I often get enquiries from readers who are considering moving to Portugal. Some of them have spent time in Portugal already while others have only read of its charms.
Like many expats in Portugal, I enjoy living here despite certain frustrations, and know I made the right decision in settling down here.
For some immigrants, however, the reality of living in Portugal is not at all what they dreamed of. Typical frustrations involve financial issues, boredom, feeling isolated, missing distant family or difficulty adjusting to the cultural differences of living in Portugal, especially if learning Portuguese proves particularly difficult.
The root of such problems is often down to insufficient research and lack of self-awareness about what lifestyle you need in order to feel fulfilled.
There are some excellent books* about moving to Portugal (and other countries) that should be on any potential expat’s reading list.
Best book about moving to Portugal
I strongly recommend this book to anyone thinking of moving to Portugal, whether buying or renting. While one of the reviewers “had hoped for a more positive book”, I approve of its harsh reality.
Rather than encourage you to get carried away with the romantic notion of doing up a crumbling farmhouse in a quaint village, Gabrielle and the case studies she has chosen, make it clear that there are many, many things you need to consider before committing yourself to signing the deeds.
If you’d rather stick your fingers in your ears, ignore the words of people who’ve learned from costly mistakes and ride your rainbow unicorn into the sunny lands of Portugal, don’t buy this book.
If you want a no nonsense practical guide to buying or renting property in Portugal, this is best I’ve read.
- an overview of the various regions of mainland Portugal to help you narrow down areas to research
- information and advice on getting residency in Portugal
- what kind of property to buy
- choosing an estate agent, builder and lawyer
- prospects for employment and self-employment in Portugal
- how to rent a property, both as a landlord and a tenant
- how to sell a property in Portugal
- plus the practicalities and lots of links and contact details for various official bodies and extra resources
Best book about moving abroad
Tim’s book will help you do the soul searching and research that’s needed before making any drastic decisions. In the review I wrote a while back, I highlighted what I consider to be some of the most important pieces of advice.
One is to rent for 12 months before buying so you can get a year-round sense of what it’s like to live there.
The other is to be brutally honest with yourself and your partner about what is and isn’t important to you in life so you can evaluate whether living abroad is likely to work for you.
If Portugal is just one of the countries you’re considering relocating to, this is definitely the book for you. As well as general advice about living abroad, Tim provides detailed information about the cost of living and what to expect from 18 of the cheapest places to live, assuming you have an income from a wealthier country.
Portugal is one of these countries – I know because I was one of the people he interviewed when researching this section.
Best book about the Algarve region
If you’re attracted by the beaches and climate of the southern region of Portugal but have no idea which area, town or village would be best, read Karl’s travel guide to the Algarve.
In it, he provides useful information about 54 of the Algarve’s more picturesque towns and villages which may help you narrow down your search. Although intended as a travel guide, I think the descriptions of each place give you a sense of what they are like beyond a list of what to see and do there.
As well as a bit of history, the book gives information about local markets and festivals and the prevalence of bars and restaurants. There’s also travel information covering everything from driving to mosquitoes with links to relevant websites, although some of this is clearly aimed at British visitors.
Algarve Travel Guide: 54 Cities/Towns/Villages is available in both Kindle and paperback format
Other books about moving to Portugal
If you want further reading, these personal accounts may be of some use.
My friend Alyson Sheldrake has just published her account of how she and her husband Dave ended up moving to Ferragudo in the Algarve. Living The Dream is full of insights and entertaining accounts of learning how to live in Portugal and get to grips with the language, Portuguese culture and various types of expat plus some practical tips for making the move and becoming legally resident.
The Eucalyptus Dance by Ken Barlow is the personal account of what happened when a middle-aged couple came on holiday to Portugal and decided to buy a rural property to renovate. If the idea of doing up an old property appeals to you, read this to get a better of idea of what you are likely to be up against. Their set backs and frustrations are by no means uncommon.
Should I Move to the Algarve by Jan Stanford gives you a realistic idea of what it’s like to actually live in the Algarve year-round. Covering the pros and cons in an honest, witty way, Jan’s experience and observations may help you decide whether or not it’s the best place for you.
Moving to Portugal by Ben and Louise Taylor describes episodes from their first couple of years of living in the Algarve. Although the Taylors have since returned to the UK to raise their child, you might find their experiences of interest. Read my review of the book before you buy.
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