Why did I move to Portugal?
More than two years after my move, I still struggled to answer that question.
Then, a few days ago, I was making a meal for a potluck supper on the beach with 40 friends in Lagos… members of an expat group I belong to.
I ran out of sweet red pepper so I walked from my apartment to the grocery store. I found a perfect, fresh sweet red pepper and took it to the checkout to pay.
The man at the cash register looked at the pepper… then looked at me and said, with a big smile, in English, “It’s just one pepper.
“It’s 33 cents.
“You’re going to make me make change for that?
“Just take it! It’s a gift.”
Now that doesn’t happen to me in the United States.
Walking home from the store that night with my free pepper so I could finish dinner for the friends I’d be meeting on the beach later that day… I realized that that’s why I moved to Portugal.
How have I made all the friends I’ve made here? By putting myself out there.
Since my first day in this country, I’ve made a point to strike up a conversation with everyone I’ve met… everyone I’ve encountered everywhere I’ve gone… both local Portuguese and expats.
One person knows another who knows another and so on… and soon you find you’re part of a whole community of support.
At least that’s how it has worked for me.
In fact, I live in Portugal part-time. I also have a home in Medellín, Colombia, and another place in Belize, where I like to go scuba diving.
I’m never bored. I never lack for fun, interesting things to do or interesting people to do them with.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I sleep better than I ever have and, since making my moves overseas, I’ve lost 40 pounds.
I didn’t set out to lose 40 pounds, and I didn’t really work at it. It’s just been a natural consequence of my new lifestyle.
I think everyone who was in the room for the Portugal conference is probably looking for the same things I was looking for in my move… the things that I have indeed found in my move.
I’m here to tell you that you can do it, too.
I’m not special. I was just like you not so long ago… sitting in this very room as an attendee at the Live and Invest in Portugal Conference two summers ago. Now I’m here as a presenter. Whoever would have predicted that? Certainly not me…
My best advice for you as you go down the path I’m now on is to keep your eye on the prize. See the glass always half-full. There will be days when that will be very hard. You can’t give in to the discouragements, the challenges, the problems…
You have to embrace the differences. Embrace every experience, good and bad. Every time something goes wrong, you have a choice to make. You can laugh… or you can cry.
Choose to laugh.
I cannot say enough good things about Portugal, and I cannot say enough good things about Live and Invest Overseas. I had never been to Portugal or Colombia or Belize before I became a LIOS reader. And, before I became a LIOS reader, I never would have or even could have imagined the life I’m now living.
I’m a list maker. So, when I decided I was going to make this move, I began making lists. Before I went looking at apartments with real estate agents, for example, I made lists of what was most important to me.
I wanted a killer view. I wanted to be able to walk everywhere I wanted to go each day. I took a brutally honest assessment of what was important to me, and then I refused to compromise on those things.
I’ve settled in Lagos, a city of 10,000 people. Why Lagos? It’s a place with killer views… views that people travel long distances to see. I get to see them every morning when I wake up and then all day long when I’m here.
Lagos is walkable. I can get everywhere I ever need to go using my own two feet. That’s such freedom for me.
I read often from Kathleen Peddicord that I should ask myself what view I wanted most from my bedroom window. I think another important question to ask yourself is: What is your passion?
My passion is cooking.
Lagos has a fish market with an enormous variety of creatures pulled fresh from the sea each day where I’ve made friends with Sonia, my fishmonger.
Lagos has a farmer’s market where I’ve made friends with many local farmers.
I spend many days shopping for fresh ingredients, carrying them home, and then experimenting in my kitchen. I cook regularly for friends. I prepared a candlelit Thanksgiving feast for 10 friends, for example, that was a highlight of my experiences in this country so far.
My friends and I have regular movie nights. The ticket, popcorn, and a drink are 7.50 euros. I challenge you to find anything like that in the United States.
I took LIOS’s advice and spent time in Lagos during what is generally considered to be the “worst” time of the year in this part of the country—winter, when all the tourists have gone home.
Turns out, this is my favorite time of year here. I like Lagos best off-season… which works out well because I can rent out my Lagos apartment during the summer months when I’m at home in Medellín…