It’s a reasonable question. A question that there is a myriad of answers to. My immediate response though is ‘why not Portugal?’.
Before I answer ‘why Portugal’, a little context in the approach I am taking in my move to Portugal
First and foremost, moving abroad has been in the back of my mind for a long time. A little over twenty years ago changes in my life meant that there was an opportunity to do just that. A relationship finished, a house sold, a change in employment and I had some cash in the bank.
There was an element of looking for an escape route. But, while I might have flashy dreams, I also crave stability. Back at the turn of the millennium, I was seeking a stable income to provide a bigger safety net. I’m not sure I’d get the safety net by packing a suitcase and heading off to another country.
As the safety net has grown, I’ve considered getting a small place outside the UK. I’ve tended to keep the thoughts to myself. Mainly because if I say I am going to do something, I’ve committed to it. I am stubborn so will see things through. I never let go. Dog and bone spring to mind. I never throw the towel in. I will persevere with something long after it has stopped being meaningful. I’ll just stick with it.
But recently a few things have changed. I’m not beating myself up when things aren’t right. I’m trying to be more honest with, and less critical of, myself. It’s not easy. I rarely do anything on a whim. I always spend a lot of time thinking through all the options before I make a decision.
Decision made, I’m in. It’s all or nothing. If you’re going to do something, do it well. Do it right. Commit and deliver. Maybe that’s why I struggle to make compromises or genuinely understand other people.
Yes, but why Portugal?
I’ve taken glancing looks at getting a small bolthole overseas. I’ve done some research on Tenerife, Majorca and Cyprus. I’m sure you’ve done it too. Looked online at the property market. I’ve gone a step or two further looking at options to finance a purchase. Whether to re-mortgage and buy ‘cash’ or take an overseas mortgage.
Mainland Europe wasn’t in my sights. France and Spain have never appealed. A visit to Sicily got me thinking much more seriously about that room with a view. Not that Italy gave me a calling. But it got me thinking. Seriously thinking.
But with holidays booked to Portugal and the Azores, I started Researching Portugal. And it simply continued from there. Literally, my research changed from a holiday to a home. A home in a country I have never visited. Crazy? Not to me. Let me give you a snapshot of the reasons and I’ll let you decide.
Rebalancing my life
I’m fortunate. More fortunate than some, less fortunate than others. My parents have supported me every step of the way. I’m not sure they’re aware of every step as there are a few steps I know they would’ve rolled their eyes and taken a deep breath. I’ve worked hard all my life. Made some good decisions and some bad ones.
I’m now at a point where I want to capitalise on my hard work which has brought me good fortune. I’ve got a chance to do something I never really believed possible – not for me anyway.
So the main reason is to rebalance my life. That is not about making my life easy. Far from it. But it is about taking the pressure, stress and responsibility of the day job out of the equation. I could grind on for the next fifteen or so years, but I don’t want to. It’s that simple.
I’m craving a more simple life, a slower pace, less responsibility for others (daughters excluded) and totally change the work-life balance.
Connect with nature
Ninety-five per cent of my time is spent under a roof. I want a lifestyle built around the environment, not walls. At present, I feel the walls are a barrier. Having worked from home for over a year I am finding it more difficult to get outside.
Literally, to enjoy nature. I want to get my hands dirty. Grow my own. Live off the land. Corny? Probably, but I will need corn for the chickens.
I want to become as self-sufficient as I can. I enjoy gardening but need a purpose. I don’t get excited about flowers and shrubs, but vegetables and herbs, definitely. Being able to commit to a self-sufficient lifestyle without the distractions of work definitely appeal.
The climate in Portugal appeals. There is a perception that the sun always shines in Portugal. The Algarve and southern Portugal do bask in sun almost all year round. But that’s the Mediterranean weather.
Central Portugal, where I am hoping to move to, has a similar weather pattern to the East of England where I currently live. However, the temperatures are higher, the sun shines more and it rains less. In the summer, it gets hot. In the winter, it gets cold. There is even enough snow to ski on the highest peak, the Serra Da Estrela.
Welcome to Portugal
I know a few Portuguese people. All are lovely. Friendly, open, compassionate, caring, helpful and always welcome me with open arms and a great big hug.
Many people comment on how welcoming the Portuguese are. I’ve never experienced anything different. People I know who have moved into a Portuguese village have been accepted with open arms. There will always be ‘newcomer’ syndrome, but the sense of community feels powerful.
I’ve talked previously about my introversion, and I know I am going to have to work at overcoming my introverted approach to integrate into the community. Being aware is helpful.
Cost of living
The financial implications of a move to Portugal is, if you haven’t already worked it out, a major influencing factor.
But it’s really simple.
I can not afford to buy a smallholding, within my safety net and give up a salaried job in the UK. I know others have done it and succeeded, but I’d struggle.
However, I can afford to buy a smallholding, with my safety net, and (hopefully) live off the land in Portugal.
It’s going to be challenging. But I have a chance to do something different. Often I’d let them pass me by. Not this time. If I run out of money. So what? I have no fear that I will find a way.
Why not Portugal?
While I might immediately respond to the question ‘why Portugal?’ with ‘why not Portugal?’ there are clearly some disadvantages. Not least the distance from my daughters and other family members. It’s a tough decision. One I often wake in the night thinking about.
Portugal isn’t on the doorstep. But it isn’t the other side of the world. Pandemic aside, travel between Portugal and the UK is pretty easy. Although I accept it will take a little longer than jumping in the car to visit friends and family.
Overall, I want a change. I need to do something different. A smallholding in Portugal appeals to me. I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine.
At present, I’ve not ‘announced’ my plans widely. Those closest to me know – and of course my readers. But I am protecting myself from widespread broadcasting until I have most of my plans and decisions made before I get a megaphone out.
I am fortunate that I’ve created a safety net big enough to allow me to completely change my life. I appreciate that not everyone has this opportunity. But it hasn’t been gifted to me. I have worked hard. Damn hard. I’ve had a little luck along the way. Been sensible(ish) with my finances. And created the opportunity.
Everyone has a choice. Everyone has a dream. Portugal is mine and I’m going to take my chance.
I just hope the Portuguese will let me in!
Portugal flag image by kind permission of Luís Feliciano
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