48 Comments
Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

We spent several years traveling around the U.S. in a motorhome before moving to Portugal last Fall, and I can tell you the one thing I was absolutely sure of by the end was that, when it came to assessing any given place, nothing mattered more than the weather. In other words, we never hated a place where we happened to have good weather during our visit, and we never loved a place where we happened to have bad weather during our visit. So, my guess is, if you visited Braga in January, you would quickly conclude that VRSA is the place for you. :)

In the meantime, I don't know whether it's our years of nomadic living or just my cautious nature, but I am absolutely an evangelist of the "rent first" mentality. It boggles my mind that people buy homes in a foreign country before ever having lived there. Perhaps we'll regret our slow decisions some day, but for right now, I like maintaining a light touch in these first few years.

This is a great article and should be required reading for everyone planning to make the move.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

I totally relate to this article! I too am a person who is always second guessing our decisions. My husband and I moved to Portugal May of 22, we found a lovely apartment in Setúbal while still living in the states. We were happy with it, minus the one bathroom situation and no yard for our two weenie dogs. Being the person I am and one of our first friends we meet being a realtor I couldn’t help myself from looking at putting down stronger roots. Why waste money renting was my way of convincing my husband. At the time it seemed like a strong market and I felt we would be safe in buying. So 3 months in we found what we thought would be a perfect home to invest in even though it was more money than we initially expected to pay.

We launched into this very weird and unsettling process of buying. I mean paying 10% directly to the seller and not an escrow company seemed odd we marched on. After sharing every bit of our financial situation with what seemed liked everyone we knew and a long drawn out process just short of of our contract to obtain financing and get our deposit returned we were denied. This after being assured we would have no problem. After all we were only seeking 40% of the cost of the home. But not having a pension and only living off savings and our investment funds wasn’t enough even though it is far exceeded the loan amount. At this point we were disillusioned with the process and with rumblings of a market crash we decided we might be better to continue to rent. Oh btw the sellers spent our deposit!! That’s another story!

However our current apartment had been rented and we were about to be homeless. After exhausting the rental market in Setúbal with no good options we thought let’s take a look in Lisbon, the city we originally thought we would move to before finding Setúbal. After a couple weeks of driving in to Lisbon nearly everyday to look at apartments, which had people lined up before and after us to for viewings and being denied a couple times due to our dogs we found a lovely place in Benfica. My husband says you could pick up this apartment and put it in any city in the US. It felt like home. We set out to make our pitch to the landlord. We created a profile much like we did when we were adopting our boys.(who are in college back in the US).

In our offer we proposed a years rent upfront and a sizable deposit.

It worked we were excepted! We’ve been in Lisbon now for 3 months and love it! Minus the friend network we had procured in Setúbal and paying more than twice what we were in Setúbal we feel like we made the right decision for us.

We recently spent a long weekend in the Douro Valley fell in love and now question our decision.🤦🏻‍♂️ ugh!

Thank you for your sharing your experience we enjoy reading your blog and following your experience as they seem to mirror much of our own experience.

Maybe one day we can meet up!

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Timothy, thank you for sharing your tale. So sorry you have encountered so many hurdles. If you choose to buy in the future, please consult a real estate attorney who will act as your escrow agent. The thought of giving the deposit, though typical in PT, scared us! Instead both parties agreed to have our lawyer hold the funds until the purchase. Hindsight...

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

A motto I try to live by: The past is gone and cannot be changed, don't dwell on it. The future is yet to arrive. Live in the present and enjoy each moment.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Hearing you completely Nancy. As always, thank you for your wise words. Last autumn came very close to purchasing “my dream home” - a penthouse condo across the street from Praia de Areia Branca in Lourinhã. Right before submitting the initial documents, was joyfully awakened from the “dream”! The moment asked: “Is this what you want to do with the remaining years of this precious life? (Turned seventy on 5th January). The heart body gave the answer the mind was avoiding. And not long after letting go of what “I” thought “it”wanted, a long term rental across the street from Praia de Mira found me, after living the last year in a medieval village in the Serra da Estrela mountains in central Portugal. Now delighting in just getting to know this beautiful land and it’s people. Would be lovely to meet you and share a cup of tea as will be in VRSA before the 28th. Warmth and blessings to you, Denise and Onyx. Até la próxima.

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We arrive in VRSA for two weeks on 3/23, considering it to be our first choice for a move unless our 2 weeks of exploration change our minds. How wonderful to have a wealth of beautiful options! And yes, we intend to rent even after our first year. Thank you for the wisdom of your experiences!

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Please contact me when you get in town...we are heading to Italy for 10 days starting on the 28th but I am certain we can sneak in a coffee or lunch if you like.

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We arrived and have had a day to recuperate from travel. Would love to meet you!

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I have time on Monday morning for coffee if you would like. Please email me ncwhiteman@gmail.com

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That would be wonderful! Obrigada!

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Mar 14, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

What a great read and so full of experiences from yourself Nancy and all the other subscribers

We ( myself and my husband and our 3 dogs) are arriving into Portugal next, Wed 22nd March 2023, we are renting near Silves for 1 year, and in this time we plan to take trips in our van to look at what portugal has to offer,

As we say,

if you want to know me come live with me, that goes for countries and towns also :)

Great article as always,

Looking forward to our adventures starting in Portugal

we are not from the US,

we are from Ireland,

same reasons for moving …better weather :) :)

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

I have spent 10 weeks in my rental in Porto. There's a lot to love about it but outdoor space is not one of those. It's a great location and I don't look at buildings in the front, faces a park, or the back, faces a big green area that is the interior of a four block square. Having waited 151 days for my D7, I'm returning soon and already thinking of staying in it another year given the tightness of the market. But I want more outdoor spaces. Must stop that thinking and make do with it. As for weather, I am fine so far as I've moved from Seattle. If the rain in the winter gets to me, I'll be a rainbird and head to the Algarve or Southern Spain for a bit in the winter.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Second guesses? I honestly think we all have second guesses throughout life. Some are big and some are small. When it comes to picking a place to call home, this is on the bigger scale. I don't disagree with renting, but I also like investing in real estate. Most of us when searching for a home have a list of criteria; beach, mountains, warmer, cooler, etc. Activities, grocery shopping, dining, and having fun. When all is said and done, evening if you are renting or purchased real estate and now have decided that your new location is not a "good fit" for whatever reason, you can move and/or sell. You may take a loss, break even, or make money. But you can still move, and try out another location.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Your insights through your openness always resonate. I am getting ready for my 2nd "walkabout" in Portugal (backpack, public transport, month-long stays within Schengen limits). I am still trying to figure out where to even rent!! Last October it poured everywhere I went and that was a learning experience too... all goodness.

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I loved this post and it is super timely for our decision process! Because our house in the US has not sold yet, we bit the bullet and decided to rent at least the first year. So, next week, we fly to Madeira for our first sight of the apartment we rented last month in Funchal. Our good friends scoped it out for us and we know their taste and we've seen the videos, so we know it's very nice - but the decision to rent was really hard for me. Now, though, I'm happy that we did it because it gives us much more flexibility moving forward. Thanks for sharing your experiences - and travel highlights!

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

I like to think of second-guessing as being thoughtful, realistic, and not impulsive, about big (usually financial) decisions. We believe our first rental will be based on availability so we are basically creating a list of where we would be willing to land for that first year. You've made major life changes over the last few years - your successes will help you overcome any second-guessing!

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Lots of people love living in Braga. It’s a very nice old city but weather wise VRSA is better.

It doesn’t rain as much and is warmer in the winter. Braga can be very hot in the Summer and you have no sea nearby….

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

Thanks Nancy,

I’ve been enjoying your articles. I find them helpful and entertaining.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

OMG… this article could have been written by me! Unfortunately… I am a big second quesser. Did I buy the right car, should I have moved for my job, should I have stayed on my job for 40 years?

I am currently having the same feelings about my new home as you. Did I buy at a good time? Did I buy it in the right place? Did I spend too much? My plan before I moved was to travel all over and decide where I wanted to be in a few years. Instead, I ended up buying right where I landed just over a year ago. I’m sure I did the right thing but me being me, there are all these questions in the back of my head.

Your house sounds fantastic and like it’s going to be amazing when it’s done. I hope that you and Denise will be very happy there, Nancy. I also hope that at some point both of us will realize that the place we’ve chosen is the best place for us and stop second-guessing🤞🏽🤞🏽🤞🏽.

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Nancy Whiteman

FWIW, we have friends who moved to Braga in November (from a cold and rainy Canadian province) and despite loving the city itself, the weather really crushed them. I would have had the same reaction: a big part of our reason for choosing the Algarve is sun!

Artina in Tavira has a small but decent selection of art supplies - I was happy to find!

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What a much needed article you’ve written... my husband and I are moving to the Campo de Ourique neighborhood of Lisbon in 13 days. It’s our top pick of neighborhoods ( and city ) thus far. We are renting an apartment that is a ground floor place, with the only good amount of sunlight coming through the front bedroom windows.

Not my first choice, but it’s fully furnished AND in the neighborhood we love ( it’s very flat... 😌 ahhh)

We decided to sign the 3 year lease but hope to travel as much as possible, exploring all the diverse areas Portugal has to offer as well as keeping our eyes out for a much sunnier place in CDO before pulling the trigger to buy. Plus, to make sure this move is the right move for our next chapter in life ( living in PT )

The points you bring up are really on point and I appreciate reading someone’s advice for this ginormous life altering choice we’ve all made. Thank you Nancy!

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