Thursday, April 29, 2010

Expat Experiences: Portugal - Wendy Manning

Hello, I am Wendy Manning and I live in Central Portugal with husband Paul and Children James (9) and Daniel(6). We moved from the UK towards the end of 2007, like many others it seems. We just decided that we had had enough of working to live and keep a very expensive house and mortgage so we sold up and decided to move to Portugal.

Portugal was an easy decision as we had been visiting The Algarve for a few years, my husband has family there. We liked Portugal but we agreed we could not live in the Algarve - too British and commercial, oh, and expensive. The move here was quite straightforward - the children were still young, one started year 1 in our local village school a week after we arrived and the other started Jardim de Infancia a couple of months later. They both picked up the language easily, but it has not been as easy for Paul and me, that bit older you see!

We found our house through the internet, we used a proper estate agent and a lawyer (not solicitor). We approached it like buying a house in the UK and made sure all the paperwork was sorted (which of course, this being Central Portugal, it was not); as I say, we used a lawyer rather than a solicitor, more expensive but worth every cent. The more stories we hear about things going wrong with purchases here the more smug we are that we paid to get the right advice when we needed it. I am amazed that British expats still move to a foreign country and spend hundreds or thousands of pounds buying property without taking proper legal advice or using a registered Estate Agent...ITS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, JUST DO THE SAME AS YOU WOULD IN THE UK!

We have a second property we renovated to sell, but the market is a bit slow at the moment. We switched from GBP to Euros when the rate was good, I would not like to do it now, and can understand people waiting.

I am employed by my own company which is an LDA, like a Limited company in the UK. It was very daunting at first with tax, social security etc but we found a very good accountant who speaks excellent English and she has helped us along the way. It would have been impossible without her, with limited Portuguese...

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Expat Experiences: Norway - Angela Davenport

Who are you?

My name is Angela.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

Welcome to Kirkenes

Myself and my partner moved to Kirkenes in North Norway in February 2009. It was a job offer with his company that brought us here. Before accepting the position, we did as much research on the area as possible and the only thing that was putting me off was the temperature, which can plummet to around -35 centigrade, or worse, in the winter. Having said that, I am not a lover of hot places, I do prefer the cold.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Our biggest challenges for moving abroad were really from the UK side of things. We had pets that we wanted to bring and found that there was so much confusion over laws, that by the time we had any kind of answers from the UK side we had no time left to arrange what we needed to, so we had to re-home our cats. This was a painful experience and would not have been necessary if any UK vet had have known what the correct procedure was for moving a pet to Norway.

Attempting to arrange for all services to be terminated in the UK was a nightmare. You’d be amazed at how difficult it is for people to understand that you are going to live abroad, therefore will no longer require a phone line or satellite TV etc. You’ll often be penalized if you’re within a contract. You might also find that most of them don’t really believe you’re moving away! The worst offender for lack of intelligence, believe it or not, was the UK police! We had a speeding ticket 2 weeks before moving, it actually took over 3 months to resolve! They even sent us a letter thanking us for visiting the UK and hoped we enjoyed our time there! They couldn’t understand we were UK citizens and just moved abroad...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Expat Experiences: Netherlands - Stuart

Who are you?

My name is Stuart. I'm an Englishman in his early 30s with a well documented reputation for accident proneness and bizarre situation finding. I moved to Holland to start working as a designer in the computer games industry. Originally this was only supposed to be a stay of sixth months but the tempting lure of "lekkere bitterballen" and good beer has turned it into a much longer stay.

My favorite colour is army green, my lucky number is seven and when I grow up I want to be a Ghostbuster.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?


I moved to Holland in the summer of 2001 but it was not really planned. It was kind of an accident but a happy accident none the less. A short while after I had finished college I tried to find a job in the computer games design industry so I could use my education as an excuse to play computer games all day.

I was not having much luck in my search until I found a job advert in a computer game magazine. It was the strangeness of the cryptic job advertisement that caught my eye. It had no address, no phone number and hardly any other important detail printed upon the page. All it really had was a dot com email address to which I applied.

I waited for a reply while wondering if the strange cryptic nature of it all could lead to a situation where I wake up in a bath of ice in a basement somewhere having fallen victim to a gang of black market human organ dealers using a games company as a front for their diabolical scheme.

A few days later I received an email which included three surprises. Surprise number one was that in no part of the email did they enquire about the condition of my internal organs. Surprise number two was that they were offering me an interview and surprise number three (which was the biggest) was that they were offering to pay for my flights to the interview location... in the city of Amsterdam... in Holland!

Since there had been no address in the advertisement or any indication of its location upon the globe I simply assumed the job was in Britain (since it was in a British gaming magazine). Not wanting to turn down a free day trip to another country I went for the interview, not really knowing what to do if I was offered the job... which I was.

All these years later I am still living and working in Holland. Plus I still have both my kidneys which is a bonus...