After recently visiting Algarve, I’m convinced that moving to Portugal (maybe Algarve, Porto, or Lisbon) would significantly improve my quality of life. I’m still focused on my work in Berlin, but the nature of what I do does not always require my physical presence. It’s hard to plan that far ahead, but I’ll probably start soon – would be best to get a decent start learning Portuguese before making the move.

Here are a few of the things I noticed while in Algarve:

Obvious Things

Beautiful Weather (300/365 days of sunshine)

  • Late sunset – Sagres, Algarve has the latest sunset in Europe
  • Ubiquitous green shrubbery
  • Ocean views

Can’t overstate how much sunlight and greenery boost mood => increase productivity, reduce stress, and make you happy :)

Cheap Living (arguably lowest cost of living in Europe; 29% less than US)

  • Food - e.g. a bag of clementines is 1,29 euros, basic snacks and chips can vary between 0,50 - 1,00 euro
  • Uber - most rides were between 5-10 euros, a steal compared to Berlin and other places I’ve been
  • Clothing - shopping at Code I got new khakis, a polo, and a jean jacket for slightly under 30 euros
  • Housing - prices align with very cheap cost of living

Great Infrastructure

  • dense fiber networks, high ongoing investment in 5G => fast internet, great cellular coverage
  • high usage of renewable resources
  • Smooth Roads
    • “The Portuguese road infrastructure was considered the best in Europe and the second best in the world by the World Economic Forum (2014-2015)” -src
      • lots of roundabouts instead of traffic lights (so no waiting at stop lights, but this only works for relatively low throughput intersections)
  • Clean Tap Water
  • Self Check Out At Stores (sometimes not available in Berlin for example)
  • Great Airport Location
    • close to Africa, Europe, and the US (~the middle of all of these)
    • clean, well kept relative to other congested and overused international airports

Secret Pros

Amazing Clementines

  • access to Brazilian food including Guarana

Carefree Culture

  • low stress environment, more caring and patient people
    • seeming lack of racism and prejudice based on physical differences
  • example: less stringent age restrictions
    • drinking, etc. (cultural differences => less pedantic, more open-minded)
    • no “young driver fee” for car rentals

Benefits for Young Adults, Youth

  • perhaps because of the ongoing brain drain, Portugal offers numerous discounts to adults younger than 25 or 29 (depending on the good/service)
    • eg 25% off train rides if younger than 25

Fun Malls

  • live, social atmosphere on the weekends (stark contrast to dying US malls)
  • toddlers driving small cars 😂

Less commercial advertising garbage

  • little to no annoying billboards on highways
  • few if any commercials on TV

Beautiful People

  • probably the result of a healthier diet and nice weather (which is conducive to more outdoor exercise)

Bonus: Visiting Spain

The drive from Algarve to Ayamonte, Spain is roughly 40 minutes. That’s less than half the amount of time it took to me to get to UVA from NOVA. Moreover, EU open borders ensures that you don’t have to interact with any annoying bureaucracy. This means I can eat breakfast by the beach in Algarve, drive to Spain for lunch, practice Spanish with locals, and still very easily make it back for the beautiful Algarve sunset.

Cons

I really hate waiting in line. However, the carefree culture at Algarve implies a significant lack of urgency for processing tasks that require employee intervention. For example, while renting a car, our paperwork had been signed and only needed to be stapled by an employee before it was returned to us. While waiting, we overhead the employee enter a casual conversation with a coworker in which the coworker even asked what we were waiting for and the employee’s response that we were waiting for them to staple our papers. There was clearly no mal intent, just a projection of time preferences.

I’m sure that this also translates positively to things like drivers yielding to pedestrians more often. I would guess that most people in Algarve are more patient in general.

Eu Quero Aprender Portugues

I’m feeling motivated to learn Portuguese. I definitely think it would be easier than German; mostly because when I speak Spanish in Portugal, people can understand what I’m saying. I believe there is a strict subset of spanish that also exists in Portuguese, but there are some noticeable differences when it comes to pronunciation and spelling.

A few simple rules for mapping from Spanish to Portuguese that seem to hold (based on my limited exposure):

  1. Replace uie with ue:
    • quiero => quero
  2. Often times ending with n are replaced by m
    • con => com
    • compran => compram
  • (1) && (2): alguien => alguem

Update: After a quick search, I found that there are many more rules. Muito interessante 😎