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What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

Old Mar 16th 2019, 10:33 pm
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Default What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

OK, I spent 3 years in Ireland and then moved to the USA. Now its time to look into moving again as things between the wife and I ain't exactly rosy. I love Ireland but lets face it, nobody likes the rain and when it rains in Ireland it can rain for days :O So I am looking at possibly going to Alentejo. I will be looking for a rural property wherever I go as I hate city life and don't want neighbors. I need some advice please.
Possible downsides of Portugal are
1) the weather, is it to hot? (I am concerned about my dogs, they didn't do well in the California heat of 120 degrees or the Mississippi humidity) so how does Alentejo compare?
2) I have heard the price of cars is horrifically expensive, is this true?
3) Language barrier. I have heard that the language is very difficult to pick up and im hardly a gifted linguist at the best of times although I will certainly do my best.
4) I also hear that there's a limited choice of food at the supermarkets, is this true?
5) What can I expect regarding internet connection in the rural parts? My work depends on having internet so that's a must.
Any help/ advice would be very gratefully received.
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Old Mar 17th 2019, 1:35 am
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Default Re: What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
OK, I spent 3 years in Ireland and then moved to the USA. Now its time to look into moving again as things between the wife and I ain't exactly rosy. I love Ireland but lets face it, nobody likes the rain and when it rains in Ireland it can rain for days :O So I am looking at possibly going to Alentejo. I will be looking for a rural property wherever I go as I hate city life and don't want neighbors. I need some advice please.
I know what you're saying about Ireland - but it does have its compensations
I'll give you my impressions
Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
1) the weather, is it to hot? (I am concerned about my dogs, they didn't do well in the California heat of 120 degrees or the Mississippi humidity) so how does Alentejo compare?

The Alentejo is a big area, stretching from the southern shore of the Tagus river (Alem Tejo means "on the other side of the Tagus") to the Algarve and from the Atlantic coast to the Spanish border, so the weather and climate changes somewhat depending on the area - close to the sea keeps it cooler in summer but more humid, in the mountains the temperature variation can be extreme and on the plains near to Spain Summer temperatures can reach 50C in Summer (Centigrade here, Fahrenheit isn't used - at 120C you'd be dead!). I live in the hills of the south-west Baixo Alentejo, near Ourique. We have frosty mornings in the Winter, but then the daytime temperature can be in the 20s . Currently it's in the mid 20's during the day and temperatures can reach the low 40s in Summer. Humidity is low, so you can work happily in the mid-30s - as long as you're in the shade.
Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
2) I have heard the price of cars is horrifically expensive, is this true?
It is expensive to buy Portuguese registered cars, but they tend to keep their value - so it's a question of "buying in" to the system. Importation is possible, but re-registration is generally expensive - this is covered in depth elsewhere in this forum. Fuel is also very expensive - and service stations can be few and far between in rural areas. Public transport is good in the cities and cheap compared to the UK - outside the cities there are express coaches and trains, also comparatively cheap.
Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
3) Language barrier. I have heard that the language is very difficult to pick up and im hardly a gifted linguist at the best of times although I will certainly do my best.
Many people speak English, but don't expect it - so if you don't speak Portuguese, life may be limited. BUT, Portuguese people are very forgiving and generally appreciate you trying to speak with them in their own language. I learned Castilian and French up to age 18, travelled in Spain quite a lot and am married to a Portuguese, so I murder the language quite well. Comprehension and pronunciation are the hard part - it's quite different to other romance languages (and can sound Eastern European at times), but it is Latin based and shares many common words (although , as usual, spellings can change and a less common term may be used than elsewhere - e.g. Plaza in Castillian becomes Praça in Portuguese, Obrigado (obliged) is the way you sat Thank you). As you're in the USA be careful, because although European Portuguese shares most orthography with Brazilian, both some common vocabulary and the pronunciation are very different. - NB, most internet "Portuguese", eg in "Google Translate", is actually Brazilian, you need to check carefully for Portuguese as spoken in Portugal. The Alentejo also has its own accent, words and phrases, so even i have problems following the conversation of my 76 year-old neighbour when he's in full flow (as did a friend from Lisbon!!)
Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
4) I also hear that there's a limited choice of food at the supermarkets, is this true?
Define limited....... there's a wide variation, but not necessarily what you're used to - this is "abroad", so the common food is that eaten by the native population and imported food may be hard to find and expensive. If you want to eat an English or US diet, you may have problems and it will certainly be more expensive than you are used to. If you adapt to the local diet, it is plentiful, good quality and inexpensive - like the wine and beer - there's much good and reasonably priced Portuguese wine and beer, but (understandably) imports are harder to find and more expensive.
Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
5) What can I expect regarding internet connection in the rural parts? My work depends on having internet so that's a must.
You'll need to check VERY carefully and it may limit your choice of area. My ADSL is pathetic (1.7mbps) but there is low contention. There is no Fibre available in my area and mobile internet (3G) is about 5mbps, Some places have fibre and/or better broadband speeds, but rural areas, particularly in the Alentejo may not have. NB - if you intend to work in Portugal, even via the internet, you will need to register and pay taxes in Portugal - but that's a whole new story, covered at length elsewhere on this forum.

Understand that Portugal is a country with a total population far lower than Greater London, mainly centred on urban areas (the Alentejo has a population of 750,000, less than Tyneside). It has its own history, language and culture, has been independent since 1139, has the oldest established borders in Europe and was a major colonial power - but until 1974 it was under a repressive regime which limited access to education or social advancement and it has lurched from one crisis to the next since then. It is a modern, democratic state, but the average wages are the lowest in Western Europe and many people still emigrate to find work. So draw your own conclusions......

You don't say why you have selected this part of Portugal as a prospective home - houses are generally more expensive than in neighbouring Spain. If you don't have people there, don't speak the language and don't want to adapt to the Portuguese way of life, you could find it hard going - although there are many thousands of foreigners living there very happily.

Hope this helps
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Old Mar 17th 2019, 8:08 am
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Default Re: What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

Weather; if you live within 5-8 km of the Atlantic coast, you get a cool sea breeze almost all summer.
I don't know why this isn't said all the time. For us, proximity to the coast was absolutely essential for this reason. Some people do know it, because prices are considerably higher in this narrow strip of land; but believe me, it's worth it. Better a small place with a sea breeze than a grand villa that boils in the sun.

Cars last forever here, people garage them and the roads are not salted. New cars are expensive but old ones are affordable. Shop labor rates are cheaper than the UK but parts cost the same.
Everyone buys diesel because diesel is cheap; except now it's not. The price difference is down to 5%. Older petrol cars can be bargains.

Language; kids who go to school learn English, and the minute they find their feet they move away from rural areas to find paying work in town or abroad. As a result, there are few English speakers in the countryside. I can only manage to discuss the weather and tractors with my neighbors, but that's ok.

Food; choice is poor away from tourist areas. Basics are good so if you cook from scratch you'll be happy.

I agree with Maclaim about internet; I have a rural property with high speed but some we saw in the hills have no signal at all. There is a satellite option that will almost always work, but check before you buy.

And one more thing; water.
If you buy a rural property with land, access to irrigation water makes a huge difference.
Some have deep bore wells [hard to get a permit for those now], some have water catchment ponds [a whole subject by itself], and few have canal access from big reservoirs in the hills.
Surprisingly, this adds only slight premium to house asking prices.

If you buy a ruin, after construction is complete it will cost the same or more than if you buy an existing house; construction might be quick, but the permits and permissions take years.
Don't do it.
Fixer-uppers with water, power, and habitation license can be completed in reasonable time.
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Old Mar 20th 2019, 12:25 pm
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Default Re: What are the up.....and the downsides of Portugal?

Originally Posted by Kevrev View Post
OK, I spent 3 years in Ireland and then moved to the USA. Now its time to look into moving again as things between the wife and I ain't exactly rosy. I love Ireland but lets face it, nobody likes the rain and when it rains in Ireland it can rain for days :O So I am looking at possibly going to Alentejo. I will be looking for a rural property wherever I go as I hate city life and don't want neighbors. I need some advice please.
Possible downsides of Portugal are
1) the weather, is it to hot? (I am concerned about my dogs, they didn't do well in the California heat of 120 degrees or the Mississippi humidity) so how does Alentejo compare?
2) I have heard the price of cars is horrifically expensive, is this true?
3) Language barrier. I have heard that the language is very difficult to pick up and im hardly a gifted linguist at the best of times although I will certainly do my best.
4) I also hear that there's a limited choice of food at the supermarkets, is this true?
5) What can I expect regarding internet connection in the rural parts? My work depends on having internet so that's a must.
Any help/ advice would be very gratefully received.
I remember you were looking for a job in Ireland or were planning to buy a burger wagon? Anywhere will have downsides but what kind of work do you do now and how secure is your job?
No point moving to the middle of nowhere to then find out that you can't get a job.
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