There’s no joy in that statement. The sentiment is clear that, for many, our beloved United States doesn’t feel like it’s “ours” or “beloved” anymore.

It’s a sad state of affairs – one in which readers wrote me to commiserate about sticker shock, the gun culture, and a disrespectful environment in the U.S. Many compared their newly found life in Portugal to their old life in the U.S. (as I did in my piece Just Back from the U.S.!) Others, living in the U.S., reminisced about time spent in Portugal on vacations and visits – and desiring to return.

I was intrigued by the insights of readers who connected with me on this subject — and I have a feeling you might too. So I’m sharing a selection of the numerous comments I received, with slight edits for clarity.

Heartfelt sentiments: peaceful, laid-back living

Let’s start out with Shirlé and her husband who just returned to Portugal after visiting their old “home” in Baltimore and driving to Philly to see family. Shirlé says, “To say it was a shock after only living in our new home of Lisbon for one year would be an understatement! Besides the sticker shock on food/drink, we also noticed how much more stressed out and concerned with our safety we were while there. We hadn’t realized the overdrive of bumper sticker culture in the U.S. because of being so used to seeing it our whole lives, but the kicker you brought to our eyes is the lack of that culture here in Portugal.”

Mary Kay didn’t split hairs – going right to the core of the matter: “Thank you for putting into words something I’ve been struggling with. I'm from Connecticut but living in Ireland. I go back to the USA this week for a few months and parts of me are dreading it. I’m bracing myself for the outright aggressively bold claims people feel obligated to say out loud, where they see things as black or white; there’s no tolerance for grey.”

Maria currently lives in Miami and is looking to move to Portugal. She pointedly says, “I’m very concerned about the U.S.’ political climate and the future of its democracy. Frankly, I never knew there were so many ignorant people in the U.S. willing to risk their freedom for the sake of one egomaniac criminal. I’ll leave it at that.”

Regina, who lives in Carvoeiro, Portugal, says, “You forgot to mention the difference in prices of almost everything! We’re in the U.S. right now: bread, butter, milk, eggs – so expensive! Toothpaste almost $5! And then there’s the restaurants…”

John, currently in Idaho, says he will be applying for Portugal's D7 later this year. He notes that “Idaho and Florida have similar reputations relative to guns, "freedom" and the like. I find it very encouraging that you've found sanctuary in Portugal and it gives me confidence that I've made the right choice.”

Edward lives in North Carolina. Last August he took a 10-day father-daughter-granddaughters trip to Lisbon, then Porto, and then Lagos. “We were struck by the difference in the pace (easy does it), the cost and quality of food, and just the ease with which daily life could be! We all reminisce about that vacation and every time we discuss another vacation, it always comes back to "Let's go back to Portugal!”. We are all pretty well travelled, but Portugal was just so very special to us! It's probably one of the few places I would consider relocating to permanently. Glad you did it!”

Darci, who lives in Porto, says she’s been in Portugal for 4 years – but they're currently visiting the U.S. She laments, “Here in the States we feel stressed constantly. While it’s nice to see family, we will not be moving back to the U S. anytime soon! We love Portugal because of the peace and no stress.”

Elle, also in Porto, says, “I’ve been a legal resident in Portugal since 2019. I'll never go back to the U.S. unless it's to visit. America has become a sick place – morally, politically, and in particular the proliferation of those who exploit the uneducated by encouraging the gun culture. Here in Portugal, it's nice to walk around a grocery store and not have my head on a swivel for the next gun nut job. Portugal = beautiful people, country, food, culture, and affordability.”

Julie says she’s British and has lived in the north of Portugal for the last seven years. Her brother lives in California and they just got back from a month visiting him. She notes, “The U.S. was incredibly expensive, as you say, for eating out and having a nice glass of wine. The four-way stops always make me uncomfortable and, like you, I prefer roundabouts. Portugal is such a beautiful country and the people are wonderful – and they’re especially kind as we still continue to struggle with the language!”

Do they need to speak Portuguese? Seeking your feedback

This question keeps coming up from those considering a move to Portugal. I’d like to hear from other immigrants to Portugal on this matter. So, if you’ve been living in Portugal as an English speaker, I invite you to email me ( with your thoughts and I’ll share a compilation.

Keep in mind, this is not about guilting someone into learning Portuguese because it’s the “right thing” or considerate thing to do. The question is simply how easy or hard is it to manage in this country (in the area where you live) without knowing the native language?

I look forward to hearing from you seasoned immigrants! And thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts on this piece.


Becca Williams is originally from America but is now settling into small town living in Lagos, a seaside town on Portugal’s southern coast. Contact her at

Becca Williams