I’ve been living in Lisbon for a couple of months now and I’ve seen both sides – the good and the bad. On the whole I would say that the pros of living in Lisbon definitely outweigh the cons. The international community, fantastic cost of living and great weather most of the year makes it well worth the move. Here is a summary of my living in Lisbon pros and cons.
Living is Lisbon Pros and Cons
Highlights of my pros list include the weather, social scene and cost of living compared to other European capitals. However, on the down side is the challenging cobbled streets and many stairs, plus the paperwork and bureaucracy. I hope that you find my pros and cons list helpful.
Pros of Living in Lisbon
- Great cost of living compared to other European capitals such as London or Paris
- Excellent Digital nomad and expat scene – you will find welcoming groups through Facebook and Meetup.com
- Great weather – you will find excellent weather in Lisbon 10 out of the 12 months of the year. It’s only really December and January that are a bit drab and can get cold inside at night, but compared to the UK the Lisbon weather is a massive plus.
- English is widely spoken – You will rarely have trouble being understood in English in Lisbon because it is such a thriving international community.
- Great nightlife and social scene – head down for some Karaoke and sports bars on PINK STREET!
- A short train ride to the beach – get on the train at Cais do Sodre to Carcevelos (half an hour) or Cascais (just under an hour).
- Good business opportunities – lots of chances to meet up with people to do business including freelancer and tech meetups
- You are on UK time – GMT – this is great for anyone freelancing working with UK businesses or anyone who still has a UK employer.
Cons of Living in Lisbon
- The stairs – oh so many stairs! Be prepared for it to take you 20 minutes longer to get from A to B in Lisbon because of this, especially if walking through Alfama!
- Cobbled streets – Put your high heels away as the cobbled Lisbon streets just aren’t designed for fashion!
- Most people live in apartments not houses – this has it’s downsides including noise from above and below and stairs to climb every time you come home.
- Things can take time – it took me three days to open a bank account heading into the bank and waiting for a couple of hours at a time. I opened my account with ActivoBank Lisbon where they spoke good English and were actually really helpful.
- Some parts of the touristic and historical centre can be pricey to eat and drink (but you quickly learn where to go).
- Renting is a challenge – there are many problematic landlords who don’t do repairs and who keep your deposit without reason.
- Renting and purchasing property is expensive compared to other parts of Portugal.
- Freezing inside in the winter – Many Portuguese apartments are built for the heat of the summer and therefore do not have sufficient heating in the winter months. Some apartments can be intolerably freezing inside in the winter months.
- The language barrier can be a challenge in an official capacity such as the Financas or Town Hall for residency. CRUE can be more straight forward but things can get difficult when you need to apply for a D7 Visa.
- Cultural differences – there are some things that will take some getting used to. For example – Couvert – you will be charged for your starters in restaurants – even the bread and cheese that you didn’t order!
Overall I would definitely argue that it is a better quality of life than being in the UK. The cost of living compared to the UK is much better in Portugal. I enjoy a great social life with some lovely friends – both expats and Portuguese. I’d highly recommend living in Lisbon, just realise that it’s not always peachy 100% of the time. But it’s pretty close 😉