What I’ve learned from two years living in Portugal

Spring flowers in Portugal
A carpet of oxalis flowers on my little piece of land in Portugal is a portent of spring.

I see a lot of posts on Facebook groups from people who are considering a move to Portugal. Many of them ask what is the best place to live? After more than two years living in Portugal I think I can offer some useful information. My advice to anyone considering a move to this country is to come here for as long as you can to get a real sense of the place. You can do all the research in the world online; but nothing, nothing, compares with what you will learn by having your feet on the Portuguese earth.

Also, ask yourself a lot of questions: Are you used to living in a city? Do you want to have shopping and restaurants within easy reach? Do you get upset if you can’t find the products and food you are used to? Can you adapt to new ways of doing things? Are you willing to learn a new language? Many Portuguese speak English but an ability to speak the language gives you a big advantage.

What are the most memorable things I’ve learned? Hard to say. I will list a few things in no particular order.

  • Portuguese people are some of the kindest you will meet anywhere. Almost without fail, they are willing to go the extra mile to spend time to offer you whatever help they can. That said, everybody gets that attention and you may have to wait your turn.
  • Portuguese bureaucracy can take time. Some expats complain about the amount of bureaucracy to do things like getting a driving license or opening a bank account. Remember, all countries have their version of red tape. It’s just that when you move to a new country you have to deal with a lot of it all at once.
  • If you are 65 years old or more you travel half price on the trains. Comboios de Portugal, the train service in Portugal is efficient, on-time and very user friendly.
  • Portuguese weather is generally kind. It’s hot in the Alentejo and Algarve regions south of Lisbon, with summer temperatures soaring over 100 degrees F (38 Celsius). But in the central and northern regions it is more temperate. Winters are milder too, with frost or snow rare except in the far north. In most areas you can grow oranges, bougainvillea and banana trees.
  • Portuguese winters can be very wet! When it rains in Portugal it is often a deluge. The rain can continue for days.
  • Dampness can be a big problem in houses. Many people complain of mold and mildew in their homes. You have to be vigilant about ensuring adequate ventilation. Buy a dehumidifier!
  • Portuguese houses are usually not well insulated! They stay beautifully cool in the hot summers but can be freezing in the winter. An electric under blanket can make life cosy.
  • Many people rely on wood burning stoves for heat. Remember to buy most of your wood in the fall. If you buy supplies after Christmas you may end up with some damp wood. If you are paying for it by the ton, wet wood ends up costing you more and it is hard to get your fire going.

So, as I head into my third year here, I am happy to see flowers blooming on my land. I look forward to many hikes in the spring and to planting my vegetable garden.


7 thoughts on “What I’ve learned from two years living in Portugal

  1. Very well done, Rosalie!

    You got it!!! Abraços Carlos

    A quarta, 12 de jan de 2022, 16:33, Rosalie in the Red and Green escreveu:

    > rosepatch3 posted: ” A carpet of oxalis flowers on my little piece of land > in Portugal is a portent of spring. I see a lot of posts on Facebook groups > from people who are considering a move to Portugal. Many of them ask what > is the best place to live? After more than two ” >


  2. Hi Rosalie, what a wonderful newsletter. Thank you so much for taking the time so spell things out for people like me who are still considering a move.

    I can’t do anything until I receive my inheritance, so I’ve got to stay put until that happens. But in the meantime, I can keep checking for facts & info on line.

    By the way, how has covid affected where you live? I’m at the age of being vulnerable (I turn 80 in a week), so I want to be careful about where I live.

    I figure this will be my last move!!

    Cheers to you and Happy and Healthy New Year.




  3. Rosalie-
    Thank you! Your love of your new home shines brightly in your wonderful writing. Be well and keep your heart open!

    Elizabeth from Half Moon Bay, CA .USA

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your insight. We have been hoping to move for a couple of years now from Australia to Portugal. Just waiting for COVID to settle and maybe save a little more for a better property.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim, what a surprise to get a response from Australia. I spent a year living in Perth in the mid-1990s and loved it. If you follow my blog you can look back at many of my other posts to read little anecdotes about daily life in a Portuguese village. I moved into my house in central Portugal in July 2019.


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