Rob and Maria: One Tiny Leap
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Lisbon, etc.
We’re a family of three. We moved to Lisbon from Brighton as we prepare for our round-the-world trip, to save money and spend time with family. Maria is Portuguese, but has lived in the UK for over 14 years, Rob is English, and 3-year old Charlie is both!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Initially, we thought blogging would be a good way to stay in touch with family and friends, telling stories of the places we’ve been and sharing our photographs. As time went on, we started putting more effort in, especially with the photography, and decided to develop it a bit more into a family travel advice blog.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
We really like our Obidos post. It’s a popular day-trip from Lisbon for both holidaymakers and expats, and personally it was a fantastic day out for us, spent in an unusually quiet Obidos under glorious winter sun. It’s such a beautiful place and we got some great pictures. I just really enjoyed writing it all up.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Lisbon differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The hardest thing to adjust to has been walking away from a wide group of friends in Brighton to live in a city where we barely know anyone. As we both work from home it’s been even harder to meet new people so we really have to make an effort. Culturally it’s generally been a very pleasant experience, Portuguese people are lovely and welcoming, the weather is great obviously, and there’s a huge amount to do every weekend. We’re never bored.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Lisbon? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
In some respects, I (Maria) was brought up here so all my family were here as a support network, and we’ve always visited several times a year. I think if we were going to do it again we’d probably look at one or both of us finding an office job so we could enter a new social group easily. And we’d maybe look at living in Cascais where there is a big British community for both Rob’s and Charlie’s benefit.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Rob is very blonde and couldn’t look less Portuguese if he tried. So on the very rare occasions someone assumes he is a local and speaks Portuguese to him from the start instead of English he tends to get very excited followed by a sudden wave of sadness as he realizes he doesn’t know what they’re saying and can’t reply.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Lisbon?
- If you have a child under four, bring a baby carrier or sling! Buggies are not a great idea for Lisbon’s cobbled pavements and steep hills.
- Expect to eat well, and healthily, for much less than you might in the UK - good, locally-produced food is very cheap here.
- Consider buying a car - it’s simple to get away every weekend, to the beach, to the Algarve, to an interesting town or a natural park.
How is the expat community in Lisbon? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
We’ve found people online mainly or just through hearing them speak in the park or a shop. It’s easier in places like Cascais.
How would you summarize your expat life in Lisbon in a single, catchy sentence?
Sun, seafood and slides!