Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice


Getting over the fear of speaking Portuguese 2

Posted on May 08, 2017 by Ben Algarve

One of the things that all expats have to deal with when they begin to learn Portuguese in Portugal is getting over the fear of speaking.

Portuguese is particularly alien to the native English, because of the accent and the speed at which Portuguese people talk. Here are a few tips to help you get over your fear and dive head first into communicating with locals.

Get Portuguese lessons in Lisbon

Getting Portuguese lessons is an excellent way of learning the language in a systematic way. Courses at Lusa Language School focus primarily on speaking during the course of lessons, which means students have the opportunity to practice without the pressure of the real-life Portuguese environment, where speed and slang are significant!

Prices are competitive and the school is located right in the centre of the city at Cais do Sodre. Check out their website for intensive and part-time courses, as well as tailored private lessons.

Lisbon language

Learn the menu

A true cliché when you move to another country is that the first thing you will learn is the menu. This is particularly important in Portuguese because of the sheer amount of ‘false friends’ – words that look similar to words in English but have a completely different meaning.

To give a couple of examples, ‘jarro’ in Portuguese means jug, not jar. If you are told to order at the ‘balcão’, the waiter is referring to the counter, not a balcony.

Ask for directions

A great way to practice listening to Portuguese and say some basic phrases is to ask for directions. Even if you know where you are going, it’s a brilliant excuse to engage with a local and try to watch out for new vocabulary in a way which is as natural as possible.

Join language exchanges

Language exchanges can be a great tool for speaking practice, especially if they are combined with formal Portuguese classes. In Lisbon, there are many options for speakers to find language partners, including through services such as Meetup and Lisbon Language Exchange. It’s also a great way to promote cross-cultural learning and allow Portuguese people to learn your native tongue.

Make friends with locals

Probably the most fun way to practice your Portuguese is to make friends with some locals! Pick up a new hobby at a local club or get talking to people while you are out. Portuguese people are very friendly, but your biggest problem will be to get them to stop speaking English.

English proficiency in Portugal is high, which means waiters, shop-owners and the rest are always quick to switch to English to help you. Tell them in advance that you want to practice your Portuguese and you’re good to go!

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Finding Accommodation in Portugal for Students 0

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Ben Algarve

Moving to another country is not the easiest thing to do and it might also turn out to be a bit scary if it’s your first time living in a different country on your own. You have your bags packed and you are already thinking about the amazing experiences you will have in Portugal. However, there is just one thing that you have left to do: find accommodation. Well, do not worry, read ahead, because this post has you covered.

Living abroad in Portugal is not just about studying or working there, it is also about embracing the local culture. The main difference between a tourist and you is living like the locals. What better way to do this than live locally?

A campus is great for meeting new people, but you do not get the true Portuguese experience. By living in an apartment abroad, you will be forced to commute, get lost in the streets of the city and learn a bit of the local language. In addition, you will have more freedom. For example, some campuses have strict rules and curfews which might be a bit hard to adapt to.

Portugal Student Accomodation

The next question that comes to mind is probably how you can actually find accommodation? The answer is simple: there are two ways: DIY or the easy way. Let’s consider both so you can choose the one that fits you best:

Do it Yourself

Step 1: Make a plan

In order to make your job easier, the best thing you can do is to make a plan. If you start with this, looking for apartments abroad will be a piece of cake. You will first have to ask yourself some questions to decide what type of apartment you are really looking for.

Do you want to live in a big apartment or in a small one? Do you want to live in the suburbs or in the city itself? Would you like to have roommates? How long are you going to live there?

Step 2: Where to look

Now that you know what you are looking for, it is important to know where to look for an apartment. Lucky for you, there are quite a few options. Maybe you know someone who lives in Portugal or maybe someone who has lived there before. Probably the easiest way to find a place to stay is if you know a local or if you know someone who has been in your situation.

If you do not know anybody in Portugal, there is no need to panic. There is always an alternative. You can try to look for apartments online. One option is to look at Airbnb. You might find people who would like to rent their apartments for longer periods of time. Another option is looking at local postings. The solution might turn up in an online ad, or maybe a newspaper, or even an ad on a billboard that you pass by every day.

Portugal flagFinally, you can look in your university. There might be posters that could help.

The Easy Way

If you are looking for an easier way to find apartments in Porto, Lisbon or Coimbra, Uniplaces has you covered.

Uniplaces makes the process easier for you. You can search for an apartment and book your next home from the comfort of your room, on their website. As Uniplaces only covers Porto, Lisbon or Coimbra, you will have to use the first method if you’re studying elsewhere, but if you are in one of these main cities, it’s well worth a look.

Now that the stress of looking for an apartment is off your shoulders, all you have to do is to lay back and relax. Count the days until your departure and let the adventure begin!

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Moving Back to the UK? What about Currency? 1

Posted on December 09, 2015 by Ben Algarve

It’s been an awfully long time since I last posted on the blog, for which I apologise. We’ve been getting used to life back in the UK, and it turns out all that leaves us with precious little time on our hands!

In the new year, I hope to find more time to keep the blog up to date, especially as I have lots of contrasting experiences to share between the UK and Portugal.

In the meantime, I have a guest post for you from Currency Index, which I hope will provide some very helpful information for those of you who ever find you need to move your money “back” to the UK.

Currency Exchange

When moving back from Portugal to the UK, there is so much to think about that you might miss one of the most important financial aspects – repatriating your Euros to the UK. If you have sold a Portuguese property, you will likely have completion funds either with your Portuguese solicitor, or in your bank account over there. So what is the best way to maximise the Sterling you end up with in the UK?

Even if you have a more modest amount in the bank having rented or are not selling your property, the same principles apply.

The main rule to remember is: don’t transfer your Euros direct to your UK bank.

One sure way to lose money, although you might never know how much, is to ask your notary or your own bank to transfer your Euros back to your Sterling account in the UK. It might seem like the most convenient solution, but it can come with an enormous hidden cost. On receipt of your Euros, your UK bank will automatically convert the funds to sterling for you, but at an unknown and likely very uncompetitive exchange rate. In fact, the rate applied by your bank might be as much as 4% worse than the rates offered by specialist currency brokers – meaning you could lose around £6,000 on a transfer of €200,000 back to the UK for example.

It’s a trap that many people fall in to, but with a little planning, following these tips you can make sure it’s avoided.

1. Do some research and speak to an expert

Have a chat with a couple of currency brokers, as well as your bank, and see what sort of rates are on offer. While you won’t want to secure an exchange rate before you know how much you are moving back to the UK and when, it will give you an idea of the market. Many people still assume that their bank’s exchange rate is just ‘the rate’ – but the reality is that currency prices, like any financial transaction, can vary hugely between providers. Why pay your bank a premium for the same product and a worse service than you can get elsewhere?

2. Make arrangements before you leave Portugal

Once you have departed the sunny climes of the Algarve, Silver Coast or your city abode, it is much harder to control your Portuguese finances from the UK. Banks can be unhelpful, lawyers can be obstructive, and you can end up losing a small fortune. Worse still, you may have to hop on a plane back to Portugal in order to authorise your transfer. It’s absolutely crucial to make sure you agree and instruct your chosen method of money transfer before you leave Portugal, while you can sign forms face to face at your solicitor or bank. Once you are on the plane, your options narrow considerably, and your costs can shoot up.

3. Don’t take a cheque

If you head back to the UK with a cheque made out in Euros and the intention to organise the exchange to Pounds when you get back, you are in for some nasty costs and delays. Banking a foreign cheque in the UK, whether at your own bank or that of a currency exchange company, will take several weeks to clear and incur significant bank charges. There is simply not an efficient system in international banking to clear cheques in countries where they are not issued – you need to insist on a bank transfer from your Portuguese bank or lawyer, to whoever you have chosen to take care of the exchange into Pounds. If your lawyer refuses, then bank the cheque in your own Portuguese Euro account, and make the international transfer from there before you leave – again, a UK-based currency specialist is likely to give you the best exchange rate.

4. Ignore recommendations from anyone involved in your sale

If you have sold your property through an estate agent, they will probably recommend a currency company to use. But beware, there is likely to be a commission payment involved, which is only ultimately paid for by one person – you! By shopping around independently and comparing rates with a reputable and regulated company you have found yourself, you are likely to end up with a better deal.

Whether you moved to Portugal when the exchange rates was €1.01 in 2008, or €1.60 in 2003, it’s important to make the most of your money. You have probably spent a lot of time and energy negotiating the sale of your property or other assets in Portugal at the best price you can achieve – don’t throw it away by forgetting that your exchange rate can make a huge difference to your new life back in the UK.

Currency Index are an independent, regulated currency broker in the UK, having won ‘Best Currency Company’ and ‘Best Customer Experience’ awards in recent years. You can visit their website here and see independent reviews of their service here.


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Moving Back to the UK: Five Good Things 1

Posted on July 27, 2015 by Ben Algarve

Throughout all of last week, I kept snoozing a task to write a post about some of the good things about moving back to the UK, to balance out my previous post about things we were missing about Portugal.

Ironically, the main reason I didn’t get the post written was that I went down with a nasty bug, so all non-essential tasks got pushed into this week.

I’d forgotten about summer colds. It’s fair to say you don’t really get them in the Algarve. However, back here in the UK the weather has recently turned distinctly autumnal, and the past weekend was a total washout. I feel partly to blame because the weather turned on the day my new hammock arrived from Amazon.

UK in July

The UK in July

So, against a backdrop of retreating “man-flu” and grey skies, I find myself writing a post that’s supposed to focus on good aspects of moving back to the UK!

Thankfully, I still find it easy to come up with plenty. Yes, we miss Portugal, as I lamented last week, but we really are enjoying life back in the UK. Years away have helped us to see the place through fresh eyes.

Here are five things we love right now:

  1. Beer Gardens

OK, so our beaches aren’t quite up to East Algarve standards, and the weather doesn’t really allow for much sunbathing, but we still have them, and they’re still a wonderful place to spend time.

British Beach

British Beach Life

What we DO have is beer gardens. Hundreds of them. Often with play areas and sometimes even with free bouncy castles (and having a toddler gives us parents an excuse to venture on to those too!)

Moving back to UK - beer gardens

Moving back to the UK – beer gardens

We could head out to a different beer garden every Saturday and Sunday and not even scratch the surface of what’s in our local area. It’s “England’s Green and Pleasant Land” in easily digested portions – washed down with real ale or fruity cider.

Beer garden

Beer gardens

  1. Food

The novelty of food choice in the UK still hasn’t worn off. Supermarket shopping is still a joy, and then we have the food festivals, the farm shops, the delis, the greengrocers, the bakeries, and the butchers’ shops. The other day I realised I’d gone for over a month forgetting we have a Marks and Spencer Food Hall just down the road!

When I mention this, I always seem to court controversy. Yes, there’s some choice in Portugal, but I’m not sure that people who’ve been away from the UK a while realise quite what a revolution there’s been in gourmet and artisan food.

Roast beef

Real roast beef

A few recent examples: Oyster and Vinegar Crisps, made in Kent using Whitstable oysters; a honey chilli chicken dish from the local Chinese; amazing rare roast beef as part of a pub lunch; local plums that simply have to be eaten over the sink because they’re so juicy; and, at the top of the list, a salad made purely from the element-defying produce grown on our patio.

Salad from English Garden

Salad from an English Garden

I could happily spend a fortnight in Portugal eating clams, bream, bacalhau and arroz de pato – but after six months here I’m still spoiled for choice.

  1. eBay

My wife and I love a bit of eBay. It’s great to be able to get even a few quid back for things we no longer need, and I have now started to redouble my efforts to build my son’s legacy collection of retro vinyl records and computers!

Having full and easy access to eBay beats the expat Facebook groups for buying and selling, complete with their timewasters and daft offers. That’s not to say we didn’t have some success selling some bits and bobs before we left, but it was a rather gruelling process.

  1. Television

A full Sky package, complete with catch-up and “on demand.” Now TV for movies, and Netflix for everything else. AND it all just works, without messing around with Filmon and suchlike, or waiting for buffering, thanks to a sensible broadband speed!

Although we have precious little time to watch TV, we now spend that time actually watching it, rather than arsing around getting it to work.

  1. Things to Do

Every weekend, there are at least ten events we’d happily commit our time to, and that’s just in the local area – without even thinking about heading into London.

Yes, there are lots of things to do in The Algarve too, and I miss some of them. However, the parties and festivals tend to follow a predictable annual schedule, which after a few years starts to feel like retracing old ground.

We really miss Portugal. We’ve certainly posted enough about it! However, the above are just some of the reasons why, right now, we really like being back in the UK.

Some thing cant compare

Some things cant compare

It doesn’t mean I don’t still get homesick, or that I don’t miss my friends, the weather, and the sea. But if I can come up with this much enthusiasm after a week of grey skies and coughs and sneezes, there must be something right. Sometimes you need to be away from somewhere a while to appreciate what’s good about it!

Our Moving to Portugal book is still on special offer on Kindle:

Here’s the UK link:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

And here’s the US link:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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Five Reasons to Miss Portugal 2

Posted on July 17, 2015 by Ben Algarve

The time has come for yet another post about the things I’m missing about living in Portugal!

Before I start, I should make clear that in all honesty I’m not really missing The Algarve that much anymore. We’ve all become very used to the UK being “home” again, but there are still some specifics that trigger a feeling of yearning – and it’s those that I list below:

  1. The Weather

Let’s start with the obvious one. It’s was inevitable that we’d miss weather like that shown below:

Weather Portugal

Weather in Portugal

That said, it is summer in England, and it hasn’t been too bad at all. Also, I genuinely like this climate’s changeable nature (and I’m really not just saying that to make myself feel better!)

Having a couple of days of sun and then a couple of wind and rain is actually pretty handy for a freelance worker, because it’s easy to buckle down to work on the inclement days. While I miss the weather in Portugal, I don’t miss wishing I were outside when I had to work, and feeling jealous of the tourists…

  1. Sardines

It’s sardine season in Portugal, and I would love to dig into a huge plateful, complete with a simple salad and some slightly overcooked boiled potatoes!

I’ve been almost tempted to buy some in the UK, but I fear they may taint the memory. I may just wait until I’m back in the Algarve – I’ll let you know…

Portugal Sardines

Portuguese Sardines

  1. Friends and Spontaneity

This is a big one.

We love being back amongst all our UK friends, but we very much miss our friends in Portugal, particularly the fact they were right on our doorstep.

Everyone here is busy, and arrangements have to be made in advance. That’s fine, but we do really miss the doorbell ringing at random, and the ability just to head into town and “see who’s about.”

  1. Earning in Pounds and Spending in Euros

This one only occurred to me today, when I read that the Sterling / Euro exchange rate has hit a high of €1.43 to the Pound in the wake of the crisis in Greece. Several papers are saying it could hit €1.50.

I still keep an eye on the exchange rate, but it only really sunk in today that it no longer has any impact on our lives. If we were still in Portugal we’d be rubbing our hands together right now about how much more our money was worth.

  1. My Moped

Yes, I know I’m like a broken record about my beloved electric moped. It’s actually still in Portugal awaiting our next visit.


My moped in Portugal

I’ve looked into getting one in the UK, but it’s all about health and safety, ankle protection, and biker jackets.

I’m not interested. I want to ride around in the blazing sun in shorts and flip-flops, with shopping irresponsibly balanced in front of me. I miss it SO much.

So there you have it. That’s what I’m missing about Portugal right now.

Before I sign off, I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve temporarily reduced the price of our Moving to Portugal book in Kindle format. For now, it’s just £1.99 in the UK and $3.08 in the USA – grab one now!

Here’s the UK link:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

And here’s the US link:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same


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Portuguese Wine: The Rescue Parcel Arrives 0

Posted on July 02, 2015 by Ben Algarve

I’ve already moaned before about how much we’ve been missing Portuguese wine since moving to England again.

Well, last week, thanks to the valiant efforts of several family members, our problems on that score came to an end. Thanks to a family road trip to the UK and some spare vehicle space, we were reunited with some of our old favourites.

Portuguese Wine - in the UK

Portuguese Wine – in the UK

The objective now is to make them last! So far we’ve been rather restrained and only opened a few, and donated some to friends too. It’s been lovely to taste these wines once more, and best of all to be spared the frustration of spending £6-10 a pop in the UK on bottles of questionable swill from the supermarket!

Also in our rescue parcel from Portugal was my beloved Weber barbecue, which regular readers of the blog will know is something of an obsession of mine. I must once again thank all those involved in reuniting us with it. I honestly don’t know if the wine or the barbecue was most exciting, but I think probably the latter!

Barbecue from Portugal

Reunited with my barbecue from Portugal

I’ve not got a huge amount of time to update on much else at this point, other than to say that all is pretty good back here in England. Yesterday, we had a trademark English one-day heatwave(!) but by today it was cool enough for jeans once again. I’m genuinely not saying this to make myself feel better, but I actually don’t mind this at all, because it’s far easier to get stuck into work when the weather outside isn’t sufficiently pleasant to entice me out.

However, that only applies during the week. Rained-off weekends are not cool at all, so here’s hoping we don’t have too many of those.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a shot of Whitstable beach approaching sunset last Saturday. With views like this, moving back to the UK doesn’t feel too bad at all – but as I’ve said before, you’ll probably get a different take on this from me come November!

One last thing actually: Quite randomly, I just discovered you can actually buy Casal Garcia, one of Portugal’s favourite Vinho Verdes (Green Wines) online, in ENGLAND, and for a good price that works out to less than £5 per bottle. It’s on Amazon of all places! What an amazing discovery! I’ve put the link here for you. I’m sorry to tell American readers that I can’t find a similar one on the US site 🙁

Case x12 -Casal Garcia NV – Green Wine

Sunny English Skies in Whitstable

Sunny English Skies

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Reverse Culture Shock – In Reverse 6

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Ben Algarve

Much is said about “reverse culture shock” when expats move back to their former countries.

As I said in my last post, my wife and I have spent plenty of time missing Portugal after our return to England, sometimes to the point of feeling truly homesick.

So, with this is mind, it was perhaps a little foolhardy for me to book a trip back to Portugal as soon as we had really started to feel settled back in the UK.

The trip back was all rather sudden and unplanned. A good friend had a birthday coming up and my wife unexpectedly asked if I fancied going. I headed for my laptop and booked some flights before she had a chance to change her mind!

I travelled to Portugal alone on this occasion. A recent train trip to London with our now extremely mobile and inquisitive toddler has put us right off attempting to drag him onto a plane until such time as we can reason with him about social norms! While I felt a tad guilty about my wife missing out, we both agreed it was actually quite a good plan, as we didn’t want to find ourselves back in Portugal all together, desperately wishing we’d never moved back to England.

Reverse culture shock - it is not sand but it is home

Reverse culture shock – it is not sand but it is home

Onwards then, to the reverse culture shock. Well, to be frank I’m not sure whether I experienced it back in Portugal or whether I’m still experiencing it here in the UK!

The biggest surprise was how…unsurprising everything was. A friend picked me up from the airport, and heading back to my old stomping ground didn’t feel strange, it just felt…normal. Things don’t change very fast in small Portuguese towns and I was up to speed on the local goings on by the time I’d checked into my apartment and hurriedly changed into some shorts. (One thing I had forgotten after a few sunny English days is that there is actually a very distinct difference between warm and HOT!)

While I was in the Algarve, I wasn’t entirely on holiday; Us freelancers don’t truly get those, so I was having to do some work each day. This contributed a little to the headspin factor, as I essentially just walked straight back into my old life, albeit looking rather more pale, as all my local friends took great pleasure in telling me…

Reverse Culture Shock: So how did it feel?

One way to sum it all up is that it all fell dead centre between “familiarity breeds contempt” and “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Trips to the beach and on a boat along the Ria Formosa were enjoyable and memorable, and served to make me really rather mad at myself for not taking more advantage of what was on my doorstep for all those years.

Rediscovering my old stomping ground

Rediscovering my old stomping ground

On the flipside, traipsing around three different supermarkets in the heat to find an edible potato to bake one evening didn’t feel quaint and quirky, it just felt really bloody irritating like it did when I lived there. I’ve compared (somewhat controversially) the food options between Portugal and the UK before on this blog, but I stand by the fact that in terms of variety, the UK wins hands down, and not just for convenience food. I should follow this up by saying that this situation is both manageable and enjoyable if you have the time to shop around in Portugal, but for a busy working family, it’s easier to fill the cupboards and remain inspired in the kitchen when you live in the UK. I shall await the backlash on that once again.

Anyway, once I’d relaxed back to the Portuguese pace, I was sad to leave, but not as sad as I’d been missing my wife and son while I was there. On my last evening, one of my UK friends asked me online how the trip had felt. With some consideration, my answer was “transformative.”

The fact was, I felt homesick. Just the way I’d felt homesick for Portugal a couple of weeks previously. Now I know this was exacerbated by the fact I didn’t have my family with me, but somehow it felt like affirmation – and in a good way. However, at the same time I felt like I was finally mourning a closed chapter.

Ironically, I felt homesick for Portugal again today, and seeing my friends there again has definitely made me miss them afresh. I’ll be back to that town very frequently, all being well, with the confidence that it seems to remain reassuringly frozen in time.

But, all in all, I’m happy where I live now. The day after I got back was gloriously sunny, and I visited Whitstable on the Kent coast. I ate lobster and chips, and the best oysters I’ve ever tasted. I paddled in the chilly sea with my son, and I took more pictures during that afternoon than I did during five days in The Algarve.

Shellfish back in the UK

Shellfish back in the UK

Sometimes, to avoid that “reverse culture shock” you have to convince yourself you’ve done the right thing – just in order to stay sane. My trip to Portugal was a lot of fun, and I look forward to going again, but most of all it reassured me that I’m not telling myself any lies. For now, this is where I want to be – but feel free to ask me again once winter sets in 😉

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Missing Portugal… 6

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ben Algarve

I woke up missing Portugal today.

It didn’t help that when my wife opened the blind this morning it didn’t really get any lighter in the room! After a weekend of weather that was sunny enough for sunburn, today we have wind whistling through the house, and a sky so grey it looks like a melancholy tribute to Monday mornings…

It’s funny how things work out, because we had a superb weekend. We had some friends come down and spent lots of time in the sun – on the beach, at home, and in several pub gardens! It really was idyllic, and weekends like this make us very pleased that we chose this place to live.

A beautiful British pub garden

A beautiful British pub garden

So it’s funny that I feel wistful for Portugal on today of all days. However, I think I may have discovered why it works like this, thanks to a very astute forum comment from someone going by the name of “GeniB,” which I will now paraphrase (with permission).

She speaks of a warning from her brother before she first set out to move countries; He said that she was about to become a “third country person.” The meaning of which wasn’t clear to her at the time.

She understands it now, and I do too. The “third country” is a fictional place, created in your mind, that encompasses the best parts of the countries you have lived in. It’s where “home” would be in an ideal world.

For me, it would be the England we’ve just spent the weekend enjoying, with our good friends and our children, but with a week of solid sunny weather now on the cards to make Monday a little more cheerful. Obviously there would be a pool outside the window (and my electric moped). My “third country” would still have London an hour away by train, but also be walking distance from the kind of beaches I now have to fly to.

Weather in Portugal: Impossible not to Miss

Weather in Portugal: Impossible not to Miss

The supermarket in my “third country” would be AWESOME – because it would sell British sausage rolls and jam doughnuts, but also a huge selection of Portuguese wine at 3 Euros or less. And every time you went to it you’d bump into someone you knew, because both your English and Portuguese friends would shop there. Shoppers would shop at Portuguese pace, but the checkout folks would work at English pace 😉

Anyway, that’s enough daydreaming, because sadly my “third country” only exists in my head. Ultimately you have to choose one of the other, at least until you retire! I wouldn’t want to swap back to Portugal permanently, because overall I’m happier here in the UK. But I’d do anything to be able to teleport there for a day or two each week. In the absence of a teleporter, I think it might be time to book some flights for a quick trip back!

Eating tapas in England

Eating tapas in England

What would YOUR “third country” be like? Let me know in the comments!

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Never Take Portuguese Weather for Granted! 2

Posted on May 05, 2015 by Ben Algarve

Just time for a quick post today; I’m currently on a plane on the way to a business trip and have a spare few minutes.

Last night I was chatting to another expat in Portugal who will soon be moving back to the UK.

We are largely happy with our own decision, so I said little that would discourage her. However, I did point out something I never knew until we decided to move back to England: After a couple of years, you start to really take the Portuguese weather for granted.

As it’s so sunny and warm almost all the time, you become fussy. Things we said while we lived in Portugal included “oh, it might look nice but it’s really blowy,” “I can’t be bothered to go down to the pool until the water is warmer,” and “oooh, it’s not as warm as it was last week.”

May weather in London - not all that

May weather in London – not all that

I take ALL of this back, because we’ve just had our second UK bank holiday weekend featuring thoroughly miserable weather. There was a small period of sunshine on the Monday morning, and I popped upstairs for a shower and missed it!

As such, I’m thankful that the destination of the flight I’m sitting on is Budapest, where the weather forecast predicts temperatures nudging the 30s. I’m going to make the best of my few days there, because I may not see such temperatures again until I visit Portugal!

So, if you’re moving to Portugal, holidaying there, or living there currently, please don’t take the weather for granted. We did, and it’s probably our biggest regret now we’re back.

One last thing: I’ve recently been doing some writing about my favourite places for a new Portugal Holidays site. You may wish to check out this article about our favourite seascape, or this article about one of our favourite (and sadly missed) fish restaurants.

If you’re still hungry for reading matter after that, why not check out our book!

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

Or find it here on Amazon.COM, for US readers:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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Some More Random “Moving Home” Observations 3

Posted on April 21, 2015 by Ben Algarve

We’ve been back in the UK a couple of months now, but everything still seems rather alien!

In my last post I was perhaps a little negative about the Portugal we’d left behind, so I’m going for some more balance this week.

Life in the UK has been good, but with an undulating backdrop of homesickness. It doesn’t help that I still do a lot of writing work about Portugal, and having to write about beaches I am no longer just down the road from isn’t the most fun way to begin a working week!  Suffice to say I really don’t think it will be that long until we pop back to the Algarve for a visit.

That visit would probably feel more urgent if it weren’t for the glorious weather we’ve had in England, and that’s where I’ll begin my list of random observations:

1. The weather here isn’t that bad at all.

I know we’ve been lucky with a dry April, but we’ve just spent a long weekend visiting family and we’ve been happily outside for rather a lot of it. Yesterday we had a pub lunch in a beer garden and I woke up today with a tanned face. That was NOT something I was expecting!

Delightful weather in England

Delightful weather in England

The other pleasant surprise is that even when the headline temperature looks low, it’s actually perfectly warm in sheltered spots. Of course I miss the Algarve weather, but what we’ve had since we’ve been back is more than acceptable, and actually far more practical for our baby son.

2. The UK mobile network is APPALLING!

I said that these would be random observations, so now we go from weather to phone signals!

Last weekend on our big family trip, there wasn’t a single house we arrived at where we could get decent data reception. This includes an area covering Kent, Outer London, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. 3G reception on motorways was rubbish too.

I don’t know if it’s just that the UK’s network struggles with the number of people, but by comparison Portugal’s mobile infrastructure is fantastic.

Lots of Traffic and no Phone Signal

Lots of Traffic and no Phone Signal

3. We still have Portuguese “muscle-memory”

I don’t know how long this is going to last, but we are both still often convinced we are going the wrong way around roundabouts, and occasionally find it hard to remember the English word for something (my wife struggles particularly with “coentros,” which is coriander).

Worst of all, we’ve yet to shrug off the continental “hug and kiss on both cheeks” greeting, which in the UK results in either a near-head-butt or the recipient thinking you’re going in for a snog, neither of which comes across as particularly dignified…

4. England is expensive

This is a complicated point, but overall it’s a very good job there are more earning opportunities in the UK, because it’s far harder to live on a budget.

It’s not that all day-to-day things are more expensive. Groceries, for example, are probably cheaper than in Portugal, and as I’ve said before there is far more variety. Our utility bills are less too, but that’s completely cancelled out by a council tax bill of nearly £200 per month.

Where the budgeting unravels is in entertainment. Back in the Algarve, ten Euros could mean a good long trip to the bar and a bite to eat to take home. Here, that ten Euros won’t come close to buying the first round.

At the moment we’re spending every weekend catching up with friends and family, so our spending pattern isn’t typical, but suffice to say we keep having to top up our entertainment budget, and the credit cards are coming out far more than they did in Portugal!

Seafood - Available in the UK as well as Portugal - for a price

Seafood – Available in the UK as well as Portugal – for a price

In addition, working longer days and commuting means being more tired, and that’s when the lure of the takeaway menus becomes strong.

Finally, there’s just so much in the UK that you CAN do! After years of missing the theatre, and the easy access to gigs and festivals, we feel like we want to do it ALL. To do so we must work hard to earn it – and on that basis it’s easy to identify the start of that slippery slope back to the rat race. We must proceed with caution!

5. We’ll probably visit Portugal sooner than we thought

One thing that did come up during our manic weekend was the rather sad realisation that once we’d done everything we had to do, we’d be going “home” to elsewhere in England, rather than “home” to Portugal.

This was actually quite a good thing to realise, because it reminded us that we still have plenty waiting for us in Portugal: somewhere to stay; all of our friends, and all the places and things we miss. I even still have my two most beloved Portugal purchases – my moped and my Weber barbecue! There’s absolutely nothing stopping us going and working from there for a few weeks whenever the “homesickness” gets too strong.

Well, there is one thing stopping us, which is that while we continue to socialise “UK style” every weekend, we’ll never have the time nor the money. So, on that note, I shall sign off and get some more work done 🙂

Please take a look at our book!

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

Or find it here on Amazon.COM, for US readers:

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

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