Living in Portugal: if you have come this far it’s because you plan to move to this country or you’re just curious about what’s like to live in the country of “bacalao”. Below we’ll share the experience of working and living in Portugal thanks to the Working Holiday Visa.

Moving to Portugal thanks to the Working Holiday Visa

  • Basic information: I’m Ana and I’m 30 years old.
  • Where are you from and what’s your occupation?: I was born in La Plata, Argentina. I have a degree in Tourism.
  • Where do you live? Why did you choose this country? I live in Faro, Portugal. I chose Portugal because I could obtain a Working Holiday Visa.
  • How long have you been living in Portugal?: I moved in April 2019, almost 2 years ago.

What have been the procedures to be able to work and live in Portugal?

I came with a Working Holiday Visa that allows you to work legally in the country and stay for a year. The visa is for Argentinians and Chileans and is for people who are between 18 and 30 years old and for those who have higher education or university studies, among others.

I arrived as a volunteer in a hostel that I had already arranged from Argentina through the World Packers app. My volunteering was going to last a month, but within two weeks of being there I was offered to stay to work permanently. When you arrive in the country you need to get the NIF (tax identification number) and the NISS (social security number). These two numbers allow you to do all the future procedures you’ll need and it’s also necessary to get a job.

What is the minimum wage in Portugal?

The minimum wage , which is also the amount of money that most people earn in the country, is 665€ (data according to the official website of the Government of Portugal). Therefore, renting an apartment on your own is very difficult and most of us choose to rent a room in a shared apartment. Rooms and flats are usually rented directly from the owners and the best place to get rooms is through Facebook groups or its Marketplace.

How has your adaptation with Portuguese been?

I studied Portuguese and also did an exchange in Brazil, so I arrived with an intermediate level but very used to Brazilian Portuguese (which is easier to understand than Portugal’s one). Portuguese people have a very closed way of speaking and the pronunciation is very different from that of Brazilian Portuguese; at first, it took me a little while to understand them (sometimes I still have some issues understanding them after 2 years). However, it can be said that I know many Latinos who have already been here for months and still do not speak a word of Portuguese but manage to be understood.

Portuguese people speak English

Portuguese people understand Spanish because they learn it in school, and the same is for English: it is one of the countries with the best level of English (7th place according to EF). I think it’s more important to know how to speak English than Portuguese when it comes to work.

What is it like to live in Portugal? What are Portuguese people like?

Portuguese people are prejudiced and a little sexist. But at the same time, they are very friendly and it is easy to be friends with them, mainly those from the north. What gets my attention is the amount of soup they eat haha; they sell it in every supermarket and there are even restaurants that sell soup only (McDonalds have soup on their menu). In many aspects they are similar to Latinos so there’s not such a cultural shock when you arrive here.

Life in Argentina vs life in Portugal

What differences can you tell us about your country in terms of work? The biggest difference I find is in terms of salary: you can choose to earn your “aguinaldo” (the year-end bonus) by the end of the year or split it to earn it month by month. Also, from the very first year of work you have 22 days of vacation (in Argentina the first few years are 15 days). About work’s attitude, Portuguese people are not very punctual and are not very effective in solving problems.

How and where to look for work in Portugal?

For restaurants it is better to deliver your CV by hand, for the rest it is better online. The main pages used to search for employment are Facebook groups (especially unqualified jobs), Olx, Net-Emprego and Sapo Emprego. You can also leave your resumé in temporary work consultants such as Adecco and Timing.

What is the cost and quality of life in Portugal?

  • What are the rental prices in your city?: Rent in Portugal is very expensive compared to wages, a room in a shared apartment costs between 250€ and 300€, while flats start from 500€ (a single bedroom apartment).
  • How is the quality of life in this country?: The quality of life is good, there is a lot of security, good weather and beautiful landscapes to visit.
  • Do you plan to live in Portugal for a long period?: I plan to stay a few more years in the country.

Tips and upcoming projects

  • Would you recommend this country to live? I always recommend the country to anyone who wants to live peacefully, with good gastronomy and dreamy landscapes from the beach to snowy mountains. It’s not a country where you’re going to make a lot of money, but you live well.
  • Would you recommend applying for the Working Holiday Visa? I believe that getting a Working Holiday Visa is something that we all deserve to do at least once in a lifetime as it opens the door to legally emigrate to Portugal and then apply for your residence permit and, eventually, citizenship.
  • Finally, could you tell us what your next projects will be? My plans for the future are to move to Porto and set up a tourism venture of my own. I would very much like to be able to have a Guest House.

So, if living in a country of mountains and paradisiacal beaches catches your eye, if you would let yourself fall in love with the local food, if you like the calm and the good vibes of inhabitants of this country, then Portugal is your destination.

For more experiences around the world click HERE.

Interview conducted in January 2021 with @viajarviviendo_

living in Portugal

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