In my quest to understand why people relocate to Portugal, I've delved beyond the obvious allure of a warm, sunny climate and lower cost of living. Through interviews and insights from immigrants and expats, I've uncovered the deeper motivations driving their decisions to start afresh in this beautiful country. Here, we explore the most compelling reasons behind their relocations.

Dissatisfaction with the Present

The realisation that one's life has not unfolded as anticipated is a common trigger for desiring a fresh start. This was especially pronounced during the Covid lockdowns, which led many people to re-evaluate their lives, work, and ways of living.

Sophie, a teacher from York now living in the Algarve, shares, "Before the lockdowns, I felt like I was just going through the motions every day—teaching classes, grading papers, and then collapsing on the sofa, exhausted. But when the world slowed down, I realised I needed a change, something more fulfilling. Here, I’ve found a new rhythm—I tutor online in my own time and on my own terms, then I volunteer at an animal shelter and reconnect with nature. Relocation has allowed me to rediscover parts of myself that I’d forgotten existed."

Career Dissatisfaction

Many of us spend a significant portion of our lives at work, and job satisfaction greatly impacts overall well-being. However, sometimes we find ourselves in professions that fail to ignite our passions. The monotony of a job that no longer challenges or fulfils can prompt the desire for a career change.

Anna, an architect from Denmark now residing in Coimbra, reflects, "My career in Denmark was lucrative but soulless. Portugal's vibrant architectural heritage inspired me to reconnect with the creativity that initially drew me to this profession."

Career dissatisfaction often manifests as a persistent feeling of discontent when the alarm clock rings each morning. It's the sinking sensation in the pit of one's stomach as they face another day of uninspiring tasks.

Relationship Stagnation

Human connections are vital to our happiness, yet relationships can sometimes lose their vitality over time. Partnerships that no longer provide emotional nourishment or growth opportunities can lead to the desire for a new beginning, either through personal growth or the pursuit of new relationships. This is particularly true for couples facing an empty nest, who need to re-imagine their reclaimed lives and find new purpose for living.

Markus, a digital marketer from Germany who settled in Braga, adds, "I found that my social life in Germany was becoming monotonous. I enjoyed spending time with my university friends and work colleagues, but I was seeking new influences and interactions. Portugal’s diverse and welcoming community has been a breath of fresh air, reigniting my social enthusiasm."

For many couples, the empty nest phase presents a unique challenge. After years of focusing on raising children, they often find themselves at a crossroads. Karen and Tom, a couple from the Netherlands who moved to Lisbon, share their experience: "When our kids left for university, we realised we have the opportunity to re-imagine our lives. Moving abroad allowed us to rediscover each other, a chance to start afresh."

Overall Unfulfillment

Beyond specific facets of life, a general feeling of unfulfillment can pervade every aspect. When life lacks purpose or excitement many individuals seek to reinvigorate their existence by exploring fresh opportunities.

This overarching sense of unfulfillment often stems from a broader dissatisfaction with the trajectory of one's life. For some, it’s a matter of feeling that they are not living up to their potential or that they are stuck in a routine that no longer brings joy or satisfaction.

Lucas, an entrepreneur from New York, remarks, "I was burned out and needed a change from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Portugal offered a slower pace of life that allowed me to rediscover what truly makes me happy. I might return to the U.S. or move elsewhere, but it will be on my own terms and once I embrace my IKIGAI."

The desire for a new beginning can manifest in various ways, from moving to a new country, changing careers, or ending a long-term relationship. The common thread among these changes is the pursuit of a life that feels more aligned with one's true self and aspirations.

But the grass is not always greener elsewhere….

If you're considering relocation, know that you are not alone, and the possibilities for a fulfilling new chapter are boundless. However, it's important to remember that running away to another country in pursuit of a better, more joyous life is never straightforward. We often mistakenly believe that the grass is greener somewhere else, but the reality is, the grass is greener where you water it. Sophie, who initially moved to the Algarve to start anew, found that the pull of family and childhood friendships was too great, and is preparing to return to the UK this September. Embrace new beginnings, but also cherish and nurture what you already have.


I am an advocate for community development and a champion for women's empowerment. My passion lies in leadership and innovation, and I am dedicated to using my voice and influence to nurture robust, entrepreneurial communities throughout Portugal. My mission is to cultivate a vibrant community of changemakers who are committed to pursuing their dreams and making a significant impact in their new country of residence. 

A multi-award-winning entrepreneur | Bestselling Author | Co-founder of Algarve Women’s Network

Kamila Laura Sitwell