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Expat Groups in Portugal

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: September 2015

Portugal is a popular country with expats and tourists alike. Portugal has around 900,000 resident foreign nationals, and more than 8 million tourists visiting every year. Most expats live in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, though there are also some on the Silver Coast and elsewhere. It will be easy to find other expats or tourists to meet with in these places especially.

Nevertheless, newcomers to Portugal may find that coping with the differences in way of life and change in day-to-day pace proves more difficult than anticipated. This can easily lead to confusion or even full-blown culture shock. Forewarned is forearmed. You can lessen the confusion by learning a little about your new place of residence before you leave home.

These days, the most comprehensive source of information on any given country is undoubtedly the internet, particularly expat websites such as Expat Briefing. There are also websites aimed specifically at expats in Portugal; these include Expats Portugal, Hey Portugal and Moving to Portugal. Such websites can explain in detail how to deal with the difficulties you may face in the country. They will help to reduce the level of culture shock you feel when you arrive in Portugal and will of course continue to be useful after you arrive.

There are also groups on social media sites such as Portugal Friends on Facebook. More specific sites are also available. For example, for women, there are sites such as International Women in Portugal and the Expat Woman site for Portugal. Also, for those wanting to take up a sport or hobby, there is Portugal Sport and Adventure.

Many expat websites include expat forums, such as the one at Expat Brieifing. Forums such as this can put you in touch with both locals and expats based in Portugal. These people will be able to offer you first-hand tips on a wide variety of topics. This can be a way to forestall possible problems and make some contacts before you arrive in Portugal.

Certainly, the internet makes it much easier for individuals to stay in touch with friends and family they left behind in their home country. However, messaging, online video and emails can only replace meeting people face-to-face up to a point. Given the large expat community in some areas, it is possible to meet and get to know other expats or tourists in bars, clubs, restaurants and other similar public places. This can also help to minimise the effects of culture shock.

There are also online expat groups that can help you to meet people. These offer you the opportunity to join regular social gatherings, meeting compatriots in a relaxed setting with the chance to pick up valuable tips on various subjects. Some of these online groups, such as  are general (rather like the diverse people you meet in normal life), but most are more specific and united by a common home country, language or particular interest. Expat group listings for Portugal can be found here and on the InterNations website.

There is a comprehensive list of a range of forums and activities open to everyone living in Portugal on the Meetup website, which covers a number of cities and areas in the country (especially Lisbon.) Subjects include volunteering, various sporting activities and language lessons. There are also events for diverse groups such as restaurant buffs, singles, vegetarians and oenologists. Similarly, InterNations facilitates regular expat events in various locations throughout Portugal, enabling individuals to meet and exchange views and information about life there.

Other expat websites are designed for individuals from a particular country, such as the British Community Council and Americans in Portugal. Many expat groups are open to accepting expats from other countries but will usually require the individual to speak their mother tongue and to have experience of living in that country.




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