For Christine and Paul Fletcher an overseas retirement had long been on the cards, it was just a matter of where. After a holiday to Portugal in 2014, they decided Portugal was the country for them. We catch up with them to see how they’ve settled in.
What was it about your holiday to Portugal that convinced you it was right for you?
We had always planned to retire abroad in search of perennial sunshine and the option of being able to swim every day. So, on paper Portugal is not exactly a surprise choice but we hadn’t really considered it until we went on holiday there a few years ago.
On the trip we spent a lot of time travelling around the Algarve but we were particularly interested in seeing the ‘real’ Portugal. With that in mind we booked ourselves on a jeep tour up into the rural hill country, where we got to see a more traditional, and perhaps idyllic, way of life which really appealed to us.
It was already a fantastic trip but that tour sealed the deal and we decided that Portugal was the place for us.
It seems to have been a case of love at first sight! How did your house hunting go?
Although we visited lots of areas in the Algarve, we fell for an area called Sao Bras de Alportel after seeing it on an episode of A Place in the Sun.
Once we had narrowed down the ‘where’ part it was just the small matter of finding the right house. We wanted enough bedrooms so that friends and family could come to visit us and a large outside area for our dog, Charlie, to play.
There was definitely a case of wanting the best of both worlds, while we wanted somewhere quiet it also couldn’t be too far from civilisation. It had to be away from the tourist areas so we would have neighbours all year round instead of really busy summers and deserted winters!
Fortunately, we did manage to find a villa that fitted this description and it was well within our budget of €320,000. It’s a three bedroomed villa with a pool which is only a five minute drive from local restaurants, the supermarket, banks, shops etc.
Was it smooth sailing once you found your dream house?
Everything relied on us selling our house in the UK which we thankfully did. Once that was done all of our research about the buying process came into play, we had spent countless hours online and in the A Place in the Sun magazine to make sure we understand the dos and don’ts.
We also visited A Place in the Sun Live in Manchester where we got a lot of fantastic information from agents. We did all of that before we even went on our property viewing trip.
The actual buying process was very different to the UK but it was made easy for us because we found a great agent who was so helpful and guided us through the whole process.
We also had an excellent Portuguese solicitor who even sent her assistant to set a bank account up, sort the postal process out and the electricity and water contracts for us. It’s just like any potentially complicated process, if you have good, trustworthy professionals on your side it tends to go fairly smoothly.
Now all of the stress of buying is over how do you spend your time?
There’s so much to do, we really enjoy walking Charlie and visiting all of the beautiful places that the Eastern Algarve has to offer. The quality of restaurant food was a pleasant surprise for us and it’s also very reasonably priced so we do eat out quite often. The locals have been really welcoming and are all eager to help us with anything.
A real highlight has been the festivals in Sao Bras de Alportel, they are excellent and quite frequent with Easter Sunday being the most spectacular as the army of volunteers get up at 4am and pave the streets with a fantastic pattern of flowers. By the end of the morning a procession took place over the flowers where the men of the town were all armed with torches made of flowers – it was a wonderful sight.
It looks like you are planning to enjoy your retirement then!
Definitely! We are looking forward to a happy, healthy and warm retirement while sharing plenty of good times with family and friends.
What tips would you give anyone else thinking of buying abroad?
- Find a good, English speaking solicitor and estate agent that you trust (some are good and some are dreadful).
- Do a lot of reading and research. This should include visiting different areas, as many times as you can afford (and at different times of the year) before deciding on the area you want to live in.
- Talk to other ex-pats who have been through the process.
- Make a check list of your requirements and budget and discuss this with your estate agent.