I’m moving from Malaysia 🇲🇾 to Portugal 🇵🇹! (Wait. What? Wow!)
: on new chapters of my life, new adventures, and what? Why Portugal?
I couldn’t resist saying that.
And yes, that click-bait sounding title is true.
But first—hello and welcome back to your regular HopeMail newsletter. We took a break from HopeMail to give space to the Half Month Project. The Half Month Project is my four weeks only pop-up newsletter, where I shared experiences from my 15 days challenge of learning watercolour painting.
👋🏼 Waving to the new readers too!
So. Portugal. This move. Explain.
My husband and I are moving to Portugal, where we’ll be working remotely and living there for a while (six months), then back to Malaysia, and back to Portugal again. Repeat the cycle for the next five years.
Huh? What kind of arrangement is this?
We successfully applied1 for a Portugal visa called the D7 visa, which allows non-EU citizens to get Portuguese residency.
Some of the benefits of the D7 visa are:
You'll get the right to live, work, or study in Portugal.
Visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Area of 26 European countries.
Education and healthcare, etc.
A main requirement for the application is to prove that you (as the main applicant) have passive income and/or remote-working income that meets the Portugal’s minimum wage2 per annum. This income requirement varies according to the number of dependants that the main applicant wishes to include. Also, holding a minimum amount equal to 12 months’ income within a Portuguese bank account is advisable.
The D7 visa is occasionally used by the self-employed and freelancers to make Portugal their base of operations. Our type of work can be done remotely, so we fall into the category.
Other requirements include: being willing to reside in Portugal for a minimum of six consecutive months in a year (or eight non-consecutive months each year) for the next five years.
Hence, to put it simply…
We’ll be splitting our time, living in two countries—Malaysia, our home and birthplace, and Portugal, our new home.
We’ve travelled there in 2019, and we like the place.
Relatively affordable compared to the UK or some other EU countries.3
Moderate climate. We can be outdoors way, way more. Hooray, cycling and long walks! Hooray, different sceneries that I can draw and paint! 😍
This is something which my husband and I have been wanting to be able to do for a long time4—work remotely, live and travel around Europe.
But, I wouldn’t term it as a dream that we are pursuing. It’s just a concept of living that we are interested in exploring. With this visa, plus our current phase of life, this became a possibility. It would not be possible a couple of years back.
So, viva! (Yay! in Portuguese)
At the time of writing, we are in the thick of preparing for this big shift, a mere month away to fly there this summer, end of June 2022. Needless to say, we are on the ball, working on our jobs double time, checking off our to-do list, in between meeting wonderful friends5 who want to spend some time over meals with us. Those conversations and moments—priceless.
There is so much I wanna share with you. From the visa application process, and our plans in Portugal, to insights into our less-than-conventional way of lifestyle. Including this! 👇🏼
Two months on a folding bike.
Or something like that.
We have a rough-ish plan to go for a 1.5 to 2 months bike tour from Porto, heading north towards Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We wanted to follow the pilgrim’s way route, Camino de Santiago. Then, we realised the visa requirement of remaining in Portugal for six consecutive months. 🤦🏻♀️ Well, we’ll end the route before Spain’s border then.
Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route that possibly started in the 9th century. It's now a UNESCO heritage site and attracts thousands of people around the world who want to have this unique experience.
In Portugal, there are two main routes to walk or cycle: the Camino Portuguese Central or the Camino Portuguese Coastal. If the latter, the full walking route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela will take approximately 265km or 14 days depending on how often and how long you stop.
We plan to meander and stop. A lot. Plus, work in-between.
“Maybe one day, God willing, we’ll get to walk or cycle the full Camino Portuguese Coastal!”
I remembered writing about this in HopeMail on June 11, 2021.
At that time, we haven’t even seriously thought about making this move. We didn’t know about the D7 visa. And we certainly were still caught up with navigating through the pandemic situation.
But, I believe the seeds were sown many years back without us realising it, nor doing anything about it.
I believe, the experience of going through the pandemic: of being able to work and operate from anywhere, of more people adapting to technology, of being stuck indoors, of how unpredictable life is (though I already knew that, as I was served multiple heavy courses of those lessons even before the pandemic), and the possibilities of living with so much less; those elements watered the seeds.
So—with our eyes on the Lord, with prayer and discernment, with preparation, six months' worth of medicine for my husband’s lymphoma; by golly, we are doing it!
We are doing it while we can walk, cycle, work and make meaningful connections with people we will meet.
Join me on this new chapter of our life as I share with you: stories, experiences, practical resources on moving, working remotely, and as always, life insights. Oh! And art!
If you'd like to receive my next newsletter, c'mon in.
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I’ll see you in my next HopeMail issue on June 17, 2022.
p.s. another fantastical news—there will be an exciting membership plan coming up in September 2022! It’s gonna be packed to the overflow with value for you, starting from a low subscription fee. I can’t wait to unveil it! I’m working hard behind the scenes these few months (Yes, amid this huge move too. 😅), getting it ready, and will keep you updated from time to time. Appreciate your thoughts and prayers!
HopeMail is musings and art from chapters of my life. Current chapter: moving to Portugal. Twice a month on Fridays, I write and draw what’s on my mind lately about life, deriving insights from the ordinary mundane to the difficult days. Although, it’ll probably not be so ordinary mundane for a while, since, you know, I’ll be moving to Portugal.
This is “Step 1” of the application. “Step 2” will be an interview with the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), the immigration and border service agency of Portugal. The temporary residence permit will then be issued.
Portugal’s minimum wage increased in January 2022 to €705/month. (Which is insufficient to cover the rising costs of living in the country)
Even though it’s relatively affordable compared to the UK or some other EU countries, it does cost more for both of us, as living in Portugal means that from not needing to pay any rent in Malaysia, we now need to pay rent for our house in Portugal. Another cost is the difference in currency conversion.
I have been reading a blog on Portugal since 2016 and somehow, I think, how great if I can afford months and months to thoroughly explore this country (and not give up my work!). In 2019, we managed to travel there for two weeks, yet we already like the place.
I’m sure some polite friends are thinking, “these guys are crazy!” in their minds.