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Why Portugal Was Perfect For Our Family (And Our Finances)

Meet The Happy Residents Of “105”

Last week we talked about the advantages of living in Portugal’s Algarve, from the cheap cost of living to easy residency. But how does all this play out in reality when you decide to shape up and ship out of your home?

Today, I’d like to share Californian Stephanie Calcott’s story as told from the podium at our Live and Invest in Portugal Conference last July…

“For 10 years, my husband and I talked about moving overseas and giving ourselves and our son the opportunity to experience the world. We traveled to many of the places recommended in Live and Invest Overseas newsletters—including Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador…

“One day, I read about Portugal—a place I’d never considered—and thought ‘Maybe this is it!’ As soon as we set foot in Portugal, we knew this was the place. We absolutely fell in love with it.”

Like anybody preparing for a move overseas, Stephanie and her husband had to think about their priorities. They wanted to be somewhere warm. They needed a solid education system for their then 12-year-old son. They needed somewhere with easy residency. And, a Californian girl at heart, Stephanie wasn’t prepared to give up the beach. Luckily, the Algarve ticked all their boxes…

The couple had previously looked at living in Spain but weren’t able to get visas. No problem in Portugal.

Cost of living was another big consideration. Stephanie hoped they could lower their living expenses—and, so far, they haven’t been disappointed:

“You can rent an apartment in Lagos, with a view of the sea, for 400 to 500 euros. With our two dogs, we need yard space. So, we live in a 2,500-square-foot (232-square-meter) home with a big yard and swimming pool, for which we pay US$1,000 a month. So far, I haven’t found anywhere that you’ll pay more than that price.

“We pay US$300 to feed the three of us for a month. But we’ll eat out regularly, too, as it’s so cheap. My husband and I often have a good dinner with appetizers, dessert, and wine—and the bill never comes to more than US$25. I know a great restaurant in Lagos where, for just US$3, you can get soup, a sandwich, a drink (which may be wine), and a cup of coffee.

“Back in California, we used to pay over US$200 for our cable TV, internet, and phones. Here, we have a package that includes mobile phone, internet, and cable TV for US$45 a month. And I’ve just received a quote for our family’s health insurance plan—above the basic coverage—for just US$900 for the year.”

Of course, the move wasn’t without its challenges. Just a month before bidding the United States goodbye, Stephanie was laid off from her job—the job that had originally agreed to continue her employment overseas. The family had already pre-paid six months’ rent on their Lagos home, so there was no going back.

When Stephanie spoke at our Live and Invest in Portugal Conference last July, the family had been living six months in Lagos. She and her husband were both working for U.S. companies from home, though Stephanie was making plans to start a local version of Angie’s List…

“Working from home for a U.S. company is a great deal if you can get it. I wouldn’t recommend working for a local company, as the pay is terrible. But with the tourist and expat population here, there are opportunities for new business. I’d stay away from property management and the restaurant business—there are so many of those. Think about services you could provide to the expat community. If you’re good at marketing, you have an advantage. They don’t know how to market here. There are about 400 restaurants in Lagos but only 50 have websites.”

Most of all, Stephanie has learned patience from her new life in Portugal.

“Those of you who have experience of countries in Latin America will get the slower pace here. Eventually you get used to it and start to chill out. Things get done—they just follow a process… which could take months. When we were trying to get our utilities set up, we found out we have no address. We live on the street with no name. We were shuffled around from mail center to mail center, eventually given a mailbox, and told to ‘leave it on the corner.’ Five days later, somebody called out and marked it ‘105.’ That’s where we live. Number 105. No street… but we get mail.”

Three more nuggets from Stephanie for those thinking about moving to Portugal:

  1. Save yourself the housework. For 25 euros (US$26.40), you can have a maid do a full clean of the house one day a week.
  2. Go to the same local places regularly. You’ll get to know people by going back to the same coffee shop or restaurant—and find others out doing the same, trying to make friends.
  3. Learn some Portuguese. The locals are delighted when you can say more than the usual obrigado/obrigada. At one restaurant, Stephanie earned a complimentary glass of wine after surprising the staff with her efforts.

For more inside scoop from the Algarve, don’t miss our 2017 Live and Invest in Portugal Conference this July 5–7.

This is your chance to come and see the Algarve for yourself and have the Live and Invest Overseas team of experts and expats (including Stephanie) share their insight and advice—and answer all your questions… face-to-face.

Over these two-and-a-half days together, you can count on our team to deliver the straight goods. They’ll be there ready to answer questions you’ve already thought of… and to reveal and highlight more “ups, downs, and get-arounds” that will make your decision-making much easier.

Valentine Fouché
Editor, Live and Invest Overseas Confidential

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