Portugal: The Expat Experiment ~

With 30 minutes to spare, we ordered our standard Starbucks, Americana and Chai Latte, and sat down to catch our breath and sip the hot steamy goodness.  As we sat and sipped, we casually browsed our paperwork and quickly realized we had forgotten probably the most important piece of the puzzle, our passports.  All we could do was slap a face palm and laugh. For two people who are ridiculously organized, to the point of obsession at times, how in the hell did we forget our passports?

The Expat Experiment

It’s not hard to imagine, I suppose.  We are living in organized chaos surrounded by boxes as we pack to move and simultaneously work to organize the next chapter of redefining our retirement.  We’d had the appointment on the calendar for over 2 months and suddenly we found ourselves just 30 minutes from our allotted time at the Portugal Consulate in Washington, D.C., having left our passports securely tucked away at home.  You know, so we wouldn’t misplace them in the chaos.  Oy vey!

We figured out fairly early on that our experiment in country living retirement probably would not pan out for the long haul.  And, it wasn’t long after that realization we began to map out the next chapter which we titled, “The Expat Experiment.”  We’ve been toying with the idea of traveling throughout Europe without time constraints for the past couple of years, but thinking it and doing it are vastly different.  It’s very much a process.


All smiles after our appointment at the Portugal Consulate in Washington, DC.

The Portugal Consulate

Which leads us back to 30 minutes out from our appointment at the Portugal Consulate, because the first step in our expat experiment was to apply for residency visas in Portugal.  Wait!  Hold on! Don’t get excited!  I already know what you’re thinking, “They’re moving to Portugal?!”  No. We are not.  But what we are doing is positioning ourselves to travel freely throughout Europe, without time constraints and without having to adhere to the Schengen rules.  And, we’re positioning ourselves to explore the possibility of living between both worlds with a home base here in northern Maryland and a second, but more modest base in Portugal.  We’re not even certain this is something we want to do in the long run, but we know we have to take a few steps forward in the process before we can even explore the possibility.  It’s good to have options, especially when the governing administration in the US is moving in a direction that has the potential to directly impact the retirement path of millions of baby-boomers.

But, I digress.  It turned out technology was the saving grace of our appointment at the consulate.  Abi, thankfully, had photos of our passports in his phone’s photo bank.  While at the consulate he emailed the photos to the clerk, she printed them out and added them to our applications.  Phew…

The Application

Here’s the list of documents we each needed to submit in order to apply for a 4-month residency visa.

  • Completed application
  • FBI fingerprint clearance
  • Proof of medical travel insurance
  • Proof of accommodations in Portugal
  • Copy of US passport
  • A passport photo
  • A statement of reason for wanting to apply
  • Copies of bank statements for the past 3 months
  • $120

I have to say the most challenging part of assembling our application package was the FBI fingerprint clearance.   Neither of us had any idea that fingerprints fade as one ages.  It was actually rather comical as the technician tried repeatedly to secure a good set of scanned prints for each of us.  “What if the FBI doesn’t accept these, it’s not like they’ll be any better the next time,” I asked.  To which he replied, “They take your age in to account and they can also use your social security number.”  I looked at Abi and said, “We could rob a bank and totally get away with it!”

In the end, the appointment at the consulate took less than 30 minutes.  Now, we wait while our applications are sent to Portugal for approval. Once they’re back we’ll return to the consulate and our passports will be stamped with the visas.  Unless of course we forget them.

To Read More Expat “How To” Stories:

No Particular Place to Go – Portugal

The Travels of BBQ Boy & Spanky – Croatia

TravelnWrite – Greece














18 Responses to Portugal: The Expat Experiment ~

  • I remember googling “How to get good fingerprints” and finding there was a wealth of info on how to erase and obscure your fingerprints but only one solution for worn fingerprints was offered: corn huskers. CSI makes it look so darned easy, right? As for forgetting those carefully laid out passports for the big day – Murphy’s Law never fails, does it? This road to expat’n requires some stamina and a good sense of humor, Patti. But having those all-important options to explore a multitude of paths will make the extra effort more than worth it!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Portugal’s Love Affair With Tiles and the Museu Nacional do AzulejoMy Profile

    • Too funny, Anita, not even the corn huskers lotion did the trick. The technician had a bottle in his desk drawer, he was prepared! 🙂 Fortunately, our prints went through without a hitch.

  • I have so many questions! A 4-month residency visa is only one month longer than the 3-month visa you’d get entering Europe. Is it easy to extend? Asking for a friend 😉

    • Hopefully, I’ll have the answers! The next step is to apply for a 1-year renewal. There are a few requirements that we need to take care of once we’re in Portugal in order to apply for the renewal. I’ll definitely keep you (and everyone) updated.

  • Very envious. I wish we were doing this too. If it works out for you, you may have friends in Porto someday.

  • So excited for your next chapter! Lol, yes, that “experiment in country living” didn’t last particularly long but then, why does it have to right? I think you’ll have an amazing time floating about Europe and enjoying all of the cultures and cuisines that go with it. Can’t wait to hear more

    • Exactly! I think 2 years was a fair shot and I’m completely convinced this house/property was meant to belong to our neighbors, totally at peace with the decision. And, now, onward. Speaking of onward, looking forward to when you return to the road south!

  • Forgetting things happens when we get old. 😉 But then you’re both too young to settle down for long yet. Exciting times ahead that I look forward to following.
    Gaelyn recently posted…Flowers at Fossil FallsMy Profile

    • It does indeed, Gaelyn, but it would be nice if it didn’t happen at the worst possible time! 🙂 Have fun with the new season at the Grand Canyon!

  • “The Expat Experiment”..I love it. You and Abi do keep things exciting for us..your readers 🙂 I will look forward to follow your journey of discovery.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Discoveries Down Under Part 4 – Sydney And The Blue MountainsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Gilda! Before too much longer you’ll have off and away as well and I’ll be following along!

  • I never knew that about fingerprints. Good luck!

  • Exciting times!
    Why a 4 month Visa Patti? You’re allowed 3 months in Portugal…why all the trouble for an extra month?
    We’ve been through our own paperwork here in Croatia over the last few months and in the end the result is worth it. I’m sure you’ll LOVE your time in Europe. We could never go back.

    Thanks for the link!

    Frank recently posted…Visiting the really pretty town of PrimoÅ¡ten, CroatiaMy Profile

    • Great question, Frank. Coming from the United States the 4-month visa is the starting requirement. The next step is to apply for a 1-year renewal but there are components to that process that we have to acquire while actually in Portugal. 🙂

      So glad life in Croatia is falling in to place for you.

  • I keep dreaming that I forgot my passport once I arrive at the airport. Traveling means keeping your sense of humor, glad the photo copies worked out. Congratulations on your expat experiment, I look forward to reading about your adventures.
    Paula recently posted…Goodbye USA – Hello WorldMy Profile

    • Hey, Paula, thanks for stopping by One Road at a Time, it’s great to connect with you. And, congratulations on taking the leap of faith, we look forward to following your journey!

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We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.


3 years, 107 days ago!





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