It’s already been one and a half years since I gained residency in Portugal!
As I am getting ready for my U.S. visit for the 2022 Christmas holidays I started reflecting on my time, so far, in Portugal. It’s hard to believe but it’s almost my one and a half year anniversary of Portuguese residency. I first arrived during pandemic lockdowns on March 2nd of 2021. If I rewind just a bit more, I had been planning my semi-retirement in Europe for years. I knew that I would live in Europe but I just didn’t know where. I looked at France, Italy and other places where I could stick to a decent budget, get basic healthcare, make a bit of extra cash on the side to pay for basic expenses and hopefully travel the Continent and nearby destinations several times a year without worrying about someone else’s time clock. After much research, which also led me to purchase a small flat on a vineyard in the Algarve, I chose Portugal.
I easily met Portugal’s criteria for residency and had seen from others’ experience that the Portuguese process was one of the most seamless in Europe. I went through the process on my own and did not hire a service. I started the process in late 2020 and received my visa in February 2021 with a departure date of March 1st. I arrived in Portugal on March 2nd with visa in hand and, at the time, casual tourism was not allowed, so the visa was mandatory. First, it allowed me in and second it was essential to get the permanent residency process moving forward. The appointment to convert my visa to a residency card was on 21st of June 2021 in Lisbon. Things went very smoothly and on that day I was granted residency with the actual residency card in hand about 2 weeks later.
Since then, I’ve visited the States a couple of times, the UK a couple of times and have traveled extensively throughout my new home. It’s true what people say about Portuguese people. They are a very welcoming, very educated, open-minded people. With a little bit of capital and a push of spirit that they can accomplish here what they leave Portugal to do, this country will be a force in Europe to rival Germany and France. The level of English spoken here is a blessing and a curse for me and other English speaking residents, however, I am eternally grateful that when I need it most, as in the medical field, I can fully understand what is needed for my care. It makes it difficult to learn the language, which I will need to learn prior to gaining permanent residency, which is my ultimate goal. I speak Spanish and French so I understand 90% or more Portuguese but my problem is that I want to respond in Spanish! My Portuguese lessons are trying to rid me of this reaction. I’m getting and I will get there.
I am very happy here and hope that I can progress to grow and participate in Portugal as a good resident. For me, respecting my new home involves being able to communicate in the native language. Portugal has already given me so much and I hope to reciprocate.
Last year I spent Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Christmas here. It was a bit lonely as I was still trying to make friends and things were very quiet. This year, I will spend Christmas back in the States and will return to my place on January 2nd. I’ll be ready to start the New Year in my cozy corner of Portugal. I leave Portugal in a few days and I’m already dreaming of my return. This is HOME!
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