Making the Most of your Move
- Learn the language. This may take longer than you think and it's worth starting long before you move. Learning Portuguese will not only make all of the legal and official processes involved a lot easier, but it will help you integrate better with the natives and give you a greater sense of belonging to the community.
- Family and close extended family is of primary importance to the Portuguese. Don't allow yourself to become isolated in your new home - accept all invitations from your neighbours!
- Get in the festive spirit! Festivals are a big deal in Portugal, especially the Romarias (pilgrimages), which are local religious celebrations of patron saints.
- Join an online ex-pat forum such as www.expatforum.com and www.expatsportugal.com. There you can talk to people who have already made the move and get invaluable advice on the benefits of living in Portugal as well as some of the potential pitfalls.
Following the Rules
Portuguese laws differ subtly from UK ones so it is easy to accidentally get into trouble. Similarly, if you do not understand the local customs and etiquette you run the risk of offending your new neighbours. Here is a quick list of things to watch out for.
- It is compulsory to carry replacement headlamp bulbs, high-visibility jackets and a warning triangle in your car at all times.
- The alcohol limit for driving is lower in Portugal than in the UK. You can be fined, lose your licence or face a prison sentence if you are caught driving over the limit. If in doubt, don't drive
- It is illegal to discriminate against Portuguese citizens on the basis of gender and sexuality. In recent years Portugal has become one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world and their legal system promotes tolerance and support for all LGBT citizens.
- The Portuguese tend to be very formal, especially when meeting new people. Ensure you are always polite and well-mannered when introducing yourself to your new neighbours! If you are invited to a Portuguese home for dinner, you will usually be expected to bring a gift of flowers or chocolates for the hostess.
Portugal is a wonderful country but you might find you miss some of the more unique quirks of living in the UK. Don't worry, The British Corner Shop (www.britishcornershop.com) delivers UK products all over Portugal. If you prefer not to shop online try the Food4Brits shop in Arganil (tel: (+351) 911 080 665). You can even find an Iceland in the Algarve (Lugar da Tavagueira, Tavagueira, 8200-425 GUIA ALBUFEIRA 00351 289561564).
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