Wow what a week! Well month actually – well no actually 6 months! We came to Portugal as we had met and made friends with one family here (the lovely Clare Monson and her family) and felt drawn to it, especially after Brexit we just felt like moving out of the UK, it was our last push to move on. We knew that we had wanted to move abroad for years and experience a more simple way of life, so both of us could be with the kids more and not work as much, and of course have more time outdoors in the sun. We came knowing that we would be living off what I earned through my design business, Garf would be with the kids more and take care of the maintenance on the rental farm we are living in (found one with low rent as long as we kept the land tidy) and we also knew we had come with no savings and didn’t know how we would make it work long term!
But we took the risk, as we also had a dream, a shared dream and vision. We have always talked about owning some sort of retreat way before we had kids and more recently had got interested in owning some land and becoming more self sufficient, but also knew there was no way we could financially do that in the UK. We also had a dream of our boys having land to grow up on. To roam free and get to know it well and experience nature everyday and what it teaches you about the world and about yourself. And this is what we came with – we jumped into our dreams head first! Which might have looked crazy for many but for us it felt right.
So we arrived and the past 6 months have been exciting, exhausting, fun, difficult, liberating and so much more. It’s been such a fab experience but there certainly have been challenges and obstacles along the way. The main challenges are day to day living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language (yet) and living semi off grid (we are hooked up to mains electricity but it seems a bit dodgy and the first few weeks we had two Apple Mac chargers burn in half – v expensive and not good when you need it to do online work!!! – panic!!), food isn’t the same, especially if you are vegan (or was as have decided to let go a bit and eat more locally – free range organic eggs feature quite regular in our diet now), of course missing close friends and family and trying to settle and make new friends and forge relationships – and life with a 3 and 6 year old boy isn’t always easy as it is! I must say though making friends hasn’t been a problem as there is a lovely community here both through the alternative school my son attends part time and the local community too so we are lucky that way and starting to make some lovely friends.
We started looking at properties a month or so after we arrived – mainly out of interest as we knew we had no money to buy but I was thinking in my head (always the dreamer) we might be able to save or that money would come if it was meant to happen! I just had this feeling we should look and so we did. We looked at lots of places – some just land, some ruins to do up and some houses. There is so much here for sale!! Then a few weeks after we had started looking ‘the’ phone call came and the money came! I won’t go into detail but we are very blessed and happy that we have a lender that has our best interests at heart – for both us and the kids and supports our ideas and visions. So then of course we started looking with different eyes and quickly found somewhere we liked before Christmas.
It was a beautiful place with three buildings and a small bit of land in a well known historic village called Monsanto. Our plan was to make it into a house and guest house for families and run workshops – however it was going to stretch our budget and in the end we found out some of the land was shared with the neighbours which we thought might have caused problems for a business further down the line.
We were a bit gutted but then very soon after we were at a car boot sale and someone approached us who heard we were looking for somewhere and said she was selling some land for her friend who had to move back to his home country. That’s how it rolls here – everyone is selling land and you can even buy it at car boot sales!!! So we went to look and again fell in love with the land. It had beautiful views, a forest with a little tarn in which we planned to build some wooden cabins in and had also found someone to build us a small wooden eco house. But…. then we found out the price we initially thought it was had gone way up as it was now on with a estate agent and we had to pull out.
That is when I personally had a bad week – two places had fallen through, our friends Clare and family had just moved back to the UK and we needed to move out of our rented place in a couple of months. I felt so low for a week and missed home and moped around on the sofa feeling crap for a while watching lots of films with the boys and having snuggles (which always make me feel better)! I made a point of letting myself feel it though and not pushing it away and then when I pulled myself together we talked and considered looking at other areas and travelling around a bit more. I do miss the Lakes and wondered if there was a way we could travel between the two. But the more and more we chatted and also visited another area with a fab alternative school, we realised that actually it’s beautiful here and we are settling and finding new friends and that actually at the moment our hearts are here.
Not long after we looked at a couple more places and then remembered one we’d looked at in the first few weeks which we found via the Pure Portugal website – we had loved it but at that time couldn’t afford it. We went back and that day knew it was the place for us. Garf had loved it the first time – how it is surrounded by rocky mountains in it’s own little valley but has amazing views across to Monsanto (the most Portuguese village in Portugal apparently) and we love that place. We kept going back for a look but this was almost a month ago and we signed on Tuesday (16th May) and are so in love with the place.
We are still in our rented place now – need to be out mid June – but we are going to our new place everyday to start the project. Garf is being very productive but I am just taking it all in for a while. I am in awe that we have got here. Of my little house with stone walls, views across to Monsanto, rocks for the boys to have many many adventures on ( I know in a few years they will know them like the back of their hands), the meadow of wildflowers, the fruit trees, the beautiful setting for our new family retreat project – honestly I am overwhelmed with gratitude! I also am taking some time to just be with my boys. It’s been tough working more since being here and not being able to focus on them as much and so now I want to take a while to help them settle and play and just be with them in the new place. I feel like they need that from me and I need it too 🙂
My dream for my boys to roam around on our own land. J loves to play footy and we hope to make a little footy pitch for him so he can practice and play when ever he wants, he also already loves climbing the ‘mountain’ of rocks on our land and pulled me up to the top the other day to show me the ‘seat with the view’ that is naturally shaped into the rocks. F is always the little adventurer and he’s actually probably the catalyst for moving somewhere like this – you can’t keep that boy cooped up, his energy and constant desire to explore is why we thought somewhere with land would be right for us and I know it’s just perfect for him to explore everyday and take in nature – I love watching them both doing this. Our other dream/ plan is to build a beautiful family retreat for other families to come and enjoy off-grid living with us and this will be started later on in the year 🙂 I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination and planning to make this happen but we are all so excited and grateful to even be given this opportunity.
You know when you FEEL something is going to happen – don’t ignore that, just go with the flow and you never know it probably will!
If you want to follow our adventures of building our new off-grid family home and retreat (seriously it might be funny as we really don’t know what we are doing!) then please follow us on Instagram below and if you fancy a working holiday later in the year so you can learn some skills (alongside us!) then please do get in touch. We are hoping to set up a hub for worldschoolers and families who want to experience off-grid living and meet other like-minded families. Come along and experience it too!
CHECK OUT OUR NEW FAMILY HAMMOCKS!
We are excited to have started selling fab Hamaca Hammocks for all the family. We have a travel, family and kids version for sale on the website now. Made from ethical fabric and produced by another worldschooling family. We can't wait to recieve ours for our new place!