The Ups and Downs of Expat Life in Portugal

Living abroad is an exciting concept and there are so many reasons to consider taking the plunge. Whether you’re moving abroad for a new job, better schooling, to retire, following a loved one or just because you want a new adventure, living in a different country lets you experience it in a totally different way. Yes, you will get all the exciting benefits of living somewhere other than your home country but unlike a holiday you won’t only get the good bits you’ll also have to endure the negatives.

If you’re thinking of or in the process of moving to Portugal here are some of the ups and downs of Expat life so you know exactly what to expect.


The Ups

Let’s start on a positive, Portugal is beautiful beaches and delicious seafood but it’s more than that.

Cheap living

The cost of living in Portugal is much lower than in other parts of the world. Rent, even in the centre of Lisbon, is only a third of the price of what you would find in London. Food, wine bread and other grocery items are also well priced in comparison to other countries in the world. You can also buy a pretty amazing home in Portugal, even with a strong property market where prices are steadily increasing. A lovely property with plenty of land is a lot more reasonable in Portugal than the price of that kind of property in England.

Friendly people

The Portuguese are extremely friendly and welcoming. Any expat arriving in Portugal will find that everyone is helpful especially neighbours. Even though a lot of Portuguese don’t speak English they still make the effort and will welcome new neighbours with homegrown tomatoes and wine. They are very interested in learning the English language and so will enjoy chatting.

Beautiful summer weather

You can almost guarantee warm summers in Portugal with July and August being particularly hot, often reaching 40°C.  This means that there’s plenty of opportunities to make the most of the beautiful beaches that Portugal boasts.

Opening a bank account is easy

It’s really simple and easy for an expat to open a bank account in Portugal. You can even open one from outside of the country as most banks will allow you to open an account online. All you will need is proof of ID, tax number and card, residency card and proof of address. They do have dedicated accounts for non-residents as well, however, these often come with some limitations.

Little road traffic

This will come as quite a luxury for many, especially anyone moving from London. The traffic in Portugal is significantly less than what you’d find in other northern European countries due to the National motorways being toll roads. This means that Portugal has good quiet road networks.


The Downs

Not so beautiful winter weather

Although the country enjoys gorgeous summers it, in turn, suffers cold and often damp winters. It, unfortunately, isn’t sunny all year round and so if you’re thinking of moving to Portugal and are under the impression that the weather will always be fabulous, this isn’t the case. You will get lush spring and summers but that will be followed by foggy and wet winters.

Driving can be scary

Yes, the country has great main road networks, however, these highways are all toll roads and using them can become quite pricey. The only thing is the other roads tend to be very narrow and steep making it difficult to drive around. In addition, the Portuguese tend to be quite reckless on the roads and always seem to be in a hurry to get places. They drive fast and become quite impatient meaning they often overtake which can cause accidents.

Low salaries

Salaries align with the cost of living in Portugal, and as the cost of living is low, so are the salaries. If you work for a local company in Portugal, no matter what sector you’re in the average salary can sometimes not be enough. Therefore, if you’re thinking of moving to Portugal working for a company outside of the country or starting your own business is recommended.

If you’re tempted by the prospect of Portuguese life you can find out more about the climate, culture, schooling and places in our Portugal Expat Health Insurance Guide.

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