Phil and Vicki Harding moved to the Algarve in 2003. Vicki's parents had lived there, running a property rental/ management business since 1996, so, when they decided they wanted a complete change, Portugal was the obvious choice.
The couple had met at the University of Leeds, and had bought a house in Harrogate; Phil was working as a designer, Vicki as a fabric buyer.
"On one horrible winter's morning, Vicki's parents rang up and suggested we came over to the Algarve. We thought 'why not?', and moved over that April, renting a two bedroom flat near Lagos marina for €400 (£329) a month," says Phil. They decided to keep their house in Harrogate for a year or so, in case it didn't work out - but as it turned out, they knew they had made the right decision within a couple of months.
Vicki was lucky in that she had instant employment working for her mother, while Phil took a few more weeks to find something. "I went up and down the Algarve to see if there were any design jobs, but had no luck" he says.
"Then I met someone who worked for the Vigia Group, which owned Parque da Floresta (Golf and Leisure Resort), and he told me they had just sacked their designer. I applied for the job and got it."
Whilst there, Phil also took on freelance jobs, building up his own contacts, and in August 2010 he started his own company Creation Media (creation-media.net). They bought a two bedroom villa with a pool in Caliças, near Meia Praia in 2005 for €325,000 (£267,000) and now have two children - Harrison, born in October 2009 and Ellaouise, born in September 2012.
Phil says the only thing he misses is his family.
"In Harrogate, we didn't have many friends, because we were working away from the town and it was quite a closed community," says Phil. "But here we quickly grew a good group of friends and socialised a lot. We worked and played hard, and the lifestyle suited us. But if Vicki's parents
hadn't lived here, we would probably still be living in Harrogate."
One of the things he appreciates is the lower school fees.
"Both children go to private Portuguese schools, which are good and cheap. Harrison goes for five days a week and it costs €280 (£230) a month, including food," he says.
"Language isn't a problem on the Algarve, as tourism is the biggest thing and so everyone speaks English. I only speak 'pigeon' Portuguese, although Vicki is pretty good, and, of course, Harrison is fluent in both languages".
So, how have things changed since they arrived? "Portugal's been hauled into the 21st century, and many laws have changed because of the economic situation. It used to be much more relaxed and is now more bureaucratic, but it's still a good place to live and we love it," he says emphatically.
This article first appeared in A Place in the Sun magazine, Spring 2014. Reporter: Mary Wilson
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