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  • austinlewiswrites

So you´ve decided to upend your life and move to a foreign country.  What happens now?

I need to be clear that I am the type of person who is the least likely to want to make a huge life change, such as moving to another country.  I suffer from bad anxiety and am basically a cranky semi-agoraphobic.  I like about a dozen people and staying in my house.

But as I said in my last post, the situation in the US was becoming untenable, and my husband was desperate to leave, so I found myself on the precipice of this huge change.

Once we had really committed to the move, things began to immediately feel like they were snowballing. I know my husband was worried until the minute we got on the plane that I would change my mind, but in my head, I had been committed since that day in June.

There are a million pieces to making an overseas move.  Reading blogs and joining Facebook groups made my head spin, and the to-do list seemed impossibly long.  We decided we would move in August so the kids could start the new school year there in 2023.  One thing that made the transition much easier for us was that we already owned property there that we could live in.  Less ideal was that the property we owned was a very small two-bedroom flat that we would be living in with two adults, two teens, and a dog.

The best decision I made for me was to hire a group to guide us through the visa application process.  We needed to apply for a D7 visa, and once we were in Portugal, we would have to get our residency cards.  There is a lot of paperwork that goes into getting a Visa, along with a difficult timing aspect (getting an appointment at the embassy, getting your Visa before you plan on moving but not so far in advance that it lapses before you move, etc.).  For me, it was money well spent, and even with them, we ended up getting our Visas less than a week before we were set to fly out, which was incredibly stressful.  Other than that, the big things on our to-do list were getting the house we had lived in for 20 years ready to sell, finding our kids a school in Portugal, and figuring out what to do with all the possessions we had accumulated over the past twenty-plus years. 

For the school, we decided that Kevin would fly to Portugal in the fall and tour the private schools in the Algarve near our apartment.  I did research ahead of time and compiled a list of possible schools and set up appointments for him.  Had our children been younger, we probably would have put them in a public or private Portuguese school so they could learn the language, but since they would be going into sixth and ninth grade, we felt like that would just be too stressful for them. So we only looked at English International private schools.

After his tours, we decided on Vale Verde International School, which was only a ten-minute drive from our house and seemed like a good fit for our kids. Having one major thing off of our to-do list felt great. 

Selling the house was also a question of timing.  We wanted the kids to finish up the year at their current school and then we planned to put the house on the market and move up to our cabin in the Georgia mountains.  Owning that property also made the moving process easier for us.  A lot of people have to decide if things are worth the price of shipping to Portugal or otherwise get rid of them, but our cabin has a basement we were able to store things in.  We put stuff in there that we might ship if and when we purchased a house in Portugal or things like photo albums that had sentimental value but we didn’t want to pay to move. 

This all brings us to August 16, 2023. I had donated, sold, or trashed probably 85% of our belongings. Everything else is either stored at our cabin or in the eight bags we were checking on our flight.  Our house is for sale. The incredibly complicated paperwork for our dog is completed. Our Visas are in hand. And it was time to move. 

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