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We Left Lisbon For The Portuguese Countryside - Which Is Better?

For almost three years, our family has been living in Portugal. During that time we made the move from Lisbon, the capital, to the Silver Coast, a coastal region north of the city.

When we first moved to this country we never even considered living in the countryside. But it turns out that if you move to Portugal, the decision between city life and country life is an important one you’ll need to make. So today I’m going to explain the pros and cons of both. If you’re planning a move to this gorgeous country, I hope these points make it easier to choose where you want to live.

Portuguese City VS Countryside: Major Differences

First, a side-note: what are we talking about when we say ‘city’ and ‘countryside’? Well, when people think about moving to a Portuguese city, Lisbon and Porto are usually the two places that come to mind. These are the two major cities. The ‘countryside’ could be any rural area from the Silver Coast, to central Portugal, to the Algarve, etc.

I’m going to share some of the major differences between living in cities here and living in the countryside.

Cost of Living

Something that stuck out to us straight after moving to the countryside, was how much lower the costs of living are compared to Lisbon and Porto. In fact, after moving to the Silver Coast we realized that our living costs had been cut in half. Once you move out of the major cities, everything costs less. We keep well below our budget and are often shocked by how little we spend on certain weeks.


When we lived in Lisbon we had a three-bedroom apartment, with people living above us, below us, and on all sides. We felt like sardines packed into a tin, living on top of a ton of people. In the countryside, it's the complete opposite! Our home has an acre of land, with no neighbors behind the property so we get a sweeping vista we can look out on from the backyard.

Typically, city life means living in a smaller apartment, and country life offers detached single-family homes you can rent or buy. This brings us to the price of housing in these different locations.

Our family lives in a three-bedroom two-bath house with two kitchens and an acre of land. It cost 190,000. For that price in Lisbon, you are looking at a studio or one-bedroom apartment.

Now if you follow our blog you may already know that we negotiated our home down from 250,000. A lot of people want to know what our buying strategies were, especially people who are considering making the move to Portugal. If you’re one of those people, Amon and I actually started a course on the relocation process which you might be interested in.

Communicating in English

When you live in Portuguese cities you’ll find a lot of people who speak English (and a lot of Portuguese classes for English speakers!). But the further you move out of the cities, the fewer you’ll find either of these things. If you’re coming to the country with zero knowledge of Portuguese, this could be a little tricky.

One upside of this, however, is that living in the countryside gives us plenty of opportunities to practice our Portuguese, more so than in Lisbon or Porto where so many speak some level of English.


There’s a much stronger sense of community in the countryside than in the city. When we first moved here, many of our neighbors came and introduced themselves, and vice versa. Everyone knows each other and everyone looks out for each other, which is a far cry from Lisbon.

That’s not to say that people in the capital are cold or unfriendly! There’s just so much going on in the city that it feels like you never have enough time to just sit down and connect with people like you can in the countryside.


We never owned a car living in Lisbon, since we could take public transport virtually anywhere. But in the countryside, it’s harder to rely on it to get around. It can be challenging if you plan to live here without a car, so in that respect, Lisbon or Porto are better options!

Things To Do

Living in Lisbon, there’s no shortage of things to do! Restaurants, festivals, concerts, sporting events, all took place right on our doorstep. In the countryside, on the other hand, there are far fewer activities in your vicinity.

You can still take part in the same things, you just need to travel further to do it. But there are also things you can only do in the countryside - like cycling on the coast and in the countryside. There are more extensive outdoor activities on offer in rural areas.


In Lisbon, you can eat practically anything you want. The food in the capital city is incredible! That’s not to say the food in the countryside is bad, but there is so much more variety and diversity at Lisbon restaurants and supermarkets. Vegan restaurants, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, you name it.

Compare that to the countryside where most restaurants offer traditional Portuguese fare. Meat, bread, rice, etc. Accept that if you live in the countryside you’ll probably put on a bit of weight.


Living in the cities, there are definitely more private hospitals to choose from. But in the countryside, they are fewer and far in-between. Despite this, we still think you have very good access to healthcare even outside of the cities. Take a look at this video about our daughter's trip to a countryside hospital to see what I mean.

Fellow Expats

In larger Portuguese cities you’ll find a lot more ex-pats, and these places are where you’re most likely to meet people from your own country. In the countryside, you’re more likely to find small pockets of ex-pats from one country, say a group of French or Germans in one area, compared to the city where you can a good blend of ex-pats from all over. This is something to consider if you want to meet people from your home country.

After almost three years living in Portugal, we’re very happy with our home on the Silver Coast. One thing we’ve really noticed is that the countryside is so small that you really do get the best of both worlds. It’s easy to go from the countryside back to the city for a weekend, and vice versa.

There are so many opportunities to live the kind of lifestyle you want in Portugal. If you’re interested in living as an ex-pat here, check out more of our blog posts and videos on our YouTube channel at OurRichJourney.


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Hello, We’re Amon & Christina

We’re former federal government employees that focused on saving, making, and investing money so that we could grow enough wealth in our investments to never have to work again.

And, guess what? We did it! At the age of 39, we reached financial independence, quit our jobs, and . . . we retired!

So, if you’re interested in learning how to save, make and invest money on the road to financial independence and retiring early (i.e., F.I.R.E.) - this site is for you!

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