5 Ways Moving to Portugal from USA Changed my Life for Good

From daily habits to language, moving to Portugal from USA changed everything about how I live and speak to friends and colleagues.

New Habits

I have gained so many new habits (and new perspectives) that I only dreamed of having after moving to Portugal as an American. When I was still travelling back and forth between Portugal and the United States, I was struggling with the exchange of habits over and over again. If you ever travelled within Europe for a rather long period, you may know what I mean.

  • Looking for the cheaper prices. In Portugal the prices are so cheap, so when I came back to the US while still touring, I struggled with the price differences.
  • Speaking clearly, or with a different dialect. Hanging out with Portuguese people has changed a lot of how I speak, which confused friends back in the US.
  • Getting mad about driving. Driving everywhere started getting annoying when I would come back to the US. The convenience of everything being so close in Portugal just made sense.
  • Speaking my opinion. In Portugal I would speak my opinion and people would respond in an honest manor. In the US, I would get side eyes, and silence with no conversation to be had.

Of course depending on where in the US you are from this may not happen to everyone, but this is just a handful of experiences I would face once returning from a long trip.

Cooking More Often

I found myself enjoying learning how to cook after I would come back from Portugal. So much that when I officially moved to Portugal from the USA, I went crazy on finding new plates to try.

In the US, you will see that cooking is not the same. Ingredients all taste different, which if you think about it, that is pretty concerning. I went from hating salads to being obsessed with them. My friends do not even recognize who I am, as I used to be a fast food guy almost every day.

In Portugal, the bakery and vegetables are just enticing. You want to try everything, even the frozen pizza’s end up tasting like something you’d get at any fancy Italian restaurant.

So how can you have this experience in US? You really can’t. The best you can do is learn how to make some simple dishes. Learn what spices work, or what might be too much. I figured out how to make US groceries work (Using natural grocers as my main store), which means you definitely can as well!

Walking Everywhere

Yeah people thought I was crazy, but to prepare myself for moving to Portugal from USA, I would walk everywhere even in the US. Luckily I lived about 15 minutes away from mostly everything, but we all know a car will always be used at some point.

People would stop and ask if I wanted a ride to work, or home from the grocery store, even from getting a coffee from Starbucks! I found it crazy how people would see my walking as a sign of a problem or if I was simply miserable. As the only misery was the fact I lived in a concrete world.

As someone who is from the US, anything out of the ordinary life sounds miserable, until you make it your reality. If you really want to prepare yourself to move to Portugal or any other European country, you need to prepare yourself mentally for the small things.

Speaking My Opinion

Its too good not to talk about. When moving to Portugal from USA, there are so many new things to consider when it comes to expression. I remember the first time I came back from Portugal I told a colleague my personal opinion about receiving vaccines. In Portugal that was not a big deal to talk about, but in the US it became a political opinion.

Due to this, my manager had to sit down with me and ask if I was okay. This blew my mind and took me by surprise, as I never intended to make someone upset. Again, you start to see these differences unfold as you prepare yourself to change your life and culture.

Im not saying go tell everyone how it is, though. As every country has their way of being, try to see and understand the two different realities people are living, and adapt as needed. However, in terms of “freedom of expression”, I believe moving to Portugal as an American greatly increased my speaking freedoms.

Speaking Different Languages: English to Portuguese

As you move to Portugal from USA, you learn a new language. As I have been living in Portugal for almost a year now, sometimes English sounds foreign. Is this bad? No. It just means you are tuning your mind to another language. In this case, Portuguese will be running through your mind every day.

Due to listening and speaking a new language, I have changed how I speak and how I make jokes. This becomes completely normal, which I find it hilarious when I start seeing new humor and sarcasm in Portuguese. It is truly another world, that I enjoy too much!

If you want to know more about how to make a difference in how you live in the US, or are trying to adapt to the differences of European culture, do not hesitate to contact me or write a comment about what maybe you have experienced as an expat or traveler!

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.

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