Bad things about Living in Portugal

Despite all the good that you hear – the sunshine, the diet, the cheap cost of living in Portugal – there are of course some bad things about living in Portugal. However, you might be pleased to know that most expats in Portugal say that the good outweighs the bad. But here are a few things that you need to be aware of…

The Most frequently Reported Bad things about living in Portugal

We asked a few expats based in various areas of Lisbon, Tomar and the Algarve what were the bad things about living in Portugal. Here are the most popular things that they came up with:

  • Bugs – cockroaches, snakes and flies
  • The heat of the day (inland countryside areas predominantly)
  • Barking and aggressive dogs
  • Language barrier – although most were learning Portuguese they found it hard to speak it in an emergency
  • Bureaucracy can be tough
  • Some remote areas can be difficult to access without a car and far from hospitals
  • Rental and property scams – particularly in Lisbon
  • Petty theft in Lisbon – e.g. pick pocketing on the Lisbon Metro to be aware of
  • High Electricity bills
  • Matriculation of vehicles is difficult and second hand cars are expensive in Portugal
  • Sometimes there are two prices – local price and ‘estrangeiro’ price.

Bugs, Snakes and Flies

A friend of mine frequently found a dead cockroach in the same place in her Lisbon apartment on a daily basis! Another friend had frequent fruit fly infestations. In the warm weather these infestations happen easily and once they start they are difficult to control. You will have to keep your Portuguese kitchen meticulously clean to minimise infestations.

Also with the weather comes other horrible beasties. Although most are not poisonous, you may see snakes in Portugal in the countryside.

If you have a dog then you will need to make sure that he has up to date tick and flea treatment – ticks are horrible in the Portuguese countryside and carry many diseases.

The Heat of the Day

In the summer months and particularly inland the heat of the day can be roasting. Those who live in Lisbon and the Silver coast don’t experience it to such as extend due tot he cooling breeze of the Atlantic. But be aware that you may burn or dehydrate. Take plenty of sunscreen and water wherever you go especially in June, July and August.

Barking and Aggressive Dogs

Barking and aggressive dogs have been reported in Portugal, particularly in the Eastern Algarve near Monte Gordo. Neighbours don’t seem to care about disciplining their dogs for constant barking, which can be an issue for anyone trying to work from home on their laptop. Some expats have reported themselves or their own pet dogs being attacked on the streets which can be distressing. If you have a family or a small pet dog of your own then you will need to assess the situation regarding this before signing a lease or buying a property to make sure that you don’t get stuck in an area with this problem.

Language Barrier

Most expats enjoy the challenge of learning Portuguese, and learning a new language can be a pull factor to living abroad. However, the challenge comes when you have to speak in Portuguese under pressure – for example when navigating Bureaucracy or in an emergency medical situation. It’s definitely advisable to learn some Portuguese, but fluency would be needed to navigate many situations that will crop up.

Bureaucracy and Paperwork

The Bureaucracy of actually becoming a Portuguese resident is a challenge within itself. Even if you are an EU citizen you are still expected to register as a resident within 90 days of being in Portugal. Following Brexit, this is now even more of a challenge for the Brits, although it is still possible to move to Portugal after Brexit. You may have to consider getting a D7 visa.

There also seem to be a lot of number that you need such as the NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal or Número de Contribuinte) and the NISS (Número de Identificação de Segurança Social). It can be challenging to get these and it often depends on who you get behind the desk on that particular day!

Accessibility of Hospitals

Some remote areas can be difficult to access without a car and far from hospitals and this is particularly a problem for elderly retirees. If you are going to be based somewhere remote check the options for heathcare and make sure that you have access to a car in case of emergency,

Property scams and Pickpocketing in Lisbon

Personally, I have never experienced and scams or pick pocketing in Lisbon. However, I have heard stories from other expats about both. Keep your belongings close to you on the Lisbon Metro as that’s the most likely place for pickpocketing to happen.

When you are renting or purchasing a property, always make sure that you check that the agent is ligitimate. It has been reported that people do virtual viewings of properties that are not really up for rent and the scammer then runs off with the deposit.

High Electricity bills

Many expats report extremely high electricity bills in Portugal. Check that your meter is only monitoring your use and doesn’t have your neighbours usage linked to it as well! Someone once found out that they were paying their own bill and their neighbours!

Driving in Portugal

There are two things that you will need to consider if you are bringing your car to Portugal. First of all you will need to go through the Matriculation process to get your car transferred to a Portuguese licence if you are living in Portugal long term Secondly you will need to get your driving licence changed to a Portuguese one. Both of these processes can be complex and long winded.

Driving in Portugal is not always easy – there can be challenges of winding roads, narrow streets and cobble stones. Portugal is very hilly, and so you’d better be good at those hill starts!

Estrangeiro Price

Sometimes there are two prices – local price and ‘estrangeiro’ price. This is all well and good if you are visiting Portugal as a tourist with a nice wad of cash. But not so good when you are living in Portugal, earning a Portuguese wage and paying Portuguese taxes. Go shopping with your Portuguese neighbours to minimise the chances of this, or stick to supermarkets where it doesn’t happen.

What are your Views on Living in Portugal?

What do you think are the bad things about living in Portugal? Do feel free to share your opinions on my blog below Overall, we feel that the good always outweighs the bad and so we’re here to stay!

You might also want to read: Living in Portugal as an expat.

8 thoughts on “Bad things about Living in Portugal”

  1. Boring as hell after 2 weeks.
    Hard to meet people.
    Very cold inside no matter where you live, Portuguese usually don’t have central or even partial heat.
    Extremely high electricity bills and taxes of 23% !
    Food pretty much always the same, cod fish every day but with different sauces.
    Noisy at night and apartments not insulated so you can hear everything.
    Difficult to learn the language.
    As soon as you leave the 3 big cities, the infrastructure and link from one place to another is really bad, only 3 buses per day…
    Things and places are not advertised properly so you spend your time doing research.
    Many Portuguese pretend to work ; they have a little store with not much to sell inside but they are there in their 2m2 store!
    Most of their life is about football (soccer)
    The ocean is always cold so you can never ever swim !
    Life is expensive except for food and drinks.
    Customer service : non existent for the most part
    People don’t care. They drive like crazy and park anywhere.
    No hospital in many towns.
    Wow so many downsides. Sad. So many lost opportunities because people’s mentalities don’t want to change.
    Lisbon has become unaffordable because owners put their place in the short term rental pool because they make much more money, then they blame foreigners…
    I wish I had known all that before I moved in Pt. But it’s never too late to move out.

    • U r my favourite person I hope I could leave Portugal but I’m. 13 and my weird parents think it’s fun to live in this Portugal bullshit

  2. I think Portugal is extremely overrated in almost every level.In comparison to the UK,for example,it feels like a third world country.The country itself is stunning,the people however,leave a lot to the imagination,as if they have no vision towards their future.Being there for a while,I found it boring, lonely, depressing.People argue all the time and claim they are always right, their minds are not open, their imagination is limited and they don’t seem to welcome evolution.Frankly,my experience there proved to be highly disappointing.Am not the only one to share this observation.

    • I totally agree with your valid comments.Am Portuguese but don’t reside there,in my view Portugal is very much over rated in almost everything.Evolution is frustratingly slow,the Portuguese don’t seem to accept changes,even after 500 years of golden explorations.Poverty is still rife away from the cities with robberies and petty crime almost everywhere. Progress is like the speed of a snail.Opportunities are scarce and bureaucracy seems to work against the people.For a country so vastly rich with its history,it seems to behave with a mentality of a third world society.Portugal is not a poor country,only the wealth is not fairly distributed.Portugal is overhyped and severally exaggerated.

  3. Really bad medical service I had to wait seven and then six hours at a second visit in the emergency rooms and nurses really did not care at all despite me being highly anemic and needing food I was just left to wait. The street cleaning in summer was also very bad


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