February 25 2007
-Where were you born?
Lewisham General Hospital, London, UK
-In which country and city are you living now?
In a tiny village called Cha near Coimbra in the centre of Portugal
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live all alone. Sniff.
-How long have you been living in Portugal?
On and off for around 15 years.
-What is your age?
38 and ¾
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Portugal?
I came to visit some friends and found it very hard to leave...
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
Portugal is part of the EU so those are not needed anymore.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Again, EU status makes that easy.
-How do you make your living in Portugal? Do you have any type of income generated?
For years I've been working elsewhere – mostly the UK doing building work. For a few years I was renovating nightclubs and installing giant mushrooms and banyan trees into rainforest cafes!! I've just started to get more work here as the building trade in the area seems to be on the increase.
-Do you speak Portuguese and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I think it's vital to respect the locals and their way of life – even if you don't fully participate you have to be aware of it. The language again is important – it changes you from being an expat to a friend and neighbour.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I occasionally hanker for marmite and a pint of strongbow. But I get to the UK a lot to see my family. My son is at the local school here and is doing really well. I spend as much time as I can throwing myself in the Atlantic and trying to surf.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
Plans include – selling my house and then buying an even more ambitious pile of stones to turn into a home. Costa Rica seems to be calling me for a visit...
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
I bought a pile of rocks and brambles for next to nothing (they threw in the brambles for free). I'll let you know how much it's worth after I've sold it!
-What is the cost of living in Portugal?
Similar to the UK for supermarkets. The local markets are cheaper and it’s loads less to eat out and have a cocktail or three.
-What do you think about the Portuguese?
After a period of slight apprehension the locals seem to tolerate the foreigners just fine. My neighbours are all lovely.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Portugal?
The paperwork involved in some basic transactions can be mind-boggling – sorting out services and the like. But the positives overshadow all that nonsense hugely. Mountains, trees, rivers, warm friendly people that don't growl at you if you say hi!
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Portugal?
Be patient, don't expect things to happen today! Buy an umbrella!
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Portugal?
My own site about being up here in the hills is Papersurfer.com.
Lucy Pepper's observations on Portugal are at Blogzira.
A small blog about life up a walnut tree is Treehouse Surfer.
More life from the hills at Quinta Das Abelhas.