What Do You Do All Day?

I get asked this question a lot. Not just since I moved here for nine months a year. Even when I came for one to two months each year, I was always surprised that people were puzzled, especially since I travel alone, with what I would do with myself each day, .

And yet, the question still surprises me. When I travel I love to settle in, make myself at home and feel like a resident, even when I visit some place for a week. Of course, if I only have a week somewhere I usually spend a lot more of my time exploring new places each day than I do when I have an extended amount of time in one place.

On trips as short as three days, I have a definite ‘nesting’ routine. I find the closest neighborhood grocery. I unpack EVERYTHING from my suitcase. Most often I rent small places from owners when traveling. However, when in a hotel for at least three nights I still nest!

So, my answer to this question, especially when I am some place for more than a week, is that my routine is much like it is at home. I shop for groceries, engage in social media exchange, go for long walks, read, do laundry, etc, etc, etc.

I do spend more time than at home exploring the world around me, learning new things, meeting new people.

Now that I am in my own version of paradise for a full nine months, I find that I am struggling with the balance of my day to day activities a bit more. When home, besides the normal business of everyday life, I do some travel writing for publication, work part time as a travel writing editor, and research my family history and blog about it (www.cherokeerootsblog.com). Usually when traveling I do less research and writing and spend more time on those things when I get back home.

So my struggle…I pictured that once I was in Portugal almost full time my schedule would look more like it does at home, with the addition of finally putting pen to paper on two books that are reminding me every day that they are waiting for their stories to be told.

I have my daily to do list where I check off items each day, and move others forward to another day when I do not complete all of the tasks that I have set for myself. However, I find that I spend way more time at my new home, expanding my breakfast time on the patio from the 20 minutes it is in the U.S. to one to two hours of tea and reading thrown in. How do you walk away from the patio when almost every day is full of sun and sea views!


View from my Patio

At home I walk four miles per day almost every day. I do the same here breaking my walks in to two or three walks per day along the oceanside promenade and through the village.

Yesterday was a good example of how a walk on a cold, but sunny, day made it very difficult to go back to my condo and start on my to do list.

And then the day before, I was taking what I planned to be a 30 minute walk before digging into some research on my computer. Noticing that a cafe that had been closed for a few weeks had reopened, and having as always a book in my backpack, I sat down for a traditional Caipirinha and read for an hour!


Caipirinha at Lazuli Bar

Cleary, I am still working on the right balance for me, well, for the two of me. For there are two of me for sure. One is ready at 72, to run full speed into a relaxed retirement and do nothing but read, watch good films, sit in the sun or take a walk whenever the mood strikes. Oh…but that other me…the one who feels driven by the realization that there are only so many days left in this life and so much still to accomplish. So many things that I do not want to leave undone.

And there is the answer to the question, what do I do all day. I am at peace, I fret, I am relaxed, I am driven. I am, and I do, exactly as elsewhere, fill each day to its fullest and yet long for more.

Real Life Issues of Living Your Dream

Living your dream in another country does not eliminate the day to day business that we all deal with in every day life. Some of that business is unique to whatever county you have chosen to call home. Some is universal.

One of the first things that needs to be addressed for someone who is not a citizen of any of the EU countries is the limitation of days that you can stay in any EU country under the Schengen Agreement. Schengen Information

A short summary of the impact of the Schengen Agreement is that even if you are a citizen of a country that does not require a visa to enter an EU country, you are limited to a 90 day stay in any 180 day period. For more details on how this plays out when traveling, see the link above for Schengen Information.

So, one of the first questions you need to ask is does the country you are interested in moving to have a process to apply for residency status allowing you to stay for more than 90s days,

In Portugal the answer is yes. There are a variety of different options for extending the 90 days. This online Portugal Immigration Guide does a good job of outlining the options.

If your plan is to live here for most of each year you need to start with a Portuguese resident visa which must be applied for at the nearest Portuguese Consulate to your permanent address in your home county. The link I have provided is for Consulates in the United States.

You must have the Portuguese resident visa before you can apply for a Portuguese resident permit (non-EU). The resident permit will be applied for in Portugal once you arrive. The residence visa gives you 120 days to complete the resident permit application at the nearest SEF office.  The English translation for what SEF stands for is Immigration and Borders Service.

Link for information on applying for Portuguese Residence Permit

I found the best way to work through the process was to gather everything on the list that was obvious and then to email the Consulate with specific questions about anything of which I was unsure. Then I waited until 90 days before my planned departure for Portugal (the window allowed) and mailed off my application.

My application was approved and then came the scary part. Mailing my passport to the Consulate for them to attach my Resident Visa just ten days before I was to board my flight to Portugal. My passport arrived back to me with my much anticipated visa just a week before I flew off to start living my dream.

Next up for me in this residency process – my appointment with SEF the end of this month to obtain my Portuguese residency permit. I will share more about that process after it is completed.

Any questions? Ask me in the comments section. Any readers with experience to share on obtaining a resident visa for Portugal or elsewhere?




First Day of Living my Dream

Balcony View

View from Balcony

It was hard to believe when I woke up the first day that it was finally the start of my life in Portugal. I filled it with walks along the promenade, breakfast at a beachside cafe and taking walks with my son and grandson who had joined me for my first few days here.

Promenade Praia da Luz Beach

Strolling the promenade in Praia da Luz

Having been in Praia da Luz many times before, I immediately felt at home. My condo, although temporary for two months, was easy to settle in to, and the view from my balcony is the stuff of travel brochures and PR releases!