It's been two years since Louise and Ben Taylor made their dream of moving from London to the Algarve a reality. Time enough to give proper consideration to whether or not it was a wise move, and to write a book which tells their story and may help other potential expats better understand what's in store should they decide to take the plunge.
As is often the case, things didn't always work out the way they'd hoped or imagined, but the beauty of their tale, which is narrated by Louise, is that the unexpected and unplanned can lead to better things. A prime example being the swapping of their cute little cottage for a modern apartment with a pool, an idea they had originally shunned.
My heart went out to Louise as I read her description of the mould that overwhelmed their idyllic Algarvian home during their first winter. It brought back unpleasant memories of my first winter in rural Portugal, wiping green fur off my jewellery and shoes, and persistent black spots off the walls. It's not something that anyone thinks about in their excitement of moving to sunny Portugal, but without central heating, it's often a grim reality.
Louise goes on to talk about the joys of exploring their chosen region: beach walks; fresh, cheap seafood; trips into the mountains and cultural differences such as Christmas shopping being a pleasant, relaxed experience compared to London. She explains how the Internet has enabled her to keep her London job and work remotely, and the bureaucratic headaches that created.
Living in Portugal means that when friends and family visit, they are in holiday mode and stay for longer than they would usually do in the UK. Fun though it is to spend time with loved ones, it can put a strain on wallets as well as relationships. Living in the Algarve also means coming to terms with the seasonal side-effects of living in a tourist destination.
Louise's story covers all of these things and more, and whilst the book definitely isn't a step-by-step guide to relocating, it should give anyone thinking of following in their footsteps some food for thought as she charts the ups and downs of their first two years as expats in Portugal.
There's a semi-practical section at the back of the book with other tips and recommended further reading if you're still serious about moving.
Moving to Portugal should be treated as more of an inspirational/cautionary tale than a handbook for relocating.