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  • Tony

Living in Portugal - December 2022

It's been seven months since our arrival in Portugal, we're feeling much more comfortable with our surroundings and are really settling into the rhythms of our new culture. It really does require you to look at life through a different set of lenses in order to appreciate what life is like outside of our first world bubble in the US. We've run across several people who have made the move to Portugal that continuously complain about not having products or conveniences they were accustomed to in the states. They insist on trying to change things here, including cultural differences in order to duplicate the lifestyle and comforts they had in the US. My question to them is usually something like, if you want the same things that you had, why did you move here? It's different, not just here but in most places in the world, some things are even better here once you adapt to the change.

It struck me the other day how much life is enjoyed here by the Portuguese without the constant need to out do your neighbors. The need for a nicer home, better car, or perceived status just isn't as prevalent here. Most seem content with what they have, don't feel the need to climb the corporate or social ladder, and have a deep appreciation for the time that they spend with family and friends. In our old state of mind so much more emphasis was placed on "success" than on the enjoyment of life. We worked more and more hours and spent less time on what's truly important. Don't get me wrong here, there are people with nice homes, nice cars, etc... But its not with envy that most look at those material things.

Here we see very few homeless, very little mental health issues or drug related problems. Sure these may exist but there are services and safety nets available to help. There are people with very little money but they are supported by the systems in place that provide the basic needs of life. As Americans we tend to look at the social support here as "Socialism" and that its a bad thing. Socialism is not a bad thing! Europeans have figured out a lot of things that we as Americans have not. Yes taxes are higher to pay for these things, but REAL affordable (mostly free) health care available to everyone that will never cause a financial burden is something everyone should have access to. Capitalism exists here too but controlled so as not to allow businesses/corporations to get rich by burdening others. I'll get off my soapbox now, everything here is NOT perfect, but living outside the US really points out some of the major flaws a first world country like the US has that really needs to be dealt with.

December brought a lot of much needed rain to Portugal. At times too much rain in short periods caused major flooding in Lisbon and in Faro. We received a lot here too but no major flooding. Locals tell us that this is very unusual to have so much rain in December, there are usually more sunny days and warmer temperatures. Either way its good to see reservoirs across the country finally being replenished from the drought like conditions of the past few years. We'll see what the rest of winter has in store for us.

Portugal continues to experience its share of economic pressures but is progressing well compared to others in the EU. The economy continues to show growth, Inflation is high but below the EU average, and gas prices continue to fall to the rough equivalent of $6.14 per gallon (€1.52 per Litre). Grocery prices remain a bit higher but we can still get a "Prato da dia" lunch (salad, rice, fries, Frango Asado/Grilled Chicken, and a drink) for €10. The dollar has weakened a bit more to the Euro this month, now about $1.06 to €1.00, we knew it couldn't stay at parity for too long but it was great while it lasted!

On the farm... Not much happening right now, Teresa recently planted fava beans and onions that continue to grow, the winter citrus crop provides enough fruit for us all to enjoy. Having fresh Orange juice daily is such a luxury! Mary's small vegetable garden is all but finished for the season except for a few herbs that are really nice to include in our meals. The colorful potted flowers she has placed around the house have made our home stand out, and of course the Christmas decor inside and out makes the house feel festive.

Christmas in Portugal has also been a very different experience. From knowing when and where to find a christmas tree, to finding ornaments and decor, and the traditions here we have really enjoyed the journey. The Holiday lights, festivities and traditions seem to be less about the commercialism of Christmas and more about the true meaning of Christmas and celebrating with family. Check out our separate story about Christmas in Portugal by clicking here.

This month our travel included a road trip to Seville in Spain, less than 2 1/2 hours drive from our home.

Sorry for the lack of photos on this months post. There are plenty available in the posts below to keep you busy

For more December activities and photos check out

We hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!

Boas Festas (Happy Holidays)

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