Six weeks until I get on a plane to Porto. I can’t wait. Following two previously cancelled trips due to the pandemic, I am hopeful it will be a third time lucky.
However, I am acutely aware there may be further delays. Restrictions for overseas travel are still in place. And they continue to change. Green countries move to amber. Guidance and rule changes around tests, vaccines, forms and self-isolation are adjusted almost weekly.
Every plan is a draft that is waiting to be rewritten. As someone who needs a framework of a plan as a bit of a safety net, I’m sketching a plan for my scouting trip in September.
My last aborted trip was in February 2021. Instead of physically going to Portugal, I undertook a virtual tour. I went on a deep dive into some of the towns circumventing the Serra da Estrela mountains. Guarda, Castelo Branco and Serta to name a few.
As I’ve continued to undertake research on Central Portugal, I began to look at other towns and areas. Some of this is driven by town names being raised in conversations, forums or mentioned in vlogs and blogs. Increasingly, I have been looking at the area between the Silver Coast and the Serra da Estrela and from Viseu to Abrantes.
It’s a big area, with diverse topography. Ranging from valleys with spectacular views through to the flatter areas at the edges in the east and west. While several towns and districts appeal, I remain open-minded and I am trying not to go with any preconceived ideas.
Routes for scouting visit
It’s difficult though. Property searches tend to define the research areas. Mainly due to the volume, price or type of property available. If a property looks interesting, the village, town and surrounding area is a key part of my research. This adds new locations to the possible list. As a side note, if there was a driving test for driving on Google Streetview, I reckon I’d pass with flying colours. I’ve become something of an expert.
But this does cause me a problem. On a scouting visit of ten days, what can be achieved is going to be limited. And there is going to be quite a lot of driving. For the majority of my trip, I will be located almost in the absolute centre of my target area.
After some time in Porto, I’ll be able to visit a couple of towns en route to where I’m staying. From my base, I’ll be able to make several loops to take in a different area, and two or three towns each day. The east loop across to Castelo Branco, south to Abrantes, west to Coimbra and north to Viseu.
I’ve deliberately left a few days with the flexibility to move to a different area and explore that further. Subject to finding a somewhere to lay my head. Also on the (busy) schedule will be a few property viewings. This is more to get a better understanding of Portuguese property and what is on offer for the money.
There is one ‘task’ that I must get completed when I am in Portugal. Open a bank account. It’ll be the primary job on day two which gets it ticked off the to-do list but plenty of time to resolve any problems that might arise.
As I continue to build the outline of my scouting visit, I know I will keep adding to the list of things I want to achieve. The list will get longer although I will create my own traffic light system to ensure I focus on my priorities on the trip.
I am though, realistic as to how much I can achieve. I have incredibly high expectations of myself and what I can achieve, although I am approaching this much more measured. Everything town visit, conversation and experience will make me better informed, more knowledgeable and move me closer towards moving to Portugal. If nothing else, it is preparation for my next visit which can be more focused.
Despite having a list of things I hope to achieve or at least make progress towards, there are several things I won’t be focusing on. Often, people report that they’ve been price checking on their scouting visits. This is something I definitely won’t be doing.
On many forums, blogs and vlogs, there are endless price comparisons of a pint of milk, a glass of wine, a pair of jeans, insurance, cars and, almost anything else you want to compare. I don’t need this and it’s not really of interest to me. From all the research I have undertaken, the cost of living in Portugal will be less than in the UK. That’s enough for me.
There are far more important things that are influencing my move to Portugal. The cost of living is important, but I am a believer that if you want something you need to accept the costs that go with it. If you live in a big house, you’ll have big bills. If you drive an expensive car, you’ll have expensive insurance. In my opinion, everything is relative.
Moving to Portugal is not about maintaining the same lifestyle that I have in the UK. It’s about changing it. A simpler life.
Ok, so I already have a frugal approach to many things. I have become less wasteful and more thoughtful. I buy the best I can afford because I know the cheapest is never the cheapest in the long run. But I always pay what’s due. After negotiation of course.
Over the last week, I’ve had a couple of conversations about my move to Portugal. When we previously used to talk on the phone, you could never see how the other person reacted. Now, with video calls, you can see that reaction – and there is no getting away from it.
The first conversation resulted in an open mouth. This was followed by a silent pause. Then a wry grin. Which turned into a beaming smile. Double thumbs up. After the initial shock, it has nothing but support. Albeit, I sense a lot of jealousy.
The second was with someone who has a similar ambition to move to Portugal. While everyone’s reasons and approach are individual, there are similarities. It was really helpful to listen to someone else’s approach, concerns and ambitions. Just chatting through gave me some more ideas and flagged a few areas I need to think about or get more clarity on.
As I’ve progressed my adventure, I’ve gradually begun to get more involved with different forums and groups about Portugal. All of this is on my terms and, as someone who is rather introverted and private, receiving such a positive response to people when I reach out is much appreciated.
Each group offers different things and there is an abundance of information available. It makes me chuckle that everyone has an answer and advice – whether it’s correct or not. I take much of this as a pinch of salt. The people I have reached out to have been really supportive and helped with my specific questions. Apart from the Facebook group which banned me! That still makes me chuckle!
Obrigado por ler.
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