British Expat Living in Portugal - Interview with Becky

Published: 5 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Portugal
Becky admits herself that she has a pretty good life with her husband living part time in Portugal and part time in England. When in Portugal her life she's noticed evolves around the tides and weather, as they determine the type, length and location of their walks and explorations!

Back home things are more of a juggling act for Becky with supporting her parents on their dementia journey, volunteering for Dignity in Dying and all the usual aspects of life. Becky hasn't worked full time for a few years now, but every now and then takes on part time projects which catch her eye. The last big project was leading a successful bid for a £1million grant for the charity 'Compassion in Dying', the next project has yet to be identified. So in the meantime Becky keeps two blogs and has taken up photography to keep her out of mischief. Becky's expat blog is called Delights of the Algarve (see listing here)

Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel
Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel

Here's the interview with Becky...

Where are you originally from?
Probably easiest to say South East of England! As a child my father's banking job took us all over the south east and even a couple of years in Plymouth. I then spent three wonderful years in Leeds before returning to work in various towns and cities in the south east, including a few years on the Isle of Wight. Guess these nomadic years explain why I've taken so well to part time living in Portugal.

In which country and city are you living now?
Mostly in the Algarve in Portugal, but can also be found in Winchester, England and occasionally in Pittsburgh or Tahoe in the USA.

How long have you lived in Portugal and how long are you planning to stay?
We haven't made the full time move to Portugal but living here in the east Algarve nearly half the year it is almost home. At the moment we don't plan to plan to move here full time as we like the balance of winters in the Algarve, and summer in England. The best of both worlds for us.

Sunrise in Olhão da Restauração
Sunrise in Olhão da Restauração
Why did you move to Portugal and what do you do?
We first fell in love with the Portuguese approach to food and life in 2004 on Madeira. In 2013 we decided it was about time we discovered mainland Portugal. Looking for Winter sunshine, nature on the doorstep and good public transport which was also away from the main tourist areas led us to enjoying the sunrises in beautiful East Algarve.

Did you bring family with you?
My husband's children are grown up but they do visit regularly as do our friends and other family.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I'm a very poor linguist and so am struggling with my Portuguese. I find reading much easier than speaking. Part of the challenge is that the Algarvians have a very strong accent and so combined with the Portuguese tendency to swallow their words it is difficult for me to hear what they are saying. However both my husband and I have learnt the basics.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Living here only part time and not working makes it difficult to make friends. However thanks to my Algarvian blog I have met and continue to meet up with other bloggers who live here or visit here regularly. We are also in the process of joining the Algarve Archaeological Association, which has monthly events and is proving to be a great way to meet a range of people. Meeting local people is not as easy as our Portuguese is not brilliant, however we do have favourite cafes and restaurants and so are slowly getting to know the owners.

Great Bustards in Alentejo
Great Bustards in Alentejo
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Head away from the main Tourist areas - which either means heading into the hills, going east of Faro or to the extreme west. Particular favourites are Armona, Tavira, Alcoutim, Estoi and of course Alentejo which is where we were luckier enough to see the Great Bustards.

What do you enjoy most about living in Portugal?
The daily food markets - everything is so fresh, so tasty and most of it is incredibly cheap! The people are also very friendly, and the weather of course is great.

How does the cost of living in Portugal compare to home?
Fresh produce is much cheaper (and better quality) than back home. Away from the Tourist areas a meal out, wine or a cup of tea/coffee is incredibly cheap but even in the Tourist areas it tends to be a better price than England.

Housing is also reasonably priced if you are happy to live away from the popular villages and towns. From what we understand though electricity and water is expensive, unless you are luckier enough to have your own well and solar panels. We rent hence not providing more details.

Birding in São Lourenço
Birding in São Lourenço
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Portugal?
Portugal has got huge financial problems, and this is having an impact of services such as health in the Algarve. For example there are no orthopaedic surgeons at the moment and so anyone attending the Algarve public hospitals has to be sent to Lisbon for treatment!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Portugal, what would it be?
Learn the language

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Leaving my cats behind in England, hope to come up with a solution soon though.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Something we do every year . . . the biggest challenge is coping with the regular occurrence of grey skies over England but am always pleased to return home to my cats and catch up with family and friends.

Azulejos in Alcoutim
Azulejos in Alcoutim
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language
  2. Join local groups in whatever you are interested in - whether that be history, walking, golf or something else
  3. Read up on the area you decide to live in
  4. Do what locals do when it comes to shopping and eating out
  5. Take the plunge!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
After a few repeat and lengthy stays in this part of Algarve I realised that I had so many photographs of this beautiful region that I couldn't fit them all in a photobook so as I had some time on my hands and we were significantly increasing the length of our visits this blog came to life. Flowers and birds often dominate the posts as they are our passions, but I also share insight on local events, restaurants as well as details of trips further afield into Alentejo and Lisbon.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via twitter see link below or visit the 'about me' page on my blog - again the link can be found below.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingBecky is a British expat living in Portugal. Blog description: Living part time in Portugal's second Kingdom, with occasional jaunts to Alentejo and Lisboa
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