We know moving to a new country is no easy task. It can all be a bit overwhelming and you might sometimes need a helping hand to figure things out. With that in mind, we have gathered together 10 tips that will make your life in Portugal a lot easier!
1. Get yourself a multibanco payment card
If you don’t know what Multibanco is, it is the most commonly used payment method in Portugal. Most places like restaurants and shops might not accept your Visa or Mastercard but, if you have this debit card you won’t have any issues at all. Since it can be used almost anywhere, you will often be asked “Visa ou Multibanco?” when you get to the cashier.
This central payment system allows you to perform multiple banking operations such as checking your accounts, making online payments, paying your taxes, making money transfers, purchasing train tickets and even buying your groceries. And all this using your mobile phone or at an ATM!
2. Get a car...
If you think Portugal is a country where you can survive without a car you're wrong. Well, you can but you'll miss out on the chance to travel across this beautiful country, discovering amazing spots, hidden secrets and historical places. Even just for moving around on a day-to-day basis it's pretty helpful to have a car. If you're planning a short trip you can also rent a car, which is quite affordable in Portugal. Make sure to book it online in advance if you want to get the best prices.
3. ...or use public transportation
If you don’t own a car or don’t want to drive, there’s no problem: there are public transportation alternatives. For example, Uber is already available in Portugal and is good for smalls trips or when you want to get out at night, have a few drinks and come back home safely. At the moment, it is available in Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, Braga and Guimarães.
Large cities like Lisbon, Porto, Almada, Seixal, Faro, Olhão and Mirandela all have their own metro system that can also take you everywhere. For the rest of the country there are all sorts of options, from buses to trains and even ferries for you to move around in.
4. Save time with the Via Verde
If you do end up driving a car, you'd do well to get a Via Verde. This handy invention is a small device located on the top part of your car’s windshield that allows you to speed through Portuguese toll booths, reducing your time in traffic.
If you're planning on spending a lot of time on the highway, this is a great time saver that also includes automatic parking payments, gas stations, ferries and even MacDonald’s drive in!
You can use the official Portuguese-language website if you want to get your Via Verde pass.
5. Have a Portuguese phone number
You can totally survive life in Portugal using your mobile with international calls but in some cases a Portuguese cell phone number can be quite helpful. For example, if you want to install a new internet connectio, buy stuff online or receive deliveries, do online banking or pay your Via Verde payments, all of those require a Portuguese telephone number.
There are a few mobile network providers in Portugal (NOS, MEO, Vodafone, etc.) so just pick the one you like the most, that offers the best deal and that is the best fit for your budget.
6. Visit local markets
In most city centres you can find local markets with vegetables, fruits, cheese, bread, fresh fish and meat. You can go each week and enjoy the smells, talk to the merchants, haggle for the prices and get a real taste of the Portuguese life, while supporting local agriculture, producers and fishermen. It's good for your wallet as well because you'll be able to find the best products at an excellent price!
7. Go to shopping malls
If you are not a fan of online shopping, Portugal has plenty of shopping centres for you to go on a shopping spree. They are usually open 7 days a week, until late (23:00 or even midnight) and offer a great variety of shops. In just one trip you will be able to find everything you want!
8. Speak Portuguese
When you move to a new country, it's good to know at least some of the local language. First and foremost, it's a sign of respect and integration towards the country that is welcoming you in, and it will make your life a lot easier. While it is true that most Portuguese people speak pretty good English, they will also appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to learn theirs.
There are plenty of teachers and schools where you can learn, as well as websites, books and even mobile apps that can help you out a lot.
9. Be part of an ex-pat community
If you ever feel homesick, it might be a good idea to be one of the expat communities in Portugal. There you will find people with a similar mindset that have lived through similar experiences and situations. You can find these communities on social media (mainly on Facebook groups) and you can connect, meet new people and enjoy loads of cool events…
10. Find a house with idealista
If you are going to live in Portugal, you will need a house. Whether you are buying or renting, in any part of the country, chances are you can find a great house on the idealista website. Search the ads to find your Portuguese dream home and start this amazing experience.