From dreaming about moving abroad to researching possible places to live, contacting consulates, asking questions, questioning answers, and getting to know others in similar situations, the Internet – and its social media – is indispensable.
Other Countries as Well
Much of the emigration to Portugal and Spain (other countries, as well) wouldn’t be possible without the portability of work and source(s) of income. The Internet makes that possible, creating opportunities to travel, live abroad and work remotely.
Telecommunications packages are quite reasonably priced in Spain and Portugal—blazingly fast, too, by USA standards. We pay about €50 per month for a plan that includes high-speed WiFi Internet access, two television cable boxes with 200 channels, a “land line” home telephone with free calls, and a 500 MB mobile phone with 2,000 minutes per month.
Most of the people we know who have relocated to Portugal and Spain fall into one of three categories:
- They’ve young and resourceful, coming to live on (and off) the land
- Their work is effectively conducted online, regardless of where they live—as long as there’s fast, reliable Internet and Wifi available; or
- They’re retired, collecting a pension, and don’t give a damn about work.
We’ve spent countless hours online researching countries and cities, towns, and villages. We read about visa and residency requirements for USA citizens and studied conditions from health care to real estate.
For those who’ve asked us where and how to begin, we suggest considering those places where – for whatever reason – you think you’d enjoy living and want to be. Then dive in and begin dredging online. Modern explorers of the digital horizons, you’ll be amazed at the new worlds that await you just beyond your computer or wireless device.
Expats Facebook Groups
Facebook groups have been particularly helpful … some are especially informative, while yet others seem more social or geographically-oriented. But, you need to be careful: Post the same question to half a dozen groups and you’ll be sorting through a mish-mash of confusing and often contradictory information.
Several groups for expats are lively on Facebook. Responsive and capable, I highly recommend these two:
Pure Portugal focuses on the business of buying and selling properties, along with everything that’s associated or tangential to the process. Whether its visa or residency requests, health care coverage and driver licenses, different rules apply to Americans (and all those from non-EU nations).
Americans & FriendsPT.
Americans & FriendsPT is a most informative and resourceful Facebook community. Questions about matters closer to home? Be sure to join a group supporting your area. Near us are groups for Castelo Branco, Penamacor, Fundão and, no doubt, others. The people who guide and participate in these groups often have the answers you’re seeking. You’ll also find a variety of buy-and-sell groups for second-hand stuff, if there’s something you need or are trying to find.
American Expats in Spain
If Spain is more to your liking, I recommend American Expats in Spain (over 1,800 members) and the Citizens Advice Bureau Spain, a nonprofit organization with a whopping 41,000 associates. With our friends and neighbours, we have Facebook groups devoted to Olvera, Pruna, and What’s On In Olvera, Pruna. & Algodonales.
Besides Facebook, you’ll want to bookmark and use several Google apps. In addition to its powerful search engine, Google Maps is indispensable for its GPS (Global Positioning System) tools. You can drive around areas and look closely at the façades of potential properties and their surroundings, as well as take “test drives” from Point A to Point B (and places between them).
Google Translate is another helpful application … as long as you understand that it’s not always accurate. For all the progress and advances Google has made to this product, it still doesn’t understand that there are major differences in Latin American Spanish and Spanish in Spain, or that by defaulting to Brazilian Portuguese, it misinterprets the language in Portugal. The biggest problems with Google Translate, however, are correct and appropriate agreement with subject, tense, gender, and number.
More complicated and frustrating than moving to another country on the other side of the world can be adapting to life in a digital divide.
These days, I do less and deliberate more.
I react, pounding out angst and furious frustrations on my keyboard.
Morphing into my computer, I am increasingly dependent on its hard drive and memory for life support. Whatever will become of me if I forget my user name or lose the key password? Access denied!
Facebook has claimed my life, existentially.
From EXPAT: Leaving the USA for Good, my forthcoming book due for release this spring. For more excerpts, chapters, and stories, please visit its Facebook page: