Moving to Portugal with my eyes open and without rose-tinted glasses is essential. I’ve committed lots of time to plan and feel logistically prepared. In reality, that is the easy part.
Planning the practical actions is my default position. But I need to ensure I focus equally on the stuff I can’t plan for. Feelings and emotions. The reality of living in a completely different country.
I touched on some of the emotional aspects of leaving family and friends in a recent blog – balancing my tactical planning with feelings and emotions. Revisiting this so soon means it is clearly high in my thoughts at present.
This has perhaps been triggered by several conversations over recent weeks and a couple of small incidents. Equally, it may be a reflection of the time of year. Darker nights and colder days.
Beyond the dream
When talking with people, the typical response has a sentiment that I’ll just be taking an extra-long holiday. That seems to be the starting point for so many people. Extending the feelings people have when they are on holiday. The occasional glance at properties for sale. But this dream never becomes anything more.
So to go beyond the dream is a huge step. And be ready for it in all aspects essential.
As my adventure progresses, I am increasingly in contact with people who have either already moved to Portugal (or another country) or are planning it. Some people have expressed a ‘mass exodus’ of people who are leaving the UK (and the US). There are definitely people moving, but I’m not sure I’d class it as a mass exodus.
Let me explain. As I’ve shared my intentions with other people – family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours amongst others – not one person has said they are planning to move abroad. “I’d love to do that” or “that’s my dream” are often quoted. But no one is currently committed to the move.
However, as I’ve reached out to the various expat communities, such as Expats Portugal, and online groups, there is a large collective of people with similar plans. That is not unsurprising that people with a particular interest seek out the appropriate communities. Obvs.
But what I haven’t experienced is the ‘new car’ phenomenon – frequency bias or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. You know, the scenario. As soon as I buy a car, all of a sudden I see the same car everywhere. The reality is there aren’t all of a sudden more of them, but I just have a greater awareness of them.
Just last week I met someone in The Langham in London, and right outside was the Portuguese flag. After the doorkeeper has kindly opened the door and thanked me for my visit, I navigate the chauffeur driven cars, step onto the pavement and look up and right in front of me is the Consulate General of Portugal. It is not an area of London I know well, but I’ve been to Broadcasting House a few times and the rare visit to The Langham but never have I seen the Consulate previously.
Returning to the conversations I’ve had, there are two which stick out.
The first is with a dear friend who has lived in more countries than I have visited. Making Portugal their home, over all the other countries they have lived in, resonated with me. This is someone who has travelled extensively, experienced different cultures and says it how it is. Actually, we’re pretty similar in many ways.
Like me, this friend also says it as it is. And hasn’t pulled any punches in sharing the challenges of living in Portugal. Particular difficulties or experiences they have encountered. The language barrier, the Portuguese pace of getting work completed, bureaucracy, legalities, the Câmara amongst other challenges.
This is though, complemented by the beauty of the country, the better quality of life, cuisine, people and overall lifestyle.
But the honesty is welcoming to ensure a layer of the rose-tinting has been removed.
The second person is someone I have met since I’ve started my journey. Someone I approached to seek some guidance. Honest, authentic and transparent in their views and opinions. That initial contact has become a friendship. Or at least that’s my take and I think it would be replicated.
This friend is creating a ‘new life’ in Portugal. Has purchased a property and land. Is integrating into the local community. Sponging up the lifestyle, the beauty, the culture and all things Portugal.
Authentic is a word I’ve used several times with this friend. And their honesty about living in Portugal is much appreciated. Their move hasn’t come without its challenges. Some could’ve put their move to Portugal in jeopardy. In fact, put it dead in the water. Despite these challenges, they have made significant progress. Their future is clearer – at least the practical aspects.
But the emotional impact of their situation is tough. There is no hiding from it. Things are going to be tough.
My determination and mindset are really important and every snippet of information, insight and understanding of the adventure ahead is welcomed. It’s making me ensure that more layers of rose tint are being removed. It is allowing me to look at my adventure through different lenses. Not all of them are positive. But going blind or thinking that all things are going to be rosy, is definitely not the best approach.
Nothing that people have shared with me has dampened my determination or drive. It has made me consider things from the perspective of people who are already on their adventure and means I’m able to approach mine from a more holistic view.
It goes without saying that I’m incredibly grateful to both these individuals, and everyone else who is sharing their experience of moving to Portugal across the various forums and media.
As always, if you’ve got this far, thank you. I am humbled and grateful for you taking the time to read.
Obrigado por ler.
Featured image by kind permission of Elena Mozhvilo
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