What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Cascais and Estoril
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
We wish we'd brought more of our clothing...costs here are higher than in the US even before you add in the exchange rate and it's difficult to find the quality and styling to which we are accustomed; to have brought binoculars; and we should have purchased an eReader and filled it with books as finding English books is tough.
Left behind...nothing, we were really selective.
Moving to Portugal
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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?
The same advice related to a move anywhere. You must be here for some time - a month or two - before you select your home. Walk the many neighborhoods, see what amenities are around you, and work with a local realtor who comes recommended. If you like a quiet, more rural life, there are many villages and towns that meet this need. A good urban life is in Lisboa, and the coast just outside of Lisboa offers access to everything. If you're an EU citizen, everything you do is easier. For Americans, the process of getting a residency is twice as complicated and twice as time consuming, so getting advice from someone who has done/is doing it will help reduce your effort and anxiety.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We are in a mid-rise condo building, renting a 2 bedroom apartment. We scoured all of the online sites, and fortunately took the advice of the owner of a holiday rentals site (Portugal Portfolio) to rent through her for 1 month and take that time to look around. This resulted in us finding our current home that we'd have never known about, at a better price, and ideally situated in an area of both local residents and holiday-renters, with every amenity within walking distance. We have no car--we walk to the market, beach, restaurants. We rent a car for excursions further away, as we are visiting every part of Portugal that we can, taking a trip every few weeks.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
We came to Portugal last year for 2 weeks. We explored two areas only: first, the Algarve and next, Lisboa. These selections were based on weather, as we didn't want the colder weather in the North of Portugal. The Algarve is dead in winter, congested in summer, and just stuffed with Brits. The Lisboa area was delightful but we were sold when we took a train from Lisboa to Cascais. This is ideal: generally reliably nice weather, pristine beaches, restaurants all over the narrow streets and squares as well as along the pedestrian esplanade along the ocean. An easy train ride into Lisbon any time you want more culture or diversions, while plenty of museums, shows and parks in the Estoril/Cascais area. IDEAL!
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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Housing costs are lower here, but we're comparing a mortgage on a million-dollar plus condo in the US to rent on a 2 bedroom apartment with ancient appliances. It is easy to find a clean, modern, 2 bed/2 bath apartment with new appliances in the upscale, coastal Estoril/Cascias area for less than $2200/month if one works with a local realtor, and can cut those costs in about half in the smaller towns and villages inland. Utilities per month can add about $100. Internet service is about $30. On average, this feels like one can get a bit more with less but Portugal's Lisboa coast isn't a low cost choice. South and North and inland are less costly.