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Expat insights into life in Portugal

Portugal is a popular destination for expats as well as tourists, with communities dotted throughout the country, most notably the Algarve. The favourable weather and excellent cuisine make it easy to see why, too. But once expats relocate here they can be subjected to life-changing experiences and learn valuable lessons from their Portuguese neighbours.

Below you’ll find the insights of some of those who have lived or are living in Portugal and what they’ve learned whilst living there.

Ellis Dixon moved to Lisbon from New York 18 months ago.

She states that life is less fast-paced there and that she has adapted to this “much more leisurely city” where there is more focus on “long lunches and early closings” than working long into the night. This change in pace is something that those escaping the hustle and bustle of cities like London and New York expect, but many are surprised by quite how dramatic the change is.

Adapting to this has given Ellis what she describes as “a much healthier and better method of living”, which includes buying fresh food from local markets, butchers, grocers and fishmongers as opposed to large supermarket chains. This interaction with key members of the local community allows you to “become a resident of the city, not just your apartment building”.

Tricia Pimental also moved from the USA to Portugal, relocating to the seaside town of Esposende originally and recently moving to Coimbra, in central Portugal.

Tricia states that, although the people may seem uninterested, once you make the effort to interact with them they are “smiling, helpful and talkative”. She and her husband took a three-week intensive course to learn Portuguese at the local university and describe this as “gruelling but rewarding”. Therefore, any expats relocating to Portugal should take the time to learn the language, in order to get the most out of life on Portuguese shores.

Living in Portugal has dramatically altered Tricia’s outlook on life, teaching her to live life at a slower pace to the extent that when she visits her “hometown of New York City, or Los Angeles, where I lived for almost 30 years, I know I can never live in either place again”. Tricia is no longer worried about shops closing early and putting errands off, as there is “always amanhã”.

Adapting to Portuguese culture has also taught Tricia to be more frugal “in a country where so many have so little”, and she is able to do so by picking fruit from her countryside surroundings.

Life at a slower pace with greater appreciation for money and the local surroundings sounds like a great way to live, and Tricia certainly paints a great picture of Portuguese life.

Briton Julie Dawn Fox has been living in Portugal for six years and shares her experiences through her blog. She has embraced life in Portugal by learning the language and adapting to driving on “the wrong side of the road”, but more importantly she has discovered much about Portugal’s rich history and culture. Embracing the traditions of a nation and studying its past can make it far easier to integrate and make it feel much more like home.

Life in Portugal has also taught Julie to exist at a more relaxed tempo, to the extent that she has gone from full-time to part-time teaching and has taken up work as a freelance writer and photographer, working from home.

Expat life in Portugal comes with glowing recommendations and offers a much less stressful existence, but only to those willing to connect with the culture and adapt to the lifestyle. What are your thoughts?

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