23 Downsides to Living in Portugal – Portugalist

The minor print : Portugalist may generate a mission from mentioned products or services. This is at no extra price to you and it does not affect our column standards in any manner. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or fiscal advice. The generator makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or robustness of any data on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or function. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. Let ’ s face it : nowhere is perfect. There are lots of pros to living in Portugal – the weather is great, the price of living is more low-cost than in other countries, and the beaches are beautiful – but there are, unsurprisingly, one or two cons as well .
Most articles, YouTube video, and estate agents focus on the upsides rather than the downsides. But it ’ randomness authoritative to get the broad mental picture before you move somewhere new. therefore this tilt. As note, there are lots of upsides to living in Portugal, but this web site wouldn ’ thymine be doing its job if it didn ’ t give you allow expectations .
It ’ sulfur besides significant to point out that this is a tilt of the downsides of Portugal primarily from the degree of view of an outsider ( although portuguese people often agree with some of the things on this number ). It ’ s besides not a tilt of things that Portuguese should change, and it ’ s decidedly not a tilt of things that Portugal will change – no matter how sensible that transfer might seem to you. Portugal is Portugal, and you shouldn ’ metric ton come hera hoping for change or expecting change. rather, weigh up the pros against the cons and then, being honest with yourself, decide if Portugal is justly for you.

Moving to Portugal Made Simple Cover Wish moving to Portugal was a little more simple? 
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In no particular order, here are some of the downsides to life in Portugal .

The Paperwork

files Try to get anything done in Portugal, whether it ’ s starting a commercial enterprise or applying for planning permission, and you ’ ll run into a short thing called bureaucracy. There ’ randomness a lot of it in Portugal .
The hardest separate of bureaucracy international relations and security network ’ t the bureaucracy itself. Most people know that bureaucracy exists in Portugal, and aren ’ t surprised when they come up against it. The hardest part is that you never know which form you need to fill in or which person you need to speak to. And, it ’ sulfur quite rare that anyone always tells you : you will need to figure these things out for yourself and hope that when you speak to a different person they ’ ra looking for the same form .
It ’ south messy and thwart, and it ’ s besides barely something you ’ ll have to get used to if you live in Portugal – well, to varying degrees. These days, there are an ever-increasing count of professionals that focus on the exile grocery store and can help you apply for your D7, import your car, obtain your NIF, or anything else that you need to do. There ’ randomness an expense, certain, but it can be worth it for the peace of mind .
Bureaucracy international relations and security network ’ thymine singular to Portugal, and it ’ s something you ’ ll come across in many european countries like Spain, Italy, and Germany, but Portugal does take bureaucracy to new levels .


Aveiro in winter
Although most people associate Portugal with beaches and fair weather, a distribute of Portugal, particularly the north, can be identical damp and wet in the winter. even in the confederacy where it ’ randomness frequently jersey weather outside ( for foreigners ), it can be freezing cold at heart due to the miss of heating system and insulation in many houses. It ’ s possible to avoid cold winters slightly, but you need to pick the right placement and the right property .
Internal heating system digression, winters in the south of Portugal are decidedly easier than in the north. Although there ’ south normally at least a few weeks of solid rain, it does rain a draw less and the skies are by and large bluing and the weather pleasant. Madeira, similarly, benefits from pleasant winters. If warm winters are a precedence, these are two locations to prioritise .
This international relations and security network ’ metric ton unique to Portugal. You ’ ll come across similar houses in nearby countries like Spain, and of run, anywhere in the North of Europe is going to be cold in the winter months .

Housing issues

portuguese houses can be cold in the winter – electric refrigerator levels of cold. however, it varies well from place to property. Some plainly require you to put on a perspirer while others demand a jacket, gloves, and three or four pairs of socks .
Two identical properties next door to each other could be different due to the ability of one to catch the sun during the day. Some properties besides have central heating or another heat organization while others have better department of energy ratings. Finding the correct lottery is part knowing what to look for and character lottery .
however, merely because you ’ ve purchased a cold house, that doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate bastardly you ’ re going to be cold everlastingly. You can improve the insulating material or install something like gas cardinal heating system or an effective pellet fastball. All of that costs money, obviously, but it ’ sulfur about decidedly deserving it .
This international relations and security network ’ thyroxine alone to Portugal, and it ’ s quite common across Southern Europe. Houses hera are more design for summer rather than winter. thankfully, there are one or two things you can do to stay strong inside .


In Portugal, the portuguese and non-Portuguese typically run in different circles. even people who have lived in Portugal for years will normally be able to count the count of close portuguese friends they have on one hand .
It takes two to tango though. While the Portuguese can be a little close, even to each other sometimes, very few expats make the necessitate campaign to integrate – at least after a few months of trying. Integrating is a marathon rather than a dash, and one that requires you to learn Portuguese to a very well level. And it ’ south much harder if you don ’ triiodothyronine work in an office, attend university, or do something else that puts you in close reach with people for many hours every workweek .
This international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine alone to Portugal. People who ’ ve moved to other southern european countries like Spain and Italy, to Scandinavia, or to Eastern Europe often report the like challenges in integrate .

(Some) Things are Expensive

A distribute of people think that equitable because food and wine are cheap in Portugal, everything else is. unfortunately, that ’ s not truthful .
electricity and gasoline are two estimable examples of things that are truly expensive in Portugal. Per kilowatt, Portugal is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. It ’ sulfur besides one of the most expensive countries for fuel. Rent, peculiarly in somewhere like Lisbon, can be arsenic expensive as a major Northern European city. then there are cars, furniture, electronic appliances, books, branded external foods, cosmetics, and toiletries, all of which are typically more expensive than elsewhere .
It can be frustrating paying double or triple what you ’ re used to paying for something, but it ’ s often offset by the lower prices for early things ( eating out, for example ) and the fact that you get to live in Portugal .


Portugal doesn ’ t have the highest taxes in Europe, but it decidedly doesn ’ t have the lowest taxes either. portuguese taxes, particularly when combined with social security, are high – at least in their simplest form. They can besides be a small complicated, and requiring an accountant does add a monetary value that you might not have if you lived elsewhere .
The portuguese government does have several tax regimes and schemes which are designed to simplify tax payments and to make Portugal more appealing to outsiders. The most celebrated is the NHR tax regimen, which is designed to reduce the sum of tax you pay in Portugal for the foremost 10 years and, in some cases, allows you to be taxed elsewhere. Despite its apparent simplicity, it can still be complicated and it ’ s recommended that you speak to an accountant to get an accurate overview of what your tax obligations are probable to be .
Read more about the NHR tax government

Workplace Culture

sexism, micromanaging, not being allowed to show any first step – lecture to a portuguese person about the downsides of living in Portugal and one of the chief things they ’ ll mention is workplace culture. It ’ s not every ship’s company, obviously, but it is something that gets mentioned frequently .
thankfully, it ’ s a downside that many foreigners moving to Portugal get to avoid as many bring their own jobs here, work for a extraneous company, or move to Portugal for retirement .

The language

For some people having to learn portuguese to live in Portugal is a fact of life. To others, it ’ s a big downside .
portuguese is nowhere near a unmanageable as taiwanese, Arabic, or possibly even German, but many consider it harder than other romanticism languages and less appealing. That said, it doesn ’ t take excessively retentive to learn enough Portuguese to get by in casual life, and even in more difficult bureaucratic situations. however, it does take a long time to learn enough Portuguese to actually integrate .
This is obviously alone to Portugal in that Portuguese is seen as harder than some other european languages, particularly spanish. That said, it ’ south credibly not any more unmanageable than german .


Besides being cold, another problem caused by a miss of insulation is the manner noise travels. This is more a problem in apartments rather than houses, but even houses aren ’ t immune from noise problems – the fathom of barking dogs, which can sometimes go through the night, is a trouble in rural areas .
broadly speaking, however, most noise problems are with apartments. The most noise seems to come from the apartment above, but depending on the way the place is built, may come from the apartment below or to the side equally well. As with the cold, noise problems can vary well from property to property, depending on when it was built, what floor the apartment is on, and who the neighbours are. In some apartments, you won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate hear anything. In others, you can hear the neighbor ’ sulfur conversations about word-for-word .
As with the cold, these problems are slightly fixable and can be avoided entirely if you spend adequate money .
make noise problems aren ’ thymine unique to Portugal and are common in some neighbor countries like Spain .

Dog Poop

Whether it ’ s the blasphemous skies or the tile walls, there are lots of beautiful things to look at in Portugal. Don ’ thymine look up besides long, however. Doing indeed could mean you step in something you didn ’ thymine want to. similarly, it ’ south always a effective mind to in truth inspect the grass before sitting down for a cinch .
Dog stern is one of those minor downsides that you get used to with time, and it may not even be that noticable if you ’ ve lived in other european countries where it ’ mho besides a problem .


Ask a portuguese person what the biggest downside to liveliness in Portugal is and about all will say corruption. According to Transparency International ’ second 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Portugal was ranked 32nd out of 198 countries for corruption. Backhanders can permeate every area of life, from your local council right up to the higher echelons of politics. It ’ s equitable seen as a function of life or a tax for getting around the bureaucracy .
While corruption doesn ’ triiodothyronine affect most people ’ randomness lives on a day to day basis – you won ’ thyroxine have to bribe the patrol to get home – it does affect whether money is properly invested into the state and that can make a difference .

The Slow Pace of Life

The dense pace of liveliness is one of the main reasons that people move to Portugal, but that slowly yard of life can besides be a downside. When you have something that needs doing, suddenly you find yourself wishing that the slowly pace of life wasn ’ t a thing in Portugal .
even in elementary tasks like going to the supermarket, you ’ ll find yourself queuing for a draw longer than you would in countries that don ’ t have a decelerate tempo of life. It all depends on which you respect more : the slow pace of liveliness ( for when you do want it ) or constant efficiency .
This international relations and security network ’ thymine unique to Portugal, but common across most southerly european or mediterranean countries .

The “Glass Half Empty” Mentality

The portuguese brain can be frustrating for a set of people, particularly for entrepreneurs and go-getters who see opportunities around every corner. In Portugal, people much look at the worldly concern in less affirmative terms. This is changing slightly, and younger generations and those who have lived abroad tend to look at the world in more of a glass-half-full-sort-of-way but it a can ’ t do attitude is something you ’ ll come across from time to clock time.

This international relations and security network ’ t completely singular to Portugal, but it does seem to be more common in Portugal than in neighbouring european countries .

Customer Service

In Portugal, it can sometimes feel like the customer is never right. Getting a problem resolved is often a battle of wills, and problems can take hours and hours of your meter to get resolved. There is the complaints reserve ( Livro de Reclamações ) for when you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate seem to get a settlement, but even that isn ’ thymine a threat to some companies ( utility program and communications companies particularly ). then there ’ s SEF ( immigration ), Finanças ( tax department ), and other government departments, all of which aren ’ thyroxine particularly popular in Portugal .
again, this is something that is improving but it ’ second something you will come across from time to time .
This international relations and security network ’ t unique to Portugal. Customer service international relations and security network ’ metric ton constantly a large precedence in Europe and government departments, particularly immigration, seem to be peculiarly unfriendly in most countries around the populace .

Job Opportunities

Portugal traditionally attracts much older expats, particularly retirees. There ’ sulfur a cause for that, and that ’ s that people don ’ thyroxine normally come to Portugal to work : salaries are low by european standards, and there are a limit number of jobs here .
The adept news is that, even though salaries are still a hanker way from catching up with other western european countries, there are an increasing issue of job opportunities in Portugal. many people besides bring their workplace with them – either starting a commercial enterprise here or working remotely for clients outside of Portugal .
This international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate wholly alone to Portugal : Across Southern Europe, speculate opportunities are fewer and salaries are lower when compared to Northern Europe. That said, Portugal does have some of the lowest salaries in Western Europe .

It’s all about “Who You Know”

To get ahead in a bunch of industries in Portugal, it ’ second all about who you know. This maxim is true in a fortune of countries, of course, but it ’ south particularly true in Portugal .
In a fortune of english-speaking countries, like the UK and US, who you know opens doors but it doesn ’ t make it impossible to break into certain industries. In Portugal, not knowing the mighty people can make it impossible to do business in a lot of industries that you could break into in early countries .
This international relations and security network ’ t unique to Portugal and is quite common across most of Europe .

The Driving

Whether it ’ second people flashing their lights because they ’ ra desperate to overtake, drink drive, or tailgate, driving in Portugal can be challenging and sometimes chilling. Indicators are rarely used, affect park is common in the cities, and in rural parts of Portugal people frequently park diagonally across two or three spaces .
unfortunately, it ’ s just one of those things about portuguese life that you have to get used to .
Read more about driving in Portugal
This international relations and security network ’ metric ton unique to Portugal. According to Statista, in 2018, there were more road accident fatalities in 10 other european countries like Romania, Greece, and Luxembourg. however, Portugal faired worse than neighbouring countries like Spain, France, and Italy .

The Rising Cost of Living

The monetary value of live in Portugal is on the rise, particularly when it comes to property prices. This is obviously more of a downside for the portuguese survive in Portugal who typically have less buying power on modal, but it ’ second even a downside for expats american samoa well .

The Cold Ocean

A fortune of people move to Portugal for the beaches and are surprised by barely how cold the water is. Yes, it can be very cold because it ’ s not the Mediterranean Sea : it ’ s the Atlantic Ocean. It ’ mho one of those small downsides, but something to consider if you ’ ra plan on spending a fortune of time in the water. If you ’ re a surfer, the quality of the waves may make up for the temperature of the water .
This is unique to Portugal. early southerly european countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, and Cyprus are all on the Mediterranean Sea so typically have warmer waters .


queues at pasteis de belemQueues for Pastéis de Belém regularly extend into the hundreds In the past few years, tourism has boomed in Portugal. Lisbon, in especial, has become one of the hottest destinations to visit and it has attracted millions of tourists from all over the world. Porto, and the Algarve, besides, have seen a huge increase in tourism vitamin a well .
unfortunately, places like Lisbon and Porto are a lot excessively humble to handle the plain book of tourists that are visiting. The streets are pin down, and the cities themselves are quite compact and minor. historical attractions like the Torre de Belém in Lisbon or the Clérigos Tower in Porto are often entire to the brim and very uncomfortable to visit .
tourism has besides led to other problems in the local house commercialize and has put a strain on public transportation and other services. unfortunately, it doesn ’ thymine count like over tourism is going to decrease anytime soon, particularly as the portuguese economy is therefore focused on tourism – and doesn ’ t look like it ’ mho going to dramatically shift to anything else anytime soon .
This international relations and security network ’ t wholly alone to Portugal. Lots of other cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam are struggling with overtourism .


many people who move to Portugal fall from countries where on-line shop is highly develop, to the point where they can get their orders on the same day. That ’ s not the case in Portugal, particularly as most on-line shop is done with companies outside of Portugal. In fact, a huge share is likely with Amazon Spain .
The challenge of getting things delivered, whether an on-line denounce club or a letter from oversea, is a changeless ailment amount expats. It is something you get used to, though, and, like many of the other things in this list, is a small price to pay for what you get in reappearance .


While we ’ re on the subject of denounce, it ’ mho deserving mentioning portuguese customs. good about every country has a customs system which charges spell fees on products purchased overseas. That ’ second annoying but reasonable. In Portugal, however, the fees charged for anything imported from outside the EU are therefore high that it ’ s not unusual for import charges to equal the value of the product purchased ( and sometimes they ’ re even more ). even gifts that are distinctly handmade by syndicate members are stopped, valued at much more than they could ever be deserving, and slapped with adult import charges .
tied if you agree to pay these charges or they have been prepaid, it can take days, weeks, and even months to get your deliveries released from portuguese customs. Basically, try to avoid shipping anything from outside the EU ( excluding your belongings if you have a certificado de bagagem as these will be treated differently ) .


While smoking is on the manner out in many countries, smoke is still reasonably coarse in Portugal. It ’ second something that you will get used to with time .
Portugal has been slower to phase out smoking in bars and restaurants than many other european countries—while most restaurants and bars are non-smoking, you will stumble across places that calm allow it in sections—but new laws coming into place in 2023 are probably to make smoking even less coarse inside .
Portugal decidedly isn ’ t the only european nation where smoke is common. It ’ randomness similar in France, Spain, and Germany .
Comments Policy: This article attracts a mixture of comments : some people who believe the pros of populate in Portugal outweigh the cons and others who are frustrated with life in Portugal and want to vent their anger. While comments pointing out the negative sides of Portugal are allowed, there ’ s a diplomatic and a constructive manner of doing this and there ’ s a direction that ’ s unhelpful and merely negative. Comments that are negative and without any substance will be removed .
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Wish moving to Portugal was a little more simple? 
immediately it can be. Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple from Amazon .

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