10 pros and cons of living in Portugal
Updated: Feb 16
There are many advantages to living in a certain city but, in the same way, there are many disadvantages. For this reason, in this article, we present to you some pros and cons of living in Portugal.
Portugal is a country that attracts you? Would you like to live there? Discover the advantages of Portugal. Weather, gastronomy, culture. Everything you need to know about this European country. If you decide to move to Portugal, what drawbacks will you encounter? What do you need to know about Portugal before you move?
1. The weather. Portugal has very attractive weather. It is a sunny country where the weather is good for most of the year (usually from March to November).
In winter, temperatures remain mild, almost never below 5°C (41°F). Living in Portugal, you can enjoy perfect weather.
2. Lifestyle. It is impossible to be bored when living in Portugal. The territory offers a very rich cultural program with a multitude of festivals and concerts. You will find many ideas for outings in the European country.
Outside of Lisbon, discover beautiful villages classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Take advantage of the beaches (more than 800 km of coastline) for swimming and surfing.
The pace of life in Portugal is relaxed - initially for those coming from fast-paced and stressed countries like Canada, this can seem like a dream. However, it can be a nightmare, taking so long to do anything.
Queues (line-ups) at banks can stretch for miles, while staff chat about anything and everything with their customers, and customers chat amongst themselves. Once you get into the rhythm of life, however, it's a dream come true. It's a healthier way to live!
3. Gastronomy. Taste the Portuguese gastronomy. It is renowned for being tasty. The pastéis de Belém is an institution. It is a kind of pastry flan.
The country is also known for its many fish and seafood dishes.
4. Security. Crime in Portugal is relative and lower than in many countries. In 2021, according to the Global Peace Index, Portugal is considered the 4th most peaceful country in the world, just behind Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark.
5. The ease of doing business. In Portugal, you can set up your company in one hour. This service, called "Empresa na Hora", allows you to create a company by going to a single office.
There you can open a quota company or a "uni-pessoal" (share or personal) company by filling in a few forms. You will then have to have the articles of association signed before a notary and declare the start of your activity to the tax authorities.
6. Modern and connected infrastructure. Portugal has many motorways, 3 major airports, 4 mobile phone operators and high-speed internet. The means of staying connected to the rest of the world are therefore numerous and of a quality that meets European standards.
The country is also totally independent in terms of electrical energy, producing more electricity thanks to renewable energies than it consumes, another factor of price stability for a country that is now less subject to oil price variations.
7. Friendliness of the Portuguese. One of the things I appreciate most of Portugal is the kindness of the Portuguese people. It is very rare that you get an aggressive response when you talk to someone for the first time.
Even in Lisbon or Porto, if you ask a passer-by for help, they will not hesitate to help you.
8. Beaches, Mountains and Nature. The coastline in Portugal is beautiful. In summer, the beautiful beaches all along the west side of the country should be explored and enjoyed.
The south of Portugal, in the Algarve region, has been the paradise of European retirees who want to live in Portugal.
Away from the coast, Portugal is home to mountains and plains, national parks, lakes and rivers, it is a geographically diverse and fabulous country.
9. Health Service. The health system in the country is quite sophisticated in some respects. For example, medicines can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy.
There, the pharmacist can "diagnose" and help people with the medicines they need and it becomes easier for minor things.
10. Travel. Being in Europe is a snap to travel to any other country quickly. By booking your tickets in advance, you can travel through several countries here for well under 100 euros round-trip.
This is in addition to the fact that flights are relatively fast between European countries because the countries are much smaller than Canada.
1. The slowness of the administration. From an administrative point of view, do not expect an answer to your letter in the following weeks. The administration lacks responsiveness. The impatient will choose another destination.
2. Price of some services. Although the cost of living is lower than in other Western European countries, some services are the same or sometimes more expensive than in countries like Spain, Germany and France, for example, a full tank of petrol (gasoline), electricity, telephony.
Motorways (highway) are overpriced for most Portuguese. If you want to cross Portugal from north to south (721 km on motorways), it will cost you 50 euros (class 1). For short trips of 20 km, prices are around 2 euros.
3. Not enough heating in public places. You will tell me that there is no need for heating in Portugal, the weather is always nice. Yes, most of the year, but there are still days that are cooler than others.
From December to February, temperatures are lower (between 10° and 15°) and without heating, it's freezing in a house or a flat or in a restaurant. And yes, even in some restaurants, there are no heaters, people eat with their jackets.
4. Unsafe driving. You will be confronted with the frantic driving of the Portuguese and their lack of respect for traffic regulations! Exceeding speed limits, ignoring road signs or overtaking on any side at full speed, is the behaviour of some Portuguese on the road.
5. The traffic is bad. There are several drivers who drive without any patience. Often, you see cars badly parked on the pavements, taking up the little space designated for pedestrians, for example.
6. Expensive rent. This is one of the biggest burdens on the budget of those who live in Portugal. That is, this is undoubtedly the main villain of the cost of living in Portugal. Rents, especially in big cities, have increased considerably in recent years, pressured by real estate speculation, tourism and the boom of immigrants looking for comfort. It's the law of supply and demand.
The increase in the price of rent in Portugal was halted by the pandemic, but in cities like Lisbon and Porto, the fall in prices was very slight and we can already see a new increase.
In Portugal, as in most European countries, it is quite common to find furnished properties, ready to live in. But of course, this has a cost. Generally, furnished properties, ready to live in, cost a little more than unfurnished ones.
7. Salaries are low. Compared to European standards, salaries in Portugal are at a disadvantage of living in the country. Even very qualified professionals receive low salaries, the average salary in the country is €1 145, very close to the minimum wage which is €741. In other words, most workers earn very little. The cost of living to some extent justifies the situation, but you have to consider that in the long run, it can be unsustainable.
8. The climate can be difficult. In Portugal, especially in the north, the winters are very rainy and can make the period difficult.
First, you have to consider that the climate is indeed milder than in most European countries, but the big issue is to spend the winter months with rain. Especially for those who are not used to the cold, spending about two to three consecutive weeks without sun, with lots of rain and cold is a challenge.
And another problem of winter in Portugal is that the country is not adapted to bear the cold. Most houses are not prepared for winter, with fewer adaptations than other European countries, such as double windows, central heating, adequate flooring, etc.
It is common for Europeans living in Portugal and coming from much colder countries to complain about the cold here, as heating and other adaptations against the cold are scarce in the country.
9. Bureaucracy for immigrants is tiring. Living in Portugal can be a tiring and bureaucratic task, especially if you don't have European citizenship. The list of documents you need to provide is very long, and the worst part is that many public services in the country present conflicting information.
In practice, this means that you will always need a bit of luck, in finding an attendant with good will to be able to solve your problem. From registering at the health centre for starting a business with the tax office.
Going through the difficulties of getting an appointment, the time it takes for the documentation to arrive, in short, is a boring and stressful process, so it is advisable to count on professionals who are experts on the subject so that they can guide you through the whole course of your request.
But Portugal is easier and faster than Canada.
10. Prejudice. Like every foreign country, you are never in your natural habitat. There are people who see prejudice in any country, so living in Portugal may represent some difficulty for those who see it that way.