An interview with an expat in Portugal

  I would like to introduce Bruce Joffe from Portugal Living Magazine.
If you are moving or thinking about moving to Portugal you should subscribe to Portugal Living Magazine by clicking here.

As an expat living in Portugal, Bruce is full of information about the  trials and tribulations of moving to and living in Portugal and is willing to share some valuable information with those thinking about doing the same.

Lets start off by asking where are you from Bruce and how long have  you lived in Portugal?

I’m North American, from the USA. This is my fourth year living in Portugal.

Why Portugal?

We’ve had a vacation bolt for 15 years in Spain — still do — but we prefer Portugal for our permanent residence. Why? It’s got charm, soul, spirit, great people, a favorable cost of living, peace, and lots of lovely little villages.

What does Portugal have that say Spain or France doesn’t have?
Saudade … that sense of longing and yearning. While Spain and France may be more spirited, Portugal’s got more soul (I believe).

What are your top 3 things you love about Portugal?
The people. The places. The peacefulness.

Is there anything you do not love about Portugal?
The bureaucracy. And that it’s so difficult for the Portuguese to earn a decent living here that they tend to leave their homes in favor of the big cities–here and abroad.What are your top 3 things you miss about the USA ?
Family. Friends. Foods.

The Yes or No part

What all Americans need to know….
Amazon available? Yes.
Netflix? Yes.
Electrical Appliances work? Yes.
Apple TV? No.
Voltage? Had to up our potencia in each of our homes here.
Vinmo? Vinmo? If you’re talking about vinho, absolutely! Tinto, por favor. I like this guy, I’m trying to talk about a money transfer service and he changes it to wine lol
Good WI-Fi & Internet? Sim.
Most popular cell phone service? None of them are considered “popular,” but we’ve gone with MEO.
Most Popular Bank? Montepio. For 2€ per month, we get lower bank costs and medical/health insurance superior to what we’re paying for privately.
Most popular Grocery Store? Continente.
Most popular Beer? LOL! There are only two: Sagres and Super Bok.
Starbucks? Dominos? McDonalds? Subway? Não, não, não!!!

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you arrived in Portugal?
Portuguese. The language is quite challenging–maybe even more so for me because I’m fluent in Spanish. Quite the stumbling block!

How did you select your international moving / shipping company?
Internet search, then, process of elimination.

Why did you select them?

I didn’t know about the options available on this side of the pond … so, the company we went with was the most honorable among thieves. Obviously he didn’t find all the recommendations from facebook groups suggesting he goes to UPakWeShip or find the all-inclusive lump sum prices online here.

Any personal advice having now completed the international move?
Be prepared–the Boy Scout motto. And be patient, very patient.

What are the definite things to pack and ship to Portugal in your opinion?
Little things: aspirin, over-the-counter eye drops, red pepper flakes, real vanilla extract, hot and spicy sauce–anything but Piri Piri!

I think many expats might worry about health care abroad, how are you getting on with this?
I was on Medicare back in the USA, so I didn’t have any real problems.
My partner, however, had to rely on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.
Imagine paying US $1,250 per month for the mediocre “bronze” coverage, when we pay €2,000 per year for comprehensive health care coverage in the private sector that covers us both! Plus, of course, as residents we are part of Portugal’s National Health Care Service (which costs us nothing).

How is your Portuguese, obviously we know everyone must try and make an effort with some basic words but do you fine most people understand English?
At this point, I can carry on conversations, ask and answer questions, deal with doctors and tradespeople, and complain in Portuguese. But, as mentioned above, Spanish will always be a stumbling block for me; I may know the language and understand its grammar, but my pronunciation always gives me away. Portuguese people initially think I’m Spanish … then English (i.e., from the UK). So many people here speak English better than I do Portuguese — English is part of their core curriculum in school, not considered a “foreign” language — and they’re eager to be “helpful” by speaking English with us. But it’s difficult to learn Portuguese without the practice, which I explain to them.

Top Tips for moving to Portugal?
Don’t regret making the move … and don’t look back. While some people believe that everything that doesn’t fit into a suitcase (or two) should be left behind, we don’t agree. Over the course of our 30-year history together, we collected a lot of “stuff” that means a lot to us. Sentimental value, I guess. But I would never want to regret leaving behind those ingredients which made our life together so home-y and comfortable. I totally agree with this Steve, having your personal history with you helps you settle in and makes your home personal

Just for fun….

Do you get home very often? And when you do, what is the first food you want that you can’t get in Portugal?
No. That’s actually a major issue for us. We have no desire whatsoever to return to the USA unless and until the political warfare, the divisions, the massacres, and the hate turn around for the better. This is one of the most difficult aspects of living abroad for me: I have yet to hold my 18-month-old granddaughter. We videochat (my son,
daughter(in-law) and granddaughter every Sunday. Yet, for the reasons I’ve mentioned — and Covid restrictions — we’ve not been together in “real” time (or place). I’ve offered to pay their expenses to come and visit us in Portugal for however long they can manage, but it’s difficult and complicated for them, too, at this point in their
(professional) lives.

As difficult as it is to answer this first part of your question, Mark, the second part is far easier: The first food I’d eat, which we can’t get here in Portugal, is a hot pastrami sandwich with a pickle and coleslaw in New York City!

Pickles…… really? Being English the only pickles I like come in a jar with Branston written on it lol

I hope you enjoyed this, cheers

The International Moving Doctor

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