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[Sticky] Why I like living in Portugal

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Posts: 606
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(@gerry)
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Before the lock down, my car needed new tyres. The advice I received was to buy the tyres online and have a local company fit them. Instead I went to my local company (family business) and they quoted the same price for the same tyres as I could get online but their price included fitting. Deal struck, tyres ordered and fitted the next day. Then I was told to stop by anytime and they will check the pressures and adjust for free as part of the service. I appreciate this is a smart way to keep my custom but they have my business and my recommendation for as long as I'm around.

It would be great to hear other experiences of good value and service in Portugal.   

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(@christopherdouglas)
Joined: 13 years ago

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Posted by: @gerry

Before the lock down, my car needed new tyres. The advice I received was to buy the tyres online and have a local company fit them. Instead I went to my local company (family business) and they quoted the same price for the same tyres as I could get online but their price included fitting. Deal struck, tyres ordered and fitted the next day. Then I was told to stop by anytime and they will check the pressures and adjust for free as part of the service. I appreciate this is a smart way to keep my custom but they have my business and my recommendation for as long as I'm around.

It would be great to hear other experiences of good value and service in Portugal.   

Hi Gerry,

Yes, we have had the same treatment 😊

We have been here for 4 years now. When we needed tyres for our British registered car the online advice was to buy online.

A guy in our village works at a service centre in our nearest large town (Covipneus, Fundão) and he suggested going there. So, we thought, why not? We want to be Portuguese so yes, we'll do that. Shop local, support the local economy, and all that.

Well, they have been fantastic. Now that we have a Portuguese 4x4 we have all of our servicing, repairs, new tyres, pre-mot (IPO) done with them. The attention to detail is amazing, the aftercare is amazing, the cost is sensible. Sometimes it's ridiculously cheap!

Our last pre-inspection involved the normal testing of brakes, exhaust, etc, and two new bulbs. Because of Covid they are short staffed. We said ok and left our wagon there for three days. They rang us to say that we could collect it. The cost was €15.

As we have found with everything in Portugal, people have a job. They are proud of that job. They do that job to the best of their ability. (Look at the conductors on the trains! Smart uniform, very proud of their employment)

The UK used to be like that 😳  Not any more 😠

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 bife
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(@bife)
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There is no denying that there are lots of things that are a real PITA here (but the same can be said about any country), especially if you have to try to earn a living in this 'relaxed lifestyle' (I'm not often relaxed by all this relaxing🤣) but the subject is what do you like so here is my list

  • The light - more hours of sunlight during the winter and shorter winters make a huge difference, also far less cloudy days. I think this makes most difference to me compared to living in the UK.
  • Winter temperatures very mild
  • Spring and Autumn are like summers in UK
  • Easy and relatively cheap to live by the sea
  • You can (still) find cheap places to keep a boat & empty places to sail. Where I am reminds me of my home harbour growing up in the 70's
  • Very cheap public transport
  • Eating out is affordable out of cities, Seafood is great & wine cheap
  • When I go home to UK I have very rose-tinted glasses ('Radio4land' as I call it). It is actually an extremely beautiful and culturally rich place.
  • Learning a new language (especially as it was so so so hard for my brain!)
  • Being part of a Portuguese family (this is in the plus column most of the time 😉) and watching my daughter pinball between two languages (and taking the mickey out of my efforts)
  • When I was younger, the nightlife in Lisbon, and the fact that Lisbon felt like a small town.

I am sure there are more

I think the book that I have read that really hit the nail on the head describing the Portuguese was the aptly named 'The Portuguese' by Barry Hatton (no relation, just loved the book). AFAICR he is Lisbon based, and appears to move in well-heeled circles, but I read that book nodding my head in agreement &/or chuckling so many times. 

There used to be a 'Halfway to Africa' blog by James Lawrence which I found via this forum which used to make me laugh so hard too, but I can't find them anymore

That reminds me that 'Portugal' is a pretty varied place, the people and culture are quite different from Porto, to Coimbra, to Lisbon, to the Alentejo, to the Algarve, and from city to countryside especially (I'm from out in the sticks in the UK, but Portugal still has some really extreme 'out in the sticks' places - romantic but probably mostly from the visitors side than from the people living there) 

Writing that list has made me happy and contented with my lot, a great exercise to keep grateful

 

 

 

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(@cabanastavira)
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@bife - What a super post. Yes agree with it all and will get the book by Barry Hatton.

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 bife
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(@bife)
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Just to add, as someone who doesnt like cities, I like the small town feel that Portuguese 'cities' (even Lisbon) has is great

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Portugal

For fun, put [Lisboa and Amadora] and [Porto and Vila Nova da Gaia] together as they are conurbations, order the list by population and see where your home nearest  large town fits in.

In my case, using this Colchester comes in as 5th largest city in Portugal, or even 3rd if you take the borough current population. Amazing!

Some discrepancies between years and definitions of populations, but you get my drift

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(@saracruz)
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There are so many reasons I love living in Portugal and wouldn't move anywhere else! First of all our climate is great, the food is perfect too... but most of all I like it because there is a variety of cultures and landscapes within a small territory so it is great to departure exploring a mountain in the morning, and the seaside in the afternoon for instance! Plus, usually people are very welcoming, always willing to help out if you're lost or curious about something and that adds lots of value to the experience of traveling within the country.

Our national healthcare system is something attractive as well. It does work well if you need a doctor in an urgent situation, and for year check-ups too (with your "Médico de Família" at the "Centro de Saúde"). If you need a surgery it can be a bit more problematic as - depending on the situation - it may be a long wait. Other than that, there are pretty cheap health insurance options so I think that - for those who can pay it - this is a good solution.

It isn't a perfect country, with perfect people, I don't think there's such a thing... anyway analyzing the pros and cons... it is GREAT!

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(@advanced-engineer)
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I think that Brits and Portuguese have a type of affinity and that's why we like it here. It's got it's flaws and so does the UK. It has great food but so does the UK. By and large, what I have observed here I could equally observe in the UK. People are hard-working, generally friendly, family-oriented bunch - go to any restaurant and see the family with 3 or 4 generations sat around the table. I like that, we do this in the UK.

Portugal is also very civilised, one sits to drink a coffee, not order an overpriced Starbucks dishwater-esque latte in a waxy cup and walk down the street sipping it. The coffee is good, be it either Sical or Delta.

Lunch is also taken seriously, not sat at a desk working with a sandwich, like it used to be in the UK. I actually have a tyre story too that confirms this...

So we were heading down to the 'mother in laws' in Algarve, in time terms it's about a 2.5 hour drive. Before we set off, I decided to check over the missus car, fluids and pressures etc. and I realised that the front tyres were worn, old slightly cracked rubber so we found a tyre place in Montijo to fit some tyres. We rock up around midday, the guy tells us 'yeah, fine, no problem but I'm going to take my lunch now, can you come back after - say - 2pm'.

So we take a lunch too and come back at 2pm and wait for around 15 mins. He turns up, nice and casually and opens up the premises. I should point out that it's July and nearly 40 degrees. So the car goes inside and the wheels are taken off. At this point another person arrives so he goes to talk to them, and then a third, fourth etc....very sociable and we get vacuumed into the conversation. About an hour and a half later some front tyres were fitted but the experience was something else. So that was arrive at 12pm tyres by 3.45pm. OK in the UK it's a 10 minute job for some surly kid who throws everything about the place to get the car in and out quickly - but sometimes the experience outweighs the time.

I have to keep reminding myself of the difference in timekeeping. PST or Portuguese Standard Time is an observed phenomena, where things generally take longer to achieve. It's also why the speed limits are 'suggested' as everyone goes faster. But they are faster because they are always late. Because PST.

In fact, after typing this I have thought about a great deal many more things I love about living in Portugal - I guess I could write an article if anyone would care to read about it....

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(@boxertwin)
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I needed to replace the air line on my compressor today and went to the local hardware store in Tomar. They went through their stock but did not have what I needed as I use the Canadian /US style fittings.

He suggested I try a rural farm shop who might be able to make one for me. First he helped me find it on Google maps then asked me to wait for one minute and got his son to lead me there in the shop's Transit van. 15 minutes later I had my order in for the line to be made up and thanked the son for getting me there. I didn't spend anything in that hardware store but they drove a 30 round trip to show me where I could get what I needed. I can only hope to pay their kindness back in the future. 

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(@jgibson)
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This is my first week in Portugal visiting I have felt very safe and felt the people to be very friendly and accommodating. One question I have is regarding all of the graffiti where I come from graffiti is usually an indication of Territorial gang activity = violence and drug activity. Dose anyone have any ideas why there’s so much graffiti everywhere? Yet Portugal is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world

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(@gerry)
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@jgibson

I believe it is more of an art form here

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(@jgibson)
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@gerry that’s kind of the impression my wife and I have formed

I have felt a little intimidated behind the wheel on some of the very narrow streets with cars parked on the curb

I think I have finally mastered curb parking lol 

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(@gerry)
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@jgibson

Just wait 'til your sat nav takes you down a street that's too narrow for your car. Once you master curb parking, I recommend you practice long reverses 😊 

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(@jgibson)
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@gerry

lol I must admit it was a very intimidating and nerve-racking the first couple days lol

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 Bert
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(@bert)
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(@gerry)
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@bert

Beats playing Bingo all day!!!

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(@thomasribatejo)
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@jgibson as others have commented, much of it is:

  • art
  • intended as art, but is it?
  • philosophical or political commentary
  • low-level anti-social behaviour

This stuff may be "helped" by drink or drugs, and certainly lack of other activities, but it's unlikely to be criminally linked.  It's only usually common to urban areas, and Lisbon is especially badly affected.  Even in larger provincial cities, it's much less evident.  It's also not helped by lack of effective clean-up... and the fact the "on the beat" policing is not always frequent, due to lack of more serious crime.

However, in some Lisbon suburbs (notably) and also increasingly in some central neighbourhoods, there is a growing amount of Brazilian style gang tagging, which resembles what you can see here:

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(@jeanne)
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@thomasribatejo. Its 'art' only if you paint on your own canvas. I would not appreciate discovering something like this embellishing my property. 

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(@thomasribatejo)
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@jeanne for myself, I tend to agree. However, there are locations where local authorities actively encourage artistic graffiti, for example where there are ugly ruins, blank walls with few options... Naturally, it's not the tagging type thing they then hope for!

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(@jeanne)
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@thomasribatejo. If the local authorities own the ugly property then of course it's their call to make. But I think that in many locations it's an excuse made in the face of powerlessness (or lack of will). If the authorities were to acknowledge that most graffiti is vandalism and not 'art', they would need to take measures to reign it in. It's easier to pretend...

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(@thomasribatejo)
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@jeanne I'm not an apologist on behalf of graffiti here! Nevertheless, there is a segment of the graffiti in Lisbon and elsewhere which is intended as art, with or without public support... and then the majority with no such pretence. The issue, in terms of control, is more lack of resources than will or de jure power - but also the fact that, as in much of Southern Europe's urban areas, it has long been a problem, so is to some extent taken for granted/not particularly noticed by those who have been surrounded by it for decades

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(@jeanne)
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@thomasribatejo. I lived in Amsterdam for many years, where it is also an issue, so I know what you mean when you say that there's a point where you don't notice it anymore - it becomes part of the urban landscape. But I'd rather have flowers in my landscape than noxious weeds.

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 Bert
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(@bert)
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@jeanne Agree it's all in your perspective, what is old becomes new etc.... Have seen a lot old garden weeds in the past few years sold as gastronomic delicacies for upscale restaurants in the US and they go like hot cakes. Food for thought.

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(@jeanne)
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@bert  Anyone so inclined is welcome to take as many weeds as they like from my garden.  But not to spray my house with graffiti.

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(@thomasribatejo)
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@jeanne curses, there goes my weekend fun 😉

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(@pamalcobaca)
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@jeanne street art is often commissioned by the local authorities, such as this in Alcobaça. Graffiti here tends to be bored teenagers scrawling their name over and over...

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(@jeanne)
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@pamalcobaca  thanks for sharing the lovely foto - I do realize the difference.  My objection is that far too often the 'art' label is applied overly generously, which ends up encouraging yet more non-artists to take up tools.

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