Back to main blog page

Moving To Portugal – Expat Story 1

We thought it would be helpful to have some Q&A’s from real people who have made the move already. Some are newly arrived, others have been here for much longer, meaning you can get a broad range of experiences from people to get a real feel for what it is like to move to Portugal and start living your dream!

Today we meet Randall and Michael who moved from the USA to Portugal in December 2017.

How did you find Pure Portugal? Did you know of us before moving?
I’m a Google freak and started pouring over anything English written about Portugal a couple years ago.  Always looking at properties in various parts of the country.  I found Pure Portugal about 9 months or so before we moved. I swear I looked at the property page daily. I’d pick my price ranges and start looking. I loved how it was always kept current, one of the only sites I think that we’re maintained daily.  Loved it, especially as a previous realtor.

What made you decide to move to Portugal from the USA?
We worked long and hard all our lives and had little savings after 15 years of caring for elderly parents. No pension, only Social Security. I would Google top 10 cheapest countries to retire. Had it narrowed to Portugal, Ecuador or Thailand. We came from Savannah, Georgia, but Thailand was too hot even for us.

Have you lived in any other countries before moving to Portugal?
Never lived anywhere but the US. Then suddenly we were at early retirement age and the political climate changed. I’m a dreamer and have way too much sentimentality in me and I wanted to go back in time to a simpler life, I always say 1950s America when people were friendly, watched out for others, helped others.

How does life in Portugal compare to living in another country?
I feel safer. I feel genuinely welcomed. The food is fresher and tastes better. 2,000 less additives allowed here than in the States.

Did you visit Portugal many times before buying/renting somewhere?
12 years ago I was t-boned by a dump truck, I spent years recuperating, broken neck, back, internal, etc, etc. I happened to see Samantha Brown on The Travel Channel walking the seven hills of Lisbon and fell in love. I watched that re-run again and again. So 8 years ago made the first and only visit to Portugal. We saw Lisbon, Sintra, Evora and knew this was it. We were so nervous, traveling to Europe, a huge step out of our comfort zone. We thought about Spain, never visited and planned to go there, we like the architecture better. But, in our hearts we knew it would be Portugal.

Is the property you purchased/rented what you envisaged you would live in when you first dreamed of moving to Portugal?
Once arriving we started looking at properties in our price range and suitable for what we needed (having a Mother of 90,) we couldn’t find anything appropriate in size or style. We really wanted to do up a ruin and decided that was the way…….we also had planned to go into the Beja region and applied for that. At the last moment we entered into Castelo Branco area. Coming from an Island off the coast of the US, I hated all the ‘rocks’.  But the Village and people and the lush green surroundings and gardens quickly drew us in. We met an English couple and also Pure Portugal who introduced us to Ecositana builders. To me garden is more important than house….seriously, LAND! We wanted to grow our own and be somewhat self sustaining. We figured whatever we did it would be our last home and we also wanted a simpler smaller home. So we decided to build an 80m2 home with porches and in the same Village we landed and rented in we found our dream land……we bought from the Mercado owner, they had a quinta overlooking two mountain ranges at the crest of the village, half hectare, gorgeous.

What is day to day life like now in comparison to your old life?
Well, we also just retired so major adjustments anyway. Still learning to slow down and relax. Also with caring for Mother nothing has changed there, but we are the only English speakers in 20 miles yet our neighbours give us wine, fresh baked bread, vegetables, fresh eggs, an incredible new journey. We only have basic items in a partial rental, so we try to bake cakes and cookies and give in return.

Does Portugal feel like home yet?
Yes, Portugal does almost feel like home. Reminds me of a time in my youth on the farm I was raised, and we actually have not regretted the move or missed our old home……maybe the food a little, but no regrets.

If you could give one tip to someone still thinking about making the move what would it be?
Learn more of the language, depending on where you’ll live, we wanted a more pure Portugal and near the Spanish border away from others. But, language, language, language I so long for a conversation with my new neighbours and also to order from a menu without pointing and hoping when it’s served we eat it……so far so good. Ha!

What is the most positive thing about your move so far?
Peace and safety. Just the genuine friendliness of the people of Portugal.

Did you find the insurances and visa process difficult?
We followed the Portuguese Embassy paperwork to the letter. Went down the list and checked off. Insurance was fine, no travel insurance, had to be regular normal international insurance. Our only misstep was the FBI background check, we were told by someone state background check was ok, it wasn’t and an FBI check takes weeks, but the Portuguese Embassy called and explained. We got it done. It took maybe 12 weeks all together from application to Visa.

If we had just one day in the area you have moved too what would you tell us is a must do/see?
One thing on our first visit 8 years ago was all the Mom and Pop stores, we love walking, so Just walking and seeing all the little shops and stores in Castelo Branco, Castle Hill just roaming and taking mental notes. The Monday Market in Fundao, Monsanto is a must, the downtown and views from Penamacor is sweet.

Find property for sale in Portugal here

Find property for long and short term rental here

Join our thriving Facebook community (with over 19k members!) here 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *