Expat Voices: Piglet in Portugal

Expat Voices: Piglet in Portugal

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Piglet in Portugal suggests expats rent for a year before they buy, as she's seen many bail out once the honeymoon period is over.

Personal details
Name: PiP
Nationality: English
Country of residence: Portugal
Civil status: Married
Occupation: Retired
Reason for moving to Portugal: Early retirement, better climate and slower pace of life.
Lived in Portugal for: 5yrs

What was your first impression of Portugal?

We first came to the Algarve in 1983 for a holiday when our children were very young. The one thing that really stood out in my mind was the pace of life--it was so slow it was almost in reverse. It took forever to get anything done but the people were so friendly we quickly learned to accept “today” may equally mean “tomorrow”. The beaches were also beautiful with miles of golden sand. The Southern Algarve was unspoilt at that time and Portimao was just a small fishing town.

What do you think of the food?


If I am totally honest I am not keen on Portuguese cuisine. Apart from the desserts, it is a little to “rustic” and salty for me and I actually prefer Italian, French or English traditional recipes. I know there are those who will disagree, but I am thinking about the whole package. However, the quality of fresh meat and vegetables in the supermarket far exceeds that of the UK. Chickens are not pumped full of water and the mince not full of fat.

What do you think of the shopping in Portugal?


It really depends what you are looking for. Since moving to the Algarve, three new retail parks have opened so we now have a far greater choice. Ladies, when it comes to clothes shopping there is not a tremendous selection of shops for the “fuller figure” and apart from CA’s, clothes tend to be expensive. Thank goodness for online shopping!  Baby accessories i.e. pushchairs, cots, highchairs etc. only seem to be available in designer boutiques or supermarkets. I am told they do not have the Portuguese equivalent to Mothercare, for example. Furniture, computers and electrical goods are also expensive.

What do you appreciate about living in Portugal?ocean view in Algarve

I like the people, the slower pace of life and, of course, the weather.

I am lucky to have over 80 beaches in the Algarve, 69 of which have a blue flag. The unspoilt beaches of the West coast are beautiful and are well worth a visit. I have reviewed a few of my favorites on my blog (http://pigletinportugal.wordpress.com/beaches/). I answered the questions for this interview while sitting on a bench overlooking the Praia da Luz. A beautiful sunny morning in an idyllic location. See picture to the right...

What do you find most frustrating about living in Portugal?

The slower pace of life, means slow. I enjoy it until I want something done in a hurry. Catch 22! Customer service is often not that great and lack of language skills, on my part, means it can be difficult to get my point across assertively!

The most frustrating thing about living in Portugal is learning the language, as I am not a natural linguist. I can now string a sentence together but once I’ve asked a question, I am unable to understand the reply!

What puzzles you about Portugal and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?

Their lack of marketing skills when promoting a business puzzles me. For example, you often see an advert promoting a restaurant in a newspaper, but they do not say where it is! What a waste of money and missed opportunity.

How does the quality of life in Portugal compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?

I can only compare it to the UK and it is like comparing chalk and cheese.

If you could change anything about Portugal, what would it be?

Driving, I would make everyone retake their driving test. The standard of driving is appalling here. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article, “12 survival tips” about this. 

What advice would you give to a newcomer?

Look before you make the leap. Think about what is important in the way of lifestyle vs. location. If you move to a rural area – how will you fill your days?
Rent for a year before you buy, as many expats bail out once the honeymoon holiday is over and reality dawns – this is it!

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