Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Fighting restless demons . . . again.

From my terrace on a clear night, the Ria Formosa with the Atlantic Ocean behind it.

I personally know a few people who have lived in the same house or apartment for over 40 years. I admire their staying power, but I cannot relate. I have moved no less than 15 times in the last 30 years. I’ve relocated so many times that my friends and family do not trust the address they have in their contacts.

I don’t know why I am this way. I can only guess based on my thoughts, however, messages come in and out of my brain quickly and most don’t stick around very long. I relocated to Faro 4.5 years ago and I haven’t budged (meaning I haven’t moved). In all fairness, we did have a two year pandemic and I am living in a foreign country where moving is complicated. I don’t consider myself impulsive, but recent frustration over a condominium issue has me wondering.

A brief disclaimer: I have a bit of reticence in regards to writing about my living situation. Because I know I have an awesome life, I fear people will think I’m boasting. I have two thoughts about this: first, anyone who believes that to be true doesn’t know me or my intentions, and second, if you believe that, I prefer you to leave now – – do not read any further. This is the way I work out some of my internal battles; many people have told me they find it a useful tool. Anything I have achieved in my life I did on my own; I hardly need validation.

Here’s what I have decided to do: I am going to note all the pros and cons and make a decision based on the weight of either side. I’m completing this exercise on my blog for those of you who struggle with a similar affliction, that of inner conflicts based on little or no facts.

Some Background and Generalizations About Faro

Faro is part of the Algarve and the Algarve is known for its incredible, unbeatable, beyond fantastic . . . weather. It’s sunny over 300 days a years, winter temperatures are moderate compared with many other parts of the world, summers are hot and dry, and fall and spring are glorious. Our trees bloom year round and I do not own a winter coat (not true, I just bought one for a fall cruise to northern Europe). There is a regular breeze off of the Ria Formosa and Atlantic Ocean. And if you’re already wondering why I would leave this slice of paradise, hang tight.

Faro is the capital of the Algarve. We have an international airport (10 minutes from my place), a train that takes you north to Lisbon, Porto, and many other cities, and a regional train that takes you to the border of Spain to the east and to Lagos, west. Faro is a working city — of course there are wealthy people living in Faro, but is is mostly middle class Portuguese people. Faro has a small population of expats and it is surprisingly diverse. Tourism is the number one source of income for most people working here. If I get any of this wrong, my Portuguese/Faro friends will set me straight.

There are restaurants throughout Faro, however, a majority of these eateries are traditional Portuguese restaurants — Portuguese people love Portuguese food; probably true for most cultural groups. In recent years, ethnic restaurants are popping up all over the city: Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, Italian; the food scene seems to becoming more sophisticated and varied. You don’t have to go far to encounter other types of international food in nearby cities. For example, there is a Korean restaurant in Alvor that I am crazy about; Alvor is about an hour away by public transportation and Vilamoura to my west, has three Thai restaurants.

The Algarve is in the southernmost part of Portugal; therefore, miles and miles of spectacular beaches line the coast. Faro has a beautiful, long stretch of flat beach you can get to by ferry, bus or car — I prefer to go by ferry. There are many seafood restaurants at the beach and most of them are quite good. Other flat beaches or beaches with spectacular rock formations, are east and west of Faro and can be reached quickly and easily. Off-season is the best time to go: mid-September to mid-to-late June. The tourist season has been expanding in recent years; great for the economy and the locals working in tourism or hospitality.

It’s not the Algarve I am considering leaving, it’s Faro. I told you I’d outline the pros and cons, so you’ll have to wait.

There are some things about the Algarve and Portugal that are typical or pervasive. There is no point outlining those because I’m only considering a move away from Faro. When you do this kind of exercise you have to narrow down your objectives. If I were to move, it would be to another city/town within a 50 mile radius.

Pros to Living in Faro

  • Airport nearby (great if you travel a lot)
  • Trains nearby
  • Excellent medical and dental care (great vet as well)
  • Restaurants are plentiful and open year-round
  • I have made some very nice friends in Faro; friends for life in fact
  • The Ria Formosa
  • Unpretentious
  • Easy walking city
  • The capital of the Algarve where all the main government offices are located
  • My street is wide and full of beautiful foliage
  • One does not need a car (a decent city mini-bus system)
  • Extremely affordable
  • Great food stores and shopping
  • Close to several beautiful towns
  • The marina/downtown area has a lot to offer
  • A very small expat community (I cannot get a poker game together — the only downside). I prefer authenticity.
  • The city is growing and adding amenities
  • A large indoor produce/fish market and a Sunday outdoor market

Cons to Living in Faro

  • My condo neighbors do not want to spend money to beautify the building — some of these individuals can afford it (I’m making an assumption).
  • It’s a nice city, but it’s not a beautiful city
  • A very small expat community
  • The Ria Formosa is in front of the ocean; therefore, you do not have a direct view of the sea — true throughout Faro unless you live at the beach (not my scene).
  • Only one good Italian restaurant. This is a significant con.
  • Many of the friends I spend time with live in Tavira. Most of them do come to Faro to see me.
  • There is a growing number of teenagers who have removed the mufflers on their motorbikes. They ride up and down my street revving their engines and the police do nothing. I jump 10 feet in the air everytime it happens. I feel old typing this.
  • It is a city filled with cigarette smokers. They fill outdoor cafés making it impossible to enjoy outdoor dining (a European problem).

You might look at these lists and say, “Ah, first world problems,” and that would indeed be true. Keep in mind that we all have to keep our lives together and that searching for happiness is a human condition.

If I do move, it would only be where I have a direct sea view.

I have an idea that might help resolve the condo issue, however, I’m not hopeful that it will fly. One of the things that frustrates me about Portugal is that you often float an idea and get back this reply, “We don’t do that here.” or “That wouldn’t work here.” Sometimes you words are met with silence or a shrug; not easy for this problem solver/fixer.

I’m not expecting anyone to have the answers; however, if you’re so inclined, please let me know what you think.

Upcoming Travel

Alvor, Portugal, end of July, Nantes and Pornic in mid-August, Toronto, Denver, and Detroit in mid-September, Northern Europe NCL cruise in early October, with some time in London for West End Theatre, Lyon in late November and I’ve decided to stay put in Portugal for Christmas.

By CP

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1959. I've lived in several different places, but this is the first time I have resided overseas. My career has gone in multiple directions; however, education is my passion. My Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from New York University has opened many doors and for that I am grateful. Writing has become a pastime I enjoy and hope to further pursue. The future holds no limitations and I am keeping all of my options open. I have landed in Portugal and there is a vast and beautiful world to explore.

17 comments

  1. Wow Chris. Your cons – the prevalence of cigarette smokers and the noisy cycles would outweigh many of your pros here. Plus the obstructed view should a better one become available for you. The medical care and good vet are, however, a big plus. Still…. Sounds like your move option would allow you easy access to that, as well aS continuing to see the good friends yoi have made there…. Thank you for putting all this out. My best for your finding the solution…. You are good at that!

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    1. I love the objectivity. You have validated why I do this sort of thing. I have a lot to think about. I’m going to try to correct the condo issue as my first move.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wishing you the best with that… and, does seem the best first step since that issue may have brought more attention to the cons than would otherwise sit with you…

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  2. The algarve was the draw generally speaking so if you have or will find a spot that can clear many cons and maybe not make the pros all go away I’d say do it. You always are willing to take risks to improve a situation so how is this different? On a more somber note, you want to be happy and settled at some point I assume and moving gets harder to do when you reach a certain age. You may have one or two moves left in you, so make it count. (Too morbid? Sorry). Following closely from afar, Patrick.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that the motor bikes and cigarette smokers are a major “con”. Peace and quiet are essential for a happy healthy life. And cigarette smoke is disgusting. Not sure you’ll find anywhere in Europe that it’s not a problem, though. Hope if you move, you’ll still be close enough to share lunches with. 😘

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  4. Faro was your Amuse-bouche so to speak. The introduction to this adventure. Your observations and obvious reflective nature have convinced me that you are ready for the next chapter. Buona fortuna!!

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  5. you are so right, sweetheart, with all that you have accomplished in life, you do not need to brag nor do you need validation from anyone. I have always been so very proud of you (and jealous). You and I are the only 2 people I know that move as often as we do. I think it is because we get bored if we stay in one place too long. We love change. All the pros you listed for staying sound incredible. Your view is breathtaking. don’t your neighbors realize that beautifying the building only increases the value of their property?? Give it some more thought. I initially wanted to sell Michael’s condo and go back to NJ. Then i realized that he left me everything to secure my future. I just wish i could get to NJ to pack up my apartment and get everything moved here, but my feet have to heal from the surgeries first.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am most likely over simplifying this problem/solution but, like you, I have some of the same issues with our new home. There is so much to like yet a few very frustrating matters. I continually have to remind myself that we are not in the States anymore and cannot expect the same social/economic/Bureaucratic climate. That’s saying a lot. I’ve come to realize that, in general, Portugese people have a higher decimal range (especially in speaking) than I am used to or comfortable with. That being said, I believe they are either oblivious to loud noises or simply accept them as a part of daily life. As my dear mother would say, I’ve gone around by the way of Buffalo to make a point. (Western New Yorkers will understand that comment). We are blessed to be living in this part of the world for many reasons and overall enjoy it immensely. With a few tweaks it would truly be paradise. My suggestion to you Chris, is to remain in the vicinity, due to the pros outweighing the cons but look for an over 60 complex in which to take up residence. That is the advice I give to myself should we decide to move, which is highly unlikely as we just bought this house 4 months ago. 😆. Should you decide to leave Faro, we will welcome you with open arms here in Tavira.

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    1. I love the Buffalo quip! I know exactly what you mean about everything. If you’re at croquet on Sunday, I’ll share my idea about fixing the problem at my condo. I love my apartment, but I believe if they cannot correct the “water” issue, I’ll have to sell.

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  7. Chris,

    I can relate to your problem. I considered selling my house and buying another one. Why? Because a neighbor has decided that her freedom of religion trumps the rights of her neighbors. She starts with her Budhist chantes at 7:00am and doesn’t stop until after 10:00pm. Since I’m spending four months in the South of France and enjoying it, I’ll worry about it after my return by the end of August.

    Next time you buy a condo, see if your Portuguese neighbors have traveled abroad. Generally, they have an open mind about any problem, insted of “We don’t do things that way” bs.

    I wish you luck with your final decision.

    Abraços

    Laura

    P.S. I’m going to Lyon by train this Saturday to meet a friend there. We’ll return to Nimes by car.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, you know my pain Laura. You’re right to deal with the Buddhist when you return. I love Lyon; going in November. Enjoy!

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  9. I don’t trust myself to be objective on this topic, since I’m one of the “40 years in the same apartment” people, a reaction perhaps to being dragged around by my parents as a child. Having said that, Tavira is lovely. Would you have a view of the ocean? There was that inelegant but pretty tasty Indian restaurant we went to and that nice art gallery…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not really considering Tavira, but possibly a small town in between Faro and Tavira — like Fuzeta. I dunno Victoria; I have time to decide.

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