Becoming an Expat in Portugal: Top 5 Struggles

Becoming an expat in Portugal is easy if you make a lot of money, but I dont. Here is why I moved and what to expect.

Moving to Portugal

Just like moving anywhere in the world, you will be faced with a lot of challenges. As an expat and now husband/partner, I have learned what it feels like to not only be a foreigner, but also how the native Portuguese feel about all of the new faces. Honestly, its rough.

Ever since I moved about a year ago, I was expecting to find some kind of groups like I always did back home. Everyone loved my energy, and connected to me really well. Although here, people see you like everyone else. This was an eye opening moment for me. Here are some issues I realized I was facing and why becoming an expat in Portugal was harder than I thought.

1. Language Barrier

Everyone struggles with language barriers. Its normal. But when you move and live in a country with a different language, its vital to learn their language. I don’t care how many people speak English, you will still feel a slight disconnect. That disconnect is a reason why you will experience a great amount of loneliness as an expat. At least at first.

There are plenty of ways to overcome language barrier, such as going out, talking to people you find at the bar, or grocery store. You would be surprised how many Portuguese will just talk to you. This is great, and if you can find a way to communicate with them, even better!

Some other tricks to passing a language barrier:

  1. Read books in Portuguese.
  2. Take free courses online such as Practice Portuguese.
  3. Watch Youtube videos in Portuguese and learn the basics from Portuguese with Leo.
  4. Speak Portuguese with any friend who also speaks Portuguese to help you.

2. Transportation

Get ready to walk a lot, and possibly change your shoe collection. I have went from being a badass doc martin boots and jean jacket person to Nike Air Max and rain jackets within a years time. Unless you have money to get a car, the reality of living in Europe is always walking, metro, bus, or train. Period.

No more laziness, its time to become that hiker that you have stored away only for those short Colorado trips! Well, now you’re doing it for the long haul.

3. Groceries

Yep, youre going to learn how to cook in Europe. When traveling here I spent in total €500 just in eating out in one month. While living here I have buckled down to only spending €200 a month on groceries, with an occasional bite to eat out every week. I dont starve, by the way; I gained 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) since living here. But you have to expect creativity, and not rely on Mcdonalds everyday. Here are the best markets for the best deals:

  1. Pingo Doce: Best vegetables and fresh bakery
  2. Continente: Best Bulk Buy Location for literally anything
  3. Lidl: Best for cheap protein/pizzas
  4. Minipreço: A store for those small things (but doesn’t have everything)

4. Hobbies

Hobbies is very subjective, depending on why you moved to Portugal in the first place, there are so many things to see! Until there isn’t, and then you need to find a way to produce some dopamine.

My ways of having fun is walking, gaming, or just simply exploring. This is enough for me. I am a simple person, so I can get by simply. Although if you are a cyclist, climber, camper, or even horse rider, getting to anything will take a long time. Coming back to transportation, without a car, you will struggle to find yourself in all of the instagrammable locations everyone loves to see.

5. Taxes

Oh… the oh so terrible taxes. Yes, they exist. Depending on the country you are from, you could pay more or less, or even have double taxation. If you are self-employed, ensuring you are properly taxed is essential in Portugal. Don’t worry though, because there are plenty of resources that cover taxes really simply such as Expatica who will show you every possible route.

Although this all sounds loom and gloom, I only want to prepare you for what to expect so you don’t walk into something that you regret. Living abroad is not for everyone. Although, I challenge you to face every one of these struggles and come out as a successor. Although it takes time, it is possible to live out your dreams as an expat in Portugal.

Charlee Anthony

Self-taught SEO and research enthusiast, I am an alien in all countries and a friend of many. I have been travelling all my life (25 years), however Portugal is my new forever home. As I fully delve into Portuguese culture, I also share my tips and tricks on how to live comfortably in a new country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top