-Where were you born?
Derek was born in Glasgow in Scotland and I was born in Darlington in the North East of England.
-In which country and city are you living now?
Both of us divide our time between Portugal and England (though we much prefer living in Portugal).
-Are you living alone or with your family?
When we are in England we stay with my mum in Barnard Castle. However when in Portugal we live alone, but have many visits from family and friends, so there is always a houseful.
-How long have you been living in Portugal?
We've been in Central Portugal for four years. Previous to settling here in Central Portugal we spent a couple of years travelling around Europe and North Africa.
-What is your age?
Derek is 41 and I am 34.
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Portugal?
It wasn't a conscious decision to settle in Central Portugal. However, while we were travelling we seemed to spend more and more time and find more and more excuses for staying in Portugal; we decided to buy a place so we had a base in Europe to travel from.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
No, as we are members of the European Union and don't require working permits. Though it was quite tough filling out all the paperwork involved when we started the business.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
It was quite easy sorting out medical insurance when we decided to settle.
-How do you make your living in Portugal? Do you have any type of income generated?
When we first came to Central Portugal we didn't work as we were busy concentrating on restoring our farmhouse. However, as we had more and more family members and friends visiting and asking us to find properties for them, we decided to set up an information website (www.gekkoportugal.com) packed with photographs and information on the region. The information includes everything you need to know about buying a property in Central Portugal as well as general information on living and working in the region.
The website proved to be very popular and not long after its launch we were approached by a number of local agents, all of whom we knew personally, asking if they could advertise their properties on our website. We didn't want the website to become just another real estate site, so we chose to work with two agents who we knew well and chose selected properties from their database.
After a while we were getting more and more involved helping people with all aspects of purchasing property and getting more and more frustrated at the lack of urgency and attention to detail some of the agents we worked with.
This led to the decision to form our own government-licensed agency with a very good friend - Claudia Silva - who had been working in the real estate industry for 10 years. Together with Claudia we formed our new company, Chavetejo Imobiliaria (www.chavetejo.com), in July 2007.
We officially opened our new office in Tomar on 28th September and held a launch party which was well attended by local dignitaries, council officials, developers, builders, friends and customers.
It was relatively straightforward setting up the company; however, there was a mountain of paperwork to be filled out and because of the nature of the business (all estate agents in Portugal must be registered and licensed by INCI, the government regulatory body) there was a lot of organising and requirements to be fulfilled.
Since the launch of our new company we have been very busy and have recently taken on three more members of staff to help us cope with the workload.
-Do you speak Portuguese and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Both Derek and I manage to get by in Portuguese. However, we are always trying to learn more. It is very important to us both to be accepted into the community and speaking the language is central to this.
Sometimes it's confusing with local customs and etiquette, but we are getting there and one thing we have learnt is not to be afraid to ask for help from our friends and neighbours, who are always accommodating.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
We do get to come to the UK quite a bit, so we don't get homesick in the traditional sense. What does happen is when we are in the UK we miss our home in Portugal (especially the weather). Family and friends often fly out to visit as it's only a three-hour flight.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
We both enjoy travel; however, with the new business, most of our travel plans have been put on hold for the minute. We have lots of ideas and ambitions to travel more in the future but are currently concentrating on building our business.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
Both. We purchased an old farmhouse, which we are currently rebuilding and so at present are renting a lovely little one-bedroom cottage close to Castelo do Bode lake until our farmhouse is liveable again.
Property prices in and around our region vary dramatically depending upon whether they are near the lake or Tomar. Old stone cottages can still be found from around 30,000€ right up to lake fronted villas for several million euros.
-What is the cost of living in Portugal?
About half of the UK for most things. Though some items which have been imported can be pricey.
-What do you think about the Portuguese?
We found the locals to be extremely friendly and accepting of foreigners. Sometimes too friendly; it can be difficult to get things done at times as everyone wants to stand and chat.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Portugal?
Negatives - the language is difficult to master
Positives - the cost of living, the scenery is superb, the climate is great and people are friendly.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Portugal?
Do lots of research as Portugal has a very diverse mix of scenery and lifestyles. If you are looking to get away from it all or love the high life, Portugal has something for everyone.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Portugal?
www.gekkoportugal.com - a guide to living working and buying property in Central Portugal
www.chavetejo.pt - government licensed estate agents based in Tomar, Central Portugal (in Portuguese)