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Wendy Manning, Central Portugal

Hello, I am Wendy Manning and I live in Central Portugal with husband Paul and children James (9) and Daniel(6). We moved from the UK towards the end of 2007, like many others it seems. We just decided that we had had enough of working to live and keep a very expensive house and mortgage so we sold up and decided to move to Portugal.

Portugal was an easy decision as we had been visiting The Algarve for a few years, my husband has family there. We liked Portugal but we agreed we could not live in the Algarve – too British and commercial, oh, and expensive. The move here was quite straightforward – the children were still young, one started year 1 in our local village school a week after we arrived and the other started Jardim de Infancia a couple of months later. They both picked up the language easily, but it has not been as easy for Paul and me, that bit older you see!We found our house through the internet, we used a proper estate agent and a lawyer (not solicitor). We approached it like buying a house in the UK and made sure all the paperwork was sorted (which of course, this being Central Portugal, it was not); as I say, we used a lawyer rather than a solicitor, more expensive but worth every cent. The more stories we hear about things going wrong with purchases here the more smug we are that we paid to get the right advice when we needed it. I am amazed that British expats still move to a foreign country and spend hundreds or thousands of pounds buying property without taking proper legal advice or using a registered Estate Agent…ITS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, JUST DO THE SAME AS YOU WOULD IN THE UK!

We have a second property we renovated to sell, but the market is a bit slow at the moment. We switched from GBP to Euros when the rate was good, I would not like to do it now, and can understand people waiting.

I am employed by my own company which is an LDA, like a Limited company in the UK. It was very daunting at first with tax, social security etc but we found a very good accountant who speaks excellent English and she has helped us along the way. It would have been impossible without her, with limited Portuguese (it’s getting better now, but slowly)

There are quite a few expats in our area as there are about 5 English estate agents within a 30km radius, although there are only 2 other British couples in our village and we do not see much of them. We get on very well with the locals, they were really welcoming especially with the children, most of the Portuguese families with children have moved away from Central Portugal to find jobs.

We have a good life where we live, we have a good house with a pool and good sized garden. I wish we could spend more time with our Portuguese neighbours but we are so busy with the business we don’t get out much, although summer time is different when the fiestas start.

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We found it difficult when we first arrived, not speaking Portuguese, and still do sometimes to deal with basic things like healthcare, and schools, cars and finding out what’s going on. This is where we found a huge gap in the market and decided that we could fill it…that’s where www.heyportugal.com came from.

We now provide a unique resource for English speakers living in or moving to Central Portugal to assist them with all aspects of being here. Our website is still in its infancy but is growing daily and we will be publishing a magazine by early summer too…so it’s very exciting but also very hard work, especially with 2 young children who have the normal demands: they get homework (so I get to practice my Portuguese), they are both Junior Bombeiros and the oldest trains with our local Town Junior football team twice a week (so we turn into taxi drivers!)

The main bits of advice I would offer anyone planning a move to Portugal are:

Only buy property through a registered estate agent and use a lawyer not a solicitor

Plan your children’s education (don’t just turn up and then ask what do I do now?)

If you need to work, check out what you can do before you come here, maybe do some training – it is always difficult to find good plumbers here (think about this) – and of course use www.heyportugal.com at every step for contacts and information on everything from education to gardening, water bills or Obidos chocolate festival…

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