In 2003 we decided to retire and sell our business in the UK and we were delighted to find a wonderful property in Portugal - a Portuguese Manor House with beautiful private chapel, olives, oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, wonderful land, outbuildings and plenty of water. I moved over to Portugal to start the renovation work and redecoration whilst my husband wound up our affairs and sold our UK properties.
We discovered that the eventual sale of our UK properties were free of Capital Gains Tax due to my Portuguese residency. The huge savings we made virtually paid for the house. We found out that anything owned before 2003 would be exempt from CGT according to Portuguese tax laws. Another wonderful bonus is that we can leave everything to our children without the punitive inheritance tax of the U.K.
The first year at the house I was amazed to find fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, firewood, homemade wine, flowers, occasionally a chicken ready for the oven, left on my doorstep by neighbours. Virtually every day I would open my door to something left for me. Nothing was ever expected in return – it’s just the way the Portuguese are.
One day when my husband was still in UK my car spluttered and came to a stop on a dual carriageway. The very next car that came along stopped and the driver lifted the bonnet to see what was wrong. The car after that was a police car which also stopped and the police looked under the bonnet too and decided what the problem was and called a garage for me. The driver of the first vehicle said to the two policemen "I will take madam home and you can wait for the mechanic to come, we can’t leave her here on the side of the road", he kindly took me to the garage first and then home afterwards asking if there was anything else he could do, he then graciously waved goodbye. Some years later when I was driving with my husband the car developed a fault, my husband panicked, but I told him not to worry as the next car would stop, which it did, and the driver got out and helped. I could recount many many more stories of how wonderful the Portuguese are and how incredibly kind.
I was so lucky to choose such a lovely area to live. We are at the foot of the Caramulo mountain range and it is extremely green and pretty. Aveiro with it’s canals and sardine boats is just 40 minutes away on the coast. Viseu is a wonderful city just 12 miles from the house and has wonderful shopping malls and restaurants. Palace de Gelo has an ice rink on the top floor with great food outlets and a panoramic terrace outside to eat. There is an Ice Bar there and an Olympic sized swimming pool. The historic centre of Viseu is delightful. Bucaco Palace, Penacova and Coimbra are all close by and wonderful destinations for a day out. Just 3 miles from the house is the amazing Caramulo Museum with the most fabulous collection of vintage cars, toys, bicycles and great art collection. All kinds of sporting activities can be found in the area – canoeing, white water rafting, golf, horse riding, great surfing, hang gliding, all on our doorstep.
The weather is so much better and it is wonderful that we can arrange a BBQ in the summer with our friends and know that we can eat in the garden for sure. It’s amazing how many good friends we have made since being in Portugal. Food and drink is much cheaper than U.K., restaurants too, so people tend to socialise much more. There is a network of contacts and you soon become part of a wide community of like minded people. We also saw more of our family and friends visiting us than we did when we lived in the U.K. Porto airport is just an hour and a quarter away from our house with flights from the U.K. of around two hours.
The Portuguese are very warm and friendly and go out of their way to be helpful and neighbourly. Most professional people speak English so banking, doctors, dentists, solicitors, teachers and most under thirty year olds are fluent in English. Language has never been a problem. Whenever we have needed help with anything around the house we have found very competent workmen through word of mouth. Cars are expensive in Portugal, but you are allowed to import one when you first come into the country. Dentistry is very advanced in Portugal and is significantly cheaper. Hospitals are very good – well staffed and extremely clean. We are confident that there will be a reciprocal agreement for healthcare between the Portuguese and U.K. after Brexit.
We converted our Manor House near Caramulo so that we now have six bedrooms in the main house all with their own sitting rooms and bathrooms and a wonderful range of seven large reception rooms. A separate three bedroom apartment, two other houses for renovation – each to four bedroom suite properties, indoor swimming pool, tennis court, games room with full size snooker table, tennis table, cinema area, outdoor dining areas, stable block – it is a truly remarkable property that we have enjoyed living in, but we are now selling as we have our eye on another property. We always want to own a property in Portugal – we worked hard all our lives and now in our retirement have decided that the Portuguese law of no inheritance tax is an incredible advantage to living in such a beautiful country.