What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
Three things I wish I would have brought my golf clubs, my dog & my furniture.
Three things I wish I would have left are all of my kitchen appliances (converters burn out quckly here)... that's about it.
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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
I would recommend Gualtar or Trofa as an area of Braga to live in. It's part of the city, yet doesn't have the "city" feel. It's atmosphere is more "suburban" than anything. The city has everything you need to live a life that you've been accustomed to in the US.
Additionally, it's location is spectacular because you have the beach 30 minutes to the west, (awsome) Geres mountains 15 minutes to the east and Spain 40 minutes to the North.... you can't go wrong. :)
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
I live in a single family four bedroom home. To be honest I don't really know of any US expats in my area.
The people up north are very friendly, so most of our support circle is Portuguese.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
I first lived in an apartment near the University. You can never go wrong living around a large school. People tend to be more open to help.
I eventually bought a proprty and built a four bedroom home in a quiet section of the city. The land was a bit more expensive than other areas but it was well worth it.
If your going to build.... please watch your contractor closely and NEVER pay for anything up front, only for work that has been done. You can get yourself into trouble that way.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
My home loan was 200k euros and I pay around 600 euros a month. Property takes is another 1k a year and generally speaking water, electric, heating, cable tv and such round off to about 350 euros monthly. It's MUCH cheaper out here than in the US.