For many years now, our families and friends have gotten used to Kevin and I dropping our seemingly random/insane travel ideas on them.
It started with our decision to forgo a traditional wedding in favor of a small multi-day gathering on an island most of our guests had never heard of.
It continued with the time we told them we were going to spend part of our vacation visiting the DMZ in North Korea.
And we really ramped up the crazy when we told them we were quitting our very good jobs and leaving our very stable lives in order to go drive around the U.S. in an RV for a couple years.
“You’re gonna do WHAT?!?!” is kind of a theme, if you will.
And so it is with our latest plan: moving this little shindig across the pond to Lisbon, Portugal.
How did we get here? Well… basically because of a video on YouTube.
But, it’s a longer story than that, and I assure you it will sound a lot less stupid when I explain it all.
Luckily, I have this handy dandy blog where I can share my thoughts without having to face people while they stare at me like I’ve lost my damned mind, so let’s start with how we got here.
When we started this motorhome journey, our idea was to go see the country with an eye toward finding our next landing spot. We figured we would visit some particular city, fall madly in love, the pieces would fall into place, and we would move on to the next phase of our lives.
The only problem is: it never happened.
To be clear, we found lots of places we liked (San Diego, Austin, Tucson, Bend, etc.), but there was always some deal killer – usually climate or cost related, but sometimes it was some other issue that made us question whether we’d really want to live there. We knew we’d have to give up some of our desires – no place is perfect after all, but we wanted to make sure our overall quality of life would be high without tying ourselves to an unreasonable cost of living or a political situation that didn’t reflect our beliefs.
So, we kept looking and thinking and thinking and looking, but nothing was really coming together.
Until one day, I was looking at something on YouTube when I glanced over at the “suggested videos” list and saw a thumbnail of a young, smiling American family titled “Why we moved to Lisbon, Portugal.”
And I wondered aloud: “Why DID you move to Lisbon, Portugal???”
And what I learned in that video rocketed Lisbon to the top of our list.
If you had asked us back then what we were looking for in a home base, we would have rattled off a list of several things we were hoping for: a mid-sized city, nice climate, good healthcare, reliable public transportation, availability of an international airport, proximity to the coast, great food and culture, peaceful, safe, lots to see and do, a reasonable cost of living, etc.
What we quickly realized was Lisbon didn’t just tick these boxes; Lisbon knocked them outta the park! (I do love mixed metaphors).
Additionally, we knew moving to Lisbon would make the rest of Portugal – from its sun drenched coastline to its wild, rugged mountains – available for exploration. And, if that weren’t enough, we knew all the rest of Europe, with its centuries of history, its magnificent cultural riches, and its glorious – and I do mean glorious – culinary delights would be just a few hours away by plane or train.
Finally, and crucially, if we wanted to move, the Portuguese would, in all likelihood, welcome us – which is not the case for most European countries.
For the last decade or so, Portugal has been trying to attract immigrants to increase their population, so they’ve enacted friendly visa policies to entice retirees, digital nomads, and remote workers to come live there.
I’ll go into all of the details about these things in future posts, but suffice it to say, Lisbon suddenly looked like the answer we’d been searching for. The only problem was, ya know, it’s in another country. Buuuuut, it’s the westernmost country in Europe, which means a 7 or 8 hour direct flight to the east coast; not that much longer than if we settled in San Diego or Bend. Additionally, Lisbon is home to large numbers of expats and immigrants from around the world, English is widely spoken, and, as we understand it, the Portuguese people are kind, helpful, and welcoming to foreigners. We’ll see how that holds up when we repeatedly mangle their lovely-but-challenging language, but we’re hoping they won’t hold it against us.
Of course, the obvious question is: why are we doing this now? If we’re tired of traveling and ready to put down roots, why not settle somewhere in the U.S., even if it isn’t going to be our ‘forever home’? Why not take some time to just live a normal life rather than diving into a whole new challenge?
And I’ll tell you the answer.
The answer is: table lamps.
And couches, bureaus, and chairs.
We don’t have any. We got rid of the vast majority of our stuff when we moved into the motorhome (which came with all the furniture we needed).
If we sell our RV and purchase a house or rent an apartment somewhere, we’re gonna have to buy all that stuff again.
And we’ll have to go to the DMV to get new driver’s licenses, and change our voter registrations, and change our address with our banks and credit card companies and all the other places we do business with.
Alternatively, if we jump right into this next big adventure, we can leave much of our American existence as it is – keep our Florida mail forwarding address and voter registration (many American expats actually “move” to Florida before going abroad because Florida is friendly to expats the same way they’re friendly to RVers and boaters), and keep all our online stuff the way it is. And if we move overseas now, our possessions will fit in a pile of suitcases rather than the huge pallet or shipping container we’d need if we were moving from a regular house.
In other words, if we ever want to try moving abroad, now is the perfect time to do it. And if we don’t do it now, it’s unlikely we ever will.
Relatedly, and most importantly, if the whole thing sucks, we can just come back and we’re no worse off. We’re not giving up anything we wouldn’t otherwise. We’re selling Barney no matter what, and we blew up the rest of our lives back in 2016. So… why not give it a go?
Now, will this come together exactly as planned? Absolutely not.
Will it be a complete debacle? Possibly.
Will there be a moment when we look at each other and say “What the hell were we thinking?” Of course there will be!
None of our crazy plans have ever come together as seamlessly as we hoped. See: that planned beachside wedding which had to be held inside because, on our wedding day, it rained harder than it’s ever rained in the history of the Caribbean islands. See also: our planned RV travels which had to be tabled before we even got started because I broke my leg in the stupidest way possible.
But, whereas many people would look at stuff like that and wonder whether the universe was sending them a signal to reconsider their plans, Kevin and I just punch the gas and keep going.
It’s worked out so far.
So, Portugal, Vamos fazer isso!
(That’s “Let’s do this” in Portuguese… That’s right. Y’all are coming along with us on a language learning adventure!)
PS: There’s a gift shop at the DMZ:
I just felt like someone other than me should know that.
Until next time…