Mesmerizing landscapes, beautiful people, tasty drinks and food, a lot of history, music, and changing weather is the shortest description of Portugal, an increasingly common European destination for residents of the Old Continent. Due to all these advantages, you may have considered moving there temporarily or permanently.
Nevertheless, whether you’ll go as a tourist or relocating for good, it’s not a terrible idea to prepare before departure. We bring several practical tips and recommendations that may seem obvious at times, but can easily slip into your mind. Read on!
The airport in Lisbon is not the safest at night
The first thing you need to pay attention to when traveling to Portugal is definitely the airport. Although it’s officially possible to get in and out during the night, it’s very sparse in terms of content you can use before “checking in.” Also, since it is relatively close to the city, you can also encounter thieves, so it is necessary to take good care of your belongings. Another thing that cannot go unnoticed is the large number of people who, while waiting for their morning flight, sleep on the floor, on benches, under escalators, on chairs in closed restaurants, and in any free space they can find.
A warm sleeping bag or at least a backpack “under your head” and every place becomes a place to sleep. If your journey takes you to Portugal via some of the European airports, say via Frankfurt or Munich, keep in mind that some things, such as coffee or vending machines with drinks and snacks, you will only be able to use if you have a card due to safety reasons, as cash is becoming less and less practical.
Know the language
As you plan to relocate, one of the smartest moves you can make is to try and learn the language ahead or at least some basics. Although many people in Portugal speak English, especially in the major cities and tourist areas, you’ll find it much easier to move around with a few words up your sleeve. So, learning Portuguese will essentially give you a better understanding of the culture and people and help you integrate much faster.
One thing you should know about the Portuguese and their culture is the strong emphasis they put on community, so making an effort to speak the language will be highly appreciated by locals, and once you create friendships, those usually become lifelong bonds. In short, it is easier to communicate, integrate, make new connections and friendships, and become a part of a wider community if you know the language or at least some of it.
Cost of living
Rent or housing
This is something you’ll have to consider no matter the country. Cost of living generally includes knowing the housing prices, rent, general cost of food, transportation (gas prices and public transport), health care, and much more. So, Portugal is not among the most expensive European countries. In fact, you’ll find it cheaper than their neighbors, and rent or housing can be found at an affordable price depending on the city you choose.
Let’s say you go to Lisbon (the capital), as it’s a common tourist attraction, and you’re looking at a rental price of anywhere from 500 to 800 euros per month for one-bedroom apartments, and sometimes even more if the accommodation is near the city’s center.
But, other cities equally beautiful can even be cheaper and maybe just an hour or two away from the capital. Now, it’s worth mentioning how Portugal is one of the few countries allowing you to obtain EU citizenship by investment, which includes buying property or even starting your own business. The golden visa program gives you a chance to invest in residency and claim citizenship within a 5-year span. This opportunity is perfect for anyone looking to spare some extra money or relocate for good as you’ll get all the privileges of every citizen, such as free healthcare, free education, and other citizen benefits. It’s just something to think about, as you already plan on moving.
Food, as you can imagine, is generally affordable and you’ll be surprised at the bargains and prices you can strike on local markets. In fact, we strongly recommend mingling with people and searching the markets not just because of the great deals but rather because of the people you’ll meet. You’ll be surprised how generous, warm, and welcoming most are. And they’re willing to help you as much as they can. It’s a great way to meet someone and learn the language.
Now this one really depends on whether you’ll go for public transport (the ticket usually costs anywhere from 1.5 to 2 euros) or if you’ll rent a car. Gas prices don’t differ much from the rest of the Old Continent, which means anywhere from 1.6 to 2 euros per liter. And, oh, before we forget, try mastering the imperial system if you come from the US. You’ll find it easier to go around.
Last but not least, there is the price of entertainment which means going out for drinks, visiting a museum, and generally traveling across the country. But, Portugal is affordable as movie tickets can be somewhere around 5-7 euros, museum tickets 5-10 euros, and going out will not be a problem, as drinks are quite affordable. Even going out for dinner won’t put a hole in your pocket, as most foods are locally grown, reducing their cost a lot.
Changing weather conditions
Autumn in Portugal can be highly changeable. The temperatures certainly don’t go to minus, but you may have to put away your short sleeves in the evening and early in the morning. The specific weather is very “fickle”, so by noon, it can be very cloudy, cold, and almost foggy, depending on where you are. Within fifteen minutes, the sun would break through, the clouds would disappear, and you would be forced to replace your jacket with sunglasses. The night also brings a drop in temperature, so depending on the accommodation, you may need an additional blanket.
Finances and jobs
Finances generally refer to the management of your money and account. We recommend opening an account at a local bank and even paying for a few consultations with a professional to help you manage your spending and investments better.
The job market varies depending on your profession and interest. Like everywhere else, some sought-after professions include IT, healthcare, engineering, finance, and accounting, but also tourism (great for those who speak several languages) and education. So, you’ll find some sort of job eventually as the demand is rising, and with a certain skill set, you’ll find it more than easy.
Portugal has a public healthcare system, which stands short for – you’ll be fine in the case of minor accidents and the occasional flu or cold. But, at some point, you’ll have to look for private health insurance plans to obtain more comprehensive care and cover some expenses, which include dental and other medical services. No worries, you can think of this once you’ve made yourself comfortable and settled well.
Getting used to the costumes and culture
First, as said before, you’ll have to master the language, and second, you should introduce yourself to the culture long before relocating. Learn some of the costumes, try to remember important holidays and celebrations, parades and sacred days, and also make sure to meet someone local. The best way to learn about a culture is through exposure, which means mingling with people, creating friendships, and giving yourself the time to learn.
We hope you’ll find it more than easy to relocate and enjoy this beautiful country. Sure, there are always a few things you’ll have to consider but once you get everything in order, you can sit back and relax.