34+ Downsides (& Upsides) to Living in Portugal

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 43 minutes

Let’s face it: nowhere is perfect. There are lots of pros to living in Portugal but there are, unsurprisingly, one or two cons as well. Some of these downsides include bureaucracy, low-quality housing, a lack of a customer service culture, the challenge of integrating into Portuguese culture, low wages, and the rising cost of property.

Most articles (and especially YouTube videos) focus on the upsides rather than the downsides but it’s important to get the full picture before you move somewhere new. Portugalist absolutely recommends that you consider moving to Portugal, but it wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t give you realistic expectations.

The problem starts with the YouTube vloggers who promote a false picture of what it’s like to live in Portugal. This is why so many are sucked into the dream of becoming an expat in Portugal. None of what the vloggers promote is a reality for day-to-day living. – Donna

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 some Portuguese people agree with some 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 – no matter how sensible that change might seem to you. Portugal is Portugal, and you shouldn’t come here hoping for change or expecting change. Instead, weigh up the pros against the cons and then, being honest with yourself, decide if Portugal is right for you.

As one commenter points out, although there are some downsides to living in Portugal, there isn’t enough space on the internet to list all of the upsides.

Bottom line is, you found 23 things that suck about this place. But there isn’t enough space in the internet to list all the good ones. Pastries, food, wine, olive oil, roasted chestnuts outside of the metro station, crime stats, one of the lowest gun violence in the world, drug policy, beaches, water sports, the country side, Fado, fish and vegetable markets, the cheeses, chouricos, vineyards along the Douro River, the amazing amounts of different fruit and seafood (best in Europe), the people, the art, history, architecture, health care, actual freedom. – Danny

Similarly, despite pointing out a few downsides, Aaron lists a lot of upsides:

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. – Aaron

With that in mind, here are a list of some of the different downsides to life in Portugal.

Paperwork, Bureaucracy, & Inefficiency

Try to get anything done in Portugal, whether it’s starting a business or applying for planning permission, and you’ll run into hurdles. Often it’s paperwork related. Sometimes it’s just down to the fact things move slowly.

When it comes to paperwork, it isn’t so much that there’s a lot of paperwork. That in itself would be manageable. It’s that:

  1. Yes, there’s a lot of paperwork and lots of hoops to jump through
  2. Every government department seems to have a different opinion on which pieces of paper are required
  3. Departments are understaffed so getting an appointment, if you need one, can often takes months

It’s messy and frustrating, and it’s also just something you’ll have to get used to if you live in Portugal.

You can avoid a lot of the headaches if you use a lawyer or accountant rather than trying to tackle these challenges yourself. You’ll still have the challenge, and it’ll probably take a while for it to get resolved, but at least you’ll avoid the majority of headaches. Having a lawyer double check a rental contract, for example, might feel like an unnecessary cost but could save you money and a lot of headaches in the long run.

In all the countries I’ve lived in, I never needed a lawyer to sort my usually regular stuff like taxes, properties, banks. In Portugal, even if I can’t really afford it, I had to hire them. – KC

Being rich helps definitely to soften the high level of personal and state dysfunctions, your lawyer “knows” people at the city hall etc. Paying some “extra fee” here and there doesn’t really matter, its the price for a second villa in a sunny place. And they don’t have to rely on the Portuguese services, infrastructure or government. Being physically in Portugal is actually quite nice, it is just not so nice to be reliant on anything there. – Martin

It took me 1½ (if I remember correctly) years to get the tax-free import of my car sorted out. 

Kurt

As well as lawyers and accountants, there are also companies that will:

It’s one thing saying paperwork but sef deserves its own category for a downside. We have been waiting for an appointment for more than 8 months and all the time get told there are no appointments available. This means that our id is now out of date. It’s sort of accepted in Portugal as people know about the delays but it means we are nervous to fly anywhere or leave Portugal unless it’s by land. A similar thing with the driving licence. It can take more than a year for your driving licence to be exchanged. They give you a piece of paper while you’re waiting but this means you are without a driving licence for a long time. It’s not suitable for visiting another country. If the only problem was obtaining pieces of paper it would be fine. The problem is the delay in getting appointments or documents returned. – Rowena

 Portuguese bureaucracy and lack of customer service is another bad point. True that people don’t help you and you have to figure out everything by yourself. So frustrating. – Julia

I said I knew this wasn’t SF or NYC. Nonetheless, there is a difference between a slow way of life and some crucial things being less efficient than a 3rd world country. For example, the IMT (for foreigners: driver license government office) is basically completely broken at this point. Their driver license exchange process can take up to 2 years. Nobody answers the phone or emails. Tens of thousands of people like me are stuck either with a temporary license that only works in Portugal (so you can’t rent cars anywhere else if you travel), or with an expired foreign license (my case now). It’s pretty much the same for the SEF (immigration office). – Taurus1

Bureaucracy isn’t unique to Portugal, and it’s something you’ll come across in many European countries like Spain, Italy, and Germany, but many would argue that Portugal takes bureaucracy to new levels. Not everyone agrees, however.

Bureaucracy, well as I mentioned previously I am international I think Belgium, France and others have no less nor more bureaucracy than Portugal, and the corruption is probably about the same. – Frank

All that talk of bureaucracy and corruption in Portugal is way exaggerated! – Kurt

Pro: The Kindness of People

This one is quite subjective as everyone’s experience of the Portuguese is different. However, a number of people who have commented on Portugalist remarked at the kindness of Portuguese people.

Sometimes the kindness i receive from total strangers brings me close to tears. once i was leaving a metro station in the pouring rain trying to use a newspaper for cover when someone appeared beside me and offered me an umbrella and insisted i take it. another time i was trying to hail a cab with bags of shopping when an older gent told me they wouldn’t stop there and then proceeded to lift my bags and take me to a place where i could catch a cab and patted me on the back when i thanked him profusely…these are the best people i have encountered in Europe – unassuming, polite, warm and helpful to strangers and often showing such tenderness as you are unlikely to find elsewhere. There are many things to like in portugal but the best thing about portugal is the portuguese.

Gloria

And she’s not the only one.

 I have lived in Central Portugal for a while and I have been shown nothing but kindness, eggs, vegetables and even a lovely casserole left on my doorstep.

Christine

I’m a Canadian native, but born to a Portuguese mother and a Japanese father. I have many stories from my visits to Portugal, but I’ll keep it to this: the unwavering, friendly “Good morning”s from strangers and passersby. That warmth and humanity that so many places on this great, wide earth are deprived of. It’s one of the many things that makes Portugal special. 

AA

Con: Housing issues

Portuguese houses can be cold in the winter – fridge levels of cold. However, it varies considerably from property to property. Some simply require you to put on a sweater while others demand a jacket, gloves, and three or four pairs of socks.

My electricity bill for the first winter month in Portugal was 3 times more than what I paid in Switzerland’s winter even though I already tried to accept/cope with lower indoor temperature! It was a nasty surprise. I’ve found ways to adapt by now so it doesn’t stop me from enjoying life in Portugal. – WL

The most disappointing part for me is that I am constantly freezing in their apartments due to the lack of heater and I am spending a fortune paying trying to stay a little warm. True that we have to stay fully dressed at home and it’s becoming unbearable those cheap constructions and energy drainers houses. – Julia

Two identical properties next door to each other could be different due to the ability of one to catch the sun during the day. Some properties also have central heating or another heating system while others have better energy ratings. Finding the right lottery is part knowing what to look for and part lottery.

However, just because you’ve purchased 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 worth it.

The cold and the noise, both due at least partly to poor insulation, are the main issues with Portuguese properties but at least one commenter has found an issue with the pipes in older houses as well.

These are all good but youre missing the biggest downside of them all…the flushes in the toilets. Some have been unbelievably weak!! If I’m going to be stuffing my face full of bacalhau and cream I want a crapper that can take a bit of a beating, not something I have to flush twenty times to get it to work!!! Is there bureaucracy in the pipes as well???! – John

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.

Pro: Ease of Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship

After living in Portugal for 5 years, you’ll be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship. This is much faster than in many other European countries. You need to have lived for 10 years in Spain, for example, before you’re able to apply for Spanish citizenship. 

And, unlike many other European countries, you only need to show an A2 level of Portuguese. In comparison, Germany and Italy require a B1 level.

European Portuguese isn’t always the easiest, particularly due to the pronunciation, but, thankfully, there are a lot of courses and resources for learning EU Portuguese.

Con: Integration

In Portugal, the Portuguese and non-Portuguese typically 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.

Making friends- easy for me as my work entails meeting people. But if your work is by yourself and alone and do not involve other people, it can be hard and lonely. People stay with their close tight knit families and it can make you sad and lonely if you have that sort of constitution.

the Portuguese are to me generally helpful, warm and friendly. Just don’t expect them to show up or call you after you feel like you’ve found a good friend. Most of the ones I met seem to strangely ghost, vanish, flake then they come up the surface again and your like super close again. Okay this might not be helpful but it does affect quality of life.-KC

It takes two to tango though. While the Portuguese can be a little closed, even to each other sometimes, very few expats make the required effort to integrate – at least after a few months of trying. Integrating is a marathon rather than a sprint, and one that requires you to learn Portuguese to a very good level. And it’s much harder if you don’t work in an office, attend university, or do something else that puts you in close contact with people for many hours every week. Putting in the effort is worth it, though. While it can take a long time to make Portuguese friends, particularly when compared to other countries, once you have a Portuguese friend, you have a friend for life.

If you make friends with a Portuguese, they will be your friend forever, and will be there when you needed it. In 2016 I came back to visit with my wife and two kids after living in the US for almost 20 years. My childhood friend that I haven’t seen in over 25 years, immediately invited myself and my entire family to stay with him and his girlfriend in his apartment in Lisbon. And this wasn’t even the only invitation extended, many other friends from my pass reached out wanting us to stay with them. – Danny

I really enjoy living in Portugal, for me its one of the best countries in the world, I find the people friendly and pretty much easy going, making friends is difficult for Portuguese are very family oriented, but I don’t see this is a bad thing. – Frank

…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. – Aaron

Because integration can be so challenging, that means you’ll have to mainly make friends with other expats. While most are wonderful people, and many will become lifelong friends, there are definitely a few you will find yourself trying to avoid.

I came to Portugal to be happy and I am happy to be here. Yes there are some things I wish were different but overall it’s a great quality of life. But unfortunately I don’t speak Portuguese so I am surrounded by these people [other expats]! – Carl

But just because it’s challenging to make friends, that doesn’t mean that the Portuguese aren’t friendly.

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. – EM

The challenges of making friends fast 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 challenges in integrating.

Pro: Large Expat Community

Integrating might be hard sometimes, but at least there’s a large, welcoming expat community.

Having a large expat community has its downsides – as it means people tend to integrate more into expat communities than local communities – but it’s definitely a pro when you first move. You’ll instantly be able to get to know other people, people in the same boat as you, and it’ll be easy to get answers to questions you have about settling in Portugal. 

Con: The Language

Portuguese is nowhere near as difficult as Chinese, Arabic, or maybe even German, but many consider it harder than other romance languages and less appealing. That said, it doesn’t take too long to learn enough Portuguese to get by in daily life, and even in more difficult bureaucratic situations. However, it does take a long time to learn enough Portuguese to really integrate – but that’s true of all languages.

Learning European Portuguese is becoming a little easier thanks to all the new apps, websites, and YouTube channels that teach it (in the past there were only dry, boring textbooks). There are lots of great courses, particularly for beginner’s level Portuguese, that’ll teach you the essentials and help you pass those exams, should you decide to apply for citizenship or permanent residency.

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. – Fraser

And the rewards are there for those that put in the effort.

Culture is also one of the very best points about Portugal, from fine arts to poetry, prose, music, performance, theatre, but again, you’ll have to be embedded in the culture to enjoy these. – Emanuel Sousa

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.

Pro: English is Widely Spoken

English is widely spoken in Portugal, particularly in the Algarve, Lisbon, Porto, and other Portuguese cities. In other parts of Portugal, English is less widely spoken but it still won’t take long to find someone that speaks English. 

Although your intention might be to learn Portuguese, and to learn it to a fluent level, knowing that other people are likely to speak English is very reassuring – particularly when you’re speaking to a doctor, for example. 

However, if you want to integrate even a little, you should definitely make an effort to learn Portuguese

Con: 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. Rent, particularly in somewhere like Lisbon, can be as expensive as a major Northern European city. Then there are cars, furniture, electronic appliances, books, branded international foods, cosmetics, and toiletries, all of which are typically more expensive than elsewhere.

It can be frustrating paying double or triple what you’re used to paying for something, but it’s often offset by the lower prices for other things (eating out, for example) and the fact that you get to live in Portugal.

Pro: The Food

At any Portuguese market, you’ll find a great variety of fish and seafood and excellent fruit and vegetables. Most large supermarkets, similarly, will also have a large fish counter. Price-wise fruit and veg is much cheaper than the US, and the quality is better. By European standards, it isn’t particularly cheaper but the quality is better than in many Northern European countries. 

Eating out in traditional Portuguese restaurants is also extremely affordable, particularly at lunchtime. Here €10-15 can get you a 3-course meal complete with coffee and wine. International restaurants are more expensive and often non-existent in more rural parts of Portugal, but with access to good-quality, affordable ingredients, you’ll be able to make up some great dishes yourself at home.

Con: Standard Taxes

Portugal doesn’t have the highest taxes in Europe, but it definitely doesn’t have the lowest taxes either. Portuguese taxes, particularly when combined with social security, are high – at least in their simplest form. They can also be a little complicated, and requiring an accountant does add a cost that you might not have if you lived elsewhere.

We pay taxes like Germany but and have an income like Lithuania or so. – João Pedro

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 was the NHR tax regime, which was designed to reduce the amount of tax you pay in Portugal for the first 10 years and, in some cases, allows you to be taxed elsewhere. This has now been replaced with what many people are calling the new NHR regime, or NHR 2.0.

Con: Feeling Like You’re Part of the Problem

It seems like everywhere in the world has a housing and cost of living crisis, so it’s easy to feel a little guilty if you can afford to buy or aren’t as affected as others by the rising cost of living.

In Portugal, that’s particularly the case. Property purchase and rental prices, in particular, have increased, and that’s definitely in part to the number of more affluent foreigners coming into Portugal.

It’s not that anyone moving here is doing anything malicious, or without caring about the problems they might create: it’s simply a consequence of Portugal’s very open immigration policy. And it’s an open immigration policy because Portugal wants foreigners to come and benefits from the money that’s brought into the country.

Some people will point out that the problem is really the government not building more affordable housing or the low wages despite many companies bringing very health profits. That may be true, but it’s still easy to feel like you’re part of the problem. Then again, there are a lot of other parts of the world, including where you’re moved from, where you could feel exactly the same thing.

Pro: Affordable Healthcare

Particularly for Americans and those outside of Europe, Portugal’s tax-funded healthcare system is a big attraction. There’s no need to worry about having the right insurance when you go to the hospital: access to public healthcare is considered a right. 

For Europeans, Portugal’s healthcare system is less of a novelty and in reality it suffers from many of the same problems as other European countries: emergency healthcare is good, but waiting lists for non-urgent treatment can be long – sometimes more than a year or two. 

However, one area in which Portugal trumps many other European countries is in the cost of private healthcare. Health insurance and the cost of paying out of pocket are much lower than in many other European countries, and many expats are able to use the private system for the majority of their needs, which often allows them to access better quality healthcare than they would elsewhere. 

Con: Noise

Besides being cold, another problem caused by a lack of insulation is the way noise travels. This is more a problem in apartments rather than houses, but even houses aren’t immune from noise problems – the sound of barking dogs, which can sometimes go through the night, is a problem in rural areas.

The dog bark is absolutely unbearable, I have a woman living 100m away from me , in another house and she lets the little bastard on the balcony all day, today at 10 pm the beast is still barking, but apparently everybody of my so much appreciated Portuguese neighbours has no problem with this.! – Tom Baum

Generally speaking, however, most noise problems are with apartments. The most noise seems to come from the apartment above, but depending on the way the property is built, may come from the apartment below or to the side as well. As with the cold, noise problems can vary considerably from property to property, depending on when it was built, what floor the apartment is on, and who the neighbours are. In some apartments, you won’t hear anything. In others, you can hear the neighbour’s conversations almost word-for-word.

The dog barking I can just about deal with – it is the children that scream and run about, encouraged by the parents, as if the screaming should be shared by everyone. – Confoosed

As with the cold, these problems are somewhat fixable and can be avoided entirely if you spend enough money.

Noise problems aren’t unique to Portugal and are common in some neighbouring countries like Spain.

Pro: Inviting Beaches

Portuguese beaches, particularly those in the Algarve, have been voted as some of the best in the world. So if your dream is to spend your time soaking up the sunshine and listening to the waves, this is definitely the country for you. 

As well as great beaches, Portugal also has several great surfing hubs such as Sagres, Ericeira, Nazaré, and Costa da Caparica. 

If you’re planning on living inland, you don’t be disappointed either. Whether it’s the Douro, Gerês, Azores, Madeira, or Serra de Arrábida, Portugal has plenty of areas of natural beauty for you to enjoy. 

Con: Treatment of Animals

Although it’s rapidly changing, the treatment of animals can be a problem in Portugal. In parts of rural and suburban Portugal, it’s not uncommon for dogs to be left chained up or on balconies all day (which is part of the reason that there are noise problems).

Dogs and the treatment of animals in general is a big problem in Portugal. – Andrew

This isn’t to say that it’s a problem everywhere in Portugal. While you will see mistreated animals from time to time, you will also see pets that are looked after to extremely high standards.

Pro: Lower Cost Of Living

This is a slightly trickier one, but for the most part, Portugal has a lower cost of living. Of course, it depends on where you’re coming from and what you’re buying. If you’re moving from New York or San Francisco to Portugal, you’ll notice a considerably lower cost of living. However, if you’re moving from the North of England or Spain, you won’t see a major difference and you might think Portugal is more expensive. 

Portugal is cheap for some things and expensive for others. It’s cheap for eating out, for example, where a meal in a three-course lunch menu can cost you less than €10. However, other things like cars, utilities, and fuel are typically more expensive. 

Again, it depends where you’re coming from. Americans typically find groceries and cell phone plans considerably cheaper than the US while many Europeans don’t notice a difference or find them more expensive. 

Of course, it’s not just about price but the lifestyle you get for that price. There are few places where you can live close to the beach, enjoy fantastic weather, and eat out regularly for the cost of living that’s found in Portugal. 

As an American living in Portugal, I can tell you that the Cost of Living is much better/cheaper here than in the USA. And the Quality of Life far better. And the people friendlier, the culture superior, etc. I couldn’t get out of the US fast enough and am much happier (and healthier) in Portugal.

Dan

Con: Dog Poop

Whether it’s the blue skies or the tiled walls, there are lots of beautiful things to look at in Portugal. Don’t look up too long, however. Doing so could mean you step in something you didn’t want to. Similarly, it’s always a good idea to really inspect the grass before sitting down for a picnic.

I have seen more dog poop on the sidewalks while in Portugal than I do in the US but in our Alentejo town, there are dispensers with free poop bags. – Ms G

There are two things that drive me totally mad in my country: dog poop/trash all over and cars parked in driving lanes and on sidewalks. – Andrea E

Dog poop is one of those minor downsides that you get used to with time, and it may not even be that noticable if you’ve lived in other European countries where it’s also a problem.

Pro: A Feeling Of Safety

There’s some debate as to how accurate the oft-quoted statistic of Portugal being the third safest country in the world is, but the reality is Portugal feels incredibly safe – especially when compared to the US, Latin America, and parts of the UK. It’s somewhere where children, the elderly, and women typically feel comfortable walking alone, even late at night. 

In fact, Portuguese culture is incredibly family-friendly: children are adored and the elderly are treated with respect. 

Con: Corruption

Ask a Portuguese person what the biggest downside to life in Portugal is and almost all will say corruption. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Portugal was ranked 32nd out of 198 countries for 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 the bureaucracy.

While corruption doesn’t affect most people’s lives on a day to day basis – you won’t have to bribe the police to get home – it does affect whether money is properly invested into the country and that can make a difference.

Pro: Attainable Residency Visas

If you don’t have an “EU Passport” and need a visa to move to a European country, Portugal can be very appealing for a number of reasons. Firstly, the visas are considered more attainable than other European countries: the D7, for example, requires you to have a regular income that’s at least more than €705 per month – an achievable amount for many people while the D2, or entrepreneurship visa, doesn’t specify a minimum investment amount. 

For those that have cash to spend, the golden visa can be particularly appealing because it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal in order to meet your residency requirements. 

For many people, these attainable visas make Portugal a very attractive country as Portugal offers an easy route into Europe. 

Con: Political Confusion

Portuguese politics can be messy.

In 2023, it was randomly announced that the golden visa was ending. Then the government backtracked. Then it was announced that most of the golden visa was staying, but a few options were going.

A few months later, the government announced the end of NHR. Then the president resigned after being caught up in a corruption scandal.

While far from the political instability of a third world country, the way the Portuguese government can work may come across as very messy and unplanned to an outsider. This is especially the case when you’re trying to move here and the goalposts keep moving.

It’s certainly a con, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the politics in the country you’re moving from may not be the most stable either. The former president of the US is spending a lot of time defending himself in court these days, while still thinking about running for president. Since the UK’s Brexit vote, the UK has gone through numerous prime ministers – one of them lasted just 49 days.

Con: Casual Racism

It isn’t a problem for most expats, but many people – particularly from Brazil and other former Portuguese colonies – report experiencing prejudice or being treated differently in Portugal. It’s probably not something you’re going to see on a day-to-day basis, but if you live here long enough and if you make friends with people of colour from Africa or South America, you may hear some stories.

As white American it doesn’t appear racists here as I don’t see confederate flags and other glaring examples but I know from Brazilians there is racism here. I have also heard comments from Portuguese about Brazilians that could be taken as racist. – Brian

But as one commenter points out, it’s quite a complex issue.

The best thing about portugal is its people. yes, they’ll scam you if you have to deal with them professionally and aren’t careful; yes, they won’t turn up on time; yes, i almost always experience racism especially when dealing with older people or in establishments that cater to rich people and the way they treat Africans can be jaw dropping. but they are always relentlessly humane. i know that i can always find the humanity in them; they are the most unassuming people i have ever met…

…Right in the centre of Lisbon is a square that has been colonized by Africans – i can’t imagine any other country in Europe allowing that (portugal has been cosmopolitan for hundreds of years). I have lived and travelled in many parts of Europe but nowhere have i seen Africans more completely at home than in Lisbon i have seen African women with their babies strapped to their backs and once an African woman carrying a load on her head and walking along. – Gloria

Casual racism is a problem everywhere, unfortunately, including many European countries. While Portugal fairs much better than many other Western countries, including the US, this doesn’t excuse the fact that it still occurs.

Pro & Con: 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 the slow pace of life wasn’t a thing in Portugal.

We live in rural Algarve, and our toilet seat broke 3 weeks ago. In 3 weeks, our landlord went 5 times to the local plumbing store. It was always closed for no reason, or the manager was on lunch break, and finally… they did not have the part. Our landlord thus had to drive 1 hour to a bigger store to get the part, which might or might not work… we will see soon. Maybe this week after 3 weeks, the toilet seat will be fixed. Maybe it will take a couple more weeks. In the meantime I fixed it with tape… I live in a villa for nearly $2000/month w/ utilities with a duck taped toilet seat. This is just a ridiculous example for how inefficient and slow everything is here. Our landlord is great, bless him for wasting so much time on this. But when a toilet seat takes a month to be fixed, it gives you an idea of the struggle everything else is….

I don’t think that it’s necessarily that the locals are lazy. It’s mostly that they like it slow. They don’t see what the problem is with not answering the phone or closing the store unexpectedly. They don’t think it will bother anyone because nobody lives here to get things done. You live here when you have time. I’ve come to understand: it’s not their mistake for being slow, it’s mine for wanting to move fast in a slow place. This is not New York City or San Francisco where everybody is trying to make a gazillion dollars and everybody wants to help you get from A to B as fast as possible. This is not a place for ambition. This is a place for dolce vita, retirement and humble family life. – Taurus1

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 on 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.

Con: The “Glass Half Empty” Mentality

The Portuguese mentality can be frustrating for a lot of people, particularly for entrepreneurs and go-getters who see opportunities around every corner. In Portugal, people often look at the world in less optimistic terms. This is changing somewhat, and younger generations and those who have lived abroad tend to look at the world in more of a glass-half-full-sort-of-way but it a can’t do attitude is something you’ll come across from time to time.

Portuguese are deep thinkers and are compassionate really to the core. But if you tend to be on the anxious depress side, probably not great place as you’ll be surrounded with melancholy and sadness. It’s not obvious apparent but in years of living here, it does affect you. It’s the reason why people are flaky. Lots of anxiety and depression. – KC

Sense of humor is often lacking, but there is a lot of sincerity (often combined with unhappiness) – Gaius

I disagree with the cant do attitude being attributed to Portugal for this can’t do attitude is very much European. – Frank

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

Con: Customer Service

In Portugal, it can sometimes feel like the customer is never right. Getting a problem resolved is often a battle of wills, and problems can take hours and hours of your time to get resolved. There is the complaints book (Livro de Reclamações) for when you can’t seem to get a resolution, but even that isn’t a threat to some companies (utility and communications companies particularly). Then there’s AIMA (the immigration department previously known as SEF), Finanças (tax department), and other government departments, all of which aren’t particularly popular in Portugal.

Again, this is something that is improving but it’s something you will come across from time to time.

When you do complain, there is more often than not a lengthy explanation about how it is not their fault but everyone else’s, how they are always the victim, or even insulting you. – Ava

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. – Gargantois Pantagrüell

The bigger downfall is the lousy quality of lawyers, accountants, and estate agents. Many are in each others pockets and at times, it feels like the wild west. – Jacob

Official complaints in “Livro das Reclamações” are useless. Service providers are always right and their operators rarely apologise. – Antonio

I think a lot of US people think “anything European” is romantic and the pace is slower, so you can relax more. However, once you get to the European continent, you immediately start comparing that culture to the US and then gripe because there is “no customer service, the bureaucracy, crazy drivers, etc”. – The Old Ranger

This isn’t unique to Portugal. Customer service isn’t always a big priority in Europe and government departments, particularly immigration, seem to be particularly unfriendly in most countries around the world.

Con: 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.

All of what written here is true, as a Portuguese guy, life is hard for the average person here, there is no merit system in the workplace, it’s all about who you know, wages are the lowest in Western Europe, and civil society is dormant. – Portuguese guyy

Thankfully, 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.

Con: Job Opportunities

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.

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! – David

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.

Con: It’s all about “Who You Know”

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.

Con: The Driving

They drive like (use soft language) crazy and bring themselves and others in dangerous situations just to get in front of you to the get stuck behind the same truck we where already driving. – Martin

All the downsides are true however having lived in italy and Spain they are not unique to Portugal. If you want bureaucracy and crazy driving try Italy lol. – Mike

Whether it’s people flashing their lights because they’re desperate to overtake, drink driving, or tailgating, driving in Portugal can be challenging and sometimes scary. 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. It’s just one of those things about Portuguese life that you have to get used to and, depending on where you come from, it mightn’t be that bad at all.

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). – Jerry

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. And although people often drive somewhat aggressively, it’s definitely milder than the road rage most Americans will be used to.

Con: 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’s one of those small downsides, but something to consider if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the water. If you’re a surfer, the quality of the waves may make up for the temperature of the water.

Another really disappointing point is that despite all those beautiful beaches, it’s impossible to swim due to the ocean being so cold. I wrongly assumed that the water would be as nice and warm as the Mediterranean sea, big mistake. – Julia

Take cold ocean for another example, I also kind of knew it but still hoped to find warmer ocean down the south. Once I realized that I can’t stay in the ocean comfortably for more than 30 minutes in Lagos – one of the most visited areas in Algarve in southern Portugal – even in August, I gave up the ideal of limiting myself to southern Portugal. – WL

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

Con: Overtourism

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, places like 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 in Porto are often full to the brim and very uncomfortable to visit.

Tourism has also led to other problems in the local housing market and has put a strain on public transport and other services. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like over tourism is going to decrease anytime soon, particularly as the Portuguese economy is so focused on tourism – and doesn’t look like it’s going to dramatically shift to anything else anytime soon.

Insane amount of tourists who are here because Anthony Bourdain raved about it or whatever. Even the smaller cities outside of Lisboa feature the ubiquitous “instagram tourist spots” so you will be sure to see all the brain dead people stumbling off of huge buses, waiting their turn to take a selfie in front of some giant letters or a fountain. – Mike

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

Con: Deliveries & Customs

Many people who move to Portugal come from countries where online shopping is extremely developed, to the point where they can get their orders on the same day. That’s not the case in Portugal, especially as most online shopping is done with companies outside of Portugal. In fact, a huge percentage is likely with Amazon Spain.

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.

The Postal Service (CTT). It is ASTONISHINGLY inefficient and bureaucratic. Many times things simply do not get delivered. The employees are exceptionally unhelpful. – Gaius

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!!! – Alberto

While we’re on the subject of shopping, it’s worth mentioning Portuguese customs. Just about every country has a customs system which charges import fees on products purchased abroad. That’s annoying but reasonable. In Portugal, however, the fees charged for anything imported from outside the EU are so high that it’s not unusual for import charges to equal the value of the product purchased (and sometimes they’re even more). Even gifts that are clearly handmade by family members are stopped, valued at much more than they could ever be worth, and slapped with big import charges.

Even if you agree to pay these charges or they have been prepaid, it can take days, weeks, and even months to get your deliveries released from Portuguese customs. Basically, try to avoid shipping anything from outside the EU (excluding your belongings if you have a certificado de bagagem as these will be treated differently).

Con: The Smoking

While smoking is on the way out in many countries, smoking is still reasonably common in Portugal. While one commenter like

Second hand smoke is present everywhere here, public transportation, parks, outdoor cafes and restaurants, beaches, where you work and live and so on. – Carlos

Portugal has been slower to phase out smoking in bars and restaurants than many other European countries—while most restaurants and bars are non-smoking, you will stumble across places that still allow it in sections—but new laws coming into place in 2023 are likely to make smoking even less common inside [source].

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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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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Comments

  1. I have been visiting Portugal for 10 years to visit my prima who moved there 14 years ago. From my experience and learning through her all of your downsides are very accurate and reasonable. Beaurocracy being the most difficult and nearly enough to just walk away from the country entirely! Really like your blog – it’s helpful! Leaving for Tavira again tomorrow, so looking forward to being back.

    Reply
  2. Coming to Portugal is a real shock coming from 11 years in Switzerland which punches well above its weight and has a can do attitude like the USA. Portugal however I have found has a very stratified social culture that is more like the Middle ages… The Aristocrats, the civil servants, the trades people and the serfs. Most portuguese refuse to take an active involvement in government, unlike Switzerland where people feel they are the Government. I live in Cascais, outside the city the land is poor for farming, in germany you would see millions of solar panels with 300 days of sunshine here thats a lot of electrical generation, but what do the portuguese do sell the electrical grid to the chinese how smart is that. There seems to be a national cultural complex of low level depression, which leads to your can’t do/ attitudes, what in psych;ology is called psychomotor slowing. You have a paradox of a Socialist Government but the real power resembles the south korean Chobo system where most of the GDP is concentrated in wealthy family business, often people dating back to the old aristocracy. A nurse with sub speciality training makes 1000 euro monthly, A pharmacist never more than 5000. I have a relatively nice life here but I don’t know if i want to live where there is such income disparity. Old People in lisbon last year were dying from the cold but you had to read about it in the Spanish newspapers. I suspect a lot of this passivity is left over from the dictatorship and some will argue there never was one! If this were France it would be man the barricades but in Portugal its man the football stadiums. I have found in this world its not what you ask for its what you demand. Portugal is a kind of pseudo social democracy.

    Reply
    • I have lived my whole life out of Portugal but I love the ” sit back ” approach . Can’t wait to retire in the top 3 safest country

      Reply
  3. Coming from South Africa, most of these points are actually far better than what I’m used to. Lol, I guess you could call then all First World Problems!

    Reply
    • Hi Zane
      Lived in Cape Town a few year, now heading for Portugal to
      check out the country. Sure do miss Cape Town.

      Dwight Lurie
      Miami

      Reply
  4. Hi James, thank-you so much for sharing your experience. I have shared it on a group called “South Africans helping South Africans in Portugal ” because i am sure it will be of great help to those that are iether coming here or planning to.
    Would you please consider joining the group because I’m sure you will not only enjoy all the helpful posts and comments but you would surely be able to contribute immensely, seeing as you know Portugal so well. I’m sure our Group Admin, Steve Robinson would welcome someone like you with open arms. Stay well.

    Reply
  5. I lived in Uruguay for three years and your 14 points are almost identical descriptions of that country. While seeing the list prior to moving would not have kept me from relocating, my frustration level could have been reduced by a realistic understanding of what to expect! Every expat, and especially potential expats, should see these points. Great list…thanks!

    Reply
  6. You forget dog poop all o ver the floor and vandalism grafite covering even train Windows. I also do not agree in the Language matter. Chinese is easier than portuguese. At least to learn to speak.

    Reply
    • Portuguese is a Roman/Latin language, related to Spanish, French, Italian, and Catalan. I have a degree in Spanish and French and have traveled in the Latin countries a lot, so even though I’ve never studied Portuguese I can understand half of what I read, and I can easily speak common phrases like bom dia, muito obrigado, etc. It’s just ridiculous to say that Chinese is easier to speak. Non-Western languages like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, etc. are NOT in any way, shape or form easier than Portuguese!!!

      Reply
  7. Had to go through 3 meetings with Camara Municipal to change kitchen floor and shower stall in my Lisbon apartment – and was still told that I needed to file a request online and it would take a year to get a permit….. and my architect casually mentioned that any foreigner who hires a contractor, electrician, plumber, painter in Lisbon usually is charged far more than a native client. Frustrating, but also understandable.

    Reply
    • I think this dual pricing for foreigners and locals is common in a lot of countries. Not everyone does it: it depends on the individual person/company.

      Reply
  8. Great info. Moving to Porto from the US at the end of the year. The bureaucracy is something I’ve been reading about all over the internet. Although, currently living in Los Angeles, it sort of feels the same way. Most people end up doing construction to their homes on the weekends, here, to avoid getting asked about permits. The city makes it extremely difficult and the costs for permits is sometimes more expensive than the construction, itself. Also, fuel is insanely expensive (almost $5/gallon). I am surprised to read about the dog poop thing. I have a dog and have read in many places that Portugal isn’t very dog-friendly. I wonder if this is part of why, haha. Luckily, I always pick up after mine!

    Reply
    • Hi Blake,

      I live in Los Angeles and I know what you mean in regards to gasoline here in comparison with the other states, it ridiculous. As for bureaucracy, I lived in Brazil and Costa Rica and there’s also bureaucracy there too, and Los Angeles like you said has its own form of bureaucracy as well, definitely not to the extent of Brazil, nor what I’ve read here in reference to Portugal, but I may be wrong but I still think it all comes to weighing the pros and cons, like living here in Los Angeles which definitely has its share of both!!

      Reply
  9. Ola friends and thank you for putting this resource together

    Is there a sight or a section where expats can look up vendors to use or avoid? I have been taken for a terrible ride by a construction company called Artys and want to be sure that no one else falls into that money pit. I love Lisbon but have learned many things the hard way- and also been pleasantly surprised. Perhaps we can all help one another and continue to build community as you have kindly helped to do!

    Best of luck everyone!

    Nirit

    Reply
  10. Hi there. Thanks for all the insider info. After 15 years living and working in the Bahamas, we are ready for retirement return to Europe. Having the Dutch nationality and experienced the Caribbean mentality we will probably not be shocked by the cons of moving to Portugal. How is the winter climate in the area around Porto?

    Reply
  11. Hi Everyone,
    I have actually never left a comment anywhere online before, so here is a first. The article really resonated with me. I found every point accurate. I’ve been living in the Algarve for a year now, having physically moved from Toronto, Canada ( thou mentally still partly there) and have found many things challenging and frustrating, such as the bureaucracy, and the “can’t do” attitude as well as little cultural perspectives and ways of doing things. I will be running my own Paint Nights in Algarve business and am definitely feeling some intimidation and discouragement. I think integration is difficult and Id really like to find myself in an english speaking community with a lot more “can do” attitude. Luckily I do speak portuguese but I don’t really feel that I relate to the portuguese community. I could go on and on, but just wanted to say thank you for the post, helped validate my own observations and lighten my soul.

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      Thanks for commenting! Integration is definitely difficult, and it takes time.

      It’s exciting to hear that you’re launching a business on the Algarve. I hope it goes well, and you keep that “can do” attitude 🙂

      Reply
    • Maria, did you move there alone? I am also a female from TO but living in the US and am quite serious about moving to Portugal. I was wondering if you’d be willing to shoot a few emails back and forth with me about your experiences there, why you moved there, etc.

      Reply
    • Hi Maria

      We just moved to Portugal and I enjoyed reading your post. I was born and raised in Toronto and have always admired immigrants with respect to how brave they were to leave their comforts (language, culture..) behind and start over. All the best of luck in your adventures.

      Sandy

      Reply
    • It´s a unique place. Sort of a bottom first world/elite third world mix that most people aren´t prepared for. Most graduates want to leave (wages, job opportunities, lack of connections). If you have alot of money and come from another wealthier country it may or may not be to your liking. I think of it as Portugal is to the rest of Europe as Mexico/Latin America is to the US and Canada. Somewhere to get away from it all after you´ve made your nest egg. Definitely not somewhere to become a self made success.

      Good luck to those with the courage to come here. Make sure you keep something back home, alot of people end up not being able to leave because they left no anchor in their home countries.

      Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      i liked the lighten my soul, i have been here a long time and agree with all what your saying, where to go next and get out of this hell hole….

      Reply
  12. Hi Everyone,
    I have actually never left a comment anywhere online before, so here is a first. The article really resonated with me. I found every point accurate. I’ve been living in the Algarve for a year now, having physically moved from Toronto, Canada ( thou mentally still partly there) and have found many things challenging and frustrating, such as the bureaucracy, and the “can’t do” attitude as well as little cultural perspectives and ways of doing things. I will be running my own Paint Nights in Algarve business and am definitely feeling some intimidation and discouragement. I think integration is difficult and Id really like to find myself in an english speaking community with a lot more “can do” attitude. Luckily I do speak portuguese but I don’t really feel that I relate to the portuguese community. I could go on and on, but just wanted to say thank you for the post, helped validate my own observations and lighten my soul.

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,

      Thanks for commenting! Integration is definitely difficult, and it takes time.

      It’s exciting to hear that you’re launching a business on the Algarve. I hope it goes well, and you keep that “can do” attitude 🙂

      Reply
    • It´s a unique place. Sort of a bottom first world/elite third world mix that most people aren´t prepared for. Most graduates want to leave (wages, job opportunities, lack of connections). If you have alot of money and come from another wealthier country it may or may not be to your liking. I think of it as Portugal is to the rest of Europe as Mexico/Latin America is to the US and Canada. Somewhere to get away from it all after you´ve made your nest egg. Definitely not somewhere to become a self made success.

      Good luck to those with the courage to come here. Make sure you keep something back home, alot of people end up not being able to leave because they left no anchor in their home countries.

      Reply
    • Hi. My wife Donna, and I live in Mississauga and are contemplating our retirement. We are planning to visit Portugal for a month. What drew my attention to your story is your desire to be in a more english speaking community. That is our desire as well. I am willing to learn Portuguese, but to be fair, I am not a quick learner. How has your experience changed in the year that you have been there? Is the language still an issue? Thanks,

      Gerry

      Reply
  13. Great information; my wife and I are talking about retiring in Portugal. No real time table established yet. Sounds like a lot of research needs to take place as you would expect.

    Thanks again..

    Reply
    • Yes, do a lot of research but the best research you can do is by living here.

      Living in a country is very different from being on holiday so don’t assume that somewhere you have spent time on holiday is somewhere you want to live.

      Come here in winter, rent a house away from tourist areas, and rent a car. Both cars and property are cheap to rent in the winter but very expensive in the tourist season.

      If you are thinking about the Algarve I would look east of Faro and anywhere (almost) up to the Spanish border. Here you will find a less touristy and more laid back Portugal.

      Reply
  14. Hi I just have 4 weeks. And I’m living in Madeira the bureaucracy is incredible high . I was buying a car, the story is so long to tell here. the mentality of the people is negative. Some forums say life is slow and relax . I see more life is inefficient to do something . In Madeira bus stops are horrible designed . Seems like government here just give the leftover to people and steal money. I have a company in the United States . I was thinking expanding on Europe starting in Portugal because I have relatives here. I just quit the idea . I will go to Germany or uk instead . Now i understand no investment in Portugal

    Reply
  15. After four years in Costa Rica, all these things are pretty much the same here. I guess the Spanish and Portuguese exported much of their culture when they came here.

    Reply
    • Certainly the root of all issues in Latin America comes from the heritage of Portugal and Spain, hundreds of years (and a few generations) ago!

      Reply
  16. Sounds like another godless country with no real Christian standards, honesty, integrity, etc and therefore a no-can-do attitude and depressive people. Govt corruption will get worse. Will never leave third world status.

    Reply
  17. Sounds like another godless country with no real Christian standards, honesty, integrity, etc and therefore a no-can-do attitude and depressive people. Govt corruption will get worse. Will never leave third world status.

    Reply
  18. I am a 64 yr old woman. I have decided to go to Portugal for a month and see if I want to relocate from the U.S. If things seem ok in that month I plan to move temporarily for a yr to see if I want to relocate for a longer period of time.
    One of the most attractive attributes is the number of British expats. I am learning the language but it would be great to be around English speaking people.
    I have no desire to live on the coast since I am currently living on a barrier island off FL. I love cold weather and find so much sunshine oppressive.
    Can anyone direct me to the part of Portugal which could could provide these things? And of course cheap is good. I will not be looking for any type of employment.
    One more question—is there a realtor who could help me find a place to stay for a month.
    Thanks.
    Shannon

    Reply
    • Hi Shannon,

      Most people don’t go to Portugal for the cold weather – especially British expats 🙂

      I don’t know if there’s any part of Portugal that isn’t warm in the summer, but the North of Portugal is quite cold and damp in the winter. It is similar to an Irish or Northern European climate and may be close to what you’re looking for. As mentioned, this isn’t what a lot of expats are looking for so the number of expats living there is going to be smaller but there are definitely more and more people moving to places like Porto, Coimbra, and Castelo Branco as well – including an increasing number of people from the US.

      With the exception of Porto, those places will be quite affordable. Castelo Branco is especially affordable.

      The South of Portugal e.g. Lisbon, the Alentejo, and the Algarve are all be very hot in the summer so you can probably rule there out – especially the Alentejo.

      Another place to consider would be the island of Madeira as it never gets too hot. It also doesn’t get too cold, though, so take a look at the month-to-month temperatures and see if it’s cold enough for you. There are lots of expats living there.

      As for the realtor, it may be better renting through Airbnb or something like that (anything over 28 days is considered long-term on Airbnb). Realtors tend to focus on rentals of six months or more. Not to say you won’t find one that’ll do a 1-month rental, but 1-month is usually too short for them.

      Reply
      • Northern Portugal is nothing like the Irish climate. Portugal is super humid, moist, and it gets colder in winter. Much hotter and dry in summer, Porto in spring is already a lot warmer. But humid no matter when, though the late fall is the worst, and January super cold. Ireland can be 10 degrees warmer then, and is not humid. And has heating. In summer, can be 10, even 15 degrees colder. Not always of course, but the climate is totally different. I wish Northern Portugal was like Ireland, but no, and Porto can be hotter than Lisbon on some days, too.

        Even Cascais and Lisbon have different climate zones, look at the climate zone classifications and micro climates for Portugal. Coast a lot cooler than inland, of course mountains different again.

        People should realize, too, that Air Conditioning is not that common here, and in shopping malls, trains, restaurants, etc., it can be still super warm.

        Reply
  19. Tom and I are in our early 70’s and hope to retire to Porto in October of this year. Our situation is that we will have to sell everything, our home, cars, furniture, etc to make this possible with our limited retirement. So basically bringing our cloths and hopefully renting an apartment from new friends who are English and bought an apartment in a renovated building in Porto. Do not plan to buy a car but use public transportation.
    I guess my question would be, would it be possible to travel around Portugal and other areas of Europe by just relying on trains, buses, etc and be able to afford to do so. We are adventurous, can travel with backpacks, share our meals and want to see what life has to offer. Any experiences would be welcomed.

    Reply
  20. James, great article! My wife and I are moving to Cascais next year.

    I’m Brasilian and she’s Polish/British and reading all the comments above is clear the disparity of opinions, naturally (disregarding the ignorants and stupids) but I believe everything is a matter of perception, the moment in life, spirit and of course $$$$$. It seems that expats only want to make a lot of money, have an easy life in a warm, charming country seeking for “quality of life” and they forget that they have responsibilities as well.

    Before considering anywhere, how many of you though: how can I contribute to make that place better? To make people happier? To reduce the disparity of wages? Gender pay gap? To warm people dying on the streets because of the winter? It’s easy to get your wallet out and demand things that firstly you’re not offering and then sit behind your mobile or MacBook and bad mouth around the internet. You will find amazing things and terrible as well anywhere…some places more than the others, but I insist: what you’re gonna do about it?

    As you said James: when you “decide that the good outweighs the bad and this really is a place that’s worth staying in”. I would add “…staying in and contributing”.

    We have been living in Berlin, Germany for three years and even living comfortably, relative good wage, good public transport, speaking German, having german friends, working for a german company there’s no welcoming, warm conversations are rare and more than that, there’s a generalized lack of joy. Not mentioning the terrifying bureaucracy (everything is on paper and via post). It’s hard to get things done here as well…german efficiency? Hmmm not sure, but we’re here, we decided to be here and we do everything we can do in the best way possible.

    We’ve been to Cascais and we decided to move there next year because we want the “slow pace of life”, warm weather (even if it costs us a bit more to heat the place and stay comfortable). Coming from São Paulo, Brazil might make a bit easier for us (she lived there for 10 years despite all the problems) to deal with the cons. Maybe…but that’s not the point. Let unite to make the community better! Btw: any Facebook group as “English speakers in Portugal” or something similar? That could also help those seeking for help in finding an apartment/house. I’m quite experienced in real state as well 🙂 I would love to help others!

    Now keep in mind: we make the place good or bad for ourselves, we are responsible for that, not the Portuguese population, Portuguese government, companies, etc. It’s their home and if you want Portugal to be your home be ready to get out of your comfort zone and work hard to make it better and live with the cons 😉

    Happy days to y’all!

    Reply
  21. Uau, you really got the whole picture. I lived in Portugal för 40 years and when it was time to decide the future of my kids, I chose to leave the country. You get ti nowhere there and I couldn’t risk it…even missing my family and friends. It’s like the country is made for a certain elite and even belonging to that elite one must work hard to get the favors….it works on pure kinship, unfortunately. Sometimes I even laugh of some episodes where politicians are caught… Hopeless and No one cares, after all, everyone is happy for having so many tourists, and selling houses… That’s pretty much it.

    Reply
    • I’ve been in Lisbon for 10 years and I have to agree with most of what has been said. It’s not been easy and I’m finally deciding it’s time to move on to a place where people are a bit more positive ( the negativity of the people drives me nuts) .

      Reply
  22. Hi Carla,

    Pleased to meet you, and hope the move to Portugal goes well. Feel free to ask me any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them or at least point you in the right direction.

    Reply
  23. Not sure if anyone here can help but we are moving to Portugal and bring all our belonging via ocean.
    I have done extensive research as far as rules and regulations on what to bring or not to Portugal and visited all sources. The most updated information is here and I learn that Import to Portugal is not that complicated.
    https://usgshipping.com/shipping-to-europe-from-usa/shipping-to-southern-europe/shipping-to-portugal-from-usa
    but since we are moving to an Island I could not find a company offering the door to door service. I am wondering if anyone here knows a good Customs Broker in Lisbon who can help with clearing our container and transporting it to our door?
    Your help will be greatly appreciated !

    Reply
  24. James – thanks for shining a light on the things in Portugal that are a little less “happy-making”. I have been an immigrant in the US for over 30 years, so I know how to “make do”, but still appreciate the heads-up. We are planning to re-locate to Portugal in about 2 years. My husband has been better at actual applying himself to his language studies, but I feel learning a new language will probably be my biggest challenge – doesn’t come naturally to some people. On the other hand though, as older people I do see learning a new language as really good exercise for the grey matter:)
    I am still wanting to know if there are agencies that help people with their re-settling needs? Hope you can help.

    Reply
  25. Hi, great site, thank you for that! I am looking to move to Portugal with my wife (I’m American, she’s German) and we’re going there to work in an International School. Thing is, it’s in Albufeira. I don’t want to live near there, maybe up to 30min. away? I notice that most of the places that I am able to search for long term rental housing are always about short-term vacationers. Any suggestions where I can find real estate further out of the city in some of the neighboring cities? Perhaps a webpage or newspaper that would show locals trying to rent a home? Thanks again for your help!

    Reply
  26. Very useful stuff – thank you. I am contemplating semi-retirement in rural South West Alentejo with my horses, dogs, cats and geese. Any advice on single, middle aged women living on an edge of village environment?

    Reply
    • The language is almost everything ma’am. Give Pimsleur Portuguese a spin, the audio course. There is a basic European Portuguese set, the rest is (or was) Brazilian but the pronunciation needs only a tweak to be understood. It may not be perfect, but the difference between this and having nothing is a million miles. If you can order a coffee at the local cafe, enquire about the health of the owners’ family and garden, that will do. Bear in mind you will need to be financially independant, and not need the favour of the local town hall for virtually anything. Beware very large building projects. Learn the language FIRST before you come. If it doesn’t take, pass, it really is make or break. Kind regards, R

      Reply
  27. Thank you for the truthful article on immigrating to a foreign country – a country where you’re not fluent in the language, you need to make a living, and perhaps raise a kid, too. It’s a journey not entirely filled with sunny beaches, and surfing and seafood and wine, like some bloggers portray. I moved to a Latin American country 20 years ago and started a business there. Same issues daily hassles and little inconveniences and frustrations you mention. It can be done successfully with perseverance. And if you really want it. Before you know it you are years into your business, and still dealing with the frustrating and confounding little daily hassles. But you are there and you are living it and tourists are telling you that you’re living their dream. Hah.
    Of everything, in the end it was integrating that was the biggest challenge, because of the language barrier.

    Reply
  28. My friend who is Portuguese and lives in Cascais Lisbon.

    For someone like myself age 67 where would you recommend I live that is affordable for me. I have no pension only cash Euro 750,000 and this has to last me for the rest of my life, assuming I will live another 15 years. Should I buy or rent a property, do the have any affordable one bedroom apartments ? Thank you

    Reply
  29. My friend who is Portuguese and lives in Cascais Lisbon.

    For someone like myself age 67 where would you recommend I live that is affordable for me. I have no pension only cash Euro 750,000 and this has to last me for the rest of my life, assuming I will live another 15 years. Should I buy or rent a property, do the have any affordable one bedroom apartments ? Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Dymphna,

      I’m definitely not qualified to answer any financial questions, and so I would really recommend speaking to someone who is as this is a very big decision to make.

      There are lots of places in Portugal that you could retire in, but they all have their pros and cons. Cascais, for example, is very nice and has a large community of other retirees but it’s also very expensive. There are more affordable locations near Lisbon and by the coast, Costa da Caparica, for example, but you don’t have the same community and public transport links aren’t as good. For beach locations, there are also plenty of other locations outside of Lisbon like the Algarve and Silver Coast that are worth considering.

      Ultimately, it’s both a personal choice and a financial choice. Hopefully, the information on Portugalist will give you some inspiration for the personal side of that choice but, for the financial questions, I really recommend speaking to a professional in this field.

      Reply
  30. Thank you so much for this info. I’ve been thinking about somewhere warm to move to from the French alps. My Brazilian friends are encouraging me to consider Lisbon.

    Interestingly many of your pros & cons mirror my experience of moving to France from the UK.

    A big pro we do have in France is superb health care, but only available once you’ve negotiated the bureaucracy involved in accessing it. What is health care like in Portugal?

    Reply
        • I don’t get why people insist on telling someone ‘just to leave’ if they say anything negative about Portugal. What is up with that!??
          Honest input should be appreciated, and if you have a reason to disagree feel free to share.

          Just stop it with the ‘get out if you have anything negative to say’.

          Reply
  31. I just had a dutch carpenter come to see me looking for a job. He said as he was 50 now, he wanted a more to take it more easy now and have a more relaxed kind of life! He has 2 kids ,8 and 12 years old and a wife. As his kids don’t speak Portuguese he was thinking of putting them on the international school, and perhaps his wife could find a job in real estate!
    What a dream!
    Reality:- I had to inform him that he would have to work twice as hard and to earn a minimum of 2000€ a month to just survive! Sorry to burst your bubble! Kids international school? Forget it! 1000€ a month per kid and to tell you the truth, standard in Portuguese schools is higher! Cars,( you have to have one here), petrol, rent ,very expensive! If you don’t speak the language, you wont be able to earn enough to run a family! Only singles have a chance!
    Rent a place:- 2 bedroom simple app. Minimum of 650€ per month! Plus costs! ( also very hard to find long term rentals at this price)
    Buy a old driveable car,- min. 2000€!
    Jobs for foreigners @ 850€ p month! Do the maths!
    Unless you can go into real estate, which a hell of a lot of expats try and fail at! You better have a plan of self employment or bring a million!
    I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands come and go, leaving broke and completely disillusioned over the years!
    I’ve been living here for over 30 years, am self employed, never have to advertise, are fully booked 3 months ahead and have no rent to pay as I own my house! And still I have times I’m struggling!
    Be warned yes, Portugal is the best place to live in Europe, but there is a high price to pay for this privilege!
    Good luck, hope to meet you soon!

    Reply
    • Wow’! Thanks for the dose of reality. You don’t get much of this on the internet. The growing problems of industrial strength tourism seems like a global disease rather than economic development. May I ask what part of the country you live in?

      Reply
    • Hi Jon,

      What can you tell me about living there and working as a chiropractor (quiropraxista) in say, Porto!? I know from experience having lived in Brazil that it’s best to work for someone who already has an established clinic and hope to gradually make a name for ones self and either continue as is or hope for opening your own clinic!?
      Obrigado

      Reply
      • Probably the same as in Brazil. But don’t come now because we are infected with the virus up to our heads. mainly in Porto. You have may be a better chance in the town of Braga near Porto, and where about thirty five thousands Brazilians live.

        Reply
    • Jon,

      Thanks!! To put this in perspective, my wife and I are looking to retire in Europe. Fully 80% of our mutual bucket lists are in Europe or the Med.

      So just counting my wife’s retirement and my Social Security, that would be at least 6509€ per month. So, 640€+? 2000€ for a car? Hell, our current mortgage payment is at least 1,800€/month…

      We all come from disparate economic situations. My real big question is this…. Does Portugal get thunderstorms that don’t threaten to burn down the country? As a Navy Brat, I lived on the US East coast, mostly southern states, plus bella Napoli, where I learned to love thunderstorms….

      My next big question is will my medicos speak English, or can I easily find ones that do?

      Reply
  32. 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

    Reply
  33. 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.

    Reply
  34. 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.

    Reply
    • 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 !!

      Reply
  35. 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.

    Reply
    • 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…

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
        • 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….

          Reply
      • Brilliant insight! Don’t like something? Leave!

        Here’s the problem: exploitative practices need people to exploit, in the same way that hunters need prey. So, in order to not only begin exploiting in the first place but also to extend the lifetime of the host they intend to suck dry (parasites rarely kill their host; doing that is contrary to their best interests), foreigners doing business here are certainly welcomed into the fold with open arms. And that ingratiating initiation period lasts solely until the roots they’ve put down have become inextricably entrenched, up until the exact point when leaving out of frustration would be deemed the worst of two bad scenarios.

        The Portuguese are colonialists, whether they’re conscious of it or not. Con artistry is the default setting here. And the “con” in “con artist” points to the most essential element of the enterprise: first gaining the mark’s confidence. In other words: Time.

        So how are you so blithely going to tell business owners, people with families here, people with deep roots, to leave? It’s glib, uninsightful, un-empathetic nonsense.

        Reply
  36. 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!

    Reply
  37. 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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  38. 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.
    Rowena

    Reply
  39. 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!!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  40. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  41. 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?
    Obrigado

    Reply
  42. 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.
    Jon

    Reply
  43. 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.

    Reply
    • 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 san.raad@gmail.com? Thanks! San

      Reply
    • 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!

      Regards
      Kirsten

      Reply
  44. 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.

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
  45. 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

    Reply
  46. 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?

    Reply
  47. 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,

    Reply
  48. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  50. 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.

    Reply
  51. 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.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jim!

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

      Reply
  52. 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.

    Reply
  53. 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,
    Brian

    Reply
  54. 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 .

    Reply
  55. 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….

    Reply
  56. 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.

    Reply
    • 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…

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

        Reply
  57. 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.

    Reply
  58. 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 !

    Reply
  59. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  60. 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.

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  61. 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,
    Mali

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    • 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.

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    • 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

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    • 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….

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  62. 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….

    Reply
    • 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!

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      • Hi Art,

        Definitely dog poop is a problem, although that seems to be common throughout a lot of Europe. Graffiti does seem to be unique to Portugal though.

        Also, interesting comment re: Chinese VS Portuguese.

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      • 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!

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    • 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!

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  63. 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.

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    • 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.

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    • The thing about appellate courts in Portugal, at least in civil cases, is that after what could be a big, long trial containing numerous witnesses all paraded in front of a judge who can examine each up close and personal, the appeal then, bafflingly, takes place behind closed doors. What I mean is that it’s not even a (re)trial. What happens is that a summary of the trial, often just a few pages in total, is given to an appellate judge, he or she reads it, and he or she, based on those few pages of information alone, delivers a verdict. Sure, judges are also supposed to listen to audio tapes of the trial (a highly flawed approach itself), but as there is no system in place which ensures that they do this, there is little incentive to do so.

      You can deduce how easily exploitable this system is. In fact, it is often the corrupt lawyer’s tactic to just BS the way through the initial trial with little regard for actually winning the case, just to get it in the hands of her pre-arranged appellate judge. Think of how this works in, say, the case of an employee suing an employer for unlawful firing. Losing the initial case actually leads to her gaining far more money: in the appeal, the employee then is granted the money she claims is owed, then she gains payment that she “should have” been paid in the interim between the first case and the appeal. (Often a few years worth of salary, as “justice” moves so slowly here.) All for sitting around and doing nothing, which, not coincidedntally, was probably the reason the employee was fired in the first place.

      And that exact outcome, of course, was the plan from the beginning.

      So you see how this incentivizes frivolous lawsuits? Finding a lawyer with an appellate judge in her pocket is easier than finding an old sofa on CraigsList. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. People are afraid to take action, and this is a defeatist mentality which can be traced back to decades of living under fascism. Move to Portugal and soon learn that idealism hits a wall at a very early point. Get used to a shoulder-shrugging “Whadya gonna do?” as the default response to even the smallest, seemingly easily-redressable injustices.

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  64. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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

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  65. 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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?

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      • Thank you for the useful information. I live in the SF Bay Area and I’m considering moving to Portugal in the next year. I’m using an immigration law firm in Lisbon to assist with the visa application, and, like you, I would opt for renting a newer apartment with modern conveniences, to which I’m accustomed. Could you share the type of health insurance that you have? I haven’t done research on this requirement yet.
        Hope you are still enjoying Portugal!

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  66. 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!

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  67. 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.

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  68. 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.

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  69. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

        Reply
    • 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

      Reply
    • Dear Gillian, we are about to move to portugal and do the same thing. May I ask the details of your Romanian builders please? We renovated with a Romanian team in the u.k. they were brilliant. Unfortunately they won’t do works in portugal…. Thanks for your help!
      Kind regards,
      Heidi

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  70. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  71. 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.

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  72. 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?

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    • 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…

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  73. 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.

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  74. 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.

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  75. 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.

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  76. 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.

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    • Hi Alison,

      European taxes are sometimes high. It’s just a fact of life, unfortunately, although you do have to factor in things like healthcare into the equation. 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.

      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.

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  77. 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.

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      • ::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.

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        • 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.

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    • 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. 🙂

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    • 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!

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      • 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….

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        • We tend to look at the world through our own filters. Positive, warm people tend to meet positive, warm people. Resentful people will find plenty to be resentful about.

          It doesn’t surprise me that the opinions are so opposite. The happy people will be happy almost anywhere, and the unhappy ones will be unhappy almost anywhere. The victims will find victimizers anywhere. There are some real differences in places, but mostly we find what we expect to find. We see who WE are, not who others really are.

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  78. 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.

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    • 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!

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      • 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.

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      • Yes, always the victim, and always super arrogant. Everyone else has everything, only they don’t, and they are not responsible. When I try to point out that they have the same options I have regarding working remotely, self improvement / studying, having their own business charging clients outside the country, crypto, renting out … none is ever heard or accepted. I am not kidding … met Portuguese where the family had 2 places at the ocean, like direct sea view, hardly ever there. But didn’t rent it out. Or who had a marketing or design agency, but only served Portuguese clients. Often don’t do marketing, don’t react to feedback, no website or a really bad one. People are passive and complying, a true slave nation, sorry. I met very few Portuguese people who are different and do make a lot of money — but ALL of them had been living abroad.
        I also had a discussion about how it’s the fault of foreigners that there are no new Air BnBs allowed anymore in some areas – yes, true, but they did up all those places that had been literally rotting away, and some of those places still are, you only need to go to any side street in Porto, or Lisbon. (And also self occupied places, sure, it costs money to renovate, but I see a lot of things that need just work.)

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    • 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.

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  79. 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.

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  80. 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.

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    • 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?

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  81. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • Will you stop bloviating on about lefties ffs. Most of europe has historically struggled with extremes on both sides of the spectrum (mostly right) and you come in with this tone-deaf usa-centric nonsense.

        Read the room. Wind your neck in.

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      • Really? This is a blog about living and being comfortable in your space. Please stop with the “leftie politics” stuff and go to Breitbart or some other place that you can voice your dissatisfaction with Californians. Geez.

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    • 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.

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    • Yes, it is true, there is a whole “digital nomad” industry here incl. professional large scale marketing – people targeting tourists, and esp. “nomads” who are more often than not uhm like … spoilt kids in their gap year, meaning, they spend much, much, MUCH more money than locals on rent, or often other types of tourists, plus “upsells”. Whole specialised industry, meaning, incl. events, retreats, renting out heavily priced co-working and living spaces / rooms to them, trips, business “support”, and so on. Something not ideal, they move on. I met lots of expats who are here short term or part time, some come here to invest, and some for the visa and because they cannot come to any other place in Europe (Lisbon, the Gate to Europe, thank you very much). Plus Brasilians.

      The only long term and full time happy expats I have met were retired couples living in nice houses in the most expensive part of the country, far away from average Portuguese people, and meeting other expats only – after years of living here. But without exception, all of them still have houses and ties “back home”, too.
      Also, lots of services for British people coming here to escape brexit … meaning that many don’t deal themselves with the bureaucracy but pay someone, and coming from the UK, don’t notice how overpriced services and accommodation is for them (compared to average for Portuguese people).

      I live in a “richer” tourist hot spot, by coincidence, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. There is not a single supermarket in the town center, it is all restaurants (and expensive clothes, etc. shops), all of them over priced no end, and I don’t know a single good one here. But as you said, esp. one “plant based” place has often great reviews, and those are always by people from other countries mentioning their day trip here. They don’t care that the price is 4x the Portuguese average or that this place has like a 95 percent profit margin with crappy food. I just wish I would get the service here, like in other 5 star places, …

      And I am sick of being filmed with mobile phones when taking the tram / cable car in Lisbon to actually get to a place.

      It is always a big difference, if you are somewhere as a tourist, and get also special treatment, have time and money to spend, or if you live your daily life somewhere, … or even try to make a living. I miss especially more networking or things like workshop opportunities around entrepreneurship, things like efficient copy shops, … and I am craving substance. Something real.

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  82. 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…

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    • 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.

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  83. 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.

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  84. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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!

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    • 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…)

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  85. 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!

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  86. 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.

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  87. 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!

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

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  88. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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!

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        • 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?

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      • 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.

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  89. 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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

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    • 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.

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    • 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 gmresq@yahoo.com.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  90. 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?

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  91. 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!

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    • 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!

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  92. A friend told me he owns a house in the Azores, but he does not live there anymore, so his house was robbed multiple times. The thieves (neighbours) took everything out of the house, then they also took the doors, the windows, even the balcony tiles were ripped off….. Only the cement carcass remains… sad view…. I saw the photos.

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  93. 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.

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  94. 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  95. 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.

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  96. 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 !

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  97. 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).

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  98. 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.

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

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    • 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.

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      • What sunshine ? I have been freezing all winter under the rain and cold in the center of Portugal … I hardly ever see the sun in the winter time. It’s a myth when you hear, ‘come to Portugal where the sun shines most of the year’… Not true. It’s even much warmer on the French riviera. Deceptive publicity about the country. It’s way over rated in my opinion but anyway, every body is entitled to his/her opinion.

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

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  100. 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! 🙂

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    • Hi Bob,

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

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      • 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…

        Cheers

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        • 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

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        • 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.

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  101. 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.

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    • 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…

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  102. 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.

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  103. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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    • Hello Martin,

      Thanks for your insights.

      I also recently moved (3 months ago to be precise) and chose Portugal over Spain due to the NHR regime. I am a contractor working via my UK ltd company and my client was happy for me to relocate initially and work remotely. The pay in the UK was substantial, so I wasn’t in any financial stress.
      Unfortunately, I am suddenly faced with my contract being terminated unless I return to the UK. I was lucky enough to get a job here in Portugal in the same IT field but the pay is ridiculously lower in comparison (60%lower) to my current UK pay.
      Now I’m in a difficult position where I either go back to the UK with my son or stay here pinching pennies just to have a “better standard of life”. I’m beginning to rethink my move and might just go back to the UK which is sad.

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      • bear in mind that costs are also 30-40% lower than in the UK, but if you need to work for a living, you are better off in the UK. Portuguese economy is terminally sick!

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  104. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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

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  105. 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.

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  106. 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.

    Reply
  107. 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.

    Reply
  108. 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!

    Reply
  109. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  110. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.
      AJ

      Reply
  111. 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!!!

    Reply
  112. 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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  113. 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.

    Reply
  114. Really? This is a blog about living and being comfortable in your space. Please stop with the “leftie politics” stuff and go to Breitbart or some other place that you can voice your dissatisfaction with Californians. Geez.

    Reply
  115. 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..

    Reply
  116. 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.

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  117. 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.

    Reply
  118. 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 ?

    Reply
  119. 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)

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Nenye,

      Welcome to Portugal (if you made it across)!

      I live in the Algarve (way down south) and have found most of the locals warm, friendly and helpful. A lot of the women try to mother me actually, which is quite sweet. I’m also learning Portuguese, which, as others have pointed out, helps.

      Lisbon and Porto are cities with a good mix of nationalities. Believe there’s also a budding Nigerian network in Lisbon (Google that).

      Anyway, my thinking is, brown skin stands out against certain backdrops. I’m aware of the colonial history between Portugal & Nigeria and narrative, but choose to engage with people as a human being, not based on the colour of my skin. If ever anyone attempts to make it about skin colour, I’m intelligent, educated and self-aware enough to show them how small-minded and prehistoric that viewpoint is.

      Let me know how you get on.

      Reply
  120. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • Actually they phone a translator in the U.K. – a Brazilian friend does this work in the U.K. & gets calls from U.K. hospitals they must have a contract with companies give her a number code & then she speaks to the patient in Portuguese (of course Brazilian Portuguese but people of EU Portuguese also work for service to) & then gives the doctor or nurse a translation in English & calls could be from anywhere in the U.K. so there is a translation service was n the U.K. possible

      Reply
  121. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi Aaron, re dating I understand how you feel.

      I’m asking myself where all the healthy, mature and available bachelors are.

      Have you had any luck since? (Every bit of good news boosts my hope! :))

      Reply
    • Hi Aaron,
      Thank you for sharing some positivity, as my wife and I are seriously considering selling up in SA and immigrating to Portugal, we’ve actually started the process.

      Not everything you might change to suit your lifestyle to is a bed of roses, however it’s how one approaches issues and predicaments/challenges. ..that gain a little respect.

      Reply
    • Hi Aaron,

      I am Portuguese.
      Great comment. Very accurate description, even from a national guy perspective.
      About the romance part: Hang in the fight 🙂 Better choose correctly than making mistakes; In terms of local women, PRT ladies are more/generally…family oriented and tend to choose guys with balanced temper. Of course, economic stability, looks and charm will always be a central part…. Make them laugh, amuse themselves and be prepared/open to hear what they have to say (which is a lot 🙂 ! )…This will improve your chances.
      BTW – I will only be remain a foreigner as long you feel that way. Speaking PRT and involved in community and social as you seem to be…You’ll soon be more PRT than me 🙂
      João

      Reply
  122. Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for sharing your 13 years of experience here. It’s always great to hear people’s stories and insights.

    Reply
  123. 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!”

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
      • So true. I usually like to buy a property when I move to a country but for some reasons, my heart is definitely not in it when it comes to Portugal. I don’t feel it and for the first time in my life, I am renting and do not regret it. In fact, their apartments are not comfortable to say the least and it’s constantly cold. My friends have been trying to sell their house for the last 3 years….I am just so glad I haven’t bought anything in Portugal and while I am looking at another country, I continue to rent but at least, I don’t feel ‘stuck’ here with no way out and an expensive house to maintain and high property taxes to pay. I think as you said, it’s better to rent it unless you are really sure this is the country for you.

        Thanks for your feedback !

        Sometimes, I feel like it’s just me who feel that way but I am glad I am not alone and all those comments reassure me in a way.

        Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  124. 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.

    Reply
  125. 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.

    Reply
  126. 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?

    Thanks

    Reply
  127. 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.

    Reply
  128. 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).

    Reply
  129. 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.

    Reply
  130. 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.

    Reply
    • Nathan, I read your comment and I’m in a similar predicament. It’s quite sad actually. I moved to Portugal almost four months ago – I have Portuguese ancestry and thought that this would be an advantage. I was aware that there was some litigation (involving my late grandmother’s estate). In summary this litigation involves some random people who befriended my grandmother just before her death so she could sign a will in their favour. These people then instituted proceedings against my (widowed) mother, step sister and I – on the back of this, they joined my late father’s family to the litigation (who I have either not met or never heard from again since my father’s death. I have also discovered that my Portuguese step sister removed finds that are the estate’s before the estate was finalised. All of this resulted in me being sued for money I have never even seen and involving Portuguese natives that I wish I was not related to and never met. The litigation is at a standstill and basically the process has shown me the incompetence and corruption of everyone involved.
      Before knowing the extent of all of this, I was about to purchase a home but now cannot do so because there’s an attachment order for anything I own to be taken away. Also, the property I was interested in revealed a dishonest and unprofessional agent and seller – when I asked to add in clauses to protect myself from the red flags I was seeing, they cancelled the process. All in all, from the few short months I have lived here, I regret my decision to move here. I also am pregnant with twins and dread that they will be exposed to all of this filth.

      Reply
  131. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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 !

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • Hey Xavier, from your name you sound Spanish right? No wander about this review of yours and the final conclusion GO TO SPAIN . Sure Portuguese are different than you in much more interesting and exciting ways

      Reply
  132. 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.
    Regards,
    Cristina

    Reply
  133. 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
    Cristina

    Reply
  134. Hi Aaron,
    Thank you for your comments. Are very helpfull for me. I am getting information because I would like to retire in Portugal.
    I will think it better. I know not any country is perfect.
    Regards
    Cristina

    Reply
  135. 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.

    Reply
  136. 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.

    Reply
  137. 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.

    Reply
  138. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  139. 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.

    Reply
  140. 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.

    Reply
  141. 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.

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  142. 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.

    Reply
  143. 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.

    Reply
    • 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 .

      Reply
    • Yes as you say, nice country to visit but not to live. As soon as all the touristy activities are done, there is not much left to do. I find life boring here in Portugal. Lisbon has become so expensive but still no quality when it comes to real estate. Everything is overpriced and doesn’t meet the comfort standards of a developed country. Portuguese not that friendly except a few but you have to look really really hard. Little by little, the bad sides get to you to the point that you wonder ‘what the hell you are doing here ?’ I am stuck here for the time being but looking elsewhere more suitable for me.

      Reply
      • I am at the same stage as you. Cant put up with the Portuguese anymore, dying a slow death from loneliness, I wonder what I should do next and where to move. Then there is COVID, the war, my father died this year and you hear about everything malfunctioning, forest fires raging, unbearable heat and this indifferent and ignorant bunch of locals! I will give it another winter and then move!

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  144. 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.

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  145. 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.

    Reply
    • Are you actually claiming that the authorities conspired to hack all of your technology? I find that hard to believe, since everybody on here is saying they are 30 years behind.

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  146. 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…

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  147. 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.

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  148. This is so spot on. I think to be happy here, you need to live in an expat bubble. I know of very very few people (2) who got a Portuguese partner. Normally doesn’t happen. They still can’t speak Portuguese and still live in an expat bubble. So this, and enjoying nice views and that it doesn’t really snow in winter. And cheap wine which you will need.

    I had first come to Portugal 2 or 3 years ago, after living in Ireland for some time, I rented an old house in the very north in a not-even-village. Yes, dogs … annoying driving … super backwards shops … and I felt watched by the ONE present neighbour all the time. You forgot to mention the continuous smoke and fumes in winter from heating. I swear that the father of my landlady sneaked into the house while I was sleeping several times, and when I was away, door left open. I am not paranoid, and strange occurances stopped when I had finally a key for the door between the garage in the basement and the living space.

    I moved to Porto after 2 months — most horrible mold ever, no vacuum cleaner in the house, no hot water in the kitchen, window not closing and it was so cold all the time- Both in the country house and also in that house in Porto — no heating, no insulation. Portuguese people will all tell you to wear blankets around your shoulders all day long. Never mind that everything always stays damp, I was unable to dry my clothes. Then moved to a different apartment, outside Porto (right outside, urban area) to a modern apartment, sharing – it had “central” heating, so nice. Yes, you always hear neighbours, and dogs — we saw a dog outside the window in a very small yard in a small space, always just there.

    Agree that one of the worst things is the dirt and dog poo, even in “good” areas, right in front of houses.

    In Porto, my car got broken in, window smashed with an umbrella. 50 m from our house. Everything stolen (like … rain jacket, … shoes, … nothing valuable in the car, of course.)

    I returned to Ireland, where everything is clean, safe, no dogs barking. The dogs aren’t trained at all in Portugal, people don’t know how to keep them. Yes, I feel too, that everything is 30 years behind. Totally. Everything. E v e r y t h i n g.

    I was living now in Ireland, right next to a super clean, calm beach, normal living standard house, no noise, no dirt though basically on a cow farm. No dog barking at all, dog poo of course not on road in front of house etc. Then came the lockdowns, and one thing I do have to agree with is that also an Irish village is very much a village of people who have lived there literally all their lives, and their extended family, and you will always remain a blow-in. But the Irish are much much much more friendly, communicative, welcoming, normal, helpful, and the bureaucracy is low. They will still make friends with you, while for Portugese, they tell you in the face that you don’t belong to their friends as they don’t know you since childhood, and my impression is “all friends can go to hell, my family only counts” attitute, … e. g. they might be able to fit you in after dinner with their parents at 10 pm, or maybe for coffee between lunch and dinner with their family, or meet for 5 minutes before driving (perfectly able to drive herself) mother into town.
    So, total lockdowns, city in Ireland not an option because of rental prices, and I had no better idea than to move to Portugal, to Lisbon.

    On the one hand, not the worst idea, and I must say – I had no idea about the amount of tourists until now. It was sooo nice during and right after lockdowns … without them, omg. It is like disneyland here with tourists returned and that’s not even all of them. I am thoroughly, thoroughly sick of Lisbon. Yes, I adore it, it is beautiful, but all tourists and “nomads”, superficial, overrun, expensive, no REAL culture anymore going on because of all the many, many expats, “nomads”, tourists, … no normal Portuguese people live in Lisbon. The ones I met at meetups were there for the women. Speaking of which …. No matter where, or when, I have found it impossible to meet normal Portuguese men with manners and education. Sorry. Yes, I found some with education, but … still no manners, I was never so insulted and harrassed in my life. I, too, heard stories of harrassment of women, like slapping them on an open street, how men talk to women here if often unbelievable.
    At the moment I am living in one of the richest, cleanest areas of the country, and the dog barking, dog poo right in front of the door, etc., running cars, noise, smoking … like, it is really impossible for me to live in this higher end apartment without constant ear plugs, checking if I can open the window, etc. No ventilation, no heating. Too cold in winter, too hot in summer, mold.

    The bureaucracy and the total lack of service and extreme slowness are mind boggling, numbing, infuriating … my stress level here is waaaay higher than elsewhere, and people make me aggressive, and I have never ever met such aggressive women. I am used from Ireland to taking a lot of time at checkout in the supermarket, but out of niceness eg. towards older people – not because it just IS slow. And then those women all the time with super thick huuge wallets then searching forever for their cards and numbers.

    Driving, parking, also esp. on a bike – life threatening.

    Hygiene: on the one hand super clean, then again, not so. I don’t advise anyone ever to watch a restaurant kitchen, etc. And other issues. The Covid “wash your hands” regime really did nothing here.

    Rental and property prices are getting super high now after lockdowns, also restaurant prices, as expensive as Ireland. Thanks Golden Visa, etc. Also, prices triple, when someone hears that you are not Portuguese.
    You also get lied to no end. If you think Prague or so in the worst tourist trap, think again.

    I am in the process of deciding where to move to next, as I can finally, finally leave my horrible apartment. Just contacting real estate agents / answering to ads, and e-mails about how apartments are furnished, and what the conditions of the rental agreement are make we look into other options, like … moving to the other end of Europe. I had also looked into buying a plot of land or a house to do up, as it is suuuper complicated to build yourself. The lack of information by real estate agents, and right out lies and false statements and also offers that are simply illegal is incredible. I wonder why I should continue looking, when what I get for it is a damp, horrible apartment with thin walls sub standard. Yes, there are very nice places, with heating AND fire place, … but those are costly and you end up in one of those huuuuge apartment blocks or ghettos (most expats I meet have actually never seen those apartment skyscraper ghettoes, lol), … I all my time in Portugal, so 1,5 years combined, I have maybe met 4 me who did NOT live with their parents. They all say “to help with the bills”.
    The condition of some houses and apartments offered for rent or sale is incredible … and I mean “move-in-ready” offers.
    So, to buy anything here will take me a much longer time (if ever), as it is so, so varied, and every information must be double checked by myself, even the location. Previous lack of construction and renovation standards, makes it all very difficult, and while some offers are eyebrow raisingly low, so one wonders why, others are extremely overpriced.

    This morning, I went to the market and then on a short walk, I heard English only, btw.

    I also btw. like PsyTrance parties, and those ARE mostly filles with Portuguese people, but … they are so strange, also like 30 years backwards disco parties, … hard to describe. You either get those plastic outdoor chairs, and no deco, and the worst toilets ever, or you get tourist hip artificial “in” places. And when you go to a PsyTrance party in Germany, Ireland, Czechia, people talk to you. Here, not so.

    Yes, yes, yes, there are super nice people, amongst them even the people I had dealt with at Financas (so, why on Earth do you need to organise a tax nr to rent an apartment and then they tell you they need a contract with your address to get it which you don’t have because you need a tax number …. ), and people trying to be helpful, … but it always stays at a superficial level. Maybe in 10 years , …. as it only took people in the local shop and food place 1 year to recognize me now.

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    • Oh yes, the extreme slowness… Recently, I had inquiry with German bureaucrats – I had my answer within two days, all that per email, no fees, they wanted to see only basic documents. Same task with with paid lawyers in Portugal, a lot of fees, back and forth questions, endless documents required, everything feels like rocket science, yet their slowness and lack of motivation is so irritating. It takes weeks.

      Some people blame the lack of training, I think it is a country-wide cultural thing. Actually, the “white collar” like bankers, lawyers and real estate agents were the worst from my experience, and they are supposed to be educated. I mean they are in certain sense, but their business-attitude makes you want to never deal with them again.

      I was considering buying real-estate in Portugal, but I decided to leave instead. I am a laid back person too, but Portugal has definitely too much of it, to the level where nothing works, and nobody takes the responsibility for anything. I think the Portugal might be ok to live when you do all your paperwork somewhere else, and all your work is PT unrelated.

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  149. I forgot to mention 2 things, –
    Dogs and parasites: I got fleas here. I don’t have any pets. But when it got hot, I had fleas bites all over, for weeks, as I couldn’t figure it out, as I fxxx NEVER in my life had anything to do with fleas etc. ever. It was beyond horrible, I am still covered in hundreds of marks head to toes. So, I wondered, where did they come from … how … when it dawned on me that when it got hot, I had left the apartment door open with ventilator once or twice to get any fresh air movement in … So, the hallway here has carpet OMG (God knows from when), and there is now and then dog hair on it, from the multiple dogs of my neighbour on this floor … I saw her once in front of the house combing out the dogs.

    Delivery: I gave up. Amazon client since the beginning, worked perfectly fine … until I moved here and had to deal with amazon Spain. A different delivery service wanted my tax nr. before they would hand me my parcel. I didn’t return something as I couldn’t figure out how their special method worked. Have still to find reliable food delivery service.

    Speaking of which … my landlady refuses to let me pay electricity in my own name, and I have to go to a PayShop to pay, as I can’t use direct debit and transferring is suuuper complicated and one needs to write several emails doing so …

    Again, speaking of which. I have yet to come across a Portuguese house or apartment where the main fuse doesn’t blow as soon as you plug in the electric kettle along with another high voltage device.

    Did I mention how I got thrown out in the middle of Lisbon in the middle of the night by an uber driver, when he noticed that I wasn’t the correct client? Or how we got thrown out of the train at night, because of a disturbance — first 1 hr waiting in the train without any information whatsoever, then they just threw us out. Just like that. No buses, no help, no information. And a LONG way still to go.

    I am sure Lisbon is great as a short term tourist or self proclaimed nomad, or for retirement with a partner, … and when you live in the city center along with other expats, which is the only part that gets cleaned at night and police all around. I even liked Porto later for 1 weekend as a tourist (not the beggars or cats on restaurant tables though).

    I wanted to add before that no, in Germany you are not allowed to smoke inside in clubs and bars, I know of no other place where this is the case, only here in Portugal, no dog barking in Germany, police would come, … and though not a service paradise you still get reliable service and people are somewhat trained to do their job. With a minimum wage of about 4 EUR I don’t expect much of employees here, though a lack of training and management is often evident. When you do complain, there is more often than not a lengthy explanation about how it is not their fault but everyone else’s, how they are always the victim, or even insulting you. I often encounter a “wanting to help” attitude, but just incompetence. I tried to contact several cleaning companies, and also people via private ads, as I thought, oh, cool, 5 EUR/h maybe for a cleaner? Didn’t happen, as noone got back to me to make an offer.
    In Germany, we had often Portuguese kids in school, and Portuguese neighbours, … they were never treated as foreigners are here sometimes.

    As someone else said, yes, victim mentality, and conformity and being comfortable. If that means that everyone is on top of each other, instead of anyone taking own responsibility, fine.

    I just remembered a detail I came across … young Portuguese men often have the names of birth dates of their mother or grandmother, sister, … tattoed, … on the arm, shoulder, etc. … so sexy, along with them often looking 10 years older than they are.

    I think I should give up trying to adapt and just leave.

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  150. I heard the same from Portuguese people whose parents own a house in the most expensive neighbourhood, because they have lived here forever. So they are not so horribly off, they couldn’t have afforded it now, they actually were incredibly “lucky” (as it wasn’t planned). But nothing but complaints, that they couldn’t build a new house there now. That guy was living with his parents in that house, paying no rent, ever. and he claimed he didn’t WANT to move out, he wanted to be with family, they wouldn’t abandon their parents like other people did … All in the same conversation. His friend, same job, same age, grew up around the corner, … has his own house there now. So, as he didn’t want to build somewhere else, but ONLY in the same street … … and said he couldn’t … I don’t know, but I would maybe have then invested in an apartment to rent out, instead, as he wasn’t paying any rent but had a very good job (which means still 1400 EUR max though). But he just complained.

    I just know … a typical German family like that would have rented, and not even owned a property, and would consider themselves lucky to have retained their rent amount. Irish, in Dublin, too (though also victim mentality), typically owning – and would take advantage of the situation.

    I heard a story from someone (foreign/expat) who wanted to rent out his apartment in Lisbon to a Portuguese guy in a normal fashion, and that Portuguese guy didn’t sign in the end – because he did NOT have to present a garantor, and all that other stuff, and his family thought that was fishy.

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  151. Wow. Stong words to describe a great great country and beautiful people. It seams yo me you are the ugly person. We love Portugal, the people, and weather. We own several properties and have helped many friends buy home too.
    Dita

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  152. Here’s another point why Portugal will never become a wealthy and a fully developed country:

    I have a yard tractor and parts are very hard to find for it. I inquired the local agricultural suppliers to order parts for me. They responded with available parts listing and prices. The problem is their prices are sky high, but availability of parts if laughable. For example: they have screws available (at a cost of €15 per screw) of the lawnmower deck but not the blades. Then they have another kind of washers, but not screws and then finally they have the part but not support for it. What is the use of those parts then?

    Then another example: I was looking for specific long roofing screws. The local hardware store told me they don’t have them, and they can not order them for me and they added that they are sure that the entire country of Portugal do not have these screws available. Then how come everybody are suing them for their roofs? Oh and they say they do not order anything from Spain. What happened next I went to the hardware store in the next street and they had all the screws available for me.

    I can write a book on these kind of stories.

    This kind of CAN NOT DO mentality will never make this country a winner for its own people, but only a sad loser and a tourist infested place at best.

    Reply
    • just ask around man, don t go to one shop and expect miracles. Just go to 3 or 4 of them. The real power we have as consumers is to choose between the best services and stores

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  153. Very egoist society, I agree, and superficially “friendly” with too many crooks in between the incompetent ones. Don’t expect any help on the road. I always try to help them, send them stuff they want, but when I ask a tiniest favour that costs nothing to them, it’s like oh no we can’t do that…. and smile so helpless and “friendly” face. And if they don’t like you they will spread false rumours about you, so you can’t get any service or buy anything from them, which is their know PUNISHMENT MENTALITY. Portuguese claim they are PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE and are always SAD and ENVIOUS. And PUNISHING you for everything with their own ways. But hey, there are some nice people, just don’t ask them any favours.

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  154. Hey Folks, all great insights. I plan to relocate from India to Porto for work purposes, with my spouse and kid. Looking to work for a year or two to gain some foreign exposure. In all, would you advise me to really refrain from moving to Porto, or it is still a good bet for a year or two, to live and work in one of the beautiful countries. Request your inputs, please.

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    • Looks like my previous reply to you was not posted. Please read the other blogs about life here. Will point out the following to help u decide.
      Beautiful beaches and good weather.
      Plenty of money required to live here as you get conned everywhere, by people, companies, traders.
      Everything is overpriced, for example, specs, cars, petrol, hotels, having work done in the house.
      Portuguese will not tell you the truth, and not say sorry when they get things wrong.
      One should know the language to live here as very few people can carry out a conversation. They claim to know but cannot go beyond the basic greetings.
      Property prices and rentals are overpriced and lack value for money.
      Dogs bark and do their dirty business everywhere and incessantly.
      I suggest you look for a European country to go to as this country certainly ain’t European by any standard.
      Indian food is scarce and basic stuff is available. The Indian restaurant are bad quality. Most of the Indians here fruit pickers and menial workers i. e. not educated. Very difficult to make friends here.
      Best of luck.

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    • Hello, Manoj, I started in Porto but soon found it nicer, more genuine, more gree and more friendly just 20-30 kms out. I have found the smaller towns have more! More parks, more libraries, more cultural centers, as well as a more laid back, family-oriented feeling. If you need anything in the city it is always close by train, Uber or excellent roads. Have fun!

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  155. Thanks Rick your description of expat life in Portugal could not be better! As a German who has lived 15 years in London and 3years in Italy, I agree that Portugal is probably the worst people experience. Imagine where this country would stand without the excessive funds they get from the grear EU and build cycle paths to nowhere or outsized office buildings for incompetent local authorities!

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  156. Seneca, please stay in Texas. You’re not wanted in Portugal. You are the kind of person the growing number of American expats are moving to get away from.

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  157. I have just moved – within Portugal – to improve my living situation, and I think after only 1,5 weeks that it was a big mistake (not to leave altogether).
    All of the bad things mentioned in the comments, are heightened,- it is a smaller town, and I actually had forgotten about some of the most annoying things in the more remote areas of Portugal. Such as … impossible to find organic vegetables, a print shop, etc.
    When I looked at the apartment before renting I noticed the bad smell, but I was told, it had been empty as an unused vacation apartment, for the past 3 years. I didn’t look inside the closets, inside the washing machine or under the sink, unfortunately. I moved in, I noticed mildew in every single closet, everywhere. One chest of drawers had real mold, under the sink, there is a big smelly leak, and of course the heating, which was the reason I decided for this apartment, did not work ….
    It took the landlords days to react at all (like, … why would I need a place to put my things, or be able to cook, wash my clothes, etc., right …), then they showed up in the early morning without warning with a cleaning lady.
    Some basic help, but she undid a lot of my own disinfection efforts, by wiping over cleaned surfaces, etc. with a dirty rag from cleaning some insides of closets with mildew …

    The worst thing is though — I don’t even expect anymore anything done in time, and in a normal, efficient, good manner, and no hygiene expected anymore. Internet: no WLAN anymore, I an incompatible router, it took the guy 4 hours to find out the issue. He gave me an ethernet cable, until I had the correct router and GLUED IT TO THE WALLPAPER … and I never got a reaction, answer, .. from the internet company, not even when going AGAIN to the shop in person.
    Also, someone came to fix the heating after many days, …. – again, I didn’t even expect much anymore. Otherwise I would have freaked out. Such arrogance, not-doing-any-work attitute, incredible.

    Regarding professionals like real estate agents, I feel like prey. Nothing else. Never ever any factual answers, it’s like fairy tales. And beware criticizing any facts. Or service.

    I keep trying to find out what expats like about this country, or why they want to move here. Turns out, most have never lived her for longer. Spent vacation days here, and had contact with people like real estate agents and other highly paid service providers promising them stuff. Those who truly have lived here for longer and like it, live in their own bubble. For Americans, they love it that they get more for their money.

    I miss most a genuine life, culture, and being integrated. I don’t think it will ever happen, and I don’t think I can ever get used to some sides of the arrogant, self centered society here – or to stray cats shitting on my terrace, or all the barking dogs and dog shit EVERYWHERE.
    Smaller towns look like Eastern Germany before unification, it is like over 30 years back, shops like from 50 years ago, so many run down houses. I do wonder, how that all will develop in the coming decades, and if buying property now will be a good investment or not. But I don’t think I want to hang around to find out.
    And I can’t deal with the climate, nor do I want to deal with the price for devices here for dealing with it. I can’t find an ozone generator to deal with my mildew & mold issue and smell anywhere and amazon delivery not working at all. I can’t find a simple washer for the sink anywhere to connect my mini dishwasher. Dehumidifiers are extremely expensive. Electricitiy, fuel, … extremely expensive.

    Everything at the ocean closed down.
    I am more depressed than before moving. I honestly think that to be happy in Portugal, you 1. need a high income to afford what is “luxury” for Portugal (normal elsewhere), 2. be either in a city / closeby in a really nice area, like with fast access to Lisbon, and/or 3. have your own community and don’t expect anything but an expat & tourist community. As in most cases, you will either be at a complete tourist place, or in a place with nomads and expats. I don’t think anyone comes to live to have a low paid job here and live in a rental ghetto?? Some people seem to be happy living here with their family, and maybe find more connection to other families, but I don’t recommend Portugal for a single woman.
    I don’t feel women are respected much, and I found some Portuguese women to be incredibly aggressive and hostile and 100 % unhelpful.

    As a single woman who tried and wished to integrate with locals, — I cannot recommend it. And I am sick of nomads and retired expats alike. I don’t think it’s for longterm living.

    The person who commented on Portuguese people living off expats, and having 2nd villas and expensive cars – yes, totally. It is a weird 2 class society, very weird. There are super uneducated people, stunningly uneducated, and living in horrid surroundings, and there are educated professionals, … and families with several houses or apartments, etc., not doing any work themselves, such as cleaning, car maintenance, etc. — I am not sure how that works. But I didn’t find more connection there either, but have indeed met them only in settings where they profit off me. Almost never in just social settings, and if, then either not accepted at all, or being preyed on again, this time as a woman for a one-night-stand. Never with respect for anything serious.

    I am now back at a less foreigner-oriented place than the Lisbon area, and that also shows much in the food … to me, it is just disgusting, as I don’t like fish, nor other meat. Those cakes in small town Portugal — … something my mother made in the 70ies for children’s birthday parties. I liked buying fresh organic produce where I lived before, here, it is not available. Restaurant service can be incredibly rude, arrogant, unclean, super slow, and I don’t trust some places as a vegan, as had repeatedly ordered vegan dishes but got non-vegan things mixed in – and lied about them. Btw lying and excuses are so common, it it just sickening, also people saying “yes” when they didn’t even try to listen at all.
    Egoism at a very low level.

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    • I had expressed the same experience before in my various posts! Imagine how this country would look like if they were not part of the EU and would not receive 100s of billions to build useless museums , mayoral offices or lonely cycling paths! This country would be an excellent candidate for departure, maybe the Portuguese would then develop a more proactive and professional attitude! Nice nature, wrong people!

      Message to the site controller – there is no need to delete not post messages that are objective, well written and factual! And if there is, I would appreciate a message that provides the reason for not posting!

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      • Hi Tom,

        Many of your comments lacked balance, and some couldn’t be published. I understand many people have a negative experience while in Portugal, and I’m happy to publish those stories, but a comment that describes all Portuguese people in one way is not objective.

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        • I am disgusted in the way some people talk about Portugal, just because they have had a bad experience doesnt mean that the whole of Portugal and the Portuguese people are the same. I have lived in Central Portugal for a while and I have been shown nothing but kindness, eggs, vegetables and even a lovely casserole left on my doorstep. Of course the food and culture are different, do people expect to find there own country ways in Portugal! I am English and I love the slow laid back life in Portugal and allowed time to get things done, patience is all you need. If you wanted the rat race why leave it. There are rude people and bad places to live in every country and corruption behind a lot of doors. I am moving back to Portugal this year for good I hope. I believe to be happy in any country you have to accept it warts and all. I am going out there under no illusions about live being a fairy tale but I am going to be happy xx

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    • You sound really unhappy in Portugal. Maybe you should go back home! I agree with you in most things you have expressed and have always wonder why do foreigners leave their high standard lives in their countries to come and live in Portugal. I never understood it!

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  158. Hi Manoj, you should look at some other European country as this one certainly isn’t! Firstly, if you don’t know the language, don’t even bother as very few people speak English and the ones that claim they do, speak half a sentance. People here con foreigners with higher prices and false promises. Difficult to find good tradesmen and people who are honest and/or say sorry if they get things wrong. The weather isn’t everything. Rents/prices are too expensive. Most of the Indians/pakistanis/Bangladeshis here are fruit pickers and it is difficult to make friends even with the Portuguese. The indian groceries are basic, the desi restaurants are terrible. Please read other people’s comments before you decide and best of luck.

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  159. everything you mention was explained and wiritten beforew by disgusted residents like me , I got the sME WEXPERIENCE AND WILL LEAVE NEXT YEAR AFTER 3 YEARS of which 60% destroyed by COVID!

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  160. After the clinic tested my blood and urine, with very dangerous results for diabetes showing up in the laboratory test results and they did not even do the blood glucose testing and “my” family doctor is unreachable to explain the test results to me and prescribe treatment or even hospitalization, I begin to think it could be really dangerous to live in Portugal for those with dental problems (bad bad dishonest and discriminating dentists here) and any critical health issues. You may end up with an erroneous lab test or even worse with a doctor that is unreachable to help you. I had to go through a lot of talking until I was able to retrieve my lab test results on paper. Other doctors (on the internet) suggested that this lab test is wrong and that they did not d the most IMPORTANT: blood glucose testing, which could be critical and urgent.

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    • Medical staff in general brims with arrogance and ignorance. I always call my doctor in my home country if I need answers. Private heATHCARE is omewhat better, but the doctors are generally below average in the EU. A lot of malpractice happens, but compensation is verylow. Your fault if you trust in Portuguese medics. Better to invest in a flight home!

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  161. Thank you Nica,

    The problem starts with the YouTube vloggers who promote a false picture of what it’s like to live in Portugal. This is why so many are sucked into the dream of becoming an expat in Portugal. None of what the vloggers promote is a reality for day-to-day living.

    Your comment nailed just about every one of my concerns. I’m a healthy skeptic and I always seek both sides of the story. When you read about Portugal’s government and the levels of dysfunction and corruption, what good can come from investing time and money in a country that is barely surviving? When the young Portuguese LEAVE their country to find a better life and opportunity elsewhere, that alone should provide insight and raise numerous red flags.

    Thank you for your candor and for sharing your experience. You’ve saved me from making a serious and expensive mistake. I expect that many others will one day soon be filled with regret. The super-rich however are impervious to the downsides of life in Portugal. They can easily cut their losses if necessary.
    Thank you,
    Donna

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    • Most vloggers just move for the sake of content production from one place to another, so they have always something to talk about. They do not promote normal day-to-day living, they even can’t, they rarely work “inside” the country and rely on their foreign income. They also never integrate, because they know that they gonna leave in a year or two, and rely on their English-speaking audience as income source.

      Being rich helps definitely to soften the high level of personal and state dysfunctions, your lawyer “knows” people at the city hall etc. Paying some “extra fee” here and there doesn’t really matter, its the price for a second villa in a sunny place. And they don’t have to rely on the Portuguese services, infrastructure or government. Being physically in Portugal is actually quite nice, it is just not so nice to be reliant on anything there.

      For normal people, there are so many great alternatives to Portugal – cheaper, less bureaucratic, better jobs, way more professional in the way to do business etc. I think the hype about Portugal comes partially from the fact, that their Citizenship By Investment programs, and ways to obtain EU residency, are quite decent. I really doubt those investors/people gonna stay in Portugal once they get their paperwork done.

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      • What do you consider “great alternatives” to Portugal? We wanted to be in Italy, but their bureaucracy makes Portugal look like a walk in the park. But there are two things that drive me totally mad in my country: dog poop/trash all over and cars parked in driving lanes and on sidewalks. I don’t need to jump from the frying pan into a fire. Sorry I’m one of those with enough money to avoid certain inconveniences. But some of this stuff feels unavoidable.

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        • I would say it depends from your goals and preferences. Your preferences seem more like the choice of the correct city/neighborhood, less of the country itself. There are also great, clean, relatively dog-poop-free neighborhoods in Portugal after all.

          Spain is somewhat cleaner than Portugal, and climate is better, but the dog poop is also a problem. You could avoid that probably, living in more decent area, but if you have too much of “enough money” they have a nasty wealth tax AFAIK, although if you don’t want to be a resident that wouldn’t be an issue. Less of bad parking, or staying in driving lane and honking for 15 minutes like in Portugal.

          South America is nice and easy going, good food and apartments for the money. But from what I saw certainly not very clean, dog poop is also common and quite chaotic when it comes to traffic and parking. Crime is also an issue.

          Safe and clean? Dubai is very, very clean and safe. Haven’t seen dog poop a single time. However, very hot and not the cheapest place. Also another things that are not for everyone like Sharia Law. Good services though and no taxes. Not the best drivers, but parking on sidewalks is not very common due to high fines.

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  162. Hi Nenye, I am a black American, retired and cant offer the Lisbon or Porto living experience since I have only visited on occasion. I live in a small Alentejo town. My own experience as a visitor to those places has been that the black people I have come across have been less friendly towards me than Portuguese and by that, I mean on a superficial level such as eye contact a smile and a greeting. Yet, i have also encountered some who have been friendly.
    My own encounters with the people I live among have been generally positive but there are times when I think I may be encountering racial hostility but it’s hard to know if there is a racial cause at times.
    I see that there are many black people in Lisbon and Porto. If you lived in the US, I think you will be fine here.

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  163. I live in both countries. The US and Portugal. I too fear for the future of the US and have read a few comments here that people have become fed up and wish to leave the US.
    I am thankful that at this point in my life, I can live in both places but one day, that may not be the case, for several reasons and a change may be without choice.
    In the meantime I will continue to vote for what I feel is right.
    I have not had the terrible experiences that some write about here. True, the houses are very cold in the winter, some government offices never answer the phone and things can take forever (such as a driver’s license) but I feel at peace, though sometimes a little lonely, in my Alentejo town. I enjoy the natural surroundings and wish there was a train to Lisbon, in or near my town. That would have made life here much better but still I am thankful to have a contrast from the big USA city that I come from.
    I find learning the language is more difficult at my age but not impossible and it gets easier over time and with more effort. For anyone reading this who may want an excellent Portuguese language learning resource, I highly recommend the website “practice Portuguese.” As an absolute beginner, I needed something else to start with but now that i have some of the basics, I find its an excellent program for me.
    I keep reading about barking dogs but my place is lovely. We have univited cats that will sneak into our home (not welcomed though I love cats) but at least i don’t see rats running around.
    As much as our village is not ideal for me (small, not much going on, very little English spoken) iI think maybe we are in one of the best places. It’s easier to change one’s attitude than to change other things. Last year we were here under covid lockdown and I felt I was in the best place for that.
    Lastly, we have nice neighbors around us and that is a plus.