Lots of people have asked me about how we have got our stuff over here and how much we have brought and this is something I also used to wonder about before moving countries, so I thought I would share. As well as some of the challenges we have faced whilst getting used to a new way of living.
In January 2016 I read a book called ‘The Art Of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo and it’s a great book which actually teaches you (yes she says people need taught to tidy – interesting thought!) how to properly tidy your house and get rid of the clutter. She puts a focus on keeping only what brings you joy. So at the start of last year I went through our house and did just that, I think partly because I had wanted to do it for a while and partly because I knew deep down this was the year we would be moving on. Although obviously with kids you accumulate clutter so quickly when it came to sorting for Portugal it made things so much easier plus I started more than 2 months before we moved sorting and getting rid of things because I was so excited for this move! It had been a long time coming!
We are very lucky that Garf’s parents have a big house that used to be a B&B so they have let us have one bedroom to store some of our belongings in. We also found out that we could send some things over in a van to Portugal with our new landlord and then the rest would either go with me on the plane or Garf and Mindi (the dog) in the car. So evenings or when I had a spare hour here and there I sorted our stuff into:
Staying in UK – some kitchen stuff, some toys, some books, cd’s, old photos, a few chests of drawers/ cabinets, baby and kids clothes (just in case!). I’m sure there were lots more but I can’t remember now – stuff we can definitely live without at the moment! ( We are renting somewhere mostly furnished).
Going on the Van – A dining table & chairs, kids bikes and go kart, chest of drawers with kids books, warm accessories and dressing up things, Christmas decorations, keyboard, book shelves, bell tent.
Going in the Car – oh dear the car was packed!!! – toys, books, some kitchen things I couldn’t live without like my blender, steamer etc, home ed supplies like crafts, games, stationery etc, sewing kit, my flower essences, paperwork, tool kit, boxes of wholefood supplies I wasn’t sure if we could get here, a few pictures for the walls and more. Garf was in the front with the dog and the whole back of the car was seriously full!!
Going on the plane –all of our clothes (as we minimalised them down to 3 suitcases full) and another suitcase for shoes, toiletries and other bits and bobs. I also had to take another walk on small suitcase last minute to fit some more clothes and bedding in! Me and the boys also had other carry on bags on the plane with books, toys, laptop, tablet and more in. And we also took the boys car seats on the plane too as with Ryanair you can take them for free for any child up to 12!
Now here I love living our (mostly) minimalist lifestyle with much less stuff and after Christmas I feel like I need another clear out already – one in one out kind of game!
Although the move went pretty smoothly there were some challenges in the first few weeks getting used to our new life in a foreign country. The first was that within a space of two days both of our laptop chargers kind of melted in two, which meant we couldn’t charge them and with our whole family income being reliant on my graphic and web design work that kind of worried us! At home this wouldn’t have been such an issue as we would have just gone and bought another but we had to try and find out the nearest place to sell them as we are in a rural area. I ended up having to get one posted out which meant I couldn’t do any work for a week!
Then once we got over that dilemma the next week my eldest son started getting ill with a wheezy cough and was actually sent home from his new school (which I will write more about soon) as he was coughing so bad and was really wheezy. I panicked with not knowing the language or where to go for help, but in the end we found out about the local medical centre and also that it was smoke from our wood-burner causing his cough which we could then sort out. Phew!
These are the kind of things that are challenging when you are in a country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know where anything is and on those days I must admit there were moments where I felt like giving up on Quinta living and going back to the comfort I had in the UK and familiar people. But day by day you overcome another little challenge and it makes you feel more and more settled and also kind of proud of yourself for sticking out the adventure!
I have definitely realised that now we have moved here I think I could possibly move anywhere. I think talking about moving away for years is something a lot of people do (we did!!!) and then never actually take the plunge but I would say if it is something you always talk about then do it. It is actually not as difficult as you think – there are always ways around things and it is such a good experience for all the family!
My top 5 tips for moving abroad
- De-clutter massively months before and try to become a minimalist – makes things so much easier to pack ( we’re not all there yet but still trying!). I now only own one pair of jeans that fits me, some dungarees and a dunagree dress that I alternate between!
- Decide if you can store things in your home country to start off with and decide what
- Check all your passports at least 4 months before
- If you are on Facebook join groups local to your new area. It has been invaluable to me for finding things out. The expats in Portugal are extremely helpful to one another I have found.
- Have a leaving party – I wasn’t sure but so glad I did. It was nice for us all to see all our friends and family together before we went away.
- Chat to your children about it from the start. Talk about the country you are moving to and do lots of activities around it, learn the language etc so they get a good feel for where they are going to. Let them feel your excitement about it too.