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Are you an expat planning to move to Portugal? If so, learning Portuguese may be one of the best things you can do to ensure successful adaptation.

Not only will it help you communicate more effectively, but it will also provide you with valuable cultural insight into the Portuguese way of life. By learning the language, you can make new connections, gain a deeper understanding of the country, and ultimately thrive as an expat in Portugal.

In this blog, we will present the main reasons that might inspire you to learn to speak Portuguese. We’ll cover how to get started and whether it’s even worth it.


The importance of learning Portuguese

Portugal is a very receptive country with a low cost of living which makes it a great place to live. In many parts of the country, it is difficult to find people who don’t speak Portuguese.

Learning Portuguese can come in handy when negotiating the rent, explaining symptoms at the medical centre, or resolving some bureaucracy in public services. You should also learn Portuguese if you want to integrate with the Portuguese and make local friends.

The best way to make yourself at home in Portugal is to dive into the Portuguese language.


Benefits to families learning Portuguese

There are many international schools in Portugal, so your children are able to go to school which predominantly speaks in their native language – while still learning some Portuguese.

While remaining true to their culture, it is nice to learn Portuguese and meet new friends in the neighbourhood. Not only can this help your children adjust to their new lifestyle, but it can also reduce homesickness as well.

You might find your first few days extremely confusing if you’re not living in an area with a large expat community. Getting around can be challenging if you don’t speak Portuguese.

You will be surprised by how impressed people will be if you learn how to communicate. Take your time to learn words, practice at a coffee shop, and you will be surprised by how welcoming Portuguese people are.


Learning Portuguese: the basics

Wanting to start learning Portuguese, well here are some useful vocabulary tips in the day-to-day life of an expatriate in Portugal.


With the golden sun and perfect weather, people in Portugal often spend their time outside of their homes. It is common to see people sitting in a café or a park nearby without any company, and sometimes alone as well.

Even if you are not interested in having a long conversation, greeting a stranger in Portuguese can instantly bring a smile to their face because we are often around other people. You won’t be judged for greeting a stranger; it’s common practice.

Here are a few ways to greet people around Portugal:


It’s common to see Portuguese taking 2-hour lunch breaks and enjoying a cup of coffee during the workday. It is not uncommon for people to bond over lunch and plan their next outings with their friends. They value spending time with friends rather than hurrying.

On Sundays, Portuguese families host lunches to celebrate love and enjoy being around their loved ones. You will soon get used to the culture and enjoy celebrating meals with Portuguese friends.

To add to your vocabulary, here are some words related to meals:

Why learning Portuguese helps you thrive as an expat


There’s always a risk of something going wrong, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Even though Portugal is a major tourist attraction, not all people are proficient in English and many Portuguese will be the only language spoken. Just to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to memorise some sentences before you go to the hospital.

By practising it you will be able to quickly adjust if the worst should happen, which means that communicating will not be difficult because of your adaptation to the new healthcare system. Alternatively, you may choose to access private healthcare in Portugal. Privately run hospitals offer shorter waiting lines, better facilities, and English-speaking doctors.

No matter how well-prepared one may be for the likelihood of an emergency, there’s some comfort in knowing a few useful phrases, even if they won’t apply to you:

Why learning Portuguese helps you thrive as an expat


Naturally, you’ll purchase something on your first day in Portugal. After all, you will want to explore this exciting new country! Perhaps something tasty you saw while walking back home, a new light bulb for your apartment, or a piece of furniture you can’t take your eyes off.

It’s helpful to know a few phrases you could use at a nearby convenience store. This way, if you are ever at a store, you have the chance of understanding what’s going on even if you don’t need anything in particular.

So, how would you ask for some money? We will take care of you:

Why learning Portuguese helps you thrive as an expat


Knowing the language means knowing the culture

There is a lot to discover in Portugal. Not only due to the landscapes and weather but also because of it’s rich cultural heritage. It would be a huge waste not to experience the rich Portuguese culture while you are there.

The Portuguese way of life, people’s warm reception, and long lunches during the day cannot be overlooked. The language reflects Portugal’s identity, of course.

Even though all languages share the same letters, there are expressions and jokes that are specific to one language, unique words, and rhymes that can’t be translated across languages. One of the reasons why learning a language can be rewarding.


Speaking Portuguese isn’t always necessary

It is common for foreigners not to speak the local language yet continue living their lives in Portugal.

In the Algarve, with it’s large British population, cities like Albufeira and Lagoa have English-only businesses and employers, English breakfast served at all cafés, and English-language newspapers. Portugal is like a little England in the middle of the country.

In addition, not everyone can learn a new language. As long as you respect the Portuguese culture and its history, the Portuguese will welcome you with open arms.


Ready to live in Portugal?

To start pursuing your dreams of living in Portugal, contact RHJ Group and receive the best guidance from professionals!

Let us help you with getting a visa and opening a bank account to make your move here as smooth and stress-free as possible.

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