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Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon
Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon
Along the Tagus Waterfront in Lisbon

Pros and Cons of Living in Lisbon

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 05, 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 Lisbon, Portugal.

Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance
Allianz Care International Health Insurance

What are the pros and cons of living in Lisbon?

Live in Lisbon? Answer this Question

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Lisbon responded:

"Almada is a great city to live close to Lisbon and easy to get around by car or public transportation. The cost of living in Portugal is great especially compared to the US. The people are warm and friendly. The food is good but sometimes bland. But I do think it is better for your health:)," remarked another expat in Lisbon.

"The weather is generally very good, access to goods and services makes it easy to live here. Covid has impacted everything of course which has made things more difficult. Health care is accessible and affordable. Learning the language has taken longer but English is often understood. There's access to lots of outdoors activities like cycling, hiking, water sports, which is important. There is an old world charm and a lot of history to learn about. Also access to other places in Europe make this location good. Previously lived in several countries in Asia. Europe also closer to the US for trips back- when possible again," explained one expat in Lisbon.

"Portugal is very orderly and people are respectful of one another. You take a number at most retail shops or medical facilities and simply wait your turn. I like this aspect of life here a lot. No one tries to jump a cue. Also people are generally very nice and helpful to one another. The one thing I hear the most complaints about is the government bureaucracy. But again my experience is one of just waiting your turn or number to be called," said another expat in Lisbon.

"There is little to dislike, so I will start with that. Lisbon has a lot of grafitti. In many ways it distracts and detracts from the charm of the city, but over time you look past it and appreciate the other aspects. The portuguese drivers are impatient and act agressively on the road. Their personal space, including the cars on the street, is less than in America. It took some time to adjust. If you buy a place, don't expect any neccessary upgrades to be completed as quickly as in the States. The good things...the weather, the beauty of the varied geography of the country, the bread, the wine, the warmness of the people towards strangers ( being friendly to someone and inviting them into their home are different things here. It may take a good friend/acquaintance some time before they invite you into their home), the literature (another good reason to learn the language), the comedy (again language), the rich culture, and the overall comportment of the portuguese (they are very slow to anger and are far less prone to violence than americans), etc. A final note on learning the language. Without being conversant, one can do well here and enjoy many things. With a good knowledge of it, you can experience everything that the country has to offer," remarked another expat in Lisbon.

"Some of the best coffee in the world (and at 0.65-0.70 Euro, cheap). The breads are very high quality, delicious and not expensive. The wines (I only drink red) are *very* good: you can go into almost any store, buy a 2-3 Euro a bottle, and it will be very good. Transportation system is generally good and more or less reliable. A monthly pass (if you're over 65) is only 20 Euro/month, and you can travel quite far on the pass," explained one expat living in Lisbon.

"We purchased an apartment in November 2016 in Cascais Portugal, just outside of Lisbon. We love the ambiance of the village, food, weather and history. We are a short train ride (40 mins) to the big city when we want to explore the wonderful city of Lisbon and can escape to the quiet and solitude of our place in Cascais. We feel very safe here in Portugal and there is a sense of relief now that we have moved from the USA. We haven't seen a wahoo, open carry gun toting nut job since we got here, except on TV. Neither of us speak much Portuguese and 95% of the time it isn't an issue and when it is, there are translating apps that we use to bridge the gap. The cost of living is fabulous and the healthcare is cheap and top notch," said another expat in living in Lisbon, Portugal.

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.

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

Live in Lisbon? Answer this Question

"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," remarked another in Lisbon.

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.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

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.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

What do expats find most challenging?

Live in Lisbon? Answer this Question

"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.

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.

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

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