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


Finding our feet…. 7

Posted on February 01, 2010 by Ben Algarve

February already, and the start of our forth month in Portugal. After reading back through my last few posts, I have discovered that I am scarily weather obsessed (they say that about the English, it must be true,) so I am going to try to avoid talking about the weather for this post, other than to say it’s been pretty sunny and a lot more like we expected…

No weather talk this week!

No weather talk this week!

We seem to have settled into a routine now, and much as we thought before we moved that it would be marvellous to not have so much time pressure, having some sort of structure does seem to be good for the soul, and is making us more settled. My work is very flexible, so can really be done at any time, but we have now both settled back into something much more like a nine to five. Having back the excitement of Friday night, along with the slight sadness at the end of a Sunday just seems right somehow. Also, when finishing at five actually means finishing at five, rather than beginning a hellish commute at five, it makes you grateful for the extra time you have at your disposal. Time that can be spent cooking healthy food and (I never thought I would say this) getting some exercise!

Our language learning is coming on slowly but surely, every so often I look around me and realise that all of a sudden I seem to know the words for a lot more things. Where we still fall down is conjugating verbs and constructing actual sentences. To assist with this, last week we purchased a thick book called “501 Portuguese Verbs” (link below.) I have yet to look through it, but my wife did and so far she says the main thing that it has taught her is that it will be many, many years before we are anything approaching fluent!

During the last week we have restored a tiny bit of colour to our cheeks, had our second barbeque of the year, and visited one of the best restaurants we have tried so far in Portugal (see the review at Our mould problems, sadly, are not over, but are improving and we have now found a new rental property starting from May. The mould is a pain, but from what we have read on forums, it is a common problem, so all we can really do is deal with it as best we can until we move. It would be nice though to have a few days without mould related sniffles, or bleach related sore throats!

Other than that, there isn’t much to tell from the last week – but not much to complain about either. We still like it here 🙂

501 Portuguese Verbs (Barron’s 501 Portuguese Verbs)

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So why Portugal? 5

Posted on May 19, 2009 by movingtoportugal


Praia Da Rocha was where it all started. On our last visit to Portugal, my wife and I were trying to remember how we ended up in The Algarve the first time some 5ish years ago. Much as I would like to claim a cultural or intellectual reason,  I think it was no more than the typical Brit “it’s hot and cheap” rationale.

I certainly don’t think we expected to fall so head over heels in love with the place! Our approach to holidays was always to start off with where we could fly to cheaply, then TripAdvisor our way to a well reviewed hotel within whatever budget we had at the time. We always managed to get ourselves a bargain and had great holidays every time. We did, however, usually go to a different destination every time, working on the basis that there is a whole load of world to see in the short time we have on this planet….

Portugal was different. Within a couple of days I had this strange feeling that I didn’t really need to see anywhere else in the world. 

Anyone who has been to Praia Da Rocha in peak season probably thinks I sound insane at this point. For those who haven’t, Praia Da Rocha (Beach of the Rocks,) is a truly stunning resort, with a huge beach divided in two distinct parts – the Eastern end near the fortaleza (fort) being a huge, deep expanse of sand rather like some some of the resorts of Spain’s Costa Da Luz, and the western end featuring beautiful coves with high orange cliffs and various rock formations along the coastline. 

The thing is, in the kind of terms the travel books talk in, Praia Da Rocha is an over-commercial resort, “destroyed” by high rise apartments and hotels. There is even a “strip” featuring a huge range of bars showing UK football, and  “ALL REALITY SHOWS!” Don’t get me started. Why anyone would watch Bradford City vs. Rotherham when the sun is blazing and there’s a beach 50yards away is truly beyond me, but each to their own…

The thing was that wife and I went off season, so although we could imagine the true hideousness of this resort in July and August, we were able to avoid the worst of the Brit tourist invasion and appreciate all that was good and beautiful about the place. After our first 7 days, we ended up somehow convincing our respective workplaces to let us extend our holiday by another 5 days. We don’t pay the kind of fees the airlines charge for date changes lightly. This wasn’t the usual feeling of hoping to win the lottery so as not to go back to work, this was the start of something.

I always knew that one day I would have to live abroad. I am a firm believer in it being better to regret things you have done than those you haven’t. I also think it strange to assume the place you were born is the place you were meant to end up. A plan started to form.

We went back. Again and again – between then and now we have explored a lot of Portugal.  By the second or third time we knew for sure we were going to move there someday. At that early stage we weren’t sure how, but I remember that we started the countdown about 3.5 years ago. The last time we went, when I was in the usual slightly distraught state I am in when I have to return to London life after time in paradise, my wife pointed out it was now only 8 months to go. Bloody hell.

In the years inbetween, many things have happened. We have paid off a mountain of personal debt, visited both Portugal and Madeira many times, learned a little bit of the language (just enough, as it happens, to say a sentence convincingly enough for the Portugese recipient to fire one back that we do not understand a word of) and secured UK work that can be done from Portugal. The slightly OCD side of me has researched everything to the finest detail. Looks like we are actually doing it!

Back to the original question though: “So why Portugal?” Time for bullet points:

1. Some of the nicest, most polite and relaxed people I have ever met.

2. A culture where people love, enjoy and appreciate good food as much as we do, whilst keeping things simple and not resorting to the kind of truffle-oil based competitiveness you get in the UK. 

3. A Climate that won’t make me miserable for at least 6 months of the year.

4. A desire to bring up our children in a society not as fundamentally arsed up as that in the UK.

I could list many more (I haven’t even mentioned wine yet!) but my eyes are tired. This blogging business is exhausting, and I don’t think I’ve written this many words since school!

Grilled Sardines at Praia Da Rocha

Grilled Sardines at Praia Da Rocha

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My first ever post! 3

Posted on May 19, 2009 by movingtoportugal

Hello world!

My blogging hobby starts here. My wife and I are six months away from swapping our hectic London life for a new one in Portugal and here I hope to keep a record of everything as it happens.

At worst, I hope to be able to refer back in years to come and have a record of the most daring thing I think I have undertaken. At best I may manage to provide some entertainment and information to some fellow internet folk along the way. Maybe we will even end up with a record to show the children we hope to start having in a couple of years how clever mummy and daddy were to make sure they were born in sunny Portugal and not rainy South London. You never know!

Before I start I must admit to my blogging being inspired by a couple of other people – The Anchored Nomad whose Blog makes me laugh every time I read it whilst preparing me for some of the quirks of Portugese life, and Ellie Bowdery’s wonderful Algarve Shorts book which I believe also started out as a blog.



So an early thank you to both of these people for cheering up my remaining days in London – a place I will always love, but one I sadly don’t like all that much any more.

I have to go and prepare dinner for the wife now, I’d better make sure she doesn’t become a “Blogging-widow” during typing my first post! I tend to talk a lot, and I think my next post will be a long one, as I think I need to give a bit of background on how we came to make the decision to “make the move.”

Until then….

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