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Why Portugal? Part One: Deciding to Move

The day Roe v. Wade was overturned, my husband came home to find me sitting on the living room floor in tears.  “You win,” I said, “we can move.”

Moving to Portugal had become one of the few sore points in our marriage in 2015. Kevin, much more prone to boredom and wanderlust than I was, started spending his downtime researching other countries we could move to. He read blogs, studied the quality-of-life index, and became fixated on Portugal; somewhere we had never even visited.

When he first mentioned moving, I immediately shut him down. At that point, our kids were three and six, and I had developed a whole life in Marietta, Georgia, filled with mom friends, volunteer activities, and my parents living nearby.

Then came the 2016 election. Kevin´s desire to move was only heightened by the tailspin Trump´s campaign put him into. As a liberal who was also a straight white man, he had somehow missed the truth that was known by all women or people of color - that most people were horrible. He was shocked to see what Trump´s supporters were saying and even more horrified to hear them parroted by some of his family members and people he had grown up with.

We were both panicked and agonized on election day, but he kept repeating, "If he wins, we´re moving. I can´t live in a country that would elect that man."

While I was similarly horrified, I was additionally stressed at the thought of moving out of the country. In the days following the election, we eventually came to a compromise. We would spend some time in Portugal and see what we thought about it. We decided to pull the kids out of school and have him take a leave of absence from work, and then we would go to Portugal for a few months.

We rented an apartment in Lagos, part of the southern area of Portugal called the Algarve.  It was love at first sight for Kevin.  He adored the weather, the beaches, the people, and the slower pace of life.  By our second month, we were still arguing about moving here permanently, which ultimately ended in a compromise neither of us was particularly pleased with.  We would buy an apartment, visit Portugal as often as possible, and move permanently once both kids were in college. 

Looking for and purchasing property in Portugal is not without significant challenges. Still, we found a place we liked in the small village of Burgau, about twenty minutes outside of Lagos.  We spent the end of our time there purchasing and furnishing the apartment. Over the next few years, we visited once or twice a year and rented out the apartment to vacationers the rest of the time.  Kevin still missed Portugal and often told me what the temperature was there Georgia was experiencing hot or cold weather.

Then, the pandemic hit, and in its wake, everything felt different.  I homeschooled my kids for the two years following spring of 2020.  The schools were opening and closing and were often remote, and with my son´s heart condition and my type one diabetes, I was terrified of one of us getting sick.  The distance this time created in my relationships with my friends and family started to make the idea of living somewhere else seem more possible. 

Both of my children were headed back to public school in the fall of 2022, my daughter in fifth grade and my son in eighth.  But before that could happen, in June, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, and I was suddenly willing to move.

The decision was the final push that left me untethered from my life in the States.  I was unsure about raising my daughter in a country that would deny her body autonomy, and our solitary last couple of years showed me that I was okay maintaining my relationships virtually.  Also, after the current year, both of my children would be starting new schools (middle for my daughter and high school for my son), which made it the best time to go somewhere new. 

So when my husband arrived home, I said the words he had been dying to hear and agreed to move to Portugal. 


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