Escape from “La-La” Land

When the sun sets on your dreams

When the sun sets on your dreams

This week I felt extremely sad as yet another close friend, who opted for early retirement, announced she is “selling up” and returning home to good old blighty (UK). Not only is Portugal not the “promised land” she had imagined, but now the honeymoon period is over, at fifty two years old she is totally disillusioned and suffering from boredom.

Here is an energetic and intelligent woman who’d retired at forty-nine. She had not only a challenging career but was also actively involved in a whole range of voluntary work back home. I hugged her and as the tears rolled down my cheek I remembered my other friends who had returned disillusioned back to the UK for various reasons. For some it was financial, as there is no work in Portugal, others strong family ties or sheer boredom.

Early retirement and a more relaxed lifestyle seems a great idea when you are up to your neck in office politics, languishing in a dead-end job or just fed up with the endless miserable grey skies of winter or and even some summers! You may think “Beam me up Scottie to a warmer climate and let me escape the drudgery of my present lifestyle”, but for some, their “dream” and “reality” are worlds apart. Dreams then turn into a living nightmare from which they need to escape and take control.

Life, I have learned, has to have a purpose and structure otherwise there is a real danger one day will just drift aimlessly into the next. There are only so many weeds you can pull, DIY (do it yourself) projects to complete, ladies lunches, coffee mornings, walks etc. There is more to life!

I must be a bit strange because I have so many varied interests and hobbies I don’t have the time for boredom and there are simply not enough hours in the day!

She will be sorely missed as she has so much “get up and go” but in a different way to myself. If you cannot find what you are looking for it takes courage to move on. Hugs to a dear friend the place will not be the same without you!

Have you retired early, or maybe you’re a Mum at home also in “La La” land gradually going stir crazy? Maybe you are even considering moving abroad. Please share your story

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66 responses to “Escape from “La-La” Land

  1. Such a true blog, I was a lucky person who moved to the country from the town, It took a year to become established but my hobbies and ability to adapt and make the best of everything gave me such a wonderful time with many fantastic memories of bringing my children up in the country. Similar but not the same as moving abroad, though we might as well have been, lack of money and no neighbours for a quarter of a mile made it seem like a different country sometimes. Life indeed needs some structure but I do also believe we have to make our own… Great post Carole. M x

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    • Hi Marie,
      There are significant differences between town and country life and yes I think it would take time to adapt but reading your blog you have such a great range of hobbies and interests I can’t imagine you getting bored!
      However, sometimes people need more than these and they need a challenge as well as structure. I’d never really thought about it before…
      Cheers
      PiP

      Like

  2. Country Living

    Hi PiP! As you know my story, my husband and I were both caught up in the rat race! He was working two jobs! and I was working 40 plus hours a week and could even then keep our heads above water! We were in debt up to our eyeballs, and never saw a dime of our hard earned money! Till one day we had enough! We were so sick of working like a dog, and never, well, haveing anything to show for it, that wasn’t “leagally” owned, we were still paying for it! Everybody thought we were crazy moveing away from everything we’ve known. But I tell you, moveing so far away, you really know who your “family” and friends are, you know? I’m glad we made the move! We are learning a new/better way of life, with no boundaries and we’ve started over. It’s great! So sorry about your friend moving! Hope things get better!

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  3. You are so right about needing a purpose. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum in my job. There have been times when there was little to do and nothing to challenge me. I would come home those days feeling aimless and unmotivated. Other times, when I am busy and challenged, I’m at my happiest. And amongst it all, I try to focus some energy into a few hobbies so that when retirement is an option, I won’t be suffering from boredom.

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    • Hi Terri,
      I know what you mean about your job it canmotivate or demotivate you. I adored my job and worked 7til7 until I was bullied out of it and left. Perhaps, this was the turning point for me. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d retired straight from such a demanding job to nothing – there was a period of calm where I licked my wounds, picked myself up and moved on. Perhaps, my friend feels the same. It is not so much she is bored perhaps I think she likes to feel challenged – and what I deem to be challenging she does not 🙂
      Hey ho
      PiP

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  4. Hi Pip
    Great post. I am far from “La La land”-not suffering from boredom that’s for sure-it seems like I don’t even have time to smell the roses anymore-just went back to working my full -time job-and have a part- time job on weekends-leaves little time for play.Your right we have to have a purpose-and my purpose for my madness !! is planning for retirement and some fun and wondeful adventures- in La La land ! 🙂

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  5. Oh yes…you are coming in loud and clear. 🙂 Thank you for a wonderful post that really spoke to me.
    I also don’t understand about boredom…my children (all grown now with families of their own) would NEVER tell me they were bored or had nothing to do…because they knew my answer would be that I would find them something to do. I work part-time for our health insurance (4 days a week) and spend every Thursday morning at our local kindergartens – reading and crafting with the children. Writing posts, reading other people’s posts, connecting with people to promote my new book…there is barely time to sleep. 🙂 Even without all of those activities, if I have a book…I could never be bored!

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    • Hi Vivian.
      You made me smile whne you said my “children would NEVER tell me they were bored or had nothing to do…because they knew my answer would be that I would find them something to do”. I was the same with mine!
      I wore them out!
      I suggested to my friend she starts a blog and connect with people or enrols on an Open University Degree but it was not her bag. She is a “busy” person but just busy in a different way to me! So you could have knowcked me down with a feather when she told me she was returning to the UK. 😦
      PiP

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  6. Sorry to hear you are losing another friend who is returning to good old “blighty”, but I kinda understand – family pulls are strong.
    My hubby and I retired 3 years ago, moved away from busy city life to a country area not too far from the beach. It’s idyllic!
    I keep myself busy with my garden (2.5 acres), long walks on the beach with our dog, my computer, reading – and I’m a keen photographer; there aren’t enough hours in a day!
    The one thing I regret is leaving all our old friends behind, but we are slowly making new ones here, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes the grass is greener! We gotta make things happen in life.

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    • Hi Barb
      2.5 acre garden! Wow lucky you 🙂 I could have a whole market garden of vegetables, keep my pigs and chickens and still have a pen for the grandchildren as well! I’m finding family pulls strong with the grandkids on the way but as we live in 3 different countries…
      You are right when you say “We gotta make things happen in life” and I’m glad she has had the courage to make a decision and go for it rather than be miserable!
      PiP 8)

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  7. I never have enough time to do all that I want to do and I am never bored.

    Escaping from cold, gray winters was one of the BEST decisions I’ve ever made. 😎

    Thanks, PiP

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  8. PiP, I am like you. There are never, ever enough hours in the day. Boredom is not in my vocabulary. Even when I am sad or depressed, I am not ready for the day to be over. My interests are many. I have often said that I am twelve people, all having a list of things to do. I’m sorry you will be losing some of your friends whose dreams didn’t come true in Portugal. I’d be willing to bet that you will find some folks in Portugal with whom you have much in common. There is some truth to that old cliche about one door closing and another opening. I’m betting on you. If your blog reflects your style and your personality at all, I have no doubt about your wonderful future–with many friends and much to do.

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    • Hi Ellen,
      I like your comment “I have often said that I am twelve people, all having a list of things to do” I feel the same, but I ahve to be careful I don’t start different projcts andleave them half finished!

      As for new friends, I made most of my friends via forums before we moved here. We were all new together so there was a “bond” a “newness” almost a feeling of survival clinging to each other like you would a life raft.
      Unfortunately, I have grown weary. Yes, even Miss Piglet grows weary and her batteries run down… hey ho! 🙂 🙂
      PiP

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  9. Sorry to hear for your friend 😦

    I guess retirement isn’t all that it’s cut out to be and if you don’t have activities and interests at the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you are. Beautiful scenery and good weather isn’t enough to make a life. I’m a long, long way from retirement so I can’t even imagine what it’s like.

    I’m glad you have plenty of things to keep you busy, helps keep you young too *winks*.

    bisous from la belle France

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  10. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to live in another land before you actually get there.
    I moved from Scotland to Germany almost seven years ago, not to retire, but because of love. I’m in general, really settled now, but it took a while.

    I’m glad that Portugal is working for you!

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  11. This post really made me think. Like you, I don’t know what boredom is really – and I think we’re very lucky. I’m sorry your friends wasn’t as lucky… and I hope things work out for her.

    I downshifted a long while ago now, leaving employment for self-employment and a deliberate decision not to become overloaded. I needed more time for me, really, and it worked. I didn’t have any qualms about not having the ‘status’ I once had – it was a relief only having to report to myself!

    Then I physically moved, to west Wales, though I wasn’t retired – that’s a long way off – and encountered other people who had done what I did. Those who have stayed the course seem to be those who immersed themselves in their new community and who haven’t spent a lot of time harking back. Also those who are most successful when relocating here tend to be the ones who were originally from the country (either here or elsewhere0, people who grew up knowing that a pint of milk could be seven miles away. The absence of supermarkets comes as a real shock to others… I guess you take your world with you, and sometimes it just can’t be forced to fit a new environment. Hmm.

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    • Hi Kate,
      You are right about adapting especially if you move from a town to the country. You learn to be organised! I know the feeling re supermerkets and my store cupboards look like we are preparing for a siege!
      When you talk of status and leaving the rat race – for me it’s funny how trivial things like designer clothes suddenly became so unimportant and simple pleasures like recycling in the home becomes vital 🙂
      My friends needs are different from mine in that the challenges she is looking for can’t be met in the environment we live in, here in Portugal.
      PiP 🙂

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  12. Hi PiP. I admire you for moving to Portugal and creating a new life. I can see you’ve made a lot of effort to learn about the place and explore your surroundings and get involved within the community. Sorry to hear about your friend but such great moves aren’t for everyone and at least she tried – I’d rather try than sit here thinking about it.
    I hope you continue to thrive out there and you’ve got the support of all your blogging buddies in the meantime to spur you on. Have a great life and keep posting your wonderful stories!

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    • Hi NP,
      I love it in Portugal, it’s not perfect but it hey is anywhere? I love learning about the country and the people. Sometimes I become frustrated due to language problems or people to trying to rip us off because we are foriegners but this could happen anywhere. The portuguese people are friendly and generous and as my language skills improve I hope to make more Portuguese friends.
      Blogging was originally a place to write about my expereinces but to be honest it has become far more than that it is a community in itself 🙂
      PiP

      Like

  13. Hey PiP, bad news about your friend, I always assumed that people retired to another country for good and didn’t want to come back. We’ve been discussing moving to some where like Spain or Greece for years now but never really taken the next step in planning the details.

    We even looked at buying a B&B in Canada, the idea of the wilderness, beautiful scenery, snowy winters, log cabins for the guests and roaring fires has been an ever increasing temptation!

    What prompted you and Mr Piglet to take the plunge? I think there must be some kind of thresh hold where the decision is kind of almost made for you.

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    • Hi NC,
      We simply had enough of the UK. Lack of respect, political correctness and…well the list is endless. When Mr P became ill we needed a warmer climate. It was orginally going to be Cyprus, but after two houses fell through I think God was telling us…think again!
      We ruled out Spain and fell in love with the wild coast of the Western Algarve. If we could wind the clock right back we’d move to Canada without a doubt.
      If you have a dream make it a reality! Nothing ventured, as they say, nothing gained 🙂

      PiP

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  14. So sorry about your friend moving away PiP. Seems like too many friends have gone missing in your life lately.

    I can understand how you can’t be bored. If I were retired, I know I wouldn’t be! Like you, I have many hobbies which fall by the wayside when working full time. There are also so many things I want to learn that have been put on hold. I’ll reach retirement one of these days! But first, I need to find a job! LOL

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  15. Olá amiga Piglet, tudo bem com você e o maridão? Muito bom o seu blog, e as fotos são lindas, eu ainda não consegui aprender a colocar no computador. Só sei tirar, vou soltar rojões quando aprender.
    Beijos amiga!
    Mina!

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    • Olá amiga Mina, tudo boa? O meu marido (Senhor Leiteõ) esta bem. Desculpe, eu falo Portuguese poco 😦 Eu gosta a sua blog e a sua recipes 🙂
      Voce tem recipe para bolo de Páscoa? Eu faço cozinha
      Beijos amiga!

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  16. I retired early due to a disability and I’m busier than I’ve ever been. You have to find those things that interest you and dive into them, whether you’re good at them or not. I live only 3 miles from my only daughter and granddaughters and see them only when they want something, like they get locked out of the house or feel bad and say maybe we should take Nana to lunch. I’m never invited to their house. My brother and sister are 2,000 miles away in NY. Relatives don’t make you happy. You make you happy.

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    • Hi Maire,
      You are right when you say about finding things that interest you and dive in! It’s sad you only see your daughter and grandaughters when they want something!
      Loved your creamy fudge recipe, BTW and ahve subscribed to your blog.
      PiP

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  17. Oh I’m sorry your friend is moving on. You speak loads of wisdom in this post. I admire your support and friendship for her. Maybe she’ll come back to visit soon.
    I also admire your upbeat motivation to keep busy busy. I think that’s one of the special qualities that makes you a delightful person. 🙂

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  18. Sorry to hear of your friend is moving on, thank goodness for family, hobbies, email, and texting to keep us busy. Right! Retirement? What’s that? Do we really retire or do we just find something else to take the place of what we perceive to be a must have necessary distraction? Change is good, it’s how you do it that matters. To retire or not to retire….hmmm. Nope! Not this lil’ soapbird! Fabulous post! 🙂

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    • Hi Soapbird,
      When you work your days are filled with the demands of others. When your retire your days should be filled with demands and challenges you make yourself…I suppose retirement means different things to different people. I could never sit back and do nothing and lay in the sun! Thank Goodness for blogging it certainly keeps me busy! 🙂
      PiP

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  19. To me when I hear “La La” land-of soaking in all the sunshine, listening to the waves of the sea-while reading my favorite novel-Will not have to get up at 6am !!!-I can enjoy the fun and the adventures of my retirement-as I have my moments-in “La La” land swinging in my hammock, enjoying the beauty and making up for all the time of hard work, long hours with time for leizure and making time for fun. !!!! In other words, I will not be on a time-clock !!! 🙂

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    • Hi Penny,
      We still have the “time-clock” mentality but it’s nice to know there’s no one standing over us if we are late! Do you have long before you retire and can enjoy “La La” moments? PiP

      Like

  20. Having been to South Africa and back – though not in retirement – I do know the grass is never as green as we think, whichever we go. I hope your friend finds satisfaction.

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  21. 14 years, during and after Apartheid. I’ve got a whole blog about it at http://sapoems.wordpress.com

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  22. Hi Pip- I read this yesterday and decided I needed to think about it a while before I could answer. There are other issues here that go way beyond how we fill our days. When we make the decision to become expats, we voluntarily break with our roots. There are many reasons to do that, but as any expat–or friend of an expat–knows, sometimes it doesn’t work out. That’s clear enough… but the other thing I see loud and clear in your post is the effect it has on YOU, the one who stays behind.
    I don’t mean to analyze you personally. I’m talking about all of us as expats who by definition do not have family ties or community roots in our new-chosen homes. We work extra hard to build the community we need, and very often we gravitate toward other expats, where there is an ebb and flow of coming and going. For any number of reasons, some people choose to move on, and that takes a toll on those of us left behind. Part of expat life.
    For some of us, it’s part of the package and we wouldn’t change for anything. For others, it’s just one more reason to move on…
    You and Mr. P are clearly “stayers,” and it is oh so clear from your posts how much you really love your new life there! An inspiration to anyone considering making the break–thanks for sharing it with the rest of us!

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    • Hi Margaret,
      Thankyou so much for your considered response.
      Moving to another country, where I could not speak the language, seemed like almost taking a bungy jump over the cliff without measuring the elastic first!!
      Friends, in a country where you cannot communitcate properly with the locals in a meaningful way, are like family. This friend was special because she is a fighter like me and I recognised a kindred spirit. However, it was just not her time to retire early and she knew that.
      I am not one to live in other peoples pockets or hang out in Expat bars, but I do appreciate my friends although I may not always show it. As friends drift back to their home country it can leave one feeling isolated and it is easy to retreat into a protective bubble and think why bother?

      We do love Portugal, warts and all as we say 🙂 One day I will grasp the language well enough to be able to chat in Portuguese to the locals, eavesdrop on conversations at local bars, understand cooking instructions on the packets, and mabe even understand the politics.

      Hey ho…life goes on and as they say as one door closes another opens 🙂

      Cheers
      PiP

      Like

  23. This post is so true because, idyllic Portugal or blighty England, contentment has to do with the person, not the surroundings or circumstances. I’m sorry that you’re losing a friend, but I’m SO happy that you are not restless or discontent where you are. You can’t lose that.

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  24. Hi PiP,

    I must be one of the few not retired from reading the comments. So I’ve not experienced that. However I have moved countries, thrice, and seriously looked at it again with our current saga.

    I arrived here alone at 18, knew absolutely no-one and stayed. Admittedly no language issue (apart from the old accent problem), but there was a bit of a culture shock going from a city of about 30,000 to one of 3 million! So I suppose I did it the other way.

    I moved back to New Zealand, stayed for a while, then came back to Australia.

    I’d like to retire on an island somewhere, overlooking the sea. I’d read all the books I’ve been meaning to read, take up sewing again (hopefully for some grandchildren????), get back into photography……. and SLEEP!!!

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    • Hi TO,
      Regardless of age, your move at 18 and alone took courage! You still had to learn to adapt. I would not cope in a city myself as I prefer peace and a feeling of space. Our daughter lived in Lyon for several years and its frantic activitity always reminded me of an anthill!

      Your retirement plans sound pretty relaxed! PiP

      Like

      • I didn’t think it took courage at the time, but I remember going back to the same town I left from many years alter and a young woman saying to me she wished she could do what I did.

        I’ll admit I found it difficult to understand why she couldn’t! But I could see she couldn’t. People asked me wasn’t I afraid to go to Nigeria – no.

        So I guess I’m either fearless or stupid! LOL

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  25. Pip
    I have about two years, before I can fully retire-although I never see me as truly retiring-I just want to work, when I want to work-and Play when I want too play ! I vision my life-sitting on the ocean front-writing my blogs-as I listen to the beautful sounds of the ocean’s waves. !! 🙂

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  26. Hi Penny,
    Not long and counting then! It’s suprising where the days go!
    Cheers
    PiP

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  27. Hi TO – NIGERIA. You went by yourself to Nigeria…I’m impressed! what made you choose Nigeria?
    PiP

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  28. I wish her tons of luck and new friends back in the UK. As we both know, PiP, moving anywhere has its challenges and then you factor in retirement. WoW! I hope she lines up things to do. 49 is very young for retirement. 🙂
    Eliz
    PS. Team Oyeniyi is married to a Nigerian; Yoruba to be exact. Hey girl, I can relate; love is a great thing. It makes us fearless. 🙂

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  29. Oh PiP,
    I didn’t mean to confuse… My initial comment was for your retiring friend. My PS comment was for Robyn of Team Oyeniyi… Hope that cleared it up. Nigerians have distinctive names that identify both our ethnic group, language and even family background… So it was obvious to me. 🙂
    By the way, I’ve added a new blog hop. Do stop by to add your links.
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

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  30. Quick reply – you are a busy lady.
    How in the world could anyone be bored ?
    I never stop and I am well past the age of you
    and probably those who comment.
    My day will be spent cleaning veggie and flower garden. Walks in the woods to clean paths and maybe take an image.
    Cooking, writing and children and grandchildren checking in.
    Not enough hours in the day for this matriarch.

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  31. This post is over a year old but I find it so new and refreshing! Just stumbled onto your wonderful blog and I’m trying to catch up and read it all. A few months ago I started teaching myself Portuguese I love the language. I am fluent in spanish so it makes it a bit easier to grasp. My american husband and I are transitioning and it may be 2 years before we have to make a major decision on a move. We are young with 3 kids under 8. I would love for the Lord to show us that Portugal is for us!!! Basically I’m praying for Portugal 🙂 I too have no time to be bored we homeshool, sports, lessons, gardening and with life in general time flies, it’s great for so many reason. But it would be nice to be somewhere where people know how to slow down and I don’t mean veg out in front of the TV. Thank you again, loving your blog. Even if we never see Portugal you’re taking me there with every post. Blessings to you and yours!

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    • Hi Mel and a warm welcome!

      Portugal is indeed a beautiful country but if you have children the only thing I would say to you is check out the international schools as the state school system is being pared to the bone. I rarely watch TV now as there are not enough hours in a day. Does your husband already hve employment if he moves here? Unemployemnt is very high. I am glad you enjoy my blog – I try to keep in simple, homely and humorous!

      Blessing to you 🙂 and God speed your move to Portugal

      Carolex

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      • Dear Piglet, sorry to write you a letter, anyway thank you for your sweet welcome and response. I could ask you an infinite amout of things about life in Portugal 🙂 As far as school, our hope is to continue homeschooling (all things pending), and yes employment is a big topic of conversation between my hubby and I. The truth is we do not have employment lined up, we don’t speak Portuguese fluently, so that’s two big ‘ol negatives for us. That is a major area of concern and we’ll need to be in continuous prayer for. There is a great appeal for us towards Portugal? Even in knowing that Portugal has some of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. Maybe because we’ve had the opportunity to travel across the US and Latin America and Europe is a different world to us, I know I need to take my rose colored glasses off, LOL! 🙂 Being an American citizen, born in Honduras, one thing that seems to be a common pattern about Latin America is that unemployment rates are oober high and crime rate is high as well. My impression is that in Portugal its not that way, as far as the crime rates? Right now we are waiting patiently and it will be a long while before we permanently move somewhere out of the U.S. I do believe the first and most obvious step is to visit Portugal, continue to research what opportunities there are, if any for us, and research life in general in Portugal. I’ll let you know when we have our plane tickets! 😉 Thank you again! Best wishes.

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        • Hi Mel,
          You are brave! Which part of Portugal are you considering? Maybe you could even start your own business 🙂

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          • LOL Piglet, really i am not brave 🙂 Sometimes the idea of leaving the comforts of our all “American Dream” seem more like a pipe dream, and if I was brave I would be writing you to inform you that I have a plane ticket, and sadly I am not writing you to tell you that 😦 but life goes on. None the less, I will take it as a compliment, be encouraged and attempt to make brave more true in my own life :-)… You are a dear to ask, a business would be right up our alley! We know really well what it’s like to be self employed. As far as a specific place we would go to, I dunno? From what I’ve learned of Portugal I would say central, in Lisbon OR 2+- hours from Lisbon but we’re not sticking to it 🙂 Any ideas/ suggestion from you would be greatly appreciated! I’ve enjoyed your 2 most recent post, keep up the great work!

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            • Hi Mel,
              I feel it really depends what your business is as to where you move to. Central Portugal can be rustic and cheap, Lisbon – cosmopolitan, but property is expensive and the Algarve is a mixed bag.
              Why not budget to come over for a year first and give yourself time to travel round to get the feel of the country, culture and the lifestyle. It is one thing to holiday and another to live.

              Pleased you liked my two most recent posts 🙂 thank you!

              Like

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