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Sao Bento Station in Porto, Portugal

Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Jul 12, 2022

Summary: Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats and digital nomads have to say about the pros and cons of living in Portugal.

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William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

What are the pros and cons of living in Portugal?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Portugal responded:

"We live in a very small village, there's no public transportation and the main road to the capital is extremely dangerous. No access to vegan food. Homes are two story, very impractical and the houses have no insulation," remarked another expat in Sao Pedro de Alva.

"Portugal is a great place to live. We have moved from Cascais to a smaller town, Ericeira. There is no political bs about compliance w/ Covid restrictions here. We wear masks in public. Our travel is restricted but otherwise our life is not much different than pre-Covid. I would move back to the US for any reason. Cost of living is much more reasonable here that Southern California where we lived before Portugal," explained one expat in Ericeira.

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What do expats in Portugal appreciate most about the local culture?

"Politeness. I found the Portuguese to be very polite. Even if they tap you just ever so lightly by mistake, they say "Desculpe" (sorry). You wait your turn and never cut in, even just to ask a quick question. When it’s your turn, you get full attention and never rushed even if the line waiting is long. So as a New Yorker, while the line may be long or slow, when it’s your turn, you learn to wait patiently and enjoy a conversation with others on line, knowing that when it’s your turn, you get full attention and all the time you need. Another thing, Portuguese love, love kids. Kids go everywhere with their parents and are polite and usually well-behaved. Often I see waiters in busy restaurants just stop at a table that they may not even be serving just to interact with some children. Disabled persons and pregnant women get priority on lines ( often also with young children) and reserved good spaces at events. Giving up your seat for them on public transportation is a given. Portugal is very civilized- no yelling, interrupting, and always politeness and kindness. Great place to appreciate life at its best," remarked another expat in Portugal.

"My vastly improved diet. Without any actual effort, I’ve lost 25 pounds since I got here, which I attribute to eatting a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables and walking on cobblestoned up and downhill sidewalks. The extreme level of consideration for other people among the Portuguese. Because of an obstruction in the left venticle of my heart, I have to stop and catch my breath about every block, and I had to learn almost immediately how to say “I’m OK. I’ve got water. I just need to take a short rest before I move on,” because people stop all the time to ask," explained one expat living in Lisbon.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"No real challenges, more like inconveniences. Instead of being able to go to one grocery store to get all of your groceries, we usually end up going to two or three," said another expat in Usseira.

"Mastering the language. This sounds silly, but steaks I can afford and no A1. Sizes. I’m built on a much bigger frame, particularly compare to Portuguese my age, and I wear size 8.5 3E shoes. I’ll just have to look for men’s shoe that will fit and pass. CUSTOMS which basically prevents ordering anything from beyond the EU. And Covid of course, though Portugal has handled it beautifully in my opinion," added another person living in Lisbon.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Sao Bento Station in Porto, Portugal

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Help others in Portugal by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Portugal.

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