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Expat relocation or slow travel – convince me

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Joined: 12 months ago

I’m nearing retirement and at a fork in the road to do an expat relocation to Portugal or stay in the US and do slow travel, such as 3 months at a time. For those of you who have relocated, have you ever stood at the same fork? Why did you choose to be an expat over a slow traveler? I realize that all situations are unique and at the end of the day I need to do what’s right for me. I’ve watched the webinars and done the research about how the process works, cultural differences, bureaucracy, big expenses and cost savings. I’d be greatly appreciative if you could relate what moved you in the expat direction. One thing to note; language is not an issue.

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@boots We questioned our plans to move to Portugal when we were in the middle of the migration process and Covid hit. The eighteen-month delay allowed us to consider other options but ultimately, we immigrated to Portugal in December 2021.  

Circumstances change and we are adapting to some new strategies starting this year. We will only be renting in one location for 9 months out of the year and traveling the remainder of the year.

We are even keeping the slow travel option open as circumstances continue to change back home with our family.

The slow travel option has appealed to us even more as we realized we were never keen on living in one place for very long back in the US and Portugal hasn’t changed that for us. 

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(@moa)
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@jonesdn2020 Hi, that’s why you’re choosing VRS? it makes sense. I’m planning the same. Except that we decided to keep our home in the U.S.

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@moa Yes, VRSA just fell into our laps with a wonderful landlord and apartment.

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(@moa)
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@jonesdn2020 I found a landlord willing to rent for 8 months out of the year in Vilamoura. It suits us well. They’ll give us a contract and we’ll be all set to count on having a place for 8 months without having to pay rent for an entire year. Now, my question to you is: is your landlord going to register your lease with Finanças? It doesn’t make any difference to us but it might for AIMA in case we have to renew in person.

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@moa Yes, our landlord will register the lease with finances.

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(@moa)
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@jonesdn2020 Thanks. BTW it seems that people have been able to renew online via SEF. In some cases up to July. Fingers crossed for you 🤞

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(@moa)
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@jonesdn2020 A big difference though is that in the U.S. we don’t have any permanency requirements which makes slow travel possible whereas in Portugal  we have to stay in country for much longer which seems to get even worse after renewal of the temporary residency permit. Let alone that renewals are complex and getting a new card might take months. There are people waiting to renew for a year+ and they’re literally stuck in Portugal.

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@boots We are facing the same decision. Portugal for 3-4 years as a base for extensive travel v. 3 month visas and travel. Will be following. Some excellent and helpful replies already!

Mario

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@boots Hi Boots.  Your decision, like mine, will depend on your age and strength to adapt to new ways of life.  I am Irish but have worked in many countries throughout my career and in doing so sampled many cultures and lifestyles. Just before retirement I settled on France and enjoyed it so much. Because of my good research I adapted right away and had no regrets.  Unfortunately, family matters forced me to return to Ireland, which I deeply regretted.  In recent years I moved to Spain where I spent five very happy years but, since my partner has Osteoporosis I had to leave what she called the uncomfortable heat level and again returned to Ireland.  Now, my itchy feet and the Osteoporosis have forced a compromise and Porto in Portugal seems to be the perfect fit for both of us.  Even though I have not been to Porto, I feel drawn to it and so I will visit the city shortly to make a final decision.  In summary, therefore, do your research, visit if possible and then go with it.  I wish you well in your decision-making, which I know is not easy…Daniel

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Thanks. All great responses! The issue that keeps me on the fence is the travel restrictions. If I understand correctly, a D7 retirement visa expat cannot travel outside of the borders of Portugal for more than 6 months in a 24 month period. I’ve had a desire over the last 20 years to live in and embrace the culture of another country and although I came close, my career didn’t take me there. With the freedom of retirement, I was hoping to accomplish that while being travel obsessed which would include a 1 to 2 month December – January stay in my wife’s hometown in Brazil. So what I ask is do I understand the travel restriction correctly? Also, it’s easy to speculate how much I’d like to travel in the future but how much are you traveling outside of Portugal?

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Joined: 7 years ago

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@boots You’re blending two separate points in the rules.  Firstly, the relevant period is the validity period of your temporary residence permit (not the visa – the residency, once issued), which may be 24 months (but the following applies whatever the length).

You need to notify in advance, in the case of (1) any single absence exceeding 6 months; and/or (2) a total absence of more than 8 months during the total validity period of your residency permit.  

I often see it expressed as X amount of time per year, etc, but this is not what the legislation says; it refers to those two time periods within the validity period of the residency permit (without itself putting a length on the residency permit, as there are circumstances in which that might vary).

The above is my own expression in English of the rules, based on the old SEF page, archived https://imigrante.sef.pt/direitos-deveres /” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here.  My understanding is that, whilst AIMA has taken over, the underlying rules have not changed.  If you are getting a firmly-stated different version, please ensure you are provided with, and check, the underlying legislation – errors can exist in translation, or in well-intentioned attempts to simplify.

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@thomasribatejo So Thomas, if I understand I could be on a 24 month residence permit having an established home in Portugal and travel outside of its borders for as long as I desired as long it is not for longer than 6 months in one continuous time period (without permission) or for longer than 8 months cumulative. So minimum 16 months at home within 2 years. 2 months longer than I thought. Else, I assume you could be compelled to forfeit your residency. And is this the same requirement for the subsequent visa? That link didn’t work.

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@boots Essentially, yes – as I noted, the period in question is the validity of the residence entitlement*, so if that’s 2 years, then it’s 2 years.  The requirement is prior communication of the issue, which I presume it’s then at their discretion to act on.  If the residency is renewed, the clock re-starts, as I read and understand it.

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(@moa)
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@thomasribatejo How does anybody communicate with AIMA for that matter? It’s proven to be impossible. On the other hand,  if one doesn’t know before leaving? Life happens.

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@moa Given that the requirement is to notify, rather than discuss/get approval up front, I’d be inclined to send a registered letter, keeping a copy and proof of tracking. There’s never a guarantee as to how an individual case will be treated, but that would show you’d notified as required, at least.

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(@moa)
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@thomasribatejo Agreed. AIMA is unpredictable or rather, too predictable! Lol 

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@boots Olá, just a thought, a question of order…? The EU’s free movement of people is one of the greatest privileges in the world. You could consider moving to Portugal, enjoying this wonderful country for the ~5 years it takes before you can apply for citizenship, and then your future can be filled with even more travel and potentially more international moves within the EU (with much much less hassle). During your time in Portugal you can travel still but of course within the limits as other commenters have mentioned above.

My husband and I travelled for 4.5 years, mostly between 1 and 2 months in any one place, with a couple longer stays, so we certainly know the excitement and benefits of slow travel.

Lastly I recall something concerning the limits of travel during a temporary residence’s period, which is that these are limits where their is no legitimate reason. I.e. we heard that if it’s for work, a family member’s ill health, etc. etc. then these periods can be evidenced and don’t necessarily count. Definitely seek legal advice but it’s something we heard.

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(@moa)
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@elizabethpt As Americanas we have free movement within the Schengen but limited to 90 days in 180 days which doesn’t change by becoming a resident of Portugal. That was a big surprise for me since nothing had changed as the known rule continued to apply. Yes, getting the passport will change that but we’re looking at 7 years or more. I’m enjoying Portugal as a recent arrival so the exploration hasn’t  stopped yet. I move about Portugal frequently but as time passes it’ll get old. The good news is that at end of the first residency permit, we’ll know if we want to stay or rather if they will want us here. Renewals have proven to drive people to drink with the advantage that wine can be had at a very low price. LOL.

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@moa Yes all true, and glad to hear the exploration hasn’t stopped and you’re enjoying Portugal! Any favourite places so far in Portugal?

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(@moa)
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@elizabethpt Hi, yes, I do have my favorites.  Viana do Castelo, Braga and Guimarães are at the top of my list. Lovely cities with good infrastructure.  What attracts me the most is the Centro Histórico but that’s in ALL cities in Portugal  Tavira and Vila real de Santo António are great in the Algarve and very close to Spain (Andalusia)  Guarda in Central Portugal is beautiful and very close to Salamanca.  Viana gives you access to Vigo, Santiago de Compostela among other cities in a jiffy. I enjoy that combo.  A nice package indeed.  I’m from Boston, Massachusetts hence  I’m used to old  cities and Boston is a gem within an ultra modern country. 

 

 

 

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@moa We really need to get up to Braga, so many people have recommended it. And yes to the centros historicos. The Algarve coast is stunning too. We also love being close to Spain for that occasional visit, like Badajoz. We’re much further south, in the Évora district of the Alentejo. Just love the cork forests, vineyards and rolling hills – green in winter, golden in summer.

Do you indeed feel the history in Boston, the red brick buildings and all. Great food too with all the restaurants!

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(@moa)
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@elizabethpt Alentejo is gorgeous… those cork forests! I was there in 2014 for the first time, and went back last year. The vineyards… I also recommend Serra da Estrela where cheese rules. Penhas Douradas in the middle of nowhere but with two excellent hotels, a lake, goats… Back to the Alentejo, Melides is very nice, Comporta… Vila Viçosa is wonderful (not sure if it’s part of the Alentejo) but worth a visit. Santiago de Cacem… I have more places to explore goin on. That’ll keep me busy for another year before I have to renew my residency permit if AIMA allows for such an event to take place. Lol.

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@moa Vila Viçosa is a vila (small town), with about 4600 inhabitants, and it belongs to Évora district (Alentejo region). I believe I was there once, some 40 years ago… have to visit again.

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(@moa)
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@antonio_f Obrigadinho pelo esclarecimento, Antonio. Recomendo-te visitar Vila Viçosa de novo, belo duma cidade. Bem-haja

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My original #1 reason was the health care in Portugal. Once I came though, that was quickly replaced by the Portuguese people. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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