The alfresco lifestyle is impossible to resist

Chris White (35) is originally from St Ives in Cornwall (UK). After living in seven different countries, he moved from Spain to the Algarve in 2007 and now lives in Vale do Lobo. There, he started his own company, boutique estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2016

What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Chris: I saw a gap in the market. No one seemed to be offering first class customer service to foreigners looking to buy property in Portugal. I was inspired by seeing how lacking the industry was and wanted to offer a much better international sales experience in a less developed part of Europe so I set up a business here.

Once there, I fell in love with the simple way of life that Portugal offers and this has inspired me to help other people achieve their dream. This is such a beautiful country and it’s a wonderful feeling meeting clients and showing them that they too can have their own slice of paradise. Lifestyle is especially important to me and I’ve particularly loved raising my children here, where they’re being educated in the Portuguese school system.


When did you feel at home here?

Chris: It probably took about 18 months to feel totally at home. I did this by making an effort to befriend the locals. When I started my business I met a lot of people, including many of the staff I still have today. These people have all contributed to creating the network of friends and colleagues that makes life here so enjoyable.

I’m not a great linguist, but learning a little of the language has helped. I’ve managed to feel part of the community by getting involved in local events – there are many different festivals in the Algarve that we enjoy as a family.

Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Chris: Not really. I’ve lived in seven different countries prior to moving here, so living abroad was not a new thing. The UK, Spain, Greece, France, Australia and Austria are all part of my background, but Portugal is the country that has won my heart.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Chris: I started my ‘sales’ career in the UK with an ice-cream van in Cornwall and now I run a real estate company in the Algarve. There are similarities, but the pace of life in Portugal is gentler. Quality time here is walking on the beach with my two children and our dog, Charlie. I eat out more here as well: the food is fresh and affordable and the alfresco lifestyle is just impossible to resist.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Chris: Getting on the boat to Armona Island in the East Algarve for a long weekend. On Armona, there are hardly any shops, no cars and you can be totally ‘off the grid’ for a few days.

What annoys you here?

Chris: Trying to get your car fixed or valeted is hard. And the banking system. However, the internet has improved this thankfully.


What do you miss most from the UK?

Chris: Family and the choice of shops. You can’t beat the English High Street for variety!


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Chris: Beaches, sunshine, dreams, food, laughter.

What’s your favourite spot?

Chris: Armona Island for peace and relaxation. And Aljezur in the West Algarve for surfing, water sports and activities. I love taking the kids camping there.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Chris: It’s traditional and undeveloped. I love the fact that it’s not overly commercialised and in many ways is still a blank canvas – compared to the Costa del Sol, for example, that has cranes everywhere and the sound of car horns constantly blaring. The Algarve is peaceful and unspoilt in comparison.

How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Chris: I can order food and drinks and get by in the shops easily. Because the kids go to Portuguese school and are bilingual, they’ve been very helpful in teaching me more words, vocab and expressions. The Portuguese are such a friendly nation; locals encourage speaking their language and help me along and when I get stuck. Then when I get completely stuck they’re even more helpful and speak English!


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Chris: I have several:

  • Make friends with the locals.
  • If you are moving money here, use a bona fide currency company to make your money go further.
  • Learn some Portuguese to feel at home quicker.
  • If you’re ever in need – there is a cafe at the bus station in Albufeira where you can have a three course meal for €4.50.
  • Go to Izzy’s Beach Bar near Almancil on a Sunday afternoon; it has live music and the best view. It’s a great place to meet new friends – we love it there.
  • Go exploring and find your own favourite beach.
  • Go on a boat trip and see the beautiful Algarve coastline from the sea.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2016

Posted in Algarve expat stories.