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Question Time Panel

We’re so excited about our Live Event.

Buy tickets for Pure Portugal Live 2016

We’re inviting you to a 3 course Portuguese meal followed by a “Question Time” with our panel of five who are ready to share their experiences and advice on moving to Portugal.  The panel will be answering your questions which we’re inviting you to submit now by email to

The panel consists of:

Jackie McAvoy

I’m a qualified graphic designer and EFL teacher. Here in Portugal I use both these skills to run, with my husband, an online podcasting site (Podcasts in English) which sells worksheets for those teaching or learning English as a foreign language. We are both registered as self-employed.

We were inspired to give up our full time jobs and live, as much as possible, off the land because of the River Cottage TV series. Portugal was the only choice in terms of affordability (the income generated from our online business is small by UK standards) but the countryside, the hospitality of the people and the weather were all positive factors.

We found our run down farmhouse, on an acre of land 10 km south of Penela, through Pure Portugal. We have been here since 2009 and now have experience in the following:

buying and renovating an old building
working with builders, accountants, lawyers
starting an organic vegetable plot
growing, harvesting and preserving a wide range of produce including our own olive oil
keeping hens
raising chickens, ducks and pigs to eat

We have a blog which focuses on our rural life:

Wendy Howard


Wendy Howard came to Portugal in 2008 as a single mother with 3 children in search of somewhere where she could provide a more secure and healthy life for her family living on the land – growing their own food, generating their own power, building using natural local materials for the most part and exploring ways of working with nature, rather than against it.

Work on her 2.5 hectare quinta in the Serra do Açor and the website she created for family and friends to stay in touch took on a life of their own and now both quinta and website have evolved to become a resource for those looking to do similar things.

Short courses in off-grid technology and infrastructure, permaculture, etc, are planned. The children have grown up and moved on (and made her a grandmother in the process) but developments on the quinta continue. It’s a work in progress …

Find out more about Wendy and her life in Portugal at

Clare Monson

In the height of summer 2014 tipi maker Clare Monson moved into a tent on an olive grove with her husband, 5 year old and 3 week old sons, horse, dogs, cats, tortoises (etc) with no water, electricity or storage, onto their farm (called The Hidden Valley).

Before winter – with the help of the local community – they converted the 300 year old barn so they had a space to live for the colder months, and in April 2015 started building a strawbale house which was ready to move into in by August.

The farm is just over 1 hectare, set in the centre of a ranch in central Portugal overlooking the Malcata nature reserve and as of 2016 is hosting completely free (or pay what you like) workshops on low impact living, strawbale building, meditation, yoga, belly dance, juicing, and herbalism, and will also be featuring storytelling, music, and much more.

The family decided to continue home education in the same way they planned to educate in the UK: “It’s been a bit difficult finding out truths and rules regarding this as there is a lot of misinformation around, but we now have the benefit of knowing all about the education system in Portugal we are part of an ever growing home school network in this area of Portugal both expat and Portuguese families, we try and meet up informally as a group and hope to have a more structured set up this coming year”.

The build and project has been done with the help of a crowdfunding campaign in 2013 and minimal budget, proving that even with the odds seemingly stacked against you, building the dream can really be possible.

Clare’s blog about her journey and life in Portugal at

Millo Magnocavallo

I was born into an italian family and raised in Australia but left when I was about 25. I spent most of my time in London and Barcelona. London is where I got caught up in the big web boom that was happening at the time and so got involved with building websites for some media agencies there. This lead on to me working freelance and then eventually being offered work in the fun city of Barcelona where I lived for almost ten years.

During the last years of my time in Barcelona I went back to visit Australia to see family and was lucky enough to meet with a friend who’d started a farm there and introduced me to the ideas of Permaculture. I became inspired by what could be done with permaculture design, and as I delved more deeply into it I realised that I wanted this to be a part of my life. It also reminded me that when I was a child I had the desire to be a simple farmer and not be involved with such a complicated life that adults have.

That journey started around 2007. I was living in Barcelona at the time and started taking up courses there and eventually just wanted to do a proper Permaculture Design Course (PDC) so went back to Australia again in 2009 and did my PDC. I reached a certain point where I just wanted to get land and start doing and practicing (it’s the best way I learn) but I got a little stuck with things since I didn’t really know where I wanted to go and where I could afford some land. Eventually I received a sign to go to Portugal and that’s the direction in which I leaped. At the time I still had a mortgage on a small flat in Barcelona and I wanted to get out of that due to not feeling safe at all with the banks. Unfortunately after the 2008 crash real estate became quite hard to sell, so I went back to London for almost a year to work to get the money I needed to buy land (fortunate that with web I could still earn good freelance rates). I guess that’s where my web work has been of most value; to help me get here where I am, to this piece of land.  I’m now managing my own permaculture project in the Serra da Estrela region.

Michaella Brown

In 2003, after spending 7 years of evenings and weekends renovating our small bungalow in the UK, my partner and I decided it was time to ‘upsize’ and find a bigger project that we could turn into a family home. We loved being outside and growing our own organic veg, and we wanted more land to be able to do this. We’d had our eye on a nearby property for a while and were very excited when it came on the market. However, when we went to view it, it was way over our budget AND the land had already been sold off as building plots 🙁 Our up-sizing dream, we realised, was quite probably going to unreachable if we stayed where we were.

We began to talk about the possibility of moving somewhere else in Europe: Somewhere where the capital in our bungalow could buy us a house outright and where I would be able to be a stay-at-home Mum. (Again, we could never have achieved this if we stayed where we were- Financially, it would never have been an option). We really wanted to be somewhere where we would be well liked and accepted, and because of our old alliance, Portugal felt like a good option, though we knew absolutely nothing about the place.

Not long after deciding to look at Portugal, I noticed an advert in the back of my ‘Organic Way’ magazine: One cottage, fully renovated, and another requiring renovation for 50 thousand euros in the Alentejo (Very cheap! Looking back, think that the quality of the renovation was probably questionable!) Anyway, we really started to feel a ‘pull’ towards Portugal, and this property sounded ideal, but before organising a viewing, we decided we’d first need to find out a bit about Portugal- as in geographically etc. We wanted somewhere with mountains, lakes and rivers, with 4 seasons, a decent amount of rainfall but not too cold. (So no, the Alentejo we realised wasn’t for us). Our research took us to the central region, near Coimbra. (Property prices in this region were also a factor in our decision to start looking there). On first visiting the City of Coimbra on a blustery and pouring September day in 2003 we fell in love, and we knew this was where we wanted to be.

We went back to finish the renovations on our bungalow (and to try to learn some Portuguese!) and in May 2004 (The start of the Euro football tournament- we were both footy fans so that was a bonus!) we had rented our bungalow and arrived to begin the search for our new home and life in Central Portugal.

We looked at dozens and dozens of properties. Some seemed ideal but there were paperwork problems, or part of the family decided not to sell etc. It took us over 12 months to find ‘the one’. By chance we bumped into some English people who told us about their builder friend who knew of some properties for sale. We had been concentrating our search in the Gois area, but this builder took us to the Mortagua area. We didn’t think we wanted to be there at first, but in July 2005 when we saw the house, we knew we had found what we had been looking for. Very soon after, I found out I was pregnant with my son Luca.

In May 2008 we had a small and surprisingly inexpensive wedding at the Bussaco Palace hotel- another surprise resulted in our honeymoon night there- our little girl Elsie!

It has taken a lot of time and effort and there have been some very tough times, but we now have the family home we dreamed of- and it’s got furniture and everything! (An over-spend on the re-build meant we had very little for the first couple of years, and we’d cut up our credit cards when we left the UK, determined to always live within our means!)

At the beginning of our journey, I visualized being in a lovely sunny garden with a little boy and a little girl picking green beans. About 5 years ago that actually happened and I thought ‘Wow! Time to start dreaming a new dream!’ I really should start thinking about doing that…

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