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Moving to Portugal: Your first days in the country



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 30/09/2023, 06:30

Hi there! 👋 I’m Joanna, author of The Blond Travels. If you find my articles helpful, I’d be happy if you could follow me on Instagram, or . Support from readers like you means a lot to me and helps to keep this website alive. Thank you! 🙏

So, it happened! You moved to Portugal. You’re here and you’re trying to enjoy your time as much as possible. The first days in a new country are very important because they are the base for your future here. This post will help you to sort your life out and prepare for good times in Portugal.

My first days in Portugal where a rollercoaster. I didn’t know anything about the country and I was in a small shock. I didn’t expect Lisbon to be so beautiful and so neglected at the same time. I was surprised by everything. I had to get used to the prices and combat the overwhelming stress connected with finding an apartment here.
Those first days in Portugal were difficult and made me feel down. I think if I had prepared for certain things earlier, I would have coped with everything much better.

That’s why I’m writing this post. I want you, Dreamer, who comes here for longer, to have good experiences and I don’t want you to feel cheated. Portugal is a beautiful country, but you really need to get ready for the move.

Your first days in Portugal – What to prepare for?

If you haven’t left your home country and are preparing for the move, then I recommend you to read this post and all the related ones. They will give you a good idea of what to expect.


The most imporant thing for the start is a place to stay. I rented an Airbnb for a month and was looking for flats during that time. It’s one of the best solutions, if you don’t have a place to stay yet.

Remember that it’s quite hard to find something in a good condition and for a reasonable price. That’s why, leave some time to find your accommodation. I wrote about how to find an apartment in Lisbon a bit earlier. I think advice that you will find there is suitable no matter what place in Portugal you will live in.

When looking for a place, remember about:

  • Deposit – sometimes it might be quite high, even up to 6 months of rent in advance. I wouldn’t agree to that. The best is one or two months in advance.
  • Contract – many Portuguese people don’t want to sign an official contract because they need to pay taxes off of it. I wouldn’t agree to that either. A contract is very important. Also, if you sign one, ask a Portuguese-speaking person to translate it for you.
  • NIF – to sign a contract, you need a NIF – tax number. Without it, you can’t do much in Portugal. You should get it as soon as you can.

Transport – How will you travel?

In big cities it’s quite easy to move around. You can use trams, metro or buses. It’s good to get a monthly ticket. To get it, you’ll need your ID and a form, which you can get at some of the bigger stations.

If you live outside of the city, you might be able to get there by bus or tran. However, if you want to live in the real countryside, having your own car is the best solution. Here you can read more about cars in Portugal.

NIF and residency confirmation

As I metnioned earlier, you will need your tax number – NIF. In Portugal it’s hard to sort anything out without it.

You can get this number in Finanças. First, you will need to make an appointment on the phone. A visit there is quite difficult if you don’t speak Portuguese. I really recommend using Bordr for this as they do all the formalities for you and you don’t need to stress over it.

A SIM card and the Internet

When moving here, you’ll want to have a contact with your family and friends. You can get a SIM card at the airport, after you arrive. There’s a Vodafone stall in the arrivals hall. It’s easy and straight forward.
Find out more about Sim cards in Portugal from this post.
And here you will read about the Internet in Portugal.

Your bank account

After you get your NIF, you will be able to open a bank account. The best for the beginning will be Activobank.
You can read more about bank accounts in Portugal here.

Learning Portuguese

If you already speak Portuguese, then your life here will be much easier. However, if you don’t, then it’s good to learn the basics and then continue learning while you’re here.
I recommend using Italki where you can find some good teachers.
You can also read my article about learning Portuguese here.

Making friends

When you live abroad having friends is very important. It is proven that meeting others and socialising prolongs our lives and makes us feel less lonely and depressed.
In Portugal people are usually friendly. In bigger cities there are meetups and Facebook groups for different kinds of people, like nomads, or expats.
I wrote a post about making friends, too, which might be useful if you don’t know how to meet people.

And what about your job?

You find a job in Portugal while still being in your home country. Some startups look for specialists and skilled people for their marketing, IT and sales departments. These offers can be found on LinkedIn.
You can also come here and then look for a job, but remember about:

  • Savings – which might disappear very quickly if you’re not careful.
  • Language – in international startups you can speak English, but if you want to work in tourism, knowing Portuguese is essential.
  • Location – you have bigger chances to find something in Lisbon, or Porto than in the other parts of the country.

You can read more about finding a job in Portugal here.

I hope that your first days in Portugal will be easier and you won’t have problems with getting used to your new life here.
If you still have questions, leave them below and I’ll try to reply.

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