Why We Moved to Portugal From California
Updated: Feb 19
When we tell people we’ve decided to pack our bags and move to Portugal, a lot of people look at us with this shocked look on their face like we’re crazy and ask why. We never have just one reason so I figured I’d write about it and explain why with my top 5 reasons.
1. Lifestyle. The biggest reason for moving is because we LOVE the lifestyle in Portugal and all of Europe. It’s slower paced, the culture is so warm & inviting, the food is healthier & delicious, and there are surprisingly so many things to do in a small country. I consider Portugal to be the California of Europe. North of Portugal is the wine country just like Napa is in CA, SF is like Lisbon with its busy streets and tight spaced buildings. Lisbon even has a similar version of the Golden Gate Bridge! Then there’s southern Portugal aka Algarve which is like LA & San Diego area, always hot & sunny and surrounded by beaches, which is my personal favorite. They’re even located on the same side of the continent and are similar in shape.
However, a huge difference is that Portugal is less chaotic and the people are more friendly and well mannered. Obviously, there are going to be bad apples everywhere you go and good, humble people too. But for the most part, people in Portugal greet you good morning, good evening, etc. regularly when passing by like the good ol’ days. If you do that in most of the states, it’s unexpected and people find it strange. Sad but true. I tried asking an officer something the other night in Lisbon without saying good evening first, because I’m so used to doing that in Cali, but he stopped me mid-sentence to say good evening and it reminded me where I was and how important it is here to be polite and greet people as it should be.
2. The cost of EVERYTHING: living, school, flights all over Europe. Groceries and restaurants are a lot cheaper. You can have a nice big meal for two people for just $15, depending where you go of course and a big bag full of fresh vegetables for under $5. Flights can cost around $25-$50 to Paris or Italy but you can barely find a deal that low just to get from San Francisco to San Diego, much less to another state. As for school, I can finish studying in Lisbon for 1/8 of the cost of universities in the Bay Area. One whole year of education in Portugal could cost around $1,500. That’s the same cost as only one class at San Jose State University. The cost of living in the Bay Area has become way too expensive even for a middle class family.
3. We know the language. We speak Portuguese and have relatives throughout Portugal / Azores, which adds comfort to the transition knowing that we’ll already have people to talk to, get together with, etc. and it will be easy to communicate around Portugal. As a bonus, my parents plan on retiring and moving to Portugal in 4 years so it’ll be great having them around our growing family.
4. We wanted a change. Because we had been in the Bay Area since birth, nothing there was exciting to us anymore. Everything is so far apart and the traffic has become out of control making it less exciting to go anywhere. It’s a nice place, but we just didn’t see our future there. The only things that kept me from moving were my friends and my family, but we know we can always come back and visit and they can visit us. Ok and visit “In N Out.” I sure miss those juicy burgers!
5. Job opportunity. My husband landed a job in Lisbon which opens up opportunities for us in Europe.
I think you see where I’m going with this. It’s not to say I hate California or the US. I definitely love America and if I had a choice to live anywhere in the US, it would be San Diego. However, the opportunity was calling us so we took a chance at something we’ve both always wanted to do.
Portugal is in our blood so it’s no surprise that we gravitate towards wanting to be closer to our roots. 🇵🇹💘