An Overseas Owners Story – David Allen

The article below is written by David Allen. Mr Allen owns a property in Ribatejo, Portugal which is being advertised as a private sale on Rightmove.

Casa Sandra 360 virtual tour

Sometimes, even carefully laid plans need to be adjusted so with a requirement to be in England for regular medical treatment we’ve reluctantly decided to sell our second home situated in a less well known part of a very well known country. The central region of Portugal, often referred to as the Ribatejo and in the administrative region of Santarém of which the conselho of Tomar, the medieval city founded by the Knights Templars, is a part.

My enthusiasm for this part of the world is clearly infectious and has led to this opportunity for me to tell a story and fill out some detail about this particularly Portuguese and particularly rural environment that captured our hearts, firstly as a holiday destination and then a home.

Portugal, for many is represented by the Algarve with it’s beautiful beaches and welcoming ambience but many prefer a less overtly commercial and transient environment for that longer commitment of a permanent home where the summer weather usually keeps it’s promises from Spring to Autumn.

Our journey began with a holiday and a sense that we were ready for that move from time share to permanent ownership. With a plan to spend summer and Christmas in England whilst escaping, at other times, to a softer climate and avoiding any form of natural water that isn’t liquid or crystalline in form. A home where ice and snow are a rarity brings many advantages, some obvious and some not, so what happened to bring this dream to fruition and how difficult was it to do?

Our initial holiday was spent with friends who had upped and moved to the region with their three year old son in that expression of carefree confidence that says let’s just do it. The second visit coincided with our sense of wanting an overseas home becoming stronger so part of that time was spent looking at what was available and generally evaluating options. There are three principle ways to make the jump. One would be to buy the home of your dreams all ready and waiting for you to move in (we hope somebody wants our house for that) and we have friends that have done that. A second option would be to buy a property as a project and renovate it and we also have local friends who have chosen that path. Finally, you could buy some land, design your own house and get it built or build it yourself and this is how we decided to proceed.

To be fair our friends helped greatly in all aspects from language translation to the monitoring of the construction and the whole process went very well. Over the years we have added significantly to the estate and it’s facilities because as well as a home it has become a life project and the sense of creation, for us, is as satisfying as that of ownership. For some, though, any form of project is, perhaps, a step too far so, if you look, that perfect and ready home is probably there somewhere.

So what is it about this central region of Portugal that is so attractive and why is it not better known? Well, I can answer the first part or, at least tell you what I find so different about the place but, can only guess at the second. Perhaps, even this short excursion around the living delights of this wonderful area will serve to cast some illumination.

The weather, of course, is really good in ways that one wouldn’t necessarily identify immediately. The warmth and dryness of the summer seems to loosen joints and blue skies always lift that inner emotion so you just feel elevated from the moment your eyes open to the sun streaming through the bedroom window seemingly inviting you to get up. It is peaceful. The whole area just seems to be so much quieter than England. Traffic is a rarity and the background noise that large populations generate and your brain tries to ignore is absent, so when, some time ago, two builders repairing a roof were talking they were faintly audible yet so far away that I couldn’t see them. Peace, tranquillity and an absence of urgency can often be felt the moment you step out from the airport terminal.

It is cheaper to live in central Portugal than in better known but higher priced neighbouring areas.

Typically, when work stops at 1pm everyone, it seems, goes to the café for lunch. There are many establishments that open just for this daily event so it is normal to see builders, gardeners, lorry drivers etc pouring in to these popular eateries for a three course meal plus drinks for about €7.00. Evening trips to the restaurant are equally pleasing on the pocket so all in all one can enjoy a good life here for approximately two thirds of the equivalent lifestyle in England but with a bigger house, more garden, a pool and the weather to make use of it. BBQ plans, for example, no longer hang on the unpredictable English weather thread.

Tomar on the river Nabão

The Portuguese people are soft natured and instinctively friendly. There is a courtesy in the air that one doesn’t experience in many parts of England. Young people will move in a crowded café, without being prompted, so we can sit down. In the beautiful city of Tomar the evenings and nights are a pleasure to be part of. We may be milling through the streets at 11pm watching young children playing in the square to the hubbub of people enjoying the balmy night and the whole place emits that feeling of being as comfortable and safe as you would be in your own front room.

The landscapes, forests, lakes and historic architecture add to the idyllic nature of this peaceful and sparsely populated region. Fátima, home of the ultra catholic symbol of the three children, swells with hundreds of thousands for important events such as the papal visit a few of years ago and is only a half hour’s drive from our house.

If you are thinking of a holiday or permanent home and you want a good but affordable lifestyle in peace and tranquillity and you fancy a bash at the Portuguese language (regular classes available) you might just want to take a closer look at central Portugal even if you hadn’t given this area any consideration to date.

Often the best jewels are the hardest to find.

You can view David Allen’s property ‘Casa Sandra’ on Rightmove here.

You can view a 360′ tour of the property here.

If you’d like to get in touch with David Allen regarding his property, contact him here.