±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
±Compare Expat Providers
±Expat Focus Partners
±Latest Financial Articles
· Moving Abroad, Before And After Brexit
· Expat Focus Financial Update February 2018
· How To Navigate Brexit When Sending Money Abroad
· Expat Focus Financial Update January 2018
· Top Tips for Buying a Property Overseas in 2018
· Expat Focus Financial Update December 2017
· World Events And Currency: Why Politics Affect An Exchange Rate
· Expat Focus Financial Update November 2017
· What Might Brexit Mean For Expat Finances?
Portugal (06/01/10)Back to top Back to main Skip to menu
Expat Experiences: Emma - Portugal (06/01/10)
Emma from Australia here. After 20 years in the film industry in Sydney I had had enough of 80-hour working weeks and wanted to get a life. I had planned to be travelling for a few years but I fell in love with Portugal as soon as I arrived. When I saw charming ruins for sale at my kind of price, I decided to buy here.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The visa process for a non-EU citizen was an epic challenge and I couldn't live in Portugal while I waited for my residency to be approved. At the same time, my house-buying process was also an ordeal, as the house is old and the paperwork way out of date. So between Portuguese lessons, I battled the embassy, the vendor's lawyer and the architect working on my project plans, via email and phone from Berlin. After 9 months, with the help of my Portuguese teacher and the local Câmara, I had the deeds and visa in hand at last.
In the final trial of relocating, my cat took a whole week to travel here from Oz. But in Jan 2008 we settled in, recovered from the dramas and started loving our tiny village life in Central Portugal.
Can you tell us something about your property?
The global financial crisis hunted me down and slaughtered my financial plans. Ouch. I've had to delay building/restoring my ruin until the market and exchange rate improve. So, I'm still living in a tiny, uninsulated old house which is falling apart around my ears. I never planned it this way, but at least the visitors find the rustic life an exotic novelty.
And I've had to try to live very cheaply. But being poor is a way of life in rural Portugal, and that helps to make the transition from modern-city-apartment-with-dishwasher, to outdoor-plumbing-and-cooking-over-a-fire, much easier. And it's given the neighbours and I something else to bond over other than our physical aches and pains. "Chicken is €1.29 at Intermarche!" Downsizing feels good, and I am more responsible and kinder to planet earth these days. So long as there are fresh vegies in the garden and I have no office to go to every morning, I feel richer than ever.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
The neighbours and I have had our battles (all over my naughty sheep-rounding-up dog) but they have been kind and generous and I am considered part of the family. We may not always understand each other, but my comprehension of toothless Portuguese improves every day. There are very few expats in my area, and almost no one speaks English in the shops, so learning Portuguese has been essential and very rewarding.
I love the silence of the area where we live, and the uninterrupted views of trees. I love the routines of country life - harvests of vegetables, then grapes, olives and chestnuts and now oranges. I like the quirks of village living like the bread truck every morning and the fish truck on Wednesday. I love the weekend local markets, going to the same growers for whatever they have fresh from their gardens that week.
But - how bad are Portuguese drivers?! And no, I don't need another plastic bag, thanks! And do you think it's wise to smoke while nursing that baby?! Oh and, yes that's right I can mix mortar. Wow. And change a tap washer. Golly.
But really I love the Portuguese, for their patience, their lack of pretentiousness and their pastries.
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.
AXA - Global Healthcare
As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.
At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.