This week, I had an opportunity to speak to a representative from Which Offshore, a specialist team of expat experts, about the implications of moving to Portugal during your retirement years. I hope the following interview is of interest to those in that situation.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are Which Offshore, a community of expats living all around the world. We help to educate, explain and inform expatriates on all aspects of offshore personal finance and help them make the most of the unique opportunities available to people living abroad.
What is the first thing I should do on arriving in Portugal to plan for my retirement?
Expats moving to Portugal from their home countries will have access to opportunities not available to the peers they left behind. For example if they have a pension that they have been paying into back in the UK they may be able to transfer this offshore.
Sort out the intricacies of your pension provision to free up time and money to enjoy your new life
I’ve heard about a QROPS. What is it and could it help someone like me?
QROPS stands for Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme and is one way to gain access to a paid up UK pension. It is the set of rules put in place by the HMRC that govern such transfers and is suitable for UK citizens who are no longer resident in the UK.
If your circumstances qualify for a QROPS it is possible to transfer one of more UK pensions to a jurisdiction with an ideal tax environment allowing an even more comfortable income in retirement.
I became an expat to enjoy my life in the sun! Why should I care about offshore pensions?
It is easy to become comfortable with your pension provision when living in the UK with often generous company pension contributions and a state pension to fall back on. However, expats living in Portugal need to think carefully about their impending retirement years with a different situation in their new home.
With expat pension plans there’s normally no minimum age to begin draw down and offshore pensions are considered an asset in their own right, meaning that you can pass them on to beneficiaries. You basically have a greater level of flexibility in terms of what you can do with it. Retirees can sometimes even take control of the entire asset, in cash, when they retire, with pensions for expats offering far more choice than with traditional UK plans.
Ok that all makes sense. How can Which Offshore help me?
Here at Which Offshore we know that making the right pension decision isn’t always easy, and that’s why we’re committed to offering as much support as we can to simplify the process.
If you’re in need of more personal attention we can put you in touch with trained financial advisors who will be able to offer expat pension advice on a one-to-one basis, taking you through the various pensions for expats to decide which one would be right for you, ultimately helping to ensure you can make the most of your retirement. For more information, please visit http://www.whichoffshore.com/
Today finds me still somewhat disorientated after just returning from our holiday in the USA, where we visited New York (VERY cold) and Florida (very warm).
I won’t dwell on the holiday itself, wonderful though it was, as this is a blog about moving to Portugal. Suffice to say we had a great time and created many memories. I have scattered a few photos across this post.
A change from Algarve scenery
Instead, I’m going to list five reasons why I’m glad to return to Portugal. When we lived in the UK, we used to find the end of a holiday awfully depressing. Now that we genuinely love the place we live, the sadness of the end of a holiday is mixed with genuine joy at being “home” – and that’s definitely a good thing.
So, here are five reasons why I’m happy to be back in Portugal:
1. I NEED fresh food now. We spent ages looking forward to burgers, New York pizza and the International House of Pancakes. Now that I’ve been there and done it, I want fresh fish, food that isn’t fried and, most importantly, I want salad and vegetables.
No more of these for a while
2. I love having space around me – on the beach, on the pavements and on the roads. The sheer human traffic in both New York and Florida was exhilarating for a while, but I prefer the Algarve’s slow pace.
3. I have my own bath back, with its comfortable slope at the back – and my own toilet, which is always nice.
Whimsical characters – or my own toilet?
4. The first thing I see when I’m nearly at my front door on returning from the airport is a bright sea vista, as wide as the eye can see, as I head down from the motorway towards Tavira. When I lived in the UK, the equivalent landmark was Tolworth Tower. There’s a photo here for those without knowledge of South West London:
Our pre-Portugal, post-holiday landmark
5. There are loads of things I want to get on with now! As expected, our holiday gave us time to regroup and reprioritize. Now we’ve made those plans I’m keen to get them underway. First, however, we have trips to Ikea and clothes to sort out.
All in all, I feel surprisingly upbeat considering our holiday is over – certainly more than I would be if our final destination yesterday had been London rather than Lisbon. It’s good to be back.
I have something a little different for you today – a musical post.
For a while now, I’ve been intending to put together a list of the songs we’ve come to associate with our move to Portugal.
Most of the time, our home runs on music. Sometimes many days can pass without the TV being switched on, but the iPod dock is in constant use.
Some of this music isn’t necessarily to our normal taste, but certain songs have become intrinsically linked with our move to Portugal – to leave them out would mean failing to tell the whole story – so don’t judge us on all of them!
Emma Bunton – “Free Me” (Album)
Yeah, yeah, let’s get all the “Ben loves the Spice Girls” giggling out the way. As my closest friends will know, I’ve always had a soft spot for a little girl power.
All joking aside, if I had to choose one album that makes me think of our early weeks in Portugal, it would be this. It may seem odd that someone who knows about all kinds of obscure house, soul and hip-hop places this in his top ten albums of all time, but it’s true.
It’s a beautiful chunk of Motown-tinged pop that never gets dull. It reminds me of sunny afternoons driving around the Algarve, and long days of cooking in our first house in Tavira, where over a decade of London tension first began to thaw away.
Marvin Gaye – “I wanna be where you are”
OK, I’d better find something a little more highbrow and credible for my next choice, so here we have Marvin Gaye.
This is from a quite obscure B-sides album, and is a simple groove as much as a song – but what a groove it is, with strings and brass that I could, quite literally listen to all day long.
This is my “work done, wine poured, time to peel the prawns” tune. My wife, who doesn’t really do soul music, merely tolerates it.
Odyssey – “Native New Yorker”
My life would be incomplete without this track. I associate it with having visitors staying in Portugal with us and have been surprised by how many friends were already familiar with it.
I also (girly moment) remember shedding a tear upon hearing the line “where did all those yesterdays go” in the hours after my mum had left to return to England after her first Christmas visit to Portugal. Hearing it now, I’m reminded that this time next week I will actually be on my way to New York!
Mambana – “Libre”
I could easily write a separate post listing all the Latin house tunes that I associate with our life in Portugal, but that would bore everyone to death, so I consulted my wife as to which to include.
To me this song is all about driving down the Algarve’s N125 road on the way to a beach, often with a couple of mates in the back of the car. Hearing it now is enough to give me goose bumps in advance of this summer.
Thick Dick – “Insatiable”
This is a house tune that I remember from my clubbing days. A couple of years ago this Balearic-tinged version appeared, complete with its laid-back Spanish guitar sounds.
It’s a track that’s equally as perfect through the headphones by the pool as it is blasting in the car on the way to a night out. It featured heavily in our summer last year. It’s basically summer distilled into five minutes – which is a good thing.
The Milk – “B Roads”
Right, time to man up with something a little more guitar-based. The Milk’s album, “Tales from a Thames Delta” was one of my highlights of last year and our car soundtrack for several months.
It’s a track that tends to come out when we’ve got too much to do and feel a bit up against it: “you gotta live on the run, or you’ll die young” is quite an inspirational message!
Jay-Z and Kayne West – “Clique”
This tune makes me think of my young mates in our local town, and of a few mad nights out. Lou (my wife) loves it too, earning it a place on this list.
Over-the-top swag hip-hop, complete with lots of sweary lyrics. Parental discretion is advised.
Oddisee – “Hustle Off”
Oddisee is a hip-hop artist I discovered last year. His album “People Hear What They See,” was the iTunes hip-hop album of the year for 2012.
This track isn’t actually on the album, it’s more of an obscurity, but the “sometimes you just gotta turn your hustle off” message is very resonant for those of us who’ve decided to slow down our pace of life.
The Nextmen – “Whisper Up”
A list of songs related to our move to Portugal wouldn’t be complete without some poolside reggae. “Whisper Up” is a quirky little number that I doubt many people are familiar with – but it’s instantly appealing and often causes people to ask “what’s this?”
Fierce Collective – “Baker Street”
This is Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” turned into shameless handbag-house. I was never a massive fan of the original (other than always whistling it whilst walking through Baker Street tube station).
This version, however, I discovered during a particularly crappy week of work in London, and it came on my iPod while I was on the Gatwick Express en route back home to Portugal. I’d never previously realised the lyrics were all about swapping city life for something rather more like ours. By the time I pulled into Gatwick train station and reached the “you’re going home” line, I was nearly crying for joy with the certainty that we’d done the right thing by moving to Portugal.
Michel Telo – “Ai Se Eu Te Pego”
You may know this one. It’s a Portuguese (Brazillian) song that has reached number one in 16 European countries. However, it’s not so well known in the UK, where, as recent events prove, they don’t really like joining in with everyone else.
This song reminds me of summer days and nights out, and it always delights me when I hear English expats sing it…in Portuguese.
The Quiet Boys – “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”
I had to include this song. The dilemma was which version, as I seem to uncover a different one every couple of months. Any one of them is perfect for playing quietly in the background whilst floating in the swimming pool (made from a converted irrigation tank) at our family’s place nearby.
I’ve gone for this acid jazz flavoured version, but I apologize to Roy Ayers for not choosing his. I have, however put the Roy Ayers version here as my choice is the one item on this list too obscure to find on YouTube.
Compiling this list of twelve songs has been a really enjoyable (and at times emotional) experience. I have no doubt that over the coming days I’ll think of countless other tunes I should have included. But I still feel that this list provides a good representation of the soundtrack of our life in Portugal. I hope you enjoy it.
Moving abroad is something that everyone does for their own personal reasons. For us, quality of life and better weather were two key reasons behind our decision to move to Portugal (it’s Lou here, by the way).
While sunshine and high temperatures aren’t guaranteed in Portugal in the winter, it’s fair to say that overall the weather here is a vast improvement on that in England. We’ve had a wonderful December, full of bright, sunny days, albeit turning cold the moment the sun goes down. January has been more of a mixed bag, with rain showers and cloudy days reminding us that it is still winter after all. This weekend, high winds have deterred us from venturing too far, so we’ve made the most of relaxing and appreciating the quiet life of the Algarve.
Moving abroad – where will your journey lead you?
After a wonderful meal of fresh fish at Vela 2 in Santa Margarida on Friday night, we battened down the hatches and spent the weekend indoors, hiding from the wind. Although some chores did intrude on our relaxation (our oven is now sparklingly clean!) I was able to indulge in some Portuguese cooking, finish knitting two scarves that I started before Christmas and bake banana bread with a chocolate spread centre.
One of the things that I love about the Algarve in winter – and the reason I can relax so thoroughly when the weather is bad – is that there simply isn’t that much to do here when it’s not sunny. In our local area, poor weather means that our choices are limited to the cinema or shopping. Although there are occasions when we do yearn for a little more, it generally means that we can spend the winter months hibernating and relaxing, saving up our energy for the frenetic life of Portuguese summertime.
Moving abroad – a new dawn
Of course winter doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work. Come rain or shine, my working day begins at 8.30 am. On days like today, when I have a huge ‘to do’ list, the day began even earlier. I got up and opened the shutters to see what the day was like, only to realise that it was still dark. It came as quite a surprise – my lack of a commute to work means that those weeks on end of getting up while it’s still dark (and getting home while it’s dark) during the English winter are a thing of the past. It’s something that I have almost, after more than three years in Portugal, come to take for granted.
This morning served as a wonderful reminder of how much our quality of life has improved, in subtle ways as well as obvious ones. We still have to deal with the pressures of work and the endless chores and trips to the supermarket, but we’re more relaxed while we’re doing it now. Instead of a hellish commute to work through London traffic in the dark, I drank my tea this morning while typing and watching the sun come up over our balcony. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer start to the week – it reminded me all over again how lucky we are to be living in Portugal and how much our life has improved since moving abroad.
A quick guest post for you today, with some back to basics advice on moving to Portugal that all makes good sense!
Moving abroad and becoming an expat in a foreign country is a choice made by thousands of individuals, couples and families every year. Some of those decide to make the leap to Portugal, where the sun (almost) always shines! We have produced these top ten tips for someone looking to move to Portugal from abroad.
Moving to Portugal is stressful but worth it!
1. Attending school is compulsory in Portugal from the ages of six to fifteen. This is known as Ensino Básico (basic education). Education can either be state or private. Despite education being free in the state system, you will be expected to purchase books and other equipment.
2. Before the age of six, your child can attend a pre-school (kindergarten) if you so wish. There are a variety of types of pre-school, including state, private, charitable and cooperatives. Registration occurs during June and July. Requirements are typically a medical check, birth certificate, health card showing vaccinations and an inscription form.
3. There are also private schools teaching the Portuguese national curriculum and others that teach an international curriculum in various foreign languages. However, only some of these schools will go up to the secondary level. The schools should be registered with the Portuguese Ministry of Education. Note that an international curriculum is not automatically accepted by the Portuguese education system and so this should be considered when you are selecting a school and curriculum.
4. Once you have your health card, you are usually assigned a Médico de Família (family doctor/GP) at your local health centre. You should take your health card or the Número Utente (patient number) when registering at a health centre for the first time and also when seeing a doctor other than the one you have been assigned. Although health care is funded via taxation, you will still need to pay a small fee at each visit.
5. Farmácias (chemists) are open in every town during normal shopping hours, which are typically 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. and 3 P.M. to 7 P.M. Outside of these hours there is a Farmácia de Serviço (duty chemist) available. Every chemist should have a list of the duty chemists in the area on its door. A chemist can also usually offer advice when you are unable to get to your health centre or family doctor.
6. If you need emergency treatment, you should dial 112 (free). This number also covers fire and police.
7. Check that all utility bills are paid in full before buying or renting a property or you could become liable for any debts. Take readings from the meters so that you can check any bills you later receive.
8. Many motorways in Portugal have tolls. Some have tollbooths, but others only have an electronic system for paying, which is operated by Via Verde Portugal. Toll machines can be hired or bought in special Via Verde shops or at Portuguese post offices. If you end up on a Via Verde without a toll machine, you will need to pay the toll charge within five days or you will earn a fine on top of the toll fee. However, you have to wait 48 hours after driving on the road before you can pay, in order for your journey to be registered on the system.
9. Relocating on a permanent basis to another country, especially one which has a different language and culture, needs thorough planning. If you have children and need to work, this is even more crucial.
10. As with all big decisions in life, research is the key and one must always remember that living somewhere is completely different to holidaying there.
Driving in Europe can be a scary experience for those not used to it. For a start, the cars are all on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Different countries have different rules, regulations and toll systems and some of them take quite a bit of working out. Here are a few helpful tips to make your driving experience in Portugal a little less stressful, so that you can enjoy your time here more.
Driving in Europe – Portugal’s roads
It seems as though half of the drivers in Portugal are patient and courteous, particularly in small towns. You can stop in a street to let someone into or out of the car and people will wait patiently behind you for a minute or so without beeping. The other half of the drivers here seem to be in a desperate hurry to get wherever they are going and will happily overtake at high speed on blind bends.
The EN125, which runs the length of the Algarve, has long been hailed as one of the most dangerous roads in Europe – it was once known as the ‘road of death.’ I have been overtaken dangerously on it on many occasions since living here, by cars, vans and even a coach. On the most notable occasion, a car overtook me directly into oncoming traffic, despite the fact that I was already driving at the speed limit. Both I and the oncoming car had to swerve hard to avoid a nasty collision. Keep your wits about you when using this road.
One thing that can seem unnerving when driving in Portugal is how closely cars will drive behind you. The concept of leaving a safe braking distance is not something that seems to be cherished here. Drivers will happily sit so closely behind you that they appear to be mere inches from your back bumper. It can be unsettling when a car does this and terrifying when an HGV does it, but it’s not intended to intimidate – it’s just the way things are done here.
Remember to drive on the right
Licences and insurance
You can drive in Portugal with a driving licence from an EU country. If you have a non-EU licence then you may need an international driving licence before you can legally drive here. If you are bringing your own car, make sure you have insurance that covers you to drive in Portugal (and any other countries you might drive through to get here). If you’re hiring a car, I would highly recommend purchasing as much insurance as is available through your hire car company. Both us and our guests have had mishaps in hire cars that would have been costly had we not purchased the additional insurance options available.
Be sure to carry your licence, vehicle registration documents, passport, insurance documents and any rental agreement in your car whenever you drive. Older style (green) UK licences are valid, but the AA recommends voluntarily upgrading to the newer photocard licence before you drive in Portugal, as these are more widely understood and accepted.
Driving in Portugal is a wonderful way to explore the country
If you’ve moved to Portugal and are driving on a UK driving licence, you need to present yourself to the authorities and register your licence to your Portuguese address within 30 days of obtaining your Portuguese residency certificate. This is done at the IMTT, which is Portugal’s equivalent of the DVLA (well, sort of – the IMTT’s remit is actually wider than that of the DVLA). The IMTT’s website includes a list of its locations, so you can find the one nearest to you. (The site can be viewed in English, but is limited to three pages – if you want to see the rest of it you will need to view the Portuguese version.)
It is important to ensure that you visit the IMTT and fill out your paperwork within the required time. It is a requirement to do so under Portuguese law and you can be fined if you don’t do it. It also avoids the problem of you living at an address which is different from that on your UK licence, which is an offence in England. Once you have the completed form from the IMTT confirming your Portuguese address, keep it with your driving licence at all times.
It is possible for residents to exchange their UK licence for a Portuguese one should they wish. This is done at the IMTT as well.
Although there are obviously variations across Portugal, speed limits are generally 120 km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on main roads and 50 km/h in towns.
Drinking and driving
The permissible alcohol limit in Portugal is lower than in the UK, at 0.5 mg per ml (or 0.05%). This is so low that the best advice is simply not to drink at all if you will be driving. Penalties for drink driving can be harsh. Despite this, drink driving is still in evidence in many parts of the country, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. A national campaign is underway in order to try and stamp out this practice.
Driving in Europe – know your limits
Portugal has a number of toll roads, which are in good condition and generally quiet and pleasant to cruise along. Most have two payment systems – cash/cards or an electronic transponder that fits on the inside of your windscreen. The transponder can help you to beat the queues at the tolls, as there is generally less traffic in that lane than in the cash lanes.
A number of toll roads operate an electronic toll system, so have no cash booths. To travel on these roads, you need to comply with the payment requirements of the company that manages the road. A good summary of these is available on the Visit Portugal website.
Toll charges can be quite expensive. It costs around €10 to drive from the western end of the Algarve to Spain and about €20 to drive from the Algarve to Lisbon. With petrol being expensive in Portugal, driving excursions can end up costing quite a lot with the tolls added in, but if you’ve tried the bumpy alternatives to the motorways for any long distance, I’m sure you’ll agree the cost of the tolls is well worth it.
I will refrain from joining in any debate regarding the implementation of tolls on the Algarve’s A22 motorway. There’s plenty online about it if you are interested!
Driving in Europe – vehicle requirements vary from country to country
As well as the standard requirements of ensuring your vehicle is roadworthy and so forth, Portugal requires you to carry a number of items in your car. These include a high visibility jacket (which must be accessible without you having to leave the vehicle), a spare set of bulbs and a reflective warning triangle. It is compulsory to use your high visibility jacket and warning triangle in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Having a First Aid kit in the car is suggested, but not compulsory. It is also recommended that you carry a spare pair of glasses with you while driving. Having lost my sole pair of glasses in the sea while on holiday in Spain, I can attest to the sense of this advice!
Children shorter than 1.50m and under 12 years old must travel in the back of the vehicle and use a restraint system appropriate to their age/size. Children under three years old can travel in the front seat if an appropriate restraint system is used. Please note that if the restraint system involves a rear-facing seat, the airbag must be switched off.
You have to be 18 to drive in Portugal. Although in the UK you can legally drive from age 17, and you can drive in Portugal on a UK licence, you might have a hard time explaining that (in Portuguese) if you are pulled over for any reason. It may be best to wait until you are 18 before driving in Portugal on a UK licence.
Parking on roundabouts is not permitted
You will often see Portuguese vehicles, including lorries and coaches, parked on roundabouts. I am unclear as to why this is. It is not legal and you should not do it!
Dealing with the police
If you are pulled over while driving for any reason, be polite and respectful when dealing with the authorities. If you are fined for anything, the payment must be made immediately, either in cash or using the portable credit card machine that most police cars carry. If you refuse to pay, the police can take your driving licence and registration document. They should give you a receipt for these and tell you where and when you can collect them. If you refuse to hand over your documents, the police have the power to confiscate your vehicle.
It is compulsory to use your headlights at night, when driving in tunnels, and in poor visibility during the day. Non-compliance with this may result in a fine.
Driving in Europe – know when to use your headlights or you could face a fine
It is compulsory for all passengers to wear seatbelts and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they do. If you are pulled over and one or more passengers is not wearing a seatbelt, it is the driver who will pay the fine.
Although the above is correct at time of writing, please note that rules and regulations do change from time to time, so be sure you have the latest information to hand before driving in Europe. Safe travels
Since long before living abroad, I’ve been rather opposed to the “new year, new start” crap – or at least I thought so. However, I composed this post in my head whilst on an uncharacteristic 5km walk, having cut down on booze and cigarettes. I suppose I’d better accept that I am, quite literally, a walking new-year cliché.
There are far worse places to begin a new year than in Portugal’s Algarve. Today, I took a walk to Cabanas-de-Tavira. To those that don’t know, Cabanas is a small resort village that buzzes in the summer and hits the snooze button from October to April.
Sunshine on the Ria Formosa
It’s bracingly cool outside, but there’s not single cloud in the sky. After walking for a mile or so and warming up, it feels positively glorious. The few tourists I spotted certainly seemed to think so, in their shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. It tickles me to think that a few years ago, I would probably have worn shorts on a day like today – instead I have joined the locals in quietly giggling about the crazy tourists. After all, it IS winter.
The fuel for my walk was a warming bowl of chicken soup, made by boiling down the carcass from last night’s roast with loads of fresh vegetables. My soup, my walk and my quick stop for cake and espresso on the way home made for a truly life-affirming combination.
We’ve been living abroad in Portugal for over three years now, so we see this coming year as one of consolidation and future planning. For such a long time, our top priority was to move to Portugal and make a success of it. Now we’ve done that, it’s time to decide what we want to do next.
Living abroad – a quick coffee by the sea
I should make clear that staying in Portugal is part of it, but it’s time for our next 3-5 year plan. Where exactly do we want to live? Which work and personal projects are going to take priority? What do we want to achieve next?
To help us answer these questions, we’ve decided to step back a few paces. We’ve booked a holiday next month and will be travelling to New York and Florida. This is going to be a proper holiday – not a few days off while people visit us, nor a tagged-on weekend at the end of a work trip to the UK or a stolen few days in nearby Spain – a proper, away-from-it-all, chance to regroup and think kind of holiday. The last time we did that was five years ago – on our honeymoon.
So, in about a month’s time, it will be time to execute a new plan, and what’s so exciting right now is that we don’t know exactly what it will entail. I hope, though, that it involves plenty of days when I make soup, have a long walk and stop for a coffee in the sun. I can’t for the life of me work out why I only ever live like this in January. Did someone say “new year cliché?”
January exercise is a pleasure when living abroad
PS. We’ve been having a few problems with the “comments” feature on the site. I’m looking into it, but my apologies if you have any problems leaving comments.Living abroad doesn’t make you immune to technical problems!
I’m rather ashamed to say that, after over three years in the Algarve, I still cannot speak Portuguese particularly well.
Don’t get me wrong, I do get by, but I think the naïve, pre-expat me thought it would be much easier than this.
Well, let me tell you, it’s not. After three years, I don’t really think my Portuguese skills match those I had in French when I took my GCSE. And, on the subject of those French skills, they’ve now left me completely. Whenever I try to speak French now, I just come out with bad Portuguese.
Learning Portuguese isn’t Easy
So, what should I have done differently? Well, first and foremost, I should have looked for language trainers before I left. Sure, the books and CDs helped a bit, but they tend to teach you a “Queen’s English” variation of a language, which sounds little like real people actually speak it.
I should also have dedicated a lot more time to learning Portuguese. Yes, you do “absorb” the language once you arrive, but absorbing means that after three years I understand a bit of the news, the occasional radio advert and snippets of people’s conversations. It doesn’t mean I can speak any more than pigeon Portuguese.
I really do wish that I’d spent every spare minute in the run up to our move absorbing Portuguese. I should have typed “where should I take Portuguese classes in London?” into Google back in 2009! Because I didn’t, I’m still playing catch-up.
This is the year I get it sorted. I can’t have the Portuguese version of Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” taunting me from my bedside table any longer. I’ll be fluent one day—just you wait!
Hi, it’s Louise here with my first Moving to Portugal post. Happy New Year to you all
There’s a feeling of Spring in the air today – a feeling of fresh starts. As I sipped my morning tea on the balcony, the sun seemed a little warmer, the birdsong a little louder. Perhaps it’s that I’m adjusting to my new freelance lifestyle, but something about being outside this morning took me back to when we first moved to Portugal – to a time of uncertainty over the future, but one full of excitement, hope and possibility. A new start, in a new country.
Living abroad – winter sands
I noticed it yesterday too. We went for a quick stroll along the beach to build up an appetite for dinner. On the way, I noticed blossom on the trees beside the road. At the beach, I was captivated by the view, the sound of the sea and the countless tracks of little bird-prints crisscrossing the sand.
When you’ve been living abroad for a while, it can be easy to forget to take time to stand and stare. Real life gets in the way – the apartment needs cleaning, the shopping needs to be done or the endless paperwork needs yet more attention. Yesterday though, we ignored it all and went to the beach, reminding ourselves of why we moved here in the first place.
I love Portugal’s beaches at this time of year. They stretch for miles with only a few people in sight, mostly locals looking to catch something for dinner. The waves shimmer in the sun and in the late afternoon the shore turns pink as the day begins to fade. A stroll along the beach feels therapeutic and the sand and sea stretching into the distance provide space to think.
Living abroad – January beaches
I have a tricky year ahead. Unlike my husband, I’ve always worked ‘for the man’ and right now the vast possibilities of working freelance feel a little overwhelming. I need to change my mind-set and embrace uncertainty, something I’ve never been particularly good at. It’s an exciting time, of course, but also an anxious one. Still, as I stood on the balcony breathing in the scents and sounds of Spring, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be in order to face it.
Hello, and a very happy new year (bom ano novo) from Moving to Portugal.
Whether you’re new to the blog, or if you’ve been following our move from the start (thank you!), I’m pleased to announce some exciting plans for the year ahead.
We’ve now been enjoying our “new” life in Portugal for over three years. As such, a lot of things about living here aren’t quite so “new” to us any more. With this in mind, we intend to alter the focus of the site slightly in the coming months.
Our first day in Portugal
While we’ll continue to provide regular updates on our life here in the sunny Algarve, we will also be stepping up the kind of content that we know people are looking for when they arrive at the blog after searching Google.
We can tell from the statistics that our posts about things like cost of living, gaining residency and the weather are amongst our most popular. We’ve taken that on board, and intend to supplement our updates, news and political rants with plenty more of this practical information.
The perceptive amongst you will have noticed my use of the word “we” several times in the above paragraphs. There’s a reason for this.
The old hands reading the blog will know that my wife Louise co-wrote our recently released book about moving to Portugal. Here’s a link to it in case you are interested
Louise has received some wonderful feedback and reviews relating to her work on the book. She has also, in recent weeks, changed her employment status from “working for the man” to “freelance consultant.” As such, she now has a little more free time, which she will be spending working with me on the Moving to Portugal site. This means more frequent updates, and a whole new perspective on our life here, which we both hope will take this blog to the next level.
Louise is delighted with the feedback on the Moving to Portugal book
We have other plans too. In the coming weeks, there will be a long overdue cosmetic revamp to the site and an updated design. We also intend to step up the content on our sister site, Food and Wine Portugal. Hopefully that will give those of you with an interest in Portugal plenty to read and look forward to in the months ahead.
With all this free content on the way, you may like to Subscribe to movingtoportugal or follow our Twitter feed – just to make sure you don’t miss out on anything interesting! We look forward to sharing our life in the sun with you over the coming year.