Dave and Aly: Algarve Blog
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Portugal, etc.
I am originally from Birmingham UK, but lived and worked in the West Country for all my adult life. I was a Police Officer for 13 years; then moved into Education, ending up as a Director of Education for the Church of England!
I am now working full time as an artist and writer, and moving to the Algarve in Portugal and having my own studio means that I am now able to focus all of my creativity into my paintings. You can see my work at our web-site http://www.a3art.co.uk
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I was impressed by another Portugal blog www.movingtoportugal.org as this was the first time I had found a ‘blog’ and found the content useful as we were planning our own move abroad. Starting my own blog seemed a good idea and it was also a great way to keep in touch with friends, and to answer the same question we kept being asked ‘How’s it going?’ (We’re still asked that one now – and also ‘How’s the weather out there?’) The blog has really grown from there.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I think people should just dive in there and see what catches their eye - and maybe check out the About Us page too. I’ve tried to create some more pages now which collate interesting posts together – so try My A to Z of Portugal or Places to Go.
The most popular blog post we have written has to be 22 bad things about the A22 tolls we still have comments frequently added to that post!
Tell us about the ways your new life in Portugal differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
We were pleasantly surprised by how friendly the local people are – and also the pace of life is much gentler. I was regularly working a 14 hour day – often including weekends – in my last job and it was ridiculous! Now I can take leisurely lunches, go for a walk on the beach in the late afternoon sunshine – and my ‘office’ is my studio downstairs! It is a small slice of heaven!
It took quite a few months of sleeping in late to recover from our frantic lifestyle in the UK – but no real ‘culture shock’ as we were well prepared and longing for the move abroad.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Portugal? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We were lucky in that we had bought our house about five years before we actually made the move – so it already felt like home! My advice to others would be visit your planned new home lots of times first - at different times of the year, not just during the 'holiday times' - i.e. see what it's like in winter! Ask lots of people lots of questions, and maybe plan to rent first, if you can, to see if you like it enough to want to live there.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well we are having fun trying to learn the language – and what time of day it is has an impact upon what you say to people – you might enjoy What time is it anyway?
I save the best stories for dinner parties though!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Portugal?
- Take your time and explore the area well before you commit to anything – rent first!
- Learn the language – even knowing the basics will endear you to the local people – try not to end up in an ‘expat-enclave’ where you do not know any local people
- Remember what you have left behind and why you are planning a new life – but don’t have rose-tinted glasses on – you still have to do the washing up and the ironing in a new country!
How is the expat community in Portugal? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
We have found our best friends through blogging – they write a similar blog to us and we ‘clicked’ straight away. As we are busy with our painting and photography – we held our first successful exhibition here recently – we don’t have much time to ‘meet’ expats and we don’t play golf! There is a very strong expat community here if that is what you want – and there are very good English speaking weekly newspapers that list all sorts of events and groups.
How would you summarize your expat life in Portugal in a single, catchy sentence?
Relaxed fun in the sun!