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Is Failing an Option?
What if Portugal is not right for you?
The idea for this article came from a post on a Facebook group focused on folks who want to move to or are living in Portugal. The author of the post said her retirement plans for Portugal had fallen apart and she was rethinking her decision to stay in her new country. Her post didn’t mention the reason why - she merely wanted some advice on how to give away some of her things and how to close out her Portuguese bank account. Many of the group members responded with helpful advice and wished her well, while others were curious to know why she was rethinking her life in Portugal. Some even went so far as to ask the specific reason why so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes and fail in the same way. So, I’m wondering - if Portugal isn’t right for you, have you failed? Hmmm…
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Growing up, when I was contemplating doing something new like taking up clarinet in the school band or submitting a poem to a newspaper, I would ask my parents for advice and they would always say to me, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Was I afraid of failure? Sure. All the time. And yes, sometimes things didn’t work out the way I had planned (like taking up the clarinet).
Fast forward to a few years ago when Paul and I contemplated doing something new by moving to Portugal. We were no longer kids seeking parental advice. This move we were contemplating was scary and not cheap. What if we failed?
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Looking for reasons why.
While considering this move, yes, I, too scoured countless expat Facebook group posts looking for reasons why we shouldn’t (or should) move to Portugal. I read numerous articles from expat organizations and publications and watched countless hours of YouTube videos. And heck yeah – we even attended an International Living Bootcamp to explore the reasons why a move overseas was a good idea (talk about getting more confused). If I read one post about a negative expat experience, I started to worry and second guess. If I read one post about a positive expat experience, I had hope! Always looking for reasons why, for a few years, I lived on a self-induced emotional rollercoaster.
Bottom line: others can’t tell you if you’ll be happy here.
If you’re thinking about a move to Portugal, please remember this: there are just as many reasons to move to Portugal as there are to leave it. If you’re looking for someone or something to reassure you that you’ll be happy in Portugal and never have a moment regretting your decision, there’s a strong chance you won’t find it. Even I have moments when I wonder why we moved here (this is common, especially in the first few years living abroad when everything is new and often the simplest tasks take an entire day to complete). I have learned to take these moments in stride and by the next day, I’m good. But not everyone can take things in stride (this for me has been a recently acquired trait).
No one can tell you how it’s going to be for you. Everyone has different expectations. Sure, it’s great to learn from others, but don’t expect the reasons why or mistakes of others to make the decision easier for you.
Expats leave Portugal for a million different reasons.
Some miss family and friends. Some miss the familiarity of their old life. Maybe a remote work position ended and it’s time to go back. Perhaps some thought they’d be able to live more economically in another country and find that’s not necessarily the case. Some may be unable to overcome the language barrier. Some people may have to return to their home country to care for a loved one. Some might miss conveniences like a garbage disposal or clothes dryer or massive shopping and dining centers. Others might be lonely and haven’t been able to find friends, or perhaps a relationship has changed. Expat parents might feel like their children aren’t adjusting well. Others may find that the weather doesn’t suit them. Or perhaps investments someone was counting on to fund their life in Portugal fell through. Or maybe some people found that they couldn’t duplicate their former lifestyle in Portugal and cannot adjust to a new one. Still others may find the bureaucracy too much to handle.
Is failing an option? No.
It's not failure if you decide to leave. If you find yourself regretting your decision to move overseas once you’re living in Portugal, and decide to return to your home country, or move to another country, it is not failure! It’s simply another lesson in life. And it’s an experience that many people only dream about but most never have the courage to do.
Moving on means that you had the desire to try something new (remember…nothing ventured, nothing gained) and it’s time to journey on to the next adventure! Enjoy the ride!
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Until next time…