Portugal is divided into three regions—north, center, and south. The southern part of Portugal is more rural and is where we tend to get a lot of European expats from Germany, England, and France. The center of Portugal, where Lisbon is included, we tend to get other nationalities, such as Brazilians, we’re starting to get some Americans, Canadians, and even from Asia; Japanese. And then in the north of Portugal, we get a lot of expats from the the wine producing countries, people from New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa because this region is very famous because of the Port Wine. There are a lot of wine vineyards up north in Portugal and these people come to retire because of the weather, because of the lifestye, and many other factors. They tend to come straight to the north of Portugal. There are also a lot of old beautiful palaces and villas for which the purchase price in Portugal is very affordable for people coming from these countries. So it tends to be divided. Europeans go more to the south of Portugal, the wine-producing countries go to the north of Portugal, and in Lisbon it’s a mixture of many cultures.
In order to make any generalizations about the expats in Portugal depends a lot on the age factor. Several weeks ago the Portuguese Tourism Board released a brilliant video just with foreigners, expats talking about our country. In this video are shown people from all ages, from all sectors talking about our country. From a scientist to doctors, to architects—every single field is represented and there’s someone telling their story about Portugal.
The view of these people of Portugal is that it’s great living here. When, as a country, we struggled economically a few years ago, we immediately understood that we’re dependent on every single penny that entered our country. So for a long time, 500 years ago when we started discovering the world, we’re all in contact with many cultures and we had to have a lot of public relations in our blood to achieve what we did. We negotiated with India, Asia, Brazil, and that made us a very easygoing culture. We’ve adapted through all these years and when we had the economic struggle a few years ago, we knew immediately that we had to treat foreigners very well coming here so they would remain and they would spend their money here and they would help us economically. So therefore, we got used to that way to exchange information with foreigners and the process had been like this for the last 20 or 30 years.
In Portugal we like foreigners because the foreigners have done a lot of good for us that helped develop our country. So we are very grateful for the foreigners; very, very grateful. And we all have open smiles, we open our houses to foreigners, we invite them with food because we’re so eager for them to get to know our culture that we receive them very well. Our opinion about foreigners is wonderful; it’s great, absolutely great.
Recently, there have been a few issues because the European Union now is wide open, and because of all these problems with the Middle East and we have become a bit suspicious of some of the people from Middle Eastern countries, but with the rest of the world we are completely open-hearted.