Hi all! We have produced many articles discussing moving to Portugal. We’ve looked at everything from living and working conditions to the specifics of education, medicine, and local government. However, a theory isn’t everything. Now we’re launching a column in which we will tell real stories about moving to Portugal from real people. Our heroes today are people who have built a new life after moving to Cascais. Some have looked for investment opportunities; others have started successful businesses. There are also those among us who were simply fleeing the drab, the mundane hustle and bustle that everyone is so familiar with.
Cascais is a coastal city located in Portugal. It is an attractive destination for those attracted to good living conditions, a quality education, and a job with prospects. A Portuguese citizen is a citizen of the European Union, with all the rights and benefits that come with it. Here you can enjoy a whole new standard of living, buy safe food, original and quality goods.
Not to mention the level of education and medical care. Portugal has 128 higher education institutions, half of which comfortably rate among the best in Europe. Medicine is free. The level of medical care in Portugal is high not only in Europe but all over the world.
These and other advantages are told by our protagonists, who have successfully moved to Portugal. They are unusual and bright people from Russian-speaking countries. We want to show real steps and real stories that will inspire you to move too.
Motivation is one of the key factors influencing where you will live. If you want to, you will move. If you are afraid of something, your motivation will suffer, and therefore your move to Portugal will remain in question. That’s why we read the stories of our heroes who describe their experiences in detail. There will be more than just admiration and “after-the-fact” stories about how good Cascais is – no. And to make sure that your desire to permanently change your place of residence and become a Portuguese citizen is cemented, there are before/after results to show you the positive outcome of your move.
Three stories await you today. The meeting place for participants in the Sheraton Hotel. It is where our diverse but close-knit community lives. These are the people who have been united by the idea of moving and who have achieved a lot in their short journey.
About the Sheraton Hotel. It is not just a place where you can rent a room for a while, as tourists usually do. The developers have changed the format of the establishment. Now they rent apartments with good repair and service for a long period of time. The tenants are Russian-speaking people who have come for a few years or permanently. And now we move on to the stories of our heroes. Vladimir will talk about all aspects of the move for a man who had a good income in his home country. From his story, you will learn a lot about the businessman’s work, as Vladimir is the owner of a construction company, which he now runs remotely.
Konstantin is a venture capitalist. He chose Cascais because it is an easy and quick flight to any start-up center in Europe and the USA. The main thing in his life is his daily routine. How to set it up, move without problems, and quickly adapt to life in Cascais are all compiled in his story.
Finally, a lively and interesting story will be about Semyon, a man who deals with alternative energy on the Iberian Peninsula. It’s an interesting and challenging profession, but they give the green light to even the most daring ventures in Portugal.
Vladimir – story number one. Dialogue with a businessman who set up a successful life in Portugal
There is a widespread belief that running a business cannot be remote. Automated, yes, but the owner, the head of the company, directly in the office is essential. Vladimir, who has experienced all the advantages, problems, and crises on his own skin, will tell you whether this is true or not.
Ira: Good afternoon, Vladimir. Your life in Portugal started two years ago. The first year is the adaptation year. The second one came in 2020 with all its lockdowns, the decline of small businesses, and the population’s income decline. Is that right?
Vladimir: Yes, exactly. I got my visa in December 2018, so the second year will soon be over. I devoted all that time to my business, which stayed in my home country, and which I could not give up. The problems have been far less than expected, even with the most immodest calculations. Life in Portugal seems like a fairytale, and I’m ready to share tips!
Ira: That’s great. We will definitely come back to business advice. I am sure there are many among our readers who work with a team or run their own business and are hesitant to change location. But I suggest we start ‘from the beginning.’ Tell us about the trivial – why did you decide to move? What is your motivation, reasons, maybe a reason? How do you like life in Portugal?
Vladimir: I was looking for a better life. You see, I am a non-disabled person, I work hard at my business, but I was not rich before I opened my construction company. So when the business “started,” finances began to appear, I realized that it was not enough for me. I have the means; I am working on myself, my family supports me (I have a wife and four children). But the good life made me want even better, and what could be better than moving to a European country?
Yes, definitely my motivation is to live in good conditions. To have a beautiful, clean and well-maintained city, friendly people, always good weather and delicious food. It took me a long time to choose where to move to. I rejected countries like Poland and other Eastern European countries at once. Too many ‘ours’. Germany, Britain, and France were out of my price range. In Italy, everyone was so unhurried that I would never have settled there.
And when I had already gone through all the options, I saw articles about life in Portugal. I looked through a lot of pictures and fell in love at first sight. So did my wife. We made up our minds, but business got in the way. We decided not to give up on our dream, and the rest will come with it.
Ira: Were there any difficulties in moving?
Vladimir: Of course, to be honest, I haven’t really traveled anywhere. I had the experience of arranging a visa a couple of years ago, and an agency did even that. But my first thought was what to do, what to grab onto, and where to go. I turned for help to your consultants. By the way, I came across MoveToCascais purely by chance. I needed answers, and I did not have enough time to run around the offices. I was very quickly helped, and thank you very much.
And somehow, things started to happen. The deadlock of two months is over, and I started collecting documents. I used a work visa for entrepreneurs. It made the paperwork go faster. I decided to open a subsidiary company in Cascais, which would become the head office, and to continue operations in my home country. In fact, nothing had changed in the operation of the company; it was just bureaucratic details. The documents were drawn up; Cascais likes entrepreneurs. I went first, immediately received a certificate of residence from the municipality (needed for all public services), and the residency status. Now I could stay in Portugal for 4 years.
Next, I dealt with visas for my family. They came through a family reunification program. With the support of MoveToCascais they found a job for my wife (a fitness trainer) and a school for the children. The school is private, but it costs three times less than in Moscow. The teaching process is structured quite differently from that in the CIS countries, but I am satisfied. Most importantly, in Russia, mornings often started with a scandal – we don’t want to go to school, now my children go to school with pleasure, especially after the weekend.
Since we have touched on studies, I will tell you about another aspect of the move – the language. Unlike people from other countries, the language is very easy for Russians and Ukrainians. After only six months, we could communicate normally with the locals. We signed up for a course at the University of Coimbra, it’s an intensive course at an absolutely reasonable price.
Ira: I’m glad it worked out for you. Now, let’s get to the fun part. How did you set up the work process and how are you managing the business now.
Vladimir: It seemed impossible to manage a business remotely, especially in construction, when you have to travel to the site and bear great responsibility for your people’s work. I made a major mistake when I founded the company – everything was tied up with me. Management, communication with clients, control, hiring personnel, procurement. Nowadays, smart people don’t do that anymore; all business processes are built so that they provide for the team to work independently without the head of the company. This is done so that the head can fall ill and go on holiday. And yes, we are not talking about a big business, but rather a medium-sized one – I have about 20 permanent employees. I hire a few more crews for the “season”.
When I was in town, I divided business management into process management and people management (clever idea, not mine). The idea was that I would only be left with human resources management, which can easily be done remotely. And the processes needed to be described (for example, who will buy what and where, how to build customer service). Describe them as if they work perfectly and don’t require any adjustments. I used BPMN – a business process modeling system – and was able to do what was required of me.
Next, there was a conversation with the team. I appointed a person in charge, gave him a raise, told everyone what I wanted from them. And then I left.
In Cascais, I first worked from home, then I started using co-working spaces. These are offices where you rent a desk or an office. The working atmosphere and the absence of noise is great for concentration.
Ira: Co-working spaces are a godsend, I agree. So what does your working day look like now? Do you have time for yourself, for your family?
Vladimir: I get up at 7 a.m. to get to the office by 9 a.m. (by bike). In the office, we have briefings and meetings. I demand the previous day’s reports, work as a thought leader and hand out today’s instructions. Around 12 noon the conversations with all the manager’s end and I get down to the paperwork. Up to about 3 pm, I sort out emails, invoices, and customer inquiries. Then it’s on to the roaming calls. Yes, I have decided to communicate with some suppliers and customers myself. It’s worth it. The working day ends before 5 pm. I do the weekends in thaIr: one during the week, one on Saturday or Sunday. This way I get to spend time with all my family.
After 5 p.m. I belong to myself, friends, and family. There is enough time for everything, even for courses. I learn either a language or something new in the business.
Ira: Can you tell me more about your leisure time?
Vladimir: Most of it is eating and shopping. I adore local cuisine, take my family to restaurants, and my friends to pubs. We combine shopping with traveling, my wife is the instigator. We come to a town one day and walk around. It’s fascinating.
Ira: That’s cool! Well, I ran out of questions! Thanks for the answers, Vladimir. It’s a really cool story, I’m sure our readers will like it.
Constantin – story number 2. A start-up in Europe, clear planning, and good calculations
Our next hero is Konstantin, a venture capitalist, who will tell us how to invest in a startup in Europe. Konstantin has lived in Cascais with his wife (event organizer) and two daughters for more than 5 years. You will learn how to cope with nervous work and how to love a strict daily routine.
Ira: Hello Konstantin, good to see you. Are you ready for the interview?
Konstantin: Hi, a little bit nervous, but yes, ready. Should we expect tough questions? I’ll be telling you whether to invest in a startup in Europe (laughs)?
Ira: I think there’s nothing complicated about them, and about startups – only if you want to! Let’s start with the main thing – the move. How did you decide, why Cascais, what finally pushed you?
Konstantin: I’ve been in the profession for 20 years, and all 20 years I’ve been traveling around the world and enduring long flights. In 2015 I noticed the rapid growth of Portugal’s investment appeal. At the same time, the country was still not considered particularly expensive to live in. This attracted not just me, but business people who wanted to start a startup in Europe. All this prompted the idea that I would spend the next few years working specifically in Portugal.
On family council, we decided to move to Cascais. My wife chose the city and I was not particularly involved. My eldest daughter wanted to go to university in Lisbon, and Cascais was not far away. I applied for a PE, got a visa. My eldest went to university on her own and passed her entrance exams for an architect. For my wife, I found an event-organisation company, so she obtained a work visa. My youngest went with us on a family reunion program.
All in all, the preparations took 7 months – with all the visas, work, studies. The things were transported through special services, it took about a month, too. We arrived there in summer and started looking for a school right away. My wife was in charge of this, she does this kind of thing very easily. She also made all of us take a test in Portuguese before we left. So we had two working languages.
As far as I am concerned, everything went perfectly. The investment in the startup in Europe paid off.
Ira: Yes, everything went exactly as clockwork. Didn’t you have any problems?
Konstantin: Due to my professional background, I do a lot of planning and know how to work with visas. I found out everything beforehand, I googled and asked a lot. I had everything written out with dates – when and what to do. Every last detail. So it worked out without any problems.
Ira: You are good. I am amazed at your professional qualities. I want to hear all about your work and how you organized it in Cascais.
Constantin. Let’s go in order. I correctly predicted in 2015, the number of young businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in Portugal is now off the charts. The point of being a venture capitalist is that we invest money with a high proportion of risk precisely in newly created businesses. Accordingly, the “youngsters” of Cascais are my bread and butter. There are many promising young people here from all over the world. Plus the city is convenient because of its transport connections. If you want, you can go to any EU country on a visa-free basis. If you like, you can go to the USA across the ocean. Much faster than from the CIS.
I won’t be leaving Cascais. I like how quiet and beautiful everything is here, and that you can follow your schedule clearly. And all indications are that Cascais and Lisbon are the future start-up centers of Western Europe.
Ира: Какой у тебя график?
Konstantin: I spend a lot of time at my laptop at home. I can go to a café – there are restaurants in Cascais. There are days, and even weeks, when I take a day off. And then there are times when I’m in meetings and on the road. Naturally, I have all three scenarios covered, I just choose what I do today. That way I don’t lose productivity. Even rest should be productive. I’m not a fan of the couch, beer and plugging away at gadgets. I need a quality measure of my leisure time. The number of events attended, meetings with friends, time spent with my kids and wife.
Ira: Amazing! I think it’s not even worth asking if you have enough time for hobbies and family.
Konstantin: When I’m in town, I do. And for lessons with my youngest, and walks, and events of all kinds. But I am also often away on business trips, they usually take at least a week. But once a year I may not see my family for a month or two. But this is the peculiarity of my profession.
Ira: So, the main leisure is walking and going out, right?
Konstantin: There are many different concert halls, theatres (by the way they put amazing operas and musicals, I advise from the bottom of my heart). The parks are wonderful. We don’t go to the zoos, we bycottie them, but there are hardly any left. All thanks to the animal protection movement, which I zealously support. There’s a lot of good food, but it’s as an addition to the interesting places.
Ira: That’s all for me. Thank you very much for the answers. It was very fascinating!
Semen – story #3. How to get a golden visa for Portugal?
Our next hero is Semyon, who has long sought a way to change his life radically. In the town where he was born, Semyon has succeeded in building his own business, starting a family, earning capital. But the grey streets around him are depressing, and the solution Semyon has found is to get a golden visa for Portugal.
Ira: Hello Semyon! Looking forward to our meeting, I have a lot of questions piling up. Are you ready to start?
Semyon: Hi! Ready, of course. Where do we start?
Ira: Tell us about yourself and your move. How did you start and did you ever think that you would get a golden visa to Portugal? Did you save for it financially for a long time?
Semyon: I am one of those who did not realize their main profession, left after the 9th grade and did my little business. I started with the standard “buy low, sell high” scheme. This could have been food, car parts and building materials. Eventually, something sensible came out of it, I saved up for an office and hired a small team. This is how we developed for about 9-10 years, after which I realized how bored I was with everything.
Life was boring and monotonous, the days were the same, the streets were grey. I slowly began to get depressed when I realized I just needed to get out of here. My wife and children supported me and I started looking for information. The option of moving to Portugal appealed to me. It is a vibrant country, quite unlike Russia, and there are kind people here.
I could not apply for a visa for studies or work, but I could easily apply for a golden visa for Portugal. I decided to sell the business and invest the money in the alternative energy sector, which is now developing by leaps and bounds.
The process was set in motion, it took about 5 months to put it into action and it took another 2 months to prepare all the documents in Portugal. I sold my property in Russia and used the money to buy a flat in an EU country – in my opinion, great.
We moved and started to learn Portuguese. It was just a matter of getting the children into school and finding a job. After investing in the energy sector, I decided to stay in this niche. I am very attracted to these futuristic ideas, and knowing that you are doing something useful is cool. I’ve teamed up with a big company, now I work here.
Ira: Can you name the biggest problem?
Semyon: I lost a lot of time selling a business. The sum is big, the deal is long, there were nuances. Then I really needed help communicating with the embassy, I did not know how the documents were drawn up. So it took a long time to get the visa and citizenship.
Ira: Indeed, it must have been challenging on your own without language skills. Can you describe your personal experience? How did you get into work, how did it go with the language?
Semyon: I knew English well, and by the time I moved here I understood some Portuguese. On the plus side, I quickly found a new social circle, many people now go to Portugal.
The work is going well. It has been difficult to change from entrepreneurship, but the tasks remain similar. I work with companies that are involved in installing alternative energy sources within the peninsula. I make commercial proposals, hold meetings, negotiate. I can travel to the site to monitor the progress of the project. And because the industry is growing, I also have to travel all over Europe to participate in conferences. In 2020, meetings have moved online, as has most of the work. But even from home it’s a hundred times better than the old business.
Ira: What does your typical working day look like?
Semyon: Now that we’re out of quarantine, I’ve arranged myself a standard five-day workday. I work from 9:00 to 18:00. Sometimes less, sometimes much more. We have an open office, we are all in the same workspace. There is a powerful team spirit.
Ira: You give a lot to your work. Do you have time for your children and your wife? For yourself and your hobbies?
Semyon: My children are very young, so my wife is at home with them. I only spend my free time with them. Yes, there are group trips all the time, but not every week. I don’t want to miss out on anything else in the family life. We seldom go out, though; we stay at home most of the time.
I spend time on myself when I go out with friends. Sometimes sport, meditation – something from those self-development books is still in me.
Ira: Thank you! That was a very enlightening story. You got a golden visa for Portugal and you managed to realize your dream in record time – and all by your own work. I think not everybody can do it, you are perfect. I wish you further professional success, I am sure you have great achievements ahead!
We hope you found it interesting and informative! Thank you for your interest! You inspire us to keep talking about this amazing city of Cascais. A special thank you to our heroes who shared their stories with us. We are delighted that such interesting people are part of our community. You can join in too! All you have to do is start by deciding to move into your dream life!
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for inspiration and useful information. And if you’re already “ripe” – email us at Whatsapp. We would love to help you relocate to this wonderland and welcome you to our community!