For my move to Portugal, I had to decide where to go first. Because I had done more research and spent more time in Spain before moving there, I knew more about it. But I also knew that I really liked Portugal and would have no problem living there. I just needed to decide exactly where.
Given that the physical move to Spain was fairly easy, I felt the same would be true of Portugal. But if this is your first move to another country, be sure to take your time and try out the location before committing to it. Not just which country, but where within the country and specifically, what city or area.
Especially if you are from the U.S., you know how much the weather can differ in different parts of the country. Or, if you are from the midwestern U.S., how it can differ daily or even, hourly!! The same will be true for each country. Considering size, some countries are similar in size to a state, so while their weather within the country may not vary terribly, it will certainly vary by season. Since most people only vacation during a nice weather time for their destination, try to visit at a less-than-optimal time, to make sure it’s something you can handle. If the spring and fall bring tons of rain and bugs, you need to know that. If the summers are unbearably hot, you don’t want to move and get that horrible surprise.
Besides weather, you also want to know other types of differences in the area you are choosing. For example, Portugal is a small country so each area is smaller still. I picked the Algarve to live in for the winter. It is on the coast and I’ve never lived near a beach before. I definitely wanted to have that experience at least once in my life! But because this area is more touristy during the summer, the population near the beach dwindles down immensely during the winter. I didn’t really have a problem with that. But many Portuguese don’t seem to understand why I would do that. I keep trying to help them understand that I don’t need to be entertained constantly, my work doesn’t require it, there is a city within a couple of miles and the coastline is no less breathtaking without people around! In fact, I prefer it that way!! As a writer, it is so inspiring to see amazing nature without lots of noise and crowds around. It helps me think.
I love my new apartment which is key. Because this area is touristy in the summer, they can rent almost anything with four walls for high prices at that time. So if you want to rent and try a place here for the winter, your choices of place will be fewer and you will most likely be asked to sign a minimum 6 month lease. Thank goodness I love my place and it’s in a great location. Or this could have been a miserable 6 months…at least, while I was in the apartment!
I really love this area. So now my only issue is where to go for the summer. I can’t imagine the enormous crowds and the waiting and noise that will come with them. And the summers warm up with additional humidity, which is a “no go” for me. Knowing those things, and the fact that I want to continue to explore my options, I think I will move north to the Lisbon area for the summer. Then, depending on which I prefer, I will choose to stay there or move back to the Algarve for the winter again. The beauty of renting is that I can move back and forth like that in perpetuity, if I like. Great options for my situation! But you may want to settle down in one area at some point. I may, also. It’s all a matter of personal choice and your individual situation.
Your Takeaway – Don’t stress too much about having all the details decided before you make a move. That may keep you from ever moving and I promise you, you will regret it! Keep an open mind, try as many areas and seasons as you can afford ahead of time, but make the best decision given your situation and jump in. Renting to start with will let you continue to try out different options. You may surprise yourself and find an area you hadn’t considered before. My situation changed about a week after moving but I am still very happy with my decision. And I have the flexibility to adjust and move if I’d like. I’ll keep you posted!