Our move from California to Portugal

Ericeira, Portugal Waterfront
Max in Ericeira, Portugal 2015

Ahhhh. You are from California? Why are you here?

This is the question we often hear from Portuguese folks. Well let me tell you why.

Since our move from Santa Cruz, California to Lisbon, Portugal I have not found any motivation to write about our move. While my husband has been writing away (you can read his blog posts here) I have decided to wait until I found a moment feeling inclined to write.

Partially it is because we have experienced one hundred thousand and ten things in 10 month and partially it is because I would like to write in detail what our experience was like. Good and Bad.

Here we go:

Why did we decide to move?

Well….this question is not hard to answer at all. My life has nothing else been BUT a move.

A move from either a house to another. From one apartment to another. From one city to another. From one country to another.

It all started very early and at here I need to point the finger at my mum. I have a mum “on the go” and there is nothing, which excites her more than the slight possibility of a move or the visit of a new city or country. She is a Lady who enjoys new environments and feeds her soul of these wonderful new experiences when you get into a new city or house. I’m nothing less than this Lady.

Zurich Switzerland
My mum. Zurich, Switzerland 2015

There are possibilities, you know! There is a new wall, which needs new decoration. There is new entrance, which can be lined with flower pots. There is a new city which can be discovered step by step. Train by Train. There is this distinct new smell of something different when you walk out the front door or when you open your window to the new view. It is hard to convince or explain this sensation when one is not inclined to experience new sights or enjoys to fully inhale this new smell.

With every move I have done in my life I found new challenges to overcome. One would think that challenges are not always needed. And this is true. But there is something else what happens in your brain when you encounter a new country or a new language. My whole body seems to light up and feels alive. Always a bit more than the last time. I sometimes explain my urge to move like an addiction without the necessity of drugs.

I have a theory that I was never inclined to do drugs like alcohol in excessive amounts or drugs of any sorts because my life was too busy to get adjusted to a new situation. I had no time to “hang out” and do drugs.

Anyway…I’m getting of the question a little bit here. Well there is just so much to talk about. Anyway.

We have two kids. At the time of writing they are aged 12 and 5. At the time of the move they were 11 and 4. Max was finishing up 6th grade in California. Sasha was still in a fantastic preschool.

This was the time to move. Max was still in an age where he could have one more change before the teenage years started. I did not want to have the same experience for I had when my parents moved from Germany to Switzerland at the age of 14. Now at the age of 40 I’m not saying that it was a bad move but it REALLY hurt at the age of 14. You are starting to build your own life. It felt like I got ripped out of my circle of friends and Switzerland was not a piece of cake at that age.

So for me it was clear that I would not do this to Max or Sasha.

Max needing to change to Junior High after 6th grade was the point of now or never.

The school system seriously sucks in the California and maybe even the entire United States (I could write a whole post about that too as we have done a lot of comparison in schools systems. Yikes). Another big decision point why we wanted to move. We could not afford private school in California as the price tag comes at 1700-2000 Dollars per child. Haha. How much more should we work in our two corporate jobs we had in order to pay this amount per month. Take some side jobs so we wouldn’t see our children at all anymore. Sick! Sasha’s daycare was already 1200 per month, which is a normal sum for daycare in California. Again, this daycare was amazing! I could write another post here too as this farm-like upbringing every child should experience.

Anyhow. Our monthly costs were almost exceeding our income and we were working like dogs. Let’s not even start talking about the vacation time we did not have.

A decision needed to be made. Kids were included in the decision process as this was not a trivial move. Max, as always, could not wait to step into this airplane to go to Europe. He is VERY much a habit person. Don’t you move his animal, flower, toy or even think about discarding this old, filthy smelling T-Shirt which he outgrew 2 years ago. He did not like to loose any of what was dear to him BUT he is a mover. He enjoys traveling, he gets a kick out of moving and he loves to see new environments. Really strange but I could go out and steal horses with my son. I so love him for his excitement of traveling and moving. I guess no wonder given my history.

Sasha was surely to little to comprehend what a move like this meant.

Knowing very little about Portugal (visited it once for a week 6 month before we moved) I was still concerned about Max getting adapted. New country, new language and new everything.

Sasha, I thought, would adapt really fast. It was exactly the opposite. It took Sasha 8 month to be okay. Every morning she would cry. She wanted her “brown house” back. She wanted to see her friend Amelia who lived down the road. Little did we knew HOW much she loved her environment. Heartbraking. It all got better after 8 month.

Aptos Califnornia
Sasha in our “brown house” in Aptos, California 2015

And then there were these corporate jobs. I worked for IntraLinks, which was a remote job position. So I worked from home. I had the best boss and team on earth. The best job experience I could have wished for given the fact that working in a corporate environment can make you feel just like another number. Not this one. As far as it goes for corporate job this job was as good as it gets compared to any other one I had before. It was certainly VERY stressful at times but I would always return if need would be.

My heart was longing for this opportunity to show my children the world. To make them understand that there is so much more to life than working your ass off to make a living. To show them that we, as parents, can make choices. The choice to not be in this, very well-known, Hamster wheel you get plugged in. Schwuppsdiwupps.

Sleep, Work, Weekend. Sleep, work, weekend. Sleep, Work, Weekend. Oh wait, there was a Holiday. Yeah. A long weekend.

40 years later. DEATH.

I also was craving my creative side again. Luckily I have the best partner in the world. This man is one amazing human being, which entered my life in 2009. He is Alaskan. He acts like one too (means: He is a real MAN. He stands to his words. He loves like a man. I can let myself fall and NOT be superwoman all the time. No bullshit. No therapy is necessary. No freaking thinking “When the children are 18 I’m out of this relationship”. Just straight forward honesty and love. Life is difficult enough, right? J ) I love him to pieces and without him it would be either impossible or soooo much harder to follow through with the above. I would have done it no matter what but how lucky am I to have him by my side.

So he has currently a remote corporate job working for a company in Florida. But wait! This wasn’t all that easy to get to the point we are now.


Algarve, Portugal 2016

I will write more later. Now it is Saturday. Coffee time and Sasha time as Max is having a sleep over at a friend’s house after a Dance party yesterday and before a big Birthday party. This Dude is enjoying life, like never before and he does not want to move back to California!

Happy Saturday everybody!


P.s. If I’m writing a in a funky English…it is because I’m having to many languages in my head, no coffee yet and I’m writing as my heart goes. I might correct mistakes later. You can look for corrections then J



  • Packing up in Santa Cruz, California
  • Arrival in Portugal
  • June 2015 through May 2016

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