RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

Some tips for that first trip “home” ….

In our last blog, we looked at managing requests for visits from family and friends after making the Big Move to a new home in the sun.

But, of course, if you’re living overseas, there will be times when you want to return home too – both to reconnect with loved ones and perhaps to take the opportunity to stock up on the “unobtainables”.

But, beware, particularly if it’s your first trip back “home” since departing for a new life abroad. A return can present its own challenges – not least to your bank balance.

Missing your own bed?
Missing your own bed?

RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

Chipping In

First of all, there’s accommodation to consider. If you still have property in the UK, then it’s not so much of a problem but, if you’re staying with family or friends, it’s only natural you’ll want to make a contribution towards the cost of your stay.

That may include offering to pay for shopping or petrol, perhaps supplying alcohol to go with the meals or even taking everyone out for a slap-up dinner at the end of your stay. Whichever you choose, the risk is that, because you’ll often contribute in instalments, it’s harder to keep track.

Of course, you don’t want to seem preoccupied by the amounts involved so you may wave a £20 note around here or use the debit card there … but, before you know it, the £200 you got out of the cash machine at the airport could be gone and you’ll be back at the ATM to restock the purse.

RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

Getting Around

There’s also every chance travel will be more costly than you anticipated too. When you left “home” you probably had a car so may not have been aware of the expense involved in getting around without one. Regular use of public transport can be a significant drain on your resources, particularly if there’s a bit of distance involved.

Hiring a car is always an alternative and the cost per day will probably seem reasonable if you’re going to be doing a lot of moving around. However, remember to factor in the additional insurance to cover the excess for damage, and for fuel (currently selling at something close to £1.30p a litre in the UK).

RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

Friend Requests

By far the hardest aspect of a return “home” to control will be meeting up with friends. Of course, you’ll want to see them and they will want to see you – but it’s rarely all at the same time. If you’ve been away for a while, everyone will probably want your undivided attention – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it does mean nights out can multiply at an alarming rate.

For your friends, it’s a single lunch or evening catching up; for you, it might be your fifth dinner in the pub or at a restaurant in a week and, if you’re unprepared or on a budget, that sort of punishment is hard for any debit or credit card to absorb.

Not only that, by the time you set off for your umpteenth date in ten days, there’s every chance you’ll be feeling a little jaded and perhaps ready for a quiet night in your PJs in front of the soaps you haven’t seen for ages.

RECENTLY BECOME AN EXPAT?

Keeping it Under Control

There are ways of controlling your expenditure; for example, you could use social media to let friends know where you’ll be at a certain time on a certain date and invite them to join you at their convenience.

Some may see that as a little arrogant; some may feel they won’t get the quality time they’d like in your company – but this might be one of those occasions when you have to accept it’s impossible to please all of the people all the time. It might be a case of balancing your friends’ demands against your bank manager’s.

However, perhaps the best advice we can offer is to set a reasonable budget before you board your flight “home” and to try to stick to it. Of course, you’ll probably want to allow for a few nights out, your travel and your accommodation but, if you start to get close to your limit, try to rein in your socialising or even be honest with family and friends.

After all, if they’re close, most will understand. It’s the people who count not the location so perhaps they’ll even join you on the sofa in front of Casualty, bring a bottle of wine and be ready with all the news and gossip when you’ve had time to get your breath back.

There’s definitely a feeling which is hard to describe when your plane’s wheels touch down in your home country when you’ve been away a while – a heady mix of anticipation, excitement and nostalgia, knowing soon you’ll be back in the bosom of all that is familiar.

However, if you’re unprepared or allow yourself to get a little carried away in the moment and spend freely without thinking about it too much, you may need to be prepared for an unpleasant aftershock when you get back.

If you would like any advice on this subject or if you would like to see any of the wonderful properties on our portfolio, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Keeping It In The Family

Keeping It In The Family

Why moving abroad can be exciting but can also lead to dilemmas over family and friends…

A dream home in Portugal
5 en-suite bedroom, luxury sea view villa in Cascais

There are quite a few unexpected aspects to starting a new life overseas – many of which we’ve examined in earlier blogs.

It takes a while to adjust to a new culture, to the climate, a different diet and a new daily routine; it can be quite a while before life seems “normal”. Indeed, we’d recommend giving it at least six months to a year before you make any more serious decisions.

A Friendly request

But something you perhaps you won’t anticipate is managing friends and relatives and their requests to visit – preferably at a time of year which coincides with their summer holiday.

Of course, to begin with, it’s great fun listening to them enthuse about your new home or your favourite haunts or about how lucky or brave you’ve been. It can even be an antidote to any doubts you may have been having about making the move abroad in the first place.

After all it’s easy to be a host when your guests are fascinated by your new life and seem to actively enjoy being part of it for a little while.

But … and there is a but … if you’re not careful, you can find yourself spending little of the summer with time to yourself; as one guest departs, it can seem only a matter of days before you’re back at the airport collecting the next and the whole cycle of sight-seeing and eating out starts again.

Who Is On Holiday?

When you move abroad, it’s inevitable that you will miss family and friends and it’s natural that you will want to spend time with them. However, a time will probably come when you find yourself looking forward to a fallow fortnight when you can please yourself and not whoever happens to be staying at the time.

A summer of relentless entertaining can also have a telling impact on your bank balance as, although guests may insist on paying their way, it might not cover all your costs, particularly as you find yourself far more socially active than you would be if left to your own devices. Your guests may also not realise that, although everything seems cheap when they convert it back to Sterling, you base your own spending power on the local currency which might not be all that favourable.

Of course, you won’t want to say so; it’s tricky to discuss a guest’s impact on your finances without appearing a little mercenary. But, nonetheless, it’s hard to watch your bank balance shrink and feel as though there’s little you can do about it without appearing rude.

The important thing to remember is that, although your guests may be on holiday, you’re not. This is your life now and, unless you’re the Duracell bunny or were born to the hospitality industry, you’ll need time for “normal”, particularly if you’re not yet retired.

Strangers In The House

The other thing you may need to be firm about is just who you extend a welcome to every year. Family and close friends are a given of course but what about a work colleague you barely socialised with in your former life or, worse, a friend of a friend you met in a pub once and added on Facebook on a whim? What if you were close to someone in the UK but they want to bring a new boyfriend you’ve never met? How about your best friend’s grown-up kids, who want a cheap break away from mum and dad? Do you want to be responsible for the aftermath of their  late-night shenanigans in the local bars or their dalliance with the local Lotharios?

If you need to qualify a request, it’s not a bad idea to ask yourself if you would have been in the same situation if you still lived in the UK. In other words, is the request based purely on your location or on a genuine desire to see you? If it’s the former, then you probably have every right to politely refuse.

Turning them down diplomatically can be tricky, of course. You may even be tempted to resort to a few fibs – but try not to feel guilty. After all, if you suspect you would be turned away if you arrived on their doorstep with a suitcase, these may be “friends” you can manage without anyway.

But perhaps the best solution is to begin each year with a timetable. Allocate weeks when you’d be happy to welcome guests and allow adequate “me” time in between. If you’re on a tight budget, planning the year in advance also allows you to manage your finances accordingly which means you perhaps won’t look quite so sickly when your latest guests suggest another night at that lovely (but ridiculously expensive) seafood restaurant they so enjoyed last year.

But once you have your list of dates, email or message your family and friends and let them know which weeks you have available and invite them to stake their claim on a first-come first-served basis.

It’s fair to all, you’re making it clear they’re still very welcome – but it’s on your terms and to your estimated budget. Anyone who has lived overseas would probably tell you one of its biggest attractions is that it can be infuriatingly, wonderfully, frustratingly and intriguingly unpredictable. But, sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for a little control-freakery too.

If you would like more information or advice about relocating to Portugal, Spain, Turkey or Greece, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll do all we can to assist you.

Manners Maketh Man

Manners Maketh Man

A potted guide to dining etiquette in Portugal…

Although we Brits like our cooking shows – and there are as many good restaurants around as anywhere else in the world – many of us would probably concede there is still a slightly different approach to food in the UK than in many of the Mediterranean countries.

Although we enjoy a good meal and see it as a treat, our busy lives mean quite a few reading this will be probably sitting at their desks with a sandwich in hand.

The proliferation of fast food outlets up and down the average high street also tells you quite a bit about how we live our lives; fast, furious and often with little time to savour what we eat and drink.

It would be misleading to pretend everyone living in Portugal, Spain, Turkey or Greece is different; many are not and fall-backs such as sandwich bars, takeaways and fast-food restaurants are just as much part of life in Lisbon, Barcelona, Istanbul or Athens as they are in London.

But, if you decide to make the jump and begin a new life overseas, you may notice a little more reverence for family time around the table – and, once you’ve made a few friends, there’s every chance you’ll be asked to join them.

So, if you’ve chosen Portugal as your place in the sun, what faux pas should you try to avoid? Here are a few tips on dining:

 

When Dining with Friends …

Talking shop: It’s not necessarily to be avoided but be led by your host. They may not wish to spoil a good meal by talking about work; it’s something to relax and enjoy and the stresses and strains of the business world may be put aside for a few hours.

A toast: If there are to be any, generally it’s the host’s job to propose the first one. You may wish to raise a glass and thank them for their hospitality but it’s considered polite to wait until you’re replying rather than taking the initiative yourself.

Tuck in: At a family occasion when everyone is gathered around the table, try to resist being the first to start on your dish. The host – or possibly the chef – may wish everyone “Bom appetite!” which is your signal to begin enjoying your meal. An eyebrow or two may be raised if your mouth is already full.

Hands Off: If there are nuts, olives or other small dishes on the table, it’s best not to scoop them up with your hands. In polite company in Portugal, most food is eaten with a knife and fork – and that includes things like pizza or burgers too. Not everyone is rigid about it but it might be best to keep an eye on what your hosts do and take your lead from them.

Those pesky salad leaves: It’s instinctive not to want to shove them into your mouth whole but did you know polite Portuguese society frowns upon cutting them up? Try to use your knife and fork to fold them or roll them into a ball and then eat them.

What to do with your hands:  If you’re not using your utensils, it’s best to keep them visible. Many Portuguese use their hands to express themselves in conversation anyway but placing them in your lap is thought to be a little too reserved or even standoffish. You don’t have to wave them around; just keep them in sight.

Cutlery: The rules here are much the same as the rest of the world. If there are several sets of knives and forks next to your plate, start on the outside and work your way in with each course except for dessert, for which there should be a spoon and fork above your plate. When you have finished eating, place each set of cutlery next to each other on top of the right side of the plate. If you’re just taking a bit of a breather, place the cutlery on either side of the plate but not on top of it.

Bread and butter: Bread is an important part of most main meals but, if you can’t see any butter, don’t ask for it. Like in many Mediterranean countries, bread is usually served unadorned.

 

When Eating Out …

Getting seated: Most Portuguese restaurants prefer to seat customers themselves so don’t just wander in presuming you can sit wherever you like. Also, it’s likely entradas – bread, olives and the like – will be brought to your table once you have been settled. They are not free and will appear on your bill, although the cost is usually minimal. If you don’t want to pay for them, simply don’t touch them and they will be removed.

Choosing wine and water: There isn’t the same sort of wine snobbery in Portugal so there is nothing wrong with simply asking for the house red or white. It is an accompaniment to most meals and probably the most popular among the locals anyway. Much the same applies to water; you can ask for it from the tap or in a bottle. However, be warned many Portuguese like their water at room temperature so, if you would lie it chilled, you may have to ask.

Waiting staff: If you wish to summon a member of staff in a restaurant, the polite method is simply to catch their eye. Waving a hand in the air or clicking fingers is considered gauche. As for tipping, if you feel the establishment was worth it, the starting point is usually 15% of the bill.

 

Hopefully, some of the above is useful but, if you’d like any other clues about life as an expat in Portugal, feel free to drop us a line. We’ll help if we can – particularly if you’re on the lookout for affordable property in Lisbon.

If you have an interest in benefiting form Portugal’s golden visa incentive scheme, please give us a call.

In the meantime, why not keep an eye on our blog for more posts in social etiquette in Spain, Turkey and Greece. Coming soon.

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT …

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT …

Summer’s nearly here and, after a long, cold UK winter, there will be plenty of us dreaming about some sun. But are you really ready for the heat …?

When you plan a new life overseas, better weather is perhaps up there on the list of things you’ll really take time to appreciate.

You’ll tell yourself it will be great to be able to anticipate long, sunny days in a place where barbecues are not rained off and you can leave the house with confidence without taking a coat or an umbrella.

You may even go as far as to vow, no matter how high the mercury climbs, you will never curse the heat but relish it because you will always remember just what it’s like to be cold, wet and miserable.

But you’ll be wrong …

beautiful apartment for sale in Uzumlu
beautiful apartment for sale in Uzumlu

 

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT …

After a week of dodging from shadow to shade in temperatures as high as 50c, burning your hands on the car steering wheel, standing under fans or diving into supermarkets you pass simply because they have air-con, you will crave a little drizzle as a blessed relief from the relentless glare of the sun.

Living in a hot country full time is not the same as visiting on holiday. There are probably going to be chores to do just as there are at “home” and there won’t always be a swimming pool a few feet away or a long cold drink to hand.

You might not admit it; you may be very British and soldier on regardless while the locals are snoozing to avoid the worst of the merciless heat. But, inside, there will be a bit of you missing an occasional rainy day.

However, there are a few things you can do to make life a little easier in the heat of high summer so here are our suggestions:

Timing

If you have to go out shopping, on errands or perhaps to walk the dog, early morning and evening are the best bet. You’ll avoid the higher temperatures and be able to spend the middle part of the day either indoors near the air-con, close to the pool, the fridge or even the beach.

Also there are few worse things than having to do everything in a hurry when the temperatures are in the 40s. It’s not only uncomfortable but it can help to make you irritable or irrational – not pleasant for those around you and perhaps even dangerous when you’re behind the wheel of a car. If you’re going out, give yourself far more time in the hot summer months. Move slowly and rest often.

Drink lots of water – and carry a small towel

We all know drinking water is essential in hot weather – but don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Lots of sips at regular intervals helps to keep you hydrated – and so can drinking a glass before going to sleep. But, if you have to go out, have you thought of carrying a small towel or a flannel in a waterproof bag? Dipping it in water and having it to hand in the car or the café can help to take the edge of the heat.

Much the same technique can be used at night. If you don’t want to leave the air-con or a fan running until morning, you could try sleeping on top of a towel with a damp sheet over you. It may seem an unattractive proposition right now but there will be hot, sultry nights when you’d sell your soul to be able to sleep and it might be worth a try.

 

IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT …

Close the curtains or draw the blinds

Have you ever wondered why you find heavy wooden shutters over windows in hot countries? They help keep out the early morning light but also some of the heat of the day. It may mean the house is a little gloomy but, if you keep the curtains or the blinds drawn – particularly in rooms you’re not using – less direct sunlight through the glass will mean a little less heat.

Wear loose-fitting clothes in white

There’s a good reason flowing robes are popular in hot countries; they help to keep air circulating around your body and therefore help to keep you cool. White is also the best colour as it reflects heat – but it also hides some of your discomfort. A blue or a grey T-shirt on a hot afternoon is going to give away just how hot, sweaty and uncomfortable you’re feeling.

Playing it cool

You may have to steel yourself a little when you’ve been sweating all day but, when the blissful moment comes for that long shower, try to keep the water temperature as low as you can stand. Even tepid water helps to bring down the body’s core temperature, which will help you feel cooler for longer once you’ve dried off. Concentrate of running areas like wrists, the backs of your knees and your neck under the water for a while, as these are all pulse points where cooler water has the most effect.

Summer is not far away now and, if it’s your first, enjoy … But don’t forget we’re here to help if you have an eye on a permanent move to Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Greece. We have a selection of villas and apartments in all four countries and can even help with some of the paperwork and logistics. If you think we might be able to assist you, just drop us a line or give us a call.

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD

At the moment I have a cold … Not earth-shattering news, admittedly – but, when you haven’t had one for approximately four years, it’s remarkable enough to warrant a note in the diary.

But the bug – probably brought specially from England by a visiting family member – also prompted a train of thought about what you may miss when living overseas.

So, just in case you’re thinking of making that giant leap and starting a new life in the sun, here are five things you may find hard to do without to begin with – and five you probably won’t:

A beautiful view can be bought along with your property.
A beautiful view can be bought along with your property.

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD

Things you may miss:

Being able to watch British TV at the right time: If you’re a fan of Coronation Street or any of the other soaps, if you watch the news over dinner, or if you like your sport on TV it’s easy to take it for granted that you can flop down in front of any of them and simply flick a switch to watch. Overseas, it might not be that simple. For a start, there’s a time difference to take into account so your favourite show won’t be on at the same time. Then there’s the issue being barred from watching British TV if you’re in certain overseas countries; you may need a VPN to circumnavigate the restrictions and the best ones don’t come free. You may also encounter a bit of buffering; it’s frustrating when images freeze and then jump ahead a few seconds so you miss a bit of plot, a vital line of dialogue or even your team’s goal. As a result you may find yourself longing for the days when you could watch a programme without interruption.

Comfort food: It depends on your tastes of course but you may find some of your favourite food and drink is either hard to find or simply unobtainable. Cheeses, English breakfast tea, British real ale, some sauces and pickles and some brands of biscuits are good examples. Enterprising types may bring back additional supplies to sell after trips back to the UK but competition for them can be stiff and you’ll need to develop ways of keeping your ear to the ground.

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD

The weather: You might not think so but, after a few months sweltering in temperatures over 40C or more, you will probably find yourself hankering after a wet and windy day. You won’t want it to stay that way of course and you might not want to say it out loud – but, sometimes, the thought of a cooler, wetter climate is strangely attractive.

Family & friends: You will probably see quite a lot of them in the first couple of years as they descend on your new place for a cut-price holiday in the sun. However, once they’ve visited a few times, don’t be surprised if you hear they’re looking to try somewhere else. After all, holidays are limited so, once your family and friends have seen the sights and done the trips, not all of them will want to keep coming back to do them again. After a few years, you can begin to feel a little isolated or out on a limb and, if you want to keep in touch, the onus may be on you to return “home” from time to time.

Being able to walk into a shop or restaurant and speak your own language: This one is probably not something you notice until the first time you return “home”. It’s quite exciting to use a new language to get by and, often, you’ll find staff in shops, bars and restaurants speak a little English anyway. Nevertheless, if you live overseas, leaving the house means preparing yourself for a linguistic challenge of some sort – so not having to do so can feel a little liberating.

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD 

Things you won’t miss:

Colds, coughs and sneezes: We’ve sort of covered that one already. Whether it’s diet or just because the other causes of the common cold are not as ubiquitous, getting one seems to be a much rarer occurrence. You can still pick them up of course, but they’re just nowhere near as frequent.

The weather: Weeks of overcast grey skies, sub-zero temperatures and rain will be a thing of the past. No matter where you decide to live, there will still be a winter – but, if you’re heading to the counties where we have property for sale, it’s unlikely it’ll be anywhere near as grim. Indeed, there will be days in December and January in Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Greece that still feel a little like an English summer. Enjoy them!

The huge coat: You won’t need a cupboard full of them anymore. It’s best to keep one just in case but your wardrobe is likely to be that bit less bulky. Jeans and jumpers for winter; shorts and T-shirts for summer. There’s no need for anything that resembles a costume from Game of Thrones.

THE HITS AND MISSES OF A NEW LIFE ABROAD

The 9 to 5 Routine: There’s something about life as an expat which is a little more spontaneous. A routine of sorts still exists for many – indeed, some even create one for a sense of security or familiarity. But, because the weather is a little more predictable, folk don’t scurry indoors at 5pm and stay there until the morning. Indeed, one of the big risks to begin with is to find yourself enjoying your tipple in the sunshine at your favourite bar a tad too often, which can start to eat away at your bank balance; there will be barbecues and parties too. But, as long as you don’t over-indulge, there’s a lot to be said for making new friends and socialising a little more than you may be used to at “home”.

Political correctness and the “fun police”: Not for one moment would we advocate a reckless approach to health and safety or a disregard for how your behaviour can impact on others. Nevertheless, there are some who would say that perhaps the pendulum has swung a little too far in the UK. Sometimes it’s actually refreshing to make your own decisions about your activities and not have Big Brother or a Nanny State make them for you.

Hopefully, all the above helps but if there’s anything else you’d like to know about starting a new life as an expat, feel free to give us a call or drop us a line. We have a variety of villas and apartments for sale to suit all budgets in Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey and can help with some of the paperwork too.

CONSIDERING A NEW LIFE AS A LANDLORD?

CONSIDERING A NEW LIFE AS A LANDLORD?

Some things you need to know…

If you’re considering a new life overseas but you own property in the UK already, you’ll have two options to consider.

First of all you could sell your home, releasing a considerable amount of equity which you can either use to purchase a property abroad or invest in a savings account, which – when combined with a pension – might pay you enough in interest to cover your rent and be enough to live on.

The other option is to let your current home and then use the rental income to cover your living costs overseas – perhaps even saving enough over time to be able to consider purchasing a new home in the sun once you’ve had a bit of time to shop around and get a feel for the lie of the land.

New Build in Oludeniz area, S.W.Turkey
New Build in Oludeniz area, S.W.Turkey

CONSIDERING A NEW LIFE AS A LANDLORD?

Naturally, whether you choose to buy immediately or later on, we’re here ready and waiting to help you choose a property to suit your budget in Portugal, Spain,Turkey or Greece.

But, if you choose to let your current home in the UK, you need to be sure you’re on top of all the responsibilities which come with becoming a landlord.

Here are a few things you should probably know:

  • If you rent your property, any insurance policy you may have had before could now be null and void. Have a chat with your insurer and, if necessary, shop around for a new one. Meanwhile, renting can also have an impact on your mortgage agreement. It might be an idea to check on that too.
  • An increasing number of legal obligations have been placed on UK landlords over recent months and more are in the pipeline. Safety has been a particular focus while landlords should also be placing any deposits they receive from their tenants in an approved deposit scheme. Make sure you understand everything you’re supposed to do by law.
  • Did you realise any income you earn from renting your property in the UK is taxable and needs to be declared? Also, should you sell the property at a later date, it’s also subject to Capital Gains Tax.
  • Have you considered an inventory? There are companies who will help you to compile one but there is a cost involved. Without one, you will have no real proof of what you own inside the property so it’s not really a good plan to do without. If anything goes missing, you’ll have no real comeback.
  • Finally, it’s probably a good idea to compile some form of tenancy agreement and get anyone who rents your home to sign it. If you don’t want pets in your house or your tenant to make their own bit of extra income by offering a spare room on Airbnb, you probably need to have some sort of written agreement to say so.

CONSIDERING A NEW LIFE AS A LANDLORD?

With proper preparation and perhaps a little help from an agent, letting property can be hassle-free – particularly if you find a steady and reliable tenant prepared to take care of your house or apartment as if it was their own. If you take the time to build a good, working relationship with them, then renting is certainly an option worth considering.

But, before you do, it’s best to check out your obligations as a landlord rather than finding out when things go wrong.

Good luck in whatever you choose though – and don’t forget we’re here to help if you need us…or, you can contact us through via our media page.

HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE WINNING AS AN EXPAT

HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE WINNING AS AN EXPAT

Ask those who have already done it, and you’ll probably be told that upping sticks and moving to a different country is one of the most exhilarating but scary things you can take on in life.

If you’re considering doing the same, some friends and family will definitely call you brave, others perhaps stupid – but most seasoned expats will probably tell you they’re neither; they’re the same person they always were before – just in a different place. And it’s the place they’ve chosen to live which makes the difference.

HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE WINNING AS AN EXPAT

Alfama Palace Residence Lisbon

A home from home

Some folk far from “home” are happier if they have familiar touchstones they can fall back on when life seems a little odd or out of kilter.

Some expats choose to make most of their friends among others who are of the same nationality, for example; others may also try to ensure they have comforts from “home” ready to hand. You’d be surprised how many things don’t seem like so much of a crisis if you have proper tea and your favourite biscuits to fall back on.

At the extreme end, there will even be some who live within a bubble where the only real difference to “home” seems to be the weather. They’re probably not xenophobic; it’s often just a lack of confidence in their ability to use a different language – something which can prove to be a huge barrier for those who claim to be too much of an old dog to learn new tricks.

HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE WINNING AS AN EXPAT

Life to the max

But there are also those too who will throw themselves into the adventure without any apparent fear of failure. They’ll raise eyebrows with their attempts to become a part of their new community, they may appear to have invented some sort of time machine that allows them to be in several different places at once, they’ll smile as they mangle the local language in their first attempts to be understood in the restaurants and down at the market and they’ll post everything on their social media accounts.

Which type of expat tends to be the most successful? The truth is, either … as long as they can learn to be flexible and roll with the punches that their new life throws at them. There will be many and varied challenges along the way – each one with the potential for considerable embarrassment.

But, from experience and having got to know quite a few expats ourselves, you only really know that you’ve probably made the transition successfully when your new life feels … normal.

You won’t necessarily take everything for granted or feel totally at home. But, suddenly, you’ll realise you no longer have metaphoric white knuckles from hanging on too tight and you’re beginning to anticipate the twists and turns of the rollercoaster that your life became when you first made the decision to move abroad.

Just like life anywhere else, the excitement may still be there at times; you may still have moments when you feel like the stranger in a strange land. But, nonetheless, you don’t rail against them or feel persecuted or alone. You simply accept them as part of your everyday life – and you like it that way.

For further information or is you want to see any of our beautiful homes in the sun, please contact us at Keyholders International.

MOVING ABROAD? MIND YOUR LANGUAGE…

MOVING ABROAD? MIND YOUR LANGUAGE…

Just for a moment, imagine you work behind the counter in a shop or behind the bar in a pub and someone from another country comes in.

They obviously want something and they spend a bit of time looking before turning to you and addressing you in a foreign language. There’s a good chance you’re not going to understand and you may say so – only for them to become increasingly impatient, repeating their question slowly and perhaps in a slightly louder voice.

Of course, the language is still strange to you and, even spoken slowly, it means little so the look of incomprehension is likely to remain on your face. Finally, with a gesture of exasperation, the would-be customer huffs and stomps out.

It’s a scenario familiar the world over; the language barrier can be a significant one to overcome, even in countries familiar with tourists – but more particularly when it comes to dealing with officialdom.

If you learn the local language a little, your stay in your lovely new home abroad will be all the more successful for your efforts.

Learning The Lingo

In our experience, if you have your heart set on starting a new life abroad, knowing even a smattering of the local language can make a significant difference not just to how well you’re understood but to how you’re perceived. Make an effort and you’re more likely to be greeted with a smile. Make none at all, and you may be deemed arrogant or presumptuous.

There are plenty of self-help books, phone apps and internet courses available to help these days. Of course, if you prefer you might be able to enrol in lessons in some of the more common foreign languages with a teacher at your local adult education centre before you begin your new life overseas.

But, even for those who have invested time and effort in picking up the basics, the next obstacle is confidence.

Chatting With Confidence

Let’s say you head to the local market armed with a few sentences you’ve learned in advance only to encounter puzzled looks when you try them out. It’s easy to feel defeated.

But it’s not because you’ve wasted time and money; it may be that your pronunciation wasn’t quite right or was too accented and you may need further practice.

Persevere and the rewards will come; don’t take any initial difficulties as a failure. It isn’t; it’s a start. And the more time you invest, the quicker the results will come.

Whether you’re heading for Spain, Portugal, Greece or Turkey, you are bound to make friends with locals as part of your daily routine. Try to encourage them to speak to you in their native language as often as possible; the more you immerse yourself, the quicker your own vocabulary will expand. In fact, some may even suggest a trade-off where you help them with their English in return.

But if we had one key piece of advice when it comes to learning a local language, it would be to try to ensure it’s fun. Too much classroom drudgery can make it a chore and, if it isn’t enjoyable, there’s less chance of you sticking with it.

Good luck with the adventure though – and, don’t forget, if you need any help with finding property and the logistics of moving house, we’re here to help

GETTING YOUR PETS TO PORTUGAL

GETTING YOUR PETS TO PORTUGAL

Taking your pets to Portugal is easy when you know how

If you’ve holidayed in Portugal and fallen in love with the country, few would blame you. Sultry nights, sunny days, long sandy beaches and a relaxed way of life can be hard to put down when it’s time to return home.

But, for some, it gets under their skin so much they find themselves thinking about making a permanent jump and starting a new life overseas – and, for a few of those, thoughts become plans.

There are obstacles along the way of course; finances to extrapolate, health care to consider, perhaps schools to examine for example. But, for some, one of the biggest is how do you travel with the family pets? Naturally, you don’t want to leave them behind – but how would they adjust to a completely different environment?

Time to adjust

Given time, the answer is usually surprisingly well. Of course it takes a little while for them to recover from the journey and to get used to their new surroundings. Temperature is also an issue too, particularly if you’ve moved from somewhere with a much colder climate.

But, generally, animals are resilient and, as long as they have reassurance and a few familiars, in our experience, they will be themselves again within a few weeks.

If course, there are a few regulations that you will need to bear in mind if you are thinking of moving to Portugal.

The rules

Dogs and cats over three months must be vaccinated against rabies and must have the required booster shots at the prescribed time. Dogs – but not cats – must be chipped and registered with SIRA or SICAF as well as with the town hall.

A dog must have a collar and tag with ID if taken to public places but they are allowed on public transport with a few provisos. They must be either caged or in a bag and, if not, then muzzled and on a lead. Also you will have to pay a fair for an uncaged dog – even though it is not permitted on any seat and must refrain from pestering any other passenger.

Making new friends

As a rule, dogs are not particularly welcome in bars or restaurants – although there will be some who are a little less rigid. However, in parks and gardens, in the markets and on the streets of towns and cities, walking a dog is not regarded as at all unusual. Indeed, many expats will probably tell you that locals will often pat and fuss their pets.

But, if you find yourself wondering why there are few stray dogs, it’s probably because Portuguese authorities practice euthanasia. Unwanted dogs are rounded up and, if they’re unclaimed or not identified within eight to ten days, it’s usual for them to be put to sleep.

There are a few less pooper-scooper rules too. If Lisboans had any complaints about dogs, it may well be not so much about the animals but what they leave behind. But then – as many may point out – that’s perhaps less to do with the dogs and more about the owners.

Cats have it a little easier; strays are pretty common around the back streets of towns and cities and are even fed by the locals but, if you’re thinking of taking a ferret, forget it. They’re banned from immigration into Portugal in an effort to prevent cross-breeding with the indigenous species!

But, at the end of the day, we’re estate agents and by no means the experts in animal welfare. There’s more information in the link below if you need it and we’d recommend a thorough read if you’re seriously considering a new life abroad: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/Portugal.cfm.

Good luck – and don’t forget, if you’re in the process of finding a place in Portugal, we’d be happy to help. We have an extensive portfolio of villas and apartments and we’d be delighted to offer our assistance.

Loving Life In Portugal

Loving Life In Portugal

Baixa Luxury Lifestyle Apartments
Beautiful apartments can be found in the Baixa area.

If you’ve read our most recent blogs, you’ll have noticed we’ve been concentrating a little on moving to Portugal, shedding light on what there is to see and also how to get started if you’re thinking it might be where you hope to begin a new life in the sun.

But let’s say you’ve made The Jump already and you’ve just settled in your new villa or apartment; what can you expect from your first few months “in country”?

Park The Holiday

First of all, we’d recommend you set a little time aside – and a bit of budget – to get out there and explore. Go and meet people – both locals and expats in Portugal – and try to get a feel for the lie of the land.

If you’ve holidayed in the area before, it may be tempting to make a beeline for the familiar places you got to know during your stay but try to remember you’re not a holidaymaker any more. You’re not going to get a feel for what your new life will truly be like if you insulate yourself against the realities by sticking with what you already know.

Step out of your comfort zone and use the local shops; try to stay away from the tourist areas for a bit and save them for a Sunday or as a reward for progress. You’ll need to sort out a bank account too and there will be other formalities to finalise. You’ll probably want to familiarise yourself with utility providers, find tradespeople you can trust, arrange a mobile phone contract or perhaps you’ll want to lay your hands on a car… Listen to what other expats can tell you and, if you can, try to learn a little of the language. It can make a big difference to how locals react.

A Life Less Ordinary

And what will “normal life” be like? Well, in Portugal, expect it to be that little less ordered. You will be among demonstrative people renowned for their spontaneity and, of course, their love of music and dancing.

Wall-to-wall sunshine in the summer also brings people outside and they’re not usually shy about shouting – either in anger or bonhomie – and, of course, they may be more direct with their opinions than you’re used to, whether it be about your weight, your clothes, your home or your car.

And then there’s all the kissing. Not many greetings will involve a simple handshake anymore; in social environments, it’s a peck on both cheeks every time, whether you know them or not.

But your first winter will bring a whole new set of challenges too – some related to your property; central heating is not as ubiquitous as it is in the UK and you may need to be creative about keeping warm.

If you have a pool, the dark art of maintenance will need to be learned from an old hand, unless you intend to pay for the service and get a man in. After months of fun in the sun, it may also take a little time to readjust and equip your home – and your wardrobe – to stave off the storms sweeping in off the Atlantic.

Of those who begin a new life overseas, the most successful tend to be those who learn to roll with the punches and can let unexpected setbacks wash over them. But, if you’d like any more help either with finding property, the paperwork or the logistics, why not give us a call or drop us a line. We have a selection of villas and apartments available in Portugal and we’re ready and waiting to show them to you.