Expat Stories…

One of the most useful ways to get helpful information and support about moving abroad is by listening and learning from other expats and their first hand experiences of moving to a new country.

So we have compiled interviews from Expats all over the world who have made the bold decision to move abroad.

We hope that by listening to their personal stories you will find inspiration and tips and tricks about how you too can make a move abroad.

And before you know it you will be living your dream life abroad!

1. Brief Description of Self 

I am a single woman, 34 year old dentist from California. I was born and raised there and had been practicing as a dentist in private practice for about 6 years.

2. Where did you move to and from…

I moved from San Diego, California to Portugal.

3. Who moved with you…

I moved by myself.

4. Why did you decide to move abroad?…

I moved for a variety of reasons..

  1. I have always had a dream of living in either Portugal or Greece and felt a draw to both countries as I have relatives living in both countries.
  2. I recently did my Ancestry test and found out that I did have roots in both Portugal and Greece. Once I got these results I felt more committed than ever to move to one of these countries.
  3. I had survived as a dentist through covid and was feeling extremely burnt out in my profession. Everything I worked for and what I thought made me happy was not making me happy at all. I had a ton of overhead in my dental practice as well as big student loan payments and sky high rent for a small two bedroom house in San Diego. I just started to realize that this was not how I wanted to live.
  4. I have felt a calling to get into more integrative medicine and found that parts of Portugal had what I was looking for and a community of other natural medicine practitioners.
  5. I was sick of the dating scene in California and had just ended my engagement and curious about dating and finding love in another country.

5. How did you go about deciding what country you wanted to move to?…

I took three months off to travel to both Portugal and Greece, as well as other parts of Europe. I was scoping these areas to see if I really wanted to move there and if I could do it. After visiting several places in several countries, I had an overwhelming feeling and attraction to the Algarve, which is Portugal’s southernmost region. After staying for almost a month and meeting amazing like minded people I knew without a doubt that is where I wanted to move.

6. What did you do before you moved that helped you prepare for the move abroad?…

I had a tremendous amount to do before I left.The first thing I did was make a timeline. The hardest part was not being able to move immediately, but I had a lot to wrap up. I gave myself a year to make it happen.I did not have a lot of savings so the very first thing I did was get out of my apartment and move into a small studio for a year to save as much money as I could.I started to learn all I could about my visa options for living in Portugal.I also needed to figure out how I was going to make an income. I was not able to practice dentistry and I wasn’t sure I even wanted to. So I started to take a lot of on-line classes in integrative medicine. I created a simple website and tried to attract clients before I left looking for support around natural dentistry and integrative medicine.I also started to connect with other expats in the town I wanted to move to and started talking about creating a wellness center together.I currently am acting as a consultant on-line which pays more than I was making as a dentist in the United States. I am also working with a few people here in Portugal to open a clinic.So I initially applied for the digital nomad visa in Portugal but next year when I reapply I will b e applying under the start-up visa. Both of these processes have been fairly straightforward.

Portugal Beach

7. What was the most challenging part of leaving and moving?… 

There were two really hard parts.

The first was that my parents were not really supportive. They tend to be a bit controlling and anxious and the thought of me moving abroad was completely out of their comfort zone. It has been hard to not have their complete support, but I knew this is something I needed to do. I am hopeful they visit me soon and see that I am not that far away and much happier.

The second part of the move that was very difficult was deciding to leave dentistry which was something I spent a lot for time and money on to pursue. However, once I accepted that it really was not what I wanted I felt liberated and am so happy to have left the profession. We all change and evolve as human beings and I needed to allow myself to accept that my what I thought I wanted had changed.

8. What actions or choices made settling into your new country easier?….

I made so many connections with not only friends but like minded people in my field. These networks both before I moved and after have been completely life changing for me. They have turned out to be my closest friends and business partners.

9. What has been the best part of moving abroad?…

The best part of moving has been realizing that my life is mine to create. That until now I have not felt completely in control of my own destiny and future. But once I started to make changes that truly honored me I began to feel like a completely different person. I am happier than I have ever been. That is not to say that this has been easy but it has at least been honest to who I am and that helps me feel optimistic and passionate about my choices.

10. What has been the most challenging part of moving abroad?

Leaving my family and paying on student loans for dentistry even though I will likely not ever be a dentist again!

11. What do you wish you would have known before you left or what would you have done differently ?…

I wish I would have worked on my language skills more. It is hard to arrive and not speak the language even though so many people speak English here. I would have taken more classes, even if it was once or twice a week.

12. What person, website, resource or app was helpful when relocating abroad?…

I traveled to Portugal before I moved and made a point of trying to meet like minded people. I visited spas, and wellness clinics knowing that I would connect with people in integrative medicine. This proved to be invaluable and these people helped make my move possible.

13. Please provide any other information, or thoughts not included in the questions above…

If you get to visit the country you want to move to before hand I highly suggest trying to meet people and keep up communication. The people I met before moving to Portugal completely changed my life and helped my along the way. Meeting both expats and locals before you move can really help things go much smoother.

Thinking of moving abroad but don’t know where to start? 

Get a copy of the workbook designed to walk you through choosing your perfect country to start your dream life abroad!

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