Moving to Portugal: two success stories
Moving to another country always seems to be something unbelievable, inaccessible, and impossible. There are many situations and factors that discourage potential emigrants. They range from lack of knowledge and money to total confusion before applying for a visa.
Today we’ll dispel all fears, myths, and preconceptions. After all, don’t you agree, you can save the right amount of money, all the information you need to know on the Internet. The fascinating stories of two heroines, Maria and Daria, will help us in this. They agreed to share their experience and the main thing – the story of moving from Ukraine and Russia to sunny Portugal.
The first heroine is Maria, 26 years old. The girl used to live in the city of Kharkiv (Ukraine). A middle-income family, a completed higher education and a job in sales were the starting conditions with which Maria started in 2016. She now lives in Portugal, where she has settled in Cascais. Her two-bedroom apartment is located in the Sheraton Hotel, but she spends little time at home. She is a personal development coach and consultant for a number of Ukrainian companies that help people with relocation. She is also the founder of a small company that provides marketing services. She was able to move at the beginning of 2018 and now her goal is to get Portuguese citizenship.
The second heroine is Maria’s roommate, who lives in the same hotel downstairs. Her name is Daria and she is 25. She moved to Cascais in the summer of 2019 and moved her small Instagram business. About how you develop her business now, the heroine will tell you as the article progresses. Her main goals are to retain clients from another country, to find herself, and not to stop halfway.
Maria’s story: I want to change my life
“First, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share my experience. It’s important to me that the knowledge and skills I’ve gained will be passed on to other people and readers. I believe that everyone can be successful, just find their bearings and avoid making the mistakes of others.
The first thing I want to talk about is the incredible desire to live well and with dignity. This feeling was born when I was in college, and it didn’t go away even after I had achieved some success in my life. Ukrainian life was burdensome, I wanted to live in a warm and pleasant place.
I was an accountant by training, and I followed my mother’s insistence on her advice.
One important note: I’m not saying that any specialty is bad, it’s not. It’s important to talk about everyone’s personal perception. I didn’t like it, and I don’t care if I did. During and after my studies my eternal drive was to find my vocation, and I was not afraid of the new and unexplored. I wasn’t afraid to look – and my search led me to the idea of moving.
I wanted a normal, stable life, sunny weather, preferably also the sea in constant access. I wanted a remote, high-paying job and constant personal growth.
I quickly chose my destination: Portugal, Cascais. The city and the country suited me perfectly: sunny, sea, Europe, not as expensive as the central EU countries, good conditions for education and business.
The question became how would I actually qualify for residency in the new country. For me a work visa was not an option, nor did I want to go to graduate school. I found the idea of starting my own business appealing – the startup market in Portugal was growing every year.
This idea appealed to me, and the next stage I had to overcome was raising money. I needed funds for the flight, paperwork, starting a business, housing, and living for the first few months. That came out to about $30,000 to $40,000. I budgeted a third for living and moving, and the rest was the minimum amount to start a business.
Moving to Portugal: new apartment and first steps
For the past yar I had saved up for a ticket and paperwork. I had initial capital, a business plan, but I had no understanding of “what’s next”. Since I had no idea about the further procedure, I decided to contact a company that helps emigrants to Portugal. I was given a list of documents and a step-by-step plan of action. It was a great help without which I would not have been able to move forward.
Following six months, I continued to learn the language. In January 2018, the preparation was over – I boarded a plane and set off for my new life.
When I arrived, I formed a short plan of action:
- Find affordable and decent housing.
- Take an English and Portuguese test (I made a big mistake for not figuring this outback home when I had the time.
- Spend the rest of my capital to start my own business.
The first point was successful. Certainly Portugal has the most affordable housing prices in Europe, but for me at the time any extra spending was unacceptable, so I was able to rent an apartment on the outskirts of the city in half with a student. Later I found other offers, but up until 2019, I stayed in my old apartment.
For a month upon my arrival, I was enjoying my new country, finishing my orders, sending them to the U.S., and wondering what to do next.
I decided to continue pursuing my old hobby, handmade. At that moment I could not afford to pay the rent of the store, but I could afford the website and Instagram shop. I made the website on a website builder, but I took a more responsible approach to the account design. I bought a camera (used, but good) and materials for future products. These are the things I did then. The photo is a wedding greeting box, made to order.
I had a roommate helping me with a lot of orders. The business went from strength to strength. I was able to enjoy my creativity and my new life.
Cascais is the perfect place for freelancers and do-it-yourselfers like me. It’s full of internet cafes, co-working spaces, and other such places. It’s a place to relax without the digital junk: on the beach, in the parks, just walking around a lot. The city is a good place to eat right and exercise. And seafood is my paradise. It’s the tastiest cuisine I’ve never seen anywhere.
Life in Portugal: new acquaintances
A year and a half after I arrived, I met Dasha (her story should come out with mine). We worked in the same co-working space together and came to the stables to ride. She had just moved from Russia and was really worried about losing her small business completely. She had a successful Instagram business back home but lost her entire audience here.
It was unreal luck: her social media skills and my products – just the perfect combination – I thought I had the makings of a marketer, so I asked Dasha to help check it out. She said yes, and I got to work on repositioning her account, promoting it, and then translating it.
It got going and after a few months I decided to make my own agency that would do marketing promotion of Instagram accounts and products on Amazon and other platforms.
The moment everything spun out, I realized that a childhood dream had come true – I had become a real businesswoman. I was successfully running my own business, and I have a hobby I love and a profitable one.
Living in Portugal: the next step to your dream
The next step toward my dream was to move to the Sheraton Hotel. It was a whole new level of living! I was happy with my apartment, spacious and bright, with a stunning view of the sea. We continued to live with my roommate — she’s younger than me, very proactive, and helped with work.
But the Sheraton is an unusual hotel. What’s left of the hotel here is an incredible renovation, security, and service staff. I checked into a three-room suite, modern and stylish. An entire room was now devoted to an office. There was a huge desk that could go up to work standing up, a nook with a backdrop for video and photo recordings. There were huge windows in every room and a fully equipped kitchen. It was my dream, and it came true. Now I’m saving up to buy my apartment.
There’s a restaurant on the first floor. When I don’t feel like cooking, I go down and order something delicious. The local menu is the best in town!
Life in Portugal: what has changed in 2020?
The moment things stabilized, the year 2020 began, and the world’s epidemiological situation began to deteriorate dramatically. The handmade business was not at its best either and could no longer cover all my expenses. Fortunately in Portugal, the quarantine was quicker and easier than in many other European countries, so by the summer everything was stabilized and people got into a new rhythm of life.
And the conclusions I’ve drawn for myself are these:
- want to set goals and fight to achieve them;
- the online sphere is our everything;
- Online education is the future.
I became very interested in self-management, started making routines and work schedules, 12-week plans, and using Notion. My main goal is to live more productively and earn more.
The Portuguese community helped me. Yes, people here are relaxed, but also organized. They believe in slow life “in the moment” and real relaxation. That helped me. Here’s what I’ve accomplished:
- I allocated two weekends a week when I devote all my time only to myself. By the way, since moving, I often Portugal allows me to travel around the country and the EU on top of that. I will use it as soon as the quarantine opens.
- Found communication with my neighbors, found new acquaintances in Cascais. I like the mentality of the locals – everyone is open to new acquaintances. Subsequently, it was my new friends who encouraged me to share my experience with others.
Now I am also positioning myself as a personal development coach. I’ve given the handmade business to Dasha, and I’m doing my own digital agency and consulting.
Online I communicate with a wide variety of companies in Ukraine and Russia that help people with their move to Portugal. I share my experiences and tell you what you need to be prepared for. My task is not just to motivate and inform. I give clear answers to my clients’ questions. If a person asks where to get money, I will offer options. In a personal conversation, we sketch out a plan.
But I’m also great at motivating. That’s why I sometimes get invited by companies, startups. My job is to communicate with my staff and motivate them to do a good job.
It is now 2021 and I am completely happy with my life. I have both money, social weight, and plans to move forward. I have achieved everything since moving to Portugal and I am encouraging everyone to look for their own country, city, and new place to live too. You should be comfortable living and fulfilling yourself. Achieve that and you can keep winning in your personal and professional spheres!”
Daria’s story: how to save your business
“You’ve already read the story of Masha, my good friend, and business partner. My story is similar but touches on different aspects. Moving to Portugal along with business, finding new acquaintances (I’m an extrovert, I need very, very many people around). My problem is the difficulty in learning the language, so even though I wanted to speak, I couldn’t. Another problem is the lack of flexibility that people like Masha have. They are quick to adjust to any circumstances and hold their grip, but I am not like that. I am the most ordinary person, but I believe that both I and my readers can do just fine. Here’s my story.
I grew up in a small town in Russia and as a child, I was very good at school. My favorite subject was economics, so when I chose my university, I was determined to keep going in that direction.
My parents were understanding and well-off, so when they found out that I had a hobby, they were extremely happy. They gave me complete freedom of action. I tried to start investing in the stock market, bought goods from AliExpress, and sold them in our city. Some of the attempts failed altogether, and the other two brought minimal income. I liked the idea of resale, except that I had no outlets. An acquaintance made me a simple online store, and the work began to boil. I promoted myself with advertising, and I spent all my free time on it, taking photos and packing and sending everything myself.
I came out on a good income, but at the same time, the desire to do something waned. Then I was drawn to investing again but in other countries.
My attention was drawn to the market of European countries that are developing. Namely Portugal. In recent years, there has been a flowering of start-ups here, which means that the field for investment is very attractive.
My attention was attracted by the market of European countries that are developing.
I already had some start-up capital at the time. An apartment in my city that I had managed to sell at a profit, plus the money my business was steadily bringing in. That’s how I got my start in a new country.
Moving to Portugal: the path to success
The first time I came to Cascais was in 2018. I literally had to start everything from scratch. I found an attractive business through online marketplaces, invested. And everything stabilized. I developed a clear concept, thought through every step, and was already ready to say: “Here it is the perfect life in Portugal. But unfortunately, this was not the case. The pandemic started and my business in Portugal was becoming less and less popular. There were fewer and fewer deals, they gradually came to naught. At some point, I realized that I might have to go back. But I couldn’t do that, since I’d fallen in love with the country.
It was during this time that I met Masha. We saw each other now and then in a cafe or somewhere else. But we became real friends at the racetrack. Love for animals and a fascinating hobby unite us. By the way, I still have a photo from our first outing.
Somehow we got to talking and it turned out that she had her own online store here in Portugal. She offered to help me as well.
That was the decision – and what a good one it was for both of us. Masha spoke Portuguese and English well (I am a complete zero), so she was able to arrange for deliveries in Portugal instead of Russia. A warehouse was set up in one of the rooms of her apartment in the Sheraton Hotel where I lived. Masha launched an advertising campaign, and now I had my first customers for the first time in months. Part of the orders began to come from Russia and Ukraine, and we set up a mail service. Masha began duplicating all the posts in three languages and increased the number of products. Now in my store, you can find almost everything for home decorating – things like that are in demand both in Europe and in our country.
And then Masha got into promoting other projects (that’s her vocation), and I picked up a ready-made business. Everything went like clockwork. When she ran out of time for the store, I bought it out. Now I had two stores that I was responsible for.
Everything was perfect. By this point, the first money from my invested capital had come in. I decided to reinvest it, and I plan to only increase the capital in circulation in the future.
Life in Portugal: plans for the future
That’s all for now. I can safely say that life in Cascais was like a breath of fresh air for me. Now I try to devote as much time as possible to self-development. I flew a couple of times to France and Belgium. And now I plan to visit every country in Europe.
That’s why I took up languages. I’m learning Portuguese and English at the same time. Someday I will start learning French. I found an incredible teacher. There are a lot of talented people in Cascais, and the education here is at an unreal high level. That’s why, by the way, I’m planning to enroll in a master’s program in 2021. I want to get an education related to entrepreneurship. And given the number of business schools, I’m sure the budget won’t be wasted. Education costs money, but it will be the most real investment. This time in your future. “
These were very different, yet equally fascinating stories from which several conclusions can be drawn.
First, you don’t have to be afraid. Every problem has solutions, and sometimes even more than one. You have to look for opportunities, learn more information, and try harder.
Second, the move by itself means nothing (as it did in Daria’s first visit). You have to have a goal and an idea of what you will be doing when you arrive in your new country.
The third conclusion is that you can’t think that girls are lucky because they had acquaintances or someone helped in time. You just have to understand that everyone gets lucky sooner or later, everyone meets people along the way who will be willing to help. When you start moving forward, these acquaintances will appear to you.
If you are just planning to move to Cascais, you can put your doubts to rest. A lack of language knowledge should not be an obstacle. With years of experience in making arrangements for your move and your new life, our experts are here to help you. Start moving today!