Honey? How About We Move to Portugal?

by May 24, 2020Covid-19, Moving to Portugal

“Honey? How about we move to Portugal?” 

Jay – bless him – barely missed a stroke on the lunch dishes he was washing up at the sink. 

“Yeah, that sounds good.” The words drifted, casually, over his shoulders as he rinsed my travel mug and sluiced the soapy water down the plug hole.

“We’ll need to do it before December?” I cautioned “I thought we could go ahead with that pension fund idea? Cash it in, get our residency, find a little bit of land to buy up in the interior? With an old house to renovate maybe? Maybe even set up a little camperstop too?”

Dishes washed Jay plunked himself down in front of his laptop and turned on his current game – Skyrim.

“Yup. I’m all for it. Let’s do it.” His voice mumbled off into the depths of his beard as he got back to the serious business of killing dragons. 

Move along folks. Nothing to see here. His decision was made, and – knowing Jay – he figured I would let him know when he was needed. Planning and research are definitely my department. Jay is the ever steady rock whose back those plans are built upon. A bit like Terry Pratchett’s famous, world carrying turtle, in the Discworld saga. I stare at the stars, plot courses across galaxies, and Jay follows my pointing fingers. Carries us, safely across the miles, between my dreams and reality.

When he’s not too busy killing dragons of course.

Poor dragons!

Head spinning slightly at the audacity of my sudden decision, I staggered back to my own computer. The keyboard stared innocently up at me, not even offering a flashing light or neon signpost to suggest where I should start. Moving to Portugal? Before December? Yeah. I could do that. Couldn’t I?

The problem, as ever in life, was knowing where to begin.

One of the many ruined houses we see dotted around Portugal

And so here I am. Three days later, sitting in Iggy on my daughter’s driveway in Scotland, carefully reading through website after website to find all the information we need to be able to move to Portugal. And trying to figure out the best way to pass this information on to people who may want to take a similar journey itself. Where, indeed, to begin.

For me the starting point was to open a new page in a notebook ( Google Docs in my case ) And then I started an old trick I learned many years ago at work – brainstorming. My thoughts were jumbled and darting all over the place, and I needed to get them into some sort of order to work through. So I began to write down every question that popped into my mind. Everything I knew I needed to find out – like:  

  • How to apply for residency?
  • How much does it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What’s the minimum income we need to have?
  • How much time can we spend out of Portugal each year?
  • How much time can we spend travelling in the Schengen Zone?
  • Can Jay still work in the UK?
  • How does tax work?
  • How does the healthcare system work? How much will it cost us?
  • As a type 1 diabetic will Jay be able to afford to live there?
  • What about driving licences?
  • How do we re-register Iggy as a Portuguese van?
  • What property laws do we need to comply with for our project?
  • How does setting up a business work?
  • What about forest fires? Can we protect ourselves? Are there laws we need to follow?

It’s a pretty long list. And as time goes by I’ve got a feeling it’s going to get an awful lot longer. But it’s given me a good starting point. A way to stop jumping round in circles. And is the days go by I’ll take one question at a time and find out everything I can about it – and share my findings with you. One, simple, step at a time. 

Because as a wise man once said, that’s how we climb mountains. Look to the path at our feet – not the far distant summit – and just start walking. Nice and easy. And whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and out of my depth I try to remember that advice. Break everything down into bite size chunks and just take it one slow step at a time. 

Every journey begins with a single step

Tomorrow then I’ll hope to be able to sit here and write up the answer to that first question for our move to Portugal. 

  • How to apply for residency?

And then we’ll go through all those questions, one by one, as we try to get ready to leave Scotland and head on down to our new home.

There’s a lot standing in our path right now, mainly caused by Covid-19. Jay can’t work at the moment because of the virus. The small pension plan we’re planning on cashing in to buy the land has got £6K smaller since the pandemic began. And with nearly three months of no income we’ve not only not made money – we’re also increasing our debt. 

To top it off Portugal is still in lockdown. I hear they’re planning on opening their borders soon. But they expect there will be a second wave of the virus, and further border closures in the future. 

France is bringing in quarantine on entry to the country. Spain is only allowing limited transit – and wanting to move to Portugal without already having a residency permit will not be enough.

Nothing is certain. The virus has spread like a web through our communities. Creating a maze of swiftly opening and closing doors. To make it to Portugal we need to be ready to go when those doors open. And we need them all to open at once.

The first gateway we need to cross to mobe to Portugal

Iggy needs new tires soon and an MOT. We’ve spoken to the pension fund people and it will take at least eight weeks to access our funds. And Jay has essential training to finish before December or he loses his registration. But to complete it he needs to be physically assessed in the workplace. And right now he can’t work.

I don’t know if we’ll be able to overcome these hurdles. But I know for sure that we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. In the last three days what was once a distant, half formed dream, has become our new direction. A firm and solid goal that we are aiming all our energies at. To move to Portugal.

Twenty four hours ago it seemed huge. Almost insurmountable. But today I have a long list of questions. And as I answer them I have a growing list of things to do. Each item on my lists is a simple, small step. And our feet are moving steadily forwards.

Fi. x

P.s. If you can think of any questions I might not have covered please drop them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to find answers to them too. 

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