When you first move to Portugal it really is a dream come true – it feels like you are on holiday all of the time! But then, when the paperwork overloads you and the reality of the language and culture challenges kick in, you start to realise that although emigrating to Portugal is pretty sweet, it’s not without it’s downsides….
The weather isn’t always warm – especially inside!
When I first arrived in Lisbon in the winter, I had a bit of a shock – my apartment was FREEZING! But it turns out that this is pretty common, because although it’s warmer than UK in the winter, the problem is that the Portuguese houses are not set up for the temperatures to be cold – they don’t have insulation or central heating. Unless you are in a plush apartment with underfloor heating, you will probably colder inside than out! Some people in Portugal even head to Brazil for December and January!
Bureaucracy- It Depends who you get on the day!
One of the challenges Of living in Portugal is the extensive bureaucracy and the individual interpretation of that. In other words, you may find that getting residency or your NIF number is basically down to which office and who you get behind the counter on that particular day. I know that one person was asked for proof of income for residency and could provide a bank account with ten thousand euro savings. Another person was asked for proof of funds and didn’t have any, so they opened up their wallet, Which happened to have €500 in it and their residency got stamped and approved! I went to get my residency, no one even asked about my funds. I simply told them that I was in IT and my residency certificate was stamped and accepted.
The Language Challenges can be Tough
Portuguese is a challenging language – it seems to be an amalgamation of French, Spanish and Arabic. You will notice a lot of accents and it’s difficult for Brits to get used to. Even if you’ve studied Portuguese, you will find it tough to speak Portuguese in high pressured situations such as visa offices and healthcare. I’d recommend learning Portuguese on Duolingo. It’s a free app that is very easy to use and motivational.
The Hills and Stairs
In UK, other than a few hilly cities, or towns and cities Are usually flat. In Portugal, be prepared for a lot of hills and a lot of stairs. The other problem with walking around in Portugal is that although the cobbled streets look beautiful, they are very slippery. Go for decent walking boots rather than stiletto heels!