Expats have a unique view of a country that offers a wider glimpse than the vacationer can see, a more detached point of view than a local. Cory Varga of the blog You Could Travel moved to Portugal after a 10-year stint in the UK. Here’s what she had to say about living the expat life in one of 2017’s best countries to visit.
What made you move out of England? Where were you living at the time and what was the catalyst for moving abroad?
I was born in Romania but always wanted to see the world. I understood the importance of having solid education, thus I wanted to get my degree abroad, in the UK. I was convinced that great grades from a top notch University, will open more doors, enable me to have a great career, which in turn will enable me to travel the world.
What made you pick Portugal?
I lived in the UK for 10 years and I wanted to move back to mainland Europe. I wanted to live in Portugal for a while and give it a try. I love the weather and enjoy the food here. I just wanted a slower pace of life really.
What were your first impressions of the country?
Portugal is laid back. A little too laid back for my liking in a way. I adore the weather and as I already said, the food is fantastic here. Prices are reasonable and in general, the quality of life seems better.
Did you experience any culture shock?
I think I am still shocked to hear the amount of noise here in Portugal. We live in a residential area but people have dogs who bark all the time, drill to redo their houses and have actual roosters in their garden. I lived in a house for the last 10 years, in densely populated areas, but never in my life heard a rooster in a town, apart from the country side where they belongs.
Where did you settle in Portugal and why?
I settled in Portugal because I like the food and the weather, and really wanted to be in mainland Europe. This enables us to travel by land a little more, which is one of our favourite methods of travel. We visited Portugal on several occasions so the decision came pretty naturally.
What is a must see town or attraction in Portugal?
My favourite city in Portugal is Porto, but I very much like Vilamoura as well which is in the Algarve, by the sea.
Portugal is high up on a lot of “must visit” lists for the last few years. Can you recommend a lesser known gem people should visit/experience?
I think the whole of Portugal is worth a visit. Rent a car and start exploring! The best advice I can give you is to arrive after the summer holidays when Portugal settles and has fewer tourists around. But if I could pick one place, then I would visit the harbourside in Porto. It’s a well-known tourist attraction but I just love the place. Another option is to explore the cliffs on the Praia Falesia, down south, in the Algarve.
What is your favourite thing about Portugal? Least favourite?
My favourite thing about Portugal is the weather! My least favourite thing is things are not done efficiently here.
What would you recommend people see in Portugal? What advice would you give them on navigating their way through the country?
I recommend seeing bits of Lisbon and Porto. Once you want to escape the city, come to the Algarve, for amazing coastlines and beautiful weather. Portugal has great infrastructure, so I would recommend renting a car. The motorways are very quiet, so driving can be bliss.
What are your favourite hangouts? Activities? Weekend getaways?
I love walking on the beach after 7pm. The beaches get very quiet and the weather is still excellent. I, of course, love eating my way through Portugal. For weekend getaways, I recommend going around the Algarve to check out a new beach every week.
What do you miss most about England? Least?
How efficient everything is! I miss how practical and well organised England is. I do not miss the weather!
What do your friends and family think of your decision to live in Portugal?
I think everyone is happy with our decision. They always told us to do what makes us content and fulfilled.
How long do you foresee staying in Portugal? Any plans for living the expat life in another country?
I am afraid we don’t see ourselves living in Portugal for the foreseeable future. We like Portugal but we don’t feel like home. We decided to move to Andalusia and try our luck in Seville for at least one year and see what happens next. We really hope to settle for a long time there.