Moving to Lisbon – A Beginners Guide
Its a bit of an unknown, Portugal, it doesn’t come up that much on the travel shows, it occasionally comes up on the move abroad shows but Lisbon especially, doesn’t get much love at all… and it should. So here is my very brief and honest guide to Lisbon.
Things to love
- The 2019, The Internations Expat Insider Survey ranked Portugal 1st for quality of life. Expats who took part in the survey spoke particularly highly of the quality of the environment and climate whilst safety and security also scored high with some expats stating that they chose Portugal because it felt especially safe.
- From groceries to rent, it’s widely known that people move here to save big. Portugal is one of the best value locations in Europe. While the salaries may be a little low in comparison to the larger European city hubs, it makes up in insanely inexpensive living costs.
- Portugal is a well-known surfers’ paradise and, due to its unique geographical position, picks up North, West, and South swells which mean there’s consistent surf for a good portion of the year. Swells can generally reach around 6 feet during winter but can get to around 15 feet or even more. I know its niche but most of LRP’s clients offer free surfing lessons so… may as well get to know surfing.
Things to bear in mind
- Try to get anything done in Portugal, whether it’s starting a business or applying for planning permission, and you’ll run into a little thing called “bureaucracy.” There’s a lot of it in Portugal and it will drive you mad.
- For some people having to learn Portuguese to live in Portugal is a fact of life. To others, it’s a big downside. It isn’t so much that people don’t want to learn Portuguese (although some don’t), but rather that it’s a big stumbling block that prevents you from integrating into Portugal. While this is not unique to just Portugal it is a known fact that Portuguese is not the easiest language to learn. That said, it’s probably no more more difficult than German.
- Whether it’s people flashing their lights because they’re desperate to overtake, or only leaving a gap of about an inch between your car and theirs, driving in Portugal is bad. Indicators are rarely used, touch parking is common in the cities, and in rural parts of Portugal people often park diagonally across two or three spaces. Luckily your resident writer has been to India and in comparison, Portuguese driving is like a beautiful painting.
The Portuguese are very friendly in nature, and the country is often named as one of the most welcoming for expats, especially Lisbon which is fast becoming the digital nomad capital of the World.
Most people in Portugal speak English, so language barrier should not be too much of a problem but learning Portuguese might be one way to guarantee you fully assimilate into the Portuguese ways and culture. If you are concerned about not knowing the language, don’t worry, most of the clients we recruit for in Lisbon offer free Portuguese language lessons
The Portuguese are quiet in most situations in public. Listening to music or speaking loudly is usually frowned upon (standard) However, going out to dinner or drinks is a different story. Portuguese people tend to me more outgoing, relaxed, and a bit louder when out with friends, a bit like everyone everywhere really… this entire paragraph was a bit pointless really.
The country’s typical Mediterranean diet is both savory and healthy. Olive oil, potatoes, rice, meat, and fish are staples in the Portuguese diet. Bread finds its way into most meals from breakfast to dinner, as an entrée, on the side, or as the main source of carbohydrates. Its bread its everywhere.
What’s interesting about Portugal (a little like Italy) is that dinner is much later than most other places in the World, its not uncommon for people to turn up at a restaurant after 10pm, so if you have that dinner date with the team… eat at 5 and you’ll be fine.
Public Transportation in Portugal
What is Public Transportation like in Portugal?
Public transportation in Portugal is extensive in the main cities, not so much outside of those. Opting for public transportation in bigger cities is a good idea to avoid the usual traffic jams during rush hour.
Buses are the most widely available mode of transportation in the country. In bigger cities, public and private companies provide an extensive network of buses, both within the city and from the center to its surrounding areas. Bus tickets tend to cost from 1 up to 5 EUR (1.10–5.50 USD). Bus times are not very reliable, which is why most people opt for the metro when possible.
The metro in Portugal tends to have reliable schedules. However, you will find the metro packed during rush hour (but not as bad as the Northern line through Bank in London at 6pm) and you may not always be able to get on (exactly like the Northern line at Bank in London). Most tickets will cost between 1.20 and 5 EUR (1.30–5.5 USD), depending on the length of the ride. Monthly passes can start at 20 EUR (22 USD) and go up to 40 EUR (44 USD)… Far cheaper than any transport in London.
Trains in Portugal are run by public company CP, Comboios de Portugal. There are urban lines in Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra, and many regional trains connecting nearby cities. You can find the entire map of railways on CP’s official website, and buy tickets online as well.
The Alfa Pendular is the most extensive line and you can easily travel from Lisbon to Porto in 3 hours for around €32 – proof that private train companies don’t have to be expensive.
Portugal is quickly becoming the ‘digital nomad’ centre of Europe and the Covid-19 outbreak has allowed many people more flexibility with where they work meaning people will be looking to Lisbon as a place to live and work remotely.
The beauty of Lisbon is its very inexpensive way of life so you don’t need to earn big to have a good lifestyle in some of the major cities such as Lisbon or Porto. The other interesting point about Portugal is it’s hugely metropolitan and then wonderfully rural so you can have either lifestyle very easily.
The food style
Lisbon is not known as a food destination, usually that’s saved for Italy, France and dare I even say the UK but over the last few years the influx of expats, migrants and those nomads have resulted in a much larger food scene. Watch ‘Feed Phil’ on Netflix which will give you a far better over view of the Lisbon food scene than I ever could.
The other great thing about the food scene is that it’s not expensive, you can eat some truly World class food, in a restaurant, with wine and beer, for street food prices. I have eaten in a few restaurants and rarely it costs more than €15 for starter, main and a drink (and thats splashing out)
Traditional Portuguese cuisine is nothing overly exciting (a little like the UK’s) but its the global influence and varied cultures which is really pushing Lisbon into the food centre of Europe.
Back to life
Lisbon is a great place to live but its also on the coast of the Atlantic and just around the peninsular, nothing in the way until you get to America which means… surf! Its a massive surf destination of the World and if you don’t even like surfing then you will get to love it while living here. There is something happening at the beach all the time and one of LRP’s clients will even pay for surf lessons for you, its that big of an ingrained sport.
The city itself is built with mosaic in mind, its not just on the roads and pavements but up the walls, its loved and absolutely beautiful.There is also a smaller version of the Golden Gate Bridge and a statue of Jesus on a hill so some very recognisable landmarks.
So with the cost of living, great city vibes, awesome food culture, cheap cost of living and an amazing lifestyle you could be living it up in one of the quieter capital cities of the World very soon, all you have to do is get in touch with the team today. It makes sense.