Nothing beats reading a testimonial of an expat’s story. Read what Barbara thinks about living abroad in our expat interview series!

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Maryam Siddiqui

Expats and their unique stories of why they wanted to start living abroad is always an exciting read. It takes months of researching and planning to get it right. And behind every expat interview, Viv Europe tries to bring you a new perspective. In this month’s episode, we have an expat family’s beautiful relocation story!


At Viv Europe, we strive to collect stories of people who have been through it themselves. After recent feedback, we’re more motivated than ever to keep on creating content that motivates people to change their lives! 

We hope you learn something new through this interview; let’s get started! 

Guest Introduction

For our third interview, let’s welcome Barbara Vieira! 

Barbara is a relatively new expat in Portugal, having relocated only a year ago. But a year in Europe’s sunny, beautiful country translates into endless experiences and learning! 

Born in France and growing up in Brazil, Barbara has had the opportunity to live around different cultures – which may or may not have helped her adjust to her new home city. With professional qualifications in translation and language fluency, she is ready to build her new life here. 

But there’s more – she is also a super-mom to two beautiful children who have moved to a bustling city in Portugal, and in this interview, we’ll learn more about what inspired this big move! 

Follow along to see how she’s made it possible for herself and her family to adjust to the new culture and environment. Let’s begin the expat interview!

Q. How long have you been an expat?

I moved to Portugal exactly one year ago, at the beginning of 2023. 

It’s been an interesting experience to plan the entire process and choose a city to relocate to that’s family-friendly and has lots of activities to do. It took months of research and planning to make this possible. 

Q. What motivated you to move to another country?

Several factors motivated me to make this decision for myself and my family. 

Portugal has so much to offer, like safety, a great education system, rich culture, nice weather, beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and more. It’s definitely a long list of things that make it an excellent country to relocate to. 

And the opportunity for my children to experience a different culture was on top of the list. It was possibly the biggest motivation I had! 

Q. What is your skill set and experience?

My professional experience in simultaneous translation allowed me to develop skills beyond language fluency. 

With years of experience, my strongest skills are quick decision-making, multitasking, effective communication, and a blend of sensory, cognitive, and motor skills necessary to excel in dynamic environments such as during a live conference. 

Q. What does an average day look like?

My workday usually starts at 9 AM, and I dedicate about 8 hours a day to work. 

I also prioritize balancing time between family, personal hobbies, and interests. With so much to do in the city I live in, there are always fantastic things to explore as an individual or as a family. 

The slow pace of life in Portugal also helps you relax and indulge in different activities in your free time. If nothing else, having coffee on a pretty street always shifts my mood! 

Q. What do you wish you had known before you became an expat?

There will always be things you learn along the way, so be prepared for surprises! Despite doing research, you’ll always encounter certain experiences that broaden your horizons. 

Let me share something funny about what I learned after I relocated. 

So, I speak Brazilian Portuguese as opposed to the European Portuguese spoken in Portugal. I wish I had known beforehand that some perfectly courteous words in Brazil mean something totally different in Portugal. 

Although it is rather funny now, this previous knowledge would have saved me from embarrassing, awkward silences in conversations with the locals. 

But it’s all good now! I would recommend learning Portuguese just a little to be able to communicate better. Even though English is widely spoken, there will be certain days you wish you learned the local language to integrate better. Take it step-by-step and learn at your own pace. 

Q. What insights or advice do you have for those considering expat life?

Part of embracing expat life involves being open to new experiences. To observe and respect an entirely different way of life is a lesson in non-judgment. Also, knowing how to say the basic greetings in the local language is a good start. 

I’d like to reiterate that learning the language will not only help you communicate better but also feel more welcomed by the locals. It’s always good to convey that you’re also willing to learn and be part of their culture too. 

Q. How did you choose where you wanted to live?

Choosing Portugal just felt right. Some of my relatives were already living here, so we knew it was worth making this move. My great-grandfather was Portuguese, so certain aspects of that motivated us. 

Also, I love to travel, and Portugal is a good starting point to head out and explore other places. The strong geographic location is great for traveling around the world. And it’s also proved to be very fruitful for business opportunities! 

Q. What was the planning process like?

It involved months of researching cities, schools, neighborhoods, real estate, cost of living, etc. We had to evaluate where to stay, the weather, what schools I would enroll my children in, and so much more. 

It’s always a unique experience to relocate with your family. This decision comes with a lot of responsibility too, of course. I wanted to enroll my children in the best school to help them receive a holistic education that focused on growth and creativity. 

For neighborhoods, it’s always a tough choice because there are so many beautiful places to choose from. A scouting trip could be a good start if you haven’t ever been to Portugal before. It helps to evaluate what life is like and which neighborhood to pick. And if you need any facilities nearby, like access to hospitals or your children’s school, it’s best to check these things in person. 

For more complex things like real estate, consultation and guidance is super important. Legal counseling from professionals in Portugal was crucial to getting paperwork done quickly and effectively.

Q. What was the biggest challenge you had to face?

It’s a bittersweet decision to leave everything behind. On one hand, you get to start afresh and grow as a person, but you also miss everything you’ve grown up with.

Leaving behind family and friends was a big challenge. It’s about the people. It’s difficult to leave all that behind and create a new life. But it takes time to get used to this new life. Just a few months later, you’re having the best time of your life! 

Fortunately, online resources help. And having people visit or going back to visit is always fun! It means I get to share my experiences and bond with my family back home more. 

Q. Do you recommend any particular tools, resources, or apps for expats?

Downloading public transportation apps to help you get around town will save time and money. The transport system in Portugal is pretty seamless in more populous cities like Lisbon and Porto. Few people like to drive their own cars, but generally, the public transport system will get you around the city.

For entertainment options, there are local magazines and websites that list the many amazing museums, concerts, restaurants, and events in town. There’s always something going on and something to take part in. Either it’s something I’m interested in or my children. Either way, if you like to be creative with your leisure, research more about where you can enjoy as an expat. 

Q. After living in Portugal, do you feel like you want to explore another country as an expat?

Yes! There are so many captivating places to discover out there. Modern humans lived as nomads for most of our history. So, the urge to travel around the globe feels natural for a reason.

But for now, there’s still so much to explore and enjoy in Portugal. It’s always an adventure!

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With that, we would like to officially conclude our expat interview with Barbara. Before we get into the details of how she made it possible, we wanted to extend our gratitude to her for being a part of this expat interview. 

Leaving everything behind and living abroad is always a nerve-racking experience. To share candid parts of your journey to help others never goes unnoticed. 

If you’re an expat in Portugal or Spain and would like your story to be featured on our blog, feel free to contact our team! We’ll reach out to you as soon as possible, and you’re more than welcome to share everything about the process. 

Now, let’s move on to how expats can relocate to Portugal! Is the process tough or complicated? We’re about to summarize it for you! 

How do you become an expat in Portugal?

First, it’s important to start with the right questions. Do you know where to live? Do you know about your privileges as a legal resident in Portugal? Have you explored enough neighborhoods and schools to know whether your family can adjust seamlessly? 

Once you’ve evaluated your answers to these questions, let’s discuss what kind of legal documents you must present and what visa can apply to you. 

As you can tell from the expat interview, the process is smooth sailing from there. Once you know your visa type and requirements, reaching out to Viv Europe will mean everything else gets sorted on its own. Receive periodic updates and focus on making the best last memories in your home country! 

Types of Visa for Expats in Portugal

Here’s a list of all the different types of Visas for expats that Viv Europe helps with: 

In case you’re confused about which one you qualify for, feel free to get in touch with Viv Europe’s relocation experts! 

Do you need Visa assistance?

Requiring visa assistance is a pretty standard experience. Just like Barbara, many families opt to receive expert legal help to get started on their relocation journey. When you’re dealing with complicated applications as an expat family, you’re bound to get stuck somewhere along the process. 

Don’t fret at all! Viv Europe is your all-in-one resource to get things sorted from start to finish. Whether it’s your visa application, school enrollment, or finding a property to acquire, we do it all! 

For more questions or stories like our expat interview, join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats. You probably have a long list of questions ready; let’s start answering them! For personal guidance, book a consultation with Viv Europe and kickstart your journey. 

*All photos of our guests are used with permission for this expat interview only. Unauthorized use of these photos is strictly prohibited. 



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