Why I Moved to Portugal

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Why did you leave the US to move to Portugal?” Well, there are various reasons why I decided to leave the United States and why I chose Portugal specifically. The things I felt like I was lacking personally in the US seemed to be readily available in Portugal.

When I began my search for a new country. I chose Europe and why I chose europe some of the reasons why I wanted to move to Portugal are synonyms with life in general. In this article I will share my personal reason on why I moved to Portugal.

Why I moved to Portugal?

1. Life is Short.

I was constantly getting reminders that life is short.  I witnessed so many friends and family lose their life prematurely.  Everyone thought they had so much time.  And I know if they would have somehow known what their expiration date was going to be, they would have lived their life differently.

I didn’t want to make that same mistake.  I wanted to be able to look at my life and say I had some great experiences.  At the moment, I couldn’t say that.  So I decided to take action.

I started traveling more. In a 3 year time span I had visited over 25 countries. And then I became obsessed with traveling. Once I started traveling, I got a  whole new awakening and perspective of other cultures and ways of life. I started to truly understand what I enjoyed and what was important to me. 

“Life is short,” kept being my ongoing theme.  I wanted to live life purposefully. Life is not just about going to work and making money.  My relationship with dynamic and interesting people is what gives me life and I wanted the time and freedom to grow and maintain interpersonal relationships with people I love and care about.

2. I wanted more than the US Rat Race

I didn’t want to just work, eat, sleep and try to schedule time for loved ones on the weekends.  As I traveled all over the world. I was able to witness how other countries prioritized health, family and work.

When comparing US work culture to European culture it is clear that Americans live to work and Europeans work to live. In Portugal ( and many other European countries) August is usually a vacation month.  That’s right, a month.  Not a couple of days or weeks, a month.  And that isn’t including the various holidays and vacation time that is allotted to employees.

Portugal provided the work life balance I wanted. But more importantly, Portuguese value relationships. Since I’ve been here I’ve been about to grow strong and rewarding relationships in Portugal.

3. Cost of Living

When I started my search for a European country to move to, I typed “Cheap European Countries.” Portugal came up in search results.  At the time, it was said that Portugal was one of the most affordable European countries. 

Is that still the case now? Not in my opinion. Portugal has become a hot spot and with the various publications and marketing telling people to move, cost shouldn’t be your only reason to move if you are leaving the United States.  There are various states you can move to within the US that are cheaper than living in Portugal.

Granted, when I first moved to Portugal, I moved to Lisbon.  The “New York City” of Portugal so of course expenses were much more expensive than other parts of Portugal. I have also lived in cities outside of Lisbon, but still in the Lisbon district.  These locations are more expensive than other parts of Portugal as well.

Moving to Portugal was much more expensive than I was led to believe.  Finding reasonable accommodations were a challenge when I first arrived and things don’t seem to be getting any better. 

I did want  to lower my cost of living.  When you consider costs outside of housing, Portugal is substantially cheaper than my old life in Washington, DC. But there is a lot to consider here that I don’t think the average American takes into consideration.

If you are making your income in USD or your retirement is in USD you have to be mindful that EUR currency is typically valued more than USD.  And as currency does, it changes daily with EUR mostly in the lead.  What does that mean?  Your money is worth less before you even convert it or send it to Europe.  This can easily result in a loss of 10-23% of your money lost just off of conversion and transfer.  I won’t even get started on taxes.

4. Reliable Consistent Internet

Internet connection internationally is not all the same. I day trade and I have digital marketing clients so having a stable internet connection at all times is critical.  Before moving abroad I did a lot of international solo travel while working. Costa Rica was one of my favorite countries, but I struggled to get stable internet if I was outside of San Jose.

I’ve enjoyed various countries in South America, the Caribbean and parts of Africa, but I noticed I would often experience intermittent internet or power outages all together.

I have been really happy with the internet reliability in Portugal and various parts of Europe. So when it came to choosing a country with stable internet, Portugal won for me in this category.

6. Saftey

I moved to Portugal as a single woman.  Safety was super important to me. Coming from America, mass shootings and racial hate crimes are the norm.  Frankly,  it was exhausting to my mental health.  

When I leave America I feel safer. According the Global Peace Index  Portugal is ranked #4 in the world as it related to safety.

7. Great Food and Better Food Standards

Let’s be honest.  I think most people know that the United States allows products or chemicals in food that is banned in other countries, especially countries in Europe. 

In America fresh food is not really something everyone has easy access to. Google US “food dessert.” 

Considering the majority of the fruits and vegetables in the US are imported from other countries.  That means things can’t even be picked when they are ripe because it would go bad in weeks of transport time.

If you’ve eaten fruit and vegetables outside of America there is no argument that it simply tastes better. Colors are richer.  Food is less processed.

When I lived in Washington, DC and I wanted access to fresh food, I had to get into a car.  Corner stores have fresh produce in the back like they do in Portugal.  It has rows and rows of processed foods and drinks.

8. Great Weather

Coming from the East coast. I was tired of the cold and snow.  I felt like my mood was directly correlated to the weather and winters were hard for me. Many European countries are just as cold if not colder than Washington, DC. So when doing research on Portugal’s weather, I was convinced that it would be a welcomed change.

9. Beautiful Beaches and Landscapes

Portugal has some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen.  The ease of going to an amazing beach over the weekend is so easy.  My first apartment, I lived a 7-minute walk from the beach. It was incredible to wake up and see the water outside of my windows.

10. Affordable Healthcare

Affordable health care is synonymous with Europe, particularly if you are comparing it to health care in teh US.. Obtaining private health insurance is required for your visa in Portugal.  Health insurance is not only afforadable, it’s not tied to your job.  So if you are self-employed or retired you don’t stress over thousands of dollars in health care monthly payments like you do in the US.  I obtained my private health insurance through my bank and paid only 8 euros a month.  

11. Amazing and Affordable wine

Portugal has some of the best wine I’ve ever experienced.  And you can’t beat the prices for such exceptional bottles of wine.  If you are a wine drinker, you will be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful wines in Portugal.

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