The girl & I moved to Portugal at the beginning of this month. I have plenty to scribble about concerning what I have observed, but until I have gone through the system fully, I shan’t voice an opinion as it would be highly biased towards initial first impressions, which naturally, is rarely fair nor representative of the whole experience.
That said, it’s fair to imply that Portuguese bureaucracy is plagued with historical quirks and procedures that frequently appear to slow down progress of anyone progressive enough to want to get up and make shit happen. This is, on one hand, an annoyance, but the glacial approach to fulfilling basic requirements (residency, banking, social integration) does have an upside. The best thing about the bureaucracy is that it’s always catching up to me, not the other way around.
Let’s take banking for instance. To have fully operational accounts, it took me close to 2 weeks – which is insane. In that same time, I opened an account in Germany and had it working in the span of 7 hours. All from Portugal and without ever having to meet anyone (God bless, N26). This approach to artificial administrative slow down gives me the breathing room to plan my fiscal future. Before I even received my bank card from my Portuguese bank, I had already studied its financial health/trustworthiness, what financial products I wanted to utilize, the terms and conditions attached to said financial products and the ones I really, really needed to avoid, etc., etc..
A concrete example of the madness – I added the girl to my Portuguese bank account and was told in no uncertain terms that it was impossible for her to order a card under her name at the same time (even though she was successfully added to the account), and that I would have to go back in 10 days to make a separate card application. What. On. Earth.
Effectively, I would argue that an apathetic bureaucratic monolith like those found in Portugal will offer you the opportunity to take your time and be cautious with regards to your financial/legal moves. Because at the end of the day, you have nothing else to do whilst you wait.
As I go through the NHR system thanks to my lawyers who handle the bureaucracy for me, I can take a step back and really think about the state of my affairs, how I should structure them in the long term for maximum benefit, and what pitfalls I need to avoid.
This is a huge contrast with my experiences in the UK where, as an incorporated entity, I frequently felt like I was stumbling from one issue to the next. My optimisation was sub-par to an almost perverse degree and in many ways it resulted in a less than favourable environment for me.