Having lived and worked in several different countries besides Portugal, both myself and expat coach, Deborah Dahab, are well aware that relocating is a stressful, life-changing event. Especially when you have family members to consider, both ones who may be coming with you and those you are leaving behind.
There’s so much more to moving countries than dealing with the paperwork, packing your stuff and finding a place to live. It takes resilience, adaptability and strength, all of which can take a knock when things go wrong, which is where an expat coach can really help you stay on track and feel supported.
Portugal is a popular choice for expats, for many good reasons, and is usually well worth the effort. But it’s not without challenges and doesn’t suit everyone. If you’ve read my article about things to consider before moving to Portugal, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Whether you need help preparing for your relocation or just making sure that your scouting trip gets you the information you need, this article has solutions for you.
Expert support for moving abroad
I was so pleased to see that Portugal-based expat coach, Deborah Dahab, has developed two excellent online programmes to help you prepare for your move. Deborah is a certified coach with a Masters degree in Intercultural Psychology and she helps expats and people considering relocation to any country, not just those moving to Portugal.
Her courses are not country-specific so if you find that Portugal is not actually the right place for you, what you learn is just as relevant for any other country you choose to live in.
Here’s Deborah with a short introduction to one of her programmes:
Master Your Move
Deborah’s 6-month programme, Master Your Move, is ideal for people who are seriously considering moving abroad and feeling the combination of excitement, overwhelm and a touch of fear.
She’ll expertly guide you through a series of thought-provoking and illuminating activities that will help you to clarify what you want from life and what to look for in your new country to give you the best chance of achieving that.
With practical, tried-and-tested tools, she’ll help you overcome the overwhelm and plan every step of your move in a methodical way.
You’ll also get guidance on the more emotional aspects of moving, including telling loved ones and dealing with the mountain of possessions you’ve accumulated over the years.
Having coached expats for many years, and learned from their mistakes as well as her own, Deborah is the perfect person to help you avoid the pitfalls of moving abroad without adequate preparation.
You’ll also be joining other people who are embarking on their own relocation journey so you can feel part of a community who support and cheer each other on when you make progress.
Because everyone’s situation is unique, the course includes three 1:1 calls with Deborah to talk about your own circumstances.
Deciding where to live
This is obviously a very important topic and a personal choice that’s influenced by all sorts of factors. Again, Deborah has a structured programme that will help you get clear on what you’re looking for, be that at city/town level or even the type of housing you want.
As well as checklists and blueprints, the course also includes 1:1 support from Deborah.
What about scouting trips?
While some people are willing to throw caution to the wind and move abroad sight unseen, most expats want and need to experience the destination in person to know if it’s a good choice. I’d certainly recommend getting to know a place first, unless you’re moving for work.
During my Quick Query consultations, I talk to a lot of people who are planning a trip to Portugal for scouting purposes. In a lot of cases, these are a vacation with an eye towards potential towns and cities that might be of particular interest for living in. Others have already narrowed their search down and want to focus on getting to know a handful of places in more depth.
I’m more than happy to share my knowledge of places in Portugal but there are certain things that are worth bearing in mind when planning a scouting trip.
Even if it is part vacation, having a plan of action before you set off as to what information you want and need to gather while in country will save you time, money and the frustration of having returned home without useful notes.
How to Prepare Your Scouting Trip for Success
Deborah’s short course on how to plan your scouting trip is wonderfully practical. She emphasises how important it is to treat a scouting trip differently from a normal vacation and how to set specific goals for the trip depending on what stage of your research you’re at.
She encourages you to think carefully about what you need and to have honest conversations with your companions so that you can refine your itinerary and focus on the things that matter to you all.
To help you choose the destinations to visit, there’s a framework for organising your research into locations. You’ll be encouraged to investigate the local culture to see if it’s likely to work for you, e.g. attitudes towards women and minorities, work ethic and religion.
You also get support with knowing which questions you are trying to answer on that trip and how to find the answers. These could be as broad as “Which country do I want to move to?” or as narrow as “Which neighbourhood has everything I am looking for?” or “Which school will my kids attend?”.
I really like the way Deborah shows you how to make the most of your pre-trip preparation, your time in country and what you do with the information you gathered once you’re home again.
You also get a 1:1 consultation with Deborah as part of the course, making it an absolute bargain. Again, the course is not limited to any specific country – it is invaluable for any scouting trip.