Several days ago I decided to throw open the opportunity to my fellow writers at Suite101 to be guest bloggers here. I’ve met so many interesting people from literally around the world in the Suite forums and I knew there had to be some interesting stories to tell. A number of people expressed an interest and today is the first guest!
We’re going to call this person B. since he doesn’t identify himself with his full name on his own site. He enjoys the anonymity at this point (as you’ll see by the photos he shares) as he tells his story online about making the jump from the speed and stress of London to the much simpler and quieter life of Portugal. While many people talk about making changes and living a simpler life, B. and his wife really did it in a significant way!
Please tell us a little bit about growing up, your background, and how you eventually ended up in London in IT.
I grew up in the countryside in England. I had always longed to live in London, relishing visits there as a child. As soon as I was old enough I was off. I fell into the IT industry – I was always a bit of a computer whizz. I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to get into the industry – it just happened really!
When did you first think about leaving London? Was there a specific event that triggered the thought?
There was no specific event but my girlfriend (now wife!) and I reached the stage when we were traveling out to the country or the coast at the weekend rather than into the city. The atmosphere of the place had changed as well in the 12 years I lived there—it became a lot less friendly and more aggressive. Over the course of a few years I went from loving it to hating it, via a year or so of indifference in the middle.
Did you ever consider relocating to a more rural part of England?
Not a rural part, but we had entertained the idea of moving to the south coast. In terms of job opportunities though it would still have meant a commute, so the idea was dismissed fairly quickly.
Portugal captured our hearts. A lot of people say it’s like how living in England was decades ago. Children play in the street, people leave their door unlocked (at least in some areas.) The fact the sun reportedly shines on over 300 days per year was a factor too. We didn’t really consider other countries although we did briefly consider the island of Madeira.
How long did it take to go from initial idea to actually relocating to Portugal?
It took about 3 years. We had to pay off debts, work out what to do about my wife’s work and my business and do a lot of preparation. We also had to sell a decade’s worth of clutter on ebay to boost our moving fund!
What do you miss most about London?
I’ve been surprised by how little I do miss, but I would have to say my friends, and being able to banter in my native language.
What do you enjoy most about Portugal?
Where do I start? The fish, the beach, having time to cook everyday, and spending the time I was spending stuck in traffic and on public transport on things like exercising and reading.
1. The stress levels. City folk seem to be perpetually inches away from flying into a rage and it is a huge contrast to the slow, laid back attitude prevalent in this part of Portugal.
2. The weather.
3. The rules and regulations. England is obsessed with signs and spoken announcements telling citizens what they can and cannot do. Portugal just lets people get on with it and it doesn’t result in the collapse of civilisation! Human beings tend to have a built in sense of self-preservation and responsibility and don’t need to be treated as if they are stupid.
How have people in London responded to your decision? What about people in Portugal?
The vast majority of friends and acquaintances in London were very supportive and pleased for us—at least outwardly! We got negative vibes from a couple of people, but there are always people in the world who thrive on being boringly cynical! A bit of negativity gives you the drive to make a success of things and prove them wrong!
The Portuguese have been hugely welcoming and are used to there being a lot of Brits in this area. We make a real effort to speak to language which is appreciated as sadly a lot of English immigrants don’t try.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Anyone considering a similar move should give it a try. As my mother is fond of saying, “life is not a dress rehearsal. “ We have a lot less money now but a lot more time to be ourselves, and I wouldn’t swap back for anything.
Thanks, B., for sharing a bit about your experience with moving toward a simpler life and the joy you have found in doing so!