11th October 2021
Thinking of moving to Portugal? Here are life coach Ria Van Doorn’s top tips for a smooth start and joyful life in Portugal

Moving abroad is exciting and fun, but it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

Pre-movers and people who have recently moved, listen up! In this article, you’ll receive insights and tips for a smooth start and joyful life in Portugal.


There are many reasons people make the move to a foreign country. Whether they choose to stay full-time or part-time, they are motivated to pack things up and make a new start. Having worked with internationals living abroad for over two decades, I’ve seen people make the move because they want to have a new experience, break with the old or – not so common but still valid – they feel a pull.

Other reasons are: they want to step out of something, leave something behind, or don’t feel at home in their current country anymore. They move because it seems to be an ideal place for retirement, they go because of work, love, or economic reasons. Often because of the climate, and there are also those who moved by coincidence because they were visiting and decided to stay.


What happens in the years after you’ve arrived?

How does it progress? This new start is also a pathway to discover many new beginnings.

Breaking with the old and starting anew is a huge opportunity to reset and rediscover yourself. Simply because you will be challenged! You will be pulled out of your comfort zone big time. Not only because you have to make all kinds of new decisions about many different topics on a daily basis, you also lack your warm network of friends and family around you to support you.

Even though many people enjoy the move and are having a good time, there is also a lot of people who find themselves struggling with the many unexpected factors they face. These are things they couldn’t predict would happen to them because they’re part of the big unknown. At the end, they only know when they know!
In this article, you’ll receive tips and insights for your journey abroad. I’m sharing them with you, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Go ahead, take what you need.


Have you ever heard of Expat Pains?

These are emotional pains caused by relocation. You can recognise that you’re suffering from them when you’re experiencing any of the following:

– Struggling to figure out how to live a purposeful life.
– Finding it hard adjusting to the new culture.
– Coping with anxiety, relationship problems, bad health, homesickness, loss of direction.
– Finding it hard to overcome setbacks.
– Experiencing feelings of homesickness, loneliness, or isolation for long periods of time.

Everything in your new life is different! You’re not the same person you used to be, you’ve been stretched out of your comfort zone. Also, you have to reinvent yourself and your relationships.


How to avoid overwhelm, isolation or loneliness?

Once you realise that Expat Pains are part of your chosen lifestyle, it’s possible to take care of yourself in a new and different way.

Here are my four best tips for a joyful life:

1. Build community

Search online, join a club, ask around. There are many people who are looking to build a meaningful circle of friends. Try it out! Take your time and, sooner or later, you’ll find your new ‘go-to person’ right there. It might be scary, it might fail, but it’s the way to go.

The first person you meet might not necessarily become your forever friend. They might simply be a stepping stone, someone to drink a coffee with. Just like you might become a stepping stone yourself for someone else in the future. But that is a risk you need to take. Going out to meet new people challenges you to reach out instead of withdrawing yourself. This is the positive side: you’re learning to surround yourself with your kind of people.


2. Build new traditions

Plan your week with activities and have them repeat on the same day the following weeks. This repetition will give structure and you’re building new automatic pilot pathways in your brain that help put your nervous system at ease.

On Sunday, you always have a call with the home front and go out for lunch. Mondays are for shopping, Tuesdays you go on a trip to discover a new part of Portugal. Wednesdays are for visiting the Expat Centre Portugal coffee mornings. Thursdays you meet with new friends. Fridays you do a long nature walk and Saturdays you visit the farmers’ market. Whatever structure you create, keep it up for several months and slowly you’ll find you’ve created a nice structure of traditions that function as a backbone for you to feel good in your skin.


3. Stay connected

In the beginning, you’ll frequently have calls with friends and family because everything is exciting and new, but, overtime, you might start skipping calls and become sloppy keeping up the connection. The big pitfall with this is that you actually create a distance, a gap that is harder to fill the longer it lasts.

The power of connection on a frequent basis is that you stay in the subtle communication area where people can sense when something is wrong. And also where people feel invited to share their ups and downs. This kind of communication gets lost when you’re less in touch. You might ask yourself what kind of bond you would want to keep up with the home front over the years.


4. Find your new purpose

In this new chapter of your life, it’s exciting to find something purposeful to do, whether it is focussing on joy in general, or discovering what it is that you long to experience, create, manifest or contribute in life. Maybe you want to experience more creativity, vitality, love, belonging, impact or fulfilment in your life. Life is happening now! This is a great opportunity to focus your attention on what matters most to you. Why not use this time to figure out whatever it is that is worthwhile getting out of bed for in the morning?


Build the foundation for your life abroad

Allow me to tell you about the upcoming Power Circles course that starts in October.

It is designed for newcomers or women who have recently arrived. In this new chapter of reinventing themselves, women need the tools and support to navigate their way forward.

I’m currently opening my doors to help international women in my community applying the Four Best Tips in their daily life, following a course that will help making the tips easy to apply.

In this practical and informative online course, you will learn how to attract the resources, connections and opportunities you need, to be well prepared for your move abroad, as well as for the first years where you will build the foundation for your life abroad.

If you need support in figuring out how to become a thriving woman living abroad, and you like to connect with likeminded souls, this might be for you.

Crafting your new life, building up a network or working on your personal goals is much more fun and efficient when you have inspiring women cheering you on!

I’m hosting the online Power Circles course because I wish for all women to be able to tap into their own innate power, to be courageous and feel supported in creating their new life abroad.

Check our website if you are curious and want to know more. Also, to learn about the current ‘early bird price’.

Let your move be smooth and joyful. There is truly no need to be overwhelmed by any of the expat pains!


Ria van Doorn is a life coach for internationals living abroad and founder of the Expat Centre Portugal, www.expatcentreportugal.com


Source: article by Ria van Doorn at Portugal Resident