheaply built, but you can definitely find modern (slightly more expensive) properties where these things aren’t an issue. It’s just something to be aware of when you’re house-hunting.

          Air conditioning is definitely possible. You shouldn’t have a problem getting it installed if the property you choose doesn’t already have it. Electricity is expensive here, by European standards, but it’s a price worth paying for many people. I would also think about heating as well.

          I would also think about where you might want to live in Portugal. If you’re looking for somewhere with a large retirement community, the Algarve, Cascais, or perhaps Madeira would all be places to look at. You’ll find retired expats in every part of Portugal, but those are some of the largest hotspots.

          • “Air conditioning is definitely possible. You shouldn’t have a problem getting it installed if the property you choose doesn’t already have it.”

            The roof of most apartments are public space. Locating a unit on a roof is frequently problematic. Walls are concrete. retrofit-Installation can be problematic.

            Portable units are available and I have one. Portuguese will tell you “you don’t need central heat or air conditioning. It doesn’t get hot….It doesn’t get cold”…this is rubbish. Three years here and I assure you, apartments can be saunas and walk in freezers.

            If you want central heat or air, you will need to find an apartment with it already installed. Space heaters are ineffectual in uninsulated, concrete block buildings and cost a fortune to run.

            • Hi Jonathan,

              This is good to know regarding the installation of air con. And, yes, it can definitely be the two extremes with regards to heat.

              • James, you can always suggest for expats to consider moving to newer buildings with these amenities. I live in Parque das Nações in Lisbon and have no noise issues. I also have central heating/AC, washer/dryer, dishwasher, an elevator in the building and designated parking in a secure garage. Most of the buildings in this area are new and have similar amenities. Of course this is one of the more expensive areas of Lisbon, but it is about half the price of apartment in some areas of California. Usually you get what you pay for, and Portugal is no exception to this.

      • Hi James…. I’m a South African living in Tavira – please feel free to send me any questions you may have about living in SA. I left in 2000 but as I have a son and other family still living there, I visit at least once a year….. except of course, this year! There is no comparison between living in Portugal (I can only comment on the Algarve) and living in South Africa although I do have Portuguese family and friends who still love living there.

    • Not really. Wouldn’t beat Senegal or Botswana. Have you been to Africa? Now, if you’re saying it would beat the US, the UK, Russia, Venezuela, well, you might have a point there.

  66. Thanks – I think I am convinced to not move to Portugal but to partake in extended vacations. My company is bringing new jobs to the area and want me to move there. Not so sure I can handle it and I do not speak Portuguese. I think it will be shorter lived time in Portugal. Glad to know the beauty has an ugly side as well.

    • Hi Saj,

      Perhaps start with extended vacations or even see if you can work remotely here and then decide if it’s for you?

      Some people get here and find that it’s not for them so it’s good you’re seeing that might be the case for you in advance. Lots of people love it, though, so do come and try it out.

      • Hi
        We are planning to live in Cascais from June 2021.
        My daughter is going to start A levels at that time.
        At the moment she goes to a private school in Brighton
        There is any equivalent to A levels In Portugal?
        By the way,she is fluent in Portuguese from Brazil.

        • Hi Juliana,

          There are several private schools in Portugal that teach the British A Levels rather than the Portuguese curriculum. If she’s already going to a private school in the UK, maybe it’s simplest for her to go to a private school in Portugal?

          Fluency in Portuguese will be a big help to her in many ways, especially integrating into Portuguese life here.

  67. Hi James,

    Thank you! Lot’s of good info here. My partner and I are looking to move to Portugal from NY. I spent my summers in Aveiro (parents & grandparents are Portuguese). I’m torn on where to live as I would like a bit of property and a house to raise children and dogs in. We narrowed it down to Magoito, outskirts of Estremoz or Tavira. Any insight would be hugely grateful. Nadia is a Yoga Teacher and I an entrepreneur. The long term plan is to form a business around hospitality and Yoga. Short term would be to enjoy during the year as we continue living in the hustle and bustle of the states for another year or so.

    Thanks again,

  68. Hello,
    My boyfriend and I are thinking about moving to Portugal, particularly one of the small rural villages bc his family already has a house there. And I’m worried bc I have epilepsy and I’ve read many articles that getting a specialist is very difficult. Can someone verify that for me?

    • Sarah I would do more research about health insurance online before you go to Portugal especially if your boyfriend has a medical condition.

    • I have only lived in Portugal since November 2019, and using the healthcare system has probably been one of our biggest hurdles, only due to the language barrier. We are lucky and get reciprocal rights. But we live south of Aveiro, and literally no administrator or receptionist speaks any English around here. We had to ask our Portuguese teacher to give us the vocabulary just to set up a doctor appointment! I am too scared to go to the doctor! It is probably much easier in the big cities or Algarve. I personally think it is a total myth that English is widely spoken in Portugal. In this area, more French is spoken, which is lucky because my husband is fluent. We have been saved twice from total destruction by local bureaucrats purely because of kindly, elderly Gentlemen who happened to have lived in France and were able to come to our rescue when our poor Portuguese and Google translate were not helping!

  69. Hello!! I am Richie and planning to visit Madeira in 2020 hoping to research and see if it can become our chosen expat retirement home. I have read this entire thread. Having lived in 3 countries and visited about 45 of them, plus married to a Russian, I have experienced a thing or two.

    Our goal – live a simpler life – and for us – boring works just fine. I will be on pension and wife will work so our income/savings should be fine.

    My biggest questions are about the Madeira weather – since most homes do not have heating – what are best ways to cope with the winter/nights. Is a home with central heating a “must have”?? Here in the USA, we use a fireplace and propane gas heating plus electric blankets and its cozy enough despite colder and humid night temps.

    Next – health care. Can anyone please recommend a preferred private health carrier for those over 55 (and 65) that will provide care for diabetic patients? My BS is well managed with meds but I am still at risk.

    Lastly, integrating is not our type priority – we all have learned that having even a handful of friends in life is a great accomplishment – but we are friendly and outgoing and an interesting professional couple. If integrating is proving difficult for many – what icebreaking tips might be advised to fit into the community? Charitable service? Recommended networking??

    Also, your input on the PROS/CONS of life on Madeira and what areas are both affordable and offer the best value in terms of a quality life. We see interesting things both north and south.

    Looking forward to our future friendship!!
    Richie and Elena

    • Hi we have lived in Madeira for just over a year now..be careful where you buy or rent in Madeira. The higher up in altitude the colder it gets and during the winter months the houses are very cold and huge amounts have damp problems, like serious damp issues…we have lived in east calheta and west machico and are now in funchal..which we have found to be warmer during the winter and not damp at all, but it does decide on the style of home you live in..we previously lived in algarve for 6 months, but didn’t like, but everyone has their own preferences…

      I think it’s fair to say that Madeira is an agricultural land and so the local people are from farming backgrounds, which makes them simple folk who are friendly…I agree with all of what is written in this piece about Portugal…we have been learning portugese for 18 months ..its an extremely difficult language, and every time you try to practise using what you’ve learned the people know immediately that you are English and just insist on speaking English to you…they are desperate to practise English, particularly along the south coast, because the island heavily relies on tourism…

      Every 100 mtr up the temp drops a degree (as a general example) so always know how high each home that you plan to settle in is, remembering that after about 450/500 you will need some heating..remember you will definitely climatise here..

      On the positive side, it’s a delight to live here as there is hardly any crime , the climate is a dream and lots of free things to pass the time of day…great walks and places to explore…I love it here and feel privileged to be here..our two cocker spaniels enjoy it very much. They came with us from UK and cause a stir wherever we go…
      Calheta probably has the most Brits outside of funchal, but Santa Cruz and gaula can be very reasonable to buy or rent, although the west is favoured above the east in terms of weather. Having lived on both sides I really like both. Machico is flat has two great supermarkets and a yellow sandy beach, but we found it damp and cold in winter (and we was in a new build, still had mould forming on shoes and clothes in closet) everything is about adapting and accepting a brand new lifestyle…but one thing is for sure, once you find your own peace of heaven, you will not be moved!

    • 😁…. sounds exactly the way we feel…… boring (simple life style) is pretty ok….. safety, freedom of movement and warmth in winter. My eastern genes can’t handle the cold without the cozy 😁🎶.

      We unfortunately didn’t visit Madeira on our scouting trip during Nov 2019.

      Beulah & Willie

    • Richie,

      I had private insurance for my first year here. “The best” insurance was $500 a month and in the entire year I had it, it covered NOT ONE THING. Labs, visits and meds were all uncovered. Honestly, I have no idea what it DID cover.

      If you cannot get status here, plan on buying the cheapest insurance and then just paying out of pocket for everything. Compared to the US it is cheap. Compared to the rest of the EU it is par.

      EU folks have no idea what high medical costs are. My Insulin was $1200 a month retail in the us, the same pens are 79 Euros here. They are mortified to ask for 79 Euros.

  70. Great observations, I’m a tour guide in Iberia and Morocco, I fell in love with Lisbon many years ago so decided to leave London for Lisbon, bought property etc. I’ve tried so hard to settle to accept and to integrate but after 10 years and after a recent visit to southern Italy I decided to start planning a move. Main reasons are the negative attitude of the Portuguese in general, that can’t do attitude is hard to deal with and the thought of spending the rest of my years here has made me wake up and plan my new life.

    • where in Italy are you looking to move to that has more of a ‘can do’ attitude and the other qualities of life you are looking for after having lived in and visited many varied places?

  71. We moved here two years ago, having lived in South Africa, Cape Town for nearly 30 years. Born in the UK and traveled a lot it is a pleasure to walk the streets and feel totally safe, so relaxed, take life one day at a time, chat a little, drink a coffee, I love the attitude of the locals, what is the rush. Portugal has taught me to look at the beauty of the place, spend time with friends, we’ve made loads of great friends, we drink a little too much wine, long warm sunny Algarvian days just sitting in the square. After 40 years of always wanting more, doing things better, faster, saving money, board meetings, flights etc., what for, its about quality of life and Portugal offers that. I agree there are all the downsides you mention but thats a lot less then most countries I visited and I am glad I live here.

    • Thanks for this wonderful and honest review.
      I am thinking about relocating from SA, and at this point, I have been applying for jobs at international companies, based in Portugal.
      Do you have any advice that you would like to share.

    • Hi Sue, I am originally from Amsterdam and have been living in Cape Town for the last 20 years. We are looking at moving to Portugal as a family in the near future. I would love to get in touch with you! pls, can you email me on [email protected]? Thanks! San

    • Wow Sue, I love your comment! We are considering moving to Portugal from South Africa, a family of four, two sons aged 13 and 11. Would you have any advice for me? My husband is a photographer and would ideally set up his own business. Any advice? Sorry a big ask, I know!


    • Hi … we just got our passports and thinking of moving after this pandemic is at ease. I have 2 kids and we are currently in Dubai. How about schools and jobs? Thank you.


      • Hi Leah,

        In terms of schools, there are both Portuguese and international schools and, like everywhere else, they vary in quality. You’ll have more options if you’re in Lisbon or the Algarve but you’ll probably need to look at jobs first in order to know where you’ll be.

        As for jobs, generally speaking the job market isn’t great. Wages are low by European standards and there aren’t a huge number of jobs to begin with. This is a generalisation of course, and I’m sure there are some industries that pay well, but it’s something you need to be aware of. People come for the lifestyle more than the earning opportunities, which is probably a very different lifestyle to Dubai.

      • Hi leah, I wouldn’t hesitate about bringing kids here, it’s a dream…so safe and children all grow up slowly and in their proper time..its the happiest I’ve seen children when together with friends or parents…its so family based and child have great respect for the family.

    • Wow great to hear Sue
      I would like to stay in touch
      I’m from London lived in India nearly 40 years
      Heading to Portugal in a month looking for a change
      Regards Zena

      • Hi Zena,
        We are a couple originally from India, currently living in US (citizens now), but exploring options to retire outside US. Portugal always rises to the top of our list because of weather, safety, cost, etc. Had heard good things about healthcare and people on other sites, but this list of cons gives me a pause. Wondering how things are going for you in your search and any impressions you have so far. Having been immigrants, we have already experienced many changes, but would like to make an informed decision. Thank you.

  72. Hi Nelson,
    All I can tell you is about the Algarve where I am based!
    The chiropractors I know in this area are all fully booked! It is hard getting an appointment! Of course, here in the south the main client base will be the foreigners who live here plus the owners of holiday villas/apartments. These have the money to spend!
    The chiropractor I know charges 25€ per session of 30 minutes!
    I hope this is helpful to you.
    Good luck for the future.

  73. Hi,
    So I’ve been thinking of moving to Porto, and obviously first going to see the country but primarily the different areas to possibly live, knowing that there’s essential places near by, like markets, bakery, hospitals, and I’m looking for possible clinics there as well were I can possibly work in my profession until stabilizing myself business wise until I decide to either continue or open my own clinic. Any tips you can offer me?

  74. Hi James

    This information here is really spot on! I’ve lived in Porto for three years (and around the world my whole adult life) and will never assimilate to the level of service or pride of work I’ve experienced here. The insular and mediocrity mentality directly affects the countries economic potential and I have become quite impatient with any of my local acquaintances And friends talking about their low wages. In addition, the incessant defending of local culture… which I don’t find particularly interesting or exceptional (cuisine and the arts)… is what holds back progress. That said, Porto centre is the perfect scale city for me at this time in my life with good weather, great beauty and a vibrance that feels larger than its size. People are friendly on the surface (more so than Berlin, less so than Bali) but hard to know even with their exceptional language skills. There is a strange obsession with worrying about what other might think which is unusual in my experience for any countries major cities. Like anywhere, there is a lot to adjust to and some stuff you’re simply not prepared to accept which might make foreigners integration dependent on the culture they move to. It feels like Portugal is in its early stages of global interest and how it reacts to this will determine how well everyone does from this new interest. Personally, I find it all rather exciting.

    • The reason most people move to Portugal is the conservative old european way of life as opposed to the progressist who are obcessed with making everything “Better”, I have lived 15 years in major cities around the world and got tired of the always more mentality. To live I need a roof, water and food. The rest is not necessary.

    • That Portugal is ‘in its early stage of global interest’ is an interesting feeling to experience in a country that was one of the first to explore, conquer and settle less developed countries on the other side of the world, in the early modern period of global history. Perhaps you sense that the clocks there are gradually turning back into astrolabes?

  75. You forgot to mention in your bit about cold houses….MOLD!
    I regularly do mold checks…found it in my shoes, on coats, furniture, walls!!

    • That’s true! I’ll need to give the article an update.

      It is something you need to keep on top of, otherwise it spreads. I’ve only ever really had it on the walls, thankfully, usually in the bathroom or on a damp wall.

      It’s definitely not a problem that’s limited to Portugal. I’ve experienced it in France and Spain as well.

      • It’s cos in Ireland (and I presume the UK too) there is a black mold species that can cause severe toxicity and is very hard to get rid of. It makes you very sick unfortunately… the damage can last for years 🙁

        • Agree with Niamh about reason for mould obsession among inhabitants of the British Isles, and am convinced he’s right about the Emerald Isle as well. Airborne mould spores are a serious health hazard for various reasons that even casual research will rapidly confirm.

  76. Hello David, I have been here for two years and everything you have pointed out is correct. I have learnt to adapt and keep positive and remember the traffic and pollution in the UK!
    I wish the women would be more assertive, as it is still a male dominated society here, in the centre of Portugal, something I fought against in the 70s and 80s in the UK.
    Thank you for this post.

  77. Hi James,

    Thank you for the very detailed article.

    I am moving with my wife and 1-year-old son to Portugal at the end of the year for good. We do have a house by the beach in Lagos.

    We joined the Golden Visa program and we decided to move to Portugal for a better healthcare system and free education.

    We don’t speak Portuguese (English and Arabic).

    What advice can you give us and what can we expect?

    Is it safe, are schools and healthcare free, will I find a job easily (telecommunication graduate)?

    Thank you

    • Yes, Portugal is quite safe (see: http://www.portugalist.com/safety-portugal-guide/ ). Healthcare is also free (or mostly free) and schools are free as well.

      I don’t know much about that specific job industry, so I would advise you to continue looking into this. Obviously you’ve already committed to moving to Portugal, but it would be a good idea to get an idea of what job opportunities are available to you before getting here.

    • Hi Ali, luso person here, portugal is a safe country but you have to take certain things into account.
      One of the things you need is to be respectful, just as long as you are respectful people will probably be respectfull to you.
      Another is dont try to speak spanish with us.
      Its best if you try to speak to us with either “broken Portuguese” or with English.
      in fact, despite many times we speak with someone foreign to Portugal in English as soon we recognize they arent portuguese, it will give you a reputation boost if you try to speak with us in our mother language even if you are not good at it.
      Trying to speak a native language of a country that is foreign to you while there is a sign of respect. So you can try to use any of those two and everything will be alright.

      • Olá Miguel,
        I’ve been thinking of moving to Porto. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but my parents are Brazilian so I do speak Portuguese and have lived in Brazil, Salvador and Rio, and have lived in Costa Rica too. I work here in Los Angeles as a chiropractor (quiropraxista), and I’m curious as to how much are they utilized in Portugal? I was almost going to Espino in July with the USA Beach Volleyball team as there doctor until the coronavirus canceled everything.

    • Hi Jody,

      No, not unusually. It depends on your situation, but if you’ve moved to Portugal that implies you have permission to stay there (either via a visa or maybe because you come from another EU country).

      You can technically stay up to six months without officially “moving there.”

  78. Very interesting and true comments.
    We live in Madeira and it’s the same there too. My husband was born in Madeira so I’m lazy and let him do all the talking for official things etc. You can learn if you mix a lot with Portuguese and use what you learn otherwise it is difficult. Our son didn’t learn Portuguese as we lived in England. He married a Romanian and now speaks it perfectly but he uses it with their friends, family and congregation. Yes it is a Latin language so it then helps him understand a little Portuguese, as my husband can understand a few words of Romanian.
    Weather much better all year round in Madeira than mainland Portugal.
    However it costs more to travel back and forth here and the airport can sometimes have problems with landing due to the weather, wind!

  79. Not the image I would portray of the Portuguese. Uncivilised. uneducated primitives who know little about honesty and integrity but are experts at confidence trickery. Bureaucracy is an uncontrolled madhouse. Justice is non-existent and a quick buck is the order of the day…especially if its a few thousand bucks. Concrete houses are bound to have toxic black algae…our health centre has it…which is harmful to Children, the Elderly and those with breathing difficulties. Good health care is an absolute myth. Fourteen months wait for a diabetes regular check-up. Poor quality medical advice is the norm, because education and training is abysmal. Professionals are anything but professionals, and again, poorly educated.

    Twelve years of reality not fuzzy impression.

      • Or the country could evolve quickly and catch up with the rest of Western Europe which it has fallen 100 years behind? I’ve been here three years and although there is much that I enjoy about living here, the insular and low insight mentality is the hardest to handle along with the striking mediocrity. Slow doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad, but it does here in quality and pride of input. But I do believe that with more skilled and globally experienced people moving here, we will see a vast improvement in the coming decades and with the local propensity for languages, there might develop a broadened economy and higher standards of practice and openness.

        • The problem with most foreigners living in Portugal is that they’re not skilled enough to understand the behaviour, not even interested in making an effort, and so they call it names like “mediocrity”, “uncivilised”. “uneducated”, enough of that. We’re not here to please you, to be changed by you, to serve you, to live like you. We’re here to live our lives the simple way we want and whoever wants to join without judgment is most welcome, otherwise you’re best catch the first plane and go back where you came from. Thank you.

    • So true, but there are also some positive sides as well. Most people do not want to speak about it though being afraid of something…

      • Hello you nasty minded quarter wit

        I am not English. Your ‘Anglo Mentality’ misconception is an excellent reflection on your national wonderful standard of education and pathological determination never to be wrong. Alexandre Soares de Santos, the second wealthiest businessman in grubby-minded Portugal was absolutely accurate.. He employed tens of thousands of your-fellows so he might be the odd man out in understanding how socio malperforming, behaviourally disordered thick-wits perform in reality. Keep your silly erroneous performance hidden. You look and sound like a pratt…never wrong and too stupid to understand just how stupid you are.

        Adopt local culture? I don’t want to be a lying, poorly educated, misfit with a sociopathic disorder. I care very much for decent honest people. I don’t care for fakes and morons.

        • I am with you on everything you say……

          i live in the centre of Portugal for a long time now and it is totally controlled by the mafia, cannot get anything done, start to try and make money and they shut you down, i have just woken up these last few weeks i thought it was me but its not….

    • Hi Lionel, taking the wax off the new car shine is the way I would characterize your post. And, much thanks for sharing that perspective, warts and all.

      As you have been there for 12 years, I would like to establish a relationship to discuss how to make the most of making things work in a bottom rung first world/high level third world country such as Portugal. I am American and lived in Germany and UK for 7 years total. My wife is Russian.

      I will retire on pensions – she will continue to work remotely. Integration is not our chief concern as we are independent types and self-reliant. We also go along to get along. Not looking to change things other than as it pertains to our own standards of lifestyle and enjoying being happy for each day as it unfolds. Your comments about healthcare, particularly diabetic care, are concerning.

      I have many questions and will appreciate your unvarnished input to help us make the best decisions on how to prepare for living in Madeira/Portugal and how you have found ways to turn lemons to lemonade.

      ALL: Please feel free to offer up a reply string on this post.

      • Good morning Don R S

        Holding a discussion, or better, with someone with social awareness and intelligent application would indeed be a most welcome change. However, I have reservations about exposing my wife and I to the dangers of declaring my contact and location, in any public place.

        When we applied for a resident permit, we found no help on the internet, nor any of the supposed local governmental help centres.

        Having devoted three hours minimum, on three separate occasions, to achieve nothing, plagued by a crowd of loud critics and vociferous complainants, broken dangerous seating, broken refreshment machines and bureaucratic neglect, I wrote a letter to the irresponsible manager, with a copy to questionably motivated Costa the Prime Monster

        I have been subsequently accused of throwing chairs and assaulting the four liars who intimidated my wife and I when we asked for non racial assistance, and asked why we were being denied our lawful rights. The poisonous attitude of self righteousness was of singular importance to these despicable conspirators, who made a fabricated complaint to the police.

        Human Rights, freedom of speech and personal expression, are being denied with Court support or ignorance, in an increasing manner.
        The Law is being openly abused to satisfy the Pathological needs of inadequate bureaucrats who seem to have a tested formula to pervert by lying , cheating and conspiracy. Out of something like 2000 complaints made by ordinary folk, against bureaucrats the year before last, less than a quarter were investigated.
        I don’t believe that ‘investigation’ is a competent ability of those charged with fairness. Pursuit is the reality of their involvement. Bureaucrats win…fair minded people lose. That is typically how justice works in this land of ‘Brain Transplant Donors’.
        Behavioural and personality disorders are of alarming proportion. Both are diagnosed symptoms of mental illness. It is unrecognised and untreated.
        Crude pathological denial of any fault or error is of epidemic proportion. This is a sick nation being wrecked by sick people with sick administration and sick sociopathic practices.
        We have exhausted over seven years attempting to recover almost 100,000€ stolen by the Tax authorities contrary to EU Protocol. Undoubtedly jealous racist conspiracy by our accountant and his good friend, a senior tax official.

        I have the papers ready to send to the Court of Human Rights, when their conditional target date arrives.

        Three very wealthy friends have withdrawn their interest in investing in Portugal.
        I recommend any similarly motivated person to look elsewhere. We have lived on Crete, and foolishly returned to our building project in Portugal. We have lived in France, to where we will speedily return as soon as the thieving, corrupt Portuguese administration pay our claim of almost 130,000€ which includes interest and compensation…this sick regime will charge you interest but will never compensate you for maladministration losses. The Court in Strasbourg have alternative ideas of right and wrong.

        Justice, Reason, Fairness? Not a snowballs chance in Portugal!
        Theft, Corruption, Intellectual Bankruptcy? Every day occurrences in Portugal!

        Children are taught corruption, deception, lying and cheating. Teachers have to be reappointed annually for four years before then can apply for a permanent post. Headteachers exploit this vulnerability to coerce unrealistic assessments of student achievement. Don’t cheat and lie according to Headteacher requirement to fraudulently impress…then you don’t have a job at the end of the year. Children know all about this trickery, teachers despise the practice.
        That is a basic element of an education system that sets the foundation for the future of Portugal., and its people.

        I was employed in the UK to investigate, assess and recommend how Courts might prescribe treatment for convicted criminals. I know much about liars, cheats, connivers, thieves sociopathic affliction and Mental Disorder.
        I don’t lie, I assess and report.

        • Given your past engagement with another domestic justice system, you will be aware that findings of the ECHR can be at quite a high level of generality; that ei qui affirmat, non ei qui negat incumbit probatio; that in EU HR law each state party to the HR Convention is allowed a significant degree of allowance for
          local conditions; and that in order to obtain an award of financial recompense you may need first to pursue proceedings within a system in which you have manifestly lost confidence, and to exhaust your appellate rights there. If your Portuguese experiences have been as wholly negative as you assert, I wish you well in your campaign. But you may need sound advice and representation on the legal questions and also to have your opinions on the national psyche validated or contradicted by a highly qualified social psychologist. Or else to have the good judgement to cut your losses and restart in a society you find more congenial.

        • Thanks to your post we have decided to not invest 17 billion euros into the Portuguese construction and manufacturing industries.

    • begging to everyone…nothing personel… and no harm want to apply to any one by any means…
      with these words….
      please do not…(evolve quickly)…i have lived and living in …(evolve quickly) places….
      again…. not trying to say portuqal is a third world country…and also …not really an expert of the country…just visited once a year for two week of vacation last 10-13 years …

      sometimes ..(evolve quickly) thinking , ruining our civilized minds:))

    • what are you doing here then if that’s all you think about Portugal and the Portuguese? We don’t need rude pompous people in here, thank you very much and specially people who think they come over to change the country.
      For your information the Portuguese have had some of the best doctors, dig into that. All you write in here is totally insulting and not true so get one of your favourite airplanes and you won’t be missed.

  80. Hi,

    I don’t mean to be contrary but I have to say I disagree with you about Portuguese being a difficult language, or it being any harder than other Romance languages. I would say Portuguese is the easiest Romance language for an English-speaker to acquire; the hardest is Romanian.

    I can hear all you monolinguals crying out that Spanish is easier but, sorry folks, it’s not. I speak both languages fluently, am a native English speaker and can assure you one and all that the entirely un-English-like syntax of Español combined with the Castilian penchant for reflexive-passive phrases and redundant pronouns conspire to make Spanish a far harder language to master than its Lusitanian neighbour.

    For some reason, all Portuguese speakers suffer from this misconception.

    • Hi Fraser,

      That’s really interesting! I’m curious as to how you ended up learning both Spanish and Portuguese? Which came first? Also, did you learn Romanian as well?

      On a side note, I’ve found Romanians to be very good at picking up other languages including Portuguese. Many also speak Spanish fluently, and this is apparently because they get a lot of Spanish TV there.

      • James,
        I’ve spoken at home since I was born, Portuguese with my brazilian parents, Spanish with baby sitters from Mexico, and English being born and raised in Los Angeles, California, speaking Spanish with different Spanish speakers from anywhere from Spain too Argentina, Chile, and any other Spanish speaking country in between, and I have not had a problem having to deal with other languages either of Latin origin, or languages that or completely the opposite of Latin origin, which could be a struggle but those from the non-Latin speaking countries do appreciate the fact that you are trying at least to communicate.

    • l don`t think anyone can say they they disagree,or agree about any particular language being more difficult than another. That is obviously your PERSONAL OPINION but that`s all it is. Every person will find a language easy or difficult, one may find Spanish easier than Portugues, another may not, or find Portuguese easier. There are no hard and fast rules, we are ALL different and lean languages in our own way !!

    • Women in Portugal prefer men to be 20 years younger than themselves. A Mother’s Syndrome? Look at the Macron, the French trend setter.

  81. Hello Portugalist. You seem to have hit all the downsides right on their heads. Well done.
    I’ve been living here for almost 7 years and have run into ALL the difficulties you described.
    I think one thing people have to keep in mind is that moving to Portugal (or Italy) requires a huge amount of patience.

  82. Being born and educated in Portugal I agree 100 % with what you said. In addition I would like to comment that the mass tourism that we face now is destroying several aspects of the Portuguese traditional life. The restaurants in Lisbon downtown have become tourist traps with bad food and high prices. The Portuguese handycrafts are a joke compared with other countries and reflect a lack of culture and imagination which can be found also in the arts and cuisine. The country is corrupt, incompetent, and the constant changing of laws drive you crazy. A. Marques

    • Olá A Marquês,
      So can you give me any feedback that you may have, or retrieve for someone wanting to work in Porto as a quiropraxista!?