There is no doubt that it’s daunting moving to a new country. Among all the usual angst, you can get preoccupied with thoughts of how you’ll fit in. Especially since some local Portuguese residents are getting ‘foreigner fatigue’ with the influx of expats from all around the world. 

Getting to know the locals is important in helping you to integrate and gain an understanding of the Portuguese culture and lifestyle. 

I’d like to share my 5 top tips in helping you to thrive and make friends in Portugal. 

Learn Portuguese 

It’s not the easiest language in the world but it will open doors. What is lovely is that the Portuguese people are happy and willing to help with pronunciation if you get stuck. They are some of the most patient people in the world when foreigners make attempts to speak the language. They won’t just default to English even if they can. Even a few words here and there will bring smiles to the locals. They LOVE when you make the effort and are very forgiving if you screw it up along the way 🙂 

Understand Cultural Norms 

Make efforts to understand the cultural norms, customs and generally how things ‘work around here’. Don’t just rock up making comparisons to where you’ve come from and complaining that things are so much worse here. It won’t go down well. 

It’s worth understanding the working culture which means that many locals work long hours and when they are not working, family time is high on the priority list. I was told by a lovely Portuguese lady that she does not get to see her friends very often as her working hours are so long and money is tight. When she’s not working she’s spending time at home with her husband and children. 

You might need to make the first move 

Get yourself out there and socialise. Get out of the highly concentrated expat areas. There are many reasons to have a good time in Portugal. There are many national holidays and celebrations throughout the year. Get involved and have fun with locals. Be curious and ask questions to get to know more about Portugal. Take the initiative and invite them out. Go to the local Pasteleira, grab a coffee and chat to people. You should try to chat to your neighbours and people in the local area to get to know them too. 

Join Local Groups

There’s always lots going on. Get involved in local groups or activities. Join a local football team if that’s what you are into. If not, there are plenty of other options for sports, music, charity related activities. You could also volunteer or find a local job. 

FB Groups 

Join local Facebook groups and reach out to people and start conversations. Get active on the groups. I have reached out to many people in various shared interest groups and after exchanging messages, I might ask if they want to connect and take it from there. 

To help the conversation we’ve started:
Portugal Expats Business Owners (Lisbon, Porto, Algarve)

Expat in Portugal (Bringing families together 🙏) – Lisbon, Porto, Algarve