Portugal on another perspective – the myths and the facts

While being Portuguese and have been working in the last years in International companies meeting colleagues from all over the world and moving abroad from Portugal to Norway, gave me the benefit of having a different perspective and knowing the Myths and the Facts about somethings about Portugal.

It is indeed an amazing place and I will share with you some curious facts and some other things you should know before moving there, that will for sure be an advantage to know them!

The weather is very good

Well, true that we are one of the countries with more sunlight! But also, true that during the winter most of the houses and places do not have a central heating system, so in many cases being Indoors can be colder than being outdoors! From December to March, think about buying electric heaters and dehumidifiers and have good blankets in your bed.

You will eat very well

We have a regional cuisine from north to south simply delicious, from the famous Pasteis de Nata to Bacalhau dishes, cheeses, seafood and wine…. your appetite will increase! We also eat late, especially when we compare it to the Nordics, lunch break is between 1pm to 2pm and dinner can be at 9pm!

Can be quite bureaucratic

Although things are improving, many of the bureaucratic things you must do still follow the rule of “take your ticket and wait your turn”, this goes for the health system to anything regarding the official system, try always to have your paperwork in order. So, if you must take care of an official document or go to the doctor, bring a book with you and prepare to wait until is your turn and be patient.

We are friendly and welcoming

We simply love to help others, try to ask someone directions and you will probably get a conversation or someone that will guide you to the spot! But we are also reserved, to build a close friendship takes time.

It is not so easy to find a place to live

Specially nowadays with the increase of the interest in Lisbon, finding a place to rent can be tricky. I suggest seeing places outside the centre of Lisbon, like: Margem Sul (just across the other side of the river) have cheap places and you can cross the river by boat or by train and be just in time to start to work! Also try to get in touch with agencies that will help you with the paper work and can be trustier to find you a place to live, even if you will have to pay the service. Also, for most of the places you will have to give one month in advance (so prepare to have the equivalent of 2 months rent) to give.


Average salary is low

Minimum wage is around 580 euros a month! Most of the population earns between 700 to 800 nett salary. So, if you will be paid over 1000 a month consider yourself already part of the lucky ones, this salary can be paid even for more skilled jobs!

Cost of Living is not high and there is good quality of life

Salaries can be low, but in comparison to the Northern European cities, Portugal is not expensive when it comes to transport, food or basic needs.  You will also get a good quality of life, there seems to be always something to do! We have tons of festivals and cultural events every month! And specially for an Expat there are so many Groups you can join, that is almost impossible to end up alone! If you are living in the centre of Lisbon do not get too comfortable, beware of Pickpockets!


Curious facts and things to do:

Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in Europe – we have so much history, full of castles and amazing architecture!  I am from Sintra one of the most fairy tale places you will see!

We were Explorers, the age of Discovery began in Portugal, we discovered so many countries by going out to the sea and we have many monuments that remember that.

Fado is a traditional style of music, Fado means Destiny in Portuguese and apparently, we are the only ones that can sign it!

Once in Lisbon: Explore Bairro Alto, Alfama, go to Lx Factory. There are at least 7 hills in Lisbon, so you must explore them all

Take a ride in the Trams of Lisbon and Sintra!

Rent a Car and explore, North and South of Portugal, enjoy the paradisiac places, go to Porto, see the Gerês and Portinho da Arrabida, explore Alentejo and end up in Lagos.

We have so many beaches, urban places and forests nearby, that we are simply big for a small country.

I will be around if you are ready to take the next step to live and work in Portugal!

Vanessa Sarmento - International Recruiter
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