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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.
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.