Algarve and Portugal in general is an amazing place and voted many times the most wanted place to retire in Europe. This is why people just tend to skip steps before moving to Algarve Portugal and go with the flow on this!
Witch is good, is the entire motto of my blog- don’t wait, just go! – but, expect some surprises or at least some things not to go exactly your way if you don’t do your research properly.
These things are not deal breakers but knowing in advance what to expect before moving to Algarve Portugal, it will make your transition smoother.
1. You don’t have to learn Portuguese but you will be very appreciated if you do!
Knowing basic European Portuguese will help you in so many ways!
First you will need this if you want to deal yourself with the paperwork and bureaucracy in Portugal. Of course you don’t have to deal yourself with this (check here how you can get a NIF and a bank account hassle free) but a lot of people choose to do it on your own and in this case you need to understand, as well as speak basic Portuguese.
Second, you will be very appreciated by locals if you speak their language. Portuguese people are very proud and traditionalists and they want to feel respected. They want us to understand that Portugal is more than good wheatear and cheap food. They want us to understand and respect their customs, traditions and history. And part of all this is the language.
So learn a little bit of Portuguese, showing some respect in this way and that you want to be part of something, not just to be there.
The expats will love you too because you will be able to translate and explain to them a lot of things and it’s a good way to make friends.
2. North, Center or South? Algarve is very diverse!
Living in Tavira is very differently than living in Lagos and for sure very different from living in Boliqueime! Monchique is totally another world and Silves is an universe in itself! Not to mention Aljezur – bet you didn’t heard about this one! Aljezur is one of my favorites!
All amazing places but so different, so diverse! You will have a total different lifestyle depending where you decide to move. So really, take your time, it’s so important to visit all the places before moving into a specific place in Algarve Portugal, so you can make an informed decision. The differences between places are much more, much deeper, than you can imagine just looking on the map.
3. You need to have a source of income outside Portugal to live comfortably here
Yes, the main reason you want to move here, besides the weather is the cost of living. But the cost of living is low only if your money comes from outside Portugal. Otherwise, Portugal will be very expensive for you.
The Portuguese people have very low wages and they are used to live a simpler life then probably yours. So all that benefits you keep hearing about low cost of life, cheap food – is for the ones who come with a high income and spend that income in Portugal.
Of course, you can start a business in Portugal, especially if it has to do with the travel industry, you will probably, in time, do very well. Or you can provide a service that is lacking here – the first thing that springs to my mind is that Portuguese businesses are in dire need of digitalization – but this will take time to develop and probably a big chunk of your savings.
4. Grocery shopping – healthy, cheap but… you don’t find everything in one place
If you are a picky person, like I am, and you like your thigs in a certain way, you have to go to several stores to find everything you want, at the prices you want, at the quality you want.
So a typical shopping day would look like something like that: vegetable shopping from the town market, supermarket for basic toiletries, the pharmacy for your more fancy creams, maybe a good mouthwash or sunscreen, clothes from malls.
Oh, and always carry cash! The main streets have shops with ATM’s but if you take a detour and you encounter a small and cozy restaurant or a family shop, you will need cash.
5. Sunny doesn’t mean warm, not inside the house
Yes, it’s sunny all year long, even in the winter time. But come winter time, indoors, unless your house is a brand new one or renovated, it will be freezing cold!
Yes, you will die of heat outside and inside the house you will die of cold – it’s frustrating! Your days will be spent figuring out how to bring the warmth from outside to inside. You will fail, but this will keep you busy until spring.
This is the reason why Portuguese people live more outside than inside and in the end it will force you also to adopt a more outside way of life. So before moving to Algarve Portugal, consider if you are an outdoor person. I thought I was, but I am not.
6. A conclusion: Portugal is not for everyone
I don’t claim to have understood Portugal already. We have a lot to learn still, I actually feel that we barely scratch the surface.
At this time it’s my opinion that moving to Algarve Portugal is very suited for middle to upper class individuals or families, with medium to high income coming from abroad (pension is included here also), with flexible schedule and desire to adapt, to change, to assimilate Portuguese culture. Only then I think you will have the time and the money to bask in everything Portugal has to offer.
Of course we will strive to do better in the future, meaning to increase quality of life while spending less. It will come with time, after forming a proper routine and knowledge about everything.
As for all you dear readers, I hope your Portugal is wonderful and wish you the best!