So Why Portugal?
My wife and I get asked several times each month why we chose to move to Portugal. The people asking us include business associates, tourists we get chatting to in restaurants and even fellow expats. So why DID we choose Portugal?
The first time we visited Portugal, it was for a reason no more sophisticated than the fact we were cold in England, stressed about work and wanted to go somewhere cheap and hot. We never expected the place to capture our hearts, especially given that our destination was the Algarve’s well-known Praia de Rocha, a resort with a stunning beach, but also more than its fair share of high-rise holiday hell as a back-drop!
It was off-season though, and I’ve always been someone who researches things thoroughly, so we found ourselves in genuine local’s restaurants down the road in Portimão, stepping away from the usual tourist trail.
A lucky evening in the resorts casino led to us having a few extra euros rattling around. We were so bowled over by Portugal we spent a morning on the phone and online, arranging to extend our holiday, and explored places further afield. Our love affair with Portugal and the Algarve had begun.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact point when our love for Portugal as a holiday destination became a concrete plan to move here, but one change was instantly apparent. Each time the moment came to log on to the computer to book a quick weekend away, we weren’t even considering exploring other destinations—we just wanted to come back to Portugal.
On each trip back, we explored further, checking out more of the Algarve, Lisbon, the Alentejo region and the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, where one stand-out moment in our decision making process took place. At about 5pm on this tiny, sandy island, I saw a local man who had obviously just finished work, head out to the shore with his young son. They both looked tanned, happy and relaxed. I knew right then that no amount of the status or material wealth that London life can deliver, compared with being that man or his son, and I still believe that whole-heartedly.
So, fast-forwarding five or six years, we find ourselves living in this wonderful country and still being asked why we chose Portugal. There are so many reasons, but they all centre around a fundamentally different way of life compared to the UK. Where we live, children play in the street—and when I say play, I mean kids games, as opposed to playing with firearms and drug paraphernalia. When I walk in the morning, I share a “Bom Dia” with almost everyone I pass.
Portuguese life is just somehow more compatible with the people we want to be than life in England was. Back there, I encountered far too many people with more money, gadgets and designer labels than they knew what to do with, and a lot of them really didn’t seem very happy. A lot of people here don’t have much to speak of at all, but they still have the time and inclination to wish a stranger on the street “good morning,” and THAT is why we fell in love with Portugal.