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Discovering the Charm and Beauty of Portugal: An Expat's Experience with Portugal The Place!

Are you considering moving to Portugal? Whether you're looking for a change of scenery, a new adventure, or a fresh start, Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. However, the process of moving to a new country can be daunting, especially if you're not familiar with the language, laws, and customs.

That's where Portugal The Place comes in.

They are a full-service destination management company that provides support, guidance, and referrals to help you make an educated decision about moving to Portugal. From finding the perfect location to setting up utilities and internet in your new home, Portugal The Place offer wraparound services to ensure you have a soft landing when you arrive. They act as cultural translators for their clients, connecting them with embedded professionals and helping them navigate a market they are unfamiliar with.

Read on for more as Her Expat Life find out what life is like when you make your dream live in Portugal a reality.

1.Tell us about Portugal The Place, a full-service destination management company. What was the drive behind this venture, and what can people expect?

Portugal The Place has been created to help people navigate the ins and outs of moving to Portugal between readily available services, like immigration attorneys and real estate agents. We are here to provide that support to get you through all the other pieces so you can have a soft landing when you arrive in Portugal. That means we provide wraparound services and give you guidance, referrals, and support. We help people find the location they want to live. We help them understand the pros and cons of moving to Portugal. This is the most important thing. We are not here to convince people to move to Portugal but to help them make an educated decision. In addition, we help with all the components to make that happen, from getting kids registered in school to assisting with pets, moving products, and setting up all the utilities and internet in their new home. We do searches to help people find the long-term rental they need for their visa and help people scout for real estate property they may want to purchase. Now, we're not real estate agents. What makes us unique is that we work on behalf of our clients to help them navigate a market they are unfamiliar with. We connect them with embedded professionals and help them understand that there may be some foreign things that aren't necessarily red flags. We act as cultural translators for our clients, and we help them navigate a process that is much more comfortable by having Portugal The Place by their side.

2.What inspired you to move to Portugal, and how did you go about making the decision?

Amid the pandemic, we found ourselves at a critical juncture, contemplating a significant life change. The relentless corporate grind, constant absence from home, and the struggle to simply stay afloat prompted us to reevaluate our path. Together with my husband, my 83-year-old father, and our beloved 120-pound Newfiedoodle Dutch, we resolved to sell our possessions and take a leap of faith by relocating to Portugal. We were drawn to Portugal by its people, their kindness, the rich culture, the allure of Europe, and above all, the sense of security crucial for our family's well-being and a more tranquil lifestyle.

Upon arriving in Portugal during the challenging times of COVID, we encountered a significant void in relocation resources. The absence of comprehensive guides or Chambers of Commerce left us adrift, and the online portrayal of Portugal felt two-dimensional, lacking the depth we sought. Determined to bridge this informational gap, we embarked on founding "Portugal the Place," starting with location scouting as the cornerstone. We aim to offer individuals a genuine and purposeful means to explore this beautiful country, fostering a realistic and immersive experience—a resource we yearned for but couldn't find.

3.What is life like in Portugal for expats, what can people expect, and why should female-inspired expats choose Portugal?

Indeed, life in Portugal for expats offers a distinct lifestyle, presenting both positive and, at times, challenging aspects. Adjusting to Portugal means letting go of the conveniences taken for granted in other countries. Embracing a different pace where immediate deliveries and one-stop shopping are not the norm can be a significant adjustment. However, for those who are open to embracing the new and enjoy the learning journey, the experience can be enriching. For women expats, Portugal offers a unique sense of safety and community. As a woman business owner raising a daughter in Portugal, I have found a profound respect for women in business and a genuine lack of judgment. The country embodies a "live and let live" philosophy, allowing women the freedom to be themselves and pursue new chapters in life. Whether it's rediscovering hobbies, exploring new passions after raising a family or reinventing oneself, Portugal provides the space to do so, presenting an opportunity for personal growth and self-expression in a welcoming and respectful environment.

4.Can you talk us through the real estate process in Portugal? What are the legal loopholes? Do I need a visa for residency? Do I need a Portuguese partner, or am I okay on my own as a foreigner?

The real estate process in Portugal presents both complexity and a straightforward aspect, albeit with significant differences from other countries. It's crucial to approach property purchases with caution and professionalism. For foreigners, the language barrier and legal intricacies make it essential to engage a reputable attorney and experienced professionals who understand the international market. Whether acquiring a holiday home or planning to reside in Portugal permanently, the guidance of trustworthy professionals is paramount to avoid potential pitfalls.

In Portugal, property purchases are open to anyone, regardless of visa or residency status. However, it's vital to comprehend critical aspects of the real estate market. Unlike the United States, Portugal doesn't utilise escrow accounts. Instead, funds are directly transferred to the seller, establishing a binding and legally stringent contract. Understanding the financial commitments is essential, such as the minimum 10% down payment for cash purchases and the preparation for a 20% down payment if obtaining a mortgage as a foreigner.

Navigating the Portuguese property market is distinct. Absent are familiar systems like Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and comparable property evaluations (comps), making it crucial to rely on professionals and alternative assessment tools. Websites like Idealist and Super Casa offer property listings, yet the need for more sales data emphasises the need for professional guidance to evaluate property values effectively. As a foreigner, it's possible to engage in the Portuguese real estate market without the need for a visa, residency, or a local partner, provided you approach the process with careful consideration and professional support.

5.Tell us about the different locations in Portugal. What do they each represent or offer in terms of culture and lifestyle?

Portugal's diverse locations offer a rich tapestry of culture and lifestyle, each representing a unique facet of this small yet incredibly varied country. The Algarve, a long-standing favourite among Brits, boasts resort-style living with beautiful beaches and a vibrant golfing scene, making it akin to the Portuguese Riviera. However, it may lack the traditional Portuguese ambiance sought by those craving a deeper cultural immersion. On the other hand, Lisbon and its surrounding areas exude a deep and rich heritage as the oldest capital in Western Europe, providing a quintessential European experience. While offering an array of historical and cultural exploration, this region may require a substantial budget to savour its offerings fully. Moving north, the Silver Coast, situated between Lisbon and Porto, is a historical treasure trove, featuring stories of knights, magnificent monasteries, and dramatic coastlines. This area offers a diverse pace of life and remains an affordable region to explore, appealing to those seeking historical depth and a different way of life. Porto and its surrounding region captivate with an atmospheric and moody ambiance, picturesque medieval streets, and the stunning River Douro. Offering affordability, connectivity, and a rich cultural tapestry, it's a region that many are drawn to call home, with its blend of urban connectivity and tranquil surroundings. Venturing further north, the medieval region of Viana do Castelo and beyond, bordering Portugal and Spain, beckons with its secluded beaches, wild cliffs, and breathtaking natural vistas. Here, visitors find respite in the peaceful quietude and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the striking natural beauty and rich history unique to this region.

6.How do you see your business evolving in the future, and what goals do you have for your team and clients? 

Our journey has been incredibly exciting, and we're thrilled to be on this path of addressing individual needs as they arise and adapting to the evolving climate and conditions. As we continue to assist individuals relocating to Portugal, one of our key focuses is on providing ongoing support to ensure they have the assistance they need even after their arrival. We are introducing "judo," a comprehensive service encompassing translation and support, serving as a valuable resource for those facing challenges or seeking accurate information.

In addition, we are expanding our offerings to include tours and small group experiences for individuals already residing in Portugal, providing them with exclusive access to insider insights and unique experiences beyond standard tours. Our goal is to enhance their exploration and integration into Portuguese life. Looking ahead, we aim to further support our clients by offering resources to aid in their relocation and adaptation to the new environment. This includes addressing financial inquiries by partnering with service providers who can help individuals understand their tax obligations and navigate the evolving political and financial landscape as they contemplate their move to Portugal. Our ultimate objective is to continue guiding and empowering individuals as they navigate the complexities of relocating and settling into Portugal.

7.As world explorers, where have you lived, worked, or traveled to that meant a lot to you and why?

My husband and I share an enduring passion for travel, a love that was ignited during our early careers in the travel and tourism industry. I was fortunate to inherit this wanderlust from my parents, who instilled in me a deep appreciation for the enriching gift of travel. Throughout my childhood, we embarked on extensive journeys, nurturing my love for exploration. As adults, we've both had the opportunity to reside in various locations across the United States, and my husband's experiences extended to living in Germany, broadening our perspectives and feeding our curiosity. Despite our extensive travels, we found ourselves consistently enamoured with the last place we had visited, whether it was the allure of Italy, the vibrancy of South America, or any other captivating destination. However, everything changed when we embarked on a spontaneous trip to Portugal. What was initially an unplanned vacation transformed our outlook in a profound way. Not only did Portugal captivate us with its beauty, but it resonated with us on a deeper level, prompting a remarkable shift in our lives. From that moment, we never looked back. Amidst our global adventures, Portugal stood out as the only place that stirred within us a compelling desire to uproot our lives and call it home. Its unique charm, rich culture, and warm embrace captured our hearts like no other place had before. Portugal became more than just a destination; it became our cherished haven, a place where we found a sense of belonging and fulfilment. Our decision to relocate to Portugal has brought us immeasurable joy and fulfilment, and we are grateful for the new chapter it has opened in our lives.

8. Tell us about your experience as an expat! What have been some major challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

As an expat or immigrant in Portugal, I've encountered numerous challenges that have tested my adaptability and resilience. Chief among these challenges is language barrier. Establishing a new business has demanded my full attention, leaving me with little opportunity to dedicate time to learning the language through formal classes or tutoring. Consequently, this has hindered my progress and left me feeling frustrated at the pace of my linguistic development. The experience of being surrounded by unfamiliar voices and not comprehending the conversations around me has been a significant adjustment, and I've had to reconcile with the reality that I am at a disadvantage until I can gain proficiency in the language.

Additionally, the relocation process involved bringing my elderly father with us, and tragically, he passed away in August. Navigating the complexities of losing a loved one in a foreign country has been emotionally taxing. Dealing with the bureaucratic procedures and the multi-layered challenges of managing the necessary arrangements has been particularly daunting. Not only did I have to navigate the processes in Portugal, but I also had to contend with the additional complexities of managing matters back in the United States. This experience has been a profound learning curve, as it highlighted the gaps in my understanding and the need for comprehensive information during such difficult times.

As a result of these experiences, I have gained invaluable insights and knowledge that have been instrumental in shaping the services we offer to our clients. Each challenge has served as a learning opportunity, allowing us to better anticipate and address the needs of those who seek our assistance. For me, conquering the language barrier remains a significant goal, and I am dedicated to achieving fluency in the next few years, as it is a crucial step in our journey towards obtaining citizenship and fully integrating into the community.

9. What advice do you have for people who may be looking to relocate and start a business? What are your top do's and don'ts?

Certainly, opening a business in Portugal is a challenging endeavour that requires a strong resolve and a willingness to navigate through a complex bureaucratic landscape. Reflecting on the process, I find myself appreciating the fact that I may not have been fully aware of the intricacies when I initially embarked on this journey. The establishment of our LDA Corporation in Portugal was a significant undertaking that involved numerous licenses, fees, and procedural hurdles, emphasising the time-consuming and intricate nature of the setup process. Portugal's bureaucratic reputation precedes it, and as such, establishing a business could be more straightforward.

However, despite the challenges, I firmly believe that I wouldn't change a thing. The invaluable lesson I've learned is the critical importance of seeking professional guidance. The differences between business operations in the United States and Portugal are profound. In the U.S., the process of setting up a business, including tax obligations, is relatively straightforward. However, in Portugal, the complexities and nuances demand professional expertise to navigate successfully. Hiring professionals is not just a suggestion; it is an imperative. The guidance and expertise provided by professionals are invaluable in making the setup process smoother and more efficient.

Moreover, it is essential to prepare for the frustrations that inevitably accompany the process. The taxation structure in Portugal, in particular, can be daunting and requires thorough preparation. The multitude of taxes, fees, and regulations can initially seem inscrutable, leading to considerable frustration. For instance, encountering situations where you pay a tax on a fee, and then another fee to pay the tax on the fee can be perplexing. However, with time and patience, the intricacies begin to make sense, and the challenges become more manageable.

In summary, my top "do" is to seek professional assistance, and my "don't" is to underestimate the complexities of the process. Relocating and starting a business in Portugal requires meticulous preparation, professional guidance, and a resilient mindset to navigate the intricate regulatory environment. While the journey may be arduous, the rewards are substantial, and the experience ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of the business landscape in this vibrant and dynamic country.

10. As a busy female business owner, how do you balance work and life?

As a driven female business owner with a high-touch business, finding a balance between work and personal life is undeniably challenging. Frankly, at present, I find myself fully immersed in the business, dedicating the majority of my time to its development and engaging with people associated with it. Although this intense focus brings me immense satisfaction, it has led to a lack of equilibrium in my life. Striking the ideal work-life balance is something that I am currently grappling with. However, I am mindful of the importance of maintaining a connection with the reasons we moved to Europe in the first place. My husband and I are committed to ensuring that we make time for travel, as it was one of the driving factors behind our relocation. We have made it a priority to plan regular weekend getaways or trips to different destinations, allowing us to disconnect from our busy routines and rekindle our appreciation for the European lifestyle.

Moreover, I recognise the significance of surrounding myself with a reliable support network. Having dependable individuals around me ensures that I can step back when needed and take a mental health day without compromising the continuity of the business. This support system provides me with the peace of mind that the business can continue to thrive, even when I need to take a break. Admittedly, achieving a harmonious work-life balance while establishing a business is an ongoing process, and I expect that it may take a few more years before I feel that I have achieved the equilibrium I seek. Nevertheless, every moment dedicated to building the business is deeply rewarding, and I am fully committed to the journey, recognising that the pursuit of balance is a long-term investment in my well-being and the success of the business.

Connect with Portugal The Place:

Social Media Link: @portugaltheplace

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