Real Life Stories: Idris

Idris in Portugal

Real-life Stories of Moving to Portugal

Read our real-life stories and experiences from foreigners now living in Portugal as an expat. If you have your own story to share, feel free to contact us to get involved.



Idris Watmough

Where are you originally from?

North West England

What year did you move to Portugal?




Where do you currently live in Portugal?

Coimbra District, Ponte da Mucela, Sao Martinho da Cortica, Arganil

Tell us about your journey to living in Portugal as an expat…

Retired Mechanical Engineer, minimum qualifications, on a small pension. Moved to Portugal for low-cost housing, low-cost living and warm climate.

Why did you choose Portugal? Did you consider other countries?

After looking for properties in Spain, there seemed to better value for money property in Portugal.

What were the major challenges you faced in relocating to Portugal and how did you overcome these?

Language, healthcare and driving were the only difficulties. It took a long time (two years) to get registered with a Local Doctor, one year to get the hang of driving and learning the different rules. tailgating, language is still on-going and after three years, still presents the biggest challenge.

What are the pros and cons of living in Portugal as an expat, from your perspective?

Cons: Language word for word and differences in expression, funeral arrangements, no mains gas or mains sewage in rural areas, power cuts in winter, long spells without rain in summer (irrigation needed for gardens) and wildfires in summer, price of used cars and no free banking unless you have a large amount of savings.

Pros: Beautiful weather in summer and a lot of the winter, long hot summer (six to eight months) low-cost housing, low-cost utilities and council tax, low-cost car tax and MOT, lovely helpful people, low-cost beer and wine, low-cost eating out in rural areas and some towns and cities (three-course meal for seven euros). Empty roads away from the cities, very rarely see road works or traffic jams, free parking almost everywhere, good transport and much more.

What do you like to do in your leisure time while living in Portugal?

Sail, eat out, gardening, sightseeing.

How are your Portuguese skills?

Google translate has been a godsend, but it is Brazilian and must be used with caution (do not address people face to face with Voce or Tu). Be careful with phrasebooks. The best website for European Portuguese is Learn Portuguese with Rafa. When requesting things in shops don’t forget to put the noun first… if want a Tumble Dryer you ask for a Dryer Tumbler. If you don’t, the shop assistant will wonder what a Tumble is! You can get one to one lessons on skype for €14 an hour. Lessons in a classroom for absolute beginners are not available in my district but free lessons are available at my local cultural centre for people who know the basics.

Describe how easy or difficult it has been to make friends in Portugal.

Difficult if you don’t speak Portuguese and if they don’t speak English. Many older people speak Portuguese and French. Many younger ones speak Portuguese and English.

What do you miss the most from your home country?

Some foods, socializing and easy communication. family and friends.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give someone who is thinking about moving to Portugal?

  1. Live here for a short time before migrating if you can
  2. Study the Portuguese language long before you come.
  3. Check out funeral procedures if you plan to live the rest of your life in Portugal (burials are conducted in 24 hours unless you have a lot of money for cold storage or transport back to the UK).


– Coimbra

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