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Living in the Interior of Portugal  

Living in the Interior of Portugal  

It’s not news to anyone that in big cities time goes too fast, and the traffic too slow. This way of life can become tiresome for you as an individual, and detrimental to your relationship with your family.  

Deciding to live in the interior of Portugal is one of the best ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the big urban centres whilst gaining time, space and quality of life. Living in the countryside is also safer and can be far more economical.    

The search for a more balanced, healthier and happier way of life for the whole family has led more and more Portuguese families to seek peace and quiet, and migrate to the interior of the country.    

Contrary to what happened with our parents and grandparents, during a time when mass migration focused on the big cities as these were the only places they could find a "good job" and achieve the life they aspired to; today's younger generation, between the ages of 25 and 40, seeks the opposite.  

This generation is a more conscious generation that prioritises good food, fresh air and the physical and psychological well-being of the whole family.    

When we talk about improving quality of life, we are not just referring to the peace and tranquillity that we can find in the interior of the country, away from the noise of the big cities and all the traffic jams and crowded public transport. We are also talking about the economical benefits, because living in the interior also has its advantages in this way: the cost of housing, both for buying and renting, is on average 3 to 5 times cheaper than in the big urban centres.   

Food is a topic that also deserves our attention: in the villages produce is often harvested from the inhabitants’ own gardens (and is therefore healthier) and when that doesn't happen there is always a friendly neighbour who doesn't mind sharing his or her harvest. The human and social side is also an added value for inhabitants of these villages. In the city, due to lack of time and a larger concentration of people, it is not easy to meet all the neighbours, even for the most sociable people. Often you know someone who lives in a building but you don't know who the inhabitants are. In the interior, there is a great sense of community and a great spirit of mutual help that has existed for generations. Proof of this can be seen in the testimony of Patrícia Guerra, who left Lisbon at the age of 28 to return to the interior where she was born:  

 "I was born in the area of Trancoso. When I was 11 we moved to Lisbon. I made many friends there, I grew up and studied, but the desire to return was always with me. In 2010, at the age of 28, by professional invitation I returned to my hometown. The advantages of living here are that I have more family time, my children are in schools nearby and we can walk to work. There is more interaction with the extended family. There is safety in the streets, everyone knows each other, they play outdoors more. In Lisbon I used to lose a lot of time in traffic, now that time is spent in the beautiful landscapes of the Douro. We travel more kilometres to go somewhere, but we get there in less time. Our food is healthier, we pick our vegetables and fruit directly from the garden. We have medieval fairs, festivals and regional customs. We know where to go if we want more movement but most days it's the tranquillity that keeps us company."    

The desire of an increasing number of families to leave the country's busy coastal cities has turned out to be one of the most unforeseen effects of the pandemic - and, above all, of the massification of teleworking. From the seductive quality of life to the financial benefits, the advantages of living in the interior of the country are countless.  

Another example of a family who chose to make the move is Lídia and David and their two daughters (one 13 and the other 7 years old) who decided to venture into a more peaceful life after the pandemic.   

"I came to live in the interior four months ago with my daughters and my husband. We came looking for a better quality of life, a life without rushing, with less stress and with more time for family and hobbies.   

My husband works remotely, which offers a great advantage because the level of job opportunities it is more complicated here, there are fewer companies, but on the other hand the "word of mouth" is quicker and people are immediately ready to help and there are fewer "trained" people, so you can create more opportunities because there is less competition.  There is even the Interior MAIS programme in which the IEFP provides help to make the job search easier.  

My daughters, the youngest in particular, found school with so few children strange at first but now they like the family atmosphere, they don't only know their friends but also their parents, grandparents and uncles. They have new activities like singing the janeiras, music academy, ringing the bell or seeing the stump at Christmas where they always meet their school friends.  

The teenager likes to feel more autonomous, catching the bus in the morning, staying with friends longer to catch the only bus there is at the end of the afternoon and she feels freer and more in tune with nature, I feel calmer!  

We miss eating sushi, the beach, Lidl, shopping centres and padel but it pays off on other levels! "  

For the country, there is also great value in this type of migration. The population is more spread out and the interior becomes better cared for and more developed. As a form of incentive, families receive financial support from the Portuguese state as long as they meet the requirements and apply for this type of programme. There are several types of support that families can apply for: it is a financial support both for workers who conclude contracts of employment as well as for those who want to create their own business.  

To give you an idea, the financial support can reach up to 4.800 euros, depending on the area where you live and on your requirements. Also in the IRC, families feel this change, the deduction for renting property increases to 1000 euros, which is on top of the deduction for education expenses. This type of support, until the end of 2023, also extends to foreign citizens who have residence in Portugal and who want to build their lives away from the big cities.   

Portugal is a country with an incredible interior, with an exceptional climate and nature, but not everything advantageous. Despite the incentives and the lower cost of living, salaries in the interior are also lower than in big cities, and there are fewer jobs. Due to the smaller number of children, there are also fewer schools and they are sometimes further away from home than they would be in larger cities. 

For lovers of culture and shows, living in the interior has some downsides as well. In the cities there is a much greater diversity of entertainment, cultural sites and.     

In reality, it's all a matter of taste, preference and personality. You have to weigh up the pros and cons and see which option makes more sense for you and your family.  

If there is one certainty that I have year after year, it’s that we will see a greater distribution of the entire Portuguese population, which will minimize the concentration in large cities. 

Writte by: Cláudia Ferreira