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

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Archive for the ‘Moving abroad’


Easter Break in Portugal 3

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

As I type today, I’m looking back on a very enjoyable four day weekend in Portugal. When I started work this morning, I paged back through my calendar out of curiosity, and confirmed it’s the first time we’ve had such a long break since Christmas.

An Easter BBQ in Portugal

An Easter BBQ in Portugal

Now I’m pretty sure that when we moved to Portugal we did so in the hope of an improved work / life balance, but it seems we’ve not quite managed it…I think the problem is that now we’re both self employed, we must take a financial hit for every day we take off work. However, the past weekend has shown us that we should perhaps make more effort to step away from our laptops. Who’d have thought that in our “more simple, more laid back” life, we’d have to wait for a bank holiday to get around to changing lightbulbs?!

With this in mind, our whole routine is about to be shattered beyond recognition anyway, because our baby is now due in just two weeks. Needless to say we are both going through distinct phases of excitement, anticipation and blind panic…

Back in the UK, my mother is due to have an operation this week. She’s been on a waiting list and I had really hoped to be able to fly out to be there with her. Unfortunately, the dates have just lined up at the worst possible time. We’ve lived in Portugal for nearly five years, but nothing until now has made me feel the distance between us and some of our loved ones quite so strongly. I hate the thought of my mum being in hospital in one country while we’re having a baby in a hospital in another country – but there’s nothing we can do about it at this late stage.

All being well, however, I fully intend to get myself over to the UK once mother and baby are settled.

That’s all I really have time for today, by way of a quick update, and I should probably say now that my presence here is likely to be somewhat sporadic over the coming weeks for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, if you want to read more about life in Portugal, why not buy our book? We can put the royalities towards Junior’s college fund ;-)

Have a good week.

Our book:

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

US Readers will find it here.

Posts you might like:

Portugal Cost of Living – An Insight 6

Posted on March 19, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

When it comes to the cost of living in Portugal, I must confess that I have often been “that guy” on the expat forums, telling prospective immigrants to Portugal that they shouldn’t be under any illusions that Portugal is a cheap place to live.

In many ways, it’s not. Petrol costs more than it does in the UK (seriously), and the price of cars is truly shocking. Utility bills are often higher too—we have to keep our homes warm in winter and cool in summer.

HOWEVER: The other night I thought of all of this in another way.

Portugal Cost of Living

Portugal Cost of Living

So far this year, my wife and I have done OK.  My wife, especially, has carved out a very successful freelance career since her redundancy just over a year ago. We feel “comfortable,” but when I actually do the sums, we’re not even approaching the income we had in London back in 2009.

But then I thought about it another way. In London, our rent was £1250 per month. Where we live now costs €450 (£375)…and this place is enormous by comparison.

So, we save £875 per month, just in rent. That’s £10,500 per year.

We also lived in the London borough with the second highest council tax. That was another £200 per month. Yep, that’s another £2,400 per year. We don’t pay any here.

As we lived in “outer London,” we also had to pay for an annual travelcard to get to work. This one really will blow your mind: £2288 each–£4,576. Let’s face it, that’s basically five grand. Here, we work from home.

Sadly not everyone can work from home in Portugal

Sadly not everyone can work from home in Portugal

So what do we save every year on these things alone? £17,476. And we needed all that money AFTER tax. With tax taken into account, we’re talking about the equivalent of just a little below an entire UK average wage.

That’s quite impressive already, as an annual saving. Obviously the balance is redressed somewhat by the fact that our income tax is a little higher BUT, consider this:

-       A beer after work? That used to cost me £3.50 (€4.20). Now it costs a Euro.

-       Cigarettes that cost £8.50 (€10!) in the UK cost €4 here.

-       You can get a good meal out for €8.

-       Nobody in Portugal would have the audacity to charge you to park in a shopping centre car park.

Beer IS cheap in Portugal

Beer IS cheap in Portugal

I’m not going to add up the totals from above. If I did, I’d have to be honest about my personal consumption of beer and cigarettes – with you, and with myself! However, it’s clear that in many ways, life in Portugal is, indeed, cheaper.

Now of course this doesn’t mean life here is easy. Building up our freelance incomes has been a seriously hard slog, and we have both done plenty of assignments at rates that wouldn’t even come close to a UK minimum wage. However, now we’ve paid our dues and proved ourselves, we do OK.

Before I finish this post, I must state some caveats, however. If I didn’t, I’d be painting an irresponsibly positive picture of how expat life can be. Consider the following:

1. Not everyone can start a freelance career from nothing. My wife and I are both fortunate that we have skills and experience that translate well to home working. If you don’t have these skills, you should disregard everything I’ve written here and pay attention to the fact that many people in Portugal earn little more than €500 per month before tax if they speak Portuguese and manage to find a job.

2. The comparisons I make are with London life and Algarve life. Few places are as expensive as London, so the net saving for many people will actually be substantially lower than ours.

Even so, working out these figures has given us a huge reason to be cheerful. Even if the numbers on our spreadsheets still look rather pitiful compared to the numbers we had when we lived in the UK, the one thing that’s for sure is that we feel we get far more LIFE for our money. And surely that’s what our move to Portugal was supposed to be all about?

If you want to find out more about the cost of living in Portugal, check out this article.

For even more about the practicalities of life in the sun, please consider buying a copy of our book:

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

Posts you might like:

Butterflies, buds and bellies – Portugal in spring 7

Posted on March 03, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

(Lou) Last week was definitely an interesting one. Both Ben and I have work stacked up in front of us, which is great as we save up for the (ever closer) impending arrival of our little bundle of joy later this year.

Portugal in spring - buds and flowers are everywhere

Portugal in spring – buds and flowers are everywhere

The alternately cloudy, sunny and blustery weather has suited our indoor lifestyle, which has consisted of working all hours and spending time in the kitchen making the most of fresh produce such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and flavourful young carrots.

For me, the routine was broken by my regular monthly check up at our local Centro de Saúde (health centre). The day didn’t start too well, when I got in the car and turned the key, only to hear a click and then silence. However, the resulting taxi that I had to get to the Centro de Saúde meant an opportunity to practice my Portuguese, which is something that always pleases me. (The new car battery that we had to purchase later that day wasn’t quite so pleasing.)

On the way to the health centre, I chatted to the taxi driver about the weather, about the traffic and about the health centre’s services for pregnant women. After a few minutes of conversation, he asked me,

“You’re not Portuguese, are you?”

Portugal in spring - pink sky at night

Portugal in spring – pink sky at night

A simple enough question, but nonetheless a landmark in terms of our settling here. He hadn’t asked if I was English, but instead was uncertain as to whether or not I was Portuguese. It might seem the tiniest of distinctions when under scrutiny, but if felt as though I had taken another step towards true integration into Portugal – something which has become increasingly important to me now that we are expecting our first child here.

I shall ignore the fact that two days later the proprietor of a local seafood shop at the market was utterly incapable of understanding my (I thought) perfectly enunciated request for a dressed crab, lest it detract from the above victory.

After the check up with the doctor (all is well) I took advantage of the combination of carless-ness and sunshine to walk home rather than paying for another taxi. As I waddled my way chubbily along, I was treated to the site of buds and catkins on the trees, while butterflies danced through the warm air. Clearly nature has noticed that spring is on the way.

Portugal in spring - pretty white flowers

Portugal in spring – pretty white flowers

Another incident occurred when I popped to our local shop a day or so later. After chatting with the shop owner and another customer for a couple of minutes – they were kindly sharing Portuguese tips for how to deal with labour and giving birth – I realised that I was holding up an English tourist and her daughter, who were queuing behind me while we nattered. I paid for my goods and took my leave.

It was only when I got home that I realised the significance of the occurrence – I used to stand behind the Portuguese ladies chatting in the shop, not understanding their conversation and tapping my foot impatiently, waiting to be served while they talked and laughed. Yet suddenly, I had become one of that group of women happily chatting away in Portuguese and caring nothing for things like speed of service – a far cry from the London-fuelled impatience and lack of linguistic understanding that I used to exhibit when we first lived here.

While these may seem like minor incidents, I am left with the feeling that I have, almost without realising it, become more of a local of late. It’s something that has crept up on me unawares. I’m under no illusions that I still have a long way to go in terms of truly becoming Portuguese. My grammar is poor, I find unnecessary bureaucracy maddening and I haven’t yet dared to buy clams from the man with the bucket who sells them in the car park outside the supermarket. Still, it seems that I’m getting a little bit closer with each day that passes.

Portugal in spring - river path

Portugal in spring – river path

If you would like to know more about our early days in Portugal and how we got to where we are now, please feel free to 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
US Readers will find it here.

Posts you might like:

Seasonally Affected in Portugal 8

Posted on February 19, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted on Moving to Portugal. I shall be honest and say it’s because I’ve not really found an awful lot to write about.

Until this week, the weather has been decidedly dull, and the simple fact of the matter is that there really isn’t that much to do in the Algarve when the weather is poor. We don’t have cosy country pubs with log fires, or Cafe Neros with big sofas (although we do have far better coffee).

Algarve Weather - nothing to write home about

Algarve Weather – nothing to write home about

With a heavily pregnant wife, choices are restricted further. The popular expat option of steadily drinking until the weather improves is certainly off the table!

Thankfully, the sun has returned this week, and just in the nick of time as I was beginning to feel decidedly down in the dumps. Despite plenty of work AND keeping up to date with my degree course, I was still saying “I’m BORED” like a sulky teenager at least a couple of times each week.

As soon as the sun came out, my mood was transformed. It’s not as if it’s suddenly spring, as the temperatures are struggling to rise much higher than about 15 degrees, but it’s still been enough to encourage me to get out and walk again. On Sunday, I even managed to sit outside and read in a T-shirt – in the suntrap of my balcony it actually felt warm.

Last night, Louise gently reminded me that it’s just 11 weeks until our baby is due. I’ve never known time to both drag and fly in such a contradictory way, but having spoken to other recent parents it seems it’s actually quite normal. Apparently in about 6 months time we will give anything to feel “bored” again.

On the subject of boredom, it’s actually a rather common state of mind amongst expats right now. A couple of weeks ago, there were some satellite changes, resulting in the loss of BBC and ITV channels. Currently, thousands of expats are scrabbling around trying to find ways to get Eastenders back.

UK TV Gone in Portugal

UK TV Gone in Portugal

To be frank, I find it all a bit depressing. When you see how mobilised a group of people can become about a topic, you can’t help but wonder how much GOOD such collective motivation could do if it were pointed at a worthy cause. Sadly, however, that’s not the world we live in. The government raise taxes to pay for their own mistakes? Nobody really minds that much. Huge scandals are uncovered? Nobody makes more than a passing comment…

But take Jeremy Kyle away…well SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! What strange priorities we have.

I do feel for elderly people out here. UK TV was a lifeline for them, and few of the alternative solutions are as easy to use as a Sky box. However, UK TV is not a right for anyone living in Portugal, and was never being offered as a legitimate service anyway. Portugal has TV too, and if a few more people watch it they might start to learn the language of the country they’ve chosen to live in.

I did write an article some time ago about an easy way to get UK TV in Portugal. Here is a link to it.

Having read all that back, I am conscious that it sounds a bit ranty, so I obviously haven’t had quite enough sunshine yet. I will do my best to get more cheerful before I post again!

Whenever you're ready summer

Whenever you’re ready summer

Just before I go, I’ve noticed that this in the 200th post on Moving to Portugal. Working on an average length of 750 words, that means we’ve now written 150,000 words – a good few books worth! If you’ve yet to read Moving to Portugal: The Book, which contains plenty of unique content, please check it out below. If you’re one of the people missing UK TV, it will keep you busy for a few hours ;-)

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same
US Readers will find it here.

Posts you might like:

Life in Portugal – Spring is in the Air 2

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Lou here with a quick update. It seems strange that spring has arrived so fast this year. Christmas and New Year have barely passed and yet this weekend we’ve been enjoying days with temperatures of 20C plus. We’ve fished the sunglasses out from the back of the drawer, braved the outside world while in short sleeves and admired the blossom that has burst into life on the almond trees – one of the sweetest sights and scents that the Algarve has to offer.

Life in Portugal - not long until it's beach time again

Life in Portugal – not long until it’s beach time again

Having grown up in England, it seems strange that winter can have passed so quickly. Even after several years in Portugal it is not something that I am used to. My brain is still full of winter baking recipes to try out in the kitchen and we’ve only just made this year’s batch of chutney, so the sun drawing us inexorably to the beach has presented quite a mix of contradictory feelings.

On the one hand, it’s delightful to be cleaning down the barbecue ready for another long season of lazy weekends spent feasting on local produce. On the other, I’ve got all sorts of winter tasks still to be completed before we switch to our vastly different summer schedule. I can’t really believe I’m admitting it, but another couple of weeks of rain wouldn’t go amiss!

Thankfully, as this is our fifth winter in Portugal, I’m well aware that the first warm weekend of the year doesn’t signal the full on start of spring, but it’s been lovely to have a taster of it nonetheless.

Life in Portugal - spring is well on the way

Life in Portugal – spring is well on the way

Our daily lives in Portugal have settled into a well-balanced schedule over the winter months. Weekdays are spent working, with the odd diversion (after all, what’s the point of being freelance, if you don’t occasionally get to take time off between 9 and 5?); evenings are spent knitting baby clothes (me), trying out new recipes (Ben) and watching films; and weekends are for quiet, local activities.

It’s a routine that suits us for a couple of months each year, while we recover from the hectic pace of summer, but usually by February we are ready for the tourists to begin arriving again and livening up the calm, quiet town that we live in over the winter months.

For those considering starting a new life in Portugal, I would strongly recommend visiting it during all seasons. There can be precious little to do during the winter months in some areas, while others become so packed during the summer that they are unbearably crowded.

Life in Portugal - a winter sunset

Life in Portugal – a winter sunset

It’s one of Portugal’s many contrasts and one that we are still becoming accustomed to. By the end of the summer, we can’t wait for the tourists to go home and give us back the wonderful peace of the winter months. By the end of the winter, we are desperate for the tourists to return and crank up the pace of town life once again.

For the moment, I’ll have to find a way to juggle my brain’s incomplete list of winter tasks with my body’s desire to bask in the sun. I can think of worse dilemmas to have.

If you like the blog, why not try the book?

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

US readers can find it here: Moving to Portugal – the book.

Posts you might like:

New Year, New Horizons – Portugal 2014 4

Posted on January 12, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

(Lou) Having lived in Portugal for over four years now, it’s fair to say that some aspects of daily life in our new country have become routine. Certain interactions that would have invoked serious anxiety (mixed with excitement, of course) when we first arrived are now carried out without a moment’s thought.

A new era begins

A new era begins

2014, though, is going to be a year that is in many ways as nerve-wracking as our first months in Portugal – if not more so! It will be a year of firsts for us, as we navigate the unknown seas of having our first child and of yet more Portuguese bureaucracy as we go through the process of sorting out all of his paperwork.

With the news a few months ago that we were expecting a baby, we began our journey through the Portuguese state healthcare system. After a very bumpy start (numerous fruitless trips to the local Centro do Saude and being reduced to sobbing in frustration in the car park), I finally got to see my GP. From that point onward, things began looking up in terms of my experience of the medical profession.

Though the administration side of seeing the doctor still fills me with dread as each appointment approaches, the care that the bump and I have received from the medical staff has been truly excellent. Waiting times can be lengthy, but this is understandable once you get as far as the doctor. At each appointment so far, I have spent time with both the nurse and the doctor, with my face to face time with them ranging from 15 to 30 minutes.

New footsteps in the sand are eagerly/nervously awaited

New footsteps in the sand are eagerly/nervously awaited

It is a far cry from the five minute turnaround time I was used to in the UK. I’m still in two minds as to which system is better – one where you have fast access to the doctor but where your time with her is limited (as in the UK) or one where access is slow but you have as long as you need with the doctor, to ask as many questions as you feel you need to (as in Portugal).

Seeing the nurse has been an excellent experience for me personally, as she doesn’t speak any English. This forced me to learn a great many medical/birth-related Portuguese terms very quickly in order to communicate fully with her, which was excellent practice for when the big day arrives, as I have no reason to think that the midwife who eventually deals with me will happen to be fluent in English.

Portuguese language learning - all sorts of new words are now needed

Portuguese language learning – all sorts of new words are now needed

We still have four months to go, during which time we will no doubt experience many Portuguese ‘firsts,’ just as we did when we originally moved here. Many of those moments will be daunting, others will bring a sense of triumph, while yet more will no doubt result in a few more tears of frustration. I, for one, can’t wait.

If you would like to know more about our experiences of moving to Portugal, feel free to 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

US readers can find it here: Moving to Portugal – the book.

Posts you might like:

The Simple Life – Lou’s Update 8

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It’s a time of change for us at the moment. With summer behind us and a baby on the way, life is looking rather different than it did three months ago.

Autumn is the time for perfect sunsets

Autumn is the time for perfect sunsets

The change in the weather has meant we are enjoying long walks now that the sun has lost the ferocity of its mid-summer heat. We have been stretching our legs around our local villages, towns and beaches, relishing the peace that the Algarve offers now that the tourists have gone home for another season. Our walks have treated us to beautiful sunsets, desolate beachscapes and the reward of coffee and cake in near-deserted cafés.

Walking around the Algarve at this time of year has reminded us of the simple life that we came here for in the first place. We swapped a London commute for strolls in the sand and, while we do sometimes miss the convenience of life in the big city, the Algarve is now our home through and through. I can’t imagine any circumstances that would cause us to swap back.

Deserted beaches abound at this time of year

Deserted beaches abound at this time of year

This week also afforded us the chance to test out our blossoming language skills, when we were invited to a friend’s birthday dinner. The guests were half English and half Portuguese and it’s fair to say that we held our own in terms of conversation during the meal. It was a real triumph compared to how we would have managed even six months ago. It finally feels as though we are really getting somewhere with the language, which has given us a lovely confidence boost. Of course I’m also hard at work learning all sorts of pregnancy and birth-related words in Portuguese at the moment!

Perfect walking weather

Perfect walking weather

Our friend’s birthday dinner was a chance to enjoy life in Portugal at its finest. A huge table of us sat outside in the (extremely chilly) evening, feasting on prawns, grilled meat, bacalhau com natas and other savoury treats. The food was simple and delicious and followed by some fabulous Portuguese desserts. I confess I used the ‘eating for two’ excuse to consume a giant slice of tarte de natas. The meal was lengthy and packed with entertaining conversation and laughter – a truly wonderful experience and exactly the kind of thing we moved here for in the first place.

Enjoying the solitude

Enjoying the solitude

The next few months are going to bring even more changes for us as ‘the bump’ gets bigger and we prepare for the arrival of the newest member of our family. The pregnancy has refocused us and, despite the hateful hours spent on medical administration matters, made us realise that we are precisely where we want to be to bring up a child. The year ahead is going to be a rollercoaster, but I can’t think of anywhere else that I would rather be.

If you would like to know more about our move to Portugal to enjoy the simple life, 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

US readers can find it here: Moving to Portugal – the book.

Posts you might like:

A Positive Removals Experience 7

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Last week saw us pass a very significant milestone in our lives in Portugal: the 5th of November marked the start of our fifth year in the country.

The “anniversary” found us reflecting on how much has happened since, and also caused me to nostalgically look back at the early days of our move – not just getting here, but preparing for the move as well.

The other day, someone on a forum asked for recommendations for a removal company, and I gladly recommended Algarve Removals, the company we used for our initial move over here.

Algarve Removals

We were guided very helpfully though the process, especially in estimating how many cubic meters of possessions we had to move. We had sold most of our large items in the UK, but it was surprising just how many boxes we still had. However, it’s also surprising just how much you can fit into a carefully packed cubic meter.

When the transit van arrived in South London, it really was the point of no return for us! We spent out last few days in England with a bare minimum of possessions – and we even borrowed a duvet for the final three nights that we took back to a friend en route to Gatwick airport.

We’ve since used Algarve Removals to move another couple of cubic meters of accumulated possessions, and also made use of their online shopping service.

Lots to unpack on arrival in Portugal

All we had to do was make a big order from Asda Online, and have it delivered to their Essex depot. A few days later, it had been brought on their weekly delivery, and we had the fun of driving to collect it from their Alcantarilha site and then arrived home to unpack many bags of much-missed foodstuffs!

The home shopping service works for all kinds of items, and companies such as John Lewis and Screwfix are all happy to deliver to their depot. The shipping costs are very low, and with many items costing much more in Portugal, it’s possible to make substantial savings.

So if you’re planning to move to Portugal, don’t worry too much about what you may or may not be able to buy here in the country. You only need to allow a few more days, and you can continue to shop from your favourite UK stores.

I can sincerely recommend the service from Algarve Removals after three trouble-free jobs – and there will be more. At some point next year we need to visit the homes of some family and friends and round up all the things people have been “looking after” for us. With four years under our belts and a baby on the way, I don’t think we’ll be going back to the UK any time soon!

Posts you might like:

Moving to Portugal – What was your Inspiration? 8

Posted on October 07, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

For us, moving to Portugal was something we decided to do for a number of reasons. We had holidayed here several times and loved the scenery, the food and the sunshine. We are both beach people, so we loved the idea that we could live close to the sea. We were also tired of the ‘work till you drop’ pace of London and were ready for an improved work/life balance – one where we had time to hold hands and curl our toes in the sand.

Life in Portugal - time to notice prints in the sand

Life in Portugal – time to notice prints in the sand

Four years later, we still love our life in Portugal. Yesterday we spent the day at Praia da Rocha, the beach that first inspired us to think about emigrating. Despite it being October, the sun was beating down and the sea was shimmering with a million tiny sparkles. A handful of late season tourists were scattered across the sands and a few brave souls (my brother included) ventured into the sea, which last week’s bad weather has served to cool considerably. It was the perfect lazy Sunday and exactly what we had in mind when we moved here.

Given our love of Portugal and our own personal adventure of moving here, we were intrigued when approached last week by Meravista – the largest online portal for Algarve property – to support the promotion of their survey on why people have moved to the Algarve. The Meravista survey delves into why expats have selected the Algarve as their destination of choice, as well as examining topics such as their experience of working here and how they like to spend their free time.

The team at Meravista are looking to hear from a wide range of expats, of all ages and nationalities. The survey takes just a few minutes to complete and participation will help to improve understanding of just what it is about the Algarve that draws so many of us here to stay. As if that weren’t motivation enough, entrants can also elect to take part in a prize draw, where three winners will be selected to receive a case of wine after the survey closes on 9 November. Those wishing to take part can access the survey here.

Praia da Rocha - those sparkles never get boring

Praia da Rocha – those sparkles never get boring

As we’ve somehow arrived at Monday again, we have another long week of work ahead of us before there will be sufficient time to go out and play in the sun. Still, I’m sure we’ll find time to squeeze in a lovely, relaxed mid-week barbecue with a few family members who are currently here on holiday. Compared with what we would have been doing on October evenings if we had remained in London, sitting out on the balcony with a glass of wine while the smell of sardines drifts across to us from the grill really doesn’t sound too bad :-)

Posts you might like:

From Portugal to England – a Reverse Perspective 8

Posted on September 16, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

As regular readers will know, Moving to Portugal is all about our move from rainy England to sunny Portugal and our experiences of settling in to our wonderful new country. This week, inspired by one of the comments on last week’s blog post, we thought it would be fun to turn everything on its head and look at the opposite perspective – what things are like for a Portuguese expat living in England.

Union Jack

Kat, her parents and her eldest sister moved to England in 2004, when Kat was 13. Here’s what she has to say about the experience:

M2P: What were the main reasons for the move?

Kat: There were a few different reasons. Firstly, my middle sister was living in England with her partner at the time. My mum wanted to be nearer to her, so that was the initial thought. Then there was the reason that my parents wanted to give me a better education. Out in Portugal education can be very expensive, paying hundreds of euros every year for books and the other things associated with school. If it hadn’t been for me, they say they would never have moved, so I owe them all for that, as I had the best education I could have asked for.

M2P: Did you find it hard to learn the language? How long did it take you?

Kat: Learning the language was a bit daunting. For the first few months I didn’t really talk much in school – I was more taking it all in and learning it. Surprisingly, however, I remember understanding a lot more than I expected.

M2P: What was it like starting school in England when up until the move you had been educated in Portugal?

Kat: School was fun. Weird to begin with because we have different holidays (no half terms in Portugal), and there is no uniform in Portugal either, so that was a bit weird. But I loved school so I found it all good.

School uniform

M2P: What do you like most about living in England?

Kat: England is home. I grew into an adult here, I am used to the language, the system, how everything works. I can’t pinpoint one specific thing about England, coz almost everything is good – MINUS THE WEATHER. That irritates me, I like sunshine so much, and England doesn’t get much of it.

M2P: Would you ever consider moving back to Portugal?

Kat: Moving to Portugal? I don’t think so. Extended holidays maybe, but actually living and working in Portugal… I wouldn’t (unless I was offered a job that paid me millions hehe!).

M2P: After so many years in England, do you consider yourself to be more English than Portuguese?

Kat: I am both. I will always be Portuguese. I don’t think it matters how far away you are from your home country, you still carry your roots with you. Portugal is my darling home and I have to go home almost every year. But, I also consider myself English, because England has provided me with so many opportunities that I am so thankful for.

Portuguese beach

M2P: Is your diet mainly English or mainly Portuguese?

Kat: If I am at home with my family, the diet is Portuguese. If I am with friends or my partner then it will be English. Although I love the variety of foods that England offers, from English to Indian, Chinese etc. I just love ALL FOODS. I get good variety here.

M2P: What do you miss about living in Portugal?

Kat: I miss the sun, the beaches, the clear skies, the hotness, the pace of life. I miss my family and just generally relaxing without a worry in the world.

Portuguese Beach 2

So it seems that wherever you move from and to, there are certain parts of your culture that go along with you and certain parts of your new culture that you quickly embrace. Thank you Kat for taking the time to speak to Moving to Portugal and providing us with the opposite perspective :-)

Image credits: Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Rob Herring

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