Expat Interview With Alyson Sheldrake - British Expat In Portugal

Published: 17 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Portugal
Alyson & Dave Sheldrake - from the West Country - have given up the frenzied lifestyle of full-time work in the UK to enjoy a more relaxed and creative lifestyle on the sunny Algarve. You can read about their adventures and the Algarve on their blog www.algarveblog.net. (see listing here) Their blog is full of life, colour and wonderful photographs of this beautiful part of Portugal; and reading their blog it is easy to see why they have fallen in love with this beautiful place. Hidden coves and beaches, local people and customs, and a gentler way of living are all brought to life on their pages.

Algarve Blog

Here's the interview with Alyson...

Where are you originally from?
Hello, I am Alyson, and I am originally from Birmingham but have lived and worked all of my adult life in the West Country.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now enjoying life in the sunny Algarve with my husband Dave.

How long are you planning to stay?
We don't know! We are just enjoying each day…

Why did you move and what do you do?
We wanted to enjoy a simpler way of life; and moved for reasons of health and sanity! We had already fallen in love with the Algarve many years before and wanted to spend more time in our house there.
One of our plans was to be able to pursue our dreams - I have always wanted to be an artist, but working full time left very little time free to even be able to pick up a paintbrush; and Dave has always been a keen amateur photographer. So now I have a studio; Dave has his cameras; and we can spend all our time creating! We have had two successful exhibitions this year and have a website with our work on display at www.a3art.co.uk

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We felt that we had prepared ourselves as well as you can - we see it as an adventure, where we can learn new things about a different country - and also about ourselves!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We already owned our home and had been coming out here for many years - so we already knew lots of people. Our neighbours are all Portuguese and have made us very welcome and helped us out with so many things. We try very hard not to end up socialising solely with expats!

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Oooh yes - lots! Probably best you head to the blog - start with our Places to Go page and our 7 Day Holiday Guide to the Algarve and try not to miss Ferragudo and Silves

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Time, freedom, and a relaxed way of life - oh and the sunshine helps!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It has definitely risen in the last 12 months - austerity measures are having quite an effect upon tax and products/services - but we enjoy a much simpler, healthier and greener way of life here.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The bureaucracy! The Portuguese like their paperwork!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Rent first - take your time before making a big move abroad - but equally don't stall your decision making so long that you never actually take the leap - life is an adventure - live it!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Sometimes I would love to catch a train to London to see a show or exhibition; and sometimes if something goes wrong it is frustrating to not be able to speak the language well enough to explain things in detail. We also miss friends back home, but lots of them have come out to stay with us which has been lovely.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1 Rent first for at least 6 months if at all possible
2 Research as much as you can - read blogs, forums, articles, ask questions
3 Sort out your finances - have an income or independent means - don't expect to get a job out here easily
4 Get a Skype account and be internet-savvy
5 Go for it - and then enjoy it!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I was inspired by other Algarve based blogs before making the move - and wanted to write our own story. It is a great to be able to write and also share photographs and information with others; and also be able to help and inspire people. We love the Algarve and are very happy to promote it - but also share reality with our readers too. You can share our journey with us at http://algarveblog.net/

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Contact us via the blog - leave a comment or send us a message. If we can help - we will!

Alyson authors her delightful expat blog called Algarve Blog http://www.algarveblog.net which is very worthy of a visit. Alyson can be found on Twitter @AlysonSheldrake and her Facebook page too. Algarve Blog has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which would appreciate a nice comment if you have the a few seconds! If you appreciated Alyson's interview, why not leave her a comment below too.
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