Why Peaceful Portugal Is My Choice to Call Home

The winter sun is toasty warm at the bayside outdoor cafe. Fisherman bring in the morning catch as steaming cups of coffee arrive, along with custard tarts known as pasteis de nata. “I love the food here,” says expat Annette Ford Rio. She nods in the direction of the nearby station. “And the trains, trams and ferries. The public transportation system is great.”

When asked why she retired to the Portuguese resort town of Cascais, Annette answers with humour. “The decision was more or less made for me. My husband, Jose, is Portuguese. He wanted to get back to his roots and I rather like being married to him.”

She turns more serious when discussing financial and social reasons for expatriating. “Back home the economic forecast didn’t look good for a soon-to-be-retired couple and the pace of life there was rushed. For us, peaceful Portugal was the likely choice. I’ve never looked back.”

One plus for the couple is how affordable everything is. “We’re never surprised by costs, other than to realise how richly we can live on our retirement income, it’s beyond all of our expectations.” Areas like Cascais and Lisbon require a monthly budget of roughly $3,000 to $3,800, but move a half-hour away to a suburb and that figure drops to around $2,500.

She is happy about healthcare here, too. “We’re very pleased with the system, ranked among the best in the world. We were paying more than $2,500 a month for insurance before. Now we have a private policy that costs roughly $300 a month.”

Annette and her husband rent an apartment, having opted not to be tied down by ownership. “Thus far, we have no regrets and we can easily move from one place to another without a glitch.” Back home, the couple owned a five-bedroom home with swimming pool, located on an acre of land. “I could put our charming apartment on one level of the home we owned there.”

Keeping busy has been easy. “I’ve always wanted to write a book and finally did. We Did It Our Way is my autobiography and has received great reviews. In addition, I just completed a second book, Destiny Awakened, scheduled for publication this year.”

Annette also founded an expat organisation for anyone needing help with transition after relocation. “We have a current membership of about 550 people,” she says proudly.

Annette has advice for those contemplating a move overseas. “Get your ducks in a row and do much of the paperwork before leaving home. Be patient: things don’t happen overnight here. Sometimes a process seems endless, but once completed, the results are more than worth it.” She sighs contentedly, taking a final sip of coffee. “My choice to call ‘home’ is Portugal.”

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