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

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Weather in Portugal – Winter and Spring 2

Posted on March 05, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It’s been a while since I talked about the weather in Portugal, so today I’m going to talk about winter and spring here in the Algarve.

Winter and spring tend to merge together somewhat in Portugal, and these seasons have become rather unpredictable in recent years.

The winter of 2009 was so wet that our entire house went moldy – a fact that long-term readers of our blog will know plenty about, as will those who have read our book (details below).

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

The last couple of winters have been dry and fairly warm. In fact, during Christmas 2010, the weather in Portugal was such that I sunburned my nose on Boxing Day! But clear, warm days make for sharp, cold nights.

Sometimes to weather in Portugal is like this

Sometimes the weather in Portugal is like this

Last year, the time between November and February was so dry that people started to mention the word “drought.” Then April, a month that often sees us beginning to visit the beach regularly, brought weeks of wind and rain.

I’m not going to go all technical and start talking about climate change. These observations are aimed at those who are considering a move to Portugal. Sometimes, those who haven’t lived here through a few winters are blinded by marketing literature that boasts of “over 300 days of annual sunshine.” And while this information is perfectly true, it doesn’t give the full picture. Not at all.

There are some key points to consider here. Firstly, many properties are poorly insulated and built so they stay cool in summer, rather than warm in winter. Secondly, central heating is absent in all but the most luxurious of properties, and anyone who tells you that reverse cycle air-conditioning is a realistic substitute is talking nonsense.

So, when you look online at the winter weather in Faro from a centrally heated property in a “colder” country and see lots of days that say “16C, Sunny,” you can put the envy on hold. While, admittedly, we are feeling the occasional bit of sun on our faces, we are, in fact, spending most of the time running up extortionate electricity bills trying to stay warm indoors.

But sometimes the weather in Portugal is like this

But sometimes the weather in Portugal is like this

Even tourists get a false impression of the weather here at this time of year, with many enjoying drinks and snacks outside during the warmest part of the day on pleasant suntrap terraces. If you live here and have to work, you don’t often get the chance to do this.

Now, all of this probably sounds like a big moan, and I guess, to a point, it is – because no one back in the UK ever seems to believe that people who live in the Algarve find themselves willing on the start of summer just as much as they did before they moved. The point of this post is to provide a strong warning that winter can be just as cold, crappy and disheartening in Portugal as it is anywhere else.

On the bright side however, it is sunny rather a lot, and once summer arrives, you can guarantee it will stay put. I would never want to return to those UK years where you get to September and have to accept that you’re simply not getting a summer this year. You can avoid that by moving to the Algarve, but you can’t avoid feeling cold in the winter. Unless, perhaps, you move to Madeira…

PS. The above details our experiences of weather in the Algarve. Far more varied and extreme weather can be found elsewhere in the country – just pointing that out before anyone else feels compelled to!

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Moving Abroad – Quality of Life 0

Posted on January 21, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

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?

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

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.

Want to hear more about how our life has changed since moving abroad? Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same reveals it all.

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Faro to Manchester 2

Posted on June 28, 2012 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Just time for a quick update today, as I will soon be heading to Faro airport to catch a plane to Manchester.

I am fortunate enough to be in possession of a ticket to see the first of The Stone Roses’ homecoming gigs tomorrow. After that we are doing a quick “UK tour” to see some family and friends, followed by a few days work in London before heading back to the warmth and relaxation of Portugal next week.

I’m looking forward to this trip rather more than usual as the balance is tipped in the direction of fun for a change! So, on this occasion, I will spare you my whining about having to go to England.

I will just say, however, that I’m not particularly relishing swapping this…..

The Weather in Portugal

…..for this…..

Not the weather in Portugal

But you can’t have everything can you? At least the sun should still be around until we get home.

Until then, if you’re starved of reading-matter about Portugal, I can strongly recommend this mouthwatering guide to Portuguese food and Wine! Back soon!

The Wine and Food Lover’s Guide to Portugal

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