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.
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!
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.