5 biggest challenges of relocating to Portugal and how to solve them

What do you mean there are challenges of relocating to Portugal? Yes, just like any other amazing life-changing decision, moving to Portugal comes with a few challenges.

Get to know the biggest challenges every expat faces in this lovely southern European country, especially related to bureaucracy, adaptation and the famous Portuguese word 'saudade' – the feeling of sadly missing your loved ones and your homeland.

1. Figuring out the visas, laws and bureaucracy

Portugal is worldly famous for its beauty but also for its bureaucracy. Expatriates from many different countries find that understanding the Portuguese law, visas and any public service in general is ridiculously difficult.

If you are a EU citizen, this factor may be much easier once you can enter the country and be here for 3 months without anything but a passport, later changing to a residency card.

However, if you are from the USA, Australia, Israel or any other non-EU country, you’ll need to deal with getting a Portugal residency visa. That means many visits to embassies, phone calls and headaches.

When expats ultimately lose their patience or simply want to speed things up, the best thing to do is to hire a professional. Delegating makes your time valuable. Consultants and lawyers are the best help and the prices are usually fair.

2. Making new friends

One of the biggest personal challenges of relocating to Portugal is simply making new friends. Expats often leave their country, family and friends behind without considering this obvious detail: they don’t know anyone in Portugal.

Starting from scratch in a new place is hard. People need to connect with other people, and when you live abroad you’ll probably face a language barrier and cultural differences. So how to mingle?

Get yourself out there! The Portuguese people don’t bite and are known for their warmth and friendliness. Even if you don’t speak their language, many of them speak English and there is a growing population of multinational expatriates in Portugal. You are not alone!

3. Finding a place to live

Yes, the hotels in Portugal are nice, but if you plan to relocate you’ll need to start looking for an apartment – or house. The real estate market in Portugal can be quite complex, the prices are hard to get and you don’t want to end up making a bad deal. That’s okay, the secret is to plan ahead.

Research a lot, check references and if you wish to be 100% safe, get help from real estate consultants. When you trust a professional you can guarantee your peace of mind and simply enjoy the view of your window to the beautiful Portugal.

4. Getting a job

The labor market in Portugal is definitely challenging – for everybody, not just the expats. Salaries are low and there aren’t that many good opportunities. However, if you look hard enough, you can find a rough diamond that was waiting to be found.

The most common solution for most expats, however, is to find a job in your own country or any one and to work remotely. This way, you avoid low wages and still manage to enjoy the quality of life of those who live in Portugal.

5. Dealing with saudade and remembering your own culture

There's no denying it, if you go away from home, at one time or another you will start to miss everything you loved. This feeling of wishing you were with your family back home or even the familiar places and culture is perfectly described by the Portuguese word saudade.

After spending the first few months in the new country, this feeling becomes one of the biggest challenges of relocating to Portugal. You start to compare your cultures, to look for restaurants that serve food from your country, and kind of want to leave.

That’s okay, every expat goes through this phase. You just have to decide rather living in Portugal is worth your effort or not – and it probably is. After all, you’ll feel much better after a visit to your family, a home cooked meal or listening to music from your country. Just because you moved to Portugal it doesn’t mean that you should leave your culture behind. It’s a part of who you are, and you should never lose touch with your homeland.

What do you think about our picks?

Do you agree with our choices? Tell us about your own challenges of relocating to Portugal.

When we share our experiences as expats we help others achieve this dream of living abroad – of better living.

Adapting to a new country is always a little hard, but if we have the right attitude, the right tips and the right company, everything will go well. Portugal is a great place to live – I can tell by experience. Don't let silly obstacles keep you from enjoying life.

So when are you coming to Portugal?

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