Tag Archives: politics

What’s prompting the mass migration to Portugal?

When Donald Trump became president, I swore I would never live through another term in the United States if he was re-elected. I began to search the world for a better place to live than the good ole US of A — which, IMHO, wasn’t such a good place to live anymore.

The ugliness of our politics that has split families and friends in two, the red and blue robes of the Supreme Court, the rise of anarchy, bigotry, and blatant civil disobedience after Covid — all of this and more has led to tense living conditions in nearly all parts of the country. My physical and mental health was suffering. I knew there must be something better. I knew I had to leave the United States.

My first inclination was to apply for a Polish passport since all of my grandparents were from Poland and I could prove ancestry —- until I couldn’t. Because my grandparents emigrated to the United States prior to 1920, the year Poland officially became a country, there was no proof of Polish citizenship. In fact, I discovered that one of my grandparents was born in Austria and another in Russia, parts of Poland that were in control of those respective countries. So much for a Polish passport.

Due to an aversion to heat, I knew I couldn’t tolerate Mexico, Costa Rica or any place remotely tropical. I would have especially loved Canada but it was even more expensive than Portland. As I set my sights on countries that I loved to travel — Italy and France to name two — I discovered that EU countries don’t particularly want emigrants and make it very difficult to live there unless you are employed or can much improve their economy by starting a business. Of course, you can always buy your way into some of these countries at a cost exceeding $500,000 — a little out of my price range.

As my search for a retiree-friendly country — not too hot, not too cold — continued, Portugal kept popping up on my radar. Of course, the Brits have been enjoying the Mediterranean climate of the Algarve in southern Portugal for over 100 years now, but the rest of Portugal had lain dormant to the outside world until this sleeping bear awoke one day to discover its population in steep decline. The Portuguese government set out to change that and began welcoming emigrants, including retirees, to its shores.

When Portugal threw its doors open with visas of every stripe and a cost of living that was affordable to all but a very few, it was like a tsunami. East coast and west coast Americans, Canadians, Australians — even the Germans and the French — saw this as a golden opportunity to make their dollars/Euros stretch further than they ever thought possible. Airbnb’s started popping up in cities and rural communities alike all over Portugal. The country was/is on the verge of being gentrified.

The ease of emigration, compared to other EU countries, combined with a relatively low cost of living for many, compared to their home country, are what is attracting the masses to Portugal. It is what attracted me. The climate in the north of the country is similar to that of the Pacific Northwest from which I hail, so I’m not bothered by tropical temperatures. The cities are crowded with tourists, but the countryside is peaceful and gorgeous. The people are friendly and inviting — at least for now. Ex-pats are everywhere so making friends isn’t all that difficult. I’m sure things will look much different in ten years at the rate the country is trying to absorb immigrants, but for now, Portugal is a great alternative to living in the not-so-great-anymore USA.

And the winner is…………

trumpWho would have guessed almost one year ago that, above all odds, Donald Trump would come out on top of the heap of Republican presidential hopefuls.  I can’t say I was surprised. If you stayed on top of the news (and I don’t mean campaign news, but news in general), it wasn’t difficult to correlate Trump’s rhetoric with many of the national headlines. As bombastic as he was, he spoke to a largely disenfranchised middle and lower middle class –  those that have lost jobs to technology, failed to save for retirement, failed to see that the world was changing faster than they were, and blamed their demise on anybody but themselves.

Illegal immigrants got much of the blame. It’s unfortunate that it’s the same 20% of illegals that spoil it for the rest, because it’s just about that many that are criminals and drug dealers. The other 80% are simply trying to achieve a better life fleeing abject poverty, war and persecution.  They do not live off of government handouts. They work harder than most Americans can even imagine. Without them, there are many things that would quickly become unaffordable like housing. If builders had to pay union carpenters to frame homes at roughly $36/hr. instead of the $15-17/hr. they pay an illegal immigrant worker,  only the well-off could buy a home.

Why do you think so many things are made in foreign countries, not just China? It’s so Americans can afford to buy them. Many things that take manual labor to construct – shoes, clothing, electronics, and much of which you have in your home – is just too expensive to be “made in America.” And it won’t be until technology figures out how to automate those kinds of jobs that apparel manufacturing and the like will return to our shores.

And let’s not overlook retirement savings. For years, people have been told they should save for retirement. For those that worked for an organization that offered a good pension plan, you probably fared much better than those that didn’t. Of course, if you weren’t blessed with a company pension plan, you may have had a 401K plan available to you, and IRA’s have been around for many years now. And, of course, there’s the old bank savings account. But somehow a larger and larger TV set was more important, or that SUV with its $400/mo. payment was a necessity. Self-gratification was always more important than saving for a rainy day.

Trump speaks to his minions from perhaps the lowest level we have ever seen in a presidential candidate. He has captured the minds of those that have a very hard time thinking for themselves.  If he told them what to eat for dinner tonight, no doubt they would oblige him.

Not I. Eight years ago, I wanted Hillary to win the nomination. This year I will get my with, and I can’t wait to have the first woman president, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. But then I never thought I’d see a black president either. Glory be!!