Expat Interview: From The USA to Portugal

Amy and Kristian from Something about the geigers

Looking for a slower pace of life, Amy and Kristian from Something about the Geigers decided to move to Portugal after doing some research. Find out more about life as an expat in Portugal, challenges, language and cultural barriers, local dishes, costs of living and much more.

Hi Amy, tell us about yourself…

My husband Kristian and I were both born in the United States. He in Washington DC, myself in Wisconsin. My parents moved with me and my younger to Denver Colorado when I was two years old. I loved growing up near the Rocky Mountains, skiing in the winters, hiking, and camping in summer.

Kristian was raised in northern Virginia. He is the older brother to 3 younger siblings. He also grew up hiking and skiing, so when he finished college, he moved himself to Colorado where he could play in the “big” mountains. We met each other in Colorado when we were both employed with United airlines.

Amy and Kristian from Something about the geigers

What was the main reason for moving to Portugal?

We began dreaming of living near an ocean 3 years ago while vacationing in Mexico. We desired a slower pace of life; a grand adventure with a change of scenery and culture. We researched several countries around the world. Portugal met all our criteria. We moved to Burgau in Dec 2018.

Is it easy to connect with locals or are there any barriers?

Most people seem to be able to speak some English although we are trying to learn the language. We have met a few locals who are all very friendly. Mostly we’ve connected with people from other countries in Europe.  It might be a matter of like attracts like? We are all strangers in a strange land so we tend to gravitate towards one another.

How about the cost of living?

The cost of living is much less expensive here compared to where we were in the United States. The rent is about 1/4 of what we would pay in the US, and the same goes for food.

view of our town Burgau from our roof top balcony

What is your favourite and least favorite part about living in Portugal?

My favorite thing about living in Portugal is the pace of life. It’s been a little bit hard for me to slow down so much but now that I am, I’m happy.

My least favorite thing is that all of my US family and friends are not here with me.

What was the biggest culture shock for you?

I guess the most shocking thing is that people don’t speak unless spoken to. I’m more used to people making eye contact and saying hello. No one seems to say hello unless I say it first, then they are more than happy to chat.

What is your favorite local food?

Fish! Being landlocked in the United States, we did not get fresh fish! We are thrilled to be having so much of it here.  My husband has learned to grill it at home. Delicious! 

Fish in Portugal

Can you share any funny/typical tradition from Portugal?

It seems that all the older gentlemen of the towns gather at the local bus stop and sit for hours and just talk with one another. It’s adorable!

What is one stereotype about Portuguese people that you found out to be true?

They say that the Portuguese people are very friendly. We find this to be very true! Again they usually do not speak unless spoken to but as soon as you say good morning (Bom Dia) their face lights up and they start talking.

What is your favorite thing to do in Portugal that people should do if they visit?

We love to go hiking the coastline! It’s absolutely breathtaking. Around every corner, there is a new view of the ocean and the landscape change is continual.

Burgau in Portugal - the town we moved to

What was the biggest challenge for you once you moved to Portugal?

Learning to be OK with not have something to do every single moment of every day. 

What is a fun fact about Portugal most people don’t know about or expect?

There seem to be almost 3 entirely different Portuguese cultures; at the top near Porto, then the middle section of Portugal around Lisbon and then the southern region of Portugal. They all, of course, think that they are the best part of the country!

What would be your top advice for people who are thinking to move to Portugal?

Investigate different areas of the country, they all have something different and beautiful to offer. Don’t think that you should be in one place based on what you’ve seen in a magazine. Check it out in person before you settle in one location. 

Wine tasting in Portugal

What is the biggest difference between your home country The USA and Portugal?

Probably the biggest difference is the pace of life. They take two-hour lunches and several months of vacation each year.

We were told that people here work just enough to live. While in the USA, most people work through their lunch and take two weeks of vacation a year, working as much as possible to acquire more “stuff”.

What do you miss most from home?

My people!! 

You can also find Amy and Kristian on Facebook and Instagram.

Find more expat stories on my blog.

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