Swedish Expat Living in Portugal - Interview with byRaDe

Published: 24 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Portugal
byRaDe publishes weekly columns that are observations and thoughts about the many, small, big, fun, awkward, obvious, hidden, everyday differences that are so there when living in another culture.

byRaDe is an energetic and curious personality who loves to do things and enjoy life and what it offers.

She arrived in Portugal with her ex-pat family (husband and then four-year old daughter) in the beginning of 2016 with the objective to broaden family life experience from a variety of aspects.

byRaDe has enjoyed a successful corporate career including a variety of managerial Marketing & Sales positions in international consumer goods companies.

byRaDe is now exploring the second part of her life career and is engaged in writing and publishing her thoughts and life observations. byRaDe's expat blog is called byRaDe (see listing here)


Here's the interview with byRaDe...

Where are you originally from?

In which country and city are you living now?
Cascais, Portugal

How long have you lived in Portugal and how long are you planning to stay?
We are here since January 2016 and are on a maximum five-year expat contract.

Why did you move to Portugal and what do you do?

We moved because we wanted to. So my husband got himself an expatriate job and I quit my Swedish job. For starters, we wanted to give our daughter this incredible language, multicultural and eye-opening start in life, and secondly, as a consequence we also gave ourselves the chance to break out of the normal and do the new, including thinking and trying the new, both professionally and personally. So after a long corporate career within Marketing & Sales of big brands, I am now indulging into my second life career, which is writing and sharing.

Pool relax - around the year in the right gear!
Pool relax - around the year in the right gear!
Did you bring family with you?
Yes, I am here with my husband and at the move four-year old daughter

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Portugal is a very easy country to move to, the people are relaxed, friendly and welcoming. English knowledge is quite spread as compared to other neighbouring countries, it is for sure not the general Portuguese’s preferred language, and you do end up in places where nobody speaks English, but still, it’s definitely survivable, although I would recommend learning Portuguese. It’s a difficult language compared to all others I know, but it makes a difference in being able to participate in society.
All change takes its adjustment though, different to different people, and different depending on the family situation and where you come from. Our first six months were pretty tough, getting into new work versus not working versus new day care in a new language and on top of that a new culture. A lot of things are still new, but the first six months were tough because everything was so in-our-faces new which makes it difficult to find a secure “haven”. Getting the house in order, getting to know the close surroundings and getting children's activities in place definitely helped.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
The locals are very friendly and always have a warm hallo for everybody, they are even generally quite curious to people. As locals anywhere though, most already have their set of friends who they spend time with, however, you will be welcome to take part in any activities and they always have the time for a chat if you engage in it. No doubt however, starting in one of the international schools was the absolute starting point of our fuller social life here. Expats are, as everywhere, open to new acquaintances and have all been in the same situation themselves making them want to help others. Also, it lies in the expats' interest to get more interesting people into their groups, since there’s continuously someone leaving. Having a kid in school is an even stronger motivation for meeting new people, everybody’s looking for company not only for themselves but also for their children.

Amazing Guincho Beach - end of October!
Amazing Guincho Beach - end of October!
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The best thing without a doubt is the accessibility of outdoor adventure. No matter if you prefer the beach, surfing or golfing, or just walking. All the tourist sites, both in Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra are of course interesting, but from a living-here not being a tourist perspective, a really cool thing is that there is so much else available so close by. Take a one hour car ride and you will be in white sand paradise, two hours north to beautiful world heritage landscape and vineyards in the Douro valley and three hours the other way and you are full into a dolphin safari on the Algarve.

What do you enjoy most about living in Portugal?
The climate. It is amazing to live almost year round without having to think about warm outdoor clothing, and to always have outdoor activities as a main alternative. It is a very relaxing, enjoyable, luxurious way to enjoy your everyday life.

How does the cost of living in Portugal compare to home?
The cost of living is definitely lower than that of Sweden. Expat particulars like housing, schooling, certain restaurants are absolutely not very cheap, but groceries, food, alcohol prices are about halved towards Sweden. Specifically services are cheaper here, eg cleaning, home help, dry cleaning, nannies (all services are cheap because of the low wages). But it should be noted that local salaries are also substantially lower (more than halved). Portugal is a country of quite big economic differences and therefore there are big differences between what different people can afford.

The beautiful Dunes - made for walking and thinking!
The beautiful Dunes - made for walking and thinking!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Portugal?
The building and housing standard. Sweden knows it is a cold country, so houses are thoroughly and well built, with the prospect to offer an enjoyable indoor climate all around the year. In Portugal, houses are built to hold the heat out in the summer, meaning that they are really cold, very damp and without fresh air in winter. Luckily winter isn’t too long.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Portugal, what would it be?
Remember to enjoy and remember you are a temporary visitor, so be humble towards the natives and appreciate your time here!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Except for the initial adjustment period, nothing really, yeah well maybe the winter dampness inside.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
It will probably again be an adjustment period, however shorter with the obvious everyday differences, since we know the culture, the standards, where to get what, the language. Hopefully we will have made the choice ourselves and for the right reasons, making conscious, own choices makes everything easier I find.

Exercising - energizing with a stunning endless Atlantic view!
Exercising - energizing with a stunning endless Atlantic view!
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be open-minded and curious to your new environment and people around you.
  2. Make sure to enjoy all the adventures you are part of!
  3. Accept and be prepared that the beginning will be an adjustment period to at least some extent.
  4. Make sure you know and remember why you decided to go expat, that way you don't have to dwell on that if you're feeling blue sometimes.
  5. Exactly what you are doing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, be proud that you took the chance!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write because I love to. I share my thoughts because I think I have something to add and I am in a life situation in which I actually have the opportunity to invest time in it.
The writing on my www.byrade.com currently focuses on observations and thoughts about the many, small, big, fun, awkward, obvious, hidden, everyday differences that are so there when living in another culture.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via byrade.com, via byradetweets, via byrade on instagram or via byRaDe on Facebook.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingbyRaDe is a Swedish expat living in Portugal. Blog description: byRaDe observes and writes about the many, small, big, fun, awkward, obvious, hidden, everyday differences that are so there when living in another culture. byRaDe is a Swedish expat wife and mother residing in Cascais, Portugal
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