Moving Abroad Myths 1 – Time

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As you may have seen in my previous post about our Portuguese lessons, there are now five of our family seeing a language tutor on a weekly basis.

A few of us are going to Lisbon for a few days soon, so it became necessary to reschedule a class. Several of us reached for our smartphones and Outlook diaries and it was actually quite difficult to find a slot when all of us were “available.”

This got me thinking. I imagine all of us thought when we moved abroad that we would end up with far more time to enjoy life  – I certainly did. Well, here’s the thing. It’s all a myth.

You would think that once you’ve eliminated the London commute, left behind your social circle and arrived in a place with a well-documented slow pace of life, you would find loads of spare hours to fit things in. Well, it doesn’t really work out that way.

The social circle soon gets replaced by another one. Instead of commuting to the office, you commute to Spain and to the other end of the Algarve to buy essential hard-to-find groceries, and the slow pace of life is contrasted by frequent, hectic trips back to the UK for meetings, weddings and other commitments.

Moving Abroad - Don't Expect Your Calendar to Look this Empty
Moving Abroad - Don't Expect Your Calendar to Look this Empty

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Our new but equally busy life is a lot easier to deal with in almost constant sunshine, and the long journeys are memorable for views of sea and mountains instead of city stress and road-rage incidents. But time is NOT in any more abundance here than it was back in England.

Work often means that a weekend tan has faded by the following Friday, a last-minute trip to London often means our home reaches distinctly grubby proportions before we have time to clean it, and there are still plenty of days when we reach the end too frazzled to do anything but order a takeaway.

So don’t move abroad expecting there to be more hours in the day – you may be disappointed.

This is the first in an occasional series where I dispel common moving abroad myths. The next in the series will be posted when I have time ☺

Want some more reality about moving to Portugal? I highly recommend this book: (and not only because I’m in it 😉
Buying Property in Portugal (second edition) – insider tips for buying, selling and renting

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Hi. I like your blog alot. It’s nice to see some different points of view. But it’s hard to know how similar thoughts as “well-documented slow pace of life” can exist about Portugal.
    If portuguese people work more ours per week than the rest of Western Europe, many have 2 or more jobs just to stay afloat, have less time for paternity and maternity leave, etc, how can you see anything near “slow pace”? I mean, you must have your reasons, I am sure, I just can’t see which.

  2. Hi Jose,

    Thank you for reading.

    It’s hard to explain. I’m thinking of things like the contrast between the Lisboa Metro and the London Underground. Seeing people sit for thirty minutes after eating their food in a Portuguese restaurant vs. the hurry with which restaurants turn tables to squeeze in the next people in the UK. Having lived in both countries I do feel that saying the Portuguese pace of life is slower is justified…..but some of my perception is likely to be related to town vs. city as much as UK vs. Portugal.

    I know plenty of people in London who are paid for 35 hours per week and work 60, and plenty who finish one job, then spend an hour on public transport to go and work in a bar. This isn’t really what I was thinking about when I said “slower pace of life” – it’s more of a feeling – as I said, it’s hard to explain 🙂

  3. Oh!I see. We do like to spend time at a table…hahaha

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