Discover why it’s never a dull moment among the locals! Read all about adopting the Portuguese way of life to be truly happy as an expat.

Last Updated on April 24, 2024 by

Living in Portugal changes people – of course, for the better. You’d expect your life to improve after spending it in the fourth-safest country globally. Expats can surely testify in support of this. But how does adopting the Portuguese way of life make them happier? 

In this article, we will talk about the Portuguese quality of life and what it takes to live like a Portuguese citizen. Find out how people spend their life here and what contributes to improving their mental health. 

It’s the tiny lifestyle differences that set us apart from achieving what we want for ourselves and our families. However, is it actually possible to become happier after changing where you choose to reside? Let’s find out; happy reading! 

Portugal makes you happier

What makes Portugal different? 

As we mentioned earlier, many expatriates from around the world agree that Portugal is a wonderful country to live in. But there’s more to it.

The Portuguese way of life can make a huge difference in how you see the world. It can be seen as a philosophy, a religion, or a point of view. But it sure has its perks.

Most expats in Portugal are people who had spent far too much time around a noisy, hustle-based, and fast-paced lifestyle that had drained them to the max. It’s not good for your mental health, and it sure is not good for your physical health either.

Adopting these simple Portuguese habits can make you see life in a new color. Take a look at what Portugal and its people can do for you. Discover what it’s like to be a true Portuguese!

Don’t rush; enjoy the situation

Have you ever been to Portugal? If not, allow us to describe the environment for you. 

It seems time goes by in slow motion over here. Streets aren’t suffocatingly overcrowded, cars don’t honk unnecessarily, and people don’t rush to work with a coffee in their hand.  

The Portuguese culture is known for its carpe diem essence. That means nothing in Portugal is ever too important to handle right now (of course, if we’re not talking about an urgent situation).

Being late is part of the Portuguese charm, something that shocks northern Europeans especially. Of course, the Portuguese still value and respect other people’s time, but nothing is ever too important to miss out on the beautifully mundane things that make life worth living. 

This way of life is much more relaxing than feeling the pressure to produce and deliver a lot as soon as possible.

Sometimes taking a break is just what you need, and the Portuguese people have mastered this carefree lifestyle. No wonder people’s mental health significantly improves after moving here! 

Take long lunch breaks and enjoy food

In some countries, people work all day long and leave for home early, never having a nice lunch on a weekday. The Portuguese people, though, intentionally do things differently.

Unlike most European countries, it’s not uncommon for people in Portugal to take a 2-hour lunch break from work to eat calmly and deeply (and also to have a chit-chat). After all, the food in Portugal is too good to be shoved in the belly without relishing it.

The Portuguese take their meals very seriously. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the fresh local produce and delicious seafood, as well as feel the sense of community around. 

Meals are sacred in Portugal

Lunch in Portugal is a kind of art, and being so, it must be properly appreciated. Cooking a hearty meal is commonly preferred over buying fast food, although people love sitting at Portuguese cafes for coffee! 

Almost everyone knows how to cook at least one meal really well. Codfish is a favorite among many and is also an important part of the cuisine. This might seem like a small change in your lifestyle, but adopting the Portuguese way for the long term will help you notice significant improvements over time. 

So, eat your bacalhau (codfish) as you mean it.

Take some time to talk to the family in the meantime.

If possible, go home and rest your eyes, and don’t forget to drink coffee and a glass of Port wine afterward!

Enjoy summer outside at every opportunity

The Portuguese summer was one of Europe’s best-kept secrets until the last decade. And now Portugal welcomes millions of tourists every year, and we love it! 

Some of the most beautiful beaches and natural parks are located in Portugal, and you must not waste any chance of enjoying them the most.

Coincidentally or not, people from Portugal tend to enjoy the outdoors to the maximum in summer. Expats and locals from various parts of the country flock over to the Algarve region to take a breath of fresh air and relax by the seaside. 

It’s the time when residents travel the most, and it’s as if summer and fun were synonymous. There are lots of activities for all groups of age, no matter which city you live in. You’ll find people on the streets any time of the day. 

Portugal doesn’t even have such severe winters (depending on the region), but even so, people know how to enjoy life.

Be part of the community: offer help

One of the most striking characteristics of the Portuguese people is their willingness to help. They are very welcoming and friendly, to begin with, but it also takes conscious effort to offer help and be kind. Adopting this about the Portuguese way of life can actually have a profound positive impact on your quality of life too. 

Kindness breeds kindness, and in a new country, a new friend can certainly be a lifesaver. Also, being helpful is a great way to make friends. You don’t have to go out of your way to be there for people, but taking time out to do so is definitely something that the Portuguese practice intentionally. 

They are neighborly by nature, love to receive visitors, and also give away food. The act of donating brings benefits to mental well-being. Actions as tiny as guiding someone to a new address are gratifying for your own consciousness. 

Being a part of the community among new expats and locals near you will also allow you to bond over different areas of life and perhaps even get help when you need it the most. 

Moving to a new country is never easy, especially not when you’re doing it alone. Sometimes, this very community can get you through those tough days and waves of sadness and homesickness. 

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Understand that ‘Saudade’ is a part of life

The Portuguese word ‘saudade’ has no specific translation to English, but it has plenty of meaning.

Saudade is a type of melancholic feeling you get when you are sad about missing someone or a place or a time, and it’s ok to be sad about missing a loved one.

It’s part of Portuguese history – with all the navigation and immigration, and also part of their culture.

Many Portuguese families migrate to other countries, while more and more foreigners migrate to Portugal. Yet, this balance is a peaceful one. Immigrants are welcome in the country.

However strange it may sound at first, there is also beauty in sadness.

This emotion is real and deep and common to many people. So, when you are in Portugal missing your homeland, tell your family at home that you have ‘saudade’. It’s also a way to say ‘I love you’ or ‘amo-te’.

Work to live, don’t live to work

Yes, working from 9 am to 5 pm is a part of most of our lives, and the Portuguese people are known for being hardworking.

But work doesn’t have to be the only thing that defines us.

The Portuguese way of life has a lot to do with how you deal with priorities.

Of course, responsibility is important, and working brings home the bacon, but being a workaholic will not bring you any joy in life.

First, you should think about spending time with your friends, having a coffee at work and laughing about it. It sure makes work less stressful and your life lighter.

Spend the entire Sunday with the family

Sunday is a day to have lunch with the family, and we don’t mean just your children and spouse.

By family, the Portuguese also mean your cousins, grandparents, neighbors, and closest friends.

Portuguese people value family a lot

It’s the day when Portuguese families sit around a big table and spend hours doing what they love most: eating and drinking, chatting and gossiping.

This kind of event is part of the local tradition, especially in small villages, and is a great way to keep family ties strong. Besides, it’s always great to be around your loved ones.

Choose your battles

The Portuguese people avoid conflict as much as possible, as can also be seen historically. They always try to do things differently: by smooth-talking and pacifying. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Portuguese people are always soft and kind. They can be really rigid sometimes, but this doesn’t mean they like conflicts.

Ever since Napoleon was tricked by the Portuguese king who fled to Brazil, the world could see that Portugal doesn’t waste its time in wars or battles it can’t win.

They know their strengths and weaknesses and only get in conflict when absolutely necessary. And don’t underestimate the Portuguese, for this has shown to be a great way to avoid unnecessary casualty.

Make an effort to be welcoming

Have some wine! Join us for dinner! Eat more! The Portuguese are famous for being friendly people.

Even if you don’t speak their language, they will try to speak your language to make you feel understood.

You don’t get anything from being distant and cold, but being a welcoming person can guarantee you some new friends or wholesome dinner invites!

Honestly, they will be content with only the feeling of generosity, but you could also say ‘Obrigado’ and smile. It works every time.

Adopting the Portuguese way of life isn’t hard

It isn’t hard, and although easy, it is very rewarding.

The Portuguese way of life is about understanding that you are not always in power, that you should enjoy the small things in life, and love those around you deeply.

Yes, Portugal is a small country with a very humble culture. It’s not perfect. However, the world has a lot to learn from the mild, and Portugal has much to be proud of.

If you wish to live in Portugal and experience their way of life yourself, we would love to help!

Experts at Viv Europe can help you at any stage of your relocation to Portugal. From visa appliances to real estate investment or enrolling your children in school, we’re at your service.

Get in touch and let us turn your Portugal dream into a reality while you start packing your bags!



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