Those that are familiar with my story know that for the past 11 years my husband and I have bounced around the globe living and experiencing different cultures. It’s been an incredible adventure and I wouldn’t change a thing.
We spent time in North America (Los Angeles & Colorado), South America (Chile, based about 2 hours outside of Santiago), the Middle East (Dubai), Australia, Asia (the spectacular island of Phuket) and now Portugal.
Just before Covid hit we had been based in Phuket, Thailand for coming up to four years. We were settled and felt very much at home on the island. Truth be told we would still be there if the world hadn’t turned itself upside down.
As the world shut down upwards of 90% of the expats based in Phuket left the island. Shane, Leia, myself and our beloved Pepper the Poodle were on one of the very last flights out of Bangkok and we really didn’t know where we were going to end up.
We had our sites set on Europe….but hadn’t narrowed down a definite plan when we said goodbye to Thailand.
At one point we weren’t even sure that we’d be able to execute our plans to depart. There were minimal flights for humans and even fewer flights for dogs. Not comfortable with the idea of leaving Pepper behind and determined to keep our family together we found our solution by chartering a private jet for part of the journey.
You see Pepper didn’t have all of the appropriate paperwork to get her into Europe. She’d had all of her shots, but they weren’t “European approved”. That involved having her blood sent to Europe and it was going to take months to get the results and the final ok.
We didn’t have months…..we had days…..the world was closing down.
So we managed to get her (and the rest of us) to Germany on a commercial flight and then a private jet took us all to Montenegro. This was our back door into Europe as Montenegro didn’t require the piece of paper that the rest of Europe required. Phew!
At one point we thought we might stay in Montenegro and actually spent a couple of weeks searching for a property to buy. It turned out not to be quite the lifestyle we were looking to establish. Absolutely beautiful country….just a little on the small side. We were looking for a bit more action.
During this time I was in contact with a friend of mine who had just relocated with her family from Thailand to Portugal. She was in my ear about how fabulous it was. Great expat community. The vibe. The weather. The food. You’ll love it she said!
So we hightailed it out of Montenegro and drove over 2,000 kms across Europe to Portugal.
Our preference was to fly, however the airports were all shutting down and it was impossible to get a flight. So we hired a big van, filled it to the brim with luggage, bodies, the dog…… and hit the road!
As I type this message we are about to enjoy our third Christmas in Portugal. I’m so grateful that our journey eventually landed us in this wonderful country. As a people they have been incredibly welcoming. It’s a delightfully slow pace of life and we can see ourselves building a beautiful life here.
We spent the first 12 months in the historical town of Sintra. It’s about 20 minutes from downtown Lisbon and the most visited tourist destination in all of Portugal.
We were very fortunate to experience the wonders of Sintra in the year that we did. Covid lockdowns were still very much in full swing which meant that the tourists were few and far between. We were able to enjoy the beauty and the history without the big traffic jams.
But the warmer weather of the Algarve was calling us. So we set about searching for a property and eventually came across a beautiful home in the hills of Bouliqueme which we are busy renovating right now.
Note to self…..renovations ALWAYS take longer than you anticipate.
I’m often asked…..why Portugal? What made you decide to settle here?
When our time in Thailand came to an end we knew that we wanted to explore Europe. We had previously spent a few months in Italy and knew that spending some time in this part of the world was always going to be a part of our future.
Covid just made it happen sooner rather than later which we’re super grateful for.
Portugal rose to the top of the list due to the great weather. We are blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year and with a Mediterranean climate it means that the summers are warm and the winters are mild.
They are also super friendly to Expats, with a great program that allows for an easy route to residency and citizenship and they’ve made it super attractive to do business here through the NHR Regime. (if you’re not familiar with NHR and you’re considering Europe, definitely check it out).
Top all this off with great people, food, wine and a central bouncing off point to explore the rest of Europe……I just couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.