These are some of the reasons why we left the UK and chose this part of Portugal to buy our property almost three years ago. The weather was also a major factor, as it never gets too hot or cold here and there is usually a pleasant breeze. In fact, I prefer the winter, as the tourists have gone (apart from the surfers, of course) but the sun is still shining.
We rented first in Peniche, which allowed us to have a good look round what was on offer and also to check that this was the right area for us. We found that local estate agents didn't really listen to our requirements, as they were keen to palm us off with properties that had been on their books for a while. We eventually saw this house in the window of a small estate agent - I was attracted by the bouganvillea in the photo!
There is a good mix of nationalities in this region, each offering societies to suit all interests, for example walking, sport, art, photography, history or just friendly coffee mornings. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn Portuguese, some of which are even provided free of charge by the government.
We chose to live in a large village, with many facilities and we have tried hard to integrate, by doing games and crafts once a week at the local day centre. Our Portuguese really improved and we were often asked to join in with other activities and trips out. My husband also volunteered at Refood in Caldas. This is a national initiative, run entirely by volunteers, which collects and redistributes leftover food from restaurants, to help families in need.
So, why are we moving? Well, I have health problems and need to be closer to Lisbon. However, we will always have fond memories of this part of Portugal and our generous neighbours, who often leave gifts of eggs or vegetables and who even allow us to have an allotment on their land, free of charge. Tchau!