Who are you?
I am Sarah Hendrickx, a freelance writer, book author, autism specialist and expat blogger. I do all of these things in Portugal – some remotely and some on return trips to the UK.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
My partner and I explored many countries and regions looking for somewhere to relocate to before deciding on Portugal. We moved here in February 2015.It has frequent access to the UK with a short travel time, great climate, low cost of living, low property prices, wonderful food and lovely people. We had always wanted to move overseas in the future, but a combination an offer of voluntary redundancy and a potentially life-shortening genetic disease diagnosis made us re-evaluate our priorities and make the move sooner rather than later.
What challenges did you face during the move?
None at all really. We did a lot research and planning and it has all been very smooth and stress-free. Either that or we have blocked out all the trauma and are in a state of denial. Portugal is an easy country to move to as so many expats have paved the way before us, plus every younger person speaks wonderful English, which helps.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, lots. Many live on the coast, but there are also lost up in the hills where we live. Most are older than us and looking for a more relaxed lifestyle in their retirement so we don’t have much in common with many of them. We have tended to seek friends who enjoy the same things as we do, such as growing vegetables and cycling.
What do you like about life where you are?
It is so peaceful. My work in the UK involves a lot of travelling and sitting in traffic, whereas Portugal is so quiet. Obviously, the weather is a big plus – to be able to be outdoors all year round was a major factor in our choice of location. I also love the fresh food in the markets and how much time people have to chat – no one is in a rush. And geckos, we love them.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Only that I can’t speak better Portuguese! I am trying, but it feels very slow. Oh, and the mosquitoes seem to love me all year round. I was hoping they had time off in the winter, but it seems not.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
No one carries paper cups with coffee in – they sit down at a cafe and take the time to enjoy it. The coffee is far better in Portugal for a fraction of the price. I’m sure there are bigger cultural differences, but that one pleases me very much.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Just do it, but plan it well. Life is short and the future is not guaranteed. Sounds a bit sombre, but it’s true. We thought we needed many more years of planning and financial security before we made the move, then we did it anyway. Turns out we were wrong: we’re fine with what we have.
What are your plans for the future?
To stay in Portugal and develop new opportunities for working as a writer, and to grow more broad beans.
You can keep up to date with Sarah's adventures in Portugal on her blog, Bicycles and Biscuits.