Porto Vs. Lisbon For Expats – What Is The Best Option part 1 – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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It can be hard to choose between living in Porto and Lisbon. If you’re an expatriate trying to decide which city would be best for your new life in Portugal, there are some things you need to consider. The good news is that both cities have lots of cultural activities, museums, restaurants and more for you to enjoy while living here.
Before we proceed, you need to understand Porto and Lisbon are two completely different cities with distinct personalities. The best way to approach this article is to look at them as two different countries. Porto will feel like an old European city complete with medieval architecture, while Lisbon has a more modern vibe, not unlike many other major capital cities in Europe.
When moving to Portugal, you need to choose between Porto or Lisbon because both cities offer unique experiences. Sure, there are many other places in the country where you can live; but for this article, we will discuss Porto and Lisbon only.
Overview of What to Expect In Lisbon and Porto
Portugal is the name of a country in Europe. It is bordered by Spain, with which it has long been intertwined both geographically and culturally. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, provides a good place to start traveling through the country because it has a lot of unique sights that define Portugal.
The architecture here is very specific to the area. Lisbon has an old-world charm, but there are also modern things to do in Lisbon. On the other hand, Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is considered to be the birthplace of what is called “Nacional” or Portuguese architecture.
Here you will see many warehouses turned into modern apartment buildings with lots of green space and waterways running throughout. Today, we have come up with what you should expect and the one that’s comfortable to live. Check it out!
The History of Porto is Unique
As mentioned above, one of the main differences between Porto and Lisbon is that the former has a medieval feel to it, while the latter feels more modern. Porto was once considered Europe’s second-largest city after Paris, but it gradually declined in importance in the 19th and 20th centuries due to the rise in shipping in Lisbon.
Here you can still see many of its grand buildings, churches, castles, and towers, which were built over the centuries. Since Portugal has no major cities near it, Porto was one of its main trading hubs during the Middle Ages.
You can see this history in many of the streets, buildings, and homes in Porto, including The Clerigos Tower, The Saint Francis Church, Palácio da Bolsa, and The Stock Exchange Palace, to name a few.
The History of Lisbon is Storied
Lisbon also has many monuments, churches, and castles over 700 years old, including the iconic medieval castle Castelo de São Jorge. A walk around the circumference of this fortress offers stunning views over most of Lisbon. If you’re looking for a church to visit with your family, then you must check out the Sé de Lisboa, one of Portugal’s most important churches.
Although the city has many major historical sites, Lisbon is known more for its beauty than anything else. The Portuguese capital is set around seven hills, perfect for a morning jog or an evening stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, which link many of the city’s major attractions.
Porto is Much Cheaper than Lisbon
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Portugal, Porto would be a better choice than Lisbon. The minimum wage in Portugal is around €650, and the average salary is around €1000. However, in much of Europe, including Portugal, the cost of living is substantially lower than it would be in North America, for example.
After you work out how much money you need to live here and your salary, you can compare the average monthly expenses in Lisbon and Porto. The major difference between these two cities is that rent is much cheaper in Porto.
Generally speaking, your monthly rent will start from around €300 for a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Porto, and you can get two bedrooms for around €450. If you want to live in Lisbon, expect to pay at least €600 for a one-bedroom and around €850 for two bedrooms.
Lisbon Is More Expensive Than Porto
The cost of living in Portugal, especially in Lisbon, tends to be higher than other European Union countries such as Spain or Croatia. If you compare the minimum wage in both Lisbon and Porto, you will see that the average monthly salary is around €600 in Lisbon.
In addition to this, Portugal ranks as one of the most expensive countries in the world, so you can expect everything from groceries to rent, etc., to be more costly here.
If you’re looking for a short-term stay in Lisbon, an Airbnb apartment will be the most convenient option. However, if you want to settle down in Portugal, you might consider buying a property since the prices of property are still low compared to other countries in Western Europe.
Porto is Safer than Lisbon
Crime rates are generally low in Portugal, especially compared with other European cities such as London, Paris, or Rome. In general, many expats will find Porto, a safer option for their families.
However, Lisbon has a higher crime rate compared to most other large Portuguese cities and towns which is why some might prefer to settle down in Porto. The only serious crimes in Portugal are armed robberies and gang/drug-related violence, which mostly happens in Lisbon.
Living in Porto as an Expat
Portugal is one of the most popular European countries to emigrate to. The country has several pros that can be seen as advantages when moving to Portugal. Below are a few pros and cons of relocating to Porto (the second-largest city).
The Expat Life
Living in Porto, you are always an expat. Because you are not originally from here, incoming residents generally perceive life abroad as much more exciting than locals. Of course, this will vary depending on the person, but the majority of expats I’ve met so far tend to be envious of my life here, compared to their own back home.
This is especially because Portugal is still cheaper than most countries in Western Europe and has a somewhat laid-back atmosphere, something that can be difficult to find in some other European locations.
The City of Porto
Porto is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. There’s the historical part; there’s great nightlife and lots of nature surrounding it. People often consider Porto as ‘romantic’ because the city has so much character and is not just another large European city that you would get bored of in months.
Porto is not just one big town. It has multiple smaller towns and villages around it, and they’re all very different from each other, which can be nice for people looking to explore over the weekends. Some places will just look like any other village, but there are places with a lot of character.
The Peak of Inverno
In the winter months, it’s practically impossible to go outside in Porto for about 3-4 months because the temperatures are so low, and there is snow everywhere. But this also means that you get a few months of summer that can be perfect for going out on weekends and enjoying the beautiful sunny days.
Porto is a city that can be appreciated in all seasons, but I think it’s the summer that makes the biggest impression on newcomers, especially because you haven’t experienced it before. The heat, compared to many other European capitals, is just bearable. If you’re used to temperatures over 30 degrees all year long, you might be disappointed by the temperatures here.
Getting Used to the Food
The food is one of the first things new arrivals notice about Portugal. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but there are certain aspects of Portuguese cuisine that foreigners just don’t like. Luckily, Porto has a lot of restaurants serving other kinds of food as well, so you won’t be eating Portuguese food all the time.
But if you like to experience ‘authentic’ culture, you probably want to try some (or most) of the typical dishes here first hand at least once. This is generally what I recommend newcomers do to get an idea of what Portugal offers.
The Easy Life
Porto is not that big, but it does have a good public transport system. It’s one of the best ways to get around in Porto, so if you move here, don’t bother bringing your car because this city doesn’t need them. The metro here works well and gets you almost everywhere you want to go in Porto.
But the best thing about public transport in Porto is how easy it is to get around. The buses and trains in Portugal are very reliable, and if you’re just a bit patient, you’ll find that all of your transportation needs can be fulfilled with one ticket, which will work for any travel (metro, bus, or train) in Portugal.
The Public Transportation System
Porto’s public transportation system can be quite confusing to navigate, even for locals. And with over 2 million people in the metropolitan area, the commute on busses and trains can be annoying.
If you’re an Expat that doesn’t speak Portuguese well, then getting around on public transportation can be quite frustrating as bus drivers tend just to shove you off their bus once they sense that your faltering Portuguese isn’t up to par with what they expect of a local.
You Cannot Escape Politics
As an Expat in Porto, you get to be part of a culture that loves to talk about politics and current events. With major political powerhouses like the Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Party in Porto, this city is constantly abuzz with people talking about who should run for mayor and what’s going on in parliament.
Even if you’re not interested in politics, it’s hard to stay in Porto and not get caught up in one of the many political discussions that flow from every corner.
The Cost Of Living Is Fairly Expensive
Porto might have a reputation for being a cheap place to live, but most Expats report that they pay over twice as much for rent here than what they paid back home. And with the salary for an Expat not matching the cost of living, it can be difficult to save any money and prepare yourself financially for your return home.
The Weather Is Unpredictable
You might think that Porto has pretty nice weather since you’re by the ocean and lots of coastlines where you can enjoy the sun. However, Porto is a city that can be very cold and then have the next day be sunny with temperatures in the 60s.
In addition to this, Porto has lots of rainfall throughout the year, so you constantly have to prepare yourself for being caught in a sudden downpour when commuting from work or going out on the town.
It’s Hard To Meet People and Make Friends
Since Porto is such a large metropolitan area, it can be very difficult for Expats to find their niche and connect with locals.
Many Expats get frustrated that they cannot find a nightlife or social scene that matches the one back home, contributing to making them feel isolated. Also, since most Expats are here for only a year or two before they return home, it isn’t easy to make close friends.