As an ESL teacher, one of the first exchanges with a new student goes as follows, “Where do you live and where are you from?” Upon disclosing that I am from the United States but currently living in Portugal, they are almost always intrigued and want to know more. The next question is, “Why Portugal? My response:
“Safety, little to no crime, affordability, and quality of life.”
When my marriage ended ten years ago, I suddenly found myself as a new single mom raising an African-American boy, alone, in the United States of America. While I was aware of the dangers he might face as a young black boy living in the U.S., it was not until 2014 – when Tamir Rice was shot, that these dangers began to weigh heavily on my mind. Understanding the reality of just how dangerous life in the U.S. could be, for a young black boy, was debilitating. It was at this time I began seriously exploring the idea of raising my son outside of the U.S.
At the time, however, moving to a whole other country as a single mom with a young child seemed like such an overwhelming undertaking that I was not ready for. So, I stored the article away and stuffed the idea way back in my mental Rolodex.
Fast forward to 2020 and we’re in the middle of the pandemic. I had recently acquired my certification as an ESL teacher and was teaching English to children in China, exclusively online. Additionally, my son was being homeschooled, as he had been off and on since the first grade. Then George Floyd happened, and I began fervently revisiting this idea of exploring life abroad. I was now in a position to, because again, I was working exclusively online and my son, like so many other children at the time, was being homeschooled. The wheels in my head began to turn, and I said, “Wow, we can actually go anywhere!” The lease on my house was about to expire, and I could not see myself paying more than the $900 a month I was currently paying for rent. I was living in a nice home in Southwest Atlanta, and I knew that for any place just as nice, I could expect to pay well over $1000 a month. So, I started thinking, “This might be the time.” Then I thought, where would we go?” A move to China with the language barrier was too overwhelming for me, someone who had never ventured outside of the East Coast, much less outside the US to another country. I initially considered places in Africa, South America, and Asia. I also considered The US Virgin Islands. But I was leaning towards Europe because I knew it would be much easier from a linguistic standpoint (I happen to know some French and some Spanish), but “Where in Europe?” I thought. Then I remembered that article, pulled it up, and decided to do another search to see if there was an updated version.
Outlining the same wonderful attributes, I had been dreaming of for the past 3 years: high quality of life, affordable cost of living, high quality of healthcare, affordable healthcare, soothing climate, beautiful weather, and so on. However, it was the “high safety rating” that stood out to me the most. This idea of an environment with little to no crime was corroborated by many of the videos I began watching about life in Portugal. I was able to see other people who look like us, speak about how safe life in Portugal is for people with melanated skin.
So, I began asking God for guidance and direction. Then I began researching the D7 visa and submitted our applications. Both of our applications were approved, and in January 2021, we set out to explore a new land and a new space in a new place. Fast forward three years later, and God is still blessing us on this journey. We just renewed our residency permits until 2026.
Portugal has been everything I dreamed of for my son. Yes, there are a few drawbacks to living here, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
The peace of mind in knowing that I can focus on nurturing, loving, teaching, and watching him develop and grow, minus the worry and anxiety over what might happen to him when he steps out the door… has been the biggest reason for my “Why?”
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