Behind Lisbon’s Facades

Lisbon, Portugal – With impressive numbers of foreign tourism growth over the past eight years, Portugal has been charming visitors from all over the world. Many love its capitol Lisbon, the historic city known for its seven hillsides and tiled facades. But while we were admiring the detailed azulejos, we also noticed something else during our visit this summer. Real conversations about what goes on behind Lisbon’s facades.

text: The Complex Society
photos: the complex society

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photo: the complex society

His face lights up when he talks about California. Oh, how he loved it there, in The Golden State. It was home for a while. Now Gustavo from Brazil is living in Portugal with his child, his wife and his sister-in-law. The reason? According to Gustavo the Portuguese healthcare system is much better – and the same goes for education. “In Brazil private schools are definitely preferred over public schools, but unfortunately they are incredibly expensive for people with an average income, like me.” So even though he terribly misses his family and beloved country in South America, Gustavo is staying. But not in Lisbon, he says, because along with its popularity prices in the charming Portuguese city ‘have been rapidly increasing’, which has made living in the capital something many Portuguese can only dream of these days.

Gustavo isn’t the only one willing to share his thoughts on this topic. Driver Ilomar says many locals had to move out of their Lisbon homes as a result of the high rent and property prices these last three years: they simply couldn’t afford to stay anymore. “Property owners have incredible opportunities renting and selling to tourists and foreigners, so it has become rather impossible for us locals to prolong old lease contracts – and pay what is considered a reasonable price. Lisbon has become extremely attractive for investors. Many locals have moved out of the city in search for more affordable homes. They now have to spend a lot more time commuting.” On the Instagram feed of Guide in Porto we read about the Portuguese minimum salary: 600 euros per month. Dutch tour guide Stephanie, who lives in Portugal, mentions the same salary on her blog Thuis in Lissabon. For a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon’s city centre people will have to pay a minimum of 1200 euros per month. If you need two bedrooms chances are you will have to pay at least 1800 euros, according to Stephanie. The municipality has been trying to do something about the rapidly increasing prices by, driver Ilomar says, for example, restricting the number of properties that can be used as AirBnB’s. “But for many people it is too late, since they’ve already had to leave their beloved city.”

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photo: the complex society

Thuis in Lissabon

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